ArcPrep students with Princeton architecture dean Monica Ponce de Leon.

Fifteen Trenton high school sophomores are currently engaged in a new immersive, semester-long course on architecture, urbanism, and integrated design studio practices conducted by the Princeton University School of Architecture.

Woven into the high school curriculum, Princeton ArcPrep is designed to help students develop skills, knowledge, and awareness related to careers in architecture and to aid in college readiness.

Students were selected for their academic standing and interest in architecture.

Princeton architecture dean Monica Ponce de Leon is program director, and Katie Zaeh, a design fellow, is program instructor.

“Princeton ArcPrep is introducing some of our region’s most promising students to architecture, a field that has historically lacked diversity,” says Ponce de Leon via press release. “I am deeply committed to providing these students — all of whom have an aptitude for architecture but lack access to formal training and support — an opportunity to develop the skills that will propel them into a successful career.”

The Trenton program is based on an ArcPrep model developed in Detroit in 2015 when Ponce de Leon was dean at the University of Michigan.

According to a press release, Princeton ArcPrep students spend three hours a day, four days a week in studio at Trenton Central High School studying architecture through a project-based learning curriculum. On the fifth day, they hear from guest speakers and visit architecture firms.

Other class activities include preparing for interviews and presentations, creating resumes and design portfolios, and preparing for the college application process.

After completing the program, Prince­ton ArcPrep students can continue to pursue architecture and design through an afterschool Architecture Club at Trenton Central High School.

Princeton ArcPrep will also support students as they transition to college.

Trenton Central High School is currently divided into Small Learning Communities (SLCs). The Chambers Street Campus houses five communities: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), School of Communications, Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism, and Business (HRTB), and the 9th Grade Academy.

Princeton ArcPrep support comes from Princeton University School of Architecture, Trenton Public Education Foundation (TPEF), LENNAR – We Care Foundation, NJM Foundation, West Windsor Gardens, Sharbell Development Corporation, Eckert Seamans Charitable Foundation, and Mary Jo and James C. Hedden provide programmatic support.

This article was originally published in the December 2018 Trenton Downtowner.