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Students at Young Scholars get ready for ‘Experience Week’

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Starting Monday, students at Young Scholars Charter School in the Poplar neighbrhood will be able to spend time at local businesses, organizations, and government agencies to learn about careers in what is being called “Experience Week.”

The week will have theme days, such as vocations, the arts, and humanities. The school has partnered with 22 local workplaces where students can learn about day-to-day operations.

The partners include Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Keller-Williams Real Estate, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Vetri Family Restaurants, the Stephen Klein Wellness Center, Castle Valley Mill, CBS Radio, and the Walnut Street Theatre.

The goal is to give students a better idea of the variety of careers and options available. Young Scholars at 900 N. Marshall St. is a middle school serving 6th to 8th graders.

“We are already pretty good at closing the achievement gap,” said John Amenda, the school’s executive director, referring to a persistent test-score gap between white and Asian students and black and Hispanic students. “We just need to get better at closing the exposure gap.”

This week aims to “tear down walls” and bring the school together while giving the students new experiences.

“Experience Week provides real work-life perspective while directly connecting names, faces, and professionals to our student body,” Amenda said in a recent news release.

Students will choose where to go throughout the week, depending on what interests them. They will be able to meet the professionals, ask questions, and attend workshops about day-to-day operations.

Each site has something different planned. For example, the Klein Wellness Center has set up a panel of doctors and interns to talk to them about different career options in medicine. CBS will take the children through the studios to show them the jobs and skills needed in the media world.

“We feel that middle school is the time when students can start to think about what they want to do,” Amenda said.

The school aims to build on its connections throughout the city and give students more opportunities.

“Experience Week is the first of, ultimately, many professional doors our students will open as they explore their interests and eventually build a career,” Amenda said.