The College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences at the University of Tennessee hosted its 17th Project GRAD (Graduation Really Achieves Dreams) Summer Institute June 3-15th. One hundred twenty-five students from Austin East and Fulton High Schools in Knox County were divided and participated in two separate week long residential experiences at the university under the guidance of Dorian McCoy & Shawn Spurgeon, Co-Directors of the Program.
Project Grad Summer Institute involves the students in a well-rounded experience of college life. They begin their days with academic classes which include research skills, math, and complete the day by attending classes ranging from STEM (science, technology, education and mathematics) courses to sport and recreation management depending on their “academic track” of choice.
Students also participate in on and off campus recreational and social programs with Friday’s including some community service projects. Students volunteer at local community agencies such as the Knoxville ReAnimation Coalition (Odd Fellows Cemetery), the Knoxville Area Rescue Mission (KARM) and the Wesley House. Other activities included painting the rock and laser tag at the end of a long week.
Recently, Project Grad has been the topic of many debates with the Knox County Board of Education. Parents from both schools spoke up about the difference the program has made in their students life. Currently, a proposal is under under review for funding for next year. Project Grad relies upon funding from Knox County and the help of multiple community partners to make it possible. This opportunity, presented to those students who otherwise would not attend college, has made a significant impact upon graduation rates.
All photos courtesy of Astute Lenz Photography. Photos from the two week camp are available here: