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New Haven charter school celebrates 100 percent college acceptance for graduates

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NEW HAVEN - For the sixth consecutive year, New Haven’s Achievement First Amistad High School hosted Senior Signing Day, which had nothing to do with athletic scholarships. Instead, it is a ceremony for the school’s seniors to announce that they have more than graduation to look forward to.

Inside Yale University’s Woolsey Hall, roughly 80 seniors proudly revealed their college choices.

“This fall,  I will happily attend Bates College,” exclaimed Marcel Delvalle, of Bridgeport. This marks the first graduating class to include students from the Park City.

Delvalle and his twin brother, Jio'vanni, will both attend Bates, which is located in Maine, because their mother was nervous to have them separated. But they will be separated, Marcel claims. “I am not going to room with him,” he said with a smile. “ I need to meet new people.”

The Delvalle duo never even expected to be even talking about school because of their family’s financial constraints.

“But, then as I got more knowledgeable with the college process and the fact that if you do good at high school you get the money from the college,” said Marcel Delvalle.

He learned that in a course all Amistad students are required to take. It’s one that prepares them to understand how to pay for and apply to colleges.

“Everything from what is loan amortization to how do I craft a really strong resume to what is a best fit college,” said Chris Bostock, principal of the school, which partners with charter middle schools in New Haven and Bridgeport.

At Amistad, teachers don't just focus on getting students into college. They want them to be college persistent. In other words, the objective is getting students through college. And one way they can achieve this is by helping them to enjoy their academic experience.

That's where teacher reviews come into play.

“Every teacher in our school has a coach, who observes them every week,” said Bostock. “They get a one-hour coaching meeting every week where they get feedback on every lesson. Every lesson plan is reviewed by an academic dean every week.”

The results are impressive--100 percent of the school’s graduates have been accepted to college six years running.

“I'm the first in my family to actually go to college and want to finish college,” said Bryana Kinlock, a senior from Bridgeport. “So, it's better for me to show an example for my cousins.”

Drive like that makes ceremonies like this possible.

“Every obstacle I have faced throughout my high school career has shaped me into the person I am today,” said one graduate. “I’m still not where I want to be, but I’m not where I used to be.”

Amistad was recognized last week by U.S. News and World Report as being the second best high school in Connecticut.

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