It’s hard to believe there are only a few weeks left in the school year and summer is just around the corner. Nearly 40 students from three Alternate Learning Schools (ALCs) that we work in participated in Walking the Path this year. ALCs provide an educational setting for students who are serving long term suspensions from school of either 30, 60 or 90 days. Students sent to ALCs generally have a hard time controlling their emotions or staying out of trouble, landing them in these centers. Helping these students understand the consequences of their actions, build positive relationships and strengthen their social and emotional skills is crucial to getting them back on track to succeed in school and life.
Walking the Path allows students to explore creative methods of expressing their feelings. It is very difficult to imagine the hardships some of our students face every day. Often students living in high poverty face challenges so overwhelming they cannot articulate their feelings. Creative expression creates a level of comfort where students can express themselves more indirectly. Understanding how our students struggle allows us to provide them with tools to combat these challenges. At the same time, students are exposed to new creative methods, develop pride and confidence by sharing their work with others and earn school credit too!—keeping them on track for graduation.
Twenty of our students at John Jay High School learned how to express themselves through poetry and photography. Through a series of workshops, they learned to tell their own life stories and convert this into digital art. Students were given cameras to take photos around their neighborhood and journals to record their thoughts and poetry. At WEB Dubois and August Martin High School, 17 students were challenged to write a memoir or personal story that significantly affected their lives and turn it into short films. They worked with the schools’ English Language Arts teachers to write personal stories. Once their memoirs were complete, the students used Final Cut Pro to add video and photographs to their memoir voice-over, producing 2-3 minute videos.
This year we’ve seen great success with our Walking the Path program. Next year, we’re considering expanding the program to include a book project. Rather than students working on their own creative projects, students will collaborate to create a larger piece combining their individual stories and talents.
Thank you again for your support and helping at-risk students succeed. We look forward to updating you as the fall projects evolve. Until next Fall…
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