After countless hours of research, longer-than-average school days and lengthy commutes, graduating senior Sharon Vongvanith celebrated the culmination of seven years of hard work during The Preuss School UCSD commencement ceremony on Friday afternoon on campus. And she was not alone—89 other bright and ambitious seniors celebrated with her as well.
“Preuss is the reason why we are successful today,” said Vongvanith, the class valedictorian who plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania this fall. “The school gave us an education, motivation and the drive to really succeed in life. No other public school, especially in my neighborhood, could give me that.”
Vongvanith is not the first in her family to attend Preuss, a charter middle and high school for motivated, low-income students whose parents have not graduated from college. Her brother also graduated from the school and is currently a junior at MIT. “Preuss has done a lot for me and my family,” she said.
Like Vongvanith, a majority of the Preuss graduating class is attending a four-year university or college this fall. Salutatorians Lucy Luong and Mustafa Malik will attend Dartmouth and Yale, respectively. Other students will attend private colleges including Columbia University, Northwestern University, Amherst College and Harvey Mudd College. Fifty-seven students will attend California State University or University of California schools, including seven students who will attend UC San Diego.
“Our goal is to prepare all our students for college,” said Scott Barton, Preuss principal. “In each of our nine graduating classes, at least 90 percent of our students have been accepted to a four-year college or university. This year it was 95 percent. These students have worked very hard to get where they are today.”
This year’s graduating class has also garnered more than $1.7 million in award money. Three members of the class are recipients of the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship, which provides all educational expenses through undergraduate and graduate school to 1,000 students nationally each year. Preuss has been home to 24 Gates Scholars over the last six years. Many other Preuss students have received scholarships from numerous organizations and foundations including the San Diego Foundation, the Kyoto Prize Symposium, the Rotary Club of La Jolla, the Kiwanis Club of La Jolla and the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club.
The Class of 2012’s achievements come on the heels of another Preuss accolade: The school was recently named the top charter school in California in a report released by USC’s Center on Educational Governance. In May,Preuss was named the top transformative high school in the nation by Newsweek for the second year in a row.
“The longer school year, the strong academic curriculum, the faculty and student support—we seem to be doing the right things here,” said Barton. “We are all extremely proud of our students and are excited to see what their futures hold in store.”
Editor's Note: The Preuss School UCSD released this announcement.