In early February, a group of Roxborough High School student ambassadors participated in a walk along Ridge Avenue to meet neighborhood businesses. Their goal was to build community awareness about Roxborough High’s unique academic program and the achievements of its students.
"It was such a surprising treat to be visited by these young men and women,” said Loreta Montenegro, owner of Paw Prints Professional Grooming, 6134 Ridge Avenue. "They were clearly eager to share the amazing programs their school has to offer and that many people are unaware of. They are helping spread the message of what our community is all about, and we hope to see more of it!”
"They were clearly eager to share the amazing programs their school has to offer and that many people are unaware of. They are helping spread the message of what our community is all about, and we hope to see more of it!”
Franco Siciliano, owner of Cafe Roma Bakery, 6147 Ridge Avenue, was equally impressed. “It was such a pleasure to meet the student ambassadors. The passion and confidence that they displayed was amazing. Each student explained the skills they have developed during their education at Roxborough High and what they could offer to help develop our business. It brought me great joy to see students and teachers working together to build and grow relationships and skills that will truly last a lifetime.”
"It brought me great joy to see students and teachers working together to build and grow relationships and skills that will truly last a lifetime.”
The students were accompanied by Christine Arnold, Freshman Academy Coordinator. “We are an all-academy school, and we have the first nationally recognized career academy in the Northeastern United States,” she explained. “Our Academies prepare students for careers in visual arts production; business, technology, and entrepreneurship; or health sciences and research. We partner with the City’s leading science, technology, and business institutions including Drexel University, Gear Up, Vanguard Investments, Keller Williams Realty, Organon, YMCA, and City Year.” The high school is seeking local partnerships with Roxborough businesses and institutions. Assistant Principal Julian Saavedra, who also joined student ambassadors for their walk, has been supporting the growth of these local partnerships.
Roxborough High School’s transition from a traditional public-school curriculum to one that prepares students for success in specific career areas did not happen overnight. “The process took several years to implement and required commitment from all stakeholders, including business partners.” said Arnold. “Eventually, our Academy of Health Sciences and Research was accredited by the National Career Academy Coalition.”
Students choose a pathway program – a career concentration within each Academy – in the spring of their freshmen year. Starting in their sophomore year, they take a class related to their pathway program every day. Students have the opportunity to obtain industry certifications in each of the pathway programs. “A student who graduates with a certificate in Microsoft Word and Power Point may enter the job market straight from high school and earn a starting salary of $40,000. However, many of our graduates go on to college and vocational schools,” said Arnold. “This definitely separates us from other comprehensive high schools in the City and is the reason that 50% of our students come from all over Philadelphia via a lottery.”
Effectively communicating Roxborough High’s unique academic program to prospective students is important too. Jaleigh Lewandowski, a senior in the Kinesiology Pathway who participated in the walk, admits she had a negative impression before she enrolled. “The school has amazing programs including my pathway in Kinesiology. I also love the sports I have been involved in for four years," she said. There is a support system built into the program not found in other public schools. "The students in the pathway programs inspire other students to do their best,” said Samir Garfield, a 10th grade student in the Film and Video Pathway.
"The students in the pathway programs inspire other students to do their best.”
Arnold has reason to be proud of the maturity and confidence displayed by the student ambassadors’ interactions with local businesses. She looks forward to helping the community develop a better understanding of Roxborough High School’s Academies and pathway programs.