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Enmy Almanzar accepted for Harvard summer program

Eastside junior Enmy Almanzar says she was in tears when she learned she was accepted into the seven-week program.


(Photo: George Garbeck/Paterson Public Schools)


PATERSON – Three years ago, just after her family moved to Paterson from the Dominican Republic, Enmy Almanzar carried around a Spanish-English dictionary.

“I also practiced with flashcards all the time,” Enmy, now 16, recalled of her efforts to build her English vocabulary.

The junior at Eastside’s School of Government and Public Administration probably won’t be taking those flash cards with her next month when she heads to Cambridge, Mass., for a seven-week summer studies program at Harvard University.

“I wanted to do something different this summer,” Enmy said. “Last summer, I came to our school’s gymnasium and played volleyball. I also read a lot of books. This year I started to look online and saw the opportunity to apply for the program at Harvard.”

Enmy said she hopes to focus on her favorite subject, biology, and is currently perusing the summer school course catalog. “A couple of classes I am thinking about signing up for are medical genetics and neuroscience,” Enmy said.

The teenager said she always wanted to become a physician. “On my mom’s side of the family, my uncles and cousins are doctors,” Enmy stated.

The student said she feels Eastside has prepared her to further her education and she cited the honors biology class she took that was taught by Ronald Torres.

“It was the most difficult and challenging course I’ve ever had,” Enmy said. “We had a quiz every day. We studied about evolution, genetics, osmosis, water cohesion, and epistasis, which is the beginning of the universe from a scientific point of view. We also had labs.”

“I was speechless at the moment. I couldn’t even talk for a couple of seconds. My mother heard me from downstairs and came running. She thought something was wrong.”

Emmy Almanzar on being accepted into the program

A member of the Eastside’s ROTC program and the National Honor Society, Enmy has taken a variety of other honors and Advanced Placement classes.

“Enmy is always proactive; she has a drive like no other,” said Verraina Freeman, a discipline coordinator at Eastside. “When she sets her mind to do something, she does the research to achieve the goal.”

Principal Karen Johnson echoed her colleague’s sentiments. “Enmy’s been an encouragement to everyone,” Johnson said. “She’s worked so hard. She is a true role model."

Enmy said she is looking forward to her Harvard experience, which will run June 17 to Aug. 4.

“I can’t wait to live in the dorms,” she stated. “I will also be eating all my meals in the school cafeteria. This is an adventure I will never forget.”

The young woman vividly recalls the moment when she learned she was accepted for the Harvard summer program.

“It was Saturday afternoon, February 11, at exactly 12 p.m.,” she said. “I was at home getting ready to do the laundry. I heard my phone ring. The voice said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve been accepted.’ I started to cry.

“I was speechless at the moment. I couldn’t even talk for a couple of seconds,” she recalled. “My mother heard me from downstairs and came running. She thought something was wrong. I told her what happened. It was then she knew I had tears of joy. She started crying too."

Kristian Aviles' comic-book-style painting was chosen as top entry of 50

Paterson student's art to go on display at U.S. Capitol

Joe Malinconico, Paterson Press7:00 a.m. ET May 14, 2017


Kristian Aviles' comic-book-style painting was chosen as top entry of 50 in an art contest in the 9th Congressional District.


(Photo: Office of Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr.)


PATERSON – Khristian Aviles usually takes more than a month to finish one of his paintings.

But the 17-year-old senior at Paterson Eastside’s School of Government and Public Administration had just two weeks to come up with an entry for the annual congressional art competition. His teacher, Darryl Jones, advised Aviles to set aside his tendency to try to get everything just right.

“He said embrace every mistake, and I did,” the student recalled.

The strategy paid off. Aviles’ painting recently was named the winner in the 9th Congressional District, beating out 49 other entries from 18 different high schools in North Jersey.

As a result, Aviles will be honored with student artists from around the country in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., and his painting and the other winning entries will be on display at the U.S. Capitol complex for the next year.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. hosted a small reception on Friday afternoon to honor Aviles. The congressmen asked the student about his college plans and talked about his own experiences incorporating art into lessons during his high school teaching days in Paramus.

“I love the arts,” Pascrell proclaimed.

Aviles has never had any formal art training outside his regular classes at school. In fact, when he was in sixth grade, the district laid off the art teacher at his school because of budget cuts and for a while he had no art classes. The student praised Jones, his art teacher at Eastside, for allowing him to explore his creative instincts.

“He allowed me to find real freedom in my art,” said Aviles.

Aviles’ untitled winning entry comes out of the comic-book style made famous by pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. The student’s painting is based on a photograph of himself and his girlfriend, Emoni Morris, looking at each other. It comes with the comic-book-like caption, “And that’s when they knew!!!”

Knew what? Aviles said the answer depends on the interpretation of whoever is viewing the art. The student said to make the painting ambiguous on various levels. “Depending on how you see it, they could be angry or happy,” explained Aviles. Even the gender of the two people is blurred to some degree, he said.

“I like that people have to put their own ideas into it,” he said.

One thing Aviles decided not to blur was the racial difference between the man and woman in the painting. “I like the fact that my skin is white and her skin is black,” said the teenager. “The fact that’s there’s two skin tones makes a statement.”

Aviles said he expects to be in the Washington, D.C., area next month when he joins other Paterson students in the finals of the National History Day competition. But the 2017 winners in the Congressional art contest won’t be on display yet, so Aviles said he will make another trip to see his work.

The 50 entries in the 9th District contest had been on display at the George Segal Gallery at Montclair State University prior to Aviles’ selection as the winner. The judging was done by Mimi Weinberg, an artist and professor at the college. Weinberg said Aviles’ work was “successful in every way,” including its use of the comic-book style.

“There was a masterful handling of composition and color,” said the professor, who also called Aviles’ theme “intriguing.”

Weinberg noted the ambiguity of the interaction depicted between the two people in the painting. “It held your attention in that respect,” she said.

The second-place entry in the 9th District contest was by Gina Beneducci of Becton Regional High School; third place by Trinity Hamlet of Rosa Parks High School in Paterson and honorable mention by Helena Merker of Bergen County Academies.


Hamilton Performance

  • 19 Jan 2017
  • The Record (Bergen County)

For local students, ‘Hamilton’ up close, and free

Inspired Paterson kids meet cast members

As the house lights came up after Wednesday’s matinee of “Hamilton” on Broadway, Paterson high school student Emon Miah sat awe-struck in the mezzanine with fellow classmates.

JIM ANNESS/SPECIAL TO NORTHJERSEY.COMStudents from three Paterson schools, Eastside High School, JFK High School and Panther Academy, listened to cast members from the Broadway smash “Hamilton” after the performance on Wednesday afternoon. The Hamilton Project and the Rockefeller Foundation provided the schools with free tickets.

He needed to process it all, for a moment. “I never knew he had such an intriguing beginning,” he said of what he learned about Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s righthand man during the Revolutionary War and one of the nation’s Founding Fathers. “It made it easy for me to connect with.”

The junior at STEM Academy of JFK High School was with about 150 students from four Paterson high schools who got a chance to see the hottest show in town thanks to a partnership between the producers and creators of “Hamilton,” the Rockefeller Foundation, the Hamilton Partnership for Paterson and the Gilder Lehrman Institute that provides for thousands of metropolitan-area high school students to see the show for free or for as little as $10. The show swept the Tony Awards and has a huge sold-out advance, with some tickets reportedly going for unheard-of prices.

The students, who filled the mezzanine of the Richard Rodgers Theatre along with students from New York City public schools, were also treated to a Q&A session with members of the cast immediately after the performance. But aside from Alexander Hamilton himself, the real stars Wednesday were the students and teachers, who might otherwise never have had a chance to see such a show.

“It’s brilliant,” said Emily Delgado, a junior at the School of Government and Public Administration at Eastside High School, during intermission. “It’s amazing, just the way they transformed history into such a visual, foot-stomping performance.”

Jocelyn Mendez, a student at Paterson’s Panther Academy of Earth and Space Science, said the show was entertaining but still had intellectual heft. “It really gave you a lot to think about. It was so inspiring. I loved it.”

For many, this was their first time at a Broadway show, noted English teacher Thea Kalidas. “There is no theater program at Eastside. So for many, this is their only opportunity to see a piece of theater,” she said. “That these kids are here totally for free is absolutely amazing. I have had tears in my eyes during the performance, more than once. The kids have been remarkable.” And the show? “It’s beyond my expectations,” she said. “And my expectations were very high. It’s phenomenal. What they have done for this group of young students is fantastic.”

After the show, five cast members joined the students in the mezzanine section for a Q&A with associate company manager Holli Campbell.

“I was one of those guys who didn’t like musical theater. I always thought it was corny,” said Bryan Terrell Clark, who plays George Washington in the show. “But that’s what’s so powerful about this music . ... It sounds like NOW,” he said of the groundbreaking, sungthrough show with music, lyrics and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which merges aspects of hip-hop, rap, R&B and pop rock into its storytelling. As for the multiracial cast, he added: “It’s a great thing when we can look on a stage and see ourselves.”

Lauren Boyd, a member of the show’s ensemble, told the students they should never give up on their dreams. She said she committed herself to acting at an early age. “I said, ‘That’s what I want to do, and I am going to go after it.’ ... Things that look hard right now are only going to give you character. You all have your own unique story.”

Many of the Paterson students picked to attend the play made a class trip this month to see a traveling New York Historical Society exhibit about Alexander Hamilton at the Paterson Museum. In preparation for attending the play, the selected students have been working on class projects about Hamilton.


In a dialogue with the students in prior forums, Robin Gold of the Hamilton Partnership for Paterson nonprofit group has explained highlights of Hamilton’s life, including his role in the establishment of the nation’s first national bank and America’s credit system, as well as his support of the abolition of slavery. The Hamilton Partnership will pay for the Paterson students’ bus and lunch, and also cover the portion of the tickets not paid by the Rockefeller Foundation.


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