It’s here. Our founders, the class of 2015, walked across the stage to receive their high school diplomas yesterday. The short walk they made pales in comparison to the journey we have been through to get to this moment.
Year one was a whirlwind. As a school, we were forming our identity and our humble two-building campus became home for many of us. We huddled around a conference table for nine-person staff meetings and got up to dance when the mood struck us (or when Mama Jag said so). It was in this first year that my ties with the founding students began. In my English I classes, the students pushed the limits as they figured out what it meant to be a high schooler and responsible for deadlines. In the cafeteria, they pushed the limits as they figured out what it meant to be a citizen of the community. The struggle was real some days!
Year two was like opening up all over again. Except this time, we had tripled in size as a staff and welcomed the largest incoming class of freshman in KIPP nation. More buildings and more people equated to more opportunities for our students. This is the year we saw the start to our band, choir, and dance programs. Our athletic programs were taking shape and it began to feel more like a high school with various moving pieces all the time. Since I was still teaching English I, I watched the class of 2015 from a distance and saw them maturing and learning to use their voices for change.
Year three was the year I forged the deepest relationships with our founders. As their AP English Language teacher, 47 of us spent hours upon hours together in class and at tutorials preparing for our exam. It was magical being able to teach them again. I had grown in the year we were apart and they had grown as well. From August to June, I sat with students as they re-wrote papers three and four times. I laughed with students as we went to see a play at a community theater. I worked with students as they struggled to understand writing prompts. I celebrated with students as they achieved different goals. It was a beautiful year and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Now that we are at the end of year four, I am trying to envision the school without our founders there. They were a constant in the evolving world of KGC. While it is hard to envision, it is a necessity to let them go. Graduation on Sunday was our moment of goodbye to the past and hello to the future. In the words of our Founding School Leader Denise Rodriguez, my job is over and their job is just beginning. Be the change, 2015!
Congratulations, Class of 2015! Congratulations, parents and families! Congratulations, Ms. Rodriguez! Congratulations, KIPP Generations! One team. One family. One Generation.