Back to School with Councilman King

Council Member Andy King, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Olympic athlete Phyllis Francis at the rally. Photo: Shibani Gokhale

Bronx Councilmember Andy King with Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Olympic medal winner Phyllis Francis kick off the start of school. (Photo: Shibani Gokhale)

City Councilmember Andy King last week gathered the chancellor, the head of the city’s libraries and 1,500 middle school children at Evander Child High School to celebrate the opening of school, and to encourage reading.

“Reading is not just cool, it’s a journey,” said Teri Woods, who kicked off the rally with a reading from her new children’s book, “The Best I Can Be.” “When you find a really good book it will open up a world of opportunity.”

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and New York Public Library President and Chief Executive Officer Tony Marx greeted the children, and distributed books. And New York City’s Olympic Gold medalist in Rio’s 400-meter relay, Phyllis Francis, was on hand to accept a “Real Champion” award from the councilmember. “It is such an honor to be home in New York City and to help get the kids ready for school,” said the 24-year-old athlete from Queens.

Students at the rally Photo: Shibani Gokhale

Students at the rally
Photo: Shibani Gokhale

The rally was the sixth annual event sponsored by The Bronx Youth Empowerment Program, a non-profit youth services group co-founded by King with his wife, Neva Shillingford King. Since its launch, students have volunteered at various non-profit organizations, participated in group counseling sessions, and organized food and book give-aways to families in homeless shelters and elsewhere.

“We build the character of these children,” said King. “If we protect their mind and body, they will protect the community.”