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One in a Million: Dreaming of Books, Planes and College

ExpandED Schools

We’re reaching our 1 millionth student this school year! This blog is part of a series where we journey throughout our expanded learning schools network and get to know some of our students. Meet Elian a 6th grader in Harlem. He’s 1 in a million! 

“I lived in the Dominican Republic and came to New York when I was eight. I graduated 5th grade with seven degrees. I got a trophy from basketball, and from helping the environment. I volunteered for a program to make a garden. I was the president of the school. My campaign was to make the school better for everybody and show school spirit. I got a diploma for being president, too. I was nice to everybody. I only spoke Spanish when I was eight. Now in 6th grade, in Humanities, I get 80s and 90s.

I learned English in school and from TV. In school, there was a Spanish teacher who gave me the homework in Spanish. But I told her to give it to me in English so I would learn. My teachers were really nice to me and I studied hard to read and write. Even when we went for spring break, I asked for homework. I read a lot of books. My 5th grade teacher was impressed. I didn’t even know how to read in 5th grade. It’s like a miracle. Now, my room is full of books. I like wizard books. Harry Potter. I read a Harry Potter book in two days. Books get me so excited.

When I was a little kid in my country, I wanted to be a singer. That was my goal. But when I came here, I learned about all these wonders I could do and I thought I can be something else. In 10 years, my dream is to go to Yale and build planes. I got to visit Yale; I was so excited. At the end of the trip, I saw that library and I thought, 'This is the biggest library I’ve ever seen. Maybe this is my college.'

I love building. My brother is two and he always breaks his toys. So I take my dad’s toolbox and I break the toy down and build it again. When I design a plane, I draw it first. Even if it’s sloppy, I know what I’m doing. Because then a picture of the plane comes into my head and I build it and paint it and it looks so beautiful.”




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