Yesterday, we celebrated as 475 students graduated from CEI’s Project BOOST. Project BOOST (Building Options and Opportunities for Students) is a program targeted at late elementary, middle and high school students who have demonstrated academic talent but come from disadvantaged neighborhoods where they do not have the opportunity to develop their talents.
Project BOOST’s main goal is to help participating students gain admission to quality high schools upon completion of the project (eighth grade). “Quality high school” is defined as competitive and specialized high schools, including local educational option schools and private schools, as well as independent schools (both commuter and residential) and parochial schools. Over 74 of our 2015 graduates were accepted into specialized high schools, 15 students will be going to parochial school next year, and 7 will be attending private high schools.
The evening was kicked off with music from M.S. 180X’s Jazz Band, followed by a performance from each borough: M.S. 377M, I.S. 145Q, M.S. 328X, Trey Whitfield School, and I.S. 024R. Our graduates were dressed for success as they received their certificate of completion, Project BOOST pins, and celebrated with their peers, BOOST coordinators, teachers, administrators, CEI staff, and over 100 parents.
Seven students were presented the Stephen Kahn Outstanding Citizen and Scholar Award for achievements and growth during their time in Project BOOST. Dylan Blake (I.S. 059Q), Aziza Kurbanova (M.S.228Q), Edna Okang (M.S. 180X), Fiza Qazi (M.S. 311M), Jameel Suarzo (M.S. 328X), Genesis Reyes (M.S. 151X), and Khassim Hall (Red Hook Community Justice Center) were nominated by their BOOST coordinators and teachers. Each gave memorable speeches about what Project BOOST meant to them. “In my time spent in BOOST, I have visited Carnegie Hall, The Circle Line, farms, Broadway shows and so much more. But what has really stuck with me is when I had the opportunity to help people who were less fortunate!” stated Qazi from M.S. 311M.
Project Boost, through CEI’s Live Theater Program, works to expand cultural opportunities for our students. This year, from September 2014 through March 2015, we have introduced 5000 students from over 75 schools to a wide range of theater, dance and music performances, at New York City’s premier venues on Broadway, at Lincoln Center and at Carnegie Hall. As one BOOST teacher wrote “When we informed the group that they were going to see a Broadway Show the students’ faces lit up. One of the students started to cry for joy, she was so excited.”
Each Project BOOST student participates in community services, including global services, like Heifer International and Smile Train, as well as giving back to their community through visiting Senior Citizen centers, Shelter Outreach, Breast Cancer Campaigns, Penny Harvest, Food Drives, and Toy Drives.
Our deepest gratitude for the financial, technical, and educational resources provided by the following foundations, agencies, and individuals for their continued support of Project BOOST: Oaklawn Foundation, The Charles Hayden Foundation, Simns Foundation, Senator Tony Avella, Senator Martin J. Golden, and Senator Jeffrey Klein. And thank you to our dedicated coordinators and staff! Once again, congratulations to the Project BOOST Class of 2015!