It’s not just about Squash – CitySquash student is awarded scholarship

November 12, 2008 - 2:01pm
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From Tim Wyant, Executive Director of CitySquash

A wonderful thing happened today, Thursday March 10th.  Tanesha Jackson, one of our eighth graders who Zoe Brunson mentors, was awarded a full scholarship to the Hill School, a boarding school outside of Philadelphia.  Tanesha found out this morning.  When Sarah Petrie, our director of academics, happened to see her at Middle School 45 a little while later, Tanesha sprinted down the hall to hug her, crying tears of joy.  Tanesha's mom, Maria, an amazing lady who has dedicated her life to her children, immediately broke down in tears when I told her the news on the phone.  "Thank you, God," she said over and over, "thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you."

This opportunity will change Tanesha's life forever.  An African-American, Tanesha lives on 161st Street in the Bronx, some forty blocks from Middle School 45, in one of the toughest parts of New York City.  When it was time for her to enter sixth grade, her mom fought tooth and nail to get her into Middle School 45, which, in spite of the considerable distance from their apartment, was attractive because of its successful chess program.  Maria succeeded in getting her baby girl (Tanesha is the youngest of seven) into M.S. 45, but as fate would have it, Tanesha never joined the chess team.

Tanesha was one of the hundreds of sixth graders who we invited to try out for CitySquash's inaugural class two and a half years ago; she not only made the team, she quickly established herself as one of our best players and went on to win her division of the National Urban Championships two years in a row.  She is bright, talented, vivacious, fun and determined to succeed in life.  Just as she is fortunate that Hill has given her this opportunity, Hill is fortunate, too.  She will excel there and contribute greatly to the school.

As you know, it is not CitySquash’s mission to place all of our team members in private high schools—not all of our kids are suited for that experience.  But one reason that we are so excited about this news is that we are confident that Tanesha will not be the last CitySquasher to get to go a school like Hill.  Word is spreading among private day and boarding schools that we have great kids who are talented athletes and bright, hardworking students, and many want CitySquash to become a feeder program for them.

For the moment, however, we are mainly just thinking about Tanesha.  We are overjoyed for her and her family, and we are very proud of the role we have played in making this opportunity possible for her.  As some of our most wonderful supporters, you should be proud and happy, too.  It is often said that if you change just one life for the better, you have truly done good.  Today, we know we have done that.

In the photo below, Tanesha is on the left, following her victory at the Bronxville future stars tournament.