“I feel proud I’m in Obama House, the first black president of the United States,” eighth-grader Elijah Landsman said, who wanted to make it clear his house is outpacing the others. “Right now Obama’s in the lead, I’d just like to say that.”
School days begin with a town hall meeting where students share burdens like a mother’s health scare and then recite “Invictus,” the Victorian-era poem about overcoming adversity that proclaims, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
Donations from corporate and philanthropic supporters help pay for extras like after-school programs, mentoring and trips to visit colleges.
Juan Rijfkogel, a 2008 Eagle Academy graduate who now works as a derivative analyst at Credit Suisse, said the mentoring helped him succeed — and the all-boys environment helped too.
“At that age hormones are buzzing,” he said.
Elijah, the eighth-grader, said he’d rather go to school with girls “but my mother says there is less distraction.”
Of the city’s 20 single-sex public schools, 19 opened during the administration of outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg. They include girls’ schools such as the Young Women’s Leadership Schools, a network that’s parallel to Eagle Academy.
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio championed educational programs such as universal pre-kindergarten but did not address single-sex education during the campaign.
Single-sex believers include Melanie Harmon, whose sixth-grade son Aaron just started at the Harlem Eagle Academy after struggling with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder at his previous school.
At an opening ceremony for her son’s school, all the adult men in the room were asked to stand up and show the boys how to tie a tie.
Harmon said Aaron is learning to focus without the added distraction of girls. She added, “They teach them to become responsible. They’re teaching him basically how to grow into a man.”