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At Success Academy Bensonhurst, the Planets Align for First-Hand Science Learning


Contact: Brian Whitley (510) 495-5542 [email protected].org

Corinne Adams 646-492-0987 [email protected].org

At Success Academy Bensonhurst, the Planets Align for First-Hand Science Learning

New York, N.Y.  At 2:44 this afternoon, around 363 first- through fourth-grade scholars at Success Academy Bensonhurst will don safety glasses, gaze up at the sky, and witness a phenomenon that has not been seen in 38 years: a total solar eclipse in the continental U.S.

Before they look up at the sky, scholars will gather in the auditorium to learn more about solar eclipses — and eclipse safety guidelines — from their science teachers. Weeks ago, the school operations teams ordered safety glasses for all scholars to use while viewing the eclipse. Recognizing the event’s historic nature, Success Academy’s central office distributed resources to teachers at schools across the Network last week. Many Success Academy schools will livestream the eclipse so scholars can watch in real time.

Scholars like fourth-grader Nathan Gerber are excited for the historic moment. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It’s going to be cool to see the sun and the moon come together. You have to be careful so you don’t do damage to your eyes, but we’ll be prepared with our glasses,” said Nathan.

According to Success Academy Bensonhurst Principal Jonathan Dant, science engagement is a top priority at Success Academy schools. “We believe in science everyday starting in kindergarten. We want science to be exciting and hands-on, and having students view and learn about the eclipse is a great opportunity for us to do just that,” said Dant. SA Bensonhurst has a diverse student enrollment: 14% are African American, 52% white,12% Asian, and 19% Hispanic.

Success Academy scholars are encouraged to explore their natural curiosity for science. “My teacher Mr. Tarbell taught us about snakes for one unit — and he brought some in and let us hold them,” said Nathan. “We also learned about earthworms and got to touch them, too,” he added. Success Academy’s commitment to hands-on learning means that central office staff order more than 360 snakes to distribute to the network’s elementary schools during this unit.

Fourth-grader Sonya Kraizman hasn’t learned much about the solar system yet, but wants to learn more about space as she gets older. “I don’t just want to learn about eclipses, but also about black holes,” said Sonya. She added, “I want to know whether someone could get sucked into one!”


Founded in 2006, Success Academy Charter Schools are free public K-12 schools open to all children in the state through a random lottery. With 41 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 14,000 students, primarily low-income children of color in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 77% of students receive free or reduced-price lunch, 95% are children of color, 16% are children with disabilities, and 8.5% are English language learners. Ranked in the top 1% in math and the top 1.5% in English on 2016 state proficiency tests, Success Academy schools received more than 20,000 applications for about 3,200 open seats this year. 

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