On May 22nd 2019, Achievement First Hartford High School holds their 5th annual Senior Signing day at Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts , recognizing the hard work and dedication all 44 graduates put in, announcing the colleges and their journeys throughout high school. $2 Million were awarded in scholarships and every single graduate got accepted into a 4 year college. Senior Signing Day is a day where students proudly declare their future career goals and college interests, in front of friends , family and teachers / counselors.Achievement First has held this tradition for over 4 years now, and they are focused on an important goal, and that is to make sure that 100% of their students will be accepted into four-year colleges and universities. In order to push their scholars to accomplish that mission, they combine challenging courses with high expectations that are possible to meet. Achievement First helps students grow into strong and respectful leaders.
Our seniors have struggled when it came to motivation and managing or school work and social lives. But they are proud of how far they have come and are ready to start their lives and seek new adventures. These seniors usually want to give advice to upcoming seniors to inform them that they have made it while telling them the best choices for them to make. According to James Bress, Achievement First’s FOL 1 and 3 teachers, this school year was the first year where writing a speech was optional. Students were given the choice to just say the school name that they were attending, or to write a speech and majority of the seniors decided that they weren’t’;t going to write one, until the last minute.
Shania Cargill , Class of 2019, got accepted into 12 different colleges. In her Senior Signing Day speech, she gave advice to all freshmen. “ To my incoming freshman, please do not take the easy way out, if you get an 85% on an exit ticket, go to office hours and make it 100%. Only the best is good enough. Also, learn how to be your own backbone, your biggest fan is you, don’t rely on anyone for your own happiness. And lastly, never forget where you come from always be humble and hungry because you can have it everything today and lose it all tomorrow, “. Her advice to incoming freshman is to take advantage of all the opportunities Achievement First Hartford High School has to offer. Huebina Smith, also class 2019, has to say in the middle of her speech, “ I had advice for the juniors but they left so nevermind”. It’s very unfair to those students who may have needed to hear the advice and it’s inconvenient to the flow of the seniors speeches.
Many of these students and their families began to breakdown, and one comment that was followed by applause, was a comment from Stacy Lovelace, A Colby College acceptee. Lovelace said “ Achievement First is toxic”. She believes that the structure of Achievement first doesn’t benefit her and her classmates, advocating for a change for her future classmates. Her message to these future students at Achievement First, would be that if you want change to happen, you have to do it yourself.
Some students at achievement first stayed back because they failed to sign the permission slip, holding back not only themselves, but also teachers. Teachers missed out on an important event that was important to our school’s culture. Senior Signing Day shouldn’t be optional, we share a school with these seniors and it is important that we hear their highschool journeys.
Unfortunately, during Brian Ozenne speech, 11th and 9th grades were rushed out of the auditorium. Students were asking why they needed to leave and became frustrated. During Jose Pagans speech the rest of the school was dismissed leaving the parents and a few students who were related to the seniors. Many seniors noticed that the students left and were disappointed and had to alter their speeches.Huebina Smith said, “ I had advice for the juniors but they left so nevermind”. This is important when considering the fact that these seniors worked extremely hard to give younger generations and the class after them advice, but the AF high school was forced to leave. As the younger class, that advice was needed, we needed to learn and try to understand the struggle and the path these seniors took to get to where they are.
This ceremony was very important, and we need to be able to treat this as a celebration, and there should be no attention taken away from anyone’s speeches. If something like this is organized we should be able to stay for the whole thing and make sure that we have the right transportation instead of leaving before the event ends. These students are taking time out of their day to share their high school experiences with us but we don’t even get to stay for the whole event not learning and being able to create our high school journeys inside of our head.