As members of New Jersey’s public charter school community congregates in the City of Newark today for its annual New Jersey Charter Schools Conference, Newark’s only independent public charter high school announced today a series of newly developed initiatives aimed to provide some of the most disadvantaged students in the district with valuable enrichment programs.
Anchoring today’s announcement is the first-of-its-kind honors program, specially designed and customized to challenge and retain the most high-performing students at People’s Prep. The new program, “Voyage,” launched in September, is the culmination of two years of development and hopes to provide value to students who traditionally leave the City of Newark and the public-school system in hopes of finding learning environments more suitable to their level of academic preparedness and higher test scores. The program will play a dual role in both preparing students for social and academic challenges, while also improving students’ academic profiles so they may transition to more selective colleges and universities upon high school graduation.
“The purpose of People’s Prep’s new Voyage honors program is to strengthen our academic culture among all students and staff,” stated People’s Prep Founder and Co-Director Jess Rooney. “College readiness has always been the key focal point of our mission, and in this case, we hope to create needed opportunities for students so their great work is recognized and their potential is fully developed. Many Newark students have faced challenges and obstacles that are unimagined in communities like Montclair and Princeton, but that does not mean they are not smart or that they don’t possess the character and academic strength to attend and graduate from a top university or college. Voyage will ensure every child is provided the opportunity to be challenged, develop their academic skills, and most of all, that they stay in Newark, and receive a public education that they can be proud of.”
The new honors program, Voyage, will offer a rigorous interdisciplinary pedagogy to students who have a proven academic track record. Voyage students will enroll in honors classes in the arts, math, and humanities, some Voyage students will additionally matriculate in dual-enrollment programs at local colleges and universities, will work as year-long interns with Newark business partners, and benefit from a variety of off-campus cultural enrichment trips. Focused on the school’s core values of Grit, Empathy, Achievement, Curiosity, Humility, and Enthusiasm, the honors program will be offered to students entering grades 10-12. Students will need to meet cumulative GPA and ACT benchmark requirement and complete an application, which includes one personal statement and one teacher recommendation. Students who have not built a proven academic track record may also apply to the program if they demonstrate a desire and capacity to opt into the challenge.
Additionally, as a graduation requirement, all students participating in the Voyage program are required to participate in the school’s credited internship program, with teacher advisors placing students with unique work-related opportunities that emphasize the importance of off-campus learning, serving the Newark community, and gaining a strong understanding of workplace expectations. This year, twenty-three strategic partners from the Newark area are supporting the program including University Hospital, United Way, ShopRite, NJPAC, Newark Public Library, City of Newark’s Department of Law, and Gadget Software. As part of their internship, each student is matched and works the entire school year from September to June, for 5 hours each week.
In addition to the Voyage honors program, People’s Prep also announced a series of new extracurricular options and partnerships, designed to provide students with the opportunity to participate in the kind of activities that have significantly diminished within other New Jersey’s public schools. These new electives join a long list of that already include Volleyball, Basketball, Track and Field, Art Club and other sports and clubs. Specifically, all People’s Prep students will have the unique option to participate in the following new activities, just launch this school year:
- Through a unique partnership just established with Ironbound Boxing, People’s Prep we will provide girl and boy students with transportation, supervision, and free memberships for interested students.
- “Girls Who Code” will now be an afterschool option for all young women at People’s Prep. Using the nationally recognized curriculum, students will have the opportunity to learn how to code and be provided with exposure to various careers in the field of Computer Science
- The “Butterfly Dreamz” after school extracurricular will provide People’s Prep students with an ongoing writing program that hopes to strengthen the voice of students who participate.
- Korean Club will now be added to the diverse clubs offered at People’s Prep and was established through the specific interest of the student body and their desire to learn more about Korean culture.