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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: Great Hearts Academies

Phoebe Garvie Trained in opera for the past three years after learning piano from childhood, Phoebe Garvie, a Chandler Prep graduate, who sings fluently in multiple languages including Italian and German, recently traveled to England to audition for admittance to the Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal Northern College of Music. Immediately following her auditions she was accepted to both conservatories on the spot and given substantial scholarships. Garvie will move to England this summer where she will attend BirmCons receiving approximately $50,000 in scholarships.

Jenna BellantoniJenna Bellantoni, graduating from the Scottsdale Campus, has been actively involved in theater, choir, improv, varsity soccer, and the mentoring program at Scottsdale Prep. Jenna won The Classical Association of the Middle West & South Commendation three years in a row, and in 2013 & 2015 she was the only Latin student in Arizona to be awarded the commendation. This year she will receive the CAMWS Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Classical Studies. Jenna has been accepted at Johns Hopkins University, Arizona State University Barrett Honors College, Skidmore College, and Willamette University. She will attend Johns Hopkins University in the fall and is interested in double majoring in Classics and Biological Sciences (Pre-Med).

Michael PatiMichael Pati, a graduate of the Arete Prep campus has been an active member of the choir, student life team, guitar club and was co-captain of Arete’s soccer team. He was named First Team All Division this year in soccer. Michael has been a mentor throughout high school and was a lead mentor during his senior year. He was accepted to Boston College Honors Program, American University, Grinnell College and Arizona State University Barrett Honors College. Michael recently graduated Arete Prep as valedictorian and plans to attend Georgetown University in the fall where he will study at the School of Foreign Service.

Jonathan TrangJonathan Trang, a Chandler Prep graduate, is the founder of the Ulysses and Shakespeare clubs on campus, has been accepted to nine highly selective schools including: Harvard University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Brown University, Cornell University, Williams College, Amherst College, University of Chicago and Washington University. Jonathan has chosen to attend Harvard University where he plans to study English Literature and continue pursuing his passion for theater. He will graduate this month a National Merit Scholar with a 4.0 GPA.

Lucas MukaiLucas Mukai, who is graduating from the Glendale Prep campus, is an accomplished classically trained pianist and has a passion for languages. He earned a Gold Medal on the National Latin Exam and the highest honors on the National Greek Examination. Lucas, a National Hispanic Scholar, has been admitted to the University of Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins University, Catholic University, Arizona State University Barrett Honors College, and University of Dallas. Lucas has been awarded the top scholarship Kenyon College where he will attend in the fall and plans to pursue a dual degree in language and science.

Share this story! Click the following link to launch and edit in Twitter: Read the stories of these remarkable @GreatHeartsAcad grads in today’s post from @charteralliance: #30DaysofGrad

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30 Days of Grad: Jacob Reichard

Before earning his high school diploma (or getting his driver’s license), Jacob Reichard graduated from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs with a Bachelor of Innovation in Computer Security degree in May. At the end of the month, Jacob crossed the stage as salutatorian at the Colorado Springs Early Colleges charter school.

If graduating with a high school and college degree at the age of 17 wasn’t impressive enough, Jacob is continuing his efforts to help a man raise money for a kidney transplant. What started as a class project has turned into a continuing effort that has raised over $12,000 and holds a special place in Jacob’s heart. Whether it’s excelling at academics or making a positive difference in the world, it’s clear that this isn’t the last we’ll hear from this impressive charter school grad.

Learn more about Jacob’s accomplishments in this article by KRDO.

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30 Days of Grad: Jalen Rose Leadership Academy

Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JLRA) celebrated its first class of graduating seniors at Detroit’s Masonic Temple Jack White Theater earlier this month. The stage was shared with some some notable names, including NBA All-Star and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas and Detroit native Sean Anderson (a.k.a. Big Sean), but it was clear that the graduates were the stars of the show.

The school’s founder and namesake—an ESPN/ABC analyst and 13-year NBA star—congratulated the graduates at the ceremony and encouraged them to “make quality decisions and face adversity with a countenance of unwavering determination.” Rose also proudly announced that 100 percent of the inaugural graduating class has gained college, trade/technical school, or military acceptance.

Many students at JLRA received full scholarships to some of the top schools in the state. In total, the graduating class’s total amount of gift aid exceeded $2.1 million.

This post was adapted from a Detroit News Article by Ursula Watson. Read more about Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in the article here.

Jalen Rose Leadership Academy  |  Photos: Max Ortiz / The Detroit 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: 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: Laura Garcia

Laura GarciaLaura Garcia started as a fourth grader at Aspire. She found a school that encouraged students to dream big, think about college and start planning immediately. For Laura, it was a welcomed message. Since Laura’s first school day, her goal has been to be the first person in her family to earn a college degree.

“Unlike regular public schools, Aspire has pushed its students to be the best in whatever they do. It was not until my first school-wide town hall meeting – where we all chanted, ‘dream it; believe it; achieve it!’ – that I realized how fortunate I was to attend a school that infinitely believed in all their students,” said Laura.

It was people like Mr. Lomas, who teaches sixth-grade English, who really inspired Laura. Mr. Lomas would talk about his side gig of acting and his own dreams. After this introduction into the entertainment world, Laura has discovered his passion. This fall, Laura will be attending Cal State Northridge to study arts and entertainment management as well as theater.

“If I did not grow up attending Aspire Public Schools, I would not be the passionate, driven individual I am today,” said Laura.

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30 Days of Grad: Lauren Roberge

Most high school valedictorians speak vaguely about a limitless future at this time of year, but Amesbury Academy‘s Class of 2015 valedictorian Lauren Roberge is a bit more pointed.

“My family is very excited and proud of how far I have come, especially because we didn’t think I was going to live to 18, let alone graduate at the top of my class,” Roberge said. “And I am very proud.”

An Amesbury native, Roberge came to the public charter school in her sophomore year after experiencing difficulty at Amesbury High School, according to principal Eryn Maguire. “She dealt with some pretty intense bullying,” Maguire said. “When we accepted her, we were told by the high school that she had struggled, and that we were going to be dealing with some of those struggles.”

Roberge had felt trapped, and now fully agrees with her principal and former biology teacher that the smaller class sizes at the Academy really fit the bill.

The Academy let Roberge feel comfortable enough, she said, not only to come out as gay, but to excel academically.

“I didn’t have as many opportunities to be myself,” Roberge said. “The Academy let me be who I am and accepted me for me, which is what I really needed. When I went to the Academy, I had been in a place where I didn’t think I was going to make it — not just through school, but life itself. The school definitely saved my life.”

This post was adapted from an article by the Daily News of Newburyport. Read more about Amesbury Academy and Lauren’s story in the article here.

Lauren Roberge

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30 Days of Grad: Leslie Maldonado

Leslie MaldonadoToday’s #30DaysOfGrad post comes from Leslie Maldonado, a graduate of Achievement First Amistad High School in New Haven, CT.

During my journey throughout high school, sometimes I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it. Growing up as the first person in my household to graduate from high school, the first to attend college, and the first person to graduate from college was not the path laid out for me. As the oldest of eight, I have the responsibility of creating a path for my younger siblings. Every day, I come home to find my mom furiously trying to juggle the responsibilities of raising my six younger brothers and my one-year-old sister. And as the oldest, I work after school, and sometimes I don’t return home to complete A.P. assignments until after midnight. If it wasn’t for the support system at my school, I actually don’t believe I would be where I am today.

I have made it my goal to refuse to set the wrong path for my six younger brothers and my little sister. I know statistics suggest that I can’t do it. I know that it will not be easy to continue to create a path for my younger siblings, and I know that I still do not have all the keys to open up all the doors that I need. However, I ultimately know that what matters is that at the end of my journey I will have opened doors of opportunities for all my siblings.

Helen Keller once said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight and no vision.” I have a vision. I want to be that older sister who makes her six brothers and little sister into leaders who create more leaders instead of followers.

I want to be the older sister who does not fail them. I will be that older sister. And that is why in the spring of 2019, I will be graduating from Wesleyan University.

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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.


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