The end of this school year feels a bit more momentous than past Junes at ASCEND. 2010 marks the end of an historic journey – and the beginning of a new one – for the school’s departing 8th-graders, the first class to include students who attended ASCEND from kindergarten through 8th grade!
The ASCEND Voice recently sat down with Alex, Jacky, Maribel, and Tyrone, four soon-to-be high schoolers who have been at ASCEND since its earliest days.
“It’s kind of sad to think about leaving here,” says Maribel, an “original” ASCENDer who started here in kindergarten. “I’ve been here for so long and I know all these students and teachers so well.”
Maribel and Tyrone reminisce over the dragon bench they built and painted as kinders at ASCEND’s original location — “Everybody pitched in,” recalls Maribel — and the excitement of the first day of the first year in our current building.
Fellow classmate Jacky captures the bittersweet nature of their departure perfectly. “It’s one of those things,” she muses, “where you can’t wait [to take the next step], but at the same time you don’t want to leave.”
“This is the place where I really started to like dance,” she recalls, speaking to the impact of ASCEND’s arts integration focus. “It’s great they offered it here. This is the place where I could carry on my dreams.”
“I’ve been here nine years,” says Alex. “It’s the only school I’ve ever been to, so it’s going to be hard. I feel excited about leaving, but then again there are so many memories here. You know, it was fun times.”
Yet they are all eager for what’s next, and feel well-prepared for it. “I’m excited about high school because it’s a new opportunity,” says Tyrone, “and our teachers here have gotten us ready for that environment. I’m excited about what’s going to happen in the future.”
“[The staff] here has given us a lot of guidance,” reflects Jacky, “like when we did the High School Information Night, which showed you which schools were a good choice for you.”
“The teachers here, they push you, and that helps us know we can always do better than we might think,” says Maribel.
Jacky also credits ASCEND’s diversity and expansive community feel. “This school’s very welcoming,” she says. “We were exposed to different cultures and people, so when we get to high school, it’s not going to be this big shock.”
The ASCEND family will miss its departing class of 8th-graders, but the good news is they all expect to keep in touch.
“My mom is one of the parent leaders,” says Jacky, “and my little sister is in 4th grade here, so I will definitely be coming back. I will never get away from ASCEND,” she laughs. “It’s kind of impossible.”
I just want to thank all the teachers because they’ve been with us for so long and know us so well,” reflects Jacky. “To be able to have those relationships with teachers is really good, they communicate with us so well. I like how everyone knows each other – it’s so intimate.”
Alex adds a word on behalf of the rest of the ASCEND family. “I’d like to thank the people who aren’t teachers: the office staff, our parents. Our families, they help us through a lot of emotional things we might be going through, and they push us to stay in school.”