March 19, 2014 13:18 Age: 4 yrs

Inspired in Albany: AF University Prep High Freshmen Remember Trip to the Capital

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Emmanuel and Susan are freshmen at AF University Prep High. During a field lesson, they traveled to a public charter school rally in Albany, toured the State Capitol and went on a college visit. Below are excerpts from stories Emmanuel and Susan wrote for their journalism class.

Emmanuel:  On March 4, students and teachers from AF University Prep visited Albany in support of public charter schools. Knowing that I was going to support not only my school, but all of the students who attend charter schools all around the United States gave me motivation to endure the long bus ride.

During the ride, I talked to my seat partner, Marnold, about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s resistance to public charter schools. I remember Marnold saying, “I hope charter schools remain open.” His comment made me think. I began to realize how much my life has changed since I started attending Achievement First. I remember going to another school where I was left behind. I struggled in literature and barely knew how to read. At Achievement First, my reading improved, my vocabulary widened, I developed better critical thinking skills and I improved in math. I don’t know where I would be without Achievement First.

Susan: When we joined the rally with others it was like a reunion. Our friends and families were also gathered in Albany. We stood in the cold with the wind blowing, and children climbed the top of the snow piles to be seen and to hear the voices of our supporters.

As he looked out at the thousands of children and adults, Gov. Cuomo said, “We’re going to save charter schools, and you’re making it happen by being here today… This is democracy and this is how you make your voice heard!”

Emmanuel:  Although we were in the back, I could see that parents were going up to the stand and explaining the benefits of charter schools to the crowd, hoping the government’s decision makers would listen. Thousands of kids from different charter schools were standing outside cheering for the person speaking. Despite the freezing cold, the energy was so strong and felt so live that I could almost touch it. I knew I wanted to be more involved with the rally and have a voice that represented my school. We weren’t able to stay long at the rally before we moved on to the rest of our field lesson, which began with a tour of the New York State Capitol.

Susan: When we walked through the Capitol, I was shocked to learn that AF University Prep High was familiar to people in government. As I exited the elevator, I overheard two men whisper about our charter school. “We are known!” I thought in that moment. Our school was the representation of all Achievement First charter schools.

Emmanuel:  After the Capitol, we moved on to an experience I will never forget: walking on SUNY Albany’s campus. I felt important because I was visiting a good college that I could possibly attend when I grow up. We spoke with a graduate student who told us that college life is not easy. He said you have to make choices; you can choose not to go to class one day and go the next, and the consequences are on you. At AF University Prep I learned that life is a choice-based system.

On the bus ride home, I was able to reflect on the day. I realized that public charter schools are the next step to improving the world. Although some people believe that public charter schools are only a small percent of schools and shouldn’t be helped a lot, I strongly disagree. The charter school population is small, but it is growing and improving.

Susan:  In Albany, we took the role of leaders and carried it with us back home, where we will hopefully spread it to others. We are all still fighting for what we truly believe in, and for what thousands of others believe in. 

 

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