O is for the Opportunity the SKAP Program provides to Inner-City High School Students
Blue Cheese; we gon’ get it!
The SKAP program was established around 1984 to get underprivileged youth who are capable of attending college but who may be considering not attending college to change their path. This was the case 20 years ago but now it is more to expose top tier minority students to opportunities that they would be otherwise unaware of. It falls underneath the KAP program which enables some high school students take some AP classes for Kenyon credit. About 30-35 KAP schools that have inner-city demography send their students to Kenyon for the summer. The SKAP students are the top 3-4 in their schools and so the program is 90% effective at getting the students to attend some college.
Now, after two years of studying Neuroscience, and two summers of teaching it, I cannot describe the joy it gives me to watch other people fall in love with my major. The first reaction is always fear, because the load in Neuroscience is voluminous, but then they all start to work hard to understand the concepts covered in class. It’s almost like they take a “Challenge accepted” approach to studying Neuroscience, with some people deciding that Neuroscience is what they want to study in college (which makes me so happy).
Cha-cha real smooth
There are several generations of SKAP students attending Kenyon. This is because, at the end of the program, Kenyon Admissions “courts” as many of them already feel a strong connection to the place. These students help to strengthen Kenyon’s diversity and academic stature as they have a wide range of academic abilities in spite of any economic or social disadvantages. However, when they first get to the college, the students start to feel very homesick because most of them come from huge cities so Kenyon seems almost like a cage to them at first. We also take their phones away from them during “school-time” so they can concentrate on studying. Some students hate this lack of communication with the outside world at first, but I think it helps them form great bonds with one another that last longer than the three weeks spent on campus. And, after 4 days of being here, they quickly forget about the friends they have back home (and then we have to force them to call their parents).
Lemon-Lime is Mighty Fine
The people that make up the staff team at SKAP are current and past Kenyon students and Kenyon Faculty members. We are always overworked, but we have so much fun. You never know whose life you’re going to have an impact on or which student is going to touch your heart. The students always prove the old saying that “when talent meets hard work champions are made.” As they leave Kenyon to conquer the college application process, and to chase their dreams, they instill in us a deeper love and appreciation for the magic of the ‘bier so that, no matter where life takes us, we all keep coming back to SKAP, and to SKAP reunions.
The SKAP group becomes almost like a family to every participant because its not just about the academics. We have them split up into teams and battle for the title of best team on the volleyball, wallyball, raquetball, dodgeball courts and in Elbow tag and Capture the flag. We have girls' night and boys' nights, massive water fights, and we go on excursions to the Wilds, and to see baseball games. We also have cookouts (that aren't at all like the average cook out) but all these help the students to connect with themselves and with the SKAP team because, at the end of the day, ain't nobody got time to be anything but themselves 100% of the time, and that's what makes SKAP all the more worthwhile.