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‘I Made It Happen!’ Celebration to Honor Graduating ELL Students

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‘I Made It Happen!’ Celebration to Honor Graduating ELL Students
Posted on 05/16/2016
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A celebration of achievement will be held Wednesday, May 18, for more than 80 graduating seniors from the Portland Public Schools’ Make It Happen! program. The students didn’t grow up speaking English as their native language, but now they not only have learned English and are graduating from the city’s public high schools, but most also are headed to college.

The 2016 “I Made It Happen!” Celebration runs from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Portland’s Ocean Gateway terminal, located at 14 Ocean Gateway Pier. Each student will be recognized and honored and given a certificate of achievement. Students also will be invited to share their stories on how they made their educational successes happen.

Make It Happen! is a program of the Portland Public Schools’ Multilingual & Multicultural Center. It’s a college-readiness and academic success program for language minority students in grades 8 through 12 that is designed to help students raise and realize their academic aspirations. The program provides students with personalized and structured academic support to ensure their success in school and help prepare them for college. AmeriCorps site coordinators and volunteer academic coaches help students take challenging classes, develop strong college applications, and engage in civic and leadership activities.

“This is our second annual ‘I Made It Happen!’ celebration,” said Nanette Dyer Blake, Multilingual Center Community Outreach and Development Specialist. “The inaugural event took place in May 2015 and was such a success that we decided to repeat it. This special ceremony honors the students and their families, acknowledging that their educational journey has not been easy and that their achievement is something very much to be celebrated.”

The approximately 50 institutions of higher learning at which the students have been accepted include a number of highly competitive colleges and universities in Maine and beyond.

Attendees at this year’s “I Made It Happen!” Celebration are expected to include Portland Interim Superintendent of Schools Jeanne Crocker; Mayor Ethan Strimling; Grace Valenzuela, director of the Multilingual & Multicultural Center; Timothy Cronin, Make It Happen! Program Director; members of the Portland Board of Public Education; members of the Portland City Council; Portland Public Schools’ teachers and other staff; and representatives from the offices of Maine’s congressional delegation: U.S. Sen. Angus King and U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree. Also in attendance will be Make It Happen! volunteer mentors, known as academic coaches, who help students succeed; students’ parents; and Make It Happen! AmeriCorps site coordinators who work directly with the students. Additionally, representatives from a number of community partners that work directly with Make It Happen! students will be in attendance at the event. Those partners include The Telling Room, Seeds of Peace, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Cultivating Community, SEALFIT, Rippleffect and Let's Get Ready.

Those wishing to attend the event are asked to RSVP at multilingualcenter1@gmail.com or call 207-842-4657.