Unification News for December 2003 and January 2004

Bridgeport: A Vision in Progress -Development of a Complete Educational System

Hugh and Nora Spurgin
January 2004

Bridgeport, the largest city in Connecticut -- the home of a complete educational system -- has seen amazing, substantial changes over the last ten years. Once a thriving, booming industrial center, Bridgeport was the home of the brass and garment manufacturing industries, theaters, museums, beautiful mansions along the coast of Long Island Sound, and the University of Bridgeport which was a thriving, expanding university that attracted wealthy students from the northeast.

P.T. Barnum, founder of the famous Barnum & Bailey Circus, was an entrepreneur and visionary who made Bridgeport his home and an expression of his numerous, varied, and creative abilities. In accord with his political ambitions, he became the cityís mayor. P.T. Barnum left many landmarks; the most beautiful were his four-story mansion named Iranistan and the 300 acre Seaside Park that provides recreation and beach areas along the Long Island Sound. Unfortunately, during the last few decades, Bridgeport went the way of many urban areas. Businesses moved out, beautiful mansions were divided into multi-family houses, and the thriving, beautiful, seaside university went from an enrollment of 8,000 in the 1980s to 1,000 in 1992.

The Rev. Moon is a "super" visionary. He dares to dream what others do not even conceive. He dreamed of a comprehensive, educational system in a metropolitan area with the potential to once again become a beautiful, thriving seaport. Slowly, but steadily, that vision is becoming a reality, in part because of the investment of organizations which he founded.

Eliminating Urban Blight

We need to improve the quality of life in Bridgeport, especially in the area surrounding the university. The neighborhood of UB was once the home of the elite who lived in many historic mansions, including P.T. Barnumís Iranistan, which was destroyed by fire. The Bridgeport has become once again a thriving, growing community. Developers and homeowners have bought and fixed over forty houses around the university; this is enough to begin a trend of dramatic change.

The presence of new families moving to Connecticut has made an impact on the total campus atmosphere. Many students have taken leadership roles and have created community service organizations such as Service for Peace and opportunities for spiritual and recreational "get togethers" that nurture families and students. When one observes university, high school, and middle school students playing soccer and other sports, there is a strong sense of joy and pride in the comfortable and safe community that has evolved in the university area.

Harbor Yard Sports Complex

Five years ago an area consisting of abandoned factories was razed, and a beautiful new minor league baseball stadium was built. Three years later a 10,000 seat arena which hosts world famous events (skating, circus, concerts, political rallies, etc) was built next to the stadium. Recently, a public housing project has been razed and leveled in preparation for building a skating rink as part of the same sports complex. This sports complex has been a large draw for suburban families. The location of this Harbor Yard is within walking distance of the UB dorms and creates an active and pleasant atmosphere.

Seaside Park

The beautiful Seaside Park which wraps around the south, southeast and southwest of the UB campus and borders Long Island Sound has been restored to its original beauty and is kept safe by safety patrol and night closures. New facilities have been built; roadways, paths, and parking have been laid out, and several sculptures have been added. It is so nice to sit on the benches to meditate with the ocean tides flapping at your feet. This is a tremendous asset to University of Bridgeport.

North Side of Campus

The north side of the campus borders an area of dilapidated large houses and one old factory. Thanks to developers, this side, too, is undergoing changes. The large factory complex (an eyesore) has been bought, and work has already started to convert it into condominiums for young professionals. Across the street from this factory, a local church has purchased a vacant lot and empty office building, in order to create a church complex that will include a cathedral, offices, a seniorsí center, and a day care center. These developments are all near the University of Bridgeport campus. A few miles away in downtown Bridgeport, a community college was relocated, a state police post was set up, a strip mall was established, and an empty department store is currently being renovated and made into sixty artist studios

The University of Bridgeport
by Steven Boyd

When the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA) initiated its first investments in the University of Bridgeport in the early 1990s, the university was facing closure. However, now UB has become one of the fastest growing four-year colleges in Connecticut, offering over 50 majors for its approximately 3,200 students. In addition to its undergraduate programs, UB has major graduate programs in education, business, engineering, nutrition, chiropractic and naturopathic medicine.

Under President Neil A. Salonenís leadership, admissions for the last two years has been strong. Total undergraduate enrollment has increased more that 14 percent, resulting in the largest freshmen class since 1991. There are significant gains in students for the region and across the United States. The four major residence halls are near capacity. The number of resident students living in campus housing increased by more than 40 percent, with single rooms now a scarce, however prized, commodity.

The offsite campuses in Stamford and Waterbury are buzzing with activity and enrollments. Both cater to students pursuing graduate degrees, or obtaining their undergraduate degree after starting some years before. This fall the "Easy Living Plan" went into effect for residential students. It offers costs that decline over the years in residence. There are four different meal plan packages, with dining dollars for the Knightís End café. Thereís free local telephone, cable television, high-speed Internet access, a microwave, refrigerator and freezer in each room, as well as free laundry facilities. Most rooms have a gorgeous waterfront view and overlook the Fredrick Olmstead-designed Seaside Park.

After more than ten years of support from PWPA, this year under President Salonenís leadership, UB was able to achieve a balanced budget and function without an annual subsidy from PWPA. The universityís income is now based on revenue from tuition, government and private grants, and donations received from alumni and friends.

The universityís athletic teams have performed extremely well. Last year, UB brought home two Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference championships (menís soccer and womenís gymnastics). This year, the menís soccer team was ECAC champion for a second straight year. Last season, for the first time since 1992 the menís basketball team participated in the NCAA championship tournament. In the preseason poll, this year the Purple Knights are ranked 23rd in the nationwide ranking of NCAA Division II menís basketball teams.

In 2003 U.B. was one of two universities in America to receive the prestigious Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award for outstanding campus safety. Reports issued by the U.S. Department of Labor place UB as the safest four-year college in the state of Connecticut.

Of special importance is the incredible diversity of the university community; over 80 different nationalities and almost all global faiths are represented. In such an environment of mutual respect and understanding, there is an active, growing number of second-generation students who have elected to complete their undergraduate and/or graduate degrees at UB. With over one hundred Unification students enrolled at the university and many more second generation in the elementary and secondary school, CARP and Service for Peace (as well as other groups and programs) are very active on campus and in the community at large. These activities, together with academic studies, provide support and a positive outlet to channel the second generationís creative energies.

Bridgeport International Academy

Bridgeport International Academy (BIA) is a college preparatory, senior high school located on the campus of the University of Bridgeport. The Academy is committed to promoting academic excellence and character development in a caring community and is housed in Cooper Hall and Marina Learning Center. Although the Academy is non-sectarian, the school is religious. All students take the character education course each semester. BIA is officially approved and recognized by the Department of Education of the State of Connecticut and has approval from the US government to issue I-20 forms for international students.

Bridgeport International Academy is tuition driven (supplemented with funds from several properties and businesses which are managed by BIA). The school functions without a subsidy from any church or organization. BIA admits academically-qualified local students, some home-stay students from around the country, and a few international students. For non-local students, home stays are arranged with local church families. Closing the dormitory has allowed Bridgeport International to focus on the development of its academic program. Hence, students must maintain a 2.0 average in order to remain a student at the Academy.

A benefit of attending the Academy is the formal articulation agreement between the university and the secondary school which allows qualified juniors and seniors at BIA to take university courses. This means some students are able to graduate with almost one year of college while still in high school -- a tremendous advantage in terms of finances and time.

Bridgeport International Academy has a core of full-time teachers and several adjuncts. Reflecting the international character of the school and student body, the faculty is composed of teachers from eight different nations. Most of them have graduate degrees. Margaret Vander Stok and Grace Hill, two second generation sisters, teach a musical theater class and have directed several musicals, including "The Wiz." In addition to participating in an exciting adventure, students are able to use their energies creatively and productively. This provides an opportunity for the very talented students to express themselves and makes BIA a noteworthy school in the community. They are planning a performance as a fund-raiser for Habitat for Humanityís "Youth Build" in which BIA participates as part of its community service program.

BIA continues to develop an "English as a Second Language" program for students whose English proficiency is not adequate to mainstream in the regular curriculum. To prepare them for courses in English, there are three ESL classes plus one TOEFL preparation course. Many of these students have or will continue at U.B.

The Academy uses a computer-based, distance learning curriculum to supplement some of its course offerings. For the past seven years, BIA has had a state-of-the-art student, computer lab with the addition of fourteen new computers this year. Students learn computer graphics and power point presentations as part of their training.

BIA Students Speak:

Ceramic class, by Esther Jones and Geoffrey Dilg

The well-equipped, ceramics studio is located on the UB campus. Our instructor, Mrs. Kun Taek Oh, is an accomplished ceramics professor. She teaches us how to use the wheel and is always available for any questions. Ceramics is, personally, my favorite class. Students have a lot of freedom to make whatever they want. There are a variety of ways to express our creativity on the wheel or simply by hand. The atmosphere in class is always uplifting and joyful. You can interact with other students while you mold your chunk of clay.

ĎThe two hours pass by so fast,í says sophomore, Cindy Yang. At the end of our gratifying year, we get to display all of our beautiful work on elegant podiums at the annual Ceramics Art Show. This fun-filled class brings out each studentís innate creativity. E.J.

Mrs. Oh teaches us how to make a variety of things out of clay. She also teaches us how to make things on the wheel, like plates, bowls, and ceramic mugs. Every Friday, we go to class and spend hours making the most amazing and creative things. The best thing I have learned is that ceramics can be fun. G.D.

Musical theater, by Elizabeth Hempowicz

Iíve seen a bunch of average high school students transformed into a lion, a scarecrow, a tinman, various witches, crows, " winkies", munchkins, a wizard and a little country girl named Dorothy. Put together, we are called "The Wiz."

This is not something that we just threw together. Oh, no! This took two months of 6 hours a week, going over lines, stage directions, musical acts, choreography, and much more. On December 5, 2003 it was all worth it.

Drama is something that I have had a passion for since before I can remember. I love slipping out of myself and into a new character, as if I was changing coats. It gives me an ability to approach issues in a whole new way, but it also gives me an escape from myself.

When I heard that we were doing a musical, I hesitated, because it was not just acting anymore, it was singing, too. I have always been on the shy side with regard to singing. I almost quit the class, but then I decided I did not want to let my fears control me. I would not stop doing what I loved just because I was worried about what people would think of me. This class, even if in a small way, has taught me never to let my fears rule my life.

Internships, by Jennifer Betancourt

Throughout elementary school, I have had teachers who will never leave my memory. I believe that period of a personís childhood is valuable because one is learning every second of the day from the things happening around him/her.

However, it was not until I was in high school, when teachers and counselors began emphasizing the importance of choosing a career, that I thought that teaching would be something that would make me happy. At the beginning of my senior year at BIA, I was offered an internship at Bridgeport Hope School, the elementary school down the street. I have spent a lot of time at Hope School these past three months, helping in the first, second, and kindergarten classes. Although at times I am discouraged by the frustration of being unable to motivate a student who seems uninspired to learn, I am overcome by a deep satisfaction when I am finally able to reach that student. The experience has given me a true taste of the hardships but also the joys of teaching.

Graduating Early, by Cindy Yang, Sarah Peterson and Nathan Breland

The minimum credit requirement for high school graduation is 22. In a public high school, these 22 credits are normally achieved through a four-year course. However, a chance to graduate one year early is open for some BIA students, through an accelerated academic schedule for qualified students, even though the Academy has strict graduation requirements.

By senior year, most students are taking their last required core courses, electives, and Advanced Placement or AP courses. Qualified BIA students are given the opportunity to take college courses at the University of Bridgeport. Students are given college, as well as high school, credit for those classes, which allows them to save money by not having to take the same courses later in college.

The difference between taking a college course and a normal AP course at a public high school is that it only takes one semester to get one credit. Of course, a college course requires more work outside the classroom and thus more self-discipline. By simply taking English courses at UB for one semester, along with other classes in the third year, the student will have enough credits to receive a diploma. C.Y. Graduating early opens many doors as to what you can do after high school. You could get a head start on college or a career, or get involved in any after high school programs with your church or community. S.P.

Because this is not a large school, we are able to sign up for more classes than normal and be able to graduate in no time! Yes, I must admit, it is a bit of a workload to carry in the sophomore and junior years, but it saves time and money for my parents and me! The disadvantage of reducing time in high school is that there is not as much time for extracurricular activities. It takes discipline to study biology when you could be winning the ping-pong tournament, swimming 100 meters butterfly, or initiating a service for peace project!

Two reasons it is possible to graduate early is that the schedule is flexible and that you can take several college classes in a short period of time. In my junior year, I am taking one English class at BIA and another class at the university, in order to obtain two English credits. The workload for the UB courses is more difficult than normal and BIA has rigorous graduation requirements, but it is manageable if you focus. Most seniors in other schools are insanely bored with the skimpy workload of four or five classes a day. We take many more courses than students in most other schools. Ehh, who wants to waste an extra year in high school anyways? As my good companion Abe says, "Four years makes a bore; this curriculum is hard core!" N.B.

The Halloween Party, by Steven Martinez and Rebekah Hyangmi Cotter

This year we have kept up the tradition of hosting a constructive, Halloween Party by making it a memorable and fun time for the whole family. The BIA Student Council prepared for weeks in advance and, on the day before the party, the entire student body came together to work on projects like making booths and an elaborate Haunted House.

All of the booths were family-centered with each family competing against other groups in an effort to attain the highest score in activities like the "pie toss" where one family member pied another and "chubby bunny" in which one person stuffs as many marshmallows in their mouth as possible while saying chubby bunny. The overall, winning family, the Montanaros, received the grand prize. S.M.

There were costume contests, a raffle, etc. Without a doubt the most anticipated event was the Haunted House. Moving through passage ways and down corridors, and running from an assortment of monsters, this Haunted House was a great success. The total number of people attending the event was around 150, and we all had a great ole time.

This party took endless planning and elaborate skills in designing. The whole student body worked Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday, making multiple booths and a very spooky Haunted House. We gave our all to make this a fun filled evening for everyone in the Bridgeport community.

On that Sunday evening, many guests started arriving at the Marina Learning Center where the party was held. The Student Council had the brilliant idea to focus on the families. So, at every booth, each family would receive a specific number of points. At the end, we counted the points and the family with the most points won a prize. R.C.

The Swim Club, by Micah Boyd, Abraham Deshotel, & Hannah Boyd

We started the swim club three years ago. Since then, we have improved our swimming abilities and have increased the number of swimmers to twelve. We meet three times per week early in the morning and have a volunteer swimming coach, Mrs. Colleen Boyd, who is also our English teacher and the leader of our hiking. Mrs. Boyd has raised our level by pushing each of us to work harder. We all have fins and grippers, so we can do more in less time and feel the water better. We are now trying to improve our swimming times, and maybe even join some competitions, as we have done with soccer and basketball. M.B.

This year we also have a professional coach who comes once per week and teaches us the butterfly, an awesome stroke. This year we are faster and more serious about swimming and could possibly be ready for competition. Seeing how much we have improved, I think we could very possibly be "a worthy opponent at a swim meet." Overall, the BIA swim team is formidable and is a serious swimming experience for any student willing to wake up early before our Character Education class begins. A.D.

Every class starts with a ten-lap warm-up, followed by a series of exercises given by the coach. Usually the class is focused on one stroke, so the students are able to concentrate on one thing in order to improve on it. Many times they do activities, like relays and games, so that students can build their muscles and learn how to race while having fun. The teamís hope for the future is to be able to compete in a league. If this happens, it would be a good opportunity, not only for the students to be able to compete, but for this small school to get exposure and grow. H.B.

Community service, by Osborne Jones, Eri Sawada and Takashi Okamoto

Every Friday afternoon, we as students go out to serve others in small groups led by a BIA teacher. Some of the projects in which we have participated include painting, cleaning, cooking for people in need, raking leaves, shoveling snow, helping to build a house, teaching younger students how to read, and working on computers. So, whether it is cooking or cleaning windows, we gain many different skills that we otherwise would not have. Through these projects we feel better inside with the knowledge that we have helped someone, and there are many indirect rewards which look very good on a resume, including receiving community service hours. Also, it allows us to spread the knowledge of our small school to others in the Bridgeport community. The possibilities and personal rewards are endless in doing community service for others. O.J.

For community service we help people in Bridgeport who need assistance. For example, in coordination with Habitat for Humanity, we helped to build some houses for people who do not have the money or resources to build a home for themselves. This was the big project of community service last year. Community service teaches us how to live for the sake of others, and it allows us to gain new skills for the future. It has many tangible benefits. Every month each team of students is assigned a new set of projects. E.S.

An example of a project is washing windows, vacuuming floors, and cleaning buildings. Another consists of working with Groundworks Bridgeport which does yard work in the neighborhood. A third team helps out at Bridgeport Hope School by playing with the children, doing activities, and performing tasks that need to be done.

All of these service projects, performed by our BIA students, help the university and our local community. And the service hours look very impressive on a resume or college application form. What I have gained through doing community service is the ability to go beyond my own limitations, to stop thinking about myself, and to start thinking more about what I can do for others. T.O.

Benefits of Studying on the UB Campus, by Sungman and Sungho Cho

I have taken courses in Tae Kwon Do, Calculus, and Physics at the University of Bridgeport. I like being able to take university courses. The credits that I have obtained are for college, as well as high school. Thus, I am able to use my time wisely while still in high school. Because we can get the same credit in one semester that others obtain in one year, even though we have to study harder, we can graduate earlier than students elsewhere. That is a good thing about this school. S.M.C.

Because I am taking a college course, I feel like I am a college student. And I feel safe because the University of Bridgeport hired a high level security company. There are many advantages to being on the U.B. campus. The biggest advantage is Marina Cafeteria. BIA has the best cafeteria in America, because we are able to use the UB cafeteria. The food is really good and abundant, and the cafeteria is huge. Another advantage is that we are in a nice natural environment. For example, we live near the Long Island South, so we can see the Ocean whenever we want. We do not have to go far because the Ocean is near our school. Also we live next to Seaside Park. In the spring and summer, people have picnics everywhere. Many trees and green grass are in the park where we play soccer and many other sports! S.H.C.

Student Council, by Benjamin Scazzero

The BIA Student Council is very unique and active. It gives students a chance to make a difference in our school and to give them a look inside politics. The students choose the student council members. However, before they are elected, they campaign for office. Thus, they have to reach students who might not know them and try to convince them to vote for them, by using a catchy slogan or by making an election promise. Fortunately, at BIA, everyone knows one another, since it is a small school. When elections are held in October, everyone knows the people who are running and whether they think that person would make a difference.

Usually there are nine or ten spots to be filled on the student council. There is a Liaison who represents freshman / sophomore boys, another Liaison for freshman / sophomore girls, and an overall lower class Representative who represents all ninth and tenth grade students. The 11th and 12th grade students elect the junior and senior Boy and Girl Liaisons.

Handling finances for our Student Council is an important job that is occupied by a Treasurer who sometimes has an assistant. The next position is important, the job of being the secretary throughout the entire year for the Council. This job is significant because the secretary takes notes and presents them to the entire school in the school newspaper, The Gazette. Next is the Vice-President position occupied by either a upper class girl or boy. However, with the increase in girls, since a boy won election this time, there was a demand for a girl vice-president as well, and we made a new spot for a girl VP.

The most important spot is the President of the Student Body. The president is not elected by the students, but appointed by the faculty. Any student who is a junior or senior can run for the presidency. A new president is appointed each year, but it is harder to obtain than any of the other roles on the Council. The President is expected to write an essay to the faculty in order to persuade them to choose him as the Student Council President. The teachers look at the presidential nomineeís grades, character, and attitude toward fellow students, parents, and teachers. The President must have at least one year of Student Council experience before he/she can even be considered for the position.

The election process at BIA starts by going down the order of positions, one at a time. Each candidate gives a short speech on why he or she should be elected. Then a secret ballot is conducted with each student given the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice for each of the positions. Then the votes of the students are tallied, and the winner of each particular election is announced. This is democracy in action.

Bridgeport Hope School
by Clopha Deshotel

Bridgeport Hope School (BHS) is an elementary school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Under the leadership of Elizabeth Deshotel, Bridgeport Hope School has a current enrollment of sixty-five students. Since BHS received state approval in June 2003, we were able to begin bus service for local students in October 2003. Our current enrollment is sixty-five in our multi-age classrooms, using a selection of self-paced materials, mentoring, and traditional exemplary methods: Core Knowledge, Saxon Math, CLUE, IEF Character Curriculum, and a neurolinguistic approach to cognitive development and English literacy known as The Writing and Spelling Road to Reading.

Parents have said that they like Hope School for the following reasons: (1) The caring and nurturing staff, small student-teacher ratio...I feel comfortable leaving my daughter "all day" knowing that she is in a safe, fun and productive environment. (2) At the school, we like the small classroom size and the individual attention that the students receive. Unlike the public schools, the students here don't get lost in the crowd. (3) I wanted my child to grow up in a school that minimizes unnecessary gossip of a demeaning nature, but rather fosters supporting someone who may be struggling. (4) I sent our son to BHS because of its emphasis on character education and wanting him to be in an atmosphere of respect of authority figures and fellow students. Because God is discussed in a nondenominational manner, his particular faith is re-enforced in a loving way. (5) I sent my son to BHS because teachers are caring and children feel cared for and secure. They feel free to express themselves. They are learning to be good citizens of our society. (6) BHS has a dedicated staff that not only addresses our son's academic

strengths and weaknesses but also seeks to stimulate his character growth that he may become a caring, responsible human being who lives for the sake of others.

(7) I really appreciate the way they do Reading Buddies at BHS because most parents are too busy to schedule reading aloud to their children. By training the older students to tutor and read aloud to the younger students, BHS is nurturing a caring heart in my child.

Information on UB, BIA and BHS:

For further information, please contact the three schools by calling (203) 576-4000 for UB, 334-3434 for BIA, or 368-6239 for BHS; by sending an email to biahighschool@hotmail.com; or by consulting the websites at www.bridgeport.edu , www.bridgeportacademy.org , or www.tomoyama.com/preparehope

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