Camelot Education’s Excel Middle Years Academy Students Attend Philadelphia’s Annual High School Fair
As part of an important and exciting step in their academic progress and the planning of their futures, all Camelot Education’s Excel Middle Years Academy eighth graders attended the School District of Philadelphia’s High School Fair to help them learn more about the School District of Philadelphia’s school selection process and high school options.
The fair, which was held on Friday, September 20th and Saturday, September 21st, presented an opportunity to students and their parents or guardians to meet with and apply to over 100 high schools in Philadelphia. Excel Middle Years’ Director of Student Services Jaleeca Jacobs said it’s the perfect venue for students to meet with local high school representatives to discuss admission requirements, extracurricular activities, and academics. Nearly 15,000 people attended the two-day event.
“It’s not just an event that showcases only public schools,” Jacobs said. “There are parochial, private, trade schools, and special admission schools, or what are more commonly known as ‘magnet’ schools. When I was in the eighth grade, we didn’t have such a wide range of choices of where students could go to high school. It’s not just something that is impressive to our students but especially so for their parents who get to see the broad choices available to their children.”
Jacobs said before the fair, she prepares a document for the attending eighth graders which lists the different types of school as well as the actual schools that will be at the fair. Jacobs then prepares the students for the fair by asking them to give her an idea of the high school they would like to attend, and she encourages them to aim high while remaining realistic. High school administrators evaluate prospective students based on academics, attendance, and behavior, so all students understand that their middle school years will be determining factor in their high school application process. Excel Middle Years Academy, in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, is a school-of-choice that serves students, grades 6-8, who benefit from a smaller classroom setting and wrap-around supports. Instead of acting as an intervention for students, Excel Middle Years Academy serves to prevent students from disengaging from school.
Jacobs said the academy utilizes staff and resources in flexible ways that respond to student needs and prepare them for the high school selection process. Excel Middle Years Academy equips students with the skills required for middle and high school success and provides support to students throughout the year. She said in the five years she’s been with Camelot, she’s seen an increasing number of Excel Middle Years Academy students apply to, and gain acceptance to, special admission schools such as Central and Bodine High Schools where students are required to have only A’s and B’s to be accepted.
As part of their application packet, all middle school students in the district must attain letters of recommendation from their teachers and school administrators, and students at Excel Middle Years Academy are required to apply to at least five different high schools.
Excel Middle Years Academy also held its own high school fair on October 21st, where staff represented their high school alma maters in addition to having representatives from city high schools join them at the event.
“Our goal is for our students to gain acceptance to the high school of their choice, and more and more of our students are getting into the magnet schools,” Jacobs said. “We aren’t what people think of when they consider alternative education schools. When our students come to us, some of them have very low confidence in themselves, and we help them change that. The seventh grade is really the pivotal year for students, and they know that’s when their academics have to be on point, as well as their attendance and behavior, if they want to get into the high school of their choice. I remember one student in particular who applied to several high schools and got accepted into Bodine, which just happens to be my alma mater. I was so proud of him.”
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