D.C. students enhance skills

GW’s Monroe Hall and Smith Center may have fewer GW students in them after final exams end, but inner-city students will fill the empty space this summer learning math, English and leadership skills.

The Program for Academic Leadership helps seventh and eighth grade inner-city girls, and is sponsored by the non-profit Youth Leadership Foundation. YLF, an organization that is dedicated to raising money for inner-city youths in Washington, D.C. receives money from grants and private donations to fund the program.

We take average students who have the motivation and desire to improve and make them create goals, said PALS director Gretha Omey.

Like its nearly 80 participants, PALS has its own goals as well, Omey said.

Improving study habits, leadership skills and academic performance are several ways that PALS hopes to assist inner-city kids.

Omey said the program aims to help students graduate from high school, apply to competitive colleges and help their communities, Omey said.

During the five-week program participants spend five hours a day taking classes in subjects such as lab science and drama. Each morning begins with a character class in which students learn about virtues and what life has to offer them, Omey said. The students are also paired with female mentors, who double as instructors for the program.

We need to give them the boost they need, she said.

In addition to class, students also take weekly field trips. Last year, when the program was held at GW, students visited the Baltimore Aquarium.

Only female students can participate or teach in the program. Teachers include students from local universities. Students from GW are welcome to participate in the program, Omey said.

The summer program provides a stipend to all students and teachers. The year-round program meets with students on Saturdays during the school year.

Since its inception in 1994 PALS has not just focused on improving students, but parents as well, Omey said.

We want parents to be involved and to challenge their children to get the most out of the program, she said.

For this year’s program, many students are being recruited from the Anacostia neighborhood of the District.

PALS provides financial aid and assistance to those who cannot afford the program, which costs $175.

They are . really bright girls and with the help (from) others, we can keep them from slipping through the cracks of the education system, Omey said.

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