The After school project - PhMuseum

The After school project

Cassandra Giraldo

2012 - Ongoing

New York, United States

There are an estimated 1.1 million school children in over 1,800 schools accounted for by the New York City Department of Education (DOE). This sweeping statistic has floated in my head ever since I began photographing youth in New York City in 2011. When I began interacting with these bi-products of the Department of Education on the city streets, I became enthralled with documenting the fleeting romances, playful friendships, mischief making and general teen loitering that is so specific to this demographic and yet hidden to the rest of the world. Photographing the authentic New York City American teenager became a point of obsession and distraction for me as I struggled to figure out what kind of photographer I wanted to be outside of my daily assignment work.

While most of the moments I was capturing felt banal and lighthearted, the more I photographed and got to know these teenagers, the more I realized there was so much more going on beneath the surface. These young people are bi-products of a racially-charged urban society and a segregated school system. This small window of time in the after school hours is theirs to take ownership of, making it the most interesting and authentic to photograph.The more I photographed these teens, the closer I came to the systems that are helping to shape or harm them. Beginning with sports teams (football and wrestling) and by slowly working my way inside select public schools, I've become closer to the issue of segregation that has come to define the New York City school system.

According to a study done by UCLA's Civil Rights Project in 2014, New York State and New York City have the most segregated school system in the country. Segregation and inequity show up in various aspects of the school system but have reach beyond the classroom. For example, New York City schools are continuing to be denied Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) teams based on 'budgetary constraints' while the schools with the most white students receive a disproportionate share of the funding. Another symptom of a segregated school system is the presence of metal detectors in schools that serve mostly Black and Hispanic youth. These are just a few of the themes I hope to explore through the continuation of "The After School Project," in the hopes of reminding the public that our broken public school system is in fact not "post-racial" almost as if Brown vs. The Board of Education never happened. If we are to understand or assist youth globally, we must first take stock of our youth right here in the city that most often exemplifies the entire United States. My role and commitment as a photographer is to provide the public with an intimate window into the lives of our country's youth both inside and outside the classroom.

{{ readMoreButton }}

  • Jamaica and Terrell, both age 15, share a tender moment after school on September 29, 2014. From my ongoing Instagram-based photo series "The After School Project" which is an examination of how urban youth spend their time after school. When not under gaze of their parents or teachers.

  • Kezia, 17, a high school senior, enjoys a slurpee after school in Brooklyn, New York as New York City public schools go back to school on September 9, 2015.

  • Justin, 14, plays on his skateboard as he waits for his brothers to bring out an after school snack from the corner bodega in Brooklyn, NY on May 20, 2015.

  • A Beat The Streets girls wrestling practice in December 2015. The non-profit Beat The Streets attracts young girls from all over the city, encouraging them to start or join girls wrestling teams of their own. Photographed for my ongoing series, "The After School Project." In New York City, the Department of Education in partnership with BTS, formed the first girls wrestling league in the 2012-13 school year after girls continued to demand for a spot on the boys league.

  • Raquelle and Alonzo hang out near Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York after school on September 29, 2014.

  • A detail of Arielle, 14, and her septum piercing as she hangs out with her friends after school in Brooklyn, New York on September 29, 2015.

  • From left, Tiffany, Hannibal and Lavendar hang out near Fulton Mall in Brooklyn, New York after school on September 4, 2014.

  • Anna Pimentel, 16, enjoys a slice of pizza after school on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York October 27, 2015.

  • The Brooklyn Tech cheerleading squad during their football team's last game of the season at Aviation Sports Center in Brooklyn on November 5, 2015.

  • Senior Brooklyn Tech football players Charles Dovey and Robert Deokinandan share a tearful hug after losing the last game of their season and high school career to Midwood High on November 5, 2015.

  • The Brooklyn Cheer team runs a lap before the Brooklyn Tech Engineers play their last game of the season at Aviator Sports Center in Brooklyn on November 5, 2015.

  • Naya and Miguel flirt after school outside of a McDonalds in Brooklyn, New York on September 17, 2015.

  • Konstantin, 14, left, and Bishopp, 14, right, both new freshmen in high school, do their math homework before track practice in Fort Greene Park on September 9, 2015, the first day of school in New York City.

  • From left, friends Felicidad, 16, Charles, 16, Izzy, 17, and Sophia, 17, wear matching "My Chemical Romance" t-shirts for the first day of school on September 9, 2015.

  • Brooklyn Tech football player Charlie during a Brooklyn Tech Engineers football game in Fort Greene Brooklyn on October 31, 2015.

  • Two friends embrace on their way home after school in front of a McDonalds in Brooklyn on September 17, 2015.

  • From left, Karen, 17, Tarek, 20, Rosie, 17, and Munna, 19, from Queens are caught canoodling after school on September 29, 2015.

  • Two friends greet each other on the first day of school in Brooklyn on September 9, 2015.

  • The first day of school in New York City. Kids sport backpacks purchased from Fulton Mall in Brooklyn.

  • A Beat The Streets girls wrestling practice in December 2015. The non-profit Beat The Streets attracts young girls from all over the city, encouraging them to start or join girls wrestling teams of their own. Photographed for my ongoing series, "The After School Project." In New York City, the Department of Education in partnership with BTS, formed the first girls wrestling league in the 2012-13 school year after girls continued to demand for a spot on the boys league.


Newsletter