CATEGORY: Students

Melissa Dec 18, 2023

New York City has 571 high schools. All of these options make the high school selection process a stressful time for families. When you ask an eighth grader about what they are looking for in a high school, most of their questions usually boil down to some version of “What exactly does a typical day in the life of a student look like?”  To answer that question, we spent the day with Queen, an Achievement First Brooklyn High School senior. Queen is thinking about all the teenage things. She is anxiously awaiting her college acceptance, she’s already thinking about the dress she’ll wear for prom in the spring, and she loves to binge-watch early 2000s sitcoms. (Right now, her favorite is Grey’s Anatomy.) But dig a little deeper, and she’s far from typical. She’s the recently elected President of the Student Government Association (her slogan was “Vote for Queen and You’ll Be Seen”); the college acceptance she is eagerly awaiting is for an Ivy League school—all the more impressive because she’ll be the first person in her family to attend college, and she uses her lunchtime to help out teachers in the office and get a head start on homework.   Queen got her name because she was her father’s first daughter and he wanted a name so powerful that anytime someone met her, they couldn’t forget her. Once you spend a little time with Queen, it’s obvious no one will forget her anytime soon.  Go on Queen’s journey with us and understand what life at AF Brooklyn HS has to offer.

A Day in the Life of an AF HS Student:  

Queen arrives at school around 7:45 AM, goes to her locker, says hi to friends, and proceeds to her first class: Intro to Computer Science. As she transitions to her next period, she stops and chats with a friend. Queen started her AF journey, along with many of her classmates, in kindergarten. She has been with many of her friends for 13 years!  Period 2 is AP Biology. This is Queen’s favorite class because she hopes to major in Biology.  She never liked science until last year in Intro to Biology when one teacher opened her eyes to the magic and mystery of understanding how things work at the cellular level. Today’s lesson is on cellular reproduction. Queen listens to the teacher’s lecture and takes notes on her worksheet depicting the diagram of a cell. Period 3: Dance. On her way to her elective dance class, she stops to say hello to Ms. Torres. Ms. Torres is an Achievement First Brooklyn High School alum. After graduating in 2015, she returned to her beloved school to teach Foundations of Leadership, a required course that helps teach leadership skills and guide students through the college admissions process. She is also the coach of the step team, which Queen started participating in during middle school and is getting back involved with this year.  After a warm hug, Ms. Torres looks at the college pennant in her room and says “I’m definitely going to cry when you graduate.”  
Period 4 is Dance. Queen changes into her dance clothes and begins warming up with a series of demi pliéts and grand pliéts.  And then the rehearsal for the upcoming Black History showcase begins. The dance is choreographed by instructor Shahida Samuels, who is currently pursuing her doctorate in dance at Temple University. Ms. Samuels is the kind of teacher who demands excellence and receives her students' rapt attention in return. After the initial run-through, she reminds students, “I need passion. This is Gospel music! Find the spirit!”  
Queen changes back into her AF uniform and proceeds to lunch. During lunch, she prepares for tomorrow’s book club. Earlier this year, Queen and her friend Symphany started a book club called “Between the Lines.” The club now has 12 members. They are currently reading a thriller called The HouseMaid. After lunch, it’s off to Spanish class. Queen likes Spanish but is currently more interested in a different language she is studying on the side. Queen’s good friend Merliya is Haitian and is teaching her Creole. Merliya is the class valedictorian and is applying early-decision to Yale.    After Spanish, it’s AP Literature, and finally AP government. The next phase of her day begins when the school day ends at 3:00. On Mondays, she has Step practice. Thursdays is book club. Today - Wednesday - she leads a Student Government Association (SGA) meeting.  Currently, the focus is planning the upcoming winter dance to celebrate the school’s 10th anniversary. The theme is Masquerade Ball.   She takes the C train home, eats dinner, does a little homework, and ends her evening with an episode (or 2 or 3) of Gray’s Anatomy.  Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Queen likes a sitcom about medical students because she hopes to become a doctor one day. Or maybe go to grad school in science. She isn’t quite sure yet. Queen attributes her drive to her mother’s support and her father’s Rastafarian beliefs. Her Rasta upbringing instilled a strong sense of self-discipline and a commitment to social justice. While she attributes her drive to her family, she credits much of her academic and personal growth to the power of Achievement First’s community, culture, and spirit. We can’t wait to see what Queen achieves next! For more insight into daily life at AF Brooklyn High School, check out their Instagram account here

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