KIPP King graduates first full class

June 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A chain of charter schools in the Bay Area will hold its first-ever high school graduation this Saturday. It's called KIPP, which stands for the Knowledge Is Power Program. It is a school on a mission to help students defy the odds.

Principal Jason Singer runs his school on the promise to parents that their kid will get to college. Now, he can say he's kept that promise.

Four years after it opened, KIPP King Collegiate High School in San Lorenzo is having its first graduation and every single graduate is headed to college.

"Like wow, this is really happening," said graduate Linda Moua.

Linda is graduating along with her two sisters. They will be the first in their family to attend a four-year university. They will graduate with 60 classmates, many of them minority students from inner cities for whom college was once a foreign concept.

"I didn't' really know what college was kind of. Like I've heard of it, 'Oh, college... that's where the adults go,'" said graduate Annabel Moua.

"They've gone from kind of these naive, really spirited, really spunky, young people from whom college really is just a word to really critically thinking, community-minded, passionate young adults," said Singer.

The students attend school eight hours a day, then they go home and read, so they can take part in the next day's discussions.

Teachers at KIPP King say it's no coincidence their students consistently defy the odds. They say it's because from the very beginning, they learn to think of education not just as something you do, but as a life decision.

"They live in the inner city of Oakland and the only opportunity they are going to have to better their lives and improve their lives is through education," said teacher Jose Caraballo.

That education is provided free to worthy students -- some of it tax money, some from private donations. And the Moua sisters' father, Vangpao Moua, says he couldn't be more grateful.

"Education is something that nobody can take away from you," said Vangpao.

His daughters say they're ready for the next step, but after going here from fifth grade on many students say they will miss KIPP.


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