Graduation 2014 and Ninth Grade Transition

A community of family, funders, friends, and mentoring pairs celebrated our graduates at our May 12 Annual Anniversary Celebration, sponsored by Venable and held at their law offices.  Presenters included board chair and Allied Telecom Group president, Ken Williams; Counsel, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and board member, Albert Sanders; Assistant Attorney General for the District of Columbia and mentor, Shelly Mulkey; River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation member and scholarship presenter, Elsa Williams; and Mentors, Inc. program manager, Furqan Khaldun.  The program recognized alumni, one-year mentoring anniversaries, ninth grade transition, graduation tributes, and prizes for reception networking to help teens learn about building relationships.

Over a year ago, Mentors, Inc. began focused recruitment on 9th and 10th graders.  Consequently, we will not have a large graduating class for at least two to three years.  Meanwhile, our mostly 9th and 10th grade protégés are experiencing the joys and challenges of adjusting to their new high schools.

According to the National High School Center’s report, Easing the Transition to High School: Research and Best Practices Designed to Support High School Learning, students’ experiences in their first year of high school often determine their success throughout high school and beyond. However, more students fail ninth grade than any other grade.  Students in ninth grade comprise the highest percentage of the overall high school population because ninth graders in disproportionate numbers are failing to be promoted.  The academic and social challenges, coupled with reduced support and the expectation of increased independence, can create fear and trepidation, feelings of being lost and not connected, and anxiety from newfound anonymity.  More than any other time, accomplishing the transition through 9th grade impacts academic and life success. 

This summer, we’ll pilot a new “Boot Camp” to apply research-based best practices to help our 8th/9th graders rock their transition to high school.  With your help we know that in a few years, we will all celebrate their graduations, and higher education plans, too!