Four decades of greatness
By Sarina Trangle
Four decades of alumni from the Ethical Culture Fieldston’s Enrichment Program (FEP) stood and “applauded life” Sunday evening.
Their clapping echoed through the 19th Century mansion ballroom as hundreds celebrated FEP’s 40 years of the “changing the lives” of working class children by polishing middle schoolers’ academics, assisting them in securing financial aid and admission at prestigious high schools and acculturating the students to life outside their neighborhoods.
Alfredo Thomas, the FEP director, danced as he walked to the center of the Tarrytown House in Westchester, eliciting cheers from the crowd. Mr. Thomas, who has led the program since its inception, announced he would be stepping down due to health concerns but would not forget the teachers, students and alumni he met.
“When I look around this room I’m renewed again and again,” Mr. Thomas said. “We’ve created some of the finest young adults in this society. This program is a program of stars.”
Attendees watched FEP through the ages as video montages of the program played during dinner. FEP emerged out of an Upward Bound program for high school students established by Fieldston and District 9 school board officials, according to FEP High School Placement Director Jacqueline Holland. In 1972, the enrichment program began focusing on middle school students to give them a head start in preparing for college, Ms. Holland said.
Today, the FEP program screens low to moderate-income applicants, selects 25 to 35 academically promising fifth-graders, and puts them through 32 five-hour Saturday sessions during their middle school years and 19 seven-hour meetings over summer breaks, before helping the students get placed at prestigious high schools.
Ms. Holland said FEP started as a tutoring-focused “college prep program” and gradually added etiquette lessons, Broadway musical viewings, ski trips, tours of selective high schools and “life awareness lessons” to expose students “to the things that they would need as they go on to prestigious places.”
Keywordsethical culture fieldston, fieldston enrichment program, ariel karten, caliper corporation, city college, ccny, tarrytown house, alfredo thomas, FEP, joy bryant, fieldston,