Spring Break 2012 - Atlanta
Howard University > Alternative Spring Break 2013
ASB Baltimore Helps Students Push Forward to Graduation

By Sydnee Monday
Howard University News Service

BALTIMORE (March 15, 2003)— Completing a high school education is the first real step into adulthood for most people.

Shyloe Pollard, a senior majoring in health management from Oakland, Calif., helps a student with her biology BRIDGE project in preparation for graduation.

A number of students, however, fall behind. Whether it is a pregnancy, a jail sentence, or simply not having enough credits to graduate on time, traditional schools don’t seem to work for them.

Usually, they either drop out or they turn to institutions like the Baltimore Liberation Diploma Plus (BLDP) High School, a school that allows older students to earn their diplomas. The cut-off age for students is 21.

Part of Howard University’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program worked in Baltimore this year with those students. It was the first year that the university’s ASB program, which also worked in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans, Washington and Haiti, helped out in Baltimore.

While at BLDP, ASB volunteers tutored and mentored students who had not passed their standardized tests to complete their BRIDGE projects, which serve as the test requirement for students that still need to graduate. They worked on biology, English and algebra.

Howard students worked one-on-one with the BLDP students to provide extra help to the instructors of the program. The ASB volunteers’ impact was immediately apparent.

“My mother asked why I was coming to school on a half-day, because I usually don’t come,” said Justin Chavis, who is set to graduate at the end of the year. “I told her it was the Howard students.”

Shawnette Bryant, an English teacher at BLDP, said it’s important for instructors today to be more in touch with students needs beyond just schoolwork.

“We have to be more socially aware and therefore more socially active to help students,” Bryant said. “ It’s not just about academics.”

Má Wright, also an English teacher at BLDP, said sometimes instructors forget that they must provide mentoring and empathy as well as education.

“A lot of the students have previously had educators and not teachers,” Wright said. “They haven’t had mentors, and most of the time they just need someone to remind them that they matter.”

By the end of the week, many of the BLDP students finished their Bridge projects with the help of ASB Baltimore. The high school students now shift their attention to the class trip to New York, prom, and graduation. On the other hand, the students of ASB Baltimore left with a new understanding of not only others, but themselves.

Jordan Stephens, junior biology major from Trinidad&Tobago, helps a student with his biology BRIDGE project in preparation for graduation.

Photos by Sydnee Monday, Howard University
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