For the third year in a row, FLOC Scholars in Washington have been pen pals this semester with FLOC Leaders in Action students in West Virginia. These middle schoolers live less than two hours away from one another, but those 70 miles represent a significant difference between the urban environment of DC and the rural environment of Jefferson County. As program wraps up this month in both places, we thought we’d take a look back at the letters these middle school students have written over the last few months and the relationships they’ve formed in the process.
The letters begin with lots of questions:
“What is your school like?” “What is your favorite thing to do outside?” “What do you want to do when you grow up?” “Who likes Chick-fil-a?” “Do you like to read? Do you like to play? Do you like homework?”
And continue with requested answers:
“When I grow up, I want to be an underwater mechanic.” “My winter break was good. I did watch The Hunger Games. It was good, but it was a bit sad.” “We’ve missed about a week and a half of school because of snow. We went sledding, snowboarding, and shoveled snow.”
They’re chatty, inquisitive, friendly, and colorful, punctuated with drawings and P.S.’s and jokes. They talk about their favorite foods and TV shows, video games and YouTube stars, Star Wars and Deadpool and Alvin and the Chipmunks, winter break snow and spring break plans. They shatter misconceptions (No, the West Virginians don’t live in barns. Yes, there are places to sled in DC.) There’s even a little touch of election politics conversation.
Most of all, it’s clear that for all these students live in different communities, they have a lot more in common than not. It’s also clear that friendships are blossoming via their writing.
“It has been a good experience to communicate with you… I hope to see you in summer camp.”
(Elizabeth Metz is the Recruitment and Outreach Manager at FLOC.)
Posted in News, Outdoor Education Center, Scholars Program
Tagged communication, community, DC, FLOC, For Love of Children, friendship, fun, learning, middle school, Middle School students, Outdoor Education Center, pen pals, reading, rural, Scholars, storytelling, students, urban, West Virginia, writing, written expression
Lisbeth is a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School, and has been in the FLOC Scholars program since the beginning of her junior year.
This fall she will be a freshman at George Mason University, her top choice, where she plans to major in Government and International Politics.
Each FLOC senior is matched with a postsecondary coach who guides them through the college application process. Lisbeth and her coach Jazmin are certainly a great match! “I think FLOC did a great job pairing us,” Lisbeth said smiling. “Jazmin and I have similar interests and backgrounds; she’s also Latina and came to FLOC as a student, she studied International Affairs at Tufts, and we laugh at the same things.” Lisbeth also said that she has appreciated how Jazmin encouraged her to stay on top of her college and scholarship applications this year.
Lisbeth has many wonderful FLOC memories. The SAT prep that FLOC provided during her 11th grade year helped to increase her scores in all three sections—math, reading, and writing. “I learned new vocabulary, of course, but I also learned how to think through test answers when I came across words or phrases I was unfamiliar with,” she said. During her junior year of high school, Lisbeth went on a spring break college tour with FLOC. “We visited UNC Greensboro, Radford, and VCU, which were three of the schools I applied to,” she recollected. The college tour not only proved helpful in the college decision process itself, but also provided Lisbeth with an opportunity to make lasting friendships with other FLOC students.
With graduation just around the corner, Lisbeth is excited for college and all of the new opportunities that come with it.
(Samantha Bailey is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator at FLOC.)
Posted in Scholars Program, Student Spotlight
Tagged 12th-grade, application process, college access, college tour, community, friendship, mentoring, postsecondary coach, SAT, SAT prep, Scholars, seniors, spring break, student, test prep, vocabulary
Niya is a sixth grader, who participates in both the Neighborhood Tutoring and Scholars programs here at FLOC. Niya’s favorite subjects in school are math and science, because of their real life applications. When asked what she likes the most about FLOC, she grinned and replied, “My math tutor, Nick! He always laughs at my jokes and encourages me to keep trying, even if I don’t get the answer right the first time.” FLOC’s tutoring program has also helped Niya to become more confident in the classroom; she’s often one of the first to raise her hand and try to answer a question.
The middle school Scholars program just completed a drama unit, which Niya also loved. “I’d like to become an actor, or singer… or a pianist!” she said. All of the sixth grade students wrote skits, and Niya created a story about a girl who was both a popstar and an undercover superhero. “I love everything about FLOC,” she said. “I hope I can come back every year, because I know it will help me get into college one day!”
(Samantha Bailey is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator.)
Posted in Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Scholars Program, Student Spotlight
Tagged 6th grade, arts, college access, confidence, creativity, drama, grit, math, middle school, Middle School students, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, perseverance, persistence skills, scholars program, self-confidence, self-reflection, volunteer
FLOC is committed to ensuring that every student obtains a postsecondary credential, which requires the financial means necessary to obtain it. The high cost of college and vocational school can present a barrier to our students and their families. But financial aid opens doors for students pursuing a postsecondary degree. To that end, FLOC staff and volunteers are gearing up for financial aid season.
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) opened on New Year’s Day. It is critical in accessing scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities for college-going students. We know that our students benefit greatly from financial aid and have been working tirelessly to ensure they complete the FAFSA, accurately and on time. Our 12th grade coaches will be equipped to provide one-on-one support to all of our high school seniors. Our Scholars who are currently pursuing postsecondary degrees will receive a step-by-step how-to guide on completing the FAFSA, with additional support provided by staff and volunteers. And while the FAFSA can be completed well into 2016, Scholars are encouraged to “Apply online by Valentine” to ensure they are among the first in line to receive the maximum amount of aid.
Scholars are also diligently working on their DCTAG (Tuition Assistance Grant), DC-CAP (DC College Access Program), institutional aid, and a whole host of scholarship applications. Scholars will even have the opportunity to participate in social media campaigns and enter raffle competitions.
As acceptance letters and financial aid awards begin to roll in, FLOC staff will have critical conversations with students and their families to ensure clear understanding of what can be a maze of postsecondary jargon. Our students and families are committed to their educational success and with the guidance provided by FLOC, they are well on their way to successful postsecondary careers.
The countdown has begun and we are ready to make this a fruitful financial aid season!
(Lindsey Barclay is the Scholars Program Manager)
Posted in Scholars Program
Tagged 12th-grade, college, college access, FAFSA, financial aid, FLOC, postsecondary, postsecondary access, postsecondary coach, Scholars, scholarships, students, volunteers
On Wednesday December 16th, FLOC hosted its annual College Night, sponsored by PrepMatters, at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery. Over 50 parents, students, and alumni met to talk and learn about the college experience. The evening began with a college fair where staff, volunteers, and alumni represented their universities by answering questions posed by curious students. Students were also able to collect brochures and swag provided by colleges and universities all over the country. The fair was also a great place for parents to see just how many college options their students have to choose from.
After the college fair, parents and students were split up into separate workshops designed to teach them about their role in the college process. The students got to listen to a panel of some our postsecondary students, alumni, an admissions representative, and staff. The students heard stories about how the admissions process works, how to pick a major, transferring to a new college or university, and finding financial aid.
The students were also able to ask the panel questions. One student, Bethlehem asked “Which major do you pick when you have two things you really want to do?” Desiree on the panel answered that you can do both things. For example, if you’re interested in law and music, you can do music law. It’s more about picking a career nowadays and fitting your major to that. Students also had questions for our panel about college life; Joel, an 11th grader asked “what about the parties?” The panel answered that you’ll find what you’re looking for but you pay lots of money to go to college. It’s about making the right choice and balancing your school work with social life. Thanks to our panel, all of our students learned something new.
In the next room their parents were also receiving new information from a panel of FLOC alumni, volunteers, and staff. The parent workshop was set up to help parents and family members learn how they can help and support their student through the application process, the financial aid process, and college life. In order to help parents understand how important their support is, Scholars program manager Lindsey Barclay explained the application process and the type of questions the applications ask students to answer. Postsecondary Success Coordinator Veronica Marin also explained that all students have a different process based their personalities and what they want in a college. All of this advice was well received by our parents, some of whom are currently going through this process with their high school seniors. So thanks to our panel, parents are more prepared to support their students on the college journey.
In order to wrap up the night with a big red bow, we raffled off great gifts including gift cards and a DVD. This year’s College Night was a great evening filled with fun and new information. Thank you to all of our postsecondary students who gave up an evening of their winter break to share with our students, all of our volunteers who came out and shared their experiences, and all of our FLOC staff who represented well for their colleges and universities.
(Joh’nita Johnson is a FLOC Fellow with the Scholars Program. She works primarily with 12th graders and Postsecondary Scholars.)
Posted in News, Scholars Program
Tagged admissions, career, college, college access, college fair, college life, College Night, college success, events, financial aid, high school, Middle School students, parent engagement, parent workshop, parents, post-secondary students, postsecondary, Scholars