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We Salute Success Academy’s 8th Grade Graduates!

Yesterday, Success Academy 8th graders celebrated their graduation from middle school. Speakers from each of the seven graduating classes reflected on their middle school experiences and shared their hopes and ambitions for high school. Here are excerpts from their speeches.

Nia Hardaway, SA Harlem Central Middle School

June 14th has finally arrived! It seems like only yesterday that we were shaking Ms. Loving’s hand as we entered a place we considered home. I can still remember the exciting days at recess when we had harsh competitions to see who could climb the red rope pyramid the fastest, or when we had the swing removed for “safety reasons” that could apply to our entire class.

Now, here we are, at the end of our 8th-grade year.

I can still remember the very first day of this school year when Ms. Campbell and Mr. LaRose were passionately taking turns to explain the true “thrill” that comes from completing reading logs… we clearly disagreed.

Now after 100 reading logs, we are here. After 1000 plastic covered lunches, we…are…here! And after 10,000 tests in Algebra, English, Science, and History, WE. ARE. HERE!

Banel Cisse,  SA Harlem West Middle School

I was overwhelmed with both excitement and gratitude when I was told I was chosen to give a speech today. But as I wrote for a countless number of hours, and days, erasing and rewriting the speech, I realized that no amount of words can express the love I have for this school — despite the numerous amount of tests we have had!

Thinking about our time in middle school, beginning in 2014 and ending today, on June 14th, 2018, we reminisce about the eventful times we have had together — the thrilling field trips, potlucks, spirit weeks, camping trip, and many more — not only as cohorts and friends, but as a family… The expectations we had when first entering middle school were far surpassed by the experience. Throughout the years, we have encountered obstacles and challenges academically, socially, and spiritually — but despite whatever mayhem, we were able to persevere, with the help of our teachers, families, and classmates.

Melanie Ortiz, SA Harlem North Central Middle School

Scholars, as your valedictorian, I ask you this question: Where do you envision yourselves? Realistically, the answer to this question is inferential, since you are yet to become the ones that you “envision” yourselves to be.

But I already know that you are well on your way to being the people who you would like to be. Despite my limited time with you, I have come to know each and every one of you personally. I have seen your ability to merge together as a strong community in the face of rigorous work…

With every pending challenge and stop-point, we stood up rather than standing down, and we worked until we were able to say “I was better today than the person I was yesterday.” Change has been something that we have sometimes been scared of implementing in our lives. However, we have managed to drastically change our mindsets and lifestyles to help us achieve our end goal of moving along in our academic careers. And while each of our changes may be different, know that they did not go unnoticed.


Melanie Ortiz, SA Harlem North Central Middle School

Wuraola Adetola, SA Bronx 1 Middle School

…My journey to Success was a rollercoaster. I was in Nigeria. My family and I immigrated  to America, desperate for the American dream, when I was only 2. My father found a job at a nursing home in the Bronx. A year later, my mother joined him in this same line of work. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment. My three siblings and I shared a bedroom. I attended P.S 95 for two years.

Then my mother received a flyer in the mail, inviting her to apply for a spot at Success Academy. Like any other parent who was new to the system, she was confused and lacked knowledge in both the educational system and charter schools. But she gave it shot. A few months later, I got accepted into SA Bronx 1 and that’s where it all began…

…Thank you Eva Moskowitz, for giving my classmates and me the opportunity to attend a school where high expectations are set not to discourage us but to push us to our fullest potential; where there are teachers who sacrifice so much of their time to ensure that we succeed… And most importantly, thank you families for being our support systems — for attending rallies, protests, and meetings to ensure the success of not only our school but for every scholar attending Bronx 1 Middle School.

Arianna Arroyo, Harlem East Middle School

The transition to high school won’t be an easy one; you’ll face many new challenges and obstacles. This is the time in your life when you start to realize who you want to be. We, as people of color, are perceived as the least successful group in America. As a young Latina, I feel confident that I and the rest of my peers will prove America wrong. Using our brains and talents, we will graduate high school, master college, and pursue our careers.

But first we have to put in the effort. No slacking, every moment counts — no matter if you are continuing at Success Academy or not. Academics and talent are the key to open the door to success. Debaters? The next lawyers. Mathematicians? The next scientists and technology experts. Musicians and dancers? Entertaining the world. In this generation, we can experience things that our parents couldn’t experience — they will be proud to see their children flourishing.


Arianna Arroyo, SA Harlem East Middle School

Cana Limuna, SA Harlem North West Middle School

Without parents, and their amazing support, none of us could have done as well or even be in such a great school. Our parents and our teachers have helped us see what we want to become in the future and have made a path for us to follow to get there.

During these years we have become wiser and more understanding of many things, so bring all of the new knowledge that you gained these past few years to high school, and then learn more!

Malik Sahabi , SA Harlem Central Middle School

As graduates of Harlem Central, we are fighters. We had to fight for the 194 students who were threatened to have their school taken away. Because of that, we built a school that exemplified grit. We are here today as graduates because of our fight. Which is why we’re celebrating this class of 2026 for all the courage we continued to show throughout all the times we failed or struggled…

High school. It may have seemed far away, but it is now here… High school is a chance for us to find ourselves and prepare ourselves to accomplish so many great things: Great things such as becoming surgeons who cure the world’s most devastating diseases; great things such as graduating from MIT and becoming world-class engineers. And who knows? Maybe our nation’s first female, black, Muslim president is sitting among us today. Maybe the next Barack Obama, Angela Davis, or Kwame Alexander is in this class. The sky’s the limit.  

Kamar Farquhar, SA Bronx 2 Middle School

Four years ago, my classmates and I stood on a stage at Hostos College, waving goodbye to elementary school and thinking that we had just conquered the world. Today, we stand again in front of friends and family waving goodbye to middle school and our preteen years. In the words of a wise man, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” And I know what you’re thinking — “3rd period history!” — but no, that wise man was not Mr. Carlino, it was Mark Twain….

…Going to high school is one more step further into the big scary world…Some of us, myself included, are going to completely different schools, spread out across the city. Whenever I start to think about this — and I’ll be honest, I do get a little nervous — I remind myself that the question is not, “Am I ready for high school?” The question is: “Is high school ready for ME?” Because no matter where we go, we are still a part of the Bronx 2 family, and if we know anything as the founding class of Bronx 2 Middle School, it is how to truly DOMINATE!…

When history “rhymes” again in four years, and we walk across a stage to get our high school diplomas, I know I will think back to this class, to this moment, where it all began. I wish you all the best as you take on 9th grade, high school, college and the world. With lion pride, congratulations to the class of 2018!!!


Kamar Farquhar, SA Bronx 2 Middle School

Written by Success Academy June 15, 2018

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