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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.

Share this story! Click the following link to launch and edit in Twitter: These 4 @SupportGateway grads are an impressive bunch. Read their stories here: #30DaysOfGrad

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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

Share this story! Click the following link to launch and edit in Twitter: With support of his family & @premierhigh teachers, Rafael is pursing his dream of becoming a nurse: #30DaysOfGrad

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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.

Share this story! Click the following link to launch and edit in Twitter: K’Von is graduating from @DeLaSalleCenter despite odds that were stacked against him. His story here: #30DaysOfGrad

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Nina Rees


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Stop the Summer Slide

(Originally published by U.S. News & World Report)

Last Tuesday, at an event in New Hampshire, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stated, “There is no reason that K-12 education should be an eight-month enterprise in this country. … We need to adjust the model.”

While Christie blamed teachers’ unions for our antiquated academic calendar, it’s more accurate to say the entire education system is largely set in its ways. Few school boards or administrators want to innovate with an extended school year.

Ultimately, we all need to do more to prevent the summer slide and help children maintain their academic edge. A shift to more year-round schooling would be ideal, enhancing education for both poor and well-off students and reducing the summer pressure on parents’ pocketbooks. The growth of charter schools, which face fewer regulations around class time than traditional public schools, has led to more experiments in year-round education…Read more here.


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U.S. Department of Education Announces CSP Grant Competition for State Educational Agencies

The U.S. Department of Education has announced the FY2015 Charter Schools Program (CSP) grant competition for State Educational Agencies (SEAs). The competitive grant program supports the development of high-quality charter schools by enabling SEAs to provide funds for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of charter schools.

Over the past 20 years, the federal Charter Schools Program has helped open thousands of high-quality charter schools across the country. Schools like Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville, AR that offers an accelerated college-prep curriculum and boasts both a 100% graduation rate and 100% college acceptance rate. Nameste Charter School in Chicago, IL also received a CSP grant and is known in the community for offering half of its classes in both English and Spanish and for providing support to families through its Parent Center. Students at Crossroads Academy in Kansas City, MO have 37 percent more instruction time than the state standard. These schools are meeting the unique needs of the students and families in their communities—and CSP grants helped get them started.

The deadline to submit an application is July 16. Interested applicants can attend a webinar hosted by the Department on Wednesday, June 17 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Click here to learn more about how CSP grants are helping to open exemplary schools nationwide.


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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.


Share this story! Click the following link to launch and edit in Twitter: This @CoaHCPS student recently became a mother, and now she’s graduating at the top of her class: #30DaysOfGrad

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Nina Rees


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National Alliance June Newsletter

A Note from Nina

We are only a few days away from the 15th annual National Charter Schools Conference on June 21-24 in New Orleans! I am excited that I’ll see many of you there. This conference is a particularly special one for us as we commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina – and celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the National Alliance! We have a packed agenda including addresses by Geoffrey Canada, Ashley Judd, Bryan Stevenson, and John White, as well as 135 break-out sessions and the announcement of the Broad Prize for the highest performing charter school management organization. It all kicks off Sunday evening with a welcome parade! Click here for more information. To stay updated on all of our activities, follow us @charteralliance and use #NCSC15. I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans!

Nina Rees
Nina Rees

30 Days of Grad

It’s graduation season – a time to celebrate the success of public charter school students across the country! This month, we’re featuring a new graduation story every day as part of our 30 Days of Grad series. Click here to read the fun and inspirational stories we’ve posted so far, and be sure to check back each day to learn about a new student who’s on the road to a bright future thanks to public charter schools!

ESEA Reauthorization: Movement in the Senate?

This month, we expect the U.S. Senate to start debate on S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The National Alliance continues to closely engage in the process, specifically with regard to Title I and the Charter Schools Program. For our perspective, read our April letter to Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA).

Charter Schools Program in Action: Haas Hall Academy

This month, our CSP in Action series features Haas Hall Academy. Haas Hall is a rigorous, STEM-focused college prep charter school that Newsweek ranked as the 25th best high school in the nation. Learn how the Charter Schools Program helped Haas Hall Academy get started in this month’s profile.

On, Wisconsin!

Legislators in Wisconsin are moving forward legislation to create new pathways for approving independent charter schools in the state and to provide a small increase in per-pupil funding for independent charters. These measures, along with several others, would be a boost to the growth of public charter schools in Wisconsin. For more info, take a look at our statement.

Examining Facilities Funding Policies

One of the biggest challenges to the continued expansion of public charter schools is the fact that many public charter school laws place the burden of obtaining and paying for facilities on the schools themselves. As a result, public charter school leaders struggle to find suitable and affordable facilities to house growing numbers of students. To help make sense of the facilities funding policy landscape, the National Alliance put together this policy snapshot of the 29 states that provide some level of support to help charter schools access facilities.

Hall of Fame Inductees

The National Alliance is thrilled to honor three long-time champions of public charter schools as the newest members of the National Charter Schools Hall of Fame. Former Senator Mary Landrieu, Deborah McGriff, and Nelson Smith will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame during next week’s National Charter Schools Conference. Learn more about each inductee here. Congratulations to these outstanding leaders on their well-deserved honor!

Welcome New National Alliance Staff!

Please join us in welcoming three new staff members to the National Alliance: Heather Reams, Vice President for Communications and Marketing; Kimberly Lane, Vice President for External Growth; and Mario da Costa, the latest addition to our federal advocacy team. We’re excited to have them on board, and you can click here to read more about them.

Support the National Alliance

The National Alliance is a non-profit organization that relies on your generosity to help us raise awareness of the high-quality public charter schools serving students across the nation. We are extremely grateful for your contributions. Please consider a tax-deductible gift to support the growth and sustainability of public charter schools – and please share our message and our work with your friends. Thank you!


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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!


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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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