The Eagle Academy for Young Men has been around for six years, but it never had its own school building. Until now.
Eagle Academy’s first building of its own opened its doors for the first day of school on Wednesday, September 8, in a historic and festive ceremony, complete with gold and blue balloons, passionate speeches and food.
“In the city of New York,” declared Reverend Jacques DeGraff, vice president of One Hundred Black Men, “we have a new giant — a man who would not take no for an answer. He raised his voice when others would not, would you stand for the leader of the movement? Hi name is David Banks!”
Amid thundering applause from students new and old, David Banks, president of the Eagle Academy Foundation and founder of the school, took the podium to address young men clad in their school uniforms.
“This is a new building, but not a new school,” Banks reminded students, their parents, and faculty. He recalled the years during which Eagle Academy shared cramped buildings with numerous other schools. “The eagle finally has its own nest,” he said. “Some of you may think you’re just going to a new school, but this is a rebirth.”
The school’s new principal is Jonathan Foy, who told the audience, “I’m humbled and excited. Today isn’t just about today. It’s a celebration of all that came before. I want you to know that I know what I’ve inherited.”
Ruben Mayungo, a senior, was the only student chosen to speak. He will get the privilege of spending his final year in the new school building.
“In the Bronx, where we’re from, we’re expected to not get anywhere,” he told his classmates. “But with this opportunity, we will thrive, we will excel.”
Following the ceremony, Foy commented that having one space for the Bronx school is a chance for students to build a stronger network at a comfortable base.
And the base is comfortable. The state-of-the-art school building includes smart boards in each classroom, a senate chamber for mock trials, and the huge, beautiful gymnasium where the speeches were held.
“Today is a celebration of all the work that so many people have done to get us here,” said Foy. “Eagle Academy has achieved so much, but we’re certainly not done.”
This was a special day for two brothers in particular. Calvert Quow, a freshman this year, was lucky enough to have his older brother Troy Allen with him. Allen was a founding student at Eagle Academy in 2004, and has since graduated and joined the Army. Allen and Quow are from Queens, and when Allen was at the school he said the commute was difficult for him.
“I was the only kid not from the Bronx,” he said, “so my experience was different than most of the kids that went there. I didn’t like it at first, but I learned so much and it gave me so many opportunities.”
Quow said that Allen gave him some special advice for the years ahead. “He told me to stay focused,” he recalled. “And to be serious. And to stay out of trouble. And to listen.”
Quow will have to take two separate trains and a bus to get to school each day, but he knows another student from Queens, so that’s one pleasure his brother did not have.
The boys’ mother, Adriane Allen, said she couldn’t be prouder. “It’s a great day. I’m so, so excited,” she said, thanking her friend Shawn Williams, who was also there for opening day and had helped the family by going to PTA meetings when Adriane could not make it.
Remarked Williams, “It really takes a village!”