The law firm of Christian & Small is proud to partner with the Higher Achievement Summer School for the third year. The Higher Achievement Summer School (HASS) was founded in 2011 by two Teach for America – Alabama teachers, who recognized a need to address the achievement gap made worse for middle and high school students by the summer break. HASS is an intensive four-week boarding school that takes place during the month of June for students in Alabama’s Black Belt region.
The 2013 class includes 12 students from Hale, Jefferson, Sumter, and Tuscaloosa counties. Students range from rising freshmen to rising juniors; three are in their third year of HASS, four are in their second year, and five are in their first year. The classroom curriculum includes Public Speaking, Research Methods and Composition, Socratic Seminar, English, Grammar, and ACT Vocabulary and Math.
Students also participate in a mock trial competition coached by Christian & Small attorneys Sharon D. Stuart, Richard M. Thayer, Oscar M. Price, and Courtney S. Adams. The honorable Judge Teresa Pulliam served as judge of the mock trial, which took place in her courtroom on June 27th.
“I like the mock trial because I meet new people such as the lawyers at Christian & Small. The mock trial has helped me with my confidence and speaking skills. I’m learning how to think on my feet when I don’t know what to say, but most importantly I’m learning about something that could be a career choice for myself,” stated HASS student Jahina Suomo
HASS offers students a chance to grow academically by placing students in an environment focused entirely on college preparedness. New this year, students will meet with educational consultant Dr. Kim Crockard to receive professional college planning advice. In addition to the rigorous academic curriculum, HASS students visit The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Samford University, Vanderbilt University, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Red Mountain Park to climb through the Hugh Kaul Beanstalk Forest, the Birmingham Zoo, and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Students tour local businesses, attend lectures from visiting professors, meet with area district attorneys and local judges, attend Jewish and Islamic services, go swimming and canoeing, and attend a Birmingham Baron’s baseball game. On Friday nights, attorneys and staff from Christian & Small visit with students at their dorm to play basketball, kickball, cards, etc.
“It has been refreshing to witness the eagerness to learn that these students display as we work with them to prepare for the mock trial competition. If more people would take the time to work with these young people, I strongly believe that they would walk away with the understanding that there is a wealth of untapped potential in many areas of this state, and throughout the country, that have been systematically dismissed as “underachieving.” HASS has done a wonderful job in exposing this untapped potential and further emphasizing the point that, often times, the system fails the student – not the other way around,” stated Christian & Small attorney Richard M. Thayer