published Friday, October 14th, 2011

Passport Scholars show off their work in Chattanooga


by Andrew Pantazi
Kayawne Dillard, 16, left, talks with Meg Allen about Dillard's experiences studying Japanese over the summer. A group of Hamilton County high school girls showcased their experiences with the Passport Scholars Program at the Community Foundation building on Thursday night. The students attended summer programs at various colleges.
Kayawne Dillard, 16, left, talks with Meg Allen about Dillard's experiences studying Japanese over the summer. A group of Hamilton County high school girls showcased their experiences with the Passport Scholars Program at the Community Foundation building on Thursday night. The students attended summer programs at various colleges.
Photo by Jake Daniels.
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  • photo
    Haley Long, 16, center, talks about her summer camp experience to Teresa Reagan, right, on Thursday evening. A group of Hamilton County high school girls showcased their experiences with the Passport Scholars Program at the Community Foundation building on Thursday night. The students attended summer programs at various colleges.
    Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A group of girls gathered Thursday at the Community Foundation on Market Street and showed off their work. Japanese characters. Pictures of tart desserts and stuffed chicken. Pennsylvania State University memorabilia.

The girls, who were given scholarships to attend enrichment programs to study what they wanted last summer, showed their parents and each other the things they did. Two girls took classes at Penn State; two more learned to cook at a Massachusetts college; one girl took vocal classes at a boarding school in Vermont.

The Passport Scholars Program, operated by the Public Education Foundation, selected nine sophomores from public schools to go to a summer enrichment program of their choosing. The students were selected from about 40 applicants based on their GPA and other academic qualifiers, and each girl had to show that she couldn't go to a program like this on her own.

"We're looking for people who can survive the academic environment," said Stacy Lightfoot, the director of the program.

Each placement cost about $5,500 in tuition, plus the Passport Scholars Program paid for airfare, and the program will help the girls pay for college tours in their senior year, according to Lightfoot.

Two girls went to the Julian Krinsky camp at Haverford College in Pennsylvania to learn how to cook. Angie Vega, who holds strongly to her Hispanic roots, and Haley Long, who holds to her Southern roots, both said they learned how to cook other cultures' foods in classes from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

"I learned how to not only cook, but also how to be open and converse with other people," Angie said.

  • photo
    Michelle Long, mother of program participant Haley Long, hugs Stacy Lightfoot, director of the Passport Scholars program, facing camera, after speaking about the effect the program had on her daughter's life. A group of Hamilton County high school girls showcased their experiences with the Passport Scholars Program at the Community Foundation building on Thursday night. The students attended summer programs at various colleges.
    Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Both said they love to cook Japanese foods for their families.

Haley's favorite part, she said, was doing freestyle cooking during her one-on-one sessions with a teacher. During that time, they'd spontaneously cook whatever they wanted.

The other thing Angie said she came away with were scars "from the cooking oil."

Haley's mother, Michelle Long, said she's glad her daughter can prepare fajitas and sushi.

Keyawne Dillard came home from a language immersion program singing in Japanese. She had a before-meal song, an after-meal song and songs for every type of weather.

She had wanted to learn Japanese since she and her older sister, Ja'Keena, learned to count to five in Japanese at a summer camp in elementary school. Since then, her sister, who went to Smith College with the Passport program last summer, would buy her Japanese graphic novels, animated shows and movies.

During the parts of the camp when she couldn't speak English, Keyawne said she stayed mostly quiet and mimed a lot.

Applications for next summer's programs are due by Nov. 4.

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about Andrew Pantazi...

Andrew Pantazi is an intern at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who says that when he was 7 he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life: play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, he says he wasn't any good at hockey, so he became a journalist instead. He writes about the lives we hide, like the man who suffered a stroke but smiled, or the football walk-on who endured 5 ...

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