Frequently Asked Questions
What is SPIRIT?
SPIRIT is a fun educational program which runs during the summer and continues through the school year. This year will be SPIRIT’s 34th year. Our goal is to get students excited about learning and their futures. We do this by taking students out of the classroom and exposing them to new and different people, places, and ideas. SPIRIT will give you skills that will help you succeed in middle school, junior high, and high school so that you can go on to higher education. SPIRIT is not a summer school and students attend by choice.
Who attends SPIRIT?
SPIRIT is for students who have completed the 7th, 8th or 9th grades in Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Providence who may be thinking about their future and looking for an interesting and stimulating summer experience. Students must be willing to attend five days per week, for six weeks in the summer. Many of our students are members of the College Crusade of Rhode Island and/or are students at Blackstone Academy Charter School. SPIRIT is endorsed and funded in part by the College Crusade of Rhode Island and the Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative, as well as other funders.
What Happens In the Summer?
SPIRIT’s summer program runs for six weeks beginning a week after the finish of school. Like a typical school day, students are expected to attend the program Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. –2:30 p.m. SPIRIT takes place on the independent school campuses of Moses Brown, The Wheeler School, UCAP, and at Blackstone Academy Charter School. Transportation is provided by school buses and vans for Central Falls and Pawtucket students while most Providence students take public buses (RIPTA) to get to SPIRIT.
In the morning, students and staff work together on projects that stress hands-on learning experiences. No grades are given. Students get out of the classroom often, and among other things, learn to interview people, see new places and things, and meet lots of new friends. Students will be writing every day. Past topics have included “The Arts,” “Downtown,” “Investigation,” “Health and Wellness” and many others. While investigating the topic, students may find themselves conducting surveys, making a video, or meeting with city officials. The idea is to have fun while learning new information and sharpening your skills.
Lunch follows the morning session and in the afternoon students can participate in a range of activities such as basketball, dance, drama, computers, cooking, and bowling. There are special days which focus on personal development, careers and the arts. A train trip and exploration of Boston may occur as well as other field trips. There may also be an optional camping trip. By the end of the summer, students have created many new friendships and learned to have a new perspective about the people and places around them.
What Happens During the School Year?
SPIRIT tries to stay in touch with you as much as possible when you return to school. SPIRIT Saturday Academies, trips to colleges, and other get-togethers are held twice per month. We visit all of our students in their schools to see how they are doing and link them with additional services as needed. If you need help in any areas of your life, we will help you to get the assistance you need.
What Makes SPIRIT Successful?
SPIRIT works because students WANT to be there and because the students/staff ratio is only eight to one. Students get a lot of attention and enjoy it.
What Does It Cost?
Each student that is accepted receives a full scholarship to SPIRIT. In other words, the program is FREE. SPIRIT is a host site for the Rhode Island Summer Food Service which provides free lunch to all students.
How Do I Join?
Complete the online application. If you prefer a paper form, contact Diego White or Doc Augusta. If you already have a paper form, fill it out completely (with your parents) and return it to Blackstone Academy Charter School, 334 Pleasant Street, Pawtucket, RI 02860. Please return it as soon as possible as space is limited.
Why was SPIRIT formed? What is its history?
SPIRIT was incorporated in 1984 after lengthy discussions between superintendents of the public school districts and the headmasters and headmistress of Lincoln school, Moses Brown School, Providence Country Day School and The Wheeler School. The superintendents were concerned about the unacceptably high dropout rates in their districts and the headmasters were both willing and anxious to serve a group of students that do not attend their schools in large numbers. Most of the original partners are still involved with SPIRIT. SPIRIT was its own private nonprofit organization, was a part of Rhode Island Youth Guidance Center for 10 years then became part of Blackstone Academy when SPIRIT leaders and teachers formed the school in 2002.
What are the results?
Nearly 90% of SPIRIT students report increases to their academic and interpersonal skills after their summer at SPIRIT. Over 85% graduate and go on to higher education. SPIRIT students tend to join other organizations that assist them throughout high school and college. Several SPIRIT students have been given scholarships to attend the sponsoring independent schools. SPIRIT alumni have become teachers, lawyers, accountants and social workers. SPIRIT leaders and teachers have developed two schools: UCAP (The Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program) in Providence and Blackstone Academy Charter School in Pawtucket.
Who funds SPIRIT?
It has taken a variety of funding streams to keep SPIRIT going and always a mixture of public funds, private funds, individual and foundation funds. The biggest donor to SPIRIT is the College Crusade of Rhode Island through the use of federal “Gear-Up” funds. Seventy-five percent of participating students are members of the College Crusade. Consistently maintaining cash and in-kind support are Blackstone Academy, Central Falls School District, Lincoln School, The Wheeler School, and UCAP. Students and parents contribute annually during the summer “Serveathon.” Several foundations have given to SPIRIT including The Providence Shelter, Nordson, The June Rockwell Levy Foundation, and John Clarke Trust to name a few.
Al "Doc" Agusta