05.19.2021

Finishing the School Year with Graduation Success

By Linsey Hunt, Marketing & Communications Intern

The youth in our Graduation Success program have been as busy as ever as they look towards the end of school and graduation. While difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic have persisted, our youth experiencing foster care have also celebrated big wins.

Read on to discover more about what our youth in Graduation Success have accomplished so far in 2021!

One of our Graduation Success participants, a sophomore in high school, has had plenty of challenges, including upheaval from school and placement changes this fall. However, he continues to stay positive and push forward! He is a dedicated student with a great understanding of what he needs to do to succeed.

He has moved into a new home and is back attending his school in-person, beginning to raise his grades even higher than they were before he faced this fall’s upheaval. He started applying for jobs, working with his Treehouse Graduation Success Coordinator via Zoom, and received his food handler’s permit.

Another Graduation Success participant started at a new school for the 2020-21 school year. She has been studying nursing, and despite having had all of her classes online and having met few of her teachers or the staff at her school in person, she is excelling. At a recent school meeting, the staff shared that she is one of their hardest working students and that they have every confidence that she will be able to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse once she finishes high school!

Esteban, a freshman in our Graduation Success program, is committed to athletics. He continues to practice and train every opportunity he has during the pandemic to show his commitment. Plus, he is earning all A’s and B’s!

Salina is a senior in our Graduation Success program. She has always maintained a hard-working attitude and has stayed focused on her goals, despite a lot of outside interference that made it nearly impossible for her to succeed. Salina has maintained her A and B grades, gotten involved in extracurricular activities and built healthy relationships with the people who are around her.

One of our Graduation Success participants began 2020 with the goal of graduating by spring 2021, even though his expected graduation date was spring 2022. Through his perseverance and self-advocacy with his care team, he enrolled in and took four online courses over summer 2020, including Introduction to Engineering. In fall 2020, he officially started his senior year and is on track to graduate in June 2021!

Through his summer courses, he discovered his interest in engineering and started applying to universities in Washington. So far, he has been accepted to one university as an engineering major.

Sam has been working with Treehouse staff as part of the Graduation Success program for several years now. During that time he has moved schools and changed placement several times, a situation that meant missing aspects of school and falling behind in his credits.

During the beginning of his senior year, Sam met with his school counselor, caregiver and education specialist. He made the decision to move to a school where he can actively work towards retrieving his credits to graduate on time. Since moving schools, he has been passing all 6 classes and has A grades in most of them! He is now looking at signing up for Running Start in his last trimester as a way to meet his graduation requirements and begin pursuing his post-secondary aspirations of studying art and illustration.

Iris is an 11th grader who’s been working with Treehouse for about a year. When she started, she had recently moved to a non-traditional school to take part in their credit retrieval program. Iris set a goal of graduating on time at her original school.

Since then, Iris has been achieving her student-centered plans of scheduling a meeting with her school counselor to make a graduation plans, passing all of her classes and taking on additional online classes to get back on track with graduating on time. During this school year, Iris has been nominated as the student “all-star” at her school twice!

Christina is a high school senior in our Graduation Success program. She has spent her year of remote learning being an advocate for her younger siblings with their remote learning. This has caused a strain on Christina’s energy to maintain her own studies, but she has been an advocate for herself in working with her IEP case manager to get her assignments completed. Because of this responsibility to family and school, Christina sees herself as a future leader in advocacy for others.

She took the biggest step in her goal when applied for the Bank of America Student Leaders summer internship in Washington, D.C.  She hopes the internship will help her develop leadership and advocacy skills that she can apply in her community.

Adelyn, a senior in our Graduation Success program, has spent the school year trying to balance remote classes, working to provide for her basic needs and experiencing homelessness. Despite these challenges, Adelyn continues to engage in her classes and plan for college.

Recently, she was selected as a semi- finalist for the national Jack Kent Scholarship, which provides $40,000 per year. Recipients are selected for the scholarship based on their academic achievements, a GPA of a 3.5 or above and financial need. This has been a much-needed boost for Adelyn in her senior year with all the barriers she’s had to face.

One of our Graduation Success participants has reengaged with her academic goals this semester and is doing amazing at Career Link! Our Incentive Checklist has been a great motivator for her to get things done, and she is earning gift cards to help with groceries. She is excelling in classes while working and living independently.

Four years ago, Ibrahim set a goal of finishing high school and attending college to study science. Although he knows and speaks over 5 languages, when he started high school, English was not one of them. This did not deter Ibrahim.

Through in-school and summer classes, he stayed on track with graduation requirements. He is set to graduate high school this year and accomplish that goal he set years ago. He has already been accepted into one of the universities he has applied to!

A Graduation Success participant set a goal to complete her enrollment in the Occupational and Life Skills Program at Bellevue College. She reached out to her teachers and community partners to obtain glowing letters of recommendations to achieve her goal, and she got in! Today, she stands as a successful advocate for her learning and is ready for the next step life has to bring.

One youth set a goal to complete his GED. With COVID-19, most programs had transitioned to being online and he found it difficult without the proper tools. At first, he struggled to navigate the online education world because the internet at his place of residence was unstable and his laptop was sluggish. He proved himself to be resilient as he began to realize the true power of self-advocacy.

He reached out to his team of community partners such as Treehouse and the Independent Living Program (ILP) at the YMCA. ILP was able to help him with his internet, and Treehouse got him a new Chromebook. He is so grateful and feels like he can complete his goal of obtaining his GED now.

“It’s going to help me so much,” he said. “I can really focus on finishing school and going to college… I have this laptop for life. I’m really thankful for that!”

Sabrina, a Graduation Success student, is a senior at Kentridge High School. When she first started in the program, she had goals of finishing her education and going to college. She was also looking to work and make some income. From day one she has been respectful, hardworking and supportive of her siblings. She is a part of the youth group at her church and is really good at Uno.

The year 2020 was unpredictable and full of uncertainty for many students as they switched from classroom to an at-home setting. Sabrina, however, faced that year head-on and did not waver. As a senior, she is excelling in her classes and has secured her driver’s license and a job. She also started applying to her top-choice schools and supporting her sisters as they follow in her footsteps. Her Treehouse Education Specialist wanted to highlight Sabrina’s hard work and resilience as she finishes her senior year in high school and prepares to take the next step towards her future.

Another Graduation Success participant struggled to stay motivated while taking part in remote learning for the first semester of this school year. At the beginning of second semester, he decided to make the most of his fresh start. He worked with his Treehouse Education Specialist to create an incentive plan so that he could earn a gift card for having no missing assignments for a month. During that time period he managed to turn in all of his assignments and maintained near-perfect attendance! He said he learned the key the success is being willing to ask for help when he needs it.

One of our Graduation Success students has been working with his Treehouse Education Specialist for a year. When they first met, he lacked confidence in his ability to be a successful student and was uncomfortable asking his teachers for help. His grades were low and he didn’t express much confidence in being able to get them up. Every week, they would practice checking his grades, set and check in on goals and practice asking his teachers for help. The youth went from receiving D’s and F’s to now receiving A’s, B’s and C’s. His confidence level has increased as he has found pride in his success!

Celeste told her Treehouse Education Specialist she was not good at math. It was frustrating for her to consistently feel so challenged by a subject and, despite ongoing focus and effort, feel that she made no headway. Near the end of her junior year, she asked to be connected with a Treehouse tutor. Though they never met in person, Celeste and her tutor worked together each Friday afternoon. By the end of junior year, Celeste was able to turn around her experience with math, and what started as an F ended as a B.

During her senior year, Celeste decided to continue working with her tutor and set her sights on college. Finishing high school and attending college would be the first time for anyone in her biological family to do so. With help from her Education Specialist, she decided to write essays for all of the colleges she applied to even though it was not required. By the end of her first semester of senior year, she had an A- in math and acceptances to all of the schools she applied!

A Graduation Success participant had trouble remembering to turn in all of her assignments on time. She attended school every day, but her grades didn’t always reflect that. She was able to point out the source of her problem: organization. She worked with her Treehouse Education Specialist to create goals that center on organization, and while this is something she is still practicing, she is more aware of her due dates and the assignments she has to complete.

She has made great improvements in turning in all of her work on time, and completing and turning in past-due assignments that may have accrued. She currently has A’s and B’s and is getting closer to her goal of opening a pet-friendly café.

Looking for ways to support our Graduation Success participants during National Foster Care Month? Purchase a gift for a 2021 graduate today!

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About the Author

Linsey is the Marketing & 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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