A group of 10th grade students from The Wheeler School in Providence visited BVP last Thursday to learn more about how our schools are providing a high quality public school choice to families in Rhode Island. Two students reflected on their experience for BVP Musings.  Read below for an account of Ariana’s experience, and be sure to check back here next week when we post August’s, another student from Wheeler who wrote about his visit.  

In a country waiting for something to save their public education system, it seems as though a miracle might be necessary. However, this miracle may be coming in the form of a slight blessing: meet, the charter school. 

As our bus left Wheeler, none of the students aboard that yellow shuttle were entirely sure as to what to expect upon entering the Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy. Sure, we’d done our research, and tossed out a few questions per student, but we had not a clue in terms of where we were headed. Driving up to the building caused repeated exclamations of “how cute” the school looked, a far cry from the dismal image of traditional public education in America. Upon entering, we were greeted by a Mr. Chiappetta. Although we spent little time with him, one thing which he touched upon resonated in my mind throughout the entirety of our tour. In the words of Mr. Chiappetta, BVP grew from a question, “What if we could build great schools from scratch?”  

Our entrance prompted a breeze of cool air to fly through the school’s front door and timid glances of students followed. Yet, these students were not as timid as they appeared at first glance. These children were enthusiastic, engaged, and ready to learn. The teaching staff kept them on task, whether it be taking an assessment or reading along with the class. These students, “scholars” as they are called at BVP, were truly here to learn. The normal distractions of an elementary school were cast aside and each individual was successfully asked to focus. 

BVP does not have a facilities fund, this is money that they must raise on their own. With this in mind, classrooms were bright and airy, named after colleges, and inspiring places to work and learn. Teachers accommodated behavior and found ways to keep each antsy scholar in place. In my opinion, BVP is promoting hard work. BVP is showing students of Rhode Island new approaches to education. BVP is setting children up for success. BVP is bridging the chasm of separation that lies between public and private education. 

Blackstone Valley Prep may be bringing to the surface a new way to improve the schools of Rhode Island, if not those of the country. The motto plastered about the building read, “Today we learn. Tomorrow we lead.” If our tour was any indication of the incredible work that this school is doing, these children are indeed learning, and are well on their way to leading. 

Ariana Callender is a sophomore at the Wheeler School in Providence, Rhode Island. Originally from New Jersey, she has attended both public and private schools. She spends free time running, reading, and playing tennis and soccer. Conversational in both English and Spanish she enjoys writing in both.