8GA Photo - use

Eighth Grade Academy: Mentorship for a Brighter Future

By Melissa Goldberg 

This semes­ter, 41 SEI affil­i­ated stu­dents are vol­un­teer­ing their time for the Cit­i­zen Schools Eighth Grade Acad­emy (8GA) pro­gram. The pro­gram, which meets seven times through­out the semes­ter, pairs each North­east­ern stu­dent as a writ­ing coach with an eighth grade stu­dent from the Orchard Gar­dens School in Rox­bury. The eighth graders come to North­east­ern every other week to par­tic­i­pate in the one-on-one program.

 8GA is a pro­gram ran through Cit­i­zen Schools, a non-profit orga­ni­za­tion that pairs with schools to pro­vide an expanded learn­ing day for its stu­dents. While SEI stu­dents have been vol­un­teer­ing in dif­fer­ent capac­i­ties with Cit­i­zen Schools for a few years, this is only the sec­ond year of our involve­ment with the 8GA pro­gram specif­i­cally. After a suc­cess­ful first year dur­ing the 2013–2013 school year, Cit­i­zen Schools approached SEI request­ing 40 writ­ing coaches, twice the num­ber that they requested the pre­vi­ous year. The coaches and stu­dents are split into two smaller class­rooms with a Cit­i­zen Schools teacher and stu­dent leader with each group.

The semes­ter began with an intro­duc­tion of the coaches and stu­dents. Each stu­dent was tasked to inter­view their coach and write a pro­fes­sional biog­ra­phy about them. In return, the coaches wrote bios about their stu­dents includ­ing what the stu­dents hoped to do in their futures. Fol­low­ing this por­tion of the semes­ter, coaches began help­ing their stu­dents with the high school appli­ca­tion process.

 In Boston, all pub­lic and pri­vate schools require appli­ca­tions for stu­dents to attend. While some schools sim­ply require a paper appli­ca­tion, oth­ers require writ­ten essays, short answer ques­tions, high exam scores, and in-person inter­views. While stu­dents ulti­mately decide what schools to apply to, Cit­i­zen Schools encour­ages them to apply to at least one school that they deem to be “high achiev­ing”, whether it be a pri­vate school or a par­tic­u­larly strong Boston pub­lic school. A sam­pling of the schools where our 8GA stu­dents are apply­ing include Boston Latin Acad­emy, Boston Arts Acad­emy, and Catholic Memo­r­ial High.

The writ­ing coaches have helped their stu­dents to do ini­tial online research of their selected schools. Fol­low­ing this, coaches have helped their stu­dents brain­storm and draft their essays to be final­ized in the com­ing months. Essay ques­tions vary from ask­ing stu­dents to describe some­one in their life who inspires them to explain­ing how stu­dents will grow and con­tribute at their selected school. Cit­i­zen Schools also pro­vides options for their stu­dents to do mock inter­views to bet­ter pre­pare them as well.

To close out the fall semes­ter, all 41 coaches and their stu­dents will be invited to an on-campus cel­e­bra­tion and demon­stra­tion of their writ­ten work. 8GA will con­tinue into the spring semes­ter with both return­ing and new writ­ing coaches.