Graduation Success Participants Persevere Through Pandemic

By Linsey Hunt, Marketing & Communications Intern

Between adapting to online classes and dealing with the distance from teachers and friends, the pandemic ushered in a challenging learning environment in 2020. The dedicated students in Treehouse’s Graduation Success program are working hard on their goals despite these trying times.

Meet some of our youth and see what they’ve been busy doing during the last few months.

When Keelynn, a Graduation Success participant, isn’t spending time on academics or working with infants at a daycare, she is devoted to training and taking care of her horse, Journey. Keelynn’s goal is to join the Washington High School Equestrian Team (WAHSET), and she has identified a couple of sponsors to help her make that dream come true.

Kylie had a hard time engaging in her American Literature class online. She had given up on the class and was going to take an F. Her Graduation Success Coordinator worked with her and her school counselor to motivate her to catch up in the class. Kylie agreed to bring the grade up to at least a C in order to earn an Amazon gift card. She now has an A in the class, and her GPA is not going to take the hit of a failed class!

One of our seniors has caught up on credits to graduate this year, even after delivering her baby at the beginning of the school year. Her Graduation Success Coordinator spoke with her school principal and counselors to get her schedule adjusted following the new arrival. The student passed her classes during the first term, which was very difficult due to her mental health and not having daycare available. She also was able to work a part-time job at a thrift shop.

Abigail and three of her siblings partner with a Treehouse Graduation Success Coordinator in Spokane. She and her family spent much of last year and all of this year experiencing homelessness. Last year, she frequently missed school and fell behind. Abigail set a goal to get caught up on her credits so she can graduate on time. Despite continued housing insecurity, she now has almost completely caught up with her freshman year credits and has even started sophomore courses. This has taken a lot of extra work and commitment on Abigail’s part.

In addition, she took Driver’s Education courses in conjunction with our Driver’s Assistance program, and she recently got a job at Taco Time!

Kahn, a Graduation Success participant, has had a dream of being a veterinarian since he was young. This is his senior year, so he has been focusing on how to reach that goal. Recently, Kahn applied to Washington State University. He has completed multiple scholarships applications and plans to apply for the Governor’s Scholarship in January. Kahn is aware of the grades necessary to be accepted into his program of choice, and he has spent the last year bringing up his grade point average.

Kahn also has been volunteering at an animal hospital for the last year, and he recently got a job working for an aerospace executive to gain even more experience. He is preparing himself for adulthood and keeps accomplishing goals at a rapid pace as he prepares for his next journey.

Niklett, a phenomenal student and mother, came to Spokane from Africa several years ago. This summer, she took a nursing course to prepare for the state CNA test—and she passed the test! Niklett’s new goal is to get her GED, and she is taking the necessary course while she works part-time. We ordered a GED practice book for her, and she said it’s very helpful.

One of our Graduation Success participants set a goal to get her first job. She made a resume with the help of her Treehouse Graduation Success Coordinator over Zoom and practiced possible interview questions, and we got an interview outfit for her. Within a week of these preparations, she landed her first job at Jack in the Box!

Kyle was struggling with his science and English classes. Working with his Treehouse Graduation Success Coordinator, he set a goal to get straight A’s. By attending weekly meetings, turning in past-due homework and staying current in his other classes, Kyle had straight A’s for two quarters! He used his incentive gift cards from Treehouse to purchase a new pair of sneakers he had been eyeing for a while.

Jonah was not doing well in a traditional high school setting. After lengthy discussions with his school counselor, caregiver and his Treehouse education specialist, Jonah enrolled in an alternative high school. He loves his new school and is doing well. His grades and attendance have soared, and he is quite happy with these results. Instead of dreading going to school, he is now looking forward to it. A senior this year, he is making concrete plans for his future. Jonah is attending his classes virtually and is very successful!

Jessie was placed in a new home at the end of the school year. Since then, she has gotten clean and sober and remained so for the past eight months. Her grades, which were all F’s and D’s at the conclusion of last school year, are all now A’s and B’s! Jessie is thriving in her new placement and virtual learning situation. She shared that virtual learning has been positive because her anxiety is not interfering with her ability to concentrate and complete her assignments.

For the first time since she started high school, Jessie is looking forward to going to class and doing assignments. Jessie started off her junior year with a lot of renewed enthusiasm for learning. She is so much happier in all aspects of her life and sees that a promising future is possible for her.

Ian has been working with Treehouse for the last four years. He has been moved many times from group home to group home, experiencing and overcoming behavioral and academic challenges. Last year, Ian was reunited with his biological mom and three of his siblings. Ian is a very intelligent young man who wants to be a social worker and work with youth in foster care.

Kyle is a senior who has been working with Treehouse staff since he was a freshman. He has been moved a few times from home to home and faced challenges related to his autism, so the path to his senior year was very hard. Kyle passed his state test and is now more confident than ever that he will graduate. In addition, he currently has all A’s in his classes!

At the beginning of the school year, two unaccompanied refugee minors, Othmane and Zaheed, aged out of their group home and had to find a new place to live. They worked with their Treehouse Graduation Success Coordinator and staff at their high school to get kitchenware, beds and living room furniture for their new place!

Join Treehouse as we partner with youth in foster care during the pandemic and beyond. Make a gift at treehouseforkids.org/donate.

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About the Author

Linsey is the Marketing and Communications Intern at Treehouse. She is a graduate student at Seattle Pacific University, where she is studying to become a Marriage and Family Therapist with a focus on adolescents and young adults.

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