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Yegor Gornostaev first came to the US from Russia when he was 5. At that time he didn’t speak English and knew nothing about New York. By 10 he’d become one of the leading students in an American school. Yegor is remarkably good at math and writing, playing guitar and … karate. Though at least half of Yegor’s life was spent in the Big Apple, he still considers himself to be a Moscovite.
So who is this kid in reality? A Russian New Yorker or a New York Russian?
Kiara Paredes Ortiz, 18 year-old from Dominican Republic, came to the US two years ago and now lives in Queens with her parents and sister. She goes to International High School in Brooklyn, is the vice president of Chinese club at her school and a straight A student. She loves growing up in New York and can be found roaming the streets of the city or shopping in Times Square. She wants to go to law school and study immigration law.
Oliver Polsky is The Mayor of the ice. One of many young leaders on his “Mite” ice hockey team, Oliver still has a lot of growing up to do. But no one says he can’t have fun doing it. He likes skating, scoring, and winning. He’s 7 (and three quarters), and he’s growing up in New York.
Jada Fischer, a 5th grader at Julia M. Nicholson Leadership Academy in Brooklyn, is a rising star in her school’s double dutch program. New York City is currently the only school district in the country to embrace double dutch as a varsity sport. Jada has been jumping for a little under a year, but is already taking top honors at competitions around the city.
Star Rodriguez is a 9-year-old girl from Brooklyn, New York who enjoys singing, dancing and theatre. In 2009, Star learned her mother, Lillian, was diagnosed with stage three cancer. While Star’s mother is in remission, doctors have recently found something in her lungs. While she waits for the results of a biopsy to see if the cancer has spread into her lungs, Star deals with the fear of losing her mom, as well as the struggles of just being a child growing up in New York City.
Aiste Blaudziunas is a born dancer. She divides her waking hours between a rigorous academic program at Stuyvesant High school and equally demanding ballet classes. But there’s more to the 17-year-old Lithuanian than being a ballerina. Dedicated and driven, she also understands that dance is only one facet of her life, and aspires to embody same grace on and off the stage.
When Jevon Johnson (a.k.a Jay Jay) is not perfecting his capoeira moves he’s working on his raps and songs in the recording studio his father built for him. With amazing charisma, determination and focus, this young boy from Brooklyn has everything to reach his goals in making it big.
Muhammad Omar, 12, moved from Mandi Bahauddin, Pakistan to Brooklyn in 2008. Initially having faced problems at school for not knowing English, he is now the top-scoring kid in his class. Not very much into sports, his real game is academics as he teaches his younger sister and cousin every day after school. Class timings vary between two to six hours, and subjects taught range from Math to Music!
When 16-year-old Jesus Merced of Brooklyn was arrested for tagging, he stumbled into a unique opportunity to learn new art skills and become a mentor. Merced joined Paint Straight, a ten-week program for New York teens on probation for drawing graffiti. The program, run by two former graffiti legends, teaches teens how to utilize their artistic skills in a positive way and market their work. Due to budget cuts to art programs in New York schools, Paint Straight offers many of its participants their first formal artistic training.