A new middle school set to open its doors in Hartford this summer is going beyond the books and focusing on training the next generation of leaders.
Achievement First Summit Middle on Edwards Street was modeled after the Achievement First Hartford Academy down the road on Greenfield Street.
“If we're doing such a good job at doing that now, why not offer that same opportunity to more kids throughout the city?” said Benjamin Cruse, the founding principal of Summit Middle School.
From the college banners on the walls to the curriculum, from the longer school day to assessment tests every six weeks, the Summit, as it's been nicknamed, will look and feel a lot like the AF Hartford Academy.
While the school's primary mission is to prepare students for college, schoolwork isn't the only priority.
“We're going to still have the same focus on academics, but we are also going to do a lot of community service,” Cruise said.
By emphasizing service to others, Academic Dean Dominic Basile hopes to create leaders in and around Hartford, when students one day return home from college.
“If we're going out into the community, we are going to do some background reading on that community," Basile said. "If we are doing a service project that involves a food bank, we are going to look at some statistics about where this food is distributed. We are going to make sure it is tied in.”
The hope is to recreate the magic of AF Hartford Academy, which Cruse calls the highest performing non-magnet school in the city.
“Just getting kids out into the community and giving them the opportunities to serve, it changes them. It allows them to see their lives can have a purpose,” he explained.