Leroy Greene Academy’s commencement ceremony tonight continued a tradition of college readiness tracing back to the school’s first senior class three years ago: Virtually every graduate has qualified for admission to UC or CSU.
It has become an LGA hallmark of excellence: Out of 172 graduates the past three years, all but one completed the package of coursework – known as “a-to-g” requirements – needed to enter a California four-year college or university.
No wonder speakers at tonight’s graduation ceremony described LGA as a very special place.
Student speaker Jalen Rich, for example, noted that most high schools don’t have counselors willing to talk about anything, at any time. Or teachers who are actually friends with their students. Or a warm family feeling on campus.
“But we’re not like most high schools,” Jalen said, noting that students benefit from all those things at LGA.
“Together we’ve learned a lot,” Jalen said of the 65-member senior class. “We learned Math and English and Science and all those things, but we’ve learned so much more than that. We’ve learned how to overcome any obstacle. We’ve learned how to surround ourselves with the best people possible.”
Other NUSD high schools offer optional Career Technical Education programs, but LGA goes one step further, requiring every student to complete an academic pathway – either Business Entrepreneurship or Visual Arts and Technology – as they prepare for college and career.
Student speaker Shradha Thapa said that before her first day at LGA, six years ago, she was scared to come to school. But one of the first things she saw on campus was Jalen wearing bright purple skinny jeans and a blue My Little Pony shirt, reading, “I believe.”
That was the moment Shradha realized that Leroy Greene was “not as scary as I thought.”
Looking back, Shradha said LGA cultivated a culture in which “each of us is determined to walk across this stage and graduate knowing we have the resources, the support, and the skills to confidently take the next steps into our future.”
Added Shradha, “I believe (at) our 10-year reunion, I’m going to be standing in a room with future doctors, engineers, lawyers – you name it. Because Class of 2019 is like no other, and we will never stop pursuing our goals despite all obstacles.”
Faculty speakers Moriah Finch-Odell and Kellen Miller reminisced about memorable moments on campus, from morning hangouts in Miller’s classroom, to counseling sessions about the future, to the “dreaded debates during your 8th-grade year.”
Finch-Odell described LGA’s graduating class as one that doesn’t back down from a challenge. “You are willing to speak your mind and respectfully argue for what you feel is right.
She added, “I love you (all) as if you were my own children. Nothing makes me happier than watching you succeed. I’m going to miss you all so much.”
Miller gave the graduates one last bit of “homework,” challenging them to:
1) Stand up for what you believe in, stand up to hate – and for love.
2) Be the best that you can be all the days of your life.
3) Aim high and miss rather than aim low and hit.
4) Be kind. Be kind to each other, yes, but be kind to the stranger who may not be having the best day, because kindness conquers all.
Miller said the LGA Class of 2019 is extraordinary because of what it has created, not because of a single standout moment. “This class is special because of the legacy you’ll leave behind in the classroom, on the court, the field, and around the community. You have given us hope – hope that the future will be better with you in it.”
Dictionaries describe a group of Lions as a “pride” – a word that seemed particularly fitting for LGA’s Lion Class of 2019. Pride in school. Pride in classmates. Pride in achievement. … Congratulations, graduates!