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Rosedale Scholar To Mayor: “I Want To Be Challenged”

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, NOVEMBER 4, 2019** Contact: Liz Baker, 646-902-4200 [email protected] Contact: Ann Powell, 646-894-6407 [email protected]


Nine-Year-Old Elijah Gilkes, Chess Player and Algorithm Enthusiast, Wants to Keep Learning in a Challenging Environment – But Mayor de Blasio is Ignoring his Need for a Middle School

Kids Over Politics

Rosedale, Queens — Fourth grader Elijah Gilkes used to be bored in school — until he won a place to attend Success Academy Rosedale. Now in his second year at Success, he never has a dull moment. When he’s not investigating algorithms in his favorite math class, Elijah’s cultivating his strategic thinking in chess. His best move? The Rook Roller, a checkmate using two rooks. Elijah will talk to anyone who will listen about the benefits of playing chess — he feels it makes him smarter to be challenged — and his goal is to make it into the top three players at his school. Unfortunately, Mayor de Blasio controls Elijah’s next move — to middle school — and is checking the young man’s future by denying him and 226 other Queens fourth graders space for a permanent middle school next year. After 33 months of waiting, Success Academy Queens families like Elijah’s don’t know when or if the mayor will fulfill his promise to provide a permanent school. Even though there are more empty school buildings in New York City than at any time in the past three years, the mayor refuses to identify space for Elijah and other fourth graders from four Success Academy elementary schools in Southeast Queens. They will have to return to district schools, where on average only one in three students is able to read or do math at grade level. Elijah is zoned to attend fifth grade at P.S. 195, where only 33% of students met state standards in ELA and 18% passed math. Elijah was at City Hall the day Mayor de Blasio ignored the 200 Success Academy students who had come to demand a school. “It’s not nice that the mayor is ignoring us. Maybe he forgets that he went to a good school to become the mayor. He shouldn’t take away other people’s chances to become mayor!” Elijah said. “Being a Success Academy scholar makes me feel proud because I get to challenge myself in the things I love, like math and reading and chess,” Elijah said. “That’s why I want to stay here.” ### ABOUT SUCCESS ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOLS 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 45 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 18,000 students, primarily children of color from low-income households in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 74% receive free or reduced-price lunch, 94% are students of color, 16% have disabilities, and 8% are English language learners. Success Academy schools received more than 17,000 applications for about 4,000 open seats for the 2019-20 academic year. For more information about Success Academy, go to

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