Celebrating the Class of 2016
Graduation season is always an inspirational time at Green Dot Public Schools. Families, friends, educators and students gather to celebrate the completion of great academic achievement. Whether at an eighth grade promotion ceremony or high school graduation, there is a shared feeling of pride and hope.
A first for Ánimo James B. Taylor
The scene at Los Angeles Southwest College on the first day of June was just like any other graduation. Only it wasn’t just any graduation. It was the first for Ánimo James B. Taylor Middle School, which was founded in 2013.
“When I look out on this crowd, I’m so proud,” said Jacob Edwards, the school’s founding principal. “We challenged you to step up. We really wanted you to succeed.”
Ánimo James B. Taylor is named after another notable founding principal. A life-long, dedicated educator, James B. Taylor was the first African-American principal at an LAUSD high school and the founding principal at Locke High School, which Green Dot also leads. He passed away this spring. His son, Peter Taylor, the former Chief Financial Officer for the University of California, also spoke, and he emphasized a key trait that helps generate success: taking responsibility over what one can control.
“Nothing would have given my father more pride than looking at this crowd,” Peter Taylor said. “My father believed intensely in the importance of middle school.”
The students who addressed the crowd – Destiny Mendes, Jermaine Carter, Jennifer Gomez, Samantha Marcos and Kenya Cima – captured the value of middle school as they thanked staff, teachers and their parents.
“There are many lessons we learned at AJBT that we will use later,” Cima said.
“This isn’t the end, this is the beginning,” Edwards reminded them. “Continue to make your families proud.”
At the Ánimo Ralph Bunche graduation ceremony at the Bovard Auditorium at the University of Southern California, students and audience members were delighted when Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard took the stage to deliver the keynote address.
“It’s students like you that motivated me to continue fighting for better educational opportunities for the youth in our community,” she said.
Having grown up in Boyle Heights, an East Los Angeles neighborhood not too far from USC, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard knows first-hand the barriers to learning that our students face every day.
“There will be times in your life, as there were in mine, that you’re going to feel scared and discouraged and challenges will seem overwhelming. During those times you may question your abilities and your choices” she said.
The path to college from high school graduation can be difficult to navigate, especially for students who grow up in low-income communities. “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and change your mind, everybody does. What’s important is that you don’t let those mistakes defeat you” said the Congresswoman. “Instead, turn them into learning experiences that will make you a stronger and better person.”
All told, Green Dot Public Schools held 18 promotion or graduation ceremonies across Los Angeles and two in Memphis, TN that saw over 1600 students receive their high school diplomas. We are proud of all our students, some of whom are the first in their families to graduate from high school and plan to go to college in the fall. We honor our students as they realize their potential and walk the stage in cap and gown towards a successful future. To our grads: Keep it up!