NYC: This Is My Island

Now I’m staying at a friend’s house for a few days over on Long Island. Long Island is a bit of a misleading title because it gives you this impression of a little biddy island and actually it’s more like the size of a couple of UK counties joined together, or at least one large one. It takes over an hour to cross it by train from Manhattan.

Nevertheless, it is long and it is an island so it’s not a false description, just another thing to think about in the scale of things United States-wise. The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day, if a little chilly, so we’re heading to the beach in a minute and my camera is at the ready.

Yesterday we went to a prize-giving ceremony at the local school and I tagged along because, well basically I’m a nosey sod and wanted to see what an American high school looks like. This one is really good and you can tell the standard of teaching is excellent.

I found out that school days here start at 7.20 and finish at 2.30pm by the way, unlike the UK where the schools start at the same time as the offices. This means they don’t get that insane traffic congestion caused by both parents and commuters. Here the insanity is all commuter-driven! Anyway, back to the school…

Prizes were being given out for art and writing and the standard was impressive. Inspiring even. One girl had created a mural based on sounds and music in the city. A really incredible piece of work where you could see all kinds of things going on and incorporating some really interesting techniques.

Then there were prizes for poetry and two of those really stood out to my mind. One was about how you can’t have a proper relationship if you don’t enter into it fully (captured in three short stanzas) and the other was about the writer’s life from the time of his birth up to age 16 using the metaphor of a train. They obviously have very good teachers to be able to draw out these innate talents like this.

These kids are good — all of them, not just the ones I’m mentioning here. Oh and not all American kids are the pretentious so and so’s the British like to portray them as. They can be humble and shy whilst also being incredibly talented. People are people.

A good learning experience.