Go Bard or Go Home: TJ students seek to attend Shakespeare program at NYU

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To go to New York or to not go to New York, that is the question for five students at Thomas Jefferson High School who have been accepted into New York University’s Looking for Shakespeare program.

Well, more specifically, the question is whether the students can receive the financial assistance—about $5,000 a piece—to pay for tuition, room and board, and the flight to attend the month-long program. Rachel Harrah, the theatre arts director at Thomas Jefferson High School, said she is trying to help raise the money because of the positive impact the program would have on the students.

“This would be a life-changing experience for them,” Harrah said. “Not only will these students realize their greatness, they will be meeting and working with talented students from across the country.”

If they raise the money and are able to attend the program, the students will live in the NYU dorms, eat in the school’s cafeteria, and take all of their classes and workshop in NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. At the end of the program, the students will perform a full-length Shakespearean play.

“I’m always saying how great our kids are, and the fact that our students have the chance to go up to New York and shine is an incredible opportunity,” Harrah said. “I just hope we can make this opportunity happen for them.”

Roberto Garcia, one of the Thomas Jefferson High School students who has been accepted into the program, did not speak English just four years ago. Today, Garcia is not only fluent in English, but he is a pre-AP student and avid Shakespeare fan. He said he hopes to be able to attend the program so he can broaden his horizons.

“It’s the first of many big things I hope will happen to me in my life,” he said. “It would be such a big opportunity to learn so many things in the summer, increase my knowledge of Shakespeare, and see places I’ve never seen.”

Adaliz Salazar, Irving Ide, Rebecca Cruz, and Jadyn Tchandja are the other Thomas Jefferson High School students who have been accepted into the program.

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Four of the TJ students accepted into the NYU program know how to strike a pose.

In talking with the students about what they like about Shakespeare, several said they were surprised that the Bard’s work remains so relevant today. As Harrah put it, the high drama and stakes of Shakespeare is often very similar to the high drama and stakes high school students experience on a daily basis.

“If you’ve been to high school, everything that happens in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is happening right outside the door,” she said. “Shakespeare is as relevant today as he has ever been.”

To donate to help the five students attend the NYU program, click here.

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