Although the much-anticipated 2020 Renton Prep Dance Program was canceled due to COVID-19, with Running Start and our Alumni and Scholars Program, there was still a benefit to all the work our students put into the preparation for the dance.
When Renton Prep joined the Running Start program, we aimed to prepare our students to enter the next step of their future and education after 10th grade. In 2019, we also began the Renton Prep Alumni and Scholars Program to offer opportunities that keep graduates involved in Renton Prep even after they leave.
Abagail Phetsomphou and Heran Mengisteab assisted in preparing classes for the Renton Prep dance program. This year is the first time our Renton Prep Alumni and Scholars, who are also Running Start students, will receive college credit for their internship. Thanks to a partnership with Bellevue College, they will earn college credit for their internship.
“Being able to come back and help was really great to kind of give back, essentially,” Mengisteab said. “It was really fun.”
Preparing for the 2020 Dance Program
Every year, students from each class learn a unique dance that highlights a piece of their curriculum for the program. The dances are choreographed to tell an educational story through collaboration. This year, the dances intersected with STEM and WE Day Global Goals to ensure it was both educational and fun.
After starting in February, Phetsomphou and Mengisteab each acted as teacher’s assistants to create the dances. They started in February, working three or more times a week after school.
“One of the goals is about water and life below the sea,” Phetsomphou said. “We would figure out a way to incorporate a theme in the goal. We would have a water dance, a song related to water, and we would create background videos showing how it goes along with the dance as well as the Global Goal.”
Building Relationships with Renton Prep students
From participating in the dance in past years, both alumnae know the hours of work that goes into the dance behind the scenes. Despite the cancellation of this year’s dance due to COVID-19, both alumnae put in several hours every week.
Interacting with the kids and organizing the dance was a daily challenge, but it was a welcomed adventure to return to Renton Prep.
“It was fun to help them, and then once they get it, they would just be all excited,” Mengisteab said. “The younger ones, I would say, “Are we dancing today?” And they would come up and hug us. It was just fun. They looked up to us, which was sweet.”
A Running Start before College
The primary mission of Running Start is to help Washington’s 11th and 12th grade students complete college credits before they graduate high school. But the benefits go beyond just a head start on college.
At Bellevue College, where the Phetsomphou and Mengisteab earned their college credit through, the alumnae could see what the college experience is like. Both of them enjoyed getting a look at college campus life — something they couldn’t have immersed themselves in without Running Start.
“[Renton Prep] is very small so we didn’t have very many clubs or sports, or extra activities that we can do, and Bellevue has provided that for us,” Mengisteab said. “You meet different people of all different ages and cultures, it’s very much like I’m out of my own bubble and there are new people around me.”
Preparation for University Applications
Beyond just the internship, to earn course credit, the Running Start students prepared a resume and LinkedIn profile to prepare themselves for what’s ahead.
Before leaving Renton Prep last year, they also prepared mock resumes in Dr. Zimmerman’s class. Though they doubted the exercise in the moment, they’re seeing how the activity has real world application now.
“It’s come to be very helpful,” Mengisteab said. “Because now that we’re applying to colleges, I have all my work and all my projects and everything I’ve done … it’s made things very easy.”
With a resume that goes beyond just their report card, Running Start students have real-world experiences that will help them stand out as they apply to colleges.
Get Ahead with the Alumni And Scholars Program
At Renton Prep, critical thinking and problem solving help our students acquire the ability and skills needed to succeed in relationships, college, and their future career.
Our Alumni and Scholars Program is an excellent opportunity for students to make progress in their walk toward success. Additionally, participating in the Running Start program is a stepping stone for students’ future career. For more information about our mission and how we’re preparing out students for their future, contact us today!