Jersey City school brought to life as 'Coles Academic' in 'Ms. Marvel'

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Sunday, July 10, 2022
NJ school brought to life in 'Ms. Marvel' on Disney+
"Ms. Marvel" is set to launch on Disney+, and much of the action is set in a school inspired by Jersey City's Dr. Ronald McNair Academic High School. Toni Yates has more.

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- The latest TV show from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "Ms. Marvel," will stream its much-anticipated final episode on Disney+ Wednesday, capping off a six-episode series featuring the franchise's first Muslim superhero.

Ms. Marvel's teenage alter ego is Kamala Khan, and much of the action is set in a school inspired by Jersey City's Dr. Ronald McNair Academic High School -- transformed into "Coles Academic High School" in the MCU.

The "Ms. Marvel" comic series, launched in 2014, set the adventures of the fictional 16-year old teen superhero in Jersey City.

Khan, a teenaged, Muslim, Pakistani-American, Jersey girl with polymorphic powers, has called Jersey City and "Coles Academic" home for over eight years on the pages of Marvel comic books. Now, her world comes to life on Disney+.

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Next summer, Khan will arrive in theaters in "The Marvels," the sequel to "Captain Marvel."

McNair Academic first appeared in the Marvel Universe in "Ms. Marvel" Vol. 3 Issue 3 in 2014, and McNair students have enjoyed their front-row seat to the comic's fandom.

Costumed students have played Ms. Marvel at pep rallies and freshman orientations, and students created a Ms. Marvel mural for the school, have taken Ms. Marvel selfies, created yearbook spreads of the character, and read the graphic novels in classes.

McNair Ms. Marvels made appearances at events in the city by such groups as the Jersey City Free Public Library and the Jersey City Board of Education.

McNair students attended live lectures and events with Ms. Marvel creators and have been featured in media on the character.

"It was super inspirational, and it was great to see a character that's Muslim, that's female, and that's providing a positive voice to young girls," senior Noran Nasir said.

It has been a point of pride to be a real-life example of the various identities that this history-making character and story represents, and McNair students are gearing up to celebrate the character and add their voice to global conversations about teen life, cultural diversity, and Jersey City.

"For me, since I am Pakistani and a Muslim, the thing that fascinates me the most is seeing representation and seeing a really cool character on screen," senior Fatinah Khalid said.

The Coles Kamala Korps has "assembled" as a school-spirit organization to be the first-line for all things Kamala Khan at McNair Academic.

Holly Smith is a teacher at McNair Academy and leads the dedicated group of fans.

"Her strong sense of ethics and the way she has to negotiate and create her own sense of how she wants to live in the world," she said.

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The Kamala Korps appears in costume at school events, gets first crack at invites to events related to "Ms. Marvel," answers media requests, volunteers to work with the Jersey City Public Library, the city, or other local organizations, and plans spirit events within McNair around the upcoming Disney+ show.

Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School is a public college-preparatory magnet where students engage in a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum that offers a strong complement of core courses, electives, and 26 Advanced Placement course offerings.

"This school has always embraced the superheroes, the quiet achievers," Acting Superintendent Dr. Norma Fernandez said.

McNair students are nationally ranked in their work as National Merit Scholars, AP Scholars, in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, and Poetry Out Loud.


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