Over the 2021-2022 school year, we learned what elements of our program were most meaningful for scholars and we used these learnings to shape an even more engaging range of programming in the 2022-2023 school year.
In addition to Higher Achievement’s rigorous academic enrichment, scholars at all our centers have the opportunity to participate in clubs, electives, and field trips that expose them to new interests and career paths.
Below is a sampling of what scholars are taking part in this school year:
DC Metro Area
Spring field trips took scholars to the offices of two Higher Achievement partners: Mayer Brown LLP and 2U. At Mayer Brown, scholars from Wards 1, 4, 6, 7, and Alexandria toured the office and spent time with attorneys, paralegals, and business professionals over meals; at 2U, Greenbelt scholars explored career paths in marketing and tech and data science.
Another Higher Achievement champion, LSM, expanded its architecture workshops to include more scholars and centers in learning about design principles through hands-on projects such as designing their ideal school and exploring perspective.
Thanks to a new partnership with BUILD, Higher Achievement offers an elective to help scholars develop their entrepreneurial skills through BUILD’s Design Challenge curriculum. In the elective, scholars learn about human-centered design principles and ideate, prototype, and test their concepts to run their own businesses.
Each center shapes its own programming and selects electives that are most meaningful to its scholars. Dozens of different electives are offered throughout the year across our eight DC Metro Achievement Centers, including financial literacy, yoga, art, cooking, chess, anime, drumming, sports, and more. Scholars deepen and broaden their interests through exposure to a variety of opportunities.
Scholars also participate in various field trips, including visits to the movies, the Air and Space Center, and a Washington Wizards game.
At Highlandtown, the basketball elective—led by the head coach of the St. Timothy’s girl’s basketball team—helps scholars develop basic skills, with the last 10 minutes culminating in a game. During the cooking elective, scholars make things like guacamole, parfaits, pinwheel sandwiches, and lettuce wraps—and scholars even tried kimchi for the first time! Highlandtown hopes to host a scholar-led dinner for parents with the scholars as chefs for the evening. Their arts and crafts elective has included paintings, t-shirt creation, and more, and fosters relationships and SEL skills with scholars.
Mt. Royal Learning Director Mx. Natia recently earned their yoga instructor certification and leads a SEL-themed yoga elective for their scholars to cool down and destress through mindfulness and movement practices. Each class is taught by a certified yoga teacher, in collaboration with a Higher Achievement intern and an elective partner from the Bryn Mawr school. Additionally, scholars at Mt. Royal can participate in electives in cosmetology, art, and theatre. In their film elective, scholars enjoy classic films as a door into discussing the entertainment business, social and cultural trends, and the power of storytelling. In cosmetology, scholars learn all about the science, significance, and business of hair, skin, and nails. Scholars express themselves creatively, learn new skills and techniques, and get to experience client demos with support from our elective partner and licensed cosmetologist. Mt. Royal Achievement Center’s art elective is supported by Maryland Institute College of Arts Community Site Leaders program, where scholars can explore various mediums and fine art techniques through art history lessons and studio time. In collaboration with Everyman Theatre and their Theatre 101 curriculum, during the theatre elective scholars experience a bit of each role required to bring a stage production to life. Workshops in acting, public speaking, technical work, costume, and set design are amongst the many different sessions scholars can take part in.
Lakeland Achievement Center hosts electives on cooking and American Sign Language, which has been very popular among scholars. During the ASL elective run by UMBC volunteer, Ms. Bilqiis, scholars learn the basics of ASL, including the alphabet, introductions, emotions, and favorite animals. Every week scholars build on their prior learning to express themselves further with the goal of performing their introductions during the Love Out Loud ceremony. During the cooking elective run by part-time employee, Mr. Will, scholars participate in preparing and cooking dishes such as crepes, burritos, burgers, and much more. Each scholar practices basic math skills and works a job such as server, sous chef, and head chef.
In addition to electives, scholars had fun and built relationships during field trips to Sky Zone, the Baltimore Aquarium, and on a hiking trip.
Richmond scholars have taken several engaging field trips throughout the year to schools and museums.
At the Black History Museum, scholars learned more about the history, culture, and stories of Black people and African Americans living in the Commonwealth of Virginia. At the Virginia Living Museum, scholars learned about animals that live throughout Virginia and explored how all organisms work together in our environment.
In preparation for the transition to high school, Binford and Henderson 8th grade scholars were given a tour of Thomas Jefferson High School by current students and Higher Achievement alumni. After a Q&A session with TJ’s guidance counselor and principal, scholars enjoyed pizza and conversation with students. They ended the night cheering on the TJ Lady Vikings during their senior night basketball game.
All scholars had the opportunity to visit the University of Richmond for a tour of campus where they visited the athletics department to play with a few players, the business department to talk about entrepreneurship, the science department where they learned students are teaching mice to drive cars, and the arts department to explore visual arts.
In preparation for Love Out Loud, scholars participated in art and poetry electives to explore their creative talents. At Henderson—led by community partner Podium RVA—and at Boushall—led by Roscoe Burnems, Richmond’s inaugural poet laureate—scholars learned about poetry, created their own original works, and presented their poems at center. Alternatively, scholars at Binford Middle School opted to express themselves in the visual arts. Scholars created their original works of art following a series of prompts facilitated by Tanesha Powell, Senior Manager of Program for Higher Achievement Richmond.
Electives and field trips broaden our scholars’ horizons. Thank you for being part of the community of support that makes these opportunities possible.