and Danielle Silverman After urging one of their classmates to recite some poetry he had written, the Edison-Fareira High School seniors listened intently as the student read a poem about his true love. If only there were 25 hours in a day, he wished, he could spend the extra hour with the girl he adored. "He's an athlete and a poet," one student swooned. "It's just too much." Gathered in the Van Pelt College House lounge last night, the seniors participated in a Philomathean Society poetry reading as part of the Penn-Edison Partnership. The Partnership, now in its fifth year, provides Penn student tutors to high school seniors at the nearby school. The 18 high school seniors came to the University yesterday to experience college life. With Penn students as guides, the seniors visited classes, libraries and computer labs. Today an admissions officer will discuss the application process and financial aid opportunities with the students. Penn Women's Center Assistant Director Gloria Gay will also talk about issues affecting women and minorities. By establishing the partnership, the seniors gain access to resources they would never have in their community, according to English graduate student Tim Waples, one of the Penn-Edison program coordinators. In the school's North Philadelphia neighborhood, 92 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, Waples said. "Of the 1,000 incoming high school freshmen [at Edison-Fareira], less than 300 are expected to graduate," Waples said. "The idea is to work with the kids who have the best chance of going to college." High school senior Danielle Johnson, who participates in the program, said the partnership has become an integral part of her high school experience. "I was not even thinking about college before this program encouraged me and made it sound reasonable," she said. "It has changed everything." Every week Penn graduate and undergraduate students travel to Edison-Fareira and help the students develop their reading and writing skills. Tutors critique the essays students write for class. They also help them with college applications, teach them how to analyze literature and explore the Internet. And in a school with teachers who are often overworked or apathetic, Waples said the students would have little chance otherwise to receive the intellectual stimulation the tutors provide. The University also helped the school set up e-mail accounts for the students so they can send their work to the tutors and receive feedback throughout the week. College senior Joan Kim said she has also acquired new skills through the partnership. "While the kids are smart and interesting, they need to have their intellectual energies channeled," Kim said. "Tutoring has helped my public speaking skills and has given me experience at being a teacher." But the partnership is not only geared to helping the students intellectually. The tutors often play games with the students, Waples said, showing them that all teachers are not boring.Comments powered by Disqus
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