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In our Fall 2018 Clemente Quarterly, we share exciting stories of how Clemente impacts youth.

We highlight two Clemente-inspired programs for high school students. We also meet game changers at two Clemente affiliates--a teacher in Austin who brings the humanities to kids while their parents are in class and an impressive college student in Madison who was only eight when her grandmother enrolled in a course. 

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Clemente Brings College Humanities to High School
What happens when you offer the Clemente Course experience to high school students? In Salt Lake City, they poster the exterior of their school with stunning photographs and enroll in college in record numbers.
For six years, Utah Humanities has partnered to bring the Clemente Course to two Salt Lake City high schools. Students participate in engaging seminars that explore texts ranging from the Declaration of Independence to the contemporary novel All American Boys. The course prepares students for college classwork while emphasizing questions and dialogue.

“The Clemente Course was very different from all my other classes," said a 2018 graduate. "There was way more class discussion, and the teachers really seemed to care about what we thought. I definitely spoke more in this class than any other class in my life. It was a safe space.” 

The idea to bring Clemente to high schools came in a visit with Clemente founder, the late Earl Shorris, says Jean Cheney, who teaches literature in the program and is former associate director of Utah Humanities. Shorris thought they were doing great work with Clemente in Utah, but the experience needed to start earlier in people’s lives.
Today Clemente is offered at two high schools, one of which offers a second-year course with college credit available. There are plans to expand to a third school in Provo next year. And the success is clear.
One hundred percent of those in the first two years of Clemente were enrolled in college by the time of graduation. And students take Clemente beyond the classroom. This year they are redesigning a school display of historical documents. And in 2014 they  launched We Are One, a public art project that placed 100 portraits of students on the outside walls of the school, emphasizing the diversity of their campus. You can watch a video about it here
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University of Wisconsin junior Trea Vance was only eight years old when her grandmother enrolled in the Odyssey Project in Madison. She remembers her grandmother doing her hair while Trea read through her books for Odyssey. Now Trea’s the first in her family to attend a four-year college (and on a full scholarship!) and an intern with the NAACP in Washington, D.C., preparing for a law career. She tells children--especially children of color--not to let anyone tell them they’re not college material.
Down the hall from Free Minds in Austin, Freddy Carnes makes sure students’ children are learning as much as their parents. A teaching artist with Creative Action, Freddy brings the humanities to the next generation, tackling Shakespearean monologues, singing original songs about Poseidon, and discovering Frederick Douglass as a historical figure and role model. At graduation he presents children with the journals they’ve filled with writing all year. “I see so much potential in these kids,” he says.

“Now I’m encouraging my kids to go forward with their education, which I didn’t have growing up.  I am encouraging the humanities for my children. When growing up, we were poor, and I was not encouraged to get an education. I will encourage my children to do art, take instrument lessons, do theater.”

                                      Clemente Graduate, Massachusetts

Teens Learn the Museum Belongs To Them
David Douglas High School in Portland, Oregon, hosted its first Clemente Course last summer. In the Alder Early College Course, college faculty taught literature, history, philosophy, theater, and art history, meeting five days a week, and focusing on big questions, analysis, and broader educational goals. Students earned three credits from Bard College for completing the course.

Douglas High sits in a diverse neighborhood where many residents are new immigrants--72 languages are spoken at the school--and more than 70% of students receive free or reduced lunches. For many students, the chance to be treated as intellectual adults engaged in deep conversation had a strong impact. “I look at art and texts in a different way because of this class," said one student. "Not only just reading the words from the page, but understanding the words and finding a deeper meaning.”

John Urang, co-founder of Alder College and a longtime faculty member in Humanity in Perspective, Portland's Clemente affiliate, taught the art history unit. The classroom study culminated in a visit to the Portland Art Museum, where students encountered works directly and engaged in a scavenger hunt. While learning about art was the stated goal, John hoped to offer something even bigger: a feeling of belonging. "I want students to feel like the art museum is theirs," he said. 
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The Clemente Course in the Humanities
Recipient of the National Humanities Medal

The Clemente Course in the Humanities provides a transformative educational experience for adults facing economic hardship and adverse circumstances. Our free, accredited college humanities courses empower students to further their education and careers, to become more effective advocates for themselves and their families, and to engage more actively in their communities.

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