Boys and Girls High School hosted 1,400 boys from Eagle Academy schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Southeast Queens and Newark, NJ for an All-Male Youth Summit organized by the Eagle Academy Foundation. The summit — part pep rally, part networking party, and part sports tournament – was the culmination of a weeklong celebration of the Eagle Academy Foundation. Other events included a parent’s forum in Queens and a mayoral candidate forum in the Bronx.
The young men were greeted by keynote speaker Maurice Coleman who captivated the boys with an uplifting story of how his family moved several times seeking a better life for him. Once Coleman earned a prep school placement, his life transformed. Coleman, a Senior Vice President with Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, told the boys of their responsibility to give back to their community. Using himself as an example, Coleman spoke of financing the nationally successful Applebee’s Restaurant against all odds and a current veteran’s housing project on Herkimer Street currently underway.
Dozens of men from all walks of life brought inspirational books for the boys and engaged them with mentoring break-out sessions.
Isaiah Miles, 14, who attends Eagle Academy #3 in Queens said, “Today was a good experience. I didn’t get to go to all the workshops, but the workshops that I did attend were very informative. It was a very positive energy. I’m glad that I came. I am a part of the first graduating class of 2017.”
Jarred, 14-year-old 8th -grader, also attends the Queens campus. “Today was past my expectations. It was fun. I met students from other Eagles. I learned in my workshop how to manage my money,” said Jarred. “I would recommend Eagle Academy to other young men. Eagle rocks!”
George Nunez attends Eagle Academy for Young Men in the South Bronx. A current senior and student president of the school, this fall George plans to attend Massachusetts College of Liberal arts in Boston. “This event itself was great. We got a chance to build that solidarity and camaraderie that we have been looking for among our Eagle brothers,” said George. “We haven’t seen our Eagle brothers throughout the other schools for a long time. I got a chance to meet my younger brothers. It was a great experience to share my knowledge of four years of high school and prepare them for what is expected as an Eagle scholar. My younger brothers were very energetic and they brought out the sense of rivalry among Eagle brothers. We had a competitive spirit on and off the basketball courts… playing checkers or Connect Four. At the end of the day we are all brothers.”
Brandon Frank facilitated a workshop and basketball competition. “It is my mission to empower boys of color across the world. Any opportunity that presents itself to do so, I have to be there. Not only did I get to meet with young men but also other presenters to see how we can all build together to make the world a better place and take our young men to the next level,” said Frank. “The young men gave tremendous energy. I felt a hunger for learning and saw young men who are critical thinkers or are looking to build their critical thinking skills. We had a great dialogue about fatherhood, education, leadership.” Brandon Frank is currently a school administrator at High School, Inc. in Hartford Connecticut and author of Redefine Yourself, Define the World, the Guided Journal for Black Boys and Men, and Chief Visionary Officer of The Black Man Can.
Dr. Alvin Perry, author of The Circus Act: Unleash the Entrepreneurial Spirit in You, says he “came because it is important that brothers like myself who have some semblance of success pay it forward. We tell these young people our failures and successes and hopefully share something with them that shortens their time to success,” said Dr. Perry. “My goal is to have young people to think. The strongest thing they have is their mind. I want them to know they are not confined by what everybody else says. You can do some things based on what you believe and what you see in your mind’s eye, and don’t be afraid to pursue those things.” Dr. Perry has corporate marketing experience, has started 6 or 7 businesses, earned a doctorate in business administration specializing in entrepreneurship, and teaches at Montclair State, William Patterson and Essex County College.
Boys and Girls High School Principal Bernard Gassaway said he was happy to host the summit because of a vision planted in 1997 when he and Eagle Academy CEO David Banks first became principals. “Our young black boys will soon become black men,” said Gassaway, “and with the right support systems they can become all that they can be. I am here to support that anyway that I can.”