LUTHER WATERS, DIRECTOR OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS High School, pinning a student.
South L.A. Scholars Headed for Big Things
The Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF), which houses charter schools on and around Crenshaw, held its first academic signing and scholarship ceremony Tuesday June 4, at the Trinity Baptist Church on Jefferson Blvd., where graduating seniors were honored for their academic achievements as well as their acceptance into colleges and universities throughout the nation. ICEF officials said they based the event concept on athletes who sign letters of intent, announcing what college or university they will play for. Many of the students, the majority of them African American and Latino, will be the first in their families pursue a higher education according to ICEF.
“To actually see [some of the] students, who at one point may not have been recommended for graduation, walk the stage with post secondary options, has been totally rewarding,” said Luther Waters, director at the Frederick Douglass campus in Los Angeles.
After speeches and congratulatory remarks were made, about 150 students approached the mic one at a time to announce where they would go in the fall. Names like Cornell University, UCLA and Berkley garnered fervid applause from parents and teachers in the audience. After each announcement, ICEF officials pinned each student with a college or university logo.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” said Lou Dantzler campus director, Germaine DeCree, “to be brave enough to apply to college, get in and go. We’re really excited to celebrate your accomplishments with you.”
“The outside does not expect much from this community,” Rob Thrash IV ICEF’s college placement advisor declared from the podium, “but the ICEF community, the South Los Angeles community… we expect great things from our class of 2013.”
Thrash also announced that five students from ICEF won the Posse Scholarship, a four-year full scholarship that thousands of students across the nation apply for each year. Those five were part of a total of twelve winners here. ICEF students received a cumulative total of about $1 million dollars in scholarships this year, said officials.
“ICEF offers amazing opportunities for our students in the arts and athletics, but academics are our top priority,” said Parker Hudnut, ICEF’s CEO. “By recognizing our scholars’ achievements and college commitments through the Academic Signing Day, we hope to show the South Los Angeles community what’s possible when students have the best educational opportunities and work hard to achieve excellence.”