Refugee Students Complete Summer Program at Phoenix Academy
Speaking 15 languages, nearly 30 high school students who came to America from refugee camps around the world completed a special summer program at Camelot’s Phoenix Academy in Lancaster, PA on July 28, marking the fourth year that the School District of Lancaster and Camelot Education combined to provide this unique opportunity.
“The summer program is in many ways an extension of our regular school year programming and a way to earn extra school credits, but is also a unique opportunity for these students,” said Phoenix executive director Megan Misnik.
The summer program is federally funded and open to limited-English-proficient (LEP) immigrants in District high schools. Aside from earning credits, the extra six weeks in school provides these students with an ideal venue for socialization. Along with receiving their certificate on the final day of the program, they celebrated with pizza and cupcakes, courtesy of the Phoenix staff.
During the regular school year, Phoenix Academy serves over-aged students who have fallen way behind in their studies. The school’s mission is to help young people earn their diploma by age 21 and advance from there to either college or trade school. Of the more than 300 students enrolled this past year, 12 over-aged LEP students attended. Phoenix Academy has three certified ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers on staff to ensure that foreign language learners are accommodated.
Prakash Chuwan, a Phoenix graduate now in his third year as an administration and finance major at Millersville University, is grateful for the opportunity the school provided him to transition to life in America.
“It was good for me, more comfortable,” he says. “The teachers were friendly and they take care of you. I felt really safe in that school.”
Richi Timisa, another former refugee student from Nepal now attending Harrisburg Area Community College, says he liked the small class sizes and the friends he made.
“I lived about a minute from the school, so they would stop by my house and wake me up on the way in,” he said. “I made the right decision to come back to school. I made friends and liked my teachers. With education, I can get good work.”
The students who took part in the summer program are hoping the District is able to provide the experience for them and other students again next year, pizza included.