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Scholars Honored for Extraordinary Progress and Achievement at Success Academy’s Seventh Annual “Slam the Exam” Academic Pep Rally


Contact: Ann Powell, 646-894-6407 [email protected]org

Will Chabot, 518-788-8685 [email protected]



4,000 Success Academy third and fourth graders gathered at Barclays Center to celebrate their hard work and achievement

New York, NY — Amira Bhagwandin was supposed to enter as a fourth grader when she enrolled as a new student at Success Academy, but when she took the placement assessment, it turned out she wasn’t quite ready. There were math concepts she had never encountered that Success Academy third graders had already mastered. The school considered holding her back, but after conferring with Amira's family, concluded it wouldn't be in her best interest. Alerting Amira and her parents that she would have to work extra hard to learn the math from both grade levels, they placed her in a fourth grade class.

Amira was clearly up for the challenge. She threw herself into her work, attending extra tutoring and sometimes even volunteering to give up an electives class to spend more time on a challenging topic. Her hard work paid off. Today, at Success Academy’s seventh annual “Slam the Exam” academic pep rally at Barclays Center, Amira was awarded the top honor — and tickets to the Six Flags amusement park — for having achieved the greatest growth in math across the entire network.

“Amira has been a leader in the classroom and has worked incredibly hard toward her goals. She truly deserves this recognition,” said her teachers Meaghan Durgin and Stephanie Henriquez.


Amira was one of five scholars honored at the rally. The ELA Growth Award went to Genevieve Jean-Charles, a fourth grader at SA Union Square, while the ELA Excellence Award went to Katie Mar, a fourth grader at SA Union Square. Beckett Byrne, a third grader at SA Hell’s Kitchen, and Carter Kuo, a third grader at SA Upper West, tied for the Math Excellence Award.

More than 4,000 Success Academy students from 24 Success Academy schools across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx attended the pep rally. The rally gave them the opportunity to celebrate their hard work and academic readiness and show off their school pride in advance of the upcoming state exams.

“We hold this pep rally each year because we want scholars to viscerally understand that intellectual effort and academic achievement are something to celebrate and cheer,” said Success Academy founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz. “In real life, hard work, perseverance, and achievement in school have enormous pay-offs  — they open up a lifetime of opportunities.”


Friday’s event featured performances by Success Academy dance and Step teams as well as school cheers set to popular songs. Jennifer Haynes, Principal at Success Academy Upper West, and Dan Rojas, Principal at Success Academy Union Square (pictured above), emceed the event, and Success Academy Founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz gave the keynote speech.

 Last year, Success Academy — where students are primarily low-income children of color, admitted by random lottery — ranked in the top 0.3% of New York State on the state math exams and the top 1.4% in English Language Arts. Across the network of 46 schools, about 6,800 students will be taking state exams this year. For older scholars, the rallies are school-based.



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 46 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 15,500 students, primarily low-income children of color in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 75% of students receive free or reduced-price lunch, 87% are children of color, 16% are children with disabilities, and 8% are English language learners. Success Academy is the size of the seventh largest school district in New York State and is number one in student achievement, outperforming affluent suburban school districts.

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