Thursday, October 10, 2013

Students from The Wheeler School in Providence Reflect on Their Visit to BVP (PART II)

A group of 10th grade students from The Wheeler School in Providence visited BVP to learn more about how our schools are providing a high quality public school choice to families in Rhode Island. Two students reflected on their experience for BVP Musings.  Last week, we posted reflections from Ariana Callender.  Today's post is from another student who visited BVP, August Kahn.  

Getting on the bus to Blackstone Valley Prep, nearly everyone had the same vision of what they thought the school will look like. Ignorantly, I imagined it to be something out of a public school that is portrayed in the documentary “Waiting for Superman”: peeling walls, outdated textbooks, dusty classrooms, uncontrollable students, and overwhelmed teachers. These images played over and over again in my mind. Walking in to the building, though, I saw how Blackstone Valley Prep truly redefines the skewed perception of a government-funded school, especially in Rhode Island, where the public, non-charter school system has generally become an environment that can be more difficult for students to academically thrive in.

Fascinated by the stellar achievement records, friendly teachers and smiling “scholars,” I wondered, “What is it about BVP that makes this community so motivated and enthusiastic?” It was clear that the emphasis on achievement, unorthodox teaching methods, and attention for each individual student is what makes BVP such a successful place for students. I noticed how the goal of going to college is ingrained in almost every part of student life. From the classrooms being named after a college or university to the use of phrases such as “raise a good college hand,” the plan of getting a higher education is etched in each scholar’s mind at an early age, which will make having this goal a fundamental part of their mindset as they grow older.

Inside of the classrooms, I observed how BVP's curriculum is somewhat different than what I had experienced in lower school. Exercises that provoked scholars’ critical thinking skills were taught while I was visiting. Scholars were given a moral problem, such as having a group that can only fit 4 friends, but 5 friends want to join, and had to decide how they could solve the problem in the most diplomatic way possible. I was fascinated by this exercise, because I have never heard of a school that would start developing students’ critical thinking skills at such an early age, but by speaking to a couple of scholars, I could see how advanced their thinking process is. From what I saw, BVP’s way of teaching and emphasis on achievement really makes the school stand out.

August Kahn is a 10th grade student at the Wheeler School and has been going there for two years. His favorite subjects are History, English, and Foreign Languages. Outside of school, he plays classical piano/harpsichord and loves to go running while listening to Al Green.

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