Preuss to graduate first class

    In less than a month the first senior class at Preuss School is scheduled to graduate. All 55 members have been accepted to college and will be continuing their education at either junior colleges or four-year universities.

    Preuss School, located on the UCSD campus, is a public charter school for students in grades six through 12. The school enrolls students from low-income backgrounds who are historically underrepresented at UC campuses and who will be the first in their families to attend college.

    Come fall 2004, 10 Preuss students will be attending private schools and 23 will be attending a UC campus. Nineteen of those 23 are planning to study at UCSD.

    According to Preuss School Head Counselor Carol Sobek, 64 percent of Preuss students were admitted to a UC campus, over five times the state goal of 12 percent of each high school’s population. Ninety-one percent of the class will be starting at four-year colleges.

    “These are wonderful young people and an incredible group of students who have achieved beyond their dreams,” Sobek said.

    In addition to the seniors’ college acceptances, Sobek is quick to point out the other notable achievements of the class of 2004 — namely, scholarship awards, test scores and the establishment of the school’s sports programs. The sports program was created as the class of 2004 entered ninth grade and has now achieved varsity levels.

    “This class has really established a tradition and [Preuss’] reputation,” Sobek said. “They have been very involved with internships on the university campus or with the hospital … With their contributions, our test scores are number one in the county, and we received two perfect 10s in the Academic Performance Index scores.”

    Ten of 300 winners of the $1,000 Ford Scholarship Competition were selected from Preuss, as were two of the 10 regional winners for the National Hispanic Heritage Awards.

    While proud of their achievements, Preuss seniors did not belittle the hard work and time investments put in by both the students and those who supported them.

    “It was really difficult with the class load,” senior Amy Mobley said. “We were taking eight classes when other schools and curriculums focused on far fewer.”

    Students credited Sobek for her help with college applications.

    “The application process was stressful, but it got better as time went on,” UC Berkeley-bound senior Khang Nguyen said. “Ms. Sobek helped us a lot — she was like our mom.”

    Preuss senior Dahlak Yetbarek also acknowledged the challenging periods of the students’ time at Preuss.

    “There were definitely some rough times, but we had a lot of help,” said Yetbarek, who will attend UC Riverside. “We had tutors for every class and learned from each other. We also had a lot of support from mentors.”

    According to Sobek, Preuss School students have had a wide range of sources of aid, including advisory classes, study groups and personalized attention from UCSD students coming to campus after hours to tutor.

    “These kids often leave their houses every day at 6 a.m. and don’t get back until after 5 or 6 p.m.,” Sobek said. “There isn’t a lot of time to go looking for outside help, so we’ve been sure to provide these students with all we can. [Preuss School] is like their second home.”

    Mobley, who is headed to UC Davis, also viewed the school’s close proximity to UCSD as an asset to her education.

    “Being so close to campus, it’s a lot easier to find tutors and internships,” Mobley said.

    Senior Ryu Schaufus, who was able to intern at UCSD’s Supercomputer Center and will be attending UCSD in the fall, agreed.

    “It was nice because they match you up with a person who works in a subject that interests you,” Schaufus said. “Some of us were able to do some kind of research with professors as well.”

    When asked about the dwindling time to graduation, the seniors expressed conflicting feelings.

    “I’m ready to get out because I’m tired of being in a small school,” Yetbarek said. “But we feel like a family and have been there for each other — I’m going to miss that.”

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