Next spring, 120 students will walk across a stage, receive their diplomas and graduate from high school. They will join millions of students around the world who participate in this annual rite of passage. But what sets this group apart is the fact that they will be the first class to graduate from KIPP NYC College Prep High School. And the legacy that they are leaving behind will live on in a building that they never set foot in.
For this group of students, their high school experience has been defined by constant change – moving from their first building in West Harlem to another in the South Bronx and then back to West Harlem. Hardly a high school student’s dream.
But thanks to generous Robin Hood supporters and the New York City Department of Education, KIPP NYC College Prep will finally have a home. The school—which will serve more than 1,000 students —will open in August 2013. This is bittersweet for the members of KIPP’s class of 2013, who will graduate two months shy of the building’s completion.
Last month, Robin Hood, Hunter Roberts and The Georgetown Company, the property developers who generously provided their services pro-bono invited all 120 rising seniors, as well as school administrators and teachers, to participate in the “topping out” ceremony for the new building. This ceremony, a tradition of the building trades, marks the occasion when the final steel beam is added to a building's frame. The custom is for the last beam to be painted white and signed by all the workmen involved and is one of the oldest traditions in construction. By signing their names to the final piece of the school, the founding class was given a tangible way to leave its mark on the new building.
Although these students will never use the school’s state-of-the-art science labs or perform in its 1,000 seat auditorium, they realize how important the space is for the their community.
Shakeema Blanco, who has attended KIPP since 5th grade said, “Students need stability, a place to call home; a place that reflects our commitment to academics and character. And even though I’m sad that the building won’t be ready in time for my class, I am honored to have laid the foundation for other students. We all deserve it.”