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By: Eileen Ortega-Carcamo
DC Prep Class of 2012
Banneker Academic High School Class of 2016
The Catholic University of America Class of 2020
DC Prep’s PrepNext alumni support team recently hosted the third-annual Summer Academy Program over six weeks at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. Summer Academy has doubled from its inaugural year in 2015 to serve 55 rising high school freshmen through seniors in partnership with the Summer Youth Employment Program, to provide academic and cultural enrichment for alums in their journey to college.
Summer Academy is also an opportunity for the PrepNext team to connect further with their alumni students, cultivate their work ethics, and help them understand the importance of post-secondary education and college planning.
Throughout the summer, students took a variety of morning academic and afternoon elective courses connected to a timely “Social Justice” theme. Students were also divided and assigned to specific classes tailored to their individual needs:
• High School Seminar participants worked to develop advocacy, leadership and organizational skills for a positive transition into high school.
• College Seminar focused on future college preparations, as well as the admissions and financial aid processes. Students met with a college admissions counselor and experienced a mock version of application review and selection. Current post-secondary alums also served on a panel to answer rising juniors’ and seniors’ questions about the college experience.
• ACT Prep helped rising juniors and seniors strengthen their subject knowledge to prepare for the required standardized test.
Electives for this year’s Summer Academy students included literature, coding, criminal justice, college writing, study skills, Critical Exposure (a photography class in partnership with a local DC organization), and hip hop and step (taught by a DC Prep alum). Gallaudet University’s student lounge provided a space for sponsored after hours for students to interact and enjoy ping-pong, pool, video game competitions, and foosball tournaments.
Summer Academy also provided students with the chance to log community service hours, through volunteering at three local organizations: Bread for the City, DC Central Kitchen, and Central Union Mission. Additionally, students toured NOVA Community College at the Alexandria campus to learn more about alternative college paths, financial affordability, admissions, and academics.
As a program capstone, Summer Academy students, staff, and families gathered for a final presentation that showcased student work throughout the course of the summer’s session. Moving performances included slam poetry, hip/hop and step dance routines choreographed by alums, presentations on college seminar findings, and high school seminar interest and advocacy proposals. In addition, there was a gallery walk featuring student photography special projects.
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