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New Friends, New Experiences, New Skills: Scholars Reflect on The High School Summer Prep Fellowship

When SA HSLA-Manhattan scholars Abiola Ilesanmi, Tyrone Stevenson, and Octoba Grant were first accepted to the SA High School Summer Prep Fellowship, their reactions were a mixture of excitement and fear. “I had never even been to a sleepover before,” shared Abiola, “I did not think my parents would allow me to go away for two whole weeks.” In reality, Abiola’s parents, like many other families, were thrilled by their scholar’s acceptance into this unique program. “My mom quickly realized that it was a great opportunity for me to meet new people and learn skills for independence,” Abiola reflected. Similarly, Octoba shared, “I thought I would be so homesick I’d have to come home early, but I had so much fun I did not want to leave!”

The High School Summer Prep Fellowship, designed by Success Academy in partnership with The Loomis Chaffee School, is a free two-week program created to help rising 9th grade scholars meet new friends and make a smooth transition to high school. Participants learned about leadership, honed their writing skills, and explored their personal study habits – all while having fun, meeting new friends and learning new passions.

We had the chance to speak with Abiola, Tyrone, and Octoba about their experiences in the program. Here’s what they had to say:

What originally drew your interest in the High School Summer Prep Fellowship?

Abiola: I thought it would be a good chance to meet new people. I had been with the same people in elementary and middle school. I didn’t know how to learn with people that I didn’t know. I thought the program would help with that — and it did! I made a bunch of friends.

Tyrone: I wanted to get an idea of who would be at the high school. I also wanted to make some friends so I was not going in alone.

Octoba: I had never gone away by myself and I wanted to have that experience. I also knew that making new friends and having an enriching academic experience would help to set me up for success in high school.

What were the most important things that you learned while you were at the High School Summer Prep Fellowship?

Abiola: The Writing Workshop really helped me. In my classes now, we are learning a few of the things that we went over in the workshop. I know the terms and have a bit of a head start. I also learned important communication skills. When you do activities with people you don’t know, you need to develop different skills. I’m now able to bring those skills to high school.

Tyrone: The socialization aspect was crucial. Learning to socialize with new people was important for me. Before, I would call myself antisocial, but this program has helped me to feel more confident in myself.

Octoba: Through the “Best Self Skills,” sessions, I learned a lot about myself and how to approach my emotions and feelings. In the Writing Workshop, I learned important writing skills that are ultimately going to help me in high school.

How did you surprise yourself at the program?

Abiola: I learned that I am more social than I thought I was. I don’t think of myself as someone who talks that much, but I made a lot of friends. It was pretty easy to connect with all different people because we had shared classes and activities that brought us closer together. I also learned that I am braver than I thought I was.

Tyrone: I took some big steps out of my comfort zone. Even just walking around by myself and doing things without my family was so different for me.

Octoba: I made so many new friends. I had to put myself out there and converse and socialize with new people, which was uncomfortable but important.

After this experience do you feel more prepared or less fearful of college?

Abiola: I definitely feel more prepared. It was exciting and interesting to take classes in a lecture hall that felt like college. I also had a great roommate, which showed me that living with another person can be pretty fun.

Tyrone: It made me feel more prepared and excited for college. It was kind of nice to be on my own without my parents over my shoulder. I got to live with someone I didn’t know for two weeks and learned about living with someone new.

Octoba: This definitely made me feel more prepared for college. I’ve now started to plan ahead for college since I’ve had this opportunity to see what I have to look forward to.

After our conversation, all three scholars enthusiastically recommended the program for younger scholars. “We would all definitely go back,” they shared. “We’ve all been talking about how we would go back every year if we could.”

Applications for the High School Summer Prep Program open to Gr8 scholars in November.

Written by Success Academy October 7, 2022

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