The Evolution of Hope High School Hope Life Skills Class to the American History Life Skills Class

Hope Life Skills, a class which introduces and develops life skills for student lifetime success, has transitioned after 18 years to American History Life Skills.   Simply stated, this class is designed to use the rich lessons from people and events of American History with the stories of contemporary business men and women to teach the same transformative life skills, behaviors, and attitudes for student lifetime success:   PERSONAL BRANDs which enhance student reputations and how others perceive them;  NETWORKs of successful, reputable people who provide guidance and mentorship as well as helping students create opportunities for jobs, internships, and future success;  STORYTELLING skills for successful job interviews, effective resumes, and managing the opportunities and jeopardy of contemporary social media;  SELF ESTEEM development that empowers students to push out of their comfort zones to ask questions and meet diverse individuals who are successful, reputable and who expand student horizons of ‘what’s possible‘;   CHANGE management for a healthy attitude for ‘change‘ in our lives and the workplace with an ability to differentiate between ‘reckless‘ risk and ‘measured‘ risk and the skills to manage opportunities accompanying ‘measured‘ risk;   ADAPTABILITY  for  a healthy response to ‘changes’ in our lives and realizing the valuable lessons occasional ‘mistakes’ provide for improving  future performance;  CRITICAL THINKING for making well founded decisions based on empirical data, i.e. FACTS, and the ability to recognize ‘partisan‘ information and ‘bias‘ for what it is;  and, MUCH MORE.

You ask “WHY“?

Because American History offers an abundance of rich, relevant stories, from its inspirational people to its most significant events, for introducing and developing the critical life skills we’ve been helping students learn and use for the past 18 years at Hope High School.   This is the “WHY” of our American History Life Skills class.

Please check out the pdf of the American History Life Skills class SYLLABUS posted on this site.

I have also linked a VIDEO introducing the Life Skills component of the class.

Feel free to send me, Stephen Cronin, any questions and/or suggestions about the program to my email address (   The aim of this class continues to be continuous change, i.e. refinement, to meet the ever changing needs of our students for their success in the dynamic 21st century.




Homework – May 27, 2020

Please read pages 108 to 122 in the “Brand” book posted on our hope life skills web site ( for a brief profile on Paul Robeson.

I will be asking you to share your reaction and opinion on Paul Robeson’s amazing life during our next Zoom class on June 3rd at 11am. 

There are no right or wrong answers.  I am curious about your insights, opinions, and your questions.

Stay safe.  I always look forward to speaking with you.  Thank you.

Paul Robeson - IMDb

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020 Class

OUR MAY 27th class will feature Southern New Hampshire University‘s Director of Development and Athletic Hall of Fame alum, Ed Ithier.   MR Ithier will speak about his university’s exciting tuition “free” hybrid plan.   Southern New Hampshire offers strong student support programs – tutoring, mentoring, and close contact with professors to go along with the most impactful part of a college education – campus life among a diverse group of people from across America and the world:  living in a dorm, eating the delicious cuisine of SNHU’s acclaimed cafeteria (I have eaten there), great college sports, arts, and clubs, a 21st century data driven curriculum, and MULTIPLE INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES.   SNHU has a beautiful, growing campus. It’s only 2 hours from Providence and near one of New Hampshire’ major cities: Manchester.  Be prepared to liberate your curiosity to ask Ed Ithier multiple questions to get the answers you’re looking for. Hope senior, David Narvaez, has met and spoken with Ed Itier during last year’s Life Skills class. BTW – one of my students from a Providence summer Life Skills program just finished his freshman year at SNHU.

Today’s Class Review: May 13, 2020

  1.  Today’s class asked HOPE LIFE SKILLS students and guests (Marta Aparicio Hope High 2010, Georgetown University 2014, Columbia University 2020; Tara Cronin; Johnny Montanez Hope High 2010; and Diane West, Hope High Guidance Counselor) to COMPARE and CONTRAST life in the countries of Singapore and the United States of America.  After reading the Hope Life Skills textbook “The Story of Singapore and The Change Agent Who Created It“, students and guests listed their perceived PLUSES and MINUSES of living in Singapore when compared to their present lives in the United States.  AFTER an open discussion, here’s what our students decided:


  2.   15% of Singaporeans are millionaires; opportunities for making lots of money
  3.   English language – the world’ most spoken language helps doing business in a global marketplace
  4.  90% of Singaporeans own their own home
  5.  Confidence and Trust in the National Government unlike the United States
  6.  FREE, world class Health Care
  7.  Weather –  nice and warm!!!
  8.  Low Crime
  9.  Little to No drugs
  10.  Full Employment
  11.  World Class Port of Singapore is a hub for business in Asia


  1.  Cost of Owning a Car with the requirement of buying a Certificate of Entitlement before buying the actual car
  2.  Chewing gum prohibition and other strict laws, enforcement, and severe penalties
  3.  Caning (beaten with a stick for some crimes)
  4.  Weather –  too warm for some!!!
  5.  Privacy;  lack thereof
  6. lack of NATIONAL, fresh water reserves

Summary –   it’s interesting to note 2/3rds of the students participating in today’s conversation expressed a preference for the Singaporean lifestyle over the United States lifestyle.   Issues like trust in government leaders, quality of public education, home ownership and wealth opportunities, and access to good health care were a few of the most compelling characteristics of Singapore.  

Quarantine Homework for May 13, 2020

PLEASE, read the short textbook “The Story of Singapore” to prepare for our conversation during this Wednesday’s (May 13 at 11am) Zoom class.    This text a short story about the country where next week’s guest, Tino Chow, was born, raised, and served in the Singaporean army.  Please don’t get overwhelmed.  First, just “skim” the book;  this means, simply look at the pictures on each page and the breakout print sections in large print on each page.   Then, if you see anything you’re curious about, go back and read all the information on those pages in the book.   Singapore –  it’s a capitalist democracy; you can own your own company.   Singapore has a diverse population.  5,000,000 people live on this island country that is 1/4 the size of Rhode Island.  They love basketball.  Buying and selling chewing gum is against the law.  If you don’t flush a public toilet, you can be fined.  If you put graffiti art where you shouldn’t, you can be caned (beat with a stick!).  And, to buy a car, you need to apply to the government for the right to buy your car AND THE APPLICATION will COST around $40,000;  then, you pay the car dealer another fee to buy the car.  Education is the best in the world and education is FREE.  FREE HEALTH CARE.   90% of all Singaporeans own their own home.  15% of Singaporeans are millionaires.  No unemployment.  No homeless.   They have to buy clean water from the neighboring country of Malaysia because Singapore has NO sources of water on the island.  They are also expanding the size of their island nation;  that is, building land on the seas around them to make their island bigger. Drug dealers are executed.  Singaporeans live longer and healthier than people in the United States.  Very little crime.  Tino served in the Singaporean military for 2 years.  Everyone has to serve in the military OR a public service organization for 2 years after high school.  And, more!!! Join me on a Zoom conversation on Wednesday, MAY 13th, at 11am to discuss what you read in this short textbook.  Mr Buchanan, our Principal, Ms West, one of our Guidance counselors, alums Marta Aparicio (2010), Jason Roias (2014), Johnny Martinez (2010), my daughter in California, Tara, and her boyfriend, Mark Gonzales, will join our conversation.  Contact me if you have any questions OR if you can’t be available to the Zoom class on Wednesday.  Thank you.

4.Next week, please be prepared to join me on Zoom on Wednesday, MAY 2oth, at 11am to speak with Tino Chow and myself to ask him your questions about his experiences in Singapore and Hong Kong and your own experiences during the corona virus outbreak and quarantine.

Tino Chow (right) visiting the Hope Life Skills class 2017.

NB –  Please feel free to invite your parents and/or siblings to any of our conversations And, if you have relatives living in a foreign country, you may ask if their country is affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and how their country is protecting its citizens from the virus.

Quarantine Life Lifter!

As we all prepare for our Wednesday, 11am, Zoom conversations,  please take a moment of levity to enjoy this video!  It always puts a smile on my face.

AND, if there is anyone person in this video you recognize, let me know.

I’ll start –  Bernie Williams, New York Yankee center-fielder from the great Yankee teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

I hope you enjoy!


Quarantine Homework: Compare and Contrast – Pandemic Comparison

Thank you for all those who completed last week’s ‘Question’ assignment.  Well done. I was impressed by your questions, your curiosity, and empathy.    Moreover, many of you did research on the people you questioned which was reflected in the quality of your questions.   Impressive.

Today’s assignment builds upon our last assignment on “Questions“.

Over the next few weeks, I will ask you to read a few pages in the Life Skills books posted on our web site and then, join me in a Wednesday, 11am conversation on Zoom about the readings.  

The final Zoom conversation will be with my friend from Singapore, Tino Chow, for you to compare your own experience during the virus quarantine with Tino’s experiences in February when he was in Singapore and Hong Kong when the pandemic exploded in these places.  Tino left both Hong Kong and Singapore one day before each place closed their airports and borders because of the Coronavirus outbreak. If Tino was not able to leave each country on the days he did, he would still be there.

The objective of our conversations with Tino will offer you an opportunity to compare and contrast your experience now in Rhode Island during the Coronavirus quarantine with Tino’s experiences in both Singapore and Hong Kong up to the days he left both places in late February of 2020.

Tino has already told me he looks forward to your questions!  Your questions could be very specific about how both Singapore and Hong Kong were dealing with the pandemic when he was there. Your questions may also be about his native country of Singapore and some of its unique policies. For instance, before anyone can buy a car in Singapore, a person must apply to buy a “Certificate of Entitlement”; in other words, you pay a minimum of $40,000 just for the right to buy a car before buying the car.  It’s also illegal to buy and sell chewing gum in Singapore.

Asking good questions is all about preparations.  Our ability to ask questions usually affects our ‘Brand’ and how people perceive us.  Don’t forget, questions are more important than answers!  Questioning skills will be important in college, in your future jobs and careers, and for those of you who will own your own businesses.

Here’s our schedule for the next few weeks:

1. Read a short story on PANDEMICS on pages 72 through 76 in our “FUTURE” textbook posted on our web site.   Join me on a Zoom conversation on Wednesday, APRIL 29, at 11am to discuss what you read on these 5 pages.

2. Read a short story on the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic which killed 75 million people worldwide and 676,000 Americans on pages 78 through 91 in our “Quest For Success” textbook posted on our web site. The story is about city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and how this city unsuccessfully dealt with the deadliest pandemic in history, the Spanish Flu pandemic. Join me on a Zoom conversation on Wednesday, MAY 6th, at 11am to discuss what you read on these 13 pages.

3. Read the short textbook “The Story of Singapore“.  It’s a short story about the country where Tino was born, raised, and served in the Singaporean army.  Please don’t get overwhelmed.  First, just “skim” the book;  this means, simply look at the pictures on each page and the breakout print sections in large print on each page.   Then, if you see anything you’re curious about, go back and read all the information on those pages in the book.  Singapore is a fascinating country with one of the best school systems in the world, little to NO CRIME, with a population of different races with long standing difference who now live peacefully together.  90% of Singaporeans own their own home or condo.  Singaporeans have a longer life expectancy than people in the United States with universal, FREE health care.  There are also strict anti-fake news laws.  Join me on a Zoom conversation on Wednesday, MAY 13th, at 11am to discuss what you read in this short textbook.

4.  Finally, join me on Zoom on Wednesday, MAY 2oth, at 11am to speak with Tino Chow and myself to ask him your questions about his experiences in Singapore and Hong Kong and your own experiences during the corona virus outbreak and quarantine. 

Tino Chow (right) visiting the Hope Life Skills class 2017.

NB –  Please feel free to invite your parents and siblings to the conversation.  And, if you have relatives living in a foreign country, you may ask if their country is affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and how their country is protecting its citizens from the virus.

Hiatus Homework


I hope you are all doing well during this virus quarantine.

We have an opportunity to come out of this quarantine wiser and more prepared for college and lifetime success than before the quarantine.

Successfully ‘managing time‘ is a skill critical for becoming the person you hope to be. To make sure we are wiser after the quarantine, you and I must manage our time during the quarantine wisely.   Please don’t forget, you’re always competing against other students from high schools all over the United States for college acceptance, scholarships, and eventually, for jobs and careers.  Let me change this statement –  ‘you are competing against students from all over the world for college scholarships and eventually jobs and careers!!!‘     This is the reality of the time we live in.  If you wish to be successful, in any endeavor, you must manage your time wisely.

Consequently, I am asking you to complete this assignment as a way of helping you become wiser and, as a result, more competitive and successful in a global marketplace for college scholarships and jobs/careers.  The goal of this assignment is for you to think creatively and use empathy in your questions to get important answers you are interested in.   Creative, empathetic questioning skills with the self confidence to ask them will be invaluable throughout your entire life to become the successful person you aspire to be.

Please list a unique question for each of the 25 people on the homework list.

I believe your questions should vary according to the person you are speaking to.  For instance, the question you ask the #1 person in the list, Dr Fauci who is heading President Trump’s team of doctors dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic, would probably be different from #22, an extra terrestrial you happen to meet.

The purpose of this lesson is for you to use empathy to understand the background of each person and the expertise they have from their experiences.   Secondly, this lesson is focused on developing your questioning skills because they are so important to your personal and professional development in life.
I look forward to reading your questions to each of the 25 people in our list.

If you have any questions about this assignment, please email or text them to me.

Please send your answers to my email address before Sunday, April 19.   Thank you.  I look forward to your questions.


Questions Are More Important Than Answers!

You’ve heard me say this repeatedly in our Life Skills class.  Questions are asked to get answers to issues you’re curious about or interested in.  There is no answer without a question preceding it.  Questions ARE NOT ASKED TO HURT OR EMBARRASS SOMEONE.  QUESTIONS SHOULD BE ASKED RESPECTFULLY TO GET INFORMATION THAT MATTERS TO YOU.

“Questions” book cover

Here is an activity I am asking you to complete.   Email or text me with questions which prevent you from answering any part of this homework.

FIRSTplease read pages 1 through 15 in the “Questions” book that is posted on our web site. You can read more pages in the book; it’s an interesting and thought provoking book.

NEXT – I have listed the names of a number of people below.  SOME OF THESE PEOPLE ARE DECEASED.  I still would like you to ask them a question.

IMAGINE – you are very comfortable pushing out of your comfort zone to respectfully ask specific questions to the people listed below to get an answer you’re curious about or that is important to YOU.


FINALLY – Please send the question to ask each person listed below to my email address ( Please write your questions so I can understand them. I am very interested in your questions.


1. Doctor Anthony Fauci is an American immunologist who is one of President’s Trumps key members of the country’s Coronavirus Task Force fighting the Coronavirus pandemic. The New York Times newspaper called Fauci “the nation’s leading expert on infectious disease”. Dr Fauci was a point guard on his high school basketball team in New York City. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

the reincarnated one, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

2. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th reincarnation of the 1st  Dalai Lama, Gendun Drup, who was born in 1391. The Dalai Lama is the title given to the religious leader of Tibet, a once independent country but taken over by China in 1951.  Tibetans believe the Dalai Lama has been reincarnated 14 times since 1391.-


3. Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft and the world’s 2nd richest person who happened to be an just average college student, predicted in 2015 the world would be under attack by a virulent virus in the near future (2020). _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Harrison Peters

4.  Harrison Peters – new Superintendent of Providence Public Schools – __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
5. Matthew Buchanan, Principal Hope High School – __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
6. Martin Luther King Jr – celebrated American civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner (1964)- __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
7. Melania Trump, wife of the President of the United States, Donald Trump – __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
8. Jorge Elorza, Mayor of Providence – __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
9. The smartest, hardest working, most humble, honest, successful Harvard University student with a future seemingly destined for great success who graduated from an American inner city public school __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
10. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company Blue Origin. Bezos, as a young boy, was adopted by a Cuban immigrant living in America married to Bezos’ Mom. Jeff Bezos today is the “richest man in the world” (total worth approximately $150 BILLION), __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
11. DJ Khalad (American DJ, record producer, radio personality, and record executive) – __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
12. Billie Eilish (Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter/designer) – __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
13. Selina Gomez – American singer, songwriter, actress, and television producer – __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
14. Barack Obama – former President of the United States __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
15. Ali Khamenei – The Supreme Leader of the country of Iran. Khamenei has repeatedly defended his country’s citizens threat of “Death to America”.
16. Catalina Martinez, a scientist and oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with multiple Master’s degrees in Biological Oceanography, Marine Affairs, and Business Administration, who grew up in poverty in Providence and was forced to drop out of high school to care for her family.   With the help of a mentor, she returned to school and followed her passion to get multiple college degrees in marine studies.

Catalina Martinez (seated) showing Hope High Life Skills students video from one of her explorations of the ocean’s floor during one of her month long voyages at sea.


17. The smartest, hardest working, most honest, humble, respectful, and successful Hope High Student with a future seemingly destined for great success __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
18. Sergey Brin, an immigrant to America who eventually graduated from Stanford University to become one of the Founders of Google (Google is an American technology company that sells Internet-related services and products all over the world like online advertising and search engine technology. Google is considered one of the world’s Big Four technology companies with Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft) – __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
19. Marta Aparicio – Guatemalan immigrant who left her parents’ Providence home to live on her own during her senior year at Hope High School (2010), a 2014 Georgetown University graduate, and Columbia University International Studies Graduate school graduate in 2020 and soon-to-be United States diplomat serving at a US Embassy some place in the world – __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
20. The most interesting and impressive person you have met this year at a Life Skills activity – Please name the person and your question to this person
PERSON’S NAME _________________________________________
21. The smartest, kindest, most successful, respectful, hardest working, African American or Hispanic student with a future seemingly destined for great success at LaSalle Academy  – __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
22. An extraterrestrial visitor who happens to come to earth from another planet beyond our Galaxy and appears to you when you are alone in your home. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
23. The most disruptive Hope High student you are aware of whose behavior creates trouble/distractions in the school and, as a result, makes it difficult for Hope High to establish a ‘culture of learning’ for all the conscientious students to learn important skills and behaviors to become the best, smartest, and most successful people they can be. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
24. Jesus Christ  –  __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
25. Name a person, alive or dead, you would like to meet AND, then, tell me a question you would like to ask this person –
Name of the PERSON __________________________________________________
YOUR QUESTION – __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Coronavirus Homework

I hope you are all doing well during these challenging times. I know you miss our class and the interesting guests and lessons which take place like I do. I will soon follow this blog with a homework assignment relevant to the goals and mission of the Hope Life Skills class. In the meantime, stay safe.

Today’s Homework: March 6, 2020

1      Please tell me ONE thing you took from our conversation with Jeshua Zapata today.  It could be something you learned;  something that inspired you;  something that made you think about the future you aspire to.   Send your answer to my email address before 11:59pm, Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

2.   Meg Stowe, the Director of Innovation at Rocky Hill Country Day, has invited YOU and ME to a special event, i.e.Venture Cafe’s Hack Education Connect on March 19 from 5pm to 8pm, at the VENTURE CAFE on 225 Dyer St in Providence.  Students from a number of area schools will be part of in-depth conversations within small groups about their successes and challenges in and out of school.  Students will lead the discussion groups.  The format will be similar to our FUTURE FORUM. PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN GOING??  yes or noIF YES, WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEAD A GROUP DISCUSSION OF SEVERAL STUDENTS?   More details will be coming next week.  YOU MUST HAVE TRANSPORTATION FOR GETTING TO THE CAFE AND GETTING HOME.   PLEASE SEND ME AN EMAIL IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GO BY WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 2020.   SHOULD BE A GREAT EVENT;  YOUR DECISION WILL BE SOMETHING SIMILAR TO WHAT JESHUA DID BY PUSHING OUT OF HIS COMFORT ZONE WHEN HE ENROLLED AT BRYANT UNIVERSITY.  A LEARNING EXPERIENCE.