Tuesday, July 31, 2012

From the Parents of Eric Wang

Our son Eric is back from ILC’s Cornell University program. This is his 2nd and last participation the ILC. Like other parents, we followed his cohort’s blogs daily. It’s obvious he and his cohort got a lot from it. What great experiences and fun memories it was for him and his cohort! Through the program he made many new friends and expanded his area of academic interests. This program has done much more to him! He learned through this program that a lot people in his community care about education and would go out of their way to support a program out of modest means. He learned that there is a great deal of support from his teachers and school administration staff. He learned that he needs to be responsible and live up to expectations to be good ambassador of his community and school. Above all, he learned that only great leadership can make such programs possible. We cannot think of a better program that can do all those. As parents, we feel so lucky our son was given such opportunities. On behalf of our family, we would like say a big “thank-you” for everything the ILC did for our and all ILC students

To donors, it’s without a doubt that your generous support will be remembered for many years to come, and surely made a positive influence on our son. On this point, we think we speak for all parents. The ILC program gave all of them opportunities to experience what would otherwise be impossible! Once you kindle their aspiration of trying to be as good as they can be, there is nothing that will stop them from pursuing their dreams. Some of the ILC participants will continue on the journey you put them on through your generous support. They will remember where their journey got started, and find ways to make sure the same generous spirits you taught them live wherever you call home. Thanks you for teaching my son and all ILC participants a valuable lesson of life.

To ILC leadership, your tireless efforts and unwavering support are amazing. We all know that it is no easy task to organize and administer a program like the ILC. You believe not only we can do it, but also do it with the highest standards. We appreciate you made every effort to include more students in the program and at the same time hold the same high standards. Starting from the 1st meeting, you showed that safety and students’ best interests are always at the core of this program. We are so impressed with attention to details in the program’s administration from the trip checklist, campus visits, to all group activities. It comes as no surprise that our son enjoyed his every visit. Thank you for setting a fine leadership example, and proving a great opportunity to our son and all other participants.

To students who cannot make up their mind, you are missing an opportunity of your lifetime. There are only a very few high school students who have a chance to experience what is like living on an Ivy League campus. It’s all right you are not thinking about those schools yet. Visiting them alone is well worth your efforts. Get ready for the next ILC announcement!

To parents who have doubts what ILC can do, you maybe think too hard for yourselves. First of all, going through the ILC selection process itself is good experience regardless of outcome. Your children will learn to present themselves to a selection committee much the same way they would have to in a situation of a job interview. Secondly, chances are you are not quite as good at organizing a college trip as ILC does even if you have desire and means to do. The ILC has done a superb job to organize the program and your children are in a safe and positive learning environments. Thirdly, it really does not matter which program your children get in to. All ILC programs teach them critical thinking and problem solving, skills required in any profession. Having your children to work with other students from other areas can broaden their view in a great way. Lastly, the truth is that our children are not always cut out for what we do. Some of them can do a lot more than we can ever imagine. All they need is to have a peak at what is possible. Let’s give them a chance! ILC is designed to do just that. Encourage your kids to give a try, they do listen to you!

Finally, thank you, ILC, for everything you did on behalf the school district. Let us know if there is anything we can help.

Parents of Eric Wang

Monday, July 30, 2012

From the Parents of Frank He

A great program, a great experience
We would like to give our hearty appreciation for our son Frank He’s participation in the 2012 Ivy League Connection Hotel Management program at Cornell University. Frank enjoyed the trip immensely and gained a broader insight into top universities. His experience will be invaluable to him in preparing for the college admissions process.

The Ivy League Connection provided Frank with a taste of being independent. This was the first time he lived away from home, and he learned to care for himself as well as mutually support his fellow cohorts. It was very beneficial for Frank to experience the independence of college life.

We have observed that the program’s blog is a great platform for the participants to reflect on their days and express their feelings. It is also a great way for parents to catch up on their children. Reading Frank’s blog was our pleasure and allowed us to follow his adventures on the East Coast. We felt that Frank matured as a writer through his daily blogs.

Visiting Ivy League colleges and attending the Cornell summer course were the two main parts of the program, and both were very beneficial to the students. By visiting UPenn, Columbia, Princeton, and Cornell, Frank learned of the various academic atmospheres of these colleges, which may later influence his college choices. The Hotel Management course was wonderful from what the students described in their blogs. We believe that the trip was a very valuable experience that will help the students in their future academic endeavors. We also appreciate the hard work of the Cornell teachers and teaching assistants.

The Ivy League Connection is an amazing program organized by the West Contra Costa Unified School District. As parents, we would like to sincerely thank the WCCUSD School Board, especially Mr. Charles Ramsey, Ms. Madeline Kronenberg and Mr. Don Gosney for their time and dedication to our students.

Thank you all so much!
Dao-Yao He and Chun-Mei Xie

Sunday, July 29, 2012

From the Parents of Calvin Kuang

We can truly say that the Ivy League Connection is the most valuable program to our family. It not only guided our children (Jennifer and Calvin) to reach a higher education—getting into college (which we did not have the chance to do when we were their age), but also allow them to see another world outside of the Bay Area and explore some of the top colleges in East Cost. This is all through the hard work and great dedication of the people in our school district, the supporters, and donors. For that, we cannot thank the ILC enough.

The four-week trip to the East Cost touring colleges and attending the Cornell summer program, Freedom & Justice, brought Calvin great joy and memories. During the first week of college visits, he had the opportunity to see different colleges, learn their cultures and get the first hand experience of their campuses, which widely opened his eyes and helped him understand what college he will be a better fit in.

The following three-week course at Cornell, it really provided Calvin the opportunity to experience what college life is: independent, decision making and time management. As a result, he has gained confidence in himself especially in writing. Reading his blogs each day, we could see Calvin’s writing has improved; he had a great time studying and living at Cornell. He enjoyed the lessons from professor Kramnick—which lit up his world. He misses his class, professor, TA, and all the friends he made on the campus.

After the one-month ILC experience, we found him to be a more grown up and mature person. We have more confidence in him making his own independent choices & dealing with difficulties when facing pressure and challenges. Calvin now has a better understanding of colleges and interesting courses. He is so fortunate to have this lifetime opportunity, and he knows he will give back by doing his best in school and helping the community and others as well.

We would really like to thank the Ivy League Connection for giving Calvin the opportunity and widening his knowledge and experience.

We want to thank all the people who made this possible: the administrators, the sponsors and the donors. We truly believe no other school district is like ours that the management is so much involved & engaged with students, I always admire the strong leadership from Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Board members, and all the staffs involved. We really appreciate Don and Alfredo Chan-Law so much for their dedicated works.

Sasa & David Kuang

From the Parents of Ying-An Wang

Growth in Every Step with ILC
The first time we heard about the Ivy League Connection (ILC) was when Ying-An mentioned a school assembly regarding ILC toward the end of fall semester. His eyes sparked with some excitement and uncertainty. After some research, we all thought this would be a valuable experience if he could grasp this opportunity, a precious funded opportunity to study summer programs at Ivy League schools that we could not afford.

Over the winter break, he worked on the essays for the ILC applications. A willingness to trade off short-term play time for a life-changing rewarding experience was a hidden test embedded in the ILC application process, and we were glad that Ying-An made a wise decision.

The wait for the interview list was longer than expected (several days past the scheduled notification date) and created some anxiety. His hope level went from high to almost zero. Plucking up courage with preparation to face the reality of being rejected, he followed up with Don and quickly got a hopeful response. The interview list was not sent out on time due to some delay in the selection process. The delay resulted in only two days to prepare for the interview. It was somewhat a nerve wrecking experience for Ying-An, as this was his first interview experience and had only such a short time to prepare. He took up the challenge and did the best he could.

Even he was not satisfied with his interview performance, I was very hopeful in the waiting room because I knew he has always set a very high standard for himself. He was totally surprised when the selection result was announced. Regardless a long night, it concluded with excitement for the whole family. If not for ILC, he would not have been through all the essay writing and interview experience that he will eventually face when applying for colleges.

Along the way, he participated in the blog webpage design, gained blogging skills, was presented to the School Board, and enjoyed a fancy dinner and meeting with sponsors and Brown alumni. He learned that his responsibilities came with privileges given in each of the events.

During the four-week trip on the east coast, he completely soaked himself in all the activities from college tours, dinners with network resources, the biotech course, exploring campus and places, bonding with his cohort and meeting new friends. The whole experience has changed him. The immediate impression when we saw him at the airport was that he looked more confident. And he should feel confident as he managed to adapt to a new environment and take care of things on his own the first time being away from home for four weeks. He is now more enthusiastic about going to college. Ivy League schools and MIT that seemed unreachable are now under his consideration for applying. He is also more sure that biotech is the field he wants to pursue.

We would like to thank Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Don for the countless hours and effort they have devoted to ILC. We also want to thank Ms. Kaplan for taking excellent care of the students. We appreciate very much for the wonderful opportunity given to Ying-An. There is no doubt that the whole experience has expanded his knowledge, broadened his perspective, and enriched his life experience. This experience has also prompted him for self discovery. He has striven for excellence and might have set a high bar for himself. By recognizing that not every thing comes easily, he will work harder, improve, and grow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

From the Mother of Lucas Lochner Bravo

It was late December 2011, summer in the Southern Hemisphere. We were on vacation in Chile. As soon as we got there, my son Lucas informed me that he was applying for ILC and that he needed to talk with someone in the USA to get the details. After a long and expensive phone conversation, Lucas told me, “I have to write some essays as part of the selection process,” and “I have a deadline.”

From that day on, I started my own journey as a mom, being with Lucas every step of the process.

During that vacation in Chile, while the rest of us spent time on the beach, or in the pool, or going places, Lucas stayed home, sometimes going to bed as the sun was rising, working on his essays for ILC.

I saw how just writing about a specific topic enhanced his knowledge about life, about the world, and about himself.

It was the time of the Occupy movement in the USA, a time of economic hardship for many families—foreclosures, unemployment, global warming and so on. I saw how Lucas was becoming more and more interested in what was happening in the world; at the same time I saw how he started an internal dialog, searching for possible solutions.

I saw my son more involved and engaged, with more clear political philosophies that reflect his own values in everyday life.

Finally, after a stressful but extremely enriching interview process before the ILC panel, Lucas was nominated as one of the kids who would participate in ILC at Columbia University, attending a Constitutional Law class.

What followed that day was a preparation for the big day that he and five other students would leave for the East Coast, to be active participants in the Constitutional Law class.

Before the trip, Lucas prepared everything by himself; I was silently close to him.

When he left for Columbia, I felt a mix of feelings: emptiness, joy, and excitement. I knew that this would be an extraordinary experience for him.

During the four weeks that he was there, I had my own routine; at 10:00 am I would have my coffee break and I would enjoy reading Lucas’ blog as well as the other students’ blogs.

I saw how Lucas was transforming in front of my eyes; he became this young man, who started using terms like “social justice,” “human rights,” “freedom,” “equality.” It brought memories of my own adolescence, growing up in a country under dictatorship.

What ILC has given to Lucas is a treasure, an experience during which the kids needed to integrate intellectual work, social skills, life skills and ideals that make you grow as a person.

We are so grateful to ILC for this opportunity that otherwise we would not have been able to offer to Lucas.

Lucas’ younger sister has seen his progress through this experience, and now she is thinking of applying to ILC too, because she knows it would be an experience that would change her life too.

For now I need to prepare myself. My son will leave soon for college, a new chapter in his life as well as mine. In my culture, kids stay with their families when they go to college. Here it is different. I need to let him go.

As a friend of mine says …..”We give our children roots…and we give them wings.”

Thanks, ILC
Victoria Bravo (Lucas’s mom)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

From Adrianne Ramsey's Mom

It seems like ages since Adrianne pushed the trunk lid open, grabbed her suitcase, and joined her anxious, shivering cohort around 4:00 AM for their journey to The Big Apple and a Columbia University summer program. Don Gosney's friendly, yet informative presence, and Cheryl Lilhanand's polished attentiveness eased our separation.

Over the course of weeks, I envied the variety of sumptuous dinner plates, drank in eclectic photographic perspectives of various east coast towns and cities, and commiserated with students as they put in long hours of critical reading, note taking, rewrites, debate preparation, and daily blogs. Individual ILC student blogs continue to relate the fascinating mix of social and academic activities in which they participated. For example, I never knew a woman could devour 48 hot dogs in eight minutes at the Coney Island eating contest. There were just 29 competitive high school students in the Constitutional Law class at Columbia University.

Members of this cohort were not intimidated by subway nor train travel while in New York. In many cases, this cohort responded to challenging or unusual situations as a team. As a parent, I would like to take credit for the confidence my daughter exuded during her ILC experience. However, I am sure her veteran chaperone, Cheryl Lilhanand provided this group of ILC selected high school students with the kind of preparatory advice, sage direction, and personal accessibility that formed them into a consolidated cohort. I thank you, Cheryl, for graciously managing with care my daughter and the rest of the ILC cohort for a month in a mega-city at a prestigious university. I am most grateful that you dealt with my concerns abouth the availability of the reading material with such aplomb at an ungodly hour, as well.

As a witness to the blood, sweat, tears, readjustments, advocations, inquiries, refinements, and commitments of the team of dedicated public servants, private individuals, professional businesses, and working men's and women's institutions that continue to steward and fund The Ivy League Connection, I say to all ILC parents and ILC cohorts that showing our nation's top educational institutuions that West Contra Costa Unified School District students are willing and able to compete and contribute in their academic programs is a good thing! I am most thankful for the kind of program that showcases some of our best and brightest. Thank you, to all of the people that make this possible.

Now, here is some brief advice for the ILC cohorts: Education is like a bountiful meal. It is best shared with others. Please find a way to share your academic and social experiences with your peers. Let them know that it is all right to want to learn about the world in some way, that is good to seek help for what is not understood, to stop by a career center for college info, to attend a college presentation or two, to join your community in making the environment better. It may seem bothersome, yet you may be planting a good seed in the heart and soul of another.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

From the Parents of Nick Shebek

Our son, Nick heads to Brown: Insightful Rising Senior Returns
Junior year at El Cerrito High for Nick seemed to require better family communication skills than prior years; there were school and club sports practices that still required rides; college admission tests to schedule, classes to juggle, and Ivy League Connection deadlines to track. Things seemed to go relatively smoothly; and we were glad when Nick was selected for Brown's macroeconomics course; an area of study which we thought he might find to be a nice combination of practical knowledge and mathematics, located in the heart of New England, where Nick would love to attend college.

My husband and I both grew up on the East Coast, and the opportunity for Nick to become more familiar with the pace, the lifestyle and the humidity should serve him well. The Ivy League Connection deadlines were going by quickly--we had met with the chaperones and cohorts at a casual potluck dinner at the high school; we had carpooled to the blogging training session, we had a moment of anxiety when the School Board meeting might have conflicted with a post season varsity baseball game, but all was on track as we boarded BART for our dinner at Boulevard with Brown alumni, School Board members and ILC sponsors. Nick was going to be speaking that evening; and was very entertaining with his pre-dinner jitters en route to San Francisco. He did well; fit in a Boston Celtics reference and got a smile from many of the guests, and we enjoyed a great dinner. I sat between two recent Brown graduates; both of whom spent some of their professional career with investment houses; my experiences as a commodities trader when they were toddlers both dated me, and provided a bit of a common language.

As I learned about Brown that evening, I saw that it fostered creativity and a strong sense of community. Soon after the dinner there were finals and SAT subject tests; quick double checks of the items needed list, and before we knew it, Nick was on his way.

The college visits had a huge impact; Nick was impressed with Yale, intrigued by Dartmouth, and thought Wesleyan might be a good fit for his younger sister when the time came. The opportunities to mingle with recent alumni and admissions staff further rounded his impressions of the schools. I think it's fair to say that Nick was blown away by MIT; besides its well-earned reputation as a top engineering school, Nick was glad its students were well rounded; that its humanities offerings were stellar as well. Meeting with alumni, Nick enjoyed their sense of humor, and glad to learn that majors weren't declared until sophomore year. On top of all of that, it is in Boston, home of the Celtics and the Red Sox; Nick is descended from a long line of New England sports fans. The one issue is that it is nearly impossible to be accepted, but at this time, Nick wants to apply.

On his return home, he set up his "mymit" account, read through the college materials that had accumulated in his absence, and seemed to be more focused and reflective. Nick enjoyed the macroeconomics course; it made him realize that if doesn't find his passion in engineering, there are other areas that will interest him. The pace of the class was challenging and in retrospect, he realized that Mr. Coleman had covered an enormous amount of material in just over two weeks. At the dinner at Mistral I suspect he already knew this was getting to be the end of a wonderful journey, and he enjoyed interacting with his cohorts as well as Brown II students and the alumni from the local prestigious schools visited by the various Brown groups. There was such a change in our son; he called more frequently than on other trips wanting to share insights he had learned about himself; joke with his sister about blog titles, advising her on the 'errors' of his high school career, encouraging to stretch herself in many directions.

For me, I've realized that there is now a whole new network of folks that I wouldn't have met except for the Ivy League Connection; I've made "linkedin" connections with young traders in the investment arena from Brown; I realized that when I reached out to an attorney in Hercules for a district-wide parcel tax measure initiative that he may have known Terilyn Chen as a mock trial attorney coach. Sure enough he did; Terilyn heads off to Harvard, he shared, a fact that was known to the other parents at the School Board meeting where Terilyn shared her Harvard interview experiences with the new ILC students.

The Ivy League Connection can be about more than opening WCCUSD students' eyes to the opportunities across the country; it can be about making connections locally. Coming from the East Coast thirty years ago, we had been envious of students who could study at the UCs for a fraction of the price. We had looked forward to taking advantage of California's university system for our own children, and frankly hadn't thought much of sending our children to the East Coast before the Ivy League connection reminded us that things change; and that now, WCCUSD students can stand out as talented contributors to a college campus in the Ivy League. I really believe that Nick's experience with the ILC has put him in a position where he will make an informed, intelligent and socially aware decision about where he is most likely to succeed in college.

We are so grateful for the ILC sponsors and team with the vision to keep all doors open for our WCCUSD students.

Thanks again, Karen and Pete Shebek

From the Father of Kelly Xi

I might be the last one of all the parents to write, but not the least to appreciate the ILC program. It was Kelly's second time to go. I was a little bit disappointed to know that she was not even selected in the first round. When she was called for the interview, I did not have too much confidence if she could make it to the final. I tried to comfort her by telling her that it is fair to let other kids have the same opportunity. She surprised me again with her well rounded preparation and confident presentation in front of the board members. Since Kelly already had her experience from last year, I was not worried for her at all for her 4 weeks away from home. I tried not to call her and let her handle things independently.

By the way, kids were together with the two most wonderful chaperones. Why should I worry? To tell the truth, I did not have the time to read all she wrote everyday, but I tried to make sure that she wrote everyday. As she was always a last minute person, she managed to write and post except missing a few times for some reasons. It is fair to say that she is much better this year in terms of keep writing her blogs. She is obviously more mature and confident.

The ILC experience really prepared the kids well for college both academically and mentally. By reading her last long blog, I am very impressed and proud of her idea to plan mock interviews to prepare other students for the ILC. I noticed that she uses the word "community" more often these days since she's returned. In my mind, when the kids learn to appreciate or give back what they received to their community, they are getting mature. A few years ago, we moved to Hercules from Davis and I thought we made a mistake for the kid. For the past two years, I actually feel lucky to have moved down here to live in the West county. Our school district has done an excellent job to overcome the disadvantages financially and geographically. They have worked so hard to unite the local businesses and community, to create such a wonderful program for our kids. When I proudly talk about our school district to my colleagues, they showed their envy in their eyes. I have not heard any other school district with similar program.

When I talk about our school district, I always mean the strong leadership from Mr. Ramsey, Ms Kronenberg and other board members that I could not name them individually, the generous sponsors and Don and all the staff involved. I really admire Don so much for his dedicated works. Please don't forget that he is a volunteer for us. He has done more than any of parents did. Mr. Ramsey really set a good sample for the kids and the parents how to follow the rules. I like the chaperones because they acted like parents, babysitting my smart but hard-headed teenager.

The party was over especially for Kelly. She is going to college next year. I don't know where she will end up. But I want her to realize that she might be smart but somebody else created the chance for her. She has to appreciate all the help from others and to give back to the community some day. 

Finally, I wish more kids from our West county will benefit from this unique ILC program. No matter where you go, be proud of where you are from.

Million thanks again to the people that I mentioned above and not mentioned but involved. You all are great people!

Side Xi

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

From the Parents of Tayler Ward

The opportunity that our daughter received to attend the Ivy League connection was not only a blessing for her but it was a blessing for our entire family. Having the opportunity to watch her and support her through this process reminded us of how truly special she is. Tayler worked so hard at writing those essays as she applied for 3 different programs offered by the Ivy League Connection. That alone made us proud of her that she was willing to put her self out there up to 3 times in order to increase her chances of acceptance.

Well, not to my surprise she was selected into the very 1st cohort therefore there was no need for her to go to the other two interviews. Sitting there with her before and after her interview we were both very nervous, but call it mother’s intuition I felt sure she would be selected.

After the acceptance and leading up to the actual departure was a great time for us as a family. Lots of time talking about all the what if's, planning, preparing and watching Tayler balanced her excitement and her fear. Again, a great learning experience for us all. Never questioning if she was mature enough but still secretly scared to have her gone for an entire month, we, too, had to balance our excitement and fear.

Well, she left for her trip to Brown University for a class in Macroeconomics (I am still wondering exactly what that is!) During her sendoff we fed off of one another’s excitement... no room for fear right now! She made it safe and sound.... she stayed in regular communication with us for the 1st week... well then you all know what happened, she started to enjoy herself a little bit too much bonding with her fellow Brownies and well, things changed. Our communication began to get a little irregular in week two, very irregular for week 3 and picked back up in week four. Well it was at the beginning of week four that she reached her peak for missing her own bed, her own bathroom and her own home cooked meals! She had to balance her feelings of how great a time she was having with how much she was missing Home Sweet Home!

Upon her return we were so happy to see her at SFO. She seemed a little different. We quickly realized that in those 4 weeks she really matured. The exposure that she received has broadened her perspectives on so many things.

We feel that the Ivy League Connection is an irreplaceable program. The combination of the exposing these youth to Ivy League Schools, taking an Ivy League Course, preparing them for being away from home for a significant amount of time, the caliber of the chaperones (Ms. Kaplan was AMAZING), the responsibility instilled in them to give back through public speaking and blogging... all of this together makes this program unique.

The Ivy League Connection is undoubtedly preparing these youth to be leaders...but not just leaders... they are being prepared to lead with a sense of pride, respect for others and personal responsibility to give back. We are very thankful that our daughter had this opportunity.

Billy & Tracy Ward

Monday, July 16, 2012

From the Parents of David Fang

Moving Forward

The following content was originally dictated in Chinese and translated into English.

First of all, I am very grateful to the founders (Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Don) and planners of the Ivy League Connection, as well as the sponsors and behind the scenes staff. Their hard work and constant efforts towards improvement is what made the ILC the outstanding and successful program it is today. It is truly gratifying. 

I am also very thankful for Ms. Kaplan for taking the Brown Session I students on this journey with attentive care. Her smile and laughter brought warmth and love to our children.

As parents, we were filled with joy when we heard about the program. With the help of the ILC, our child would have another metamorphic summer experience. I remember when I first accompanied David to the interview. I told him, "David, Mom has confidence in you."

When he was done with his interview, he called me back into the classroom and sat by my side. He smiled at me and said, "Mom, I felt good about my performance today. The panelists seemed pretty satisfied." I said back to him, "Success is half confidence and half hard work. Since you're so confident about yourself, you're already halfway there. And whatever the outcome, Mom will always support you."

When I heard my child's name being called out as one of the 2012 ILC participants, I ran over to him, with joy filling my heart. I told myself that this moment would be unforgettable, on the thought that David's efforts have not been in vain. I believe that the success of every child cannot be separated from their parents' support. As parents, we have to pay more attention to our child's thinking, behavior, and education in schools. They are our future. And as long as our children can continue to pursue their ideals with the proper education and opportunities, there is hope.

Through the one month experience, we found him to be a more grown up, mature person. We have more confidence in him making his own independent choices. He has expanded his knowledge towards the culture of people from various cultures and backgrounds, and has taken a great leap forward towards his communication with others. Through a short period of time, David has taken a great amount of change, but has also changed us. We are more assured in his capacity to be more independent and to think more intelligently, as well as the way he has learned to deal with difficulties in the face of pressure. 

He is also more confident when facing challenges, and makes smarter choices. In addition, by taking the Macroeconomics course at Brown, David now has a better understanding of the world. By visiting colleges, David now has a better understanding of college admissions, school conditions, interesting courses, and financial aid. We would really like to thank the Ivy League Connection for giving him his opportunity, and broadening his knowledge and experience.

And so, we will wish for the continuation of this program. Let this program forever continue to shine brightly and be extended to every school district. Let the Ivy League Connection continue to prosper and grow, for our children.
If anyone ever wanted to be convinced of the need for parental buy-in for our members of The Ivy League Connection they need to re-read this blog.  And while our readers could not have been at the interview, had they been there they would have seen David's mother jumping for joy with an ear to ear smile on her face when David's name was announced.  We could have turned out the lights in the interview room and still we would have needed sunglasses to protect our eyes from the way his mother beamed with pride in her David.
Don Gosney

Sunday, July 15, 2012

From the Parents of Emily Hasyashi Groves

ILC Stands alone and above
As the de facto arbiters of merit in our meritocracy, selective schools are caught in tortuous business of keeping ratings high, admitting nearly only the straight A, 2400 SAT lacrosse team captain types. Gaming admissions becomes an act of parental positioning in affluent communities nationwide. Student backgrounds in top tier schools have become dangerously homogeneous for a nation with our diversity. Four out of five students in our Ivied institutions come from houses in the top quarter of the income bracket. More alarming, only 2% of selective school students hail from the bottom 50% in family income. NYC parents now spend hundreds to send their pre-K babies to gifted program test preparation to nab a spot in the fast track early on.  Myriad programs provide a capstone experience to a well-heeled high school career, offering one more fractional privilege to a polished list of credentials. The interplay of school rankings, family wealth and college prep industries form a ever increasing feedback loop. Our nation’s most desirable schools are becoming the turbo-charger in the engine of inequality.

Given student profiles at our nations’ top schools, chances for students in high poverty districts like ours could be remote. While such schools maintain some programming to diversify their student bodies, the pathways offered usually lead to a single school and can serve institutional interests as much as the students’.  ILC establishes an unparalleled program on terms advantageous to our students.  ILC uniquely exposes students with a sweeping survey of possibilities and instills the attributes needed to attain them. No other program offers such tangible opportunities for success. ILC prepares kids for life in a potent, global form.

As a lower income West County family, we haven’t the resources to make aware our daughter of options beyond California schools. East Coast institutions for her were abstractions. WCCUSD students can be self-limiting when making crucial life decisions beyond high school, often following the crowd to local community college, CSU or UC. While California is fortunate to have a wonderful college system, extraordinary educations are also to be had in Eastern selective schools. Californians in more affluent districts are made aware of the full range available, and comprise a healthy number of admits in the Ivies, but districts like ours have little representation. ILC successfully shifted our students and families thinking about college opportunities.

Reading the blogs each day, we could see our daughter’s horizons expand. Lessons we’ve tried to impart from middle school on –without success- were manifestly registering.  The value of study, rising to challenge and always doing one’s best evolved on Blogspot each day. She was able to measure the strengths and limitations of her WCCUSD education prior to attending college, something unavailable to her older sister. Watching via the internet her love of learning grow filled our hearts, and drew us back to her early school years.

We are profoundly grateful to ILC, Charles, Don and Madeline, the donors and chaperones for bringing this extraordinary program to our family. May you reach hundreds more deserving families across our district well into the future. ILC values hard work, personal accountability and effort in the face of adversity must become those of WCCUSD. Every WCCUSD student should have the opportunity to learn in a classroom where everyone is engaged. The benefits of rigorous liberal education can be had in high school. We must strive to bring it to all. The world needs West County kids in positions of influence. The ILC will get them there.

Misa Hayashi and Todd Groves