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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.

The inaugural graduates of the Albert Einstein Academy celebrate receiving their diplomas at the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center on Thursday in Valencia. 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


scvforall: Posted: May 30, 2014 7:43 a.m.

Congratulations to these graduates. Almost all will attend America's top colleges.

They have fought through the negative media attention, the School Board's refusal to recognize the success of the school, and have been stereotyped by the community as elitist.

These young adults and their parents have proven that Charter Schools,and especially Einstein, are exactly what our City needs

Congratulations class of 2014!

bobforte: Posted: May 30, 2014 8:26 a.m.

Interesting comment SCV. What indicates they will attend America's top colleges, and what are those colleges? Why didn't the author ask what colleges they will be attending? A great follow up article would be to interview those who did go to AEA and it wasn't right for them and how they are doing academically. In fact, this article doesn't address how these students did at this school.

projalice11: Posted: May 30, 2014 9:35 a.m.

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

Job well done, and the sky is the limit for one and all..

whonow: Posted: May 30, 2014 10:35 a.m.

Congratulations graduates!

It was great to see the list of colleges you have been accepted to on the school's website.

It's a high bar you have set for the next classes and I'm sure they will rise to it at Albert Einstein Academy.

DGersh: Posted: May 30, 2014 11:42 a.m.

My kids will be graduating from AEA elementary soon and I'm SOOO relieved they'll be going on to AEA secondary school in the fall instead of our local schools for many reasons.

With regard to a previous comment about the colleges that the AEA graduates have been accepted to, this is what I've heard...

Albert Einstein graduating students have been accepted into a wide range of top colleges and universities, including:

UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, Brandeis University, American University, Smith College, Syracuse University, Barnard College, Boston University, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, Boston College, Chapman University, LaSalle, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, DePaul University, Emerson University, Drexel, Northeastern University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, University of Oregon, Ohio State University, Michigan State University, Washington State University, University of the Pacific, American University in Paris, Cornell College, San Diego State, San Francisco State, Fashion Institute, San Francisco Academy of Arts, Dakota Wesleyan, Philadelphia University, Ithaca College, University of Arizona, University of Hawaii, Wells College, Lamar University and Richmond American International College in London --edited.

SCF: Posted: May 30, 2014 1:26 p.m.

Congratulations Class of 2014!

And Congratulations to AEA for providing a quality education in the face of all the nonsense and opposition from the local school districts. You are a welcome educational model to for many parents and students.

Keep it up!

bbcalvin: Posted: May 30, 2014 1:31 p.m.

Most of those are good colleges but I wouldn't call them the top colleges.

navy1987: Posted: May 30, 2014 2:04 p.m.

The haters still gotta hate.....This is obviously a great moment for the kids, they obviously love the school. A school that has outperformed all the other local schools and sent a higher proportionate number of kids to college… all with the other SCV school districts trying everything in their power to stop them. They just can’t bring themselves to be happy that the kids received a quality education that will start themselves off on the right foot for the rest of their lives. Instead, let’s all just focus on the status of the colleges they will be attending….. Ridiculous.

Lefty: Posted: May 30, 2014 2:08 p.m.

What are the students who didn't get into the "top colleges" going to do after graduation? I would expect that in a graduating class of only 42 from a college preparatory school that all the students would go on to the "top colleges". Are any of them receiving "full academic scholarships"? I'm sure there are numerous students graduating from the other Hart District high schools who are also going onto the "top colleges", as there have been in years past.

bobforte: Posted: May 30, 2014 2:34 p.m.

Dgersh, thank you for the list. Sounds like the same schools people I know from Saugus HS are going to .

And yes, congratulations to these graduates and all graduates from whatever school you may have attended.

navy1987: Posted: May 30, 2014 4:14 p.m.

We all realize that some kids from all the other schools are going on to universities also......just because the article is about AEA and their success, doesn't mean the other district High Schools are not graduating students either Don't get your feelings hurt.

camb94: Posted: May 30, 2014 4:23 p.m.

Thanks DGersh, but what is most impressive about your list is that you gave us 44 schools and the article said that there were 42 graduates!! So two students are going to have to go to two schools.

bobforte: Posted: May 30, 2014 4:51 p.m.

HAHAHAHA. Must be a charter school graduate ;>).

projalice11: Posted: May 30, 2014 5:50 p.m.

Sour grapes about the Colleges..

navy1987: Posted: May 30, 2014 6:02 p.m.

Those are just some of the universities that have accepted students from AEA. That means that some students have been accepted to more than one university. In simple terms, they get to choose from multiple schools and attend the one they prefer, Understand?--- bobforte & camb94 would not understand that because they are not charter school graduates ;>.

ronniegsd: Posted: May 30, 2014 6:11 p.m.

So much hate/ridicule and Disdain here from bobforte and camb94, makes one wonder if you guys were some of the loud voices against establishing this school.
My kid will be graduating in few years from Albert Einstein and I have nothing but good things to say about the school, teachers, administration and specially the Principal.
Congrats to the graduates that really made a difference in the school, very nice bunch of kids.
Haters will hate, keep your head high --edited.

bobforte: Posted: May 30, 2014 7:00 p.m.

Again congrats to them. But, people I know from Saugus also got accepted into multiple colleges. What is the proof that AEA is better, or any charter for that reason? Not a hater. Just don't like reading how many say they are better.

navy1987: Posted: May 30, 2014 7:07 p.m.

Here are the FACTS on this graduating class: 1)-100% passage of CAHSEE, 2)- 62% graduating with honors, 3)- 85% of graduates will be attending a four year college, 4)-96% are going into advanced education institutions i.e. Four-Year Universities and *State schools and Community College.

Wait…..only 96% are planning on going to college? That’s only 40 out of 42 students! What about those two students who fell through the cracks? Oh yeah….they plan on joining the military to serve our country.

*Regent Scholar awardees
*Numerous Merit Scholarships
*National Merit Honors Finalist
*League Champions in Boys’ Varsity Basketball and all teams playoff contenders.
*Sports Scholarships for Baseball, Basketball and Volleyball

This just goes to show that school choice (charter schools) are bad for the students and the parents of AEA obviously have no regard for their children’s future. **Sarcasm for those of you who can’t tell**

navy1987: Posted: May 30, 2014 7:49 p.m.

No one here is bad mouthing any other school (where is the post where someone said AEA is better? Or for that matter, even mentions another HS). You and a few others came in with negative comments about what is otherwise a positive story of young people about start their lives in a positive manner. I can't understand how anyone can find a negative thing to say at all, it's baffling. I think it’s great when a student graduates……who cares what HS it was from? It’s an accomplishment. Sorry you and others have such a negative attitude.

ronniegsd: Posted: May 30, 2014 8:40 p.m.

Yes bobforte they were better choice than the failing district my kids coming from. Do you think I like to schlep my child 25 miles each way everyday for the last 3 years (now finally carpooling some days)? , no I don't but I do it for his sake. So yes in my case they were far better than what is offered here. Please give us a break, no one says Suagus high or any other high school is bad compare to this one, the author talked about how in the face of adversity and the contestant resistance to this charter school, it still did well. And what is your problem with any of the universities listed above - because no IVY league was listed? really?

bobforte: Posted: May 30, 2014 8:50 p.m.

Ronnie and Navy, reading way too much into my posts. I have nothing against the universities listed. I think they are great. SCV originally said they were top colleges and I simply mentioned that I know people from Saugus and other high schools for that matter that are going to the same colleges.

There is no post here that AEA is better. In the 2 years it has been mentioned in this paper, some would have you believe that it is superior to any public school AND it is was people want. I don't know of anyone trying to go to this school and I have posted that I know people who have left it because it wasn't that great.

And Navy, I never criticized these graduates. For the third time, congratulations to them. My original post was how SCV made it sound like they are going to top universities and I simply responded by saying that public school kids are going to the same schools.

Lefty: Posted: May 31, 2014 10:05 p.m.

Students MUST pass the CAHSEE in order to graduate high school, so a 100% pass rate is to be expected. And keep in mind that the class is extremely small. What happened to the other 33 students that made up the 75 students in each grade level?

navy1987: Posted: May 31, 2014 6:58 p.m.

Lefty--this very first class only had 42 students, where does the article mention 75? The 75 number your referring to is, I believe, AEA will not go above 25 per classroom...3 classrooms per grade. That did not apply to this class. Keep on hating.

Lefty: Posted: June 1, 2014 9:23 p.m.

I thought that because there was such a demand that they would have had full enrollment in all grades.

bobforte: Posted: June 1, 2014 8:22 a.m.

Lefty, originally the classes were bigger. But, as I have said before in other articles, several kids have left this school for a variety of reasons. So both of you are right and wrong.

ohhyaa: Posted: June 1, 2014 8:49 a.m.

The kid next door just graduated from AEA. Watched him pour bong water out his car window two days ago.

navy1987: Posted: June 1, 2014 2:35 p.m.

Well....the bottom line is that AEA now has schools for all grade levels in the SCV now that they will be opening in the old Pinecrest location next year, and with elementary grades in Agua Dulce, school choice is here to stay. Welcome to the future.

ccboy: Posted: June 2, 2014 9:06 p.m.

That whole AEA elementary school is a joke. They are always the victim, a couple of months ago the buses that take the kids to Agua Dulce didn't show up so parents were left waiting with their children. School administrators finally showed up and they had bounced the check to the bus company and their excuse was that we told them to wait until a certain date before you deposit the check. So the parents who are charged monthly to pay for these buses had to drive their kids to Agua Dulce.

bobforte: Posted: June 3, 2014 11:55 a.m.

Yes, CCBOY. AEA is poorly run. Even the administrator fails to show up to public hearings to stand up for the school.

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