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Celebrating the first of many steps on the path to success Patty Chavez | Sat, Jun 13 2015 12:00 PM

June marks the completion of another school year and Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood celebrations at each academic milestone.

More than 60 of our future 2032 college graduates proudly accepted preschool diplomas from Chula Vista Elementary School District Superintendent Dr. Francisco Escobedo and community leaders this month.

In the Castle Park community, where in the past many three to five year olds did not attend or have access to quality early education, we celebrated our second graduating class of 32 preschool students ready with the skills they need to take on kindergarten and begin a pathway to success. We also celebrated their parents, many of whom took part in parenting workshops or volunteered in the classroom and garden. As Dr. Escobedo noted during the ceremony, this too is a parent’s first step in supporting their children’s academic journey.

“The influence you have as parents can create dreams of amazing future for all these children,” Dr. Escobedo said. 

“Parents, continue to be involved just like you are here. It should continue to high school. You have shown amazing, amazing parent engagement here. Thank you.”

Not too far from this celebration, thirty-two preschoolers from Mi Escuelita Therapeutic Preschool celebrated their own milestone. Most have spent two years at the school working toward healing from the traumatic life experiences they’ve faced at a very young age. Healing will continue but academically they transition to kindergarten school-ready. 

Although historically children with risk-factors such as these often have poor academic outcomes, a recent five-year longitudinal study from University of California, San Diego has shown Mi Escuelita graduates are performing as well — and often better — on key indicators of academic success as their peers who did not experience the same types of events. The therapeutic, developmental, and educational opportunities that our program affords these little ones appear pivotal for their downstream educational successes.

On the opposite bookend of our graduations this year is the celebration of high school completion from Hilltop High School and Castle Park High School. Our second year cohort of 99 seniors worked closely for two years with their on-campus Academic Advocates. Our high graduates all live in the Castle Park community. Many have received English Language Learner support. Some are first in their families to graduate high school and all are first generation college bound.

Originally, for many of these students, college was not at all part of their plan. Together with their Academic Advocate, parents and teachers, they worked hard to meet the requirements for a four-year university. That included increasing grade point averages, completing A – G requirements and becoming overall college ready and career bound with their families.

With these holistic supports, students and their families not only recognize the importance of higher education, but also believe in the possibility. It’s attainable now. It is part of their future.

Overall, the percentage of students moving into post-secondary education increased from 87% to 95% this school year. Thirty of our graduates will go on to four-year universities such as San Diego State University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Arizona State and Grand Canyon University.  Sixty-three are attending local two-year community colleges with a large percentage starting at Southwestern College (SWC) in the fall. Our partnership with SWC has created innovative individualized services to support our first-gen students and provide transfer pathways.

As we end one year, we quick start preparing for next year. Kinder-Ready Camp and additional educational camps and bridge programs begin soon in Castle Park to further support students and families. Academic Advocates are already preparing college application support classes for the next senior class as well as college campus visits and college exploration curriculum.

CVPromise is coordinated by South Bay Community Services and is proud to partner with Castle Park Elementary, Castle Park Middle, Castle Park High School, Hilltop Middle and Hilltop High School to bring new opportunities and pathways of success for their students and families. For more information, please visit CVPromise.org or call 619-422-5005.

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