Monday, June 24, 2013


Bronx Youth Empowerment Program &
Council Member Andy King
Celebrate the Graduating Youth of the
12 District of the Bronx
On Saturday, June 22, 2013 graduating students of the 12th District were honored for their academic achievements at a graduation party organized by City Council Member Andy L. King and the Bronx Youth Empowerment Program. The community was instrumental in helping put the event together, from the volunteers who helped set up to Ms. Cynthia Richardson, President of the Board of Directors for the Surrey apartment complex, who agreed to host the event. There was much food to be had and music to be enjoyed as proud parents and graduates alike gathered to enjoy the festivities. As a special treat the, 5th grade Jazz Ensemble of P.S. 76, all graduates themselves, showcased their talent under the direction of Music Instructor Ms. Jessica Parr. Thanks to the Councilman's efforts, the school had just recently been allocated 10,000 dollars for their music department. Before this development, students were required to rent their own instruments, a feat which was no small struggle for many families of musically inclined children.

            P.S. 76 wasn't the only school in attendance however; graduates from John Jay College, Bridgeport University, Truman High School, M.S. 287 The Forward School, Cardinal Spellman High School , I.S. 316 Kappa, and Councilman King's own Evander Childs High School were all present among others. The gathering served to honor graduates of all ages from four-year-old Katie Lewis, who had just graduated preschool, to college grad and original member of the Bronx Youth Empowerment Program, Abigail Cadle. Cadle, who graduated this year from the University of Bridgeport, gave a speech to the younger students in the crowd detailing the effect Bronx Y.E.P. has had on her life and stressing the importance of being involved within the community. She then thanked the current generation of Y.E.P. members and Councilman King for organizing the celebration.
            Councilman King, who emceed the event, handed out certificates of achievement to the students as well as prizes donated by the New York Knicks. The Councilman gave a compelling oratory congratulating those honored as well as their parents, and went on to speak about the merits of service and the importance of reaching a helping hand backward as the children continue to move forward in life. “No one here got where they are by themselves, myself included. We must continue to remember those who guided and supported us when we needed it most, and take that attitude as an example of  how we ought to behave ourselves.”
            Several other speakers came offering congratulations and wise words as well, among them Mr. Sherman Brown. Brown, a motivational speaker and professor of business and criminal justice at Monroe College, delivered a hybrid motivational speech and powerful slam poetry session, stating that the students had taken but the first step in what he hoped would become a lifetime of learning and encouraging them to strive to persevere in the face of adversity. Special Celebrity Guest and Bronx born Quinton Aaron, most notable for his portrayal of Michael Oher in the 2009 biopic The Blindside,  made a special appearance for the children, speaking about the importance of family and community and how those bonds are central to personal growth and development. Mr. Aaron was a big hit with the crowd, staying throughout the celebration to take pictures and even showcasing his talent for song. The event culminated when Mr. Aaron was presented with an official proclamation for Outstanding Personal Achievement on behalf of the New York City Council by Council Member King.