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Why TMA’s Summer Prep Program Matters

While many kids in the District started their summer vacations in July, roughly one hundred came to Thurgood Marshall Academy for Summer Prep, the annual five-week program that introduces incoming ninth and tenth graders to the academic and social life of our school. Starting at 8am, students arrived for breakfast and began classes at 8:30. They studied English, Math, and Keyboarding, and took a Freshman Seminar to help prepare them for succeeding their first year at TMA, including the school’s No Brainers – nine rules of conduct. While they don’t wear the traditional year-round uniform, a modified ensemble was required — a grey t-shirt with the Summer Prep logo; khaki knee-length shorts, skirts, or pants; a plain black belt; and all-black closed-toe shoes or sneakers. Mondays through Thursdays, students spent the day on academic skills that will form the foundation of their ninth grade year. They learned how to write longer essays, how to use a computer for research, and basic mathematical equations. “I’m learning how to write better,” said Trikivis Hunter, who will be starting this Fall as a ninth grader. “I wanted to come here because academic-wise it will get me into a good college later on.” “The enrichment program not only introduces students to our school, it also serves as a benchmark for teachers, so they know the academic level of each student,” said Byron Johnson, Dean of Summer Prep and year-round Dean for tenth and 11th grade students. On Fridays, students took field trips. They visited three local college campuses, and a downtown law firm for a unique experience known as Law Day, one of TMA’s signature legal programs. Wiley Rein LLP has hosted students for the Summer Law Day for more than seven years. The firm’s attorneys led a workshop on the basics of contracts, practiced negotiation skills with students, and the day concluded with a mock trial. “I enjoyed Summer Prep – it gave me a feel of what the school year is going to be like, and I am also getting to know my classmates,” said incoming 9th grader Kourtney Taylor. The Summer Prep Program is not mandatory in order to attend TMA, but it is strongly encouraged. More than half of the students in Summer Prep attend TMA year-round; data shows that these students go on to excel academically and behaviorally during the academic year.