students at moving up ceremony | High Jump Chicago

Moving Up! and on to New Things

Moving Up is the culmination of two years of hard work for students ready to embark on their high school journey.

Judith, Cohort 31 | High School Choice: Chicago Hope Academy

Cohort 31 began the program in 2019, the summer following their 6th-grade year. After putting in the 700 hours of challenging but rewarding work, 157 students graduated from the program this year.

Held at Union Park in Chicago’s Near West side, around 75% of students and their families participated in this milestone event. Students received a High Jump water bottle, gift card, and certificate of completion for the program surrounded by supportive teachers and staff, proud parents, and the excitement of friends. 

What follows is a collection of photos, quotes, and audio clips documenting the event and the question of the day for students: 

“What are you most excited about?”

“I’m really just excited about graduating. One, because I worked really hard for the program, and two, just being able to [represent] the program I graduated from. It was really helpful, and it really prepared me for high school.”

Da’Shyra, Cohort 31, Latin Campus | High School Choice: Josephinum Academy of the Sacred Heart
 What is High Jump?
Academic enrichment, social-emotional learning, and high school choice support.

“I’m excited about new beginnings. High Jump made this possible for me to get accepted into Walter Payton and exposed me to so much stuff I didn’t even know about. I am definitely excited about new beginnings.”

Quincy, Cohort 31, Latin Campus | High School Choice: Walter Payton College Prep
Quincy’s mom on the impact of the program.
 Why Middle School?
Middle school performance is highly predictive of later success in high school. 

“High Jump definitely prepared me for high school, so I’m very excited about that.”

Ayesha, Cohort 31, Latin Campus | High School Choice: Lane Tech College Prep

“Most excited about going to high school and it’s four new years of something totally different from my other school. I got accepted into Parker, Francis Parker, and so it’s a new environment, a private school, new cultures, new people, that’s what excites me right now. The new education I’m going to receive for four years, and the friendships I’m going to create.”

Jocelyn, Cohort 31, Latin Campus | High School Choice: Francis W. Parker School

“Going through High Jump this past year has been very rigorous and challenging but you persevered and got through this.”

Lance miller, high jump campus director

“I’m going to be doing some stuff for HFS and Daniel Murphy, so I think that will be pretty cool. And I’m getting ready for high school…I think I’m excited to get exposed to a new and bigger environment.”

Dillon, Cohort 31, Lab Campus | High School Choice: Francis W. Parker School

Daniel’s parents share what they’re most proud of:

“His hard work and dedication. He’s really worked hard at this and taken his studies very seriously.”
“All his efforts and the direction he’s going in– I’m very proud.”

Daniel, Cohort 31, Lab Campus | High School Choice: University of Chicago Lab School

“I got accepted into St. Ignatius, so I am excited to make new friends and join different clubs. I come from a small school, so there weren’t many clubs. I plan on joining the diversity club, maybe doing volleyball.”

“I am thankful for my friends. I think [High Jump] really opened me up. I was a lot more shy before. I am thankful for opportunities like HFS Chicago Scholars and Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund.”

Liberty, Cohort 31, Lab Campus | High School Choice: St Ignatius College Prep
Why High Jump?
87% of our college-aged alumni (cohorts 18-20) have graduated from 4-year colleges and universities nationwide within six years of high school completion. 
Audio clip from Karen Thomas, High Jump Campus Director on being here for our students.

“Keep doing the hard work. It will keep paying off. I am so proud of you. All our staff is super proud of you. I know your parents are proud of you. So let’s hear it for Cohort 31.”

Karen thomas, high jump campus director

“Stay connected with us. There are still more hurdles to get over. We know you are going to graduate high school. We know you are going to get to college. We want to ensure that you graduate.”

“When you go to High Jump, you have an 87% chance of graduating from college. That’s compared to 20% in Chicago Public Schools. So you have now – more than 4x – increased the likelihood of graduating from college. That’s not 100%, so let’s get there together. If you get to high school and you feel the slightest amount of ‘I don’t belong’ or ‘I’m not going to succeed’ then get in touch with us because we can help you.”

“There are dozens of college access and college readiness programs for when you’re in high school – Daniel Murphy Scholarship Foundation, LinkUnlimited, HFS Scholars, and more – each with a different area of focus. And we want to help you find them. We want to be a resource for you all the way to and through college.”

Nate Pietrini, High Jump Executive Director
Emotions were high and the event was cherished by all who attended because High Jump has genuinely made a difference for these student’s in ways they will experience for years to come.

High Jump has expanded from 16 students in 1989 to over 200 new students every year in our current model. But not every middle school student who is academically driven has an opportunity for support from High Jump. We need your support to help us reach more students in more communities so they can pursue their dreams.

High Jump is just the beginning of a successful educational journey for many students. More than ever, we must continue to build equitable learning opportunities for Chicago’s middle school youth.

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