December 2, 2011 Magnolia Public Schools (MSA) celebrated the achievement of its graduates during a special Thanksgiving luncheon on November 26 at its flagship school Magnolia Science Academy 1 in Reseda. Magnolia Public Schools is a family of charter schools that operates nine schools in Southern California and three others around the state. It provides a college preparatory educational program that emphasizes science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
About 100 MSA alumni, seniors, teachers and administrators gathered together in the school's gymnasium, which was turned into a festive dining room for the Thanksgiving luncheon. Staff prepared and served the students a traditional Thanksgiving meal which was topped off with an MSA cake congratulating the graduates for their success.
Alumnus Seth Ronquillo, currently a Film Major at UCLA, received the MSA-1 Volunteer of the Year Award during the short program. Ronquillo volunteers on a bi-weekly basis at MSA-1 to assist students with the college inquiry process and serves as an advocate for undocumented students. He currently serves on the UCLA AB540 Mentoring Committee and shares his skills with current MSA students.
CCSA's Myrna Castrejón, Senior Vice President, Achievement and Performance Management, was one of two keynote speakers who addressed the alumni. Ms. Castrejón congratulated the graduates for completing Magnolia's rigorous classes and for pursuing higher education. She also encouraged the students to spread the word on their respective campuses to let others know about Magnolia and the promise that charter schools provide to students to help them reach their academic goals.
Also addressing the student guests was Brian C. Johnson, executive director of Larchmont Schools, a network of academically high-performing public schools in Los Angeles and West Hollywood. Mr. Johnson recognized the students for their academic achievements and said his support for schools like Magnolia knows no bounds. He told the students that he believes charters are a viable option for many students and that Magnolia's success keeps him working to make charters available to more students.
MSA-1 Reseda touts several distinctions that set it apart from others. One of its students was one of only six on the gold medal winning U.S. National Team to represent the United States at the 2006 International Mathematical Olympiad and was the first student ever to represent a charter school at the competition. MSA-1 Reseda also was ranked 13th among California schools in the Washington Post's High School Challenge Index which measures how well schools prepare students for college.
Alumni attending the luncheon also had an opportunity to share their thoughts about Magnolia on video. The students said they appreciated the family-like campus environment that Magnolia provides and thanked the special teachers who helped them while they were at MSA-1 Reseda. They also noted that Magnolia will be remembered as laying down a strong foundation upon which they could build future academic success.