by Jenna Danoy, Social Media Marketing Intern
Last Friday, our eighth graders at JHS 13 made their walk across the stage and moved on to high school. Accompanying them on their symbolic journey was Behind the Book poet and author Dr. Tony Medina.
It was pretty cool to have a BtheB author speaking at JHS 13’s graduation. Last year, our Executive Director Jo Umans was asked to speak, and it was awesome to be so admired by one of our schools!
This year, Tony worked with class 802 and their teacher, Mr. Luster Chauncey. During his two visits, Tony inspired his students to write their own poetry, which was turned into the anthology Where 802 is From. Due to his involvement with JHS 13’s students, Tony was asked to speak at their graduation.
Dr. Medina began his address by giving his thanks to the JHS 13 class for letting him speak to them, and then he shared his own background.
“Growing up in the Bronx, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Every week I wanted to be something different,” he said, no doubt affirming the graduates’ own uncertainties about the future. “But what that showed me was that I had an active imagination. A desire to be somebody, to aspire to something.”
Tony also gave the students a hope of finding themselves quickly. “In ninth grade, I found my true calling and lifelong passion, which was to be a writer,” he said. “I also learned that in order for me to be a writer, I had to be a reader.”
Behind the Book has been working with JHS 13 for eight years – such a long time! We are incredibly proud of the students and teachers with whom we have worked, and we think it’s really amazing to see how much of an impact we have had over the years. It was also quite nice to have Tony reaffirm everything we have worked to teach in our programs in sharing his story.
Dr. Tony Medina is an award winning poet and author. He has written over fifteen books for adults and children, and has been published many times. His contribution to Behind the Book has been invaluable.