Spring is synonymous with many things at Aim High; The impending summer program, excited middle schoolers and teachers, our annual luncheon, and last, but not least, our  Spring Reception in Tahoe/Truckee.

On Thursday, May 10, members of the Tahoe/Truckee community gathered  to commemorate the students, teachers, and graduates who’ve made the campus by the lake so magical. The evening showcased two graduates from our original 2012 cohort, Jasmine Sanchez and Froi Gaitan Meza who will graduate from Truckee High School this spring before heading to college in the fall. Read Jasmine and Froi’s remarks below.

This summer will be our sixth in Tahoe/Truckee. Site directors Lily Christiano and Megan Alexander will lead 142 students and 30 educators through five transformative weeks of summer learning. We invite you to meet them in person at our Visiting Day on Monday, July 16.

aim high site director educator graduate
Aim High educators and graduates are all smiles at Aim High’s 2018 Spring Reception. (From left to right; Mike Bensley, Lily Christiano, Jasmine Sanchez, Froi Gaitan Meza, Megan Alexander, and Katie Jamison Bensley)


Jasmine Sanchez

My name is Jasmine Sanchez, I’m 18 years old and a senior at Truckee High School. I’m also a proud Aim High alumna. For my entire life, I have lived in Lake Tahoe with my grandparents.

The first time I heard of Aim High was from my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Jamison. To be honest, when Mrs. Jamison described Aim High, my first reactions were “oh this sounds lame” and “wow, what a waste of the summer.” I didn’t plan on attending, but Mrs. Jamison knew something I didn’t and encouraged me to enroll despite my hesitation. When I finally decided to sign up, I bribed my friends to sign up as well because If I was going to be stuck in “summer school” I wasn’t going to do it on my own!

At first, I thought Aim High was going to be just like summer school, and school wasn’t my favorite thing at the time so, in short, I wasn’t looking forward to it.

I remember the first class I had at Aim High — math. My first thought was “are you serious? I have to do math”? Math wasn’t my strongest subject, and I tended to give up easily. But to my surprise, it ended up being one of my favorite classes. I remember math in particular because it had an impact on me. I remember actually understanding what I was learning and for the first time ever, I felt like I really did have the ability to do math. That next fall, I returned to school. Because of what I learned at Aim High, I already understood the concepts we were learning in math. This gave me even more confidence in the subject. I felt like a poised 7th grader ready to face any subject.

I work at Aim High and I love it. I’ve continued to make friends, meet new people, and experience more. I try to encourage other kids to go to Aim High so they too can experience what I did. It truly has had a positive impact on my life. I’m so glad Mrs. Jamison pushed me to go because I wouldn’t want to be doing any other thing during my summers.

Math is just one of the many things that Aim High helped me with: Aim High affected me as a whole person. Before I attended, I was shy and it was difficult for me to make friends. But Aim High had activities that helped me learn how to interact with people, and as a result, I became more social and found it easier to make friends. We also talked about conflict resolution, how to deal with bullying and how to be an ally. At school, I volunteer as a peer mentor for severely disabled kids. One of these kids happens to ride the same bus as I do. One day, I noticed another student making fun of him and being mean to him. It really bothered me, especially because the student was unable to stick up for himself. I ended up talking to a teacher about it and they addressed the problem with the bully. It felt good to be an ally for him and I am glad Aim High taught me the importance of this.

When that first summer before seventh grade ended, I just wanted to come back, and I did every summer after that. I liked improving my academic skills and gain confidence, but above all, it was really the teachers who made me want to come back every summer. They made me feel comfortable. They were my teachers but they were also my friends. They’ve made a lasting impact on me.

Now, I work at Aim High and I love it. I’ve continued to make friends, meet new people, and experience more. I try to encourage other kids to go to Aim High so they too can experience what I did. It truly has had a positive impact on my life. I’m so glad Mrs. Jamison pushed me to go because I wouldn’t want to be doing any other thing during my summers.  



Froi Gaitan Meza

Hello, my name is Froi Gaitan Meza and I am an Aim High graduate and a teaching intern at our Tahoe/Truckee site. Aim High has given me many amazing opportunities.

I was introduced to Aim High at the end of my sixth grade year by Mrs. Jamison. When I joined, I was the only student from Sierra Expeditionary Learning School, so I knew no one. I thought Aim High was going to be another uninteresting and uneventful program, but to my surprise, this program provided me with more than I expected. I was introduced to new activities, ideas, and people. I never felt bored. The teachers taught interesting lessons that felt relevant to me and my classmates. My teachers were more than just teachers, they were my friends and mentors. It was clear they cared deeply and wanted us to enjoy what we were learning.

Aim High has pushed me to talk to people, to become more social, to join the basketball team, and to be an advocate for  others. Most importantly, they have given me an opportunity to flourish and become a successful young adult and future college graduate.

If it weren’t for Aim High, I would’ve been making bad choices, falling behind in school, sitting at home, and eating chips all day. Aim High was more than just a summer school, it was a place where my personal growth and well-being mattered just as much as my academic achievement. Aim High was also a community of individuals who really knew me and cared about me. My teachers watched me grow in height and as a person. My peers made me the smart young man I am today. They didn’t judge me, but rather saw me for me. Aim High allowed me to be myself and accepted me for who I am. I was allowed to ask questions, have different views, and form different opinions. The program helped me come out of my shell and become the gregarious person I am today.  I’ve transitioned from a shy and scared boy entering to the program to a social kid interested in learning and meeting new people. The program has gifted me with valuable memories and lessons.

With the help of Aim High, I’ve gone on to do things I couldn’t imagine. Like what you may ask? I am currently in my senior year at THS ready and poised to be the first in my family to graduate and go to college. Aim high helped me reach this amazing goal. Additionally, it has helped in several other ways. My issues and choices class taught me how to talk openly and honestly about my emotions and to know how to face difficult situations in high school and beyond. That alone is a valuable skill we all need to survive. The people at Aim High have shown me that life can be challenging, but with some help and support, your life and learning can be enjoyable. Aim High has pushed me to talk to people, to become more social, to join the basketball team, and to be an advocate for  others. Most importantly, they have given me an opportunity to flourish and become a successful young adult and future college graduate.

 

 

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