PREP 4 SUCCESS Summer Bridge 2015

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PREP 4 SUCCESS Summer Bridge

The summer before high school is the time where students are typically known to sleep in, catch up on their favorite TV shows and meet up with friends. But for a number of the incoming freshman at 18 Los Angeles Unified High Schools, it’s time for the 2015 PREP 4 SUCCESS Summer Bridge Program.

Center for Powerful Public Schools created the three-week summer program to support incoming freshmen from high-risk and low-income Los Angeles communities through the challenging transition to high school. PREP 4 SUCCESS is dedicated to reducing dropout rates in high school where research has shown failing 9th grade is an indicator to future high school dropouts. This marks the freshman year as a crucial year for students.

Over 1000 freshmen are being introduced to health, business or art and media careers through the Linked Learning approach that connects academic and career-based classes with work-based learning and student supports so that students are engaged in real world learning that prepares them to be successful in college and career.

The program’s fourth year kicked off with several three-day Summer Bridge training sessions with over 90 PREP 4 SUCCESS Student Leaders, Teachers and Coordinators participating. Center Program Associates (PAs) work with each team to collaboratively create a comprehensive action plan for the next three weeks. Center PAs use an array of techniques from modeling to roleplaying and supportive coaching to make sure the coordinators and teachers understand the importance of the student-led activities and mentorship.

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Summer Bridge Leaders brainstorming together.

A critical piece of the program is its PREP 4 SUCCESS Students Leaders. These students are high school junior or seniors that have applied and interviewed for a paid internship to mentor and support the incoming freshmen. Center PAs mentor and train the student leaders through modeling and emphasizing constructive peer feedback and observation. For student leaders, PREP 4 SUCCESS is a great experience to build leadership skills by mentoring and leading the incoming freshmen, especially because they know exactly how it feels to be in a different, new environment with few, if any, familiar faces.

Student Leader Alyssa, a senior this fall and also ASB president at Huntington Park Institute of Applied Medicine (HPIAM) wished that she could have experienced PREP 4 SUCCESS Summer Bridge as a freshman, “I think PREP 4 SUCCESS Summer Bridge is a great way to prepare you for high school. The workload of the program prepares the students to the academic experience in high school. We do a lot of work, but by the end, writing a 5 page essay will be a piece of cake”. It’s the school’s first year implementing Summer Bridge and she is excited for her sister who is a student in this year’s program. For Tiana, an incoming junior at RISE says that she knows Summer Bridge “will make the transition into high school easier, ninth graders will know what to expect and will have the opportunity to meet new friends.”

PREP 4 SUCCESS also has a community relations aspect. This year, at Fairfax High School’s Medical Careers Academy, a new kind of partnership with Cedar Sinai is emerging that is aligned with the school’s Linked Learning health pathway. Andrea Perry is in charge of Cedar Sinai’s Youth Programs and Outreach, and is very excited to be working with the Linked Learning Summer Bridge Program. Through Prep 4 Success, Cedars will be able to target students earlier, building a stronger foundation to better support them to be successful through the existing internship program for juniors and seniors. The partnership includes workshops from professionals, and since this year’s health project revolves around stress and the brain, speakers and medical experts from the neuroscience department will be sharing their experiences. We hope that similar partnerships such as these will develop in the future.

PREP 4 SUCCESS is a great opportunity for both students and teachers to build a support system for incoming freshman. The program introduces the freshmen to a rigorous academic foundation that prepares the incoming students for the Linked Learning pathways. The Center plays a crucial role as a supportive key influencer that helps coach, mentor and support the PREP 4 SUCCESS teachers, coordinators and student leaders from beginning to end.

In the past few weeks, over 1000 students have presented projects to panels of professionals, school principals and teachers with their families and fellow students looking on. It’s been going to be an amazing experience for everyone, especially for the new class of freshmen. PREP 4 SUCCESS students practiced their new skill sets in organization, presentation, and engaging their audience that was comprised of professionals, teachers and administration and family members. They wowed the audience with their expertise on the brain’s anatomy and the different regions that stress had effects on. Students also tapped into a variety of artistic talents: creating comic strips, illustrations and performing original songs, dramatic skits and even a sonnet to enhance the message of this year’s health sciences focus: stress and its effects on the teenage brain.

With giant thank you cards, group hugs, and field trips to the beach, PREP 4 SUCCESS is coming to an end with bright-eyed incoming students ready to tackle the next four years.