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Member Spotlight: Patrick Ambrosio

Just a few days ago, Francis, Naeem, and I began our week at the Promise corps HQ, finishing up our orientation.  Once we finished the orientation, our new teams welcomed us. Francis joined the School of the Future team, and Naeem and I were welcomed to the West Philadelphia High School team.  We then broke up into our teams, went to lunch (our team had a great team bonding lunch at Chili’s), and then hopped on the train back to West Philadelphia.

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Our first stop, however, was Paul Robeson High School.  We met with Dr. Edwards, who works at the school, to discuss starting an after school program and presenting college and career readiness workshops.  We all jumped at the idea – it will give us a chance to help a neighboring school, have a change of scenery, and we can practice our workshops in a new environment. We can combine our experiences in both schools to become stronger college and career ambassadors.  (I, as a Rutgers alumni, also think it would be really cool to work at Paul Robeson High because he is a legendary Rutgers graduate.)

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Afterwards, Naeem and I made it to our new home on the third floor of West.  This week is Keystone testing week, so it’s an unusual week at the school.  The students are in testing until eleven, and then on a shortened academic schedule afterwards.  The first day, we only met a few students because by the time we made it back to school, they were being dismissed.  Camila gave Naeem and me a tour of the school, introduced us to some of the teachers, and had us participate in our hazing ritual: heisting a swivel chair with wheels from the second floor.

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The next day, my first full day, went smoothly.  I met a bunch of the Promise Corps room “regulars,” saw the daily routine, and got to sit in on Mr. Gross’s Algebra class, helping some of the students with their work.  All in all, I’m very excited to start my service, and get my caseload.  Naeem and I are grateful for how we were welcomed into the West Philadelphia High School family, and are enthusiastic for the road ahead of us!

– Patrick Ambrosio, College & Career Ambassador at West Philadelphia High School

Student Spotlight: Sayre

An Interview With a Sayre Student: Misha

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Q: Misha, how did you feel beginning your year at William Sayre High School?

“Nervous and Excited.” It is her senior year and she is super excited to complete this year and graduate in the Spring. The work threw her off – she knew that Senior year was important, but all of the school work, plus Senior Project and affording dues, and Prom that wraps up Senior Year – it just didn’t seem as much to her when she was “looking in from the outside.”

Q: How do you typically approach your work?

Misha used to procrastinate most of the time, and it had typically worked for her. However, when she saw how big the Senior Project was, she knew she was going to have to make a change. She typically would focus on completing her work a couple days in advance, or trying to write papers the day before they were due, but she realized that her technique was not going to fly for the Senior Project.

Q: What does your day typically look like?

Misha has school every day but is able to leave early because she’s earned enough credits. Once her school day is over she finds a seat in the Promise Corps room to keep up on the school work she has, in addition to Senior Project other essays that were assigned by her English teacher. After she leaves school, she works as a receptionist at The Beauty Lounge, which is a hair salon.

Her social life? Well she doesn’t feel like she has one right now, but she knows once she gets past all of this school work, life will become a little more relaxed again.

Q: What are your plans for after high school and how are you achieving them?

After high school, Misha plans to attend Beauty School to learn how to become a hairstylist. At home, she works on her head models to practice different techniques and tries to come in to school looking the part, so her hair is always done. This year has helped her to realize that procrastination makes life harder and becoming better with time management was definitely a skill she needed to gain.

– Haley Snyder, College & Career Ambassador at Sayre High School

Firebirds Cheerleading Takes on City Championships

The cheerleaders at High School of the Future recently competed in the city championships. Leading up to competition, the cheerleaders worked extremely hard in practice on their routines and cheers for the big day. Marylissa, a college and career ambassador who works with 11th and 12th graders, has been working with the cheerleaders at Future since the beginning of the year. Just like the coaches, she pushed the girls both in practice and with their academics. The cheerleaders and their coaches absolutely appreciated the help of Marylissa, so much so that she received her own cheer shirt for all the help she provided.

The competition took place on December 3, 2017 at the Liacouras Center located on Temple University’s campus. There were a lot of great teams at the competition. Two other Promise Corps schools, West Philadelphia High School and Overbrook were there, and they both performed well.

The Future cheerleaders did an amazing job during their performance, despite their music cutting off. The girls pushed through and didn’t let the dysfunction falter their performance. In the end, the girls placed in fourth place; they were up against some solid competition. However, they persevered and were offered a bid for the state championship. The girls will compete in state championships in Hershey, PA this January. We will be cheering them on with hopes that they bring back a trophy. We are so proud of the Future cheerleaders!

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– Shaquana Gantt, College & Career Ambassador at School of the Future

College Visit Season at Overbrook

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On Monday, December 4th, three members of the Overbrook Promise Corps team, our site supervisor, and the school counselor took thirty seniors and two juniors to Millersville University for a college tour. The morning was brisk as a bitter fog took over the landscape surrounding Overbrook High School. With a two-hour bus ride ahead of us, the mood was serene as we groggily boarded the school bus and departed on our journey. Some students slept peacefully to the hum of the diesel engine, while others watched the city fade into the distance as we weaved through traffic into the more open land of manure and rolling fields. For some students, adventures west out of Philadelphia are the best moments for them to reflect on their experiences within the city. As we passed the secluded homes that sit comfortably on acres of land, students openly questioned how their home-environments could be so vastly different. West Philadelphia’s trees lost their appeal as we passed miles of open pasture, which prompted one student to claim, “…they don’t have any trash around here!” Eventually, the allure of the farmland was diluted by the primal need for a bathroom. As the universal need for a restroom finally peaked, we arrived at the admissions office of Millersville University.

After getting situated in Lyle Hall, a more relaxed platoon of Promise Corps members and Overbook High School students got seated for an admissions video and question session. The students were engaged and confident with their questioning, strongly demonstrating their preparedness and abilities. One student, who, perhaps recognizing a trend in the video questioned, “How diverse is the school?” The admissions officer cited a 17% diversity rate and provided the students with reassuring anecdotes of her own experiences at the university as a member of a minority group. The questions soon faded, and the urge to see the ins and outs of the campus was eventually satiated.

The group was split in thirds and we began our walk. The air of Millersville University had subtle hints of manure and the local pond. This deviation from the congestion of Philadelphia was welcomed by some, and too-foreign for others. As the walk progressed, we were introduced to many of the local campus eateries, classrooms, athletic arenas, and best of all – the dormitories. We were brought into the East Village, a complex of premier suite-style dorms that the students were shown around. Many were quite shocked to see the size of the classic college-dorm-twin-bed, but some saw many potential perks of the rooms. One student told me with excitement, “I could totally see myself cutting hair right in the middle where the mirror’s at!” as we stood in front of the also classic college suite-hallway-sink-with-mirror. Hearing their enthusiasm about having the chance to live in this pristine residence hall was just one of the many heartwarming moments that I was blessed to receive that day.

After vacating the dorms, we made our way to our final stop: Gordinier Hall. The dining hall, dubbed the “Upper Deck,” was adequately prepared for the appetites that made entry. The buffet style eatery had the staples of college dining; a made-to-order burger station, followed by sandwich and salad stations, a wok with a personal chef, a dessert station, and of course substantial amounts of pepperoni pizza. As we were eating, I noticed one of my students sitting with a group of three Millersville students, casually eating and joking around. As we left the dining hall, I asked him if he knew the people that he was sitting with. In his happiest voice he boasted, “Of course Coach – that’s Chris! I wrestled with him last year at Regions, he’s the man! He goes here now.” It is conversations like these, and like the ones in the dorm room hallway, that leave me in awe of the kind of power that the smallest interactions or most taken-for-granted things have on us.

As we walked to the bus, we passed by the Marauder statue that was covered in pennies placed by passing Millersville students. Some students stood and looked at the statue. A few questioned why people would leave their money on a statue. Others added to the tradition.

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Hopes for admission to the university were high as we boarded the bus. Meetings were held between the OHS school counselor and admissions personnel, and 2 students were granted admission pending a completed application! A big shout out to CCA Ashley Bell who spearheaded the trip and conducted the operations seamlessly and the Overbrook Alumni Association, who paid for everyone to eat in the dining hall. Also a big thank you to Millersville University, and all that made the trip possible.

– Fred Cacace, College and Career Ambassador at Overbrook High School

College Visit Season At West

Over the month of November, the West Philadelphia Promise Corps team sponsored three college trips for our students. With the opening of the FAFSA and Early Decision deadlines creeping up, we decided November was the perfect month to host college tours.

Our first college tour was to La Salle University. One of my team members, Kaitlin, and I embarked on the journey from West Philadelphia to Olney with 10 of our students. As soon as we arrived on the campus, we were greeted by the monumental St. John the Baptist de La Salle statue. Minutes later, our tour guide appeared and we began a walking tour of the campus. During the tour, we stopped by most of the buildings on the north campus. Students were able to see simulation labs for nursing majors, the school’s Division 1 athletic stadium, the student union, and the newly renovated business building just to name a few. After the tour, we sat in on an information session presented by the Philadelphia region Admissions Counselor Carlos Vargas. La Salle University concluded our tour by graciously providing lunch for our students while they were fed with information about the admissions process.west-1.jpg

Next on our College Tour stop was Swarthmore College. West visited the beautiful campus with the other three Promise Corps sites. We exited our school bus and proceeded into the main quad of the campus. Our breaths were taken away by the massive lawn with lawn chairs to match its grandiose atmosphere. While waiting for our tour guides to arrive, students were scattered around the lawn and on the porch filling out information cards provided by the school.

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While on the walking tour, students were amazed by the beautiful views provided by the nature surrounding the school. One thing that stood out to students on the trip was the school’s outdoor amphitheater. When you walk up to the auditorium, you are taken aback by the in-ground seats covered with grass and bordered by stone. As you walk further, you see the beautiful stage with same features as the seats. The school uses the space to host various campus events when the weather permits. Like the La Salle tour, after the walking tour we all met back up to listen to an information session with lunch provided by Domino’s.

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Last on the November College Tour stop was the illustrious University of Pennsylvania. The University of Penn tour was different from the rest of the tours we went on for a few reasons. First, before we kicked off the tour, students sat in an hour-long information session led by one of Penn’s Admissions Counselors. After the information session was over, we went on a walking tour of Penn’s majestic campus. We visited buildings such as the famous Wharton School of Business building. When the tour was over, students ate lunch provided by the school. Another difference from other trips was that when lunch was over, students had the option to sit in college classes to get the feel of what they will experience next fall.

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In conclusion, we started off this college tour with the intentions of broadening our student’s horizons, by showing them schools they wouldn’t normally visit. After hearing feedback from our students, I can say my team and I successfully achieved that goal.

– Dionna Sanders, College and Career Ambassador at West Philadelphia High School

College Visit Season at Sayre

On November 8th, the Sayre Promise Corps Team took 21 students to La Salle University to initiate our college tour season. We were accompanied by our juniors and seniors, riding the Septa trains to our destination. What an adventure it was to fit 26 people on the train and make sure that we all stayed together at the free interchange! While at La Salle, we were informed of the programs they offer and were guided through the campus, allowing the students to picture themselves at the university. We visited the library and saw a couple of typical classrooms that students would have classes in. After the tour, the undergraduate admissions officer reviewed important information about the application process and requirements to apply.

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The following week, the Sayre, Overbrook, Future, and West Philadelphia Promise Corps teams brought 80 students to Swarthmore College. This may have been the second college trip we’ve had, but it is no doubt going to be a solid contender for the title of “most beautiful campus” and “best liberal arts college” the students will visit this year… Did I mention I went to Swarthmore?

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“What a magical place!” was the sentiment that many students may have felt while walking through the autumn leaves and lush greenery of Swarthmore’s campus. Beauty isn’t the only thing that captivated the students. As the tour guides weaved through the campus, they brought students through the Performing Arts Center, which houses a plethora of dance classes offered by Swarthmore College, such as ballet, modern/contemporary dance, African, salsa, and much more. As you might imagine, Swarthmore captivated a number of students interested in dance majors or minors.

Nevertheless, there remained more to stir the appetites of students hungry for new experiences and knowledge. After we went to the Performing Arts Center, the tour guides led students through the Science Center, showing them the small, seminar-style classes where college students can dive into deep conversations about their subjects. Throughout the tour, students saw that the depth of Swarthmore was not constrained solely to the classroom, but extended to the libraries, dining halls, and quirky dormitories where academics, social activities, and pursuits for meaning are interwoven.

By the end of the tour, students learned that Swarthmore’s high standards extend beyond just the beautiful campus to the academics and expectation that students develop their unique selves to the fullest extent. With that said, Swarthmore has left some students astounded and has earned its spot on their list of colleges to apply to.

sayre3– Richard Vu, College and Career Ambassador at Sayre High School