Sunday, March 29, 2015

Clinton students get ahead

By Maya Rajamani
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Jameilla Davis and Hamdallah Awal, both 14, in geometry class at the Sports and Arts in Schools program at DeWitt Clinton High School on July 31.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Geometry, part of Sports and Arts in Schools at DeWitt Clinton HIgh School.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Sajon Rattigan, 13, Anita Oduro, 14 and Ifthehar Ahmed, 14, work on graphing points to a coordinate plane in a summer geometry class that is part of Sports and Arts in Schools at DeWitt Clinton High School.

Incoming DeWitt Clinton High School freshman Rhazck Waters was less than enthusiastic about taking classes over the summer. 

Several field trips, college visits and motivational speakers later, he has changed his mind. 

“It’s more like a club,” he says of Clinton’s Sports and Arts in Schools summer program. “At first I didn’t like it, but it’s a good opportunity for me.” 

While summer school has certain stigmas attached to it, Clinton’s program is hardly remedial. 

The program, which focuses on college and career readiness, allows students entering the ninth grade at the high school on Mosholu Parkway to jump-start their academic and social life at the school, and continues on to their graduation if they choose to remain with it. 

“All of our kids are coming in with different backgrounds,” said Clinton math teacher Eloise Thompson, who has worked at the school for eight years. “It gives them a dose of what they’ll be doing in the fall and spring terms.” 

The summer program itself is part of a larger, year-round program offered by the Sports and Arts Foundation, funded by the city’s Department of Education, the Department of Youth and Community Development and the state education department, with the aim of closing the academic performance gap for underachieving students. 

This summer, students enrolled in the free program have had the opportunity to travel to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at Bronx Community College and the SONY Wonder Technology Lab in Manhattan, take a tour of City College and even attend a Yankee game. 

During the school year, students travel by bus to colleges like Cornell University, Temple University and NYU and are able to receive SAT preparation and after-school tutoring. 

“These kids get to see the world outside of their borough,” said Robert Hill, who has headed the program at Clinton for the past seven years. Summer activities were added six years ago. 

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