Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Speech by Lauryn Gross

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Good evening, My name is Lauryn Gross, and today I stand before you with mixed emotions. It seems as if just last month, I was having a wrestling match with my parents in the parking lot of City Academy, pleading not to have to walk into the double doors and face once again that stamp on the floor as I walked into the foyer area. But today, I also stand before you proud and with much gratitude. “What I have, What I’ve learned” is what I call my sentimental speech that shares my experience through my years here at City Academy, and the perseverance I’ve acquired, will be the same perseverance I will take with me to Villa Duchesne in the Fall.

City Academy has been great to me. Through the years I have learned many things. But I would be remorseful if I didn’t acknowledge my parents who have also taught me, many things. For example, the little math shortcuts they used in the 80’s as children themselves that helped me tremendously with my math challenges, and the funny but confusing southern expressions passed down from the family that don’t make sense to the kids such as “Who shot John?” Leaving us to wonder, Who is John? And What does John have to do with the situation at hand?

We all learn something in life. We may learn it from our parents, teachers, siblings, or sometimes even ourselves. I always loved learning something new, because no matter what it was, I was one step closer to being a veterinarian, an interior designer, or an orthodontist. Everything I have learned, I’ve taken advantage of it, whether it was how to make slime, how to cut open the gut to a foul smelling, slimy frog, or even learning a new combat to roast that “meanie” in your class. Everything we learn today, must be taken advantage of, because those bits of knowledge and lessons that we are learning, leads to a very valuable opportunity, and no matter what I have learned, it was a key to something great.

I’ve learned that when you worry about something, it usually never turns out as bad as you expected. I have learned that using quizlet to study for a vocabulary test is a guaranteed gateway to being able to celebrate an 80% average or higher. I’ve learned that reading a novel like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, is easier than reading the “Hunger Games”, so I was sure to get my hands on that Six Flags ticket. I’ve learned that spreading the peas out on your plate appears as if you’ve eaten more and brings you one step closer to getting dessert. I’ve learned that adults make algebra sound harder than it actually is. I’ve learned that when getting in trouble with your parents, crying doesn’t make them empathize with you, it just makes the situation worse. I’m learning that your friends will be with you no matter how far away they seem. And most importantly, I’ve learned you can learn something from everybody.

What I have, what I’ve learned, is what I have shared with you this evening. I can’t wait to see how all that I have learned thus far will bring me one step closer to triumph.

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Martin Mathews Awards

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Martin Mathews Award Recipients | Ayomide Ajakaiye and Isaac Taylor

Mr. Martin Mathews, the founder of Mathews-Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club and a wonderful friend of City Academy, has spent his life serving others. Mr. Mathews always espouses his three R’s: respect, restraint, and responsibility. His philosophy of high expectations inspired the vision for City Academy, and he has been behind us every step of the way.

Every year at graduation, City Academy honors Mr. Mathews by recognizing one or more students in the graduating class who reflect his values and who have demonstrated exceptional citizenship and academic integrity. This year, two students received the Martin Mathews Award.

City Academy Principal, Milton Mitchell, presented the awards:

Ayomide Ajakaiye

“Resilient, passionate and full of integrity – these are just a few descriptors of Ayomide. She embodies the very essence of the word integrity. It is no surprise that she is true to her word and intolerant of those who cannot be trusted for theirs. Her keen intellectual and interpersonal skills allow her to be respectful and congenial with her peers and adults, which has afforded her opportunities to facilitate several rich literature discussions, as well as spearhead a mini economics class for her fellow peers; all while exuding poise and confidence.

Simply put, this scholar is something like a pioneer; she’s fierce, she’s innovative, she’s risky and most of all, she’s destined for greatness far beyond her years at City Academy. One only has to witness her walk the halls to see these very qualities and the dramatic impact she has on the world around her. She is an invaluable leader of today, tomorrow and our future and we look forward to her esteem title as President of Nigeria in years to come.”

Isaac Taylor

“Any positive adjective that describes a hard-working, respectful young man should be ascribed to this student. Simply stated, he is excellent.

Embodying honor, humility and dedication, this scholar stands out because high academic achievement and exemplary citizenship are not just goals but rather a lifestyle. Involved in the life of the school, this young man speaks to adults in the hallways, enjoys his friends and demonstrates leadership by way of taking care of business first before all else. Teachers comment on his commitment to learning, high level of respect and conscientious nature. He is a top achiever, a sincere rule follower and simply a good-natured human being. He is one of the first to arrive to class and has a great sense of humor.

Of the many things for which he will be remembered, one of the most enjoyable is his love of baseball. We look forward to hearing of this scholar’s many future achievements, two of which are becoming an Eagle Scout and winning an award in mathematics.”

Congratulations Ayomide and Isaac!

Previous Martin Mathews Award Recipients

Lauren Robinson, 2008
Michael Strawbridge, 2009
Madeleine Johnson & Ronald Smith, 2010
Lailah Elliott, 2011
Kendall McLemore & Madelyn Wansong, 2012
Alvin Hamilton & Natalie Smith, 2013
Alysha Ford, 2014
Malachi Chunn & Alexandra Lane, 2015
Sydney Williams, 2016
Steven Hall & Camille Smith, 2017
Taniyah Whalen & Ameenah Abdul-Rasheed, 2018

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Oliver Langenberg Award

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The David Steward Family

Graduation is also a time to reflect on the importance of philanthropy: Making an active effort to promote the welfare of others. We are all here today because of the generosity and support of those in our community who believe in our school and in you, our students.

At our first graduation in 2005, we established the Oliver Langenberg Award to annually honor a St. Louisan whose contributions have made City Academy and our broader community better. Oliver Langenberg was City Academy’s first donor in 1998, a year before we opened! He invested in a school with no students or teachers. Think about that. Mr. Langenberg believed in our vision for a school of excellence for all families. He had faith that we would get it done. We did! And I will always be grateful.

David Steward II and Don Danforth

This year’s Langenberg Award goes to the David Steward Family. I am honored to have Dave Steward II here tonight, as well as Mina, from the Steward Family Foundation. Mr. Steward is the Co­-Founder of Lion Forge, which publishes comics and graphic novels. Their motto is “Comics for Everyone,” and their characters reflect the diversity of our world. Additionally, Dave is the Founder and CEO of Polarity, a newly formed global media company and animation studio producing content for TV and film.

Mr. Steward’s father, David Steward, Sr. founded World Wide Technology in 1990. Today, it is one of St. Louis’ leading civic companies, and among the largest and most successful private corporations in the country. In describing his family’s philosophy, Mr. Steward said in an interview, “We established core values that are vitally important. Those core values – integrity, trust, attitude, teamwork, innovation and diversity. ”

Sounds a lot like City Academy’s values!

To use comic book lingo, the Stewards have literally been
“superheroes” for St. Louis. They have made giving back to their community a priority, heavily investing their time and support to outstanding organizations, including: Nine Network, St. Louis ARC, The Sheldon Arts Foundation, Jazz St. Louis, Variety Club Children’s Charity and the United Way.

Education has been a priority, as well. Dave told a group of our alumni earlier this year that “education is the pillar of our philanthropy and gives the greatest return on our investment.” In addition to supporting scholarship at many area schools, the Stewards made an incredibly generous investment in City Academy’s expansion, allowing us to grow enrollment. For this, we are honored to name the center of our magnificent new Early
Childhood Center “Steward Hall.”

I am pleased to present this year’s Langenberg Award to Dave Steward II.

Graduates, the Langenberg Award recognizes the investment of others whose generosity has made our school and success possible. We could not be here today without people like the Langenbergs and Stewards.

David Steward Sr. summed it up well by saying this, “I believe, ‘to whom much is given, much is required. ‘ What is required of me is to ensure that the next generation and the generation behind them has a better quality of life. ”

Graduates, my challenge to you is to take Mr. Steward’s philosophy to heart. Invest in our community, and make it a better place tomorrow than it is, today. Each of you can do this in your own way. Be involved. Make a difference. Now it is your time to step forward. I promise the rewards will be great. Who knows, like the Stewards, you too, may become a “superhero” to an individual or organization.

By Don Danforth | President & Co-Founder

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Graduation Ceremony 2019 | Alumnus Reflection

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Graduation Alumnus Speech | Zion Thomas ’13 (MICDS ’19)

Zion Thomas ’13, 6th Grade Graduation

Hello! I’m Zion Thomas, a 2013 City Academy alumnus, and a recent graduate of MICDS, headed to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio this Fall. Let me begin by saying congratulations…to all of you. Today marks a significant milestone in your lives, a resolution to your story as you close this chapter and begin anew. You all are entering a very transformative and impressionable time. I know because six years ago I sat where you sit today. I, hesitantly, took that first step into the future of my education. Why hesitant? Well you see, I was apprehensive about entering a new space and being subject to increasing demands and even higher expectations. And naturally, I questioned my abilities to perform. I feared that I wouldn’t be able to make a name for myself in middle school and beyond, that I would forever remain within the shadow of my older sister who seemed to be doing well for herself at MICDS. I was afraid of the possibility that what I had to offer might not be good enough.

However, through self discovery, I realized that doubt has the incredible ability to enter your mind at the worst moments possible, and that it is imperative that you do not let it get in the way of your hopes and successes. If it had, I would not have been captain of the varsity wrestling team for three years. If it had, I would not have traveled to Iceland this spring on a scientific global learning trip because I never would have filled out the application to be considered. If it had, I would not have walked into that theater and auditioned for my first musical….ever….landing the lead role. Three musicals, four plays and four lead roles later, here I am. You see, doubt is a follower, it follows, it lingers, and it takes power away from you. Once you let it, you will begin to see real world repercussions in the form of missed opportunities. When doubt begins to enter in, you must try your hardest to believe that you are good enough! Why? Because you have been prepared for the challenges and opportunities that are coming your way. This place, City Academy, does an excellent job in birthing possibility. For example, had it not been for City Academy, I probably never would have been a part of Afriky Lolo, a nationally acclaimed West African dance company where I learned to further express myself. CA is also where my love of science was nurtured and where it blossomed. It’s where I learned to love stars, guiding me to an astronomy major in college.

I have faith that each one of you, right now, has the capacity to be as successful as you want in whatever it is you choose…because you are good enough! I say, “as you want” because that part is up to you. I am here to encourage you and tell you how great you are for making it to this milestone, but you have to realize that victory does not come from potential alone. The fact that you are good enough does not in and of itself birth success.

Zion Thomas 13′, Alumnus Reflection, 2019 Graduation Ceremony

It’s a combination of potential and hard work. The type of hard work you’ve committed yourself to here at City Academy. Tackling the challenging literary world by delving into To Kill a Mocking Bird in 6thgrade or studying for your science test or preparing for that violin recital. Hard Work often happens behind the scenes, it’s the stuff that not many people see. To reach the pinnacle of your success you must do what it takes to raise yourself higher than the rest. I wasn’t the captain of the wrestling team just because I had it in me. Many on the team had it in them. However, I paid attention to my coaches and watched a little closer, I stayed at practice a little longer, and I pushed myself a little harder and until I was able to… go further. When it came to theater, many people believed that I was a pop-up talent, that I came out of nowhere with no training and miraculously developed. What they didn’t know is that from age eight to fourteen I was in acting class after acting class preparing myself for success on the countless number of Nickelodeon and Disney channel auditions that were afforded me. That is the work that no one sees. The type of hard work that aided me in the opportunity to be a two-time Varsity Wrestling State Qualifier and most recently to receive a nomination for Best Leading Actor by the St. Louis High School Musical Theater Awards affording me an opportunity to perform at the Fox on June 2nd. I share all of this  with you not to boast on my own accomplishments, but to say that if Zion Thomas, a doubtful sixth grade student from City Academy, can do it, so can YOU! Due to City Academy’s sound foundation and continued support, the love and care I have received from my family, and the grace of God, I have lived my life as if nothing is impossible! The same can be true for you. I believe that you are destined for greatness, but a friend once told me that “God’s will requires your own work.” The question isn’t whether you deserve to be on the level of excellence you will inevitably achieve. The question is how do you prepare and challenge yourself to reach new levels. Congratulations, class of 2019. You are joining a group of alumni who champion your successes and are here to support you and your endeavors.  Welcome to this ever-growing community, you have arrived and you should be proud! Thank you!

Read more Alumni Stories          Make a Donation to Support Students Like Zion

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Fine Arts Assembly and Showcase

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City Academy 5th Grade students have spent the school year working to create original compositions of poetry, music, dance, and storytelling pieces. Under the guidance of Mr. Laren Loveless, City Academy 3rd-6th Grade Music Teacher, the students collaborated to create their own original piece, titled “Here I Am”. The 5th Grade Students showcased the original piece to parents, faculty, and staff on Thursday, May 9th at the City Academy Fine Arts and Showcase.

The gallery, directed by 3rd – 6th Grade Art Teacher, Julie Bugnitz, showcased works of art by each student across City Academy’s 3rd through 6th grade that had been created throughout the year. Faculty and staff were asked to contribute at least one photo story taken throughout the year. The unveiling of the gallery was accompanied by a live reading of a poem titled “City Academy Miracles” written by our 4th and 5th grade classes.

View Gallery

Read City Academy Miracles Poem

 

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Building Bridges: The Real World Applications of STEAM Outside of The Classroom

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In addition to cutting edge collaboration and integration of the five STEAM fields into classroom learning, the STEAM program includes experiential learning in the community through field trips that help students build bridges between classroom learning and real world applications. Generous support from the Monsanto Fund (now the Bayer Fund) has made these field trips possible.

The fifth and sixth grade science classes were very busy upon their return from spring break. Field trips were scheduled to three different STEAM-related institutions here in Saint Louis. Because of City Academy’s incredible Board of Trustee members, students had a chance to tour Express Scripts, Emerson, and Bayer. All three companies employ individuals with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, art and math. These tours were a chance for students to explore different STEAM careers and relate what they are doing in the classroom to the real world.

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Our Giving Story: Erica and Shawn Moore

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Erica and Shawn Moore
Parents of Gabrielle ’19 and Madison ’19

We joined the City Academy family in 2012 when our two daughters, Gabrielle and Madison, were in kindergarten. City Academy was the right fit for our family because it provided everything we were looking for in a school.

City Academy has provided a solid educational foundation for our girls. They are confident, focused, and have a love for learning. City Academy has far exceeded our expectations!

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Collaborative Curriculum Takes On A New Meaning

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“With the synergies of all our efforts, what we can achieve becomes very powerful.” – Erica Venne

Mission-made and mission-proud. At City Academy, we pride ourselves on providing exceptional education and empowering our students. To meet the needs of our growing student body, we are expanding our faculty and staff. One new position we added this year is the Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator. This is a great example of generous community support impacting education equity.

We are excited to re-introduce Erica Venne as the new Instruction and Curriculum Coordinator. Erica is now in her fifth year at City Academy. Previously, she was a Spanish student teacher, fourth grade humanities teacher and fifth grade humanities teacher at the school.

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Nature Makes the Best (Scientific) Classroom

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Shaw Nature Reserve Field Trip | Fall 2018

Each year, our third and fourth grade classes participate in an overnight excursion to Shaw Nature Reserve. For students, the trip is an opportunity to gain hands-on, in-the-field experience. For our science teachers – Ann Luciani (3rd & 4th grades) and Erik Taylor (5th & 6th grades), this is a great opportunity to educate beyond the classroom.

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4 Ways to Ensure Your Child’s Educational Development

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Educational development is at the forefront of many parents’ minds. With nearly twenty years of experience in Early Childhood Education, Jeff Horwitz, our Early Childhood Director, has several tips on creating learning environments for all ages both in and out of the classroom. While our teachers and staff educate children at school, their are many techniques that parents can use to engage children in learning outside of the classroom.

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