At Ascend, the focus is not merely on college acceptance, but college completion. Partnerships with colleges, universities, and college financing organizations, together with an Ascend alumni program, will ensure that students have the supports to overcome obstacles and persist in college.
Our responsive and restorative culture rejects suspensions in favor of building community,
Percent passing, Ascend vs. comparison groups
The high school focuses on developing responsible and empowered citizens; we are preparing students for success in college and in life. To allow students to fully engage in society, their education must develop civic character – the knowledge, skills, and virtues necessary for engaged and responsible citizenship. By the end of high school, students will understand their role within their school, local, national, and global communities.
Ascend has developed a warm and supportive culture rooted in restorative practice, departing from a punitive and proscriptive disciplinary model, with its frequently high rates of referrals and suspensions. Restorative practice empowers students to resolve conflicts on their own, gain an understanding of the impact of actions, and take responsibility for choices, while suggesting ways to repair negative actions.
In Making and Hacking Music, high school students make their own musical artifacts, starting with the diddley bow, a single-stringed instrument which influenced the development of the blues.
In building their musical instruments, students encounter engineering challenges that engage the science of music, including sound waves and harmonics. How will their choices of materials affect the tones of their instruments? Can they calculate the harmonics of their instruments to design their fret boards? When engineering their tuning pegs, what diameter will afford the desired range of pitch?
Each student is paired with an African American musical pioneer. Students read and discuss the influence these musicians had on creating and shaping new genres of American music.
In their final project, students pay homage to Grandmaster Flash by creating Makey-Makey instruments, where touch alone triggers pre-programmed digital sound loops and samples. Circuit design, the properties of conductive materials, the relationship of hardware and software, programming loops and variables—all are engaged in the project's culmination.