photo courtesy of Philadelphia Public School : The Notebook
On Wednesday June 7, 2017, VILLA participated in the 3rd Annual #ReachHigherPhilly College Signing Day. The Reach Higher Initiative was set forth by Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s effort to inspire and pursue young students in America to take charge in their future and to seek further education. The First Lady worked effortless to rally the country around President Obama’s “North Star”goal — that by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
We kicked off the event at our VILLA booth that was filled with free VILLA branded merch of water bottles, lanyards, wristbands, notepads and of course, t-shirts! Students also got the opportunity to have their picture taken at our virtual photo booth.
What a great sight it was to see so many students from the Philadelphia School District represent their future alma maters with t-shirts, banners and even a live parade! Longtime friend and hip-hop icon, Wale, also graced the Wells Fargo floor with a performance of his popular hits and the crowd went wild!
We sat down with Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. William Hite to talk about the important of high education for students in the Philadelphia District:
How has the A’s for J’s program impacted the students and the schools?
A’s for J’s is a significant program because it provides ALL students with the tools to achieve new educational heights. These students are more and more excited about learning more, approving their grades and getting perfect attendance. Also, the “matching the last dollar scholarships” are exceedingly important to our students. It’s a perfect way of acknowledging, encouraging and recognizing what our young people our doing.
Why is it so important for our youth to have a college career– especially those in the urban communities?
We have students that so eagerly want to go to college. They may not know what that means or what they want to do when they get there, but it’s so important for us to help them with those thoughts and give them the motivation and the experience they need. Regardless of what our students plan to achieve in the future, having that post high school training is essential– whether that is going to college, workforce development or community college. We want our children to understand that there are opportunities for you and we are here to provide you with access to those opportunities. So, programs like A’s for J’s are great in motivating children for those opportunities. We are so appreciative of A’s for J’s, the Jordan Brand, VILLA, and everyone that makes that possible.
Two years ago, we began taking 3rd grade children from all school districts in Philadelphia to college campuses. We began this to allow young children to see themselves as actual college students one day. They may chose not to go, but we want them to understand the importance of seeing themselves in such a positive environment. There are a lot of children in Philadelphia who walk by these campuses everyday and don’t necessarily see themselves there. In addition, we provide PSAT and SAT testing for high school children free of charge.
What do you hope to see the students’ achieve after their college careers?
I want them to being that experience back to the city of Philadelphia, back to their community. I would love to see young people working in the school district. We need more educators from the city of Philadelphia who had an experience as a Philadelphia student. I’d love to see those individuals bring their talents back and be a part of the economic development that’s happening here in our city.
We also interviewed a few graduating seniors from our A’s for J’s program to talk about their overall experience with VILLA and their anticipation about starting college in the fall:
Ashley Charoespierre is a graduating senior at Imhotep who has been a apart of the A’s for J’s program for two years. She plans to study Biology at Bloomsburg University this fall. She aspires to become a pediatrician after college. She is a shining star on the rise!
How has A’s for J’s impacted your high school career?
Well, I heard if I get all A’s I’d get more money for school. I wasn’t always the best student, so when I heard about this program, I wanted to work harder to strive for better grades.
What are you most looking forward to in college and how will it impact your life?
I believe college is going to make me a more purposeful person. Also, I’m kind of shy, so I believe college will take me out of my comfort zone to get to know and network with more people.
Jayquan is a graduating senior at West Philadelphia and is starting his college career this fall at Community College of Philadelphia. He’s been with A’s for J’s for a year and plans to study culinary arts, business and engineering. He is currently involved in culinary activities at his high-school. Jayquan is a jack of all trades!
Why did you decide to be a part of the A’s for J’s program and how has it impacted your high school career?
My friends encouraged me to join. This program made me enthusiast about high school and college.
Why is college so important to you?
It’s very important! Simply, I don’t want to be a bum. I want to do more with my life and I want to successful. College will allow me to do that.