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ICEF grads speak to South LA high-school kids

January 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
If seeing is believing, then some high school students Friday saw they can go to college and succeed. Who better to show them than students who are doing just that?Dozens of alumni of the ICEF (Inner City Education Foundation) Public Schools returned to Los Angeles to encourage aspiring college students.

Jonathan Simpson is a senior with straight "A"s at View Park Preparatory High School in South L.A. However, Simpson says, when he left public school to attend View Park in the 9th grade, it was a tough transition.

"I was struggling my first year. I mean, I live in Inglewood and I was struggling there. Graduated with 'D's and 'C's, I had a bad year," said Simpson. "I came here, teachers were great, they helped me every time I needed help, and it felt like a family. I felt like I was loved and I was cared about here."

View Park Prep High School is one of 15 charter schools in South L.A, and a part of the Inner City Education Foundation. The foundation started more than a decade ago. School officials say that 97 percent of their kids graduate and every graduate attends college.

"I think all of the teachers here are really good," said student Alina Aguay. "They really help you if you need the help, and I really like it here."

"We really try to personalize education and what we mean is when our students, if they struggle in a particular area, we offer after-school tutoring, we try to do intervention within the classroom," said View Park Principal Darnise Williams.

Friday, nearly 50 past graduates of ICEF fanned out, visiting the system's 15 campuses on alumni day to give current students a pep talk.

"Just telling them that if they do apply themselves here, they can do really well," said graduate Isiah Iboko. "I've been awarded the Posse Scholarship after leaving here, I'm now in a fellowship program preparing me to pursue a Ph.D."

View Park graduate Olivia Walker is attending Tougaloo College in Mississippi.

"I just want to tell the kids, that was my message when I was talking to them, 'Just go and spread your wings. Go see what's out there,'" said Walker.

ICEF Public School officials said that despite facing a financial crisis throughout their 15-campus system for the last three years, they have found a way to continue practicing excellence on every campus.