The school’s statue of Benjamin Franklin in vacation attire, drinking from a coconut, on a hot summer day. Franklin programs were busy over summer in their respective activities. Illustrated by Everette Cogswell. 

Franklin High School has been busy over the last few months, despite the break from the school year. Franklin offers a number of programs that grant students with the academic, social, or physical support that they need. This summer, numerous programs continued their support for incoming and current students as they transitioned to the new school year. 

Spanish Program Trip to Peru

To start the summer strong with a trip that has been in the works for two years, the Franklin Spanish program took a stroll overseas to explore Peru. For ten days, 40 students and six chaperones explored the cultural sights of Lima and Cusco such as Machu Picchu, numerous local eateries, museums, shopping, nature exploration, and a service project with a local non-profit.

One of the highlights of the trip was the service project they did in partnership with Sacred Valley Project to help construct a home for Peruvian girls to be at a closer distance to their school. “There are only the girls in the school, plus the one construction worker,” explains chaperone and Franklin Spanish teacher Ruben Navarrete, or Mr. N. “The fact that there were 40 of us, for two days […] we were able to complete two months worth of work.“ 

Alongside the activities, one of the biggest highlights from the trip was the community built along the way. “I really loved the camaraderie of the people there […] everyone was just so great,” says Franklin alumna Nora Hugo, who went on the trip. “I think there’s nothing that really cements a friendship more than being forced into close proximity for two weeks.” 

Step-Up Summer Camps

The Spanish program was far from the only one to stay active over the summer. Step-Up is an afterschool program offered at Franklin, McDaniel, and Roosevelt High Schools which provides opportunities for leadership, mentoring, and post-high school preparation through working with grade-specific advocacy groups. The goal of the program is to establish a strong community of adults and students at Franklin, bringing a sense of familiarity to the campus and providing the needed resources for students to connect with what they need.

With this goal in mind, the Franklin Step-Up program hosted two summer camps over the summer for incoming freshmen in the program to attend. “With that they are also asked to really open themselves to be vulnerable,” says Robbie Fields, Site Supervisor for Franklin High School. “Going into the new year, what are some of the things that they’re asked to let go of? And what are some of the positive and reinforcing things that they’re asked to swing into? […] It’s really about just getting them to connect and build a community but also holding themselves accountable for a transition in their life.”

The camp attendees embarked on a couple of nerve racking activities to aid them in swinging into this new mindset. The first was a rock wall climb which encouraged them to think “What are you climbing towards?” according to Fields. “They set a range of how far they think they can go. And once they get there, we ask them to push themself to do two more steps […] encouraging them to just take one more step and if that one more step is easier, how easy is the next step and how easy is the next step?”

Dance Summer Intensive

The Dance at Franklin Program got the special opportunity to send three students to a week-long Summer Intensive at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, where high school students from all around the country got to engage in classes all day, studying varying dance styles such as Ballet, Modern, African, and Improv, as well as the fundamentals of dance such as respiratory techniques and the importance of the transfer of weight, from college level instructors within the university’s program.

The program allowed for students to explore their passion for dance at a collegiate level. “The dance program was definitely a new experience for me. Being a Hispanic, let alone a male in dance,” explained Luis Barrios (12), one of the Franklin attendees, “I put this pressure on myself to be on the same level as everyone else.” The intensive allowed students to get a taste for what it is like to study dance as a profession before ending with a showcase where all the visual arts students shared what they had learned in their different tracks of acting, art and design, and dance. “Having the opportunity to attend the dance program was really eye opening and made me certain that dance is what I want to study,” expressed Barrios. 

Cross Country Altitude Camp

For the last 19 years, the Franklin Cross Country team has hosted an Altitude camp. For five days, the team members who have met their conditioning requirements during the summer get to head up to the Three Sisters Mountains in Central Oregon, where they engage in a week full of training and team bonding.

 The trip consists of two different big runs. The first is the Ridge Run, which is a 1,000-foot elevation climb over 2.5 miles where the athletes reach up to 8,800 feet of elevation at the peak. The second is the Lake Run, which is a 16.5 mile run around the lake in Sisters. “The Lake Run was the hardest because of how long it was and the fact that there were hills within it, some people say there’s like a mini Ridge Run inside,” says women’s Cross Country team captain Marin Kauffman Smith 11 “[..] the fact that it just kept going was the hardest.”

With those runs being only two of the days during camp, the other time is spent going on small recovery runs and socializing with the team. “You are with friends for five days and you have a great time. You’re camping, you’re cooking, cleaning, playing games and running,” added another team captain, Avani Stevens-Rose (12). “It’s kind of the best experience I think I’ve ever had.”

Franklin Band Camp

The Franklin Band Program hosted a week-long mentorship program in partnership with Kellogg, Mt. Tabor, and Lane Middle School band programs. Current Franklin students attended the camp to aid as a mentor and example for the younger attendees. “Band camp is a way for us to build community between our middle school programs that feed into Franklin,” says Franklin Band Director Jason Owens. High school student mentors received mentorship hours in order to help support the young musicians in the concert band composed of percussion, woodwinds, and brass instruments.

The camp included more than 60 students, so there was some external help from saxophone, flute, trombone, trumpet, and low brass coaches. Along with developing their musicianship, the camp focused on helping students get comfortable with their future bandmates and on the Franklin campus. Highlights of the camps included “getting to know the kids a little bit and seeing them interact, ” says Owens. “We did a few games like a watermelon relay race, which was fun.” The camp concluded with a concert at the end of the week where parents could come and see how their kids had progressed and spent their time at the camp.

Despite these summer activities having their program-specific goals, they all valued establishing strong communities and bonds with one another and the school. Make sure to keep a lookout for all of these programs throughout the 2022-2023 school year.