What does summer look like for our ASPIRE youth? Great question! To help improve academic skills and prevent an educational summer slide Banyan runs two different programs: Summer Academy and High School Writing Class. Youth who do not continue practicing over the summer can forget many of the skills they learned in the previous school year. This forgetting is often called the summer slide. We hope that by practicing our academic skills throughout the summer, we can ensure our youth will start the next year strong!

Summer Academy

Summer Academy is specifically for our youth who have completed 8th grade and have been accepted into the ASPIRE program. ASPIRE youth will be entering DeLaSalle High School in the fall and the level of rigor can be very different compared to middle school. These 5 youths gather for five weeks on Wednesdays and Thursdays for 2 hours. Our goal is to reinforce foundational skills for high school.

To do this, we teach classes on math, reading, writing, and study skills. This year our incoming 9th graders are reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This book chronicles, in first person, the story of a 13-year-old girl sexually assaulted at a party. It diaries her journey of trauma, separation, healing and learning to speak again. The book offers an opportunity to discuss difficult social and emotional topics with our youth.

Our youth have most appreciated the study skills classes. We go over time management, organization, note-taking strategies, test-taking strategies, and how to communicate with teachers. For our time management lesson, youth were given a set of assignments for a standard week at DeLeSalle and then asked to plan their week of homework in a mock planner. Transitioning into high school can be super overwhelming, but we hope these skills make it a bit more manageable.

One of the ASPIRE 8th graders said “I was really nervous about the amount of work when you were describing it, but actually, this is doable.”

High School Writing Class

High School Writing Class meets once a week for incoming 10th and 11th grade ASPIRE youth. In this 6-week program youth work on a writing project and read a book together. This year youth and leaders are reading Fresh Ink edited by Lamar Giles which is a 13-piece anthology collection written by authors that identify as marginalized. We have discussed themes surrounding representation in media, gentrification, sexism, racism, and much more. To accompany our book talks, youth are writing their own short stories.

We are looking forward to the fall, the start of school, and we know our Banyan youth will be better equipped to handle the educational challenges to come. If you are interested in learning more about our APRIRE program, funding a youth through a High Ground Scholarship, or volunteering as a tutor please email use at development@banyancommunity.org.


Written in collaboration with Diamond Jackson,
Secondary Program Manager