Beat the Streets Philadelphia(BTSP) takes pride in our efforts to alter the life trajectory for the student-athletes who participate in our programs. This impact occurs in a variety of ways and to varying degrees, both directly and indirectly. For many participants it occurs through the sport of wrestling itself and results in increased confidence, overall health, and a variety of positive attributes that one develops while striving to achieve their goals on the mat. For those who earn the right to participate in the mentoring program, a more direct approach is taken to ensure that those positive characteristics transcend from the wrestling room into success in their academic careers and beyond.
Perhaps the most impactful aspect of the mentoring program comes from our efforts to support our participants through the high school application process, which can be overwhelming and complicated for most families in Philadelphia. Upon completion of 8th grade, students have a variety of options to consider outside of their neighborhood school. In fact, in many cases their neighborhood school ends up being the least preferable option, as many are riddled with violence, misbehavior and other factors that make it very difficult to graduate, let alone graduate with the knowledge and skills to be successful in college. In Philadelphia, students can apply to a variety of schools that include public schools, special admit public schools, charter schools, catholic schools, and private schools. Most of what decides whether or not any particular student will be accepted by a selective high school is governed by their performance during their 7th grade year. For public schools this comes down to a student’s grades, attendance, and performance on the Pennsylvania standardized test known as the PSSA. While all of this is also relevant to be accepted by catholic and private schools, additional and specific standardized testing is required to apply to each of them as well (i.e. SSAT, ISEE, and some others).
Making matters even more difficult for the average student is the city-wide shortage of guidance counselors to help navigate this process. That is where BTSP’s Mentoring Center plays a vital role. For students in middle school, we engage parents/guardians to discuss the high school landscape so that students and their families can be informed as to their options and they can set goals accordingly. Students are engaged with a mentor to prepare for the appropriate exams, written essays, and undergo mock interviews while BTSP cultivates relationships with the schools to advocate for the student-athlete that is applying. We work collaboratively to ensure that each student-athlete reaches the best school for which they are qualified and to put them in the best position possible to complete high school with the skills and traits necessary to be successful in post-secondary education.
This year we had a relatively large class of 8th graders going through the high school application process, and each of was accepted to either their first or second choice school; all of which were special admit and include both public and private. BTSP student athletes were accepted by private schools such as The Hill School, William Penn Charter School, The Phelps School, Father Judge, Roman Catholic and Germantown Academy. Many of our students also gained admittance to some of the premier special admission public schools such as Central, Academy at Palumbo and Parkway Center City.
We are confident that each student will be entering into an environment that will help them realize their full potential. This will of course take additional support as they transition to a more rigorous academic work load and BTSP will be prepared to continue to provide tools throughout that process. All of that support is made possible through the generosity of our donors that have made our mentoring center possible and who should take great pride in knowing that they have truly played a role in altering the life trajectory of these students.