As soon as I entered the Garey High School gym, I could sense anticipation in the air.
The bleachers were packed with students eager for the ceremony to begin. Parents, teachers and administrators sat in the front row. Music played on the loudspeakers, the stage was covered in college pennants, and a giant inflatable Viking tunnel was awaiting the entrance of 62 college-bound seniors.
Finally, it was time. Although the crowd had only been waiting for minutes, this moment was four years in the making for the students who were about to enter the building.
One by one, Garey High School seniors dressed in their best attire paraded through the tunnel, around the gym and to their seats. Each had been part of the Bright Prospect program over the past several years and today was the culmination of their hard work.
Bright Prospect, based in Pomona, is an organization that aims to break the cycle of poverty by increasing college-going and graduation rates. The program empowers high-potential, low-income students to gain admission to and succeed in higher education.
Beginning with a weeklong Summer Academy prior to their sophomore year, students discover what is needed to succeed in high school, attend a university, and build a meaningful career. Participants form crews, comprised of five or six students who encourage and support each other toward positive goals during their high school years.
Together, they explore different careers and college majors, learn social skills for…
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