By T.A. Hendrickson
Seniors in the high school graduating Class of 2020 have not had it easy. School closures in mid-March forced a sudden shift to online learning and the cancellation of activities, sports, ceremonies and celebrations – the bonding experiences of senior year. Even commencement will take place virtually this month, rather than in person.
And for many students, pandemic-related difficulties have extended beyond school, as job loss, illness and threat of illness have upended family life and family finances.
Those strange and difficult circumstances, however, add a special dimension to Graduation Day: They make the achievements of the Class of 2020 all the more compelling.
Here are the local highlights:
At Eagle Rock High School, the Class of 2020 will have two valedictorians. They are (from left) David and Daniel Juarez, identical twin brothers with identical grade point averages earned in ERHS’s rigorous International Baccalaureate program. The Juarez brothers will attend Columbia University.
At Benjamin Franklin High School in Highland Park, the Class of 2020 valedictorian is Jade Tolentino, the son of immigrants from the Philippines and a member of Franklin’s championship Academic Decathlon team. Tolentino will attend Yale University.
The impressive results continue at local public charter schools. From the Alliance Tennenbaum Family Technology High School in Glassell Park, valedictorian Leslie Camacho Sosa, the daughter of immigrants from Mexico, will attend the University of Pennsylvania on a scholarship from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
From the Alliance Leicthman-Levine Family Foundation Environmental Science and Technology High School in Glassell Park, valedictorian Brandon Angulo will attend the University of California at Berkeley.
From the Alliance Susan & Eric Smidt Technology High School in Lincoln Heights, valedictorian Brady Carlos will attend Williams College in Massachusetts.
At Sotomayor Arts and Sciences Magnet in Glassell Park, valedictorian Genoveva Alarcon has distinguished herself both academically and as a campus activist for social justice. Alarcon will attend the University of California at Davis.
At PUC eCals (which stands for Partnership to Uplift Communities/Early College Academy for Leaders and Scholars) in Glassell Park, valedictorian David Torres will attend Cal State University, Long Beach. Torres, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico at a young age, is the first in his family to attend college.
Renaissance Art Academy in Glassell Park does not name a valedictorian. Rather, the seniors collaborate on a speech and deliver it together, taking turns to address family, friends and teachers in both English and Spanish. At Ren Arts, all 43 graduating seniors have been accepted to four-year colleges.
Most NELA Graduates Will Go to College, Nine Have Enlisted in the Armed Forces
The pandemic has complicated the college plans of many graduating seniors. Principals and college counselors at high schools in Northeast Los Angeles told the Boulevard Sentinel that many students with acceptances to four-year colleges have questioned whether the cost is justified given the shift to online learning and restrictions on campus life. Some of these students have opted instead for community college or are considering a delay in starting college.
The pandemic has also led some students to select campuses closer to home, both to keep costs down in the face of hardship and to stay close to family at a trying time.
In addition, pandemic-related delays in college admissions and financial aid packages have resulted in an unusually large number of students who are undecided at this point about where they will attend college in the fall.
Here’s the tally as of June 1:
At Eagle Rock High School, 161 of 365 graduates are headed for college in the fall, a number that is sure to rise as many students who have delayed their final decisions make commitments. Two ERHS boys have enlisted in the Army and one has enlisted in the Marines.
The preliminary college survey at ERHS shows 16 seniors going to community college, 42 to the University of California (including four to UCLA and three to Berkeley), 39 to Cal State L.A. and 61 to private college and universities in California and out-of-state (including one each to Brown, Dartmouth, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Michigan State and the University of Hawaii, Manoa). In addition, five ERHS graduates will attend Occidental College where one of them, Chester Cahill, has been awarded the four-year, all expenses-paid Centennial Scholarship. Three ERHS graduates will go abroad to universities in the Philippines, Canada and England.
At Franklin High School, 232 of 291 graduates are going to college as of this posting. Two Franklin students, one boy and one girl, have enlisted in the Marines.
Of the college-bound Franklin students, 109 are heading to community college and 123 to four-year schools, including 88 to universities in the Cal State system, 14 to the University of California (including one to UCLA and one to Berkeley) and 21 to private universities and colleges in California and out-of-state (including two to Yale, one to Cornell, three to Mount Saint Mary’s and two to Wellesley).
In the Alliance charter school network, all 96 graduates from Alliance Leichtman-Levine Family Foundation Environmental Science and Technology High School in Glassell Park are college bound, as are 70 of 80 graduates from the Alliance Tennenbaum Family Technology High School, also in Glassell Park. In addition, 124 of 132 graduates are college bound from the Alliance Susan & Eric Smidt Technology High School in Lincoln Heights. One girl from Alliance Susan & Eric Smidt has enlisted in the Army and one boy has enlisted in the Marines.
In total, 143 of the graduates from the three local Alliance schools will attend community college and 147 are going to four-year schools: 98 will attend a university in the Cal State system; 30 will attend the University of California (including one to UCLA and three to Berkeley); 19 will go to public or private schools in California or out-of-state (including one to Brown, one to Pepperdine, four to Mount Saint Mary’s and one to the University of Virginia).
At Sotomayor Arts and Sciences Magnet in Glassell Park, 80 of 88 graduates are going to college and one boy has enlisted in the Army. Of the college-bound graduates, 48 will attend community college and 32 will attend four-year colleges and universities, including 26 to a Cal State university and four to the University of California. Two Sotomayor seniors are going to public out-of-state universities, including one to Northwestern Oklahoma State University one to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
At PUC eCALS in Glassell Park, 80 of 95 graduates are going to college and one boy has enlisted in the Marines. Of those going to college, 43 are headed to community college and 37 to four-year colleges and universities, including 27 to a Cal State university, five to the University of California and five to private colleges and universities in California or out-of-state, including one to Mount Saint Mary’s and one to Hawaii Pacific University.
At Renaissance Arts Academy in Glassell Park, where all 43 graduates were accepted to four-year colleges, eight were still undecided as of this posting. Of the 35 who have committed, four are going to community college, 15 to universities in the Cal State system, 13 to the University of California (including three to UCLA and one to Berkeley) and three to public and private out-of-state schools (including one each to Ohio State University, the University of Portland and Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon).
The Boulevard Sentinel will update the NELA college tally as more data become available. For now, here’s to the Class of 2020.