This year marks the 10th Anniversary of PUPP and we have worked hard to continue to build on our past success while looking forward to new and exciting initiatives for the future. This note welcomes all to our new website – with an updated design, and the PUPP DVD Defining Success.   As we prepare to graduate our 8th class of PUPP scholars and begin our 11th Summer Institute, here are some updates about the program and our scholars.

For the 2010-11 school year, PUPP created a broad and engaging program of events and activities for our scholars. Our weekly after school program continued at our 6 partner high school campuses where graduate teaching fellows engaged our sophomores and juniors in activities to develop their critical communication skills. The sessions, which focus on vocabulary, current events, and preparing scholars for cultural enrichment events, are a great tool for PUPP to remain actively engaged with our scholars in their home schools.

Our cultural enrichment calendar included trips to six productions during the school year. In September, we traveled to the Academy of Music in Philadelphia for an annual trip to the opera. This year, we saw the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s production of Verdi’s Otello.   As the opera built to its tragic conclusion, I do not think I have ever seen an audience so anxiously anticipate an on-stage murder. The scholars all reported enjoying Otello more than the operas we had previously attended. They were clearly mesmerized by the tale of Iago’s cruel deception and Othello’s wild jealousy.

A few weeks after the opera, we gathered at the McCarter Theater in Princeton for the World Premiere “one-man” version of Homer’s Iliad. The show, simply titled An Iliad was a tour-de-force performance that immersed our scholars in an energetic presentation of the classic tale of the Trojan Wars. We were fortunate to have a 20-minute talkback session with the TONY award -winning actor Stephen Spinella who performed the work along with musician Brian Ellingsen whose double bass and percussion added depth to the production.

Just before Thanksgiving, we had an enjoyable time at the Philadelphia Theater Company’s production of the William Finn musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The show led to a series of small scale spelling bees led by our teaching fellows at each school – along with some serious conversations about the play’s use of racial and religious stereotypes as vehicles for comedy and commentary.

In the spring, we returned to Philadelphia for two productions – Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts and Anna Deveare Smith’s one-woman show about healthcare, death and dying in America,   Let Me Down Easy. We finished our cultural calendar with a trip to the student matinee performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – our first dance performance – in early May.

In November, we took our juniors and seniors on our annual fall college tour. As part of PUPP’s work to expose our scholars to a broad range of college opportunities, we took the scholars on a 3-day tour of colleges in the region. This year, with the generous support from the Citi Foundation, PUPP took 40 of our scholars to 10 of the nation’s top colleges and universities, including the University of Richmond, Georgetown, George Washington, Johns Hopkins, Gettysburg, Dickinson and Franklin and Marshall. Along the way, PUPP was able to connect with program alumni who are current undergraduates at Richmond, Georgetown, Howard, Loyola University (MD), and Franklin and Marshall.

On June 1, 2011, we will celebrate the graduate of our Class of 2011 – all of whom have earned acceptances to college.   A complete listing of their acceptances is available on the “Results” page.   We’re excited to send another group of talented, low-income students to some of our nation’s best institutions – including Stevens Institute of Technology, the University of Richmond, Bryn Mawr College, Occidental College, Syracuse University, Dickinson College and Princeton.

The eleventh PUPP summer institute will be held from June 23 – August 5, 2011.   We will begin with our annual 2-day leadership retreat at the Princeton Blairstown Center.   Our annual Opening Ceremony, in the University Chapel, will be held on Saturday, June 25, 2011 at 10:30 AM.

As always, we are looking forward to an exciting and inspiring summer institute.   This summer, we’ll focus on Haiti in many aspects of our curriculum, including an author study of Edwidge Dandicat in our literature course and integrated science courses that will focus the ecology and environmental engineering challenges of regions impacted by natural and man-made disasters.

Please enjoy our new website and 10th anniversary DVD.

Jason R. Klugman, Ph.D.