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From Trailers to a Permanent Space: Reflecting on Sci’s Transition to a Building

Over winter break, I took a trip to visit my alma mater, Sci Academy. Upon stepping into the familiar hallways, I immediately felt at home again.

A throng of students buzzed through the corridors during the school’s second quarter report card night, while teachers held conferences with parents on their child’s performance in their classroom. As I stood peering down the narrow hall, familiar faces waved their hands and smiled. Every now and then I’d receive a hug and a handshake from a teacher. Whether they were my teachers when I was a student or they were new to the school, their acknowledgments were gladly received with mutual love.

Today, Sci is about to embark on a major transition: their permanent building is almost done with construction, and students will attend school in the new building starting next year. As an alumnus, this change excites me and prompted me to think about how far Sci has come. Looking back on my times as a student, I remember when Sci had no football team and only a handful of teachers who were new to its rules and regulations. I can also remember how my class was the very first to graduate and walk across the stage.

While watching the new building go under construction, I found myself thinking about how much my classmates and I are going to miss the trailers, the boardwalks, and the covered walkways that came to feel like home. In those trailers, we learned and conquered herculean tasks, from Pre-Calculus to World History to AP Bio. Though the trailers were not a permanent building, we were still able to learn, understand our classwork, and successfully make it to college. We also developed strong and meaningful relationships with our classmates and teachers.

While seeing Sci prepare to enter a permanent building is bittersweet for my classmates and for me, we know that it is a great milestone for our school and for future scholars to enjoy.

The new building represents a homecoming for Sci staff and scholars, especially the recent graduating class of 2014. It is a triumph to be celebrated in the best ways possible. Many of Sci’s students and teachers have worked hard to help Sci earn its place as one of New Orleans’ top high schools. The building symbolizes much of Sci Academy’s accomplishments and its overarching goal to create and support better and more effective public schools in New Orleans. I’m thrilled to think about how many more scholars the school will be able to reach in the new building.

Although Sci is climbing new heights and becoming even stronger than it was when I was a student, I still feel connected to its greatness and to the vision that it has for the future. Writing for Sci’s blog and frequently visiting the school to speak to a cohort of students makes me feel a part of its vision and curriculum. It was very moving for me to be able to get to know current Sci Academy scholars and give back to my school this past winter. When I visited last, I had the opportunity to meet determined and driven students who are bound for college success. In 2014, I spoke to a group of them in Mr. Kline’s College Prep class about the importance of education and what it takes to be a successful student in college. I also shared with them tips on how to write an essay. Most of the students were inspired to ask questions and hone their writing skills after the class discussion was over.

As I continue to give back to Sci Academy, it also continues to support me through college. Every school year, I work closely with Sci’s Director of College Completion, Ms. Justine Modica. She asks me questions about Financial Aid, my classes, and what Sci can do to boost my performance at Bard. This support and invaluable encouragement helps me improve my skills and increase my chances of graduating from college.

I am very proud to celebrate my high school for its tremendous achievements and the progress that it has made thus far. Sci Academy’s permanent impact on me has been nothing short of amazing. Its new building will house this love in a permanent space. Its floors, ceilings, and walls will house these lasting memories. Sci’s building will be a place for students to go back to and feel loved and appreciated forever, marking the hard work and success of its students.

Troy Simon, a 2012 graduate of Sci Academy, is a junior at Bard College. At Bard, he serves as a Bard College Campus Campaign Coordinator for Teach For America and writes for the Bard Free Press biweekly. During his college career, he has held internships with Students for Education Reform and TBWA\Chiat\Day an advertising agency. Recently, he was a participant in the New York Times’ “Schools for Tomorrow” event, and spoke on a panel withLaurene Powell Jobs, Carlos Watson, and David Leonhardt.

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