About the Program for 7th & 8th Grade students
Preston High Schools Reach for Excellence program was developed six years ago to prepare ambitious middle school students for high school success. Although there are various sports activities and camps available in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx, our program provides an alternative to students seeking to enrich their academics while exploring possible career interests.
There’s no doubt that when it comes to women in STEM careers, there is a wide gender gap.
Our extensive STEM component of our program engages our young women by immersing them into science, technology, engineering and mathematics through games and practical learning experiences. Our girls discover how things work through a hands-on approach in chemistry, forensic science, biology, physics, earth science, geometry, and applied math. By the end of the program, their excitement allows them to realize that careers and opportunities in STEM are rewarding, exciting, enjoyable, and viable.
In our science class they learn that the world around us is awe-inspiring and that through the fields of science, we gain knowledge about how nature works. In the science portion of the PREP program students engage take on the role of scientists as they learn more about the world in which they live. Through a combination of lecture, video presentations, and hands on laboratory exercises, students engage in a discovery based curriculum that expands through many scientific disciplines. They will extract DNA as biologists, model volcanoes as earth scientists, solve crimes as forensic scientists, and build roller coasters as physicists. This will be the beginning of their careers as women in the world of science!
The history class examines various time periods in World and U.S. History, including Ancient Greece and Rome, the founding of the Massachusetts Bay colony, the Salem Witch Trials, and the early days of the Constitution, while applying different lenses, including civics and economics. The class employs collaborative learning, project based learning, and independent work. Students analyze primary and secondary sources, utilize various forms of media, write creatively and illustrate their creations, and solve mysteries from the past. During the afternoon mock trial workshop, students learn legal vocabulary, steps in a trial, parties to a case, and rules of evidence. They are assigned a role in the case ranging from attorney to juror to reporter, and use the evidence and witnesses they have been given to put on a mock trial, where they decide guilt or innocence.
The English class reviews writing skills and develops public speaking abilities through dramatic performance. The Creative Writing class provides a fundamental introduction to the creative writing process in a workshop-type environment. The young women gain a deeper understanding of the characteristics of good writing through a variety of collaborative and independent activities, such as: poetry, fiction, creative and non-fiction readings, daily writing-related prompts and activities, and daily grammar and diction tips. The workshop environment teaches them to give and receive constructive criticism and, most importantly, encourages these young women to improve their work within a strong community of fellow writers. During camp, they can expect that their writing abilities and sensibilities to be refined and invigorated.
The language and culture appreciation part of the program provides an opportunity to learn the beginnings of a new language as well as exposing them to the culture and traditions. Physiological studies have found that speaking two or more languages is a great asset to the cognitive process. The brains of bilingual people operate differently than single language speakers, and these differences offer several mental benefits. Analytical skills improve when students study a foreign language. Dealing with another culture enables people to gain a more profound understanding of their own culture. The language and culture appreciation part of the program provides an opportunity to learn one of the world's most elegant and historic languages while exploring the lively culture through food, music, dance, games and traditions.
During the video production seminar, students meet in the studio of our S.M.E.B. Center (Sister's Media, Editing & Broadcasting Center), where they are introduced to film-making: from interviewing skills and camera functions to editing and post-production music and graphics. Video production is a collaborative effort that requires many different skill sets (form pre-production writing and organization to post-production visual and sound effects). It requires effort, but, as anyone who has tried to make a movie can attest, it is also a lot of fun!
There are also frequent trips around campus and outdoor exercises that are an enjoyable and rewarding part of our integrated curriculum. The young women draw inspiration from the beautiful Preston campus and scenic views of the East River. There are many benefits from this program including potential scholarships to inner city students and various high schools, as well as opportunities for young women to explore the world and enhance their educational knowledge.