By Mary Frost
RED HOOK — A group of Brooklyn students learned something about the world of work the other day from Ben Franklin, Biggie Smalls, Leonardo DiCaprio and Whoopi Goldberg. Then they learned some more by playing video games in a restaurant arcade.
Fourteen 4th and 5th grade students from the P.S. 15 Boys Group of Red Hook and their teacher, Mike Sullivan, were guests of the popular tourist attractions Madame Tussauds and Dave & Busters. For many of the students it was their very first time being in Times Square. For some, it was their first time leaving Brooklyn.
While the boys enjoyed gazing at the wax celebrities and playing video games, the highlight of the trip was meeting two real-life celebs: the managers of the Madame Tussauds and Dave & Busters, Tom Kovacic and Benjamin Maddy, who told the boys about their jobs and how they got them.
Positive Male Role Models
The P.S. 15 Boys Group is a partner of the non-profit Puppetry Arts group’s Youth Empowerment Program (YEP!), headed by Tim Young. The objective of the group is to empower socially challenged students to be more responsible and proactive at home, at school, and in the community.
One way the program does this is by introducing the boys to positive male role models, like Madame Tussauds’ manager Kovacic and Dave & Busters’ manager Maddy. The two men volunteered their time to speak with the students about their own experiences in school and how they worked hard to get a “very cool job,” as one of the students labeled it. They also spoke about what inspired them to chose their professions.
“I always enjoyed TV and advertising as a kid,” said Kovacic. “And I knew that I wanted to do something like that when I grew up, and here I am in Times Square.”
Over lunch, Mr. Maddy shared how he became successful even though school was tough and things were not always so easy. “By working hard and always following what you love,” he said, “the possibilities are endless.”
According to Young, the P.S. 15 Boys Group is structured to empower students using six core values: Responsibility, Civic Duty, Cooperation, Compassion, Perseverance, and Courage. Students are asked to apply these values in everyday life and meet each week to review and share their experiences using them. For each accomplishment, they earn points towards patches acknowledging their success.
“Puppetry Arts is proud to have been invited to be part of Boys Group through our Youth Empowerment Program,” Young said. “But it is the outstanding and generous support from our community businesses and individuals like Mr. Kovacic and Mr. Maddy that make the difference in providing an even stronger impact.”
The students left Times Square with enthusiastic discussions of what they would like to be when they grow up. When asked what he wanted to be and how he plans to make it happen, fifth-grader Tyquan said, “I want to be a businessman. First I’ll do all of my homework and go to college.” He then took a moment and added, “After that I’m gonna watch TV and play video games.”
For more information about the Boys Group and the Youth Empowerment Program of Puppetry Arts, please visit www.puppetryarts.org or call 718-768-3703.