I can’t understand why the craft of writing is taken for granted for so many, especially since few people actually write well, but the ability to express yourself in writing is essential to success in life and career. However, there is a place where writing is taken seriously.
The staff and students at the Bronx Academy of Letters,, do understand the power of words. A decade ago, this unique public school situated in one of the poorest areas of the Bronx, opened its doors to young people fortunate enough to be selected to attend the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters. Ten years later, it’s a true success story. The school has a singular focus: to show young people that if they can express themselves well in writing, they will do better in any path they choose.
On April 30th, this amazing educational institution held an annual fund-raiser featuring celebrity chefs. The host was none other than uber-celebrity foodie and chef Anthony Bourdain, alongw ith representatives of the food writing journal Lucky Peach. Anthony Bourdain is not just a chef, he is a television star who completely understands the power of both verbal and written communication. He could not have succeeded without these skills.
The event was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion (110 West 19th Street). Bourdain might have been the draw, but the real stars of the evening were the students and teachers in attendance. The students my colleague and I chatted with were not just articulate, but self-assured. You could see the excitement and hope in their eyes as they discussed their future plans. One young woman I talked to said she had plans to go to law school. A young man wanted to be an engineer. Nothing is beyond their reach!
The teachers were equally impressive. Lively, engaging, fun to talk to! One was a poet, the other woman I met was so enthusiastic, she would even make me want to master the intricacies of grammar and punctuation. Their energy was infectious. While I am sure there are dedicated teachers at other schools, these ladies really were exceptional. Unusual for a NYC public high school, the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters features small class sizes and of course, teachers and students who are motivated and really want to be there. In two words, I was inspired and impressed.
The fundraising for The Bronx Academy of Letters is used to fill in the gaps that are left from The Department of Education’s funding for basic school needs. Funds help to support programs and activities such as college visits, their newspaper and literary magazine, teaching and student-support staff and much more.
In addition to supporting the school, this was a foodie’s paradise. guests had a unique opportunity to sample dishes from Prune, Roberta’s, Momofuku, Boulud Sud,Briskettown, Ludobites, Toloache, Mission Chinese Food and Chez Sardine with desserts by Del Posto, Babycakes, and Momofuku Milk Bar, and cocktails by Jim Meehan. While this years’ event is over, you can show your support for the Bronx Academy of Letters and other Urban Assembly programs here. Of course, you can always purchase tickets for next year’s event when that time comes around again. To learn more about the Urban Assembly and the Bronx Academy of Letters, visit the website: http://www.bronxletters.com/