The anniversary celebration saluted famous graduates like Assemblyman Keith Wright, who represents Harlem. NBC Parenthood star Joy Bryant was among three alumni inducted into the FEP Hall of Fame.
Ms. Bryant, an actress and model who grew up in the South Bronx, said she flew in from California to give thanks to the FEP program that helped her transition from Arturo Toscanini, J.H.S. 145 into high school studies at the Westminster boarding school in Connecticut and her college experience at Yale.
“If It wasn’t for Fieldston, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am,” said Ms. Holland, an FEP alumna of 1988. “This program exposed us to a whole other world that existed outside of our block. We were able to have a more enriched education. It put everyone on a path. It just gave you a chance, and you can do whatever you want with that chance, but it gave everybody a chance.”
Recent eighth-grade graduates donned cocktail attire and practiced using the multiple silverware sets they studied in FEP’s etiquette lessons. Ayanna Branchcomb, 13, said she was happy her graduation fell on the program’s 40th anniversary.
“It’s really formal and I’m just really glad to be here and that I graduated,” said the Bronx teen, who will start at the High School of American Studies at Lehman College this fall.
Ayanna said she was a little nervous but felt confident that if she could acclimate to the academic rigor of FEP, she would be fine.
“You learn how to handle high school and how to handle life. I learned to question everything and not take everything at face value,” she said.
Several FEP alumni including Daniel Santamaria credited the “life awareness lessons” taught by FEP graduates who return to discuss life inside private schools with helping them transition into high school.