“Celebrate Good Times, Come On”

It’s June.  It’s graduation time and there’s always a “feel good” story or two.  My feel good story is about Aspire Langston Hughes Academy in Stockton, Calif.  It’s about Jesus, Kanwar, Celine and Zoe.  They earned their high school diplomas this week but actually earned their associate’s degrees the week before from San Joaquin Delta College (SJDC).  That’s right, they earned AA’s at the same time as their high school diplomas.

Hughes began offering classes from SJDC on the Hughes campus when these students were 9th graders.  The school developed a course progression that started with one course the fall of their freshmen year and added courses two per semester after that.  The progression now includes courses through Alliant International University, SJDC, and finally, seniors who have completed their high school requirements are able to go off campus and take courses at SJDC.  There they learn how to add and drop classes, register and wait list, seek help from the professors, complete fee waivers and the other soft skills they will need once they graduate.  The progression offers a gradual release into independent college life. These four took full advantage of the opportunity, including taking college courses over the summer.

Hughes pays for all college courses from SJDC and Alliant, as well as fees and books.  Even during California’s tough economic times, principal Tony Solina determined that the investment in these courses was paramount in securing students’ futures and delivering on the early college promise Aspire Public Schools put forth when the school opened.

In the fall these students will attend U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Santa Cruz and U.C. Davis.  As a group, the class of 2014 earned 1,500 college units with the average student earning 30 units, or a year of college credit. The 37 graduates earned a collective 97 college acceptances.

Langston Hughes Academy proves the point that small schools can make a big difference.

Congrats to all.