A Former Graduate


“Good Evening,”

My name is Robert and when I look back on my years in high school, many thoughts come to mind. Whether it be the long commute each day, the long hours spent in the classrooms, the long hours studying each night, or the lunch hours that were always too short, my time at P’TACH/MTA was an experience that continues to have a lasting effect on my life today.

For some of the students at MTA, the adjustment from grade school to high school was pretty easy. Good grades started coming once they be came accustomed to the long hours and the mainstream curriculum. For others, the adjustment took longer and unlike the many students who attended mainstream classes, I found myself with different needs in order to produce the best results. It was for this reason that I turned to the P’TACH program, with the hope that I could bring myself up to a higher learning level. Instead, I got even more than I bargained for. While in the program I did learn History, Science, Math and English and yes even Torah, but unlike the students in the regular curriculum there were a few valuable lessons to be learned about life that surely none of the mainstream kids could ever have gotten from their classes.

The first of those is the ability to motivate one’s self into becoming the absolute best we could be. In P’TACH there was always that higher goal – to rise up and reach the next level.

With a mainstream class hovering over our heads and often in our reach, there was a strong incentive to motivate oneself by always continuing to work to the best of our ability. For those of us who did move up into a mainstream class, we then had the goal of not just getting by, but proving to ourselves and the other teachers and students that we belonged there. Passing grades often weren’t enough. To be satisfied we needed to work with a stronger work ethic than those sitting around us in order to produce the best results. Today, I still find myself with that strong work ethic and that desire to outwork all those around me in order to be the best at everything I do.

The second lesson learned from my years in P’TACH, is that of self confidence. Similar to my work ethic, my self-confidence was not taught by a teacher or in a textbook, but rather it came from just being part of the program. It’s no secret that being a student in the program often meant carrying the stigma of being an outsider around your peers. In order to feel a sense of belonging, one had to develop a certain self-confidence, believing that we were not inferior to anyone just because of the classes we were taking. This was often a hard lesson to be learned, but when one has to keep on telling himself that he belongs, eventually he is going to believe it and use that self-confidence to fit in with any group. From high school through college and into the business world, I continue to carry a belie{ in myself and in everything I do. This isn’t to say that I would never have found self-confidence later on in my life, but I am proud to say that its origins can be traced back to my experiences in the P’TACH program.

The third and most valuable lesson learned that I wish to mention, is that of friendship. Once again, this is not something that I knew nothing about going into high school, although I certainly do not feel that way now considering the friends I made dunng my time in P’TACH, people who I continue to be close with even today. Perhaps it was because we all faced similar challenges, or perhaps because P’TACH attracts a certain type of individual; whatever the reason, it seems t a the students of P’TACH stick together and develop a certain closeness not shared by anyone else in the school. Just ask around, how many friends from high school do you remain close with? Can they be counted on the fingers of one hand? For me the numbers are much greater and so many of them are the kids I sat with in P’TACH classrooms.

The students of the program really stand up for each other and due to the smaller number of students in each class, we really all had a greater opportunity to learn more about each other and have a better understanding for one another.

It truly is remarkable to look back on those four years of Yeshiva High School. Although it wasn’t all that long ago, so many things have changed in our world. For me, I’ve finished school, I’ve gotten married and am now earning my own living.

Still, despite the many changes, some things will always remain the same. Whether it be my desire to succeed, my self confidence or the friends I hope to keep forever, P’TACH will always play a major role in my life and I’m proud to take part of that experience with me wherever I