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EDUCATION REPORT - June 19, 2003: Bronx Guild - 2003-06-19

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

A non-profit organization that holds educational adventure programs is operating a public high school in New York. The New York City Outward Bound Center is known for programs like rock-climbing trips. But last fall, the group launched a different kind of educational adventure. It opened what it calls The Bronx Guild: A New York City Outward Bound School. The school serves a poor area of the city.

Almost eighty teen-agers have now completed their first year of high school, ninth grade, at Bronx Guild. New classes are to begin there each fall. The school will provide four years of study like other high schools.

The Bronx Guild operates inside the existing Adlai E. Stevenson High School. The new school was started as part of a city education department program.

The program calls for reorganizing large high schools with low student performance. Large schools have several thousand students. Instead, three-hundred to four-hundred young people are to attend new, smaller schools. Three private organizations provided thirty-million dollars to help make the changes possible.

One goal at Bronx Guild is to aid students who did not receive the help they needed in big schools. Another is to show them the value of education. This year, students will begin working in areas that especially interest them. These apprenticeships mean learning a skill by doing it. For example, students interested in the environment might work in a city garden. Students will work on apprenticeships two or three days a week. But their schoolwork also includes preparation for college.

Bronx Guild students began their school year in a non-traditional way. They climbed a tall wooden structure in the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York. Students on the ground held safety ropes attached to the climbers. The goal was to show that the young people could help and depend on each other.

New York City Outward Bound began the Bronx Guild school after observing students who had attended educational adventure trips. The group says the activities helped the young people improve their lives. But they still had to return to their same large high schools.

Outward Bound began its activities in New York City in nineteen-eighty-seven. Since then, organization officials say, twenty-five-thousand students have taken part.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Jerilyn Watson.