Graduates in caps and gowns holding hands

USC Hybrid High graduates join hands while listening to valedictorian Juan Castro speak. (Photo/Margaret Molly)

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First-ever class of USC Hybrid High seniors graduates

The group has an amazing 100 percent graduation rate — and a 100 percent college acceptance rate, too

June 13, 2016 Ross Brenneman

With jubilant supporters looking on, USC Hybrid High School graduated its first-ever senior class Saturday evening, four years after opening its doors in downtown Los Angeles.

Gathered in USC’s Bovard Auditorium, students celebrated the accomplishment of two remarkable goals: a 100 percent graduation rate, and a 100 percent college acceptance rate.

“Today you close a memorable chapter in your lives, but tomorrow you begin to compose a story that will change the rest of your lives,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “All of us believe that you have the ability to walk away from this ceremony and change the world.”

USC Hybrid High opened in 2012, and is operated through a partnership between the USC Rossier School of Education and Ednovate, a charter management organization founded by Rossier. The Ednovate model emphasizes college preparation, while combining technology and personalized instruction to promote the idea of positive multigenerational change.

The graduates from the senior class, most who will be the first in their families to attend college, submitted more than 800 applications to 163 different schools. They earned 437 total acceptances, as well as more than $5 million in scholarships and grants. That money will make a huge difference to the graduates, 85 percent of who come from low-income families.

Outpourings of emotion

The pride that was on display Saturday was matched by joy: In the sustained, ebullient shouts of Tyriq Moses’ family as he received his diploma; in the way that Tristian Corona’s father beamed with pride as his son talked to a local reporter about the journey to graduation; in the way advisers choked back tears as they hugged their students.

“I love you all,” principal Mide “Mac” Macauley said.

Valedictorian Juan Castro, who earned a full-ride scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, exhorted his class to be proud of their achievements.

“Look at us now. We have surpassed our past. We have beat the ACT, the college process, the grading system, college requirements and, last of all, high school,” he said. “Our high school grades are in the past. The only letters that define you now are USC HHS.”

Facing the road ahead

Students plan to matriculate into 36 different colleges and universities, including several in the California State University and University of California systems. And while the graduates are already proud Trojans, four students will double down by enrolling at USC this fall.

“There are those who doubted you, and there are those who cheered for you,” Macauley told the graduates. “These things will never go away. You’ll always have both in your lives. You’ll face obstacles great and small, but I am confident you will overcome them because of the resiliency you have demonstrated.”

The students are setting a precedent for their school, but elsewhere, too: The Rossier/Ednovate partnership opened USC East College Prep in Lincoln Heights this past fall, and will open three more schools in the greater Los Angeles area by the end of 2017. The USC Hybrid High students have set a high bar.

“All of you — students and families — are now the role models for those who will follow,” said Karen Symms Gallagher, dean of the Rossier School of Education and chair of the Ednovate board of trustees.