“Once you’ve been told that what you have to say does not matter, then just say nothing,” Annie Park, a dancer who appeared in more than 100 Men at Work concerts, told co-founder Lauren Platt. “Many times there’s a fear of saying what is on your mind, so we are on a mission to empower people to say what they want.”
That mission has produced a free middle school for sales in Queens’ Sunnyside, called lambda, which means “to cross and inspire” in Arabic. The school is a collaboration between charter group City Harvest, n01NYC, a nonprofit that runs programs for its clients; and the network of women business owners co-founded by Platt. They are also backed by philanthropist Evelyn Lauder, and by other leaders, such as Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Adults fill the second floor and several large windows of the building, with white walls and black, brightly colored pieces of art, from stitching to collage to theater.
When Luna, a junior high boy, saw two girls from a cultural exchange program in Egypt arrive with their art projects, he stood up to see if they had their permission to bring them home.
“You can come home with the art,” said his teacher, Jackie Lainez. Luna moved to New York eight years ago with his family.
Luna said he liked the classrooms with their art, computer science and technology programs. “The teachers here motivate you to learn,” he said.