“They (my parents) were really, really proud of me because of this opportunity,” said Yonathan Leon, a Dominguez High School summer graduate. Yonathan’s opportunity is a scholarship to play college soccer, an opportunity that requires a high school diploma which he didn’t receive in June.
But now, that opportunity is a reality. Yonathan is one of 70 Compton Unified School District students who received their high school diploma after attending CUSD Summer School. It is a second chance for students who were short of the requirements needed by the end of the traditional school year. Some students needed to pass only one class, while others needed more. Another group of seniors is set to graduate in August.
But, Algebra 2 was Yonathan’s stumbling block throughout the school year. And adding pressure to the situation was knowing that his scholarship and a place on the soccer team was on the line.
Said Yonathan, “I used to stress out a lot because I knew I had to pass this class, but in summer, I had the one class and I could focus.”
He did focus and he passed the class.
“It felt good because even though I messed up the first time, I continued and was able to graduate.”
To help Compton’s summer seniors succeed, CUSD restructured its summer school.
“We tried to provide a setting that was intense and focused for our students,” said Colleen Hawkins, CUSD’s Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services.
Students attended morning classes five days a week with additional afternoon sessions that allowed students to recover credits and/or support students who preferred online instruction.
CUSD also offered dual enrollment at adult school for students who wanted to recover credits (continuing through August) as well as dual enrollment courses at Compton College, so students can earn both high school and college credits.
Additionally, knowing that some of the summer students are at-risk for dropping out, CUSD took the extra step of personally contacting students when they missed class. And the results from this summer show that the changes in structure and the personal contacts made a difference with a high percentage (about 80%) of summer senior students graduating.
As for Yonathan, he credits the support of his school and his counselor Cynthia Washington for keeping him on track and helping him graduate.
“Ms. Washington was the best help for me for four years. She helped me and is the most wonderful, caring person.” And now, by passing Algebra 2 and earning his diploma, he is preparing for college and taking his soccer skills to the next level.