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30 Days of Grad: Devon Haist

Before the Anderson Five Charter School opened, Devon Haist, a student with Asperger’s syndrome, found it difficult to learn in the public school system. He changed schools several times since middle school, trying to find the school that would be just right.

Haist is following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and plans to become an engineer. While at the Anderson 5 Charter School, he took dual enrollment classes at Tri-County Technical College where he studied mechatronics. By the time he graduated high school, he also completed his first year of Tri-County, earning a certification in basic electronics. He plans to graduate next year with his associate degree.

“The public school system was very difficult for Devon,” his mother Cindy said.

Cindy Haist became an advocate for her son, and spoke to the school board when Anderson School District 5 decided to make a decision about starting a charter school in 2011.

Devon Haist found his home at the charter school, which opened in 2012, and graduated in the class of 2015. At the charter school, he was able to take classes in machine technology and robotics.

“The charter school was such a great fit for Devon,” Cindy Haist said. “I don’t know what we would have done without the school.”

Devon Haist received the Principal’s Award for overcoming great obstacles his senior year at the charter school.

“It feels pretty good having overcome everything,” Devon said.

This post was adapted from an article by The Independent Mail. Read more about Devon’s story in the article here.

Devon Haist

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30 Days of Grad: Ellie Northrop

Today’s #30DaysOfGrad post comes from Ellie Northrop, a graduate of Career Path High in Kaysville, Utah. This was originally featured on the Getting Smart blog, and you can read the entire post here.

I started my high school career in a traditional, brick and mortar district school. By the third term of my sophomore year my attendance was at an all time low and my motivation had pretty much disappeared. With nearly 2,000 students it was difficult for teachers and other school staff to really invest their time and attention, even in those students who needed it most. I needed help finding out who I was and what I wanted to be. I was lost in a sea of other students and unmotivated to push myself further in my education. I began missing classes, and it seemed like the teachers didn’t care. I just wasn’t there and, as a result, I wasn’t able to make up the work and move on. I felt as though I had no control.

But all of that changed my junior year when I chose to enroll in Career Path High (CPH).

At Career Path High everything about the model was so different. They knew who I was and genuinely cared about my academic success. My learning path was catered to me. One difference I instantly loved so much was the great level of investment every student received from the teachers, counselor, and even the principal. High school students need personalized attention and caring and the CPH model was designed to give me that. Communication is at the forefront of everything they do. There is a high level of accountability for everyone. If I ever failed to log in to my classes for a specific period of time or I did not make progress, my teachers and Success Coach were on it! They always checked in and were willing to do what it took to keep me motivated and on track.

The flexibility of Career Path High’s blended learning model, including my online coursework, really taught me personal responsibility. During my senior year I had to balance work, school, my program, and a personal life on a very tight schedule. My average day was quite busy. It took good time management, but it has all been worth it because I am graduating with only my externships to complete for my Dental Assisting certification. I’ve already had two job offers even before graduating from high school! During my externship as a dental assistant I’ve learned how critical it is to have multitasking skills in order to be successful. I must stay on top of patient care, sanitizing tools, and assisting the front desk. My chosen career field is really fast-paced but I am able to keep up with the demands due largely to the skills learned from my education experiences at Career Path High.

I’ve come a long way from that frustrated sophomore unsure of whether or not I would even graduate. As I prepared to give my valedictorian speech for graduation, I realized that my personalized pathway made all the difference. I now have a career that I know I love, and I am pushing myself to compete and expand my potential in ways I never imagined. My high school experience definitely helped shape who I am today. Anytime someone asks how I liked my high school, I have to tell them, “It is the greatest decision I have ever made,” and it is so true. My advice, go out there and take control of your own learning pathway. Today’s students have the opportunities available to them to make their high school experience so much more.

Ellie Northrop

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30 Days of Grad: Covenant House Academy Grand Rapids

The support and instruction from teachers and counselors in a safe, structured environment is helping former dropouts, homeless or otherwise at-risk youth earn a high school diploma.

Students at Covenant House Academy Grand Rapids, a year-round charter high school, have aged out of traditional school systems, been kicked out, or have underperformed for various reasons and are two or more grade levels behind.

Thirty-two seniors graduated on Tuesday, June 23, bringing the 2014-15 graduates to 55.

This post was adapted from an article by MLive. Read more about Covenant House in the article here.

Covenant House

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30 Days of Grad: 21st Century Charter School

Joseph Harris stood in his cap and gown Saturday afternoon and hugged his father as tears streamed down both of their cheeks.

“I’m going to the Army June 23,” Harris said. “I’m not going to have much time with anyone before then.”

Harris was among the 30 graduates of 21st Century Charter School in Gary. His father, Jean Harris, said the teen held down two jobs while earning his diploma. “It was a rough journey,” mother Joyce Harris said. “We stayed on him to make sure he got his education.”

Many graduates spoke of 21st Century Charter School as a family. “Today is a day of family because the way I see it, my class is family,” graduate Anthony Benion said. “We fought… but we love each other. [Our relationships] are forever and I’m happy to call each of them my family.”

This post was adapted from an article by The Times. Read more about Century Charter School in the article here.

Lauren Roberge

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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: 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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