PHILADELPHIA — The School District of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Outward Bound School have partnered on an exciting pilot program to be offered primarily to 9th Grade Academy students throughout the District beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.

“Many of our students have participated in Outward Bound programs over the years, and have greatly benefited from the social, emotional and behavioral development brought about by these initiatives,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia. “We also know that transitioning into ninth grade can be a particularly difficult time for students, so Outward Bound is the perfect program to help instill confidence and build leadership in these students as they begin to navigate high school through our 9th Grade Academy model.”

The announcement was made at the “Discovering Character. Building Community: Helping Students Find Paths to Success” event at the Museum of the American Revolution, where Dr. Hite participated in a panel discussion, moderated by Fox 29 anchor and reporter Iain Page, with two high school students who participated in Outward Bound programming.

The pilot program would allow for several types of experiences for both students and staff members of up to 8 participating schools, including: single-day programs off-site at the Outward Bound high ropes course; five-day peer leadership expedition courses led off-campus by Outward Bound staff; on-site student leadership sessions with Outward Bound staff at schools; and professional development workshops for educators.

“For almost 25 years in Philadelphia, Outward Bound has changed lives through challenge and discovery for more than 40,000 youth and adults across the city through challenging outdoor experiences that build character, enhance leadership and expand commitment to service,” said Katie Newsom Pastuszek, Philadelphia Outward Bound School Executive Director. “We are proud to continue to be of service to the School District of Philadelphia and tremendously excited to inspire incoming 9th grade students as part of the 9th Grade Academy program.”

The initiative would also assist several rising senior student leaders at Northeast High School selected as peer mentors for incoming ninth grade students. The program would allow for a multi-day, leadership intensive backpack and canoe trip for these students along the Delaware River in northeastern Pennsylvania.

“I have never quite considered myself a leader but through Outward Bound I have learned my true leadership potential,” said Jayla Lewis, an 11th grade student at George Washington Carver Engineering and Science High School who has completed several Outward Bound expeditions. “I am not sure what I want my career to be but I am certain that the experiences I gained will help me throughout the course of my young adulthood.”

The District’s 9th Grade Academy model allows neighborhood high schools to offer targeted academic and emotional support for ninth grade students.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Philadelphia Outward Bound School and its 25th year of working in partnership with the District.

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