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30 Days of Grad: Angel Onofre

Angel Onofre was ready to ditch school. Depression and a conversation with his parents, who live in Mexico, left him feeling unmotivated to continue with school. But when he went in to tell the principal of El Colegio Charter School that he was dropping out, just one semester short of graduation, she wouldn’t allow him to do it.

On June 5, he and 15 other seniors received their diplomas, after years of struggling in other schools. Norma Garces, the principal, said many of her students, including the seniors, have parents who were deported, or fear deportation for their relatives. They suffer from depression. They have failed in a normal school setting. But her school offers them a second chance.

El Colegio Charter School is a small public high school in Minneapolis that has been serving students in English and Spanish since 2000. They pride themselves on offering learning experiences that integrate teaching with Latino culture and traditions. El Colegio provides a supportive and personalized environment for students so they are individually supported to meet the challenges of high school and beyond.

This post was adapted from an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Read more about El Colegio and Angel’s story in the article here.

Angel Onofre - El Colegio

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30 Days of Grad: Ria Cheruvu

Ria Cheruvu lives a normal life like many of her neighborhood friends and classmates at Arizona Connections Academy. The 11-year-old enjoys playing golf, piano, writing poetry, discussing books, taking field trips and just hanging out with her friends.

However, while most of her friends are preparing for the upcoming rigors of junior high, Ria is getting ready for an experience that will drastically differ from seventh or eighth grade. Ria is set to graduate… from high school.

The next stop for this gifted student is Arizona State University in the fall where she will mingle with college students nearly double her age.

Unlike most college freshmen that are unsure about a major, Chevuru knows exactly what she wants to study: neural cryptography, a study of neuroscience, which involves the study of the brain and mind cryptography, which is coding.

Read more about Ria on the Arizona Charter Schools Association blog here.

Ria Cheruvu - Arizona Connections Academy

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30 Days of Grad: Kensington Woods Schools

Kensington Woods Schools honored 21 graduates during their commencement ceremony this year. Students were honored for their academic achievements during the ceremony as well as their demonstration of character and service throughout high school. Students also received a variety of scholarships to support their future college endeavors, totaling over $175,000. Kensington Woods High School proudly has a 100% college placement rate for all graduates and the Class of 2015 is no exception.

In her Salutatorian speech, Abigail Gamache recognized the impact Kensington Woods had on her and her peers and encouraged her peers to find happiness in their lives by being themselves. “We couldn’t have made it here to this moment right now if it wasn’t for Kensington Woods. This school is more than just your average high school. The teachers, staff, and students form a small-knit community, in which everyone strives to achieve success in every way possible.”

This post was adapted from an article in the Livingston Post. Read more about Kensington Woods Schools in the article here.

Kensington Woods Schools

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30 Days of Grad: Fusion Charter School

When Anthony Griffin first arrived at Fusion Charter School, he admitted that he didn’t have any hope for graduating. Unbeknownst to him was that only a few years later he would be speaking as the 12th grade speaker in front of the the school’s first graduating class.

During his speech, Griffin spoke about his appreciation for the teachers at his school, including how they “talked to him and not at him,” the advice they gave, and most importantly, the fact that they never gave up on him. “That’s the type of school that we have. We have a school where the teachers care,” said Griffin.

Fusion Charter is an independent charter school under the partnership of Aspiranet and Turlock Unified School District. The school provides a unique educational opportunity for at-risk students in grades 7 through 12 who live in Stanislaus and Merced County, California.

This post was adapted from an article in the Turlock Journal by Alysson Aredas. Read more about Fusion Charter School in the article here.

Fusion Charter School

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30 Days of Grad: Gateway Public Schools

Duncan AlexanderDuncan Alexander
During his commencement address to the Gateway High School Class of 2015, math teacher, Mr. Rick Aidi, described how his students have taught him so much over the last four years. One student in particular, Duncan Alexander, proved to him that “no matter how bleak one’s circumstances are, the right attitude can work miracles.”

Duncan is part of the foster care system, which has led to many transitions and uncertainty during his years in school. Despite many challenges throughout his life, Duncan remains extremely positive, committed to giving back to others, and grateful for the support that Gateway has provided him. Read more about Duncan here.

Ariana CamposAriana Campos
Ever since Ariana Campos was a little girl she knew that she wanted to spend her time helping animals. What she didn’t know was that Gateway would set her on the road to college as an aspiring Zoologist with dreams of traveling to Africa and the Galápagos Islands to help exotic animals.

This fall, Ariana will be the first in her family to attend college. She will make a big move and travel from the West Coast to the East Coast to attend Ohio Wesleyan University, a small liberal arts school with a challenging curriculum that connects classroom theory with real-world experience. She will be studying zoology with the hopes of working at an animal conservation center. Read more about Ariana here.

Golden HongGolden Hong
When Golden Hong entered Gateway High School as a freshman, he struggled with writing, grammar, and analysis. Now he is graduating Gateway having received the honor of Highest Academic Achievement, which recognizes the senior with the highest grade point average throughout their high school career.

Gateway’s rigorous academic program enabled Golden to develop strong writing skills while also providing strong participation in STEM areas that helped shape his desire to pursue a career in engineering.

Golden will be attending the University of California, San Diego, in the fall and major in engineering. Read more about Golden here.

Dezáray LoweryDezáray Lowery
Dezáray Lowery’s time at Gateway High School has been filled with many life-changing experiences that have helped shape her compassionate, confident, and ambitious personality.

During her freshman year, Dezáray participated in a program through Gateway called buildOn, a non-profit organization that helps build schools in some of the world’s poorest countries. Dezáray traveled to Haiti as the youngest member of the group and was the only African-American woman.

Dezáray has a passion for helping others and plans on studying psychology at Spelman College. Dezáray became interested in pursuing psychology while exploring different career paths with Gateway’s Director of College Counseling. Read more about Dezáray here.

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30 Days of Grad: Urban Prep Academy

For the sixth consecutive year, 100% of the seniors from Urban Prep‘s Englewood, West, and Bronzeville campuses have been accepted to four-year colleges and universities.

Students from all three campuses, faculty, parents and other special guests, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, celebrated the momentous occasion with an assembly on Thursday, May 14, 2015. Seniors from the class of 2015 have been accepted to over 180 colleges and universities, and have amassed over $11 million in scholarships and grants; including 6 Gates Millennium Scholarships, 5 Posse Scholarships and 7 Greenhouse Scholarships among others awarded.

Urban Prep Academies

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30 Days of Grad: Rafael Devora

Rafael Devora received his diploma from Premier High School in May and is headed to Cisco College beginning in the fall with intentions of becoming a registered nurse. It’s a career path rooted in family history, but also in a desire to be a helping hand.

“Most of my family is in nursing and I just like to help people,” Rafael said. “It’s always been a little passion of mine, being helpful to others when they need it the most.”

When he has needed help the most, he’s been able to rely on his family for support and guidance. Whether it is his mother and his three brothers, or his grandparents, he said he’s been able to lean on family.

His family isn’t the only source of strength he has, though. There’s also Premier’s teaching staff.

“It’s been wonderful,” he said. “It starts with the teachers. They’re really kind and nice. When I’ve needed help with things, I would be able to go to the teacher and have conversations and receive as much one-on-one time as I’ve needed. I know that’s not the case in some other high schools. They can’t really focus on the one-on-one. At Premier, they give the students that attention.”

This post was adapted from an article in the Abilene Reporter-News by Timothy Chipp. Read more about Rafael’s story in the article here.

Rafael Devora | Photo credit: Nellie Doneva / Abilene Reporter-News

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30 Days of Grad: K’Von Williams

For a significant portion of his life, K’Von didn’t enjoy coming to school. He often skipped class or just walked out when he wasn’t engaged. In the traditional public school environment, K’Von found it too easy to slack off.

After enrolling at DeLaSalle Education Center, K’Von knew that he wouldn’t slip through the cracks. Thanks to the small community, supportive teachers, and intimate learning environment that the school provides, K’Von has found tremendous success and is graduating from high school despite the odds stacked against him.

“Some days you don’t like it because the teachers will get on you, but they’re just trying to push you to do more,” he said. “I’ve been to ten other public schools and none of them worked out. This is the only high school I’ve been to that I have felt comfortable with.”

Watch K’Von tell his story in this video:

DeLaSalle is an innovative high school serving students in Kansas City, MO in need of an alternative to the traditional school. It is one of the only high schools in the Kansas City metropolitan area that provides alternative education and behavior health services onsite. The school prides itself on guiding young men and women toward self-sufficiency and self-reliance, helping them define their goals and achieve their dreams.

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30 Days of Grad: Loiselle Gonzalez Baez

Loiselle Gonzalez Baez is a student at City on a Hill Charter School in Roxbury, Massachusetts and will be graduating on Thursday night. When she became pregnant last summer, she was determined to not let it get in the way of pursuing her dreams.

While raising her child, she was able to obtain a 4.17 grade point average and rise to the top of her class. She missed just 11 days of school after giving birth. This fall she will enter Wellesley College, thanks to a combination of federal and state grants, along with financial aid. She plans to become a doctor.

When the Boston Globe’s Adrian Walker asked her about the topic of her valedictory address Loiselle replied, “Having a baby!’” Her message to the class of 2015: “Don’t give up despite obstacles. Be determined. Don’t worry about people judging you and saying negative things about you.”

This post was adapted from an article in the Boston Globe by Adrian Walker. Read more about Loiselle’s story in the article here.

DSST

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30 Days of Grad: DSST

Despite rain and clouds, two DSST high schools celebrated their graduation ceremonies with pride, emotion, and excitement. DSST: Stapleton High School seniors, 100 percent of whom received four-year college acceptance for the eighth year in a row, heard a commencement speech from City Councilman, Albus Brooks. DSST Green Valley Ranch High School’s inaugural senior class also received 100 percent college acceptance, and proudly tossed their caps in the air after listening to a commencement address by Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. Congratulations to the students, parents, families, friends, and staff members that played an integral role in this achievement!

DSST

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