Friday, January 16th, a group of sixteen Breakthrough high school students went on a field trip to Chapman University. The trip began with a tour of the campus where students learned about the college’s history and visited academic buildings.
After the tour, the group went to the student center to listen to a panel of current members of Chapman’s MEChA group. Daniel, an international student from Venezuela, and Lisette and Hugo, both first generation college students sat on the panel and shared their experiences with students. Also present at the panel were two Chapman professors: Doctor Luis Ortiz-Franco and Doctor Victoria Carty. Lisette and Hugo emphasized the importance of staying focused on education and getting good grades in school. Hugo encouraged our students saying, “I want you all to work hard. Every single day you have to work hard. If you work hard now, it will be easier in college and schools are going to want you.” Daniel also stressed the importance of staying motivated and reaching towards your goals. When asked what motivated him to go to college he answered, “To further my education and gain more knowledge!”
At the end of the panel, Doctor Luis Ortiz-Franco stood up and addressed our students repeating Hugo’s words of advice, “Work hard and it will pay off later. Don’t let tuition fees scare you away when you look at colleges because the money is there for you if you want it.” Fitting advice, as this week our seniors will be filling out and submitting their FAFSA forms during tutoring. We would like to thank the students from MEChA, professors, and staff for sharing their stories and advice with our high school students.
Last month, In-Session students learned about the art of debate and were tasked with researching topics and backing up their opinions with facts. The month started off with an introduction to the subject which began with students voicing their opinions on topics like age restriction on social media and school uniforms. During this event, Breakthrough students were also able to watch a mock debate presented by two students from St. Margaret’s Episcopal School’s debate team. From the mock debate, students learned about the importance of having evidence to back up claims and the power a well-informed rebuttal can have.
At the end of the month, to close the theme of debate, middle school students were given three topics: junk food should be banned in schools; grades should be abolished; and college should be free for everyone. 7th grade students debated 8th grade students in Socratic circles in Marco Forster Middle School’s multi-purpose room while parents watched from the side. Some valid points were brought up, one student said college should be free for everyone because “some people are smart but don’t have money so they can’t afford college.” Another student argued that grades should be abolished because “it puts less judgment on students, no one will judge you for having a bad grade.”
After all three topics were debated, In-Session teachers decided if 7th or 8th grade students won the overall debate. The votes were tallied and the 8th grade students were the most convincing and won all five debates. However, the 7th grade students have a chance to make a comeback at the end of this month, when both grades will compete in Math Olympics.
Last night, Breakthrough students and staff attended the grand re-opening of McDonald’s San Juan Capistrano. The four Breakthrough high school students: Alan, Jason, Ellie, and Natalie volunteered at the event, helping greet attendees. Throughout the night, students also got a chance to meet and talk to San Juan community members, including the mayor and city council members.
Ross Pollard, the owner of San Juan’s McDonald’s, gave a speech thanking the community for their support and announced his partnership with the Breakthrough SJC program. He showed his appreciation for the program saying, “Thank you. You are your students are doing great things for our community and we are happy to support your efforts with this partnership.” He then presented AmeriCorps VISTA Community Outreach Coordinator Lily Panish with a donation for Breakthrough SJC. We are grateful for Ross Pollard and McDonald’s San Juan Capistrano support and thank them for their generosity. We also look forward to continuing our partnership with a McStudents fundraiser night on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the local McDonald’s. Come out to support our program and a local business!