BCSM – A Bronx Tale
“Most people have a negative view of people in the South Bronx, but the kids here aren’t any different. They have morals and values, wanting to belong and wanting to give back.”
– Madeline Rios, BCSM Assistant Principal
It wasn’t long before Bronx Center for Science & Mathematics’ (BCSM) Assistant Principal Madeline Rios and Guidance Counselor Pat Klarl saw a change in their students participating in buildOn’s afterschool program and weekend service projects. Pat expresses that, “When they give back to other people, they see the power within themselves to make a difference in their world.”
In 2010, two students from BCSM were selected to travel with buildOn to Mali, Africa. Upon their return, Madeline and Pat were so inspired by the students’ experience that they enlisted the entire group to raise $74,000 to go back to Mali – this time as an all-BCSM team. At first, the students weren’t convinced they could raise that kind of money in the Bronx. But the school rallied and, through generous giving from the staff and local sponsors, began making headway towards the goal. “It became a family effort,” says Pat. In July 2011, thirteen BCSM students, along with Madeline and Pat, traveled to Mali to construct buildOn’s 427th international school.
“The trip has enriched my experience as a school counselor and individual,” says Pat. She formed a strong bond with the students on trek and is thankful for the opportunity. Madeline loved seeing the kids pushed outside of their comfort zones, as well as the pride they received from being part of such a significant project. When asked what she believes creates the strong connection among the students, Madeline said, “Serving is the common thread.” Despite the South Bronx being called “the worst slum in America,” change is happening – one teen at a time.