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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

College Prep Elementary 1st Graduating Class Was Held at the University of St. Thomas

By Amy Doeun

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The first elementary graduating class from College Prep Elementary. (Amy Doeun / HMONG TIMES)
The children enjoyed the celebration of Asian Heritage Month Celebration. (Amy Doeun / HMONG TIMES)
On Thursday June 9th, 21 6th graders became 7th graders and the first graduating class from College Prep Elementary. College Prep Elementary is just over 2 years old; but with a mission of preparing young people for college the school will have a lasting influence on these children's lives. The graduation was held at the O'Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium at the University of St. Thomas.

Kevin Sauter, Ph. D, and representative for the University of St. Thomas told the students that they are the "Potential University of St. Thomas class of 2021. ... We will welcome you with open arms." But then Sauter asked the students, "How do you get here?-Hard work." However, he encouraged the students not to think of it as hard work but "hard fun." He shared that when he was in school you had to research using the library not the internet. He was at the library one evening studying when he realized that he was having fun, while some of his classmates, doing the same task didn't enjoy it so much. "Whenever you learn something, complete a project, or read an interesting book, that's fun."

Sally Baas, representative for Concordia University, the authorizer for College Prep, encouraged the students to "look at our hands. We have really been blessed to have been given hands to help ourselves and help others." Each morning the students repeat a pledge which Ms. Baas did with them one final time, "I work hard; I believe in myself; I care about others; I am preparing for my future."

Keynote speaker Pang Foua Yang Rhodes, Ph.D. is a family counselor with her own talk show on Radio Hmong. She gave the students five keys to success. "1. Celebrate every step along the way. 2. Find supportive people around you. 3 Sometimes you have to create your own path. 4. Stay connected to your parents. They love you and want to support you. And 5. Believe in yourself."

Yeng Houa Yang and Mai Linda Yang, both graduates, shared their experiences at College Prep. Yeng said it was "stupendously awesome ... goals we have achieved like yearbook and student council were a huge success."

A cake and light refreshments followed at the school. All of the students whether graduating or not were sent home with 12 books to continue their learning this summer.

Back on May 27th Hmong College Prep started another tradition-Asian Heritage Month Celebration. Tong Ge Yang of College Prep said, "This is something we Asians ought to be celebrating every time and be proud of. I don't know about us Hmong and Hmong charter schools, but other Asian minority groups/cultures have been celebrating and being proud of this particular month of celebration/holiday. We made it a worthwhile celebration every time in the Detroit Public Schools system where I used to teach and came from."

For the month of May, Tong Ge Yang continued, "Every classroom teacher has been assigned with an Asian country/theme of their choice to do various social study lessons on it, whether history or geography-the whole month. Every morning, a national anthem of a particular country is played and everyone has to stand for it. Classrooms, hall-ways and office spaces were decorated with Asian themes, photos of scholars, kids' works/displays and other Asian related stuffs/materials. Tou Ger Xiong-Hmong comedian came and performed for the kids as part of the celebration. We had altogether 7 CPE dance groups and one dance was performed by an Indian lady joined by a CPE student and a staff. Overall, this was a very successful event and exciting and fun experiences for kids, parents/guests, teachers and staff to enjoy and have fun laughing at Tou Ger Xiong."

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