Forty-four students were graduated yesterday at Downtown College Prep, the San Jose school I wrote about in Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea, and the Charter School That Beat the Odds. The school recruits students who earned less than a C average in middle school and will be the first in their families to go to college. One of the speakers said she was the first in her family to finish high school.
As each graduate walked to collect the diploma, a teacher read aloud the student’s thank you note. Some wrote their thanks in Spanish so their parents would understand, sometimes switching to English to thank siblings, friends and teachers. One girl thanked her mother for letting her live with her grandmother so she could finish school. A boy thanked his mother for letting him return for a fifth year after he failed 12th grade the year before.
All the graduates had been accepted at a four-year college, though some will start at community college and then transfer to save money. One non-graduate is expected to earn a diploma by the end of the summer; four more will come back in the fall to repeat 12th grade. It’s not easy to earn a DCP diploma.