Students celebrated a successful march to deliver their college applications.
More than 300 students from the Expeditionary Learning School for Community Leaders (2630 Benson Avenue), formerly Lafayette High School, signed, sealed and delivered their college applications to a United States Post Office truck in front of their school on Friday as part of a citywide display to encourage students to pursue higher education.
“Now we’re one step closer to going to college,” student Yesenia Lopez said. “We’re excited.”
Along with these students, more than 600 students in seven other schools throughout the city also delivered their college applications to the post office. The schools are all part of the NYC Outward Bound network, a national program that creates schools with an emphasis on non-traditional techniques, like having student-led conferences instead of parent teacher conferences. The schools, including the one in Bensonhurst, also put an emphasis on college preparation by fostering solidarity between the students through groups that function like a small family unit throughout the high school journey. They’re called crews.
“We want our students to know that college is accessible no matter what your zip code is,” said Paola Vita, a representative for NYC Outward Bound.
After sending their applications, students rallied on the school steps to celebrate.
Adrianna Rivera came to the Expeditionary Learning School for Community Leaders when she was a freshman. During the first week of school she was paired together with other students who would later become part of her crew. The school took them on a camping trip, one of the school’s methods of creating strong social bonds.
“They make us feel important,” Rivera said about Outward Bound and her group of friends. “Because of them, we know that our opinions matter.”
Rivera delivered 16 college application letters to the mail truck. Her top three schools: Trinity, Franklin & Marshall and Colby College.
After delivering their letters, students went back inside to the school’s library to eat a meal specially prepared to celebrate the event.
While Rivera waited in line for the food, she explained that having a crew is “like your little family. They’re always there for you.”
As the students settled down and the library began to resemble and sound like a cafeteria, Vita noted how far the school had come along since it changed to its current name in 2007.
In 2007, the graduation rate was 35 percent. In 2012 the school had a graduation rate of 80 percent. All of those students went on to college.
“We’re trying to bring the graduation rate to 100 percent,” Vita said.
– Eric Jankiewicz