Faculty, students, families and friends gathered for AIM Academy’s seventh Upper School commencement exercises on Friday, June 1 as members of the Class of 2018, the largest senior class in the school’s 12-year history, received their diplomas.
Marcus Soutra, president of the national student mentoring organization Eye to Eye delivered the school’s commencement address sharing a mentoring moment with the audience that focused on embracing learning differences and why he dedicated himself to creating an organization designed to “unlock greatness in the 1 in 5 who learn differently.” Eye to Eye establishes supportive programs for students with learning and attention issues by training “high school and college students with learning differences, including dyslexia and ADHD, to mentor similarly-identified middle school students” through an arts-focused after school program.
AIM Academy, launched a high school chapter of Eye to Eye, the first in Pennsylvania, in 2016. Each week during the school year, AIM’s Eye to Eye students travel to AMY Northwest Middle School in nearby Roxborough to work with Middle School students.
“AIM is not just a leader in this community, but around the country in terms of simplifying what it means to teach students who learn differently,” Soutra told the class as he encouraged them to be proud of their differences and their unique perspectives and creativity.
Soutra also shared his Top 10 List for Thriving in College which included many items specifically targeted to students with language-based learning disabilities including: Date for Spelling – build a network of people who complement your skills; Go to Disabilities Services early and often; Use the Library; Tell Your Story; Strive to be a Self-Actualized Learner and Be ready to fail and get back up again.
“Your resiliency and grit will make you successful,” Soutra said concluding that he was “expecting greatness” from the Class of 2018.
Nancy Blair, AIM Academy’s Associate Director introduced the two senior speakers Michaela Goins and Aidan Rovinsky. Both students shared their appreciation for the support provided by teachers, friends and family during their years at AIM as they learned to become self-advocates and discover and capitalize on their strengths. “AIM was always ready to take my big ideas and make them a reality,” Rovinsky said.
After the presentation of diplomas, Blair, AIM Executive Director Pat Roberts and AIM Head of Upper School Chris Herman presented four unique awards to students:
- The Marvins Award – Dallen Moore ; awarded upon graduation to an AIM senior who embodies the values of Respect, Citizenship, Leadership and Perseverance so exemplified by AIM founding board members Marvin N. Demchick and Marvin D. Alloy.
- Lou Uchitel Spirit Award – Jeremy Zales; awarded upon graduation to an AIM senior who embodies the values of Inclusion, Friendship, School Spirit and Persistence so exemplified by AIM supporter Lou Uchitel.
- Arts & Creativity Award – Gwendolyn Frank; awarded upon graduation to an AIM senior who excels in their craft and who plans to use their art as the platform for their success beyond AIM.
- Pioneer Award – Ryan Codkind; Codkind is the first recipient of this new award recognizing an AIM student who has completed the entire AIM Academy curriculum from 1st through 12th grade.
The 31 members of AIM’s senior class, the largest group of graduates in school history, received acceptances from almost 100 unique colleges and universities and garnered more than $6.5 million in merit-based scholarship offers. The group includes engineers, artists and student athletes including AIM’s first NCAA Division I athlete, Casey Oppenheimer, who will play golf at Quinnipiac University next year. Graduates include a co-founder of AIM’s Eye to Eye chapter, a future member of the University of Delaware Worlds Scholar program, an award-winning monologist, robotics team captains who took their AIM team to the World Championship in Detroit as well as the first students to take advantage of AIM’s new partnership with the Close School of Entrepreneurship at Drexel University.
- upper school