The 2016 graduating class of Jordan High School. Photos by Stephanie Rivera.
Continuing a tradition that began last year, Long Beach Councilman Rex Richardson helped unveil a portion of dozens of street banners Monday morning showcasing the names of over 140 of Jordan High School’s 2016 graduates and the universities or armed forces they plan to attend.
“These banners recognize the academic success of Jordan students and celebrate the importance of higher education for students across the city of Long Beach,” Richardson said at the campus during the morning unveiling.
The street banners—which are paid for through District Nine one-time funds—will be installed this week near the high school, across Atlantic Avenue, between South Street and Artesia Boulevard, and across Artesia Boulevard, between Long Beach Boulevard and Orange Street.
“”There’s a stigma that says our North Long Beach kids can’t but when we do stuff like this we’re trying to show Long Beach our students can,” said co-principal Bill Salas. “We have students going to Cal State Long Beach, we have students going to UCLA, we have students becoming really successful.”
One of those students is Mariana Alvarez, who plans to study bioengineering at UC Berkeley. Alvarez said she was hesitant to attend Jordan High because of its bad reputation. She fell into the pressure and enrolled into a school in Los Angeles.
“But then I was thinking, you know what I know that you can achieve anything wherever you are so I came here,” said Alvarez, who noted that she enrolled two weeks into her freshman year. “I was prepared for everything everyone had said but honestly I wouldn't have had it any other way. It’s one of the best schools, it has some of the best staff, some of the best students. They are so dedicated.”
“I don’t think we get the recognition we deserve because I am so glad I got to experience everything,” Alvarez added.
This year, the banner unveiling added a new element.
Monday morning, before the event, dressed in their caps and gowns, the graduates boarded two buses and visited their old elementary and middle schools where they were welcomed with cheers and applauds.
“It was a tremendous experience to be with them, to watch their formal teachers cry with pride, to embrace them and for those little ones to look at them with awe and wonder and wanting to see and touch the medals,” said Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent Megan Kerr, who represents Jordan High.
Kerr said those experiences is what the partnership is about. To have every single child believe and understand they are college-bound if they want to be.
“You make a difference by reaching back and encouraging them, so thank you for your wisdom with them this morning, Kerr said. “We couldn't be more proud to send you off into the world but very selfishly I need you back—we need you back in North Long Beach to come back and make the changes that you say we need. You are the leaders in this neighborhood and in this city.”
The banners, which are reused every school year, will be displayed throughout the summer.
For more information on the banner program or other District 9 initiatives, call 562.570.6137 or visit www.insidedistrict9.com.