Everyone wants a fun high school experience, an exciting college life, and a successful future. From the moment you enter the doors of high school, students seek to fulfill those high school expectations whether it’s an academic achievement or social exploration. Unfortunately, the realities of high school can be a lot more stressful than expected. Extracurriculars are essential to a high school student’s well-rounded character build and in the development of future aspirations. Beyond the traditional after-school clubs, there are a wide variation of programs in the Atlanta area for high school students whose mission is to provide teens with professional/educational opportunities, improve social and basic life skills, and introduce them to new networking communities. These five diverse high school based programs are some of the select few that are certain to be beneficial to any teen participant.
This Georgia based non-profit organization’s mission is simple; to connect, transform, and inspire high school students. 21CL works to expand the networks of teens while educating them in their professions of interest. They strive to teach students indispensable life skills and inspire them to become leaders in their own communities. 21CL has five pathways for teens to choose from: Leadership Connect, Summer Leadership Institutes, 21Clubs, School-Year Training, and Youth Ambassadors. These branching programs offer select opportunities for teens who want to take an advanced step into their future.
“My favorite thing about 21CL is the value of leadership,” says Isabella Cavienss, a Junior Youth Ambassador who attends Westlake High school and participated in the Warner Media Summer Institute Program at 21CL. “Everyone is a leader in their own way. Not every leader acts the same way, there are many different forms of leadership. 21CL embraces this idea and incorporates this within everything they do. The relationships you form at 21st Century Leaders are like no other, and everyone deserves this experience.”
How to get started: Go to https://www.21stcenturyleaders.org/student-programs/ , select the programs you’re interested in, and read more. For more information go to https://www.21stcenturyleaders.org/contact and submit a message for any other questions.
Dual Enrollment is a state-funded program that allows students to take college courses while in high school. This academic curriculum gives high school students the opportunity to earn credits towards high school graduation or a post-secondary degree, diploma, or certification. In the state of Georgia there are over 70 participating colleges and universities for high school students to select from offered during all school semesters of the year. This program is ideal for high school teens seeking to further their education and gain collegiate experience.
“Dual Enrollment has definitely challenged me with new ways of learning material, but also providing me with flexibility when it comes to performing my coursework and taking assessments,” says Emory Paul, a 12th grader who is dually enrolled at Walton High School and Georgia Technical College. “As a dual enrollment student, I’ve gotten better at time management, collaborating with peers, and gained more efficient study skills. My favorite thing about dual enrollment is being able to connect with students across the state and learning from a great professor! I would definitely recommend it. You have a significant advantage at getting into that school if you were to apply there for college. It is a great way to get ready for college but also enhance study skills and expand your knowledge through a new medium.”
How to get started: Speak with your high school guidance counselor to discuss your academic curriculum, then go to https://www.gafutures.org/hope-state-aid-programs/scholarships-grants/dual-enrollment/ for more information on how to apply.
VOX ATL is a non-profit organization for teens to create and publish uncensored media for their community. VOX aims to “prepare, connect, and value” teen voices through self-expression and youth leadership. Teens can participate in their Vox Media Cafe summer program or by joining the team as a teen staff member or contributor. VOX provides a variety of resources and opportunities that educate, inform, and inspire teens to connect with peers, prepare for the future, and become outspoken leaders in their community.
“I’ve definitely picked up the skill of time management at VOX,” says Tamara Morgan, a 16-year-old teen staff member at VOX ATL. “The experience is amazing, I love getting to meet new people too. I also love how it provides a space with no judgement. Opening up to mental health and just having fun! I would recommend VOX ATL to others because I know most teens may find themselves not having a voice and VOX gives teens a space to be free and vocal about many different topics.”
How to get to started: Go to https://voxatl.org/join-the-fun/ to submit an application for teen contributor or staff member. For more information go to https://voxatl.org/contact/ and submit a message for any other questions.
Straighten Your Crown is a newly expanding Atlanta teen mentorship program founded by Westlake High School alumna Monique Witter. The program’s mission is to empower young women of the future through career development, college guidance, and life advice. Mentees are provided with fundamental knowledge to expand professional networks, improve interpersonal skills, and aim for success. Going beyond the traditional mentorship initiative, SYC aspires to form strong mentor-mentee relationships that provide long- term support and guidance.
“My mentor and I have a close and welcoming relationship. I feel as if I can talk to her about anything in a safe space and not be judged,” Torran Blatch, a Junior SYC mentee from Westlake High school. “My favorite thing about SYC would have to be interacting with new people and gaining friendships that could last a while. I would recommend SYC to other high schools students because I feel as if other people would benefit from the knowledge and content I have learned throughout the program.”
Kiera Randall, winner of the 2020 SYC Scholarship and Senior SYC mentee from Westlake High School adds, “I’ve learned so much (through SYC)! Tips for college, saving money, building a strong network, self-care, and creating strong relationships. I’ve personally been in a lot of mentoring programs, and none of them have matched SYC. The amount of information that we get is immaculate! Plus the personal feel is like we’re one big family. I am so grateful to have won (the 2020 SYC) scholarship! It will definitely help with my goals to create a better community.“
The Leaders of Tomorrow program by the National Black MBA Association INC., is a mentorship program dedicated to helping high school students become empowered leaders in the professional field. Leaders of Tomorrow focuses on five developmental areas: leadership, financial literacy, college preparation, career preparation and life skills. They pride themselves on providing teens with the vital knowledge, scholarship and internship opportunities, and variety of useful resources.
“I love how welcoming and supportive the program leaders are. They provide a space where you can be confident and become your best version,” Esther Caballo, a Junior member of Leaders of Tomorrow who attends Westlake High School. “They inspire you to push hard and follow your dreams, no matter the circumstances. I would recommend the National Black MBA Leaders of Tomorrow Program to any high school student (of minority race) who wants to be successful, has leadership potential, and is willing to learn. Whether you want to attend college, be an entrepreneur, go to the army, or be an astronaut- the skills you will learn in this program will help you be a leader in any path of life you choose.”
How to get to started: Go to https://www.rdublackmba.org/leaders-of-tomorrow/ and click on “Apply Now.” For more information, go to https://www.rdublackmba.org/contact/ and submit a message for any other questions.