A Better Chance Strath Haven Welcomes New Scholars
Since the 1970s, A Better Chance - Strath Haven has provided educational opportunities for students from across the U.S. to attend Strath Haven High School and reside in Swarthmore during the school year. ABC Scholars are selected among applicants for the program through a highly competitive selection process, which looks at academic and leadership potential as well as need.
ABC scholars typically spend four years in the program, living together with resident advisors in a large house at 731 Harvard Avenue. While at ABC - Strath Haven, the scholars have great and varied opportunities to engage with and enhance our larger community as well as their school community.
This year’s incoming class includes two 9th graders, Amayah Wade and Assane Wade (yes, they are twins, and come from Landover, Md.) and 10th grader Teghan Sydnor of Voorhees, N.J., who joined ABC when a student transferred to another school. Amayah plays flute in the Strath Haven High School marching band, and is a member of the freshman girls’ soccer team. Her twin brother Assane is a member of student council at SHHS, a member of the costume crew and yearbook club, and a volunteer at CADES. Teghan played volleyball for SHHS and plans to run indoor track in the winter and join the track team in the spring. The Swarthmorean visited with them recently at the ABC House.
Q.: When you first visited, what did you want to know about SHHS or living here?
Assane: I guess being in the ABC program, you’re aware of how different it’s going to be, so when we to know the environment of the school and the house and community. It’s completely different than back at home.
Q.: Were you in a particular school or program back home?
Assane: We had something called “Talented and Gifted” starting in middle school, and I ended up there in the middle school. It wasn’t far from our house.
Amayah: I didn’t want to be in TAG, so I never got tested. I wanted to do art.
Teghan: I spent my freshman year at Eastern Regional HS in Voorhees. I was just looking for more opportunities and to be around different people and have access to [higher level] classes. When I first went to SHHS I felt they were very welcoming and I liked all my classes and really connected with all my teachers
Q: How did you get interested in ABC?
Assane: Our aunt’s daughter was in ABC and she got into a really nice school and she told our mom about it. Our older sister did the ABC program, but she chose a private school that wasn’t with ABC. Amayah and I went through the same process when it was time for high school.
Teghan: My cousin is involved in it and my aunt told my mother. She said, “you should join this to see if you like STEM,” and I ended up really liking it.
Q: How did the process go when you interviewed and came here to visit?
Assane: For us, it was during the school year. We had a skype interview and then we came and spent the night. It was on a weekend during the school year — it was a Sunday and a Monday, so we could go to school with our hosts.
Teghan: I visited the first time in July this past summer, I came here and one of the board members showed me the school, he drove my mom and I around. We looked at the house, the kitchen; we went upstairs and saw all the girls rooms. And I had my interview with the RAs just to see about the house and what the rules are and just generally learn about the house.
Q: How did you feel about living with so many people?
Teghan: I’m kind of used to having a roommate because for the past two summers, I’ve been in a STEM prep program for 5 or 6 weeks on a college campus, I was in a dorm with a roommate.
Q: Amayah, you’re on the field at every football game. What else do you like in the community?
Amayah: I like to walk to the mall, it’s a nice walk. I’ve been trying to hang out with other friends but their parents are really strict. We have more time on Saturdays; I go to Dunkin Donuts with my friends
Assane: I like the [Swarthmore Presbyterian Church] Fall Fair. I worked at the church at the children’s fair, with food and hot chocolate and a bouncy house. We also go on house trips. We went to the arcades and the movies, and a Flyers game.
Q: What was the best surprise about the school or community?
Amayah: It’s calmer here than Maryland.
Assane: I was expecting to not fit in because I thought everyone would be quiet and I’m very outgoing and I quickly found my friends and my groups.
Teghan: I felt like people were very welcoming. I was surprised by that, I thought it would be cliquier because it’s HS, and so many students have known each other since first grade.” But they were very open from the beginning.