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The Southern Cross, February 2006

Programs Give Barrio School Students Hope for Bright Futures

The Southern Cross (February 2006)

San Diego—The barrio area of San Diego can be a place of very little hope for many of its residents, but not for the students of Nativity Prep Academy – a college prep middle school for underserved children in southeast San Diego.

Eighth-grade students have completed testing and are currently in the interviewing process for entrance to Catholic, private and charter high schools in San Diego. Those motivated students are excited at the prospect of what lies ahead for them. With lives full of challenges both at home and in their communities, these students have been working a minimum of ten hours each day at school to overcome gangs, violence, drugs and poverty. They have learned that commitment to education, discipline and personal responsibility are the keys to success; and are willing to make sacrifices in order to become leaders rather than victims.

The intensive experiences, of the sixth- through eighth-grade program on the Nativity Prep Academy campus is designed to give students the tools and confidence they will need to succeed in college-preparatory high school programs. However, they do not simply prepare their students and turn them loose to succeed.

Graduate Support is a critical element to Nativity Prep’s overall program. Nativity Prep Academy currently has 15 graduates in the ninth grade attending nine local high schools: Cathedral Catholic, Saint Augustine, Marian Catholic, Academy of Our Lady of Peace, The Preuss School UCSD, High Tech High, High Tech High Media Arts, High Tech High International, and San Diego High School.

All Nativity Prep’s graduates are offered ongoing support in order to take full advantage of their educational opportunities. The director of Nativity’s Graduate Support Program connects with each graduate by visiting them at their schools, meeting formally with graduates’ families and teachers, sending out monthly newsletters and facilitating graduates’ access to necessary academic, social and health services. In addition, there are a handful of graduate events spread throughout the year. Graduates may return to Nativity every day if they wish and attend study hall to receive tutoring from teachers and volunteers, all free of charge. They may work part-time in the summer at the school as well as have help accessing other summer opportunities in and around San Diego.

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