High expectations are in the air for today’s college-bound students.
At Malden’s High Expectations, the Cultural Immersion Program helps high school students strengthen their college profile and communication skills while working together to create a video production of an original play. Many of these students are English language learners (“ELL”) and are enhancing their English through this program. I was able to watch the rehearsal of their play, which is a team effort involving plot twists and what the instructors describe as a “philosophical ending.”
High Expectations’ founder, Lynn A. Leonard, is enthusiastic about both the creative and academic components of the Cultural Immersion Program. An attorney specializing in Civil Rights and Children & Family law, Leonard created High Expectations to provide strategic college planning services such as standardized test preparation to ELL students and enable them to explore their interests and aspirations. High Expectations opened in June 2015.
The High Expectations faculty created the Cultural Immersion Program because they noticed a pattern of ELL students lacking confidence when socializing and communicating with American students. With that in mind, they designed the program to involve social opportunities, such as working as a team on this project and embarking on field trips to places like Boda Borg. The fifteen or so students involved in the program represent about three or four different schools, including Malden High School and Everett High School. These opportunities help the students become more confident in their English communication and gain leadership experience. These skills are valuable for the college interview, life at college, and the students’ future careers. Attorney Leonard says that the program is “cross-cultural,” as both the ELL and non-ELL students learn about each other’s cultures while working as a team.
Program instructors Changhong Zhang and Yundan Pi described the creative process of the project as the students “beginning from scratch, brainstorming.”
The team of students worked together to develop the ideas and characters into a script. The students are responsible for different roles in the project; some acting, some directing, and some focusing on the production components. The students acting in the production were even given a chance to practice auditioning. It was evident from watching the rehearsal that all students were actively involved and benefited from the instructors’ hands-on teaching style, sometimes filling in for actors who were absent.
The students are currently in the rehearsal process of the production. Filming will take place in the next couple of weeks at MATV’s studios, where students will learn to use the cameras and equipment as well as edit their film. The High Expectations faculty believe that this film will help students stand out during the college admissions process.