I recently spent a week on a small island in Mexico that I’ve had the pleasure of visiting every summer over the past 6 years. After that many years, it now feels like a part of who I am, and it feels like home.

Not far from my hotel is a pathway that winds along the ocean, past the calm waters and white sand beaches until the coastline morphs to rocky waves that beat along the cliffs. Without another tourist or local in sight for miles, I do a lot of thinking during my daily walks down this path. During my last daily walk before heading home, I reflected about how much had happened since I had walked that same path a year prior. It’s surreal to think about how a mere 12 months ago RBA had not yet become the living, breathing entity that it is today. Our amazing founding students, their parents and siblings, and every person along this journey with us – faculty members, community members, volunteers, board members, donors and more – we are more than just a school, we are now a community and a family.

Our first year was an even bigger success than we ever could have imagined, and I’m eagerly anticipating what the next year will bring. Just as the island has become a part of me, we know that a child’s environment becomes a part of who they are now, and also the adult that they will become – which is why becoming a boarding school as soon as possible is crucially important.

In closing, to continue the theme of how important our environment is in shaping who we are, here is a poem written by one of our students during a recent field trip our students took to Open Books.

By Noah Hood

I want to leave the hood
Even though you can’t take it out of me
Just don’t take it out of my name

I want to go places, I don’t want fame
Black on white we all bleed the same
Just don’t take it out of my name

Japan that’s where I want to go
Maybe even Mexico
Just don’t take it out of my name

To learn the other parts of my race
Just don’t take it out of my name
Hopefully he doesn’t build awall
Just take him out, maybe let him crawl

So he knows us black people will never fall
I want to escape the hood

Even though you can’t take it out of me.

Thank you for all you do!

Val Groth
RBA Founder and CEO