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Beating the Summer Slide: How CA Scholars Spent Their Summer

On Collegiate Academies’ three campuses, the new school year has officially begun: the hallways smell of fresh paint, scholars are eagerly cracking the spines of new books, and the skillful drumming of the Carver Marching Band echoes across our campus.

Amidst all the excitement of a new school year, it can be hard to remember that just a few short weeks ago, our scholars were engaging in summer programs, internships, and courses that were expanding their horizons, exposing them to potential careers, and preparing them for college. Here, we report on some of the activities and jobs CA scholars explored this summer, taking them as far as Rhode Island and as close as our own campuses.

Summer activities are not only a fun way to spend a few months—they are also proven to support students in their future academic courses and beyond. During the summer, the average student loses about two months of grade level equivalency in math skills. According to a study done by the Wallace Foundation, a number of summer enrichment programs geared towards low-income students resulted in improved reading test scores, decreased rate of reading comprehension loss, increased high school completion rate, and improved college persistence rates for the students who participated.

Our challenge as a network of schools is to continue to connect our students to these opportunities, find the resources and partnerships that will allow more of them to take advantage of the programs that are available, and ensure that learning is year-round.

The Academic

Oanh Nguyen, Class of 2015, came to Sci Academy during her freshman year speaking almost no English. With the support of her teachers and advisors, she finished the year passing all of her courses—and earned second place in the poetry slam. “That changed everything for me—I was shy and depressed before, and then I became excited to learn.” This past summer, she was accepted to a 4-week summer program at Brown University in Rhode Island, where she took a course called “Putting Ideas Into Words” to improve her English writing and reading skills.

“I learned about exactly what college is. I hear a lot about college at Sci Academy, but this summer helped me really understand it,” she said. She worked a lot and found adjusting to Providence difficult at first, but the academic support and warmth of the community helped her start to feel at home. By the end of the summer, she had written a lengthy paper for a debate assignment: an argument for why she supports gay marriage. “I redid my writing a lot. I did seven full drafts of my last paper. The writing center helped me improve.” Now that she’s back at Sci, Oanh wants to take the lessons she learned to help other students improve their writing and reading skills in an ACT club.

Dominique Newton, G.W. Carver Collegiate Academy Class of 2016, spent a week this summer participating in an improvisational acting class at The New Movement Theater. “We learned a lot of small games to help us with our improv acting, like endurance games and context clues games,” she recalls. She first encountered improv during an activity in her class with World History Teacher, Ben Vail. Vail encouraged her to apply for the class to help push her social skills and conversational skills, and the experience was incredible. “Our group became family really quickly. I’m still friends with everyone in my class and plan to continue working with them throughout the year.”

The course helped her become a stronger actor, but it also has improved her skills as a listener, a friend, and a scholar. “I learned to pick up on the important things that my teammates said really quickly. Now, I can pick up on what is most important when my teachers speak and hold on to the necessary details so that I can do well in class.”

Larryell promotes herself on her first day on the job. While moving boxes, she discovered a mortarboard, which she will wear in just two years as a Carver Prep graduate!

At Carver Preparatory Academy, Larryell Andrews and Bobby Davis, both members of the Class of 2016, interned with their teachers to help set up their new school. Carver Prep moved campuses over the summer—from Read Boulevard to Higgins Boulevard—and all hands were on deck to help prepare the campus for a new group of scholars this fall. “We set the school up, painted, moved books from the library, sorted books, and got the walls ready for new bulletin boards,” Bobby Davis says. “It helped me realize that first impressions—for our new students and new teachers—really are everything.”

In addition to getting a behind the scenes look into how Collegiate Academies runs over the summer, the scholars who interned at Carver Prep got to see their teachers in a new light. “It was my first job, so it was nice to be able to work with teachers I already knew and trusted. I liked getting to meet the new teachers before everyone else!” Larryell Andrews says. Scholars interning at school also were able to interact with volunteers from across the country. “I helped a group of volunteers from Arkansas. They were about my age and part of a church group. They asked a lot of questions about New Orleans and I got to know them and learn about their schools,” Bobby Davis recalls.

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