The Inaugural Van Cortlandt Park Scavenger Hunt!

Author: Julian Navarro, sophomore

On September 5th 2020, Honors Program First-Years completed a scavenger hunt as a part of the Honors’ orientation programming, a tradition hundreds of First-Years before them have had the fun of experiencing as well. This year’s scavenger hunt, however, was quite different than years prior. Instead of taking the D Train down to Columbus Circle and running around Central Park to take photos in the Shakespeare Garden or at the Bethesda Fountain, the Class of 2024 logged into a Zoom call for a virtual scavenger hunt “in” Van Cortlandt Park. 

The idea to move the annual Honors scavenger hunt from Manhattan’s Central Park to the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park first came about during one of this past summer’s Honors Mission Discussions, a series of meetings between current Honors students and professors that served to assess the Honors Program’s role in newly prevalent public dialogues on racial justice. Honors Sophomores Erik Brown, Amelia Medved, Julian Navarro, and Pilar Valdes designed, organized, and hosted the hunt with the intent of creating a Bronx-affirming program to highlight disparities in care, treatment, and accessibility between Van Cortlandt Park and Central Park. Fordham’s hybrid approach to the Fall 2020 semester complicated the original plans for an in-person event, but the scavenger hunt was quickly adapted to an online format as a Google Form.  

The First-Years were asked to research and answer a series of trivia questions that were scored on correctness and timeliness. The trivia emphasized Van Cortlandt Park and the Bronx’s historical significance as well as their contributions to the beauty of New York City. Examples of such questions are, “Which park is one of the 3 largest parks in New York City?” and, “Which park has over 1000 acres of land considered to be ‘Forever Wild Reserve,’ an NYC Parks program that was established to protect ecologically valuable land?” The correct answer to both of those questions is “Van Cortlandt Park.”

Julian and Honors first-year students overlooking the city from Van Cortlandt Park.

After the virtual scavenger hunt, an in-person, socially distanced trip to Van Cortlandt Park was planned for those who could safely attend. A total of eight First-Years, accompanied by three of the hunt’s organizers, Erik, Amelia, and Julian, as well as sophomore Nick Urbin, walked northward to the park along Mosholu Parkway. Everyone noted the difficulty of reaching the park from anywhere south or southeast of it as Sedgwick Avenue and the Major Deegan Expressway’s on-ramps are formidable opponents to foot traffic. However, trumping the sight of such deficits on the trip was the beauty of Van Cortlandt Park and the Bronx. Friendly hellos were exchanged with people barbecuing along the Parkway on the walk; the historical Van Cortlandt House stood in all the vibrant green of New York City’s third largest park; and from the Vault Hill Overlook everyone caught a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline and the roofs of the wonderfully colorful borough the Honors Program has the privilege to call home.

Showcasing Honors Talent with the Student Art Gallery

Author: Megan Schaffner, senior

It’s no secret that the Honors community is full of incredibly talented students. From scholars to actors to everything in between, Honors students have a wide set of skills that make them unique, well-rounded individuals.

In the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, the Student Activities Committee decided to create an Alpha House Art Gallery in order to exhibit photography, paintings, and poetry created by Honors students. The gallery, first unveiled during the annual Honors Fall Fest event, was an immediate hit!

From then on, the Alpha House Art Gallery was updated each semester with new artwork by Honors students. This spring, although we could not be physically together due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Student Activities Committee wanted to keep the Art Gallery alive.

Thus, we are proud to announce that the Spring 2020 Study Art Gallery is available in digital format. Please use this link to view Honors students’ amazing work!

SAC Showcase: Bronx Music Heritage Tour

Author: Kelsie O’Leary, sophomore

Three years ago, the Honors Program initiated a student-led advisory board to assist in creating co- and extra-curricular programming. Since then, the Student Activity Council has developed into a ten-committee organization with focuses varying from Arts & Entertainment to Community Engagement & Social Justice. Last year, in an effort to encourage students to learn more about history and culture in the local neighborhoods, the Bronx Culture Committee was formed.

This month, Bronx Culture Committee Chair Kelsie O’Leary (‘21) organized an opportunity for Honors students to visit the Bronx Music Heritage Center (BMHC). The students enjoyed a walking tour around the Crotona Park East neighborhood led by Co-Artistic Director of BMHC, Elena Martinez, where they learned about the rich history of hip-hop and jazz music in the Bronx.

The Honors students with Bronx Music Heritage Center staff members,Elena Martinez and Bobby Sanabria.

The Heritage Center is located near many historical areas of the Bronx, including Charlotte Street. The opening scene of the controversial 1981 film, Fort Apache the Bronx, was shot right outside its door. The film depicted the Bronx as a hostile, crime-ridden borough, and community members fought against this negative portrayal during the film’s production. Despite their protests, the film was still released. Stereotypes, like the ones in the movie, are still being combated by the Bronx community today.

A photo of the protests that students were shown on the tour

After the tour, students saw inside the Heritage Center, where a dance class had just finished. The current exhibit, titled #papielmaestro, displayed a series of photographs of musician Ray Santos, documented by his daughter. The other BMHC Co-Artistic Director, Bobby Sanabria, spoke with the Honors students about the current programs and events offered at the Heritage Center, including dance and music classes, poetry nights, live performances, film screenings, and more.

Overall, the trip was great and the students learned a lot from Elena and Bobby. The Bronx Music Heritage Center is an amazing organization that everyone should visit if they have the opportunity!