Career and technical education (CTE) programs, extracurricular activities, college and career planning and supportive teachers and staff are all elements at the heart of the curriculum at Kensington High School.
“Kensington is a great place to be; it’s very exciting here,” said principal Jose Lebron.
“We’re always advocating for our kids,” he added. “We go out of our way to provide our kids with whatever we can to help them be competitive and successful and that’s something that our kids appreciate and respond to.”
Kensington offers its students a variety of CTE programs including engineering, sports marketing and computer support technology.
Upon the completion of the program, students can earn certifications that are accepted in the professional world.
“Students at the end of their ninth grade year get to select which program they would like to be a part of,” said assistant principal Amanda Schear. “The programs take three years of classes.
“At the end, they take the NOCTI exam and they have the opportunity to earn certifications and if they do particularly well throughout the three years on the test, they can go into college with credit for having done well,” she added.
In addition to the CTE programs, Kensington has an award winning autistic support program that serves students with a variety of disabilities.
The school also has an ELECT program which is a statewide initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and Education.
The program provides educational and social services support, along with parenting skills training, to pregnant and parenting teens via home visits.
“The ELECT program works with our pregnant and parenting students, both young mothers and young fathers to provide support and resources,” Schear said. “They have an office in our building to provide support for those students.”
For extracurricular activities, Kensington has a plethora of programs including the bicycle club through a partnership with the Bicycle Coalition, the film club through a partnership with WHYY, robotics, engineering and Upward Bound.
“We have a core of City Year members who provide academic and enrichment support services primarily to ninth and 10th graders in the classroom,” Schear said. “They will also be resuming their after school tutoring and homework help program which is open to all grade levels.
“We have Rock to the Future that meets here Tuesdays and Thursdays,” she added. “They’re a community partner that provides music instruction, guitar, piano, drums, choir, songwriting, and digital music production after school for our students and other students who come to travel to be here in that program.”
At Kensington, the teachers and staff go above and beyond to support their students and their families.
“None of these great things going on at Kensington can happen without the teachers,” Schear said. “We have the best teaching staff in the city. They’re the ones sponsoring the after school clubs and bringing in the ideas to write grants to find new opportunities.
“They’re at every event, they support our families and students,” she added. “They even wear our school uniforms to show their support for our students. We have an amazing team and we’re so lucky to have all of them.”
To help students prepare for college and career, Kensington has a counseling team, orchestrates college visits and provides a trade and military fair.
Through a partnership with 12Plus, students are able to develop post secondary plans, whether it’s college, career, trade school or the military.
The goal of the partnership is to make sure that every student graduates from Kensington with a specific plan for what they will be doing after high school.
“Our counseling team has college visits scheduled almost every Tuesday through the fall semester,” Schear said. “In December, we will have a trade and military fair with different trade organizations. The military branches will also be here so students can meet with folks from those different career paths.
“Upward Bound is planning a Fair of the Future this month, which is going to be organizations helping students think about what jobs don’t exist today, but might exist in 30 years, and how do you prepare for jobs that don’t even exist,” she said.
“We also recently had a special college conference that targeted all of our students who have IEPs (Individualized Education Program),” she added. “We had a number of representatives from different careers and vocations. It was very successful and the students were excited.”
Lebron said he wants all of his students to leave Kensington with a plan.
“When they leave us, we want all our students to have a plan, which is why we work so hard to develop and work with them individually so that they can have their own plan,” Lebron said.
“We want to make sure that we are giving them all the tools and skills while they are with us, so that when they graduate they will be successful in their next journey and in life.”