When one door closes, another one opens, the optimists say — and that may be what parents of school-age boys in Southeast Queens are hoping with this week’s news that a religious school run by the Greater Allen AME Church is shutting down but could be replaced by the Eagle Academy for Young Men.
The Rev. Floyd Flake announced Tuesday that the Allen Christian School will close after 30 years because of financial problems.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions that I have ever made in my life,” Flake said in a prepared statement. “It's like losing part of your being, and it has brought great sadness to me and those who've had the privilege of getting an excellent education in this Christian school.”
City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott praised the Jamaica institution in a statement included in Flake’s announcment.
“I know my four children have fond memories of attending Allen Christian before moving on to New York City public schools,” Walcott said. “Although this is a sad day, Allen Christian leaves a legacy of high quality education, a legacy that we will remember as we continue our work to create excellent schools for all of our students.”
Now located inside IS 59, the Eagle Academy in Queens serves boys of middle-school age. Though a public school, it operates on its own model, with a longer school day during the week and classes on Saturdays. It is one of a series of Eagle schools geared toward young inner-city black men.
As Eagle puts it, African American boys are being robbed of their promise by entrenched poverty, high unemployment, poor educations and a lack of active fathers and role models. The school seeks to turn that around with a rigorous curriculum, strong parental involvement, a focus on college preparation and a mentoring program.
“Moving into a larger facility will allow Eagle Academy to build upon its existing model of improving educational outcomes for our young men of color,” said David Banks, president and CEO of The Eagle Academy Foundation, which is based in the Bronx. “This location would dramatically increase our ability to serve the community in Southeast Queens.”
Flake said Allen Christian is looking to lease its building to the city Education Department so Eagle can move in.