Welcome to When I Was Alive, an anthology of student writing from the North Bronx School of Empowerment. This anthology is the result of a special ten-week program, the Anti-Gun Violence Initiative: Art A Catalyst for Change, sponsored by New York City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.
For this special program, Teachers & Writers Collaborative has once again partnered with the Bronx Historical Society to provide young students with the opportunity to express themselves in creative and positive ways. We believe that by pairing young people with professional teaching artists, nurturing their talent, and providing them with new and positive outlets of expression, we can help bring about a change and end gun violence in this country.
This year’s Anti-Gun Violence Initiative began less than two months after the tragic Parkland school shooting, and only two weeks after the March for Our Lives in Washington DC. While these landmark events did have a dynamic effect on this year’s program, it’s important to remember that school shootings and gun violence are not new to this nation, or to the children of the Bronx. Making our communities safe from gun violence is a long game, and it’s programs like this one that can help bring us a little closer to that goal.
My thanks to my teaching-partner, Amina Henry, for the energy, insight, and inspiring presence she brings to this project. Our thanks to Magdalen Neyra, principal of the North Bronx School of Empowerment, and Xiomara Esquilin, program manager of Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation, for their positivity and support for this project. Our thanks also to Angel Hernandez, education coordinator of the Bronx Historical Society, for bringing all of this together, and for his strong belief in the power of art to change young lives.
Finally, a big thank you to the students of the North Bronx School of Empowerment for your courage, empathy, and creativity. This book is for you.
David Surface & Amina Henry
by Stephen (7th grade)
It’s summer in New York.
A red horse gallops down the street.
Regular people scream.
A sudden sadness.
Mountain of pain.
It may rain forever.