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South Bronx Charter Students Give Up Spring Break for Extra Test Prep

By Eddie Small | April 8, 2015 7:35am
 The Bronx Academy of Promise offers school for students over spring break to help them prepare for the state tests.
Bronx Academy of Promise Spring Break School
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MOUNT EDEN — A South Bronx charter school that encouraged kids to spend their spring break in the classroom doing test prep had nearly 150 students sign up, according to the principal.

Although the spring break classes aren't mandatory, the Bronx Academy of Promise urged kids to spend extra time preparing for the upcoming state exams in math and English, which begin on April 14, according to the school's principal Catherine Jackvony.

"We can’t really say 'You have to come,' because I know it’s hard for parents if they don’t have the transportation or somebody to pick up their child," she said.

Nearly 150 students have decided to give up their recess to take 90 minutes of math and 90 minutes of English test prep each day from 8:45 a.m. to noon, Jackvony said.

The classes are a good opportunity for students to get individualized time with teachers, said Courtney Flaherty, who is teaching fifth grade English and math this week.

Each teacher works with about 18-20 students in each class, Jackvony said.

"It gives them the chance to ask a question that they might specifically need instead of the whole class," Flaherty said, "so we can be more one on one."

The Bronx Academy of Promise serves K-8 students, but the spring break classes are only for third to eighth graders.

The classes gives kids who are already close to moving up a level in their test scores an extra boost, Jackvony said.

"We wanted to be sure, to make sure, that the students that needed the extra help received it and didn’t lose some of their knowledge or information during their time at home," she said.

Parents who opted to keep their kids in school over the break praised the school's initiative to offer more help.

"I'm very grateful for the program because it eases my mind a little more," said Gina Crespo, the mother of a seventh- and fourth-grader at the school. 

James Owusu, the father of third-, sixth- and seventh-graders at the Bronx Academy of Promise, said the extra time in the classroom was crucial. 

"If they come here even just for one hour, they learn something," he said.

Cindy Owusu, his eldest daughter, said she appreciated the extra attention from teachers.

"I think it helps us prepare for the state test," she said. "Anything that we need help with, we can ask."

Glenn Kontor, a 13-year-old eighth-grade student, said the class still left enough time to relax.

"It’s three hours, so it’s not like you’re having a whole school day," he said. "But three hours is enough time to touch up on the points that you need help with."

"Some people say that 'Why would you go to school on a vacation?'" Kontor added, "But what I say is that I like to focus on my education instead of going around knowing that I need some help."