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Summer Rises in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn

July 20, 2021

By Jailain Hollon, Marketing Associate

“It was so good to come back to school,” says Chelsey, a 7th grader classroom learning, hang out with friends, and regain a sense of normalcy. Working together, the school administration along with the team from their community-based partner, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, are doing the best they can to attend to the emotional and social as well as academic needs of the students. Many school families faced illness and job losses during the pandemic.

“We know there is learning loss, but what we really want to do is to make sure the kids are doing well,” said Neysha Colon, an education specialist at P.S. 89.

After the academic portion of the day, the school, which follows strict health and safety protocols, started to buzz with playful activity. On the ground floor, kindergartners intently listened as an afterschool educator read a picture book aloud while fourth and fifth graders burned off energy playing a virtual version of Dance Dance Revolution, and middle schoolers attended a music class featuring instruments of Indigenous people.

Some kids who could have chosen not to go to Summer Rising said they were happy to attend.

“My mom said if I wanted to leave, I have the option to, but so far, I like it.” said 8th grader Christian, his eyes reflecting his happiness despite the mask hiding the grin on his face. “At home, I’m just sitting around playing video games. Over here, I’m actually going around being active, talking to my friends.”

Even with the bumps in rolling out Summer Rising, which left community-based organizations and schools scrambling with limited resources to accommodate kids while meeting strict Covid protocols, teachers, afterschool educators and administrators said it’s been great to welcome students back into the school.

Program Director Ancel Torres said that the greatest aspect of Summer Rising is seeing how happy the kids are to be back.

“We have students who are here for the first time in the school building and they’re excited, and their families are happy,” Ancel said.