To prepare inner-city Boston students for competitive high schools and prep schools, Beacon Academy puts eighth-grade graduates through a rigorous one-year high school prep program. The Boston Globe reports on the private, tuition-free program’s first year:
“In the beginning, I felt like it was way too much work times two,” said Dennishia Bell, 14, a former honor roll student at the Umana Barnes Middle School in East Boston. “I didn’t realize that I wasn’t really being challenged in school until I came to Beacon Academy. If I stuck to the Boston Public Schools, I almost feel like they were cheating me out of my education.”
. . . “I’ve told them many times, `You don’t study hard enough,’ ” said Dean Conway, the school’s English and social studies teacher who had previously taught at The Park School in Brookline for 17 years. ” `You’ve got to study harder, fight harder.’ The fine line we continually walk is pushing them too hard and alienating them and, on the other hand, coddling them.”
These are motivated students who’ve earned good grades. Yet it takes 14 months (including both summers) of hard work to get them to the start line at a competitive high school. For the second year, school leaders plan fewer culturally broadening field trips and more focus on academics.