Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Going Public" feature of PPSD graduates in June's East Side Monthly

Readers on the East Side of Providence may already have seen a paper copy of June's East Side Monthly featuring profiles that I wrote of six East Side public high school students soon to graduate The cover features Hope High School seniors Ashley Davega, Alex Ahlquist, and Mike Chibante, with Classical High School seniors Alex Schmeling, Sharon Weissburg, and Dana Heng in a full-page interior photo. You can see and read the whole feature online; flip to page 22. All photos are by Amy Amerantes.

I had a tremendously fun time meeting these students and writing their profiles. Many thanks to Hope High School principal Scott Sutherland and Classical High School principal Scott Barr, who responded to my query to meet students who had made the most of their opportunities inside and outside of school gracefully and efficiently.

The common threads among all six students' experiences through their educational experiences seem to be:
  • consistent support from family, teachers, and members of their communities
  • an understanding that learning happens inside and outside of the classroom, and that it's all connected
  • passions and interests that help organize their learning
All six students clearly benefited from educational experiences at school and in their communities that created ample opportunity for exploration, personalization, and high levels of achievement with the right kind of support for each kid. Of course, the profiles of these students are anecdotes, not necessarily indicators of the experiences of all young people in our public schools. I cannot say whether they represent what is typical. But I can say that they represent what is possible with the right kind of caring adults, high standards, the students' own commitment to hard work, and a strong sense of identity, of who they are as intellectuals and members of their communities.

Classical's Alex Schmeling, Sharon Weissburg, and Dana Heng will graduate on Friday, June 10; Hope's Mike Chibante, Alex Ahlquist, and Ashley Davega will graduate on Monday, June 13*. I wish all of them a wonderful end to the school year and all the best for a great summer and a strong start at each of their colleges** in the fall. Thank you for showing us examples of what's possible for yourselves and all of our young people.


* A link to a PDF of all Providence Public School high school graduation dates is here.

** Of course, college acceptance is not the only indicator of these students' successes. Still, not for nothing, it's an impressive list:
  • Alex Ahlquist (Hope) - U. Mass Amherst
  • Alex Schmeling (Classical) - Yale
  • Ashley Davega (Hope) - URI
  • Dana Heng (Classical) - University of Vermont
  • Mike Chibante (Hope) - New England Institute of Art
  • Sharon Weissburg (Classical) - Boston University or Brown

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