National Geographic : 1990 May
Guys who used to be my friends got me to skip school," says Pedro, at home with his mother, Anna (left). "But I don't do that no more." Now in eighth grade, Pedro attends Har bor School for the Perform ing Arts, one of East Harlem's 20 schools of choice. Observers credit this idea with having helped the district raise reading scores from lowest in the city in 1974 to just above average. Pedro pur sues gymnastics and circus arts as well as subjects like mathematics. "I love prob abilities," he says. With six people living in a two-bedroom flat, Pedro studies where he can, usu ally the living room (lower left). His bedroom is a place to play with visiting cous ins, even as his 26-year-old brother, Flaco, naps. Flaco was later shot to death over an alleged theft of stereo speakers. "I will definitely get a high school diploma, and maybe college," says Pedro, who has been offered help by Barry Greene. Either achievement would put him in the minority in East Harlem, which suffers one of the nation's highest drop out rates. Only one-third of the residents have finished high school. "Someone once told me there is a third category of people in addition to wolves and sheep," says Barry. "There are the eagles. Pedro's an eagle."