To many who remember the long and stressful process of applying to college and waiting for a response, the thought of being accepted to college on the spot is a wonderful concept. Last Thursday, four seniors at Chambers High School in Homestead, Florida, experienced the benefits of such a program first hand, as they were accepted “on the spot” as incoming freshman at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens. In addition to their acceptance to the college, the four Chambers seniors were also offered scholarships.
St. Thomas University is internationally recognized for its unique academic specializations in justice, international business, ministry, sports administration, and the sciences. Areas of study range from global entrepreneurship and undergraduate scientific research to divinity studies, intercultural human rights, and liberal arts. St. Thomas University recognizes the importance of personalized attention for every student, ensuring the mission of developing leaders for life.
John Hamilton is a 19 year old future graduate at C.G. Bethel High School in N. Miami Beach, who has just received confirmation that he has been accepted to Barry University, a private Catholic institution in the City of Miami Shores. In addition to his college acceptance, John was informed that he is the recipient of a $32,000.00 academic scholarship.
John came to C.G. Bethel from Boston as an 11th grader. Before arriving at C.G. Bethel, he encountered some difficulty enrolling in local traditional high schools in the area, due to his age and poor academic standing from his previous school.
He enrolled at C.G. Bethel in November of 2016, and since then, he has not only caught up academically, but he also has “surpassed all expectations,” according to Principal Alex Madrigal. Starting with a 1.5 GPA and over 5 credits behind his class, John gained the necessary traction, and currently has a 3.24 GPA, and is three credits from graduation.
“John is a true success story, and he epitomizes what our vision and mission are as school and organization,” said Principal Madrigal.
Motivated by the success of his peers, and that he too could pursue a college education; John decided to take the SAT on a whim without preparing. While he did well, he was not satisfied and sought the help from one of his teachers, Mr. Harry Fanfan. On the next time, John increased his SAT score by 140 points.
With his higher test scores and improved academic transcript, John received his first college acceptance letter last week – and the $32,000.00 scholarship – which he will use to earn a degree in business administration.
Aya Takidin entered C.G. Bethel High School in North Miami this year after a period of challenging circumstances. In the short time she has been at C.G. Bethel, as Principal Alex Madrigal says, “Aya has been an exceptional addition to our student population … and is determined to make a difference.”
Born in Damascus, Syria, Aya came to the United States with her family in 2012, and during the past few years, her academic work had suffered due to some unforeseen family circumstances, that were out of her control.
Since enrolling at C.G. Bethel in late August, Aya has been able to take full advantage of the school's self-paced digital curriculum. She has attended double sessions, has currently completed 6.5 credits, has increased her GPA to 3.3, and is on pace to graduate. As Principal Madrigal states, “Aya, and has put forth an incredible effort.”
In addition to her tremendous progress in academics, Aya has also been extremely busy in promoting different charitable endeavors at school and the community. During winter break she will be traveling to Lebanon to perform charity work with Alphabet for Alternative Education, a group based out of her home country Syria.
However, Aya’s passion to make a difference goes even further. She has created a “Go Fund Me” account to raise money for young Syrian refugees, who have suffered from the horrible upheaval that has gripped the country over the past years. Aya will be donating all the proceeds to improve the education and living conditions of the children living in the camps.
If you are interested in supporting Aya’s efforts on behalf of Syrian children, you are encouraged to visit the Go Fund Me account at the link below.
On Friday, June 2, the 201 graduates of Main Street High/Mavericks in Kissimmee, FL; as well as family, and friends were the beneficiaries of a powerful and inspirational address by school alum – Christian Sanchez. His candid assessment of his life, prior to attending Main Street High, and how he has influenced by the school’s teachers and staff, is a strong testament to the work being done in Florida, and in all of our Bridgescape Academies.
The following is the text of Christian’s remarks to the graduates.
When I arrived at Main Street High, my life changed. I went from being a lost, punk kid, to a young man with hope for a successful and happy future. I grew up being labeled a troublemaker, being told I’d never succeed. But I’ve learned that nothing is impossible and that God has a purpose for each of our lives.
As a young teenager, I used to roam around Kissimmee with groups of friends, doing nothing productive, wondering what my purpose in life was. I first arrived at this school with a 1.8 GPA, 8 or 9 credits, and even a criminal background. I was 15 years old . . . My previous school asked me to leave, because of a pending felony charge. I was a depressed teenager and I felt like a failure, like a lost cause—I felt like a reject.
But then something happened… I came to Main Street High looking for a second chance at life. I had recently given my life to Christ at the age of 15, and I was determined to prove the world wrong, that I was no longer a lost cause—and that even a punk kid like me, with a bit of low self-esteem and a weird personality; even a punk kid like me could become a world changer, so help me God. And Main Street High did give me a second chance.
Main Street High is unique. This school gave me a clean slate and opportunities that no one else would give me. The faculty never saw me as just another number; they showed love to me and never judged me for my past. I felt like family here. I could walk into the guidance counselor’s office at any time, Ms. Heather Greene at the time, and bug her to death for anything I needed. And I knew without a doubt that if I needed help with a class, I could just go to Blue Room and bug Mr. Bodner. I knew for sure that he would teach me anything I needed to learn. I thank God for bringing me to this school, where a punk kid like me could find hope for the future, and a new beginning.
Here’s some of what the school allowed me to achieve: In my first year at Main Street High, I finished 11 classes. I went from troublemaker to honor-roll student. This school put me through the dual enrollment program, where my first semester of college was paid in full. I went from arriving at Main Street High with 9 credits, a 1.8 GPA, and a criminal background at 15 years old, to graduating from Main Street High with a 3.5 GPA with honors, and some college credits just before I turned 17. No one else believed in me, but Main Street High did.
This alone was a miracle to me. But it wasn’t just about graduating high school; Main Street High opened doors for me even after graduation. This school opened doors for the future. I went on to join the honors program at Valencia College, for a full scholarship towards my Associates Degree, and was also involved in Student Government, and an academic honors society. Just after graduating from Main Street High, I completed a summer internship with a local congressman, despite my earlier juvenile record. Within a year of graduating from Main Street High, I received personal recognition from the Governor of Florida. In a televised press release at Valencia, the Governor shared some of my story. I went on to obtain my Associates Degree with honors and a 4.0 GPA. I also gained a transfer scholarship to Harvard University’s Extension School where I’m currently enrolled and finishing my Bachelor’s degree. I’m studying government and finance, and I’m pursuing law school and my own investment firm in the near future.
It still blows my mind that a young kid with my background would even be considered for the opportunities I’ve been given, much of which I owe to Main Street High. But school is just one part of my story. . . Ever since my life changed when I was 15, I’ve been involved in the youth ministry at The Rock Church. The people here have showed me love and guidance throughout my journey, and even when the world called me a reject, this church treated me like a son. I’m 19 now and I know that nothing is impossible with God.
No matter where we’ve come from, what mistakes we’ve made, I know God has a plan and a purpose for us.
On June 6, 112 graduates received their high school diplomas from Palm Beach Central High/Mavericks; and on June 7, another 91 graduates will receive their diplomas from North Miami Mavericks.
Entering high school math can bring up anxiety for both the student and the parent. Algebra, geometry, trigonometry — the course titles are the same, but believe it or not, the way these classes are now taught in school can look a lot different from what you might remember. Here are a few ways to prepare yourself — and, more importantly, your student — for a successful school year:
The best way to support your student as he transitions to these upper-level math courses is to keep an open dialogue with him about it.
"When Common Core came in, it shifted the focus to include an understanding of everything," said Amy Lee Kinder, who has worked as a math specialist at the Bridgescape Academy in Humboldt Park. "It's more about the process to get there. That's very foreign to how people were taught in the past. It's more about investigative learning and students going through a scenario and understanding a concept completely."
Kinder said students are now asked, "Why do you think that?" and, "Where does that come from?" They are required to explain how they came to the answer, instead of just spitting out a number.
A great way to prepare your student for the classroom is by asking the same types of questions at home.
"Question, question, question," Kinder said. "Stay involved, as hard as it may be. From the teacher's perspective, it takes a team of people to assist these kids, and support outside the classroom is huge."
If your student is nervous about a new math class, try building up his confidence by revisiting basic concepts, such as addition, subtraction and fractions.
"The issues kids face in algebra aren't necessarily about algebra, but a lack of understanding about what a fraction is — things that precede that higher-level class," said Mark Kriston, owner of two Mathnasium learning centers in Chicago.
It's always good to know when to ask for help. And with more difficult courses that build upon previous concepts, it's probably best for your student to get help sooner, rather than later, if he needs it.
"We don't get calls for tutoring until October or November," Reber said. "That's usually when they've had their first hard test."
But Kinder, who also works as a private math tutor, cautioned: "Once a kid gets behind, it's way harder for them to get caught up." She suggests going over the syllabus with your child as soon as school starts. She said students should be presented with a calendar of what's going to be expected of the class; some teachers will post this information online.
"The more proactive parents can be about getting involved, the better," she said.