There are tons of great charter schools in New York and Connecticut going above and beyond for their students. This means staving off the summer slide, either with an extended year or a robust program to keep their students engaged in these summer months. University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men in Rochester is giving their students some great experience in robotics and more with their first-ever Summer Career Camp.
With an eye on the future, University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men (UPrep) in Rochester is giving its incoming 8th graders an experience like no other.
A group of UPrep students have spent the month of July in the school’s first-ever Summer Career Camp. The four-week program revolves around the development of literary, math and science skills through the FIRST Robotics Camp, and a Solar Car Building Experience. Students work as a team to think critically and build their projects. Finding a way to keep students engaged during the summer and working to improve their academic skills was important to the school’s leadership.
“We know how critical the 8th grade year is, so we wanted to do something to minimize any delay that comes over the summer and get the kids doing something they’d be really excited for. We wanted to find a way to really try and take them to the top, and show them the links between the classroom and career preparation,” said UPrep Principal Dr. Connie Lucchese.
Putting an emphasis on career and technical education gives students a look at future career possibilities – which is especially important in an ever-changing world. UPrep’s program for juniors and seniors this fall will include a stronger focus on things like machining, IT, and developing skills to get the boys prepared for 21st century jobs. With this summer program, students can start to prepare and think about what they would like to do even sooner.
The first half of the course was spent in the FIRST Robotics Camp. Thanks to a partnership with the Spencerport High School, UPrep students were able to gain valuable engineering, programming and electronics experience that improve their math and science skills. The team even competed in the regionals of the FIRST Robotics competition.
Beverly Gushue, UPrep’s CTE Director, spoke about how unique this program is.
“I worked in the Rochester City School District for more than 30 years. When I was there, we would try every year to get kids into robotics programs like this, but with all the bureaucracy there were so many roadblocks. With more flexibility at UPrep we were finally able to participate.”
She continued: “Working with the Spencerport robotics team was great for our kids. Getting to meet other students, visit another school and collaborate was priceless. We’re excited about our continuing partnership moving forward.”
With the robotics program done, UPrep students are spending the rest of their time working on a solar-powered car, which is about the size of a go-kart.
Gushue said, “The boys have been really excited about this. They are learning so much about solar power and they love it. We’re holding an event at the end of the month to celebrate the camp, and they can’t wait to show off what they’ve been working on.”
This type of valuable experience is carrying over into academics in the fall, with robotics being offered as an elective. And seeing the connection between what they learn in school with what they can do beyond the classroom will help guide them through their regular school work. For the students, their time in the program has been particularly rewarding.
“The boys are having such a great time. Each day they’re so excited to learn. It’s like they don’t want leave. They want to have a sleepover on the last day, and they told me I have to stay too. It has been wonderful and we’re looking forward to offering it again next year,” Dr. Lucchese said.