CAB Summer Academy at Fessenden Aims to Prepare Urban Students for Success

In many schools across the country, the frenetic pace of the academic year wanes during the summer months. Teachers revel in the quiet hours they suddenly have to develop curricula; faculty members seek out-of-state professional development opportunities; and the community embraces time off to relax, re-energize, and reflect on the long and often grueling hours spent educating the leaders of tomorrow.

When you step onto campus at The Fessenden School between the months of July and August, you will not find a serene and uninhabited landscape. Instead, you will be met by approximately 35 energetic boys from the 3Point Foundation who have arrived after their pick-up from the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury. They can be found engaging with teachers and coaches who have chosen to forego their summer vacations to mentor—and learn from—young urban students. This four-week summer program is called CAB Summer Academy, named after its mission to foster an appreciation for character, academics, and basketball in students between the ages of seven and 15. The program aims to prepare urban boys for successful futures by providing them with academic, character education, and leadership resources and opportunities outside of their own communities.

Jason Singleton, who recently completed his second year as program director and is entering his second year as Upper School dean of students at Fessenden, believes the success of this program is inextricably tied to the intentional blend of personal, intellectual, and physical development that is emphasized. Many CAB Summer Academy students are poised to play sports at the intermediate level and, at critically developmental stages in their lives, Jason hopes to instill in them the value of balance. “Not only do we want these students to pursue their passion for athletics, we want them to become strong academic thinkers and to make good moral decisions,” Jason remarked. He explained that these traits lead to success in school and later in life, adding that the decision to place athletics last in the program’s title was deliberate.

By the time CAB Summer Academy students arrive at Fessenden, they have met with mentors in the 3Point Foundation twice a week for a year. On Thursdays and Saturdays during the school year students mirror the academic program that is offered at Fessenden during the summer; it is a blend of math and reading comprehension in addition to character building. Jason explains that this helps students prepare for the challenging coursework they will receive and also allows the Foundation to gage a boy’s commitment to the program, which has seen a 60% retention rate since it was launched three years ago. Many students who were a part of the program’s inception are now counselors in training and some of them are Fessenden alumni.

The overall structure of the program is loose, something that differs from Jason’s day-to-day role during the school year at Fessenden. For a CAB Summer Academy student, a typical day includes time divided between the classroom, the basketball courts, and the suburban campus. Jason explains that in a four week program a more lenient structure actually allows important aha! moments to happen organically. “It’s critical that their moments of growth and discovery—however large or small they may be—are authentic and that they resonate,” Jason said.

While the program is designed with breathing room for staff and campers to engage and learn from one another in an unstructured way, students benefit from plenty of structured activities. On the academic end, students wrote their own short stories after reading The Odyssey, discovered how math is used in our daily lives through problem solving and technology, and studied poetry. Students also received lessons in African Drumming from Fessenden Music Teacher Joe Lareau, attended a guest lecture by Todd Quarles—a prominent business owner and AAU Head Basketball Coach of Expressions Elite—and visited Northeastern University’s campus.

After the successful completion of the program’s third year, Jason is encouraged by its continued growth. He is satisfied by the student outcomes but also by how rewarding it is to be a part of CAB Summer Academy. “I learn something every day from these students and my hope is that more Fessenden faculty will continue to get involved in this worthwhile program.”

For more information about CAB Summer Academy and the 3Point Foundation, please visit http://74.124.219.134/~the3pointfoundat/.

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