High school youth are hungry for learning that deepens their explorations about the world around them. For the last 4-5 years, PASA has worked to expand credit-bearing after-school courses at the high school level so that young people can dive deeply into their interests outside of school hours. When we were approved for inclusion into the Advanced Coursework Network (ACN) this fall, we were thrilled to see the last 4-5 years of course development corroborated by this new statewide initiative.
The ACN offers advanced coursework options for Rhode Island students with the goal of expanding access to advanced coursework options that promote college and career readiness. The courses are available to youth across the state, regardless of the public school in which they are enrolled. Currently, nine of PASA’s partner courses are included in the ACN’s course catalog. They are all approved for course credit. Most importantly, through the ACN, we’re able to strengthen our learning pathway so that graduates from the AfterZone can further refine their interests and explore possible career connections in high school. Last fall, 65 high school youth enrolled in the Advanced Coursework Network through PASA and subsequently earned course credit.
First Gentleman Andy Moffit recently visited Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex (JSEC), where our team led by Hub Coordinator Graham Maione recruited the most number of ACN students in Providence, to host a panel discussion during which youth shared their experiences in ACN programs. The young people who spoke had an ambition clearly nurtured by the ACN courses. In one example, a youth in Young Voices said that she wanted to be a leader like the mayor, superintendent, principals, and community leaders in the room. Young Voices is one ACN partner helping her develop her leadership skills so she can realize that dream.
Youth also demonstrated the impact of the ACN courses in their lives during their fall end-of-session celebrations. The young people in Youth In Action created a stunning gallery exhibit and presentation event that focused on breaking down barriers and stereotypes. As part of their course, they researched history relevant to their lives and communities, such as Latin American history, which is often underrepresented in high school history books. Their mixed media art show of student work demonstrated the depth and complexity of thought that PASA aims for in all programs.
Through the ACN, PASA is able to leverage its partnerships and community resources for the benefit of more high school youth. Thank you to our partners—DownCity Design, Academy for Career Exploration, Chrysalis, Young Voices, The Center for Dynamic Learning, Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex, and Youth In Action—for partnering with us on this new initiative and delivering an awesome fall session for high school youth.