It was loud, very loud, and raucous. A graduation like no other, just as Mikala Rahn founder of Learning Works Charter School, promised. Fifty-nine students, from both Learning Works and Homeboy Industries, walked into the chapel at Pasadena United Methodist Church on June 6 to the uplifting march “Pomp and Circumstance, and walked out to loud cheers, as graduates.
By Cheryl Cabot
It has not been an easy path for any of the students. Various reasons: poverty, homelessness, pregnancy, incarceration, dropping out, or being kicked out of school, have caused this day to be delayed. Many are the first in their family to graduate from high school, succeeding when the odds were against them, and being lifted up when they thought they could never get back up. Most of these kids thought they were not capable of graduating, because they have been told that their whole life.
But Learning Works put them back on the path to success. The majority of graduates have plans to attend a community college or trade school following their graduation.
Each student was met on stage and handed their diplomas by their individual teacher and chaser. And each graduate was cheered loudly! Two of the students walked across the stage to receive their diplomas with their toddlers, who attended school along with their mothers, taking advantage of the PPT area, Pregnant & Parenting Teens. Parents have their own classroom with teachers and chasers, and childcare is provided in a beautiful nursery adjacent to the classroom, so there is no insecurity about the baby.
The school works very hard to make sure that all of these students find success by receiving high school diplomas, which is why they make sure there is loud cheering and clapping. And, there is indeed, loud, very loud cheering and clapping!
“The students we serve would inaccurately be called ‘at risk’ students. They are in fact, ‘in crisis’ students who have already demonstrated a behavior or condition that exceeds ‘at risk’ such as becoming pregnant or entering the juvenile delinquency system or even dropping out of school. We believe all youth in our community need a high school diploma.” Learning Works Mission Statement
Although the Pasadena Learning Works Class of 2023 has now graduated, the founder, staff, teachers and chasers, will help, push, cajole, support and cheer the next class of students, to make sure they experience their own exciting, and loud, graduation in 2024.
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