Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Written by Dan Cooper
“I just want to be a free spirit and run around in the mountains.” The words rang through the Brooklyn Brewery during our recent fundraiser to cacophonous cheers and hoots and hollers. This wasn’t the same Anderson we had seen in 2015 at the beginning of the program with Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists (BSSWA). He was somehow different. He had found his place and voice.
Arriving on the first day of the program eager but demur, curious but slightly withdrawn, Anderson watched attentively as the first aid skill was presented—then dove in, replicating the skill to near perfection. From the start it was clear he was different from the other students. He somehow saw just a little bit more, and could somehow execute things a bit more effortlessly. But a childlike simplicity graced his interaction with others, and students took note, and students can be cruel. It wasn’t the reflection of what lay ahead that students saw in his glasses as he walked down the hallway. Instead they saw what he saw. They saw the floor, just before he would step out of their way.
But with each passing program day, and each new opportunity seized with an alacrity seldom seen, gradually he began to see the students, and the students began to see him. He had found something, whether he knew it then or not, and it empowered him. So much so that when the opportunity came to apply for a scholarship to Forestcraft camp, he was the first to submit his application, and one of the first to be accepted. On the last day of camp, with the hardships behind, the friendships forged, it wasn’t the Anderson of old encountered. This was an Anderson undaunted. This was an Anderson beaming at his accomplishments, jubilant about his successes, a free-spirt in the mountains, unshackled by uncertainty, confident in his newfound focus. He is a student leader now, and others take note.