Bonds of Brotherhood: At Church Farm School, Young Men Push One Another Toward Excellence

Church Farm School Graduates
From left: Mohammed Emun, Zozi Flores, and Alejandro Zuleta.

Mohammed Emun is the boisterous one, full of energy and excitement and as candid as can be.

Zozi Flores is more careful with his words, which are always thoughtful and focused.

Alejandro Zuleta comes across as shy, but a playful smile always lurks close to the surface.

They are three young men who just ended their journey at Church Farm School, heading to exemplary schools in New England for the next stage of their lives. Emun – from Lansdowne, in Delaware County – is attending Tufts University in Massachusetts.

“My mother wishes I was going to be closer,” he said.

Flores, from Brooklyn, will remain relatively close to family, attending Brown University in Providence, R.I.

Zuleta is leaving West New York, N.J., to attend Williams College in western Massachusetts.

Flores ribs Zuleta about the name of his hometown, with remarks that suggest a longtime joke between the good friends about the superiority of New York over New Jersey. Running jokes and an undercurrent of affection abound among these young men.

Emun matriculated at Church Farm School as a seventh-grader, two years ahead of Flores and Zuleta. As is common in small schools, their bond formed quickly when they all met their freshman year.

Emun recalls that Flores sat next to him in Spanish I, and that Flores won the Excellence in Spanish Award that year.

“It wasn’t fair,” Emun laughs. “He’s a native speaker!”

During their junior year, Emun, Zuleta, and Flores all served as prefects in Catherwood Cottage, where they fondly recall late nights hanging out. The senior class was very tight-knit, according to Emun.

“We have our own cliques within our class, but when we come together as a group, we are all very close,” he said.

They also represent the top tier of their class academically; all three qualified for the prestigious QuestBridge College Prep Scholars Program, which helps pair low-income students with the nation’s top colleges.

“If anyone gets it, it’s good for everyone,” said Zuleta. “And we all got it.”

Indeed, the trio has achieved amazing feats, with more than $700,000 in scholarships among them.

Tiffany Scott, Church Farm School’s Director of College Guidance, indicated that very few CFS seniors show interest in pursuing humanities majors in college, that there is an overriding concern for a career that will ensure financial security.

The boys all acknowledge that taking care of themselves and their families has guided their ambitions.

Flores will study engineering at Brown.

Emun is undecided, but says he wants to major in civil engineering, “so that I can help pay for all of the different financial needs for my parents.”

Zuleta says that, his entire life, he wanted to be both a doctor and an author.

“Being a doctor is part of my own dream, but I also know it will really help out my family,” he said.

The three are eager for their next steps, but nervous too. They know that their respective colleges will not be nearly as diverse as Church Farm School, and worry that the casual banter of brotherhood that they’ve perfected in high school might not translate as well to a college campus.

“People are going to think I’m weird,” Flores said. “There is so much freedom to be outspoken here.”

Despite any trepidation, however, they know they will go through it together, as the bonds of their brotherhood will transcend the distance separating them.

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