The start of an important and innovative partnership to help provide educational opportunities to more students in our community.
The Cyril Paumier Scholars
"Why Not Me? Step It Up!" Program
in Partnership with Oakland Mills High School
and Christ Episcopal Church
The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) has enjoyed a long-standing partnership with Christ Episcopal Church. HCPSS students and families have benefitted from Christ Episcopal Church’s donations of school supplies, food for weekend programs, and funding for school field trips. Additionally, Church volunteers have mentored students and supported school events, such as Turkey Trot and Teacher Appreciation Week, among others.
In 2022, Christ Episcopal Church, with the support of the family of long-time parishioner, Cyril Paumier (learn more about Cy here) expanded this partnership to include Oakland Mills High School (OMHS). This program was launched in June of last year with community leaders, educators, and students in attendance. Reverend Emmanuel Mercer, Christ Church's Rector, collaborated closely with OMHS leadership to plan and implement an SAT preparation program for many students who otherwise would not have had this opportunity.
OMHS SAT Prep Program
Thanks to Christ Episcopal Church and many wonderful donors and supporters, 40 OMHS students in the 10th and 11th grades participated in a six-week summer SAT prep class facilitated by Applerouth Test Prep and Tutoring in 2022. The program was held at OMHS and provided each student with twenty hours of tutoring and three mock tests. The average combined score on the last SAT mock test was 1033, with combined scores in math and reading ranging from 820 to 1340. Students and parents expressed how helpful the program was for their SAT preparation. They felt better prepared academically and mentally and had an increased understanding of test-taking strategies.
The Cyril Paumier Scholars
"Why Not Me? Step It Up!" Program
For 2023, the OMHS leadership team determined several program possibilities that would benefit a greater number of students while having a long-term impact. Increasingly, colleges and universities are making the SAT test optional, or that they do not include standardized tests in their application process. The OMHS team also recognized that providing a six-week course over the summer can limit student participation.
Research has shown that one of the best predictors of students being best prepared for college and career is having access to, and successful completion of, challenging instruction in high schools, including Advanced Placement (AP), Dual Enrollment, Gifted & Talented courses, and others. This is according to the College & Career Readiness & Success Center at American Institutes for Research, which notes that “AP coursework and tests provide students with opportunities to acclimate to college-level expectations. Various researchers have concluded that scoring a 3 or more on AP exams and a 4 or more on IB [International Baccalaureate] exams is a meaningful predictor of persistence in college.”
They also note that early college and dual/concurrent enrollment coursework are additional accelerated learning options under a well-rounded education. “Gold standard” research, as identified by the U.S. Department of Education, shows that students taking college-level courses in high school are more likely to be successful in their postsecondary pursuits.
The OMHS School Improvement Team designed The Cyril Paumier Scholars "Why Not Me? Step It Up!" Program to assist students in completing challenging instruction. This program encourages students to register for rigorous coursework and college-level classes with OMHS teachers and staff providing support and resources to bolster their success.
This program directly aligns with OMHS’ partnership with Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS), a partnership focused on “strengthening educator and system leader capacity to break down barriers to increase access, belonging, and success in rigorous college and career-prep secondary school courses for students of color and low-income students so that they may thrive in their postsecondary pursuits and life goals.”
In order to increase student interest and confidence in taking upper-level classes and college coursework, OMHS wants to provide better support for students as they move up in course levels. The Cyril Paumier Scholars "Why Not Me? Step It Up!" Program will provide students with resources and support throughout the entire school year. Students will participate in a variety of activities, such as time-management discussions, social and emotional coping strategies, and after-school AP test review sessions.
At the end of the school year, students will be invited to hear the experience of their peers who moved up in course levels. At the start of the following school year, students will be invited to the "Why Not Me? Step It Up!" Program Summit and are encouraged to participate in yearly activities such as time management and organization, social/emotional learning (SEL) activities, strategies, and support for taking advanced coursework - AP, Dual Enrollment, Gifted & Talented (GT), and Honors.
OMHS 2023 Funding Request
Our partners have fully funded the program to support African-American students and students of color in 9th - 12th grade enrolled in Honors, GT, AP, or Dual Enrollment courses, and to provide assistance that includes, but is not limited to, the following:
5-6 staff members
(e.g., teachers, support staff, liaisons, school counselors)
~Program planning and preparation
~Providing after-school sessions for students approximately two times per month beginning in June 2023 and continuing through May 2024
~Planning and attending approximately three evening events with students and their families
and other support, including:
~Food & refreshments for the students' after-school programs
~Family and student multiple-evening event assistance
These funds cover the costs of The Cyril Paumier Scholars "Why Not Me? Step It Up!" Program beginning this summer and will do so through the school year of 2023-24. With the incredible and gracious support of the Paumier Family and Christ Episcopal Church, students will be prepared to achieve higher education and/or workplace goals after they graduate from Oakland Mills High School.