This article was originally written by and published on DOE Charter Schools Weekly.
Inwood Academy for Leadership Charter School is a middle school and high school located in Inwood, Manhattan. Since opening, Inwood Academy for Leadership has continued to offer students a wide range of after-school programming. Inwood Academy for Leadership views after-school enrichment as an opportunity for experiential learning, character building and overall academic improvement. More than 250 students are currently registered for after school programming, and over the years, Inwood Academy has offered an impressive list of classes including Photography, Drum Corps, Choir, Theater, Wrestling, Girls Who Code and Debate. Thanks to community partners such as Play Study Win, Inwood Academy for Leadership can offer a breadth of recreational activities.
On December 2nd, Inwood Academy for Leadership’s after-school debate team hosted the New York City Urban Debate League. The New York City Urban Debate League is the largest debate league in the nation, comprised of students from all five boroughs. Over 250 debaters were present for the competition. Leading up the to event, Inwood Academy for Leadership students prepared for the debate by meeting twice a week during after school programming. Students prepared arguments for both positions of a given debate question. For example, students came prepared to debate, “Should juveniles be charged as adults in the criminal justice system?”
Middle School Director of Afterschool, Denise Hykes, proudly watched the Inwood Academy for Leadership after-school debate team battle it out with evidence. When asked about her favorite part of coordinating Inwood Academy for Leadership’s after-school programming, Hykes shared, “I love it when the kids are empowered to organize and lead, whether it’s MCing an awards ceremony, taking leftover snacks to the nearby NYC Love Kitchen or watching the older students teach the younger students.”
August 29th was the first day of school. On that first day, many emotions were detected in the students, both hopeful and doubtful. However, for a student-athlete, the cheers and excitement of last year accompanied them as they came into a place that signifies triumph. The triumph in being the New York City Charter School Athletic Association’s (CSAA) Middle School Champions in both soccer and softball. The triumph of meeting the standards in the new Athletic Policy. The triumph for some in almost becoming champions but falling just short of victory. For those teams, the agony felt in defeat, will serve as a motivator because the next shot will be the first shot, the next strike will be the first strike, the next assignment will be the first assignment.
In the weeks and months to come, fresh faces will emerge and take on the responsibility in the form of new coaches, new students, new teachers. Zealous student-athletes and coaches will reignite the passion for their respected sport. The passion that only caring for something so much, can bring out in an individual. The passion that allows teachers, parents, coaches, and of course the student-athlete to rise to the occasion. This team of people cares enough to make sure that the student is the priority. The Athletic Policy was developed because we needed accountability for our student-athletes. Some athletes responded to the challenge by being responsible and attending study sessions, asking teachers for extra help, and spending more time studying. They showed restraint and studied when they could have easily been participating in another activity. Most importantly they showed integrity and did not fold under the pressure but instead continued to build their leadership skills.
Why am I excited about athletics at Inwood Academy this year? Additional sports such as middle school girls field hockey are expanding the athlete pool. The High School Varsity Girls Basketball Team was accepted this year to the Public School Athletic League (PSAL), another exciting change for our athletics program. Sports that have seen much success at Inwood Academy, such as wrestling, softball, and soccer, are patiently waiting for another opportunity, especially the High School Varsity Basketball Team. A team with five freshman starters who came one win away from a CSAA HS Championship. Teachers have given of their personal time to help students reach academic goals and standards. Parents have increased their overall support. All these sacrifices are what makes us family and will ultimately help us succeed.
How well will we perform this year? We can be encouraged; we can have a pretty good idea but reality is that it is impossible to say. One thing is certain, those that are truest to themselves and the program are granted its highest tributes. We do not evaluate our year by wins and losses but by the development of character.
This is Inwood Academy Athletics! We are the Inwood Academy Trailblazers!