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Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences graduates its first class

Those in inaugural class for Einstein Academy look back

Posted: May 30, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 30, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Albert Einstein Academy seniors watch a montage of photos from their years at the school at the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center on Thursday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.

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When the senior class for the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences walked across the stage at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons Thursday night, they didn’t just step into a new stage of their academic or professional lives — they blazed a trail for all those who follow them.

But the 42 students who made up the charter school’s first-ever graduating class this year are used to that by now. After all, some of them have been breaking new ground since they first started.

“These students have been the top class every year,” said Principal Edward Gika. “They have been the school leaders since the time they were in ninth grade because there was nobody above them.”

With every grade they progressed, the students laid the foundation for all who would follow them — establishing the culture and identity of the school itself. Gika said.

“It takes a particular kind of student to come to a brand-new school, to leave their comfort zone,” Gika said. “It seems to me that part of the nature of this class is that kind of courage, that bold, adventurous spirit.”

Yet some of the very students involved with driving the character of the school were not necessarily all that keen to attend in the first place.

Senior Samantha Zimmerman was one of those who wasn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of attending the small school when she started.

“It was awkward at first — our class was so small and I was not used to that,” she said during an interview at the school. “But it’s such a unique school and we’re such a family and we grew up together.”

Senior Tal Edelstein said he began attending the school largely at the behest of his parents.

“My parents kind of, at first, pushed me into the school,” he recalled. “I had friends who were going here, and I knew it could be fun, but they kind of pushed me into it instead of a bigger high school.”

But the school won him over in short order.

“I think for sure, as the time’s progressed, I couldn’t imagine myself going to any other school,” he said. “And I think a big part of the person I am today is because of this school.”

Count senior Claire Jennings among the converts as well.

“I really grew to love it and I can’t really imagine myself anywhere else,” she said.

Part of the reason the three seniors said they grew to love their school is because of how close they are with each other and their classmates.

“We’re all so different but we all just fit together so nicely, which I think is one thing that is really important and meaningful to us,” Zimmerman said. “And that’s going to be hard to leave when we graduate.”

Edelstein said one memory that sticks out to him is the first time he met his fellow classmates before school started.

“This whole year I’ve been really nostalgic thinking about things,” Edelstein said. “I keep thinking about how far we’ve come from that first day.

“It’s been four years, we’ve all changed so much, we’ve all grown and we were so separate and divided there. No one really knew each other and today we’re like one big family,” he said.

Jennings said, because of that, graduation is a bittersweet affair.

“It’s sad because, as you can tell, this school means a lot to us and has been a big part of our lives,” Jennings said. “But I’m also really excited and really proud to have that distinction of being a part of the first class.” 

Gika said he, too, was proud of the standard set by the crop of seniors.

“They built this school, they set the precedents, they set the traditions for future classes,” he said. “I couldn’t do it from the top down, it comes from the individuals up.

“And what they have done is not only set a very high standard for future classes, but also I think the right kind of zeitgeist for the school,” he said.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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