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Prep High School History Honored During Drive-in Graduation




AIMS College Prep High school ended the year with many firsts as they shifted to meet the new reality of a COVID-19 environment. AIMS embodies the spirit of creativity and resiliency, as a school community that learned to thrive even in the toughest situations.

Not only was this the first-ever drive-in graduation in AIMS history, the school also celebrated their First African American Valedictorian and their two youngest graduates in the school’s history. For the AIMS Class of 2020, 100% of their African American students graduated and were accepted into four- year colleges and universities.

Families participated in the unique drive-in ceremony safely from inside their vehicles, where they were required to wear face masks and stay inside the vehicle at all times.

The ceremony was held at the Lakeview campus parking lot which featured a full stage and program with students, staff, and guest speakers. Participants heard inspiring words from valedictorian Zewditu Herring and from the featured guest speaker Armand Carr, CEO of the Oakland-based non-profit All Tied Up.

There were many cheers and honks in celebration during the ceremony and each student had the chance to individually walk across the stage from a safe distance.

Despite the current challenges, AIMS staff and teachers knew how important it was to find new ways of honoring their students. In addition to the Drive-In graduation, this year’s graduates received the first AIMS letterman jacket and participated in an exciting virtual College Signing day modeled after the NBA and NFL Draft.

The many successes of AIMS come from the commitment to ensuring all students receive the necessary resources needed to succeed, regardless of their socio-economic background.

AIMS goes above and beyond to ensure students graduate college-ready. Students take AP level classes beginning their freshman year, the costs for SAT and ACT Test prep are covered by AIMS as are fees for college applications.
This celebration is the culmination of the many years of commitment towards the success of each and every student.

A nationally recognized, award-winning charter school district, AIMS K-12 College Prep continues to raise the bar every year. This spring, AIMS was pronounced the 2020 Hart Vision Award Winner for Northern California School of the Year, was named a Top A-G Quality School and was once again recognized by Innovate Public schools as a Top Bay Area public school.

In this year’s 2020 Innovate Public Schools report, AIMS Elementary is the only school recognized for making significant achievements in math and English language arts readiness for low-income African American students in the Bay Area.

AIMS Middle School was the only school recognized for achievements in math and one of two schools in English language arts for low-income African American students in the Bay Area.

AIMS High School’s First Female African-American Valedictorian Zewditu Herring is presented with diploma and medal by Head of High School, Maurice Williams. Photo by Suzen Chu.

“To the graduating class of 2020, the future leaders of this country and the world, what do we do as an answer to heal this current situation? Do we ignore injustice? I want to be a part of the solution. If things are to change, we need to change our hearts and our minds. Let’s write history,”  said Zewditu Herring, AIMS’ first African American valedictorian

“My students weren’t able to enjoy prom, this year’s senior cruise to Mexico, and many more of our traditional celebrations for seniors,” said Maurice Williams, head of AIMS High School.

“Because of this, we promised them that we would do all we could to have an in-person graduation ceremony. In light of the many challenges facing our society today, I’m thankful that my team and I could keep our promise while still adhering to county health and safety guidelines.”

“This graduation was a historic first. It shows we value family and are nimble enough to make the best out of any situation,” said Supt. Maya Woods-Cadiz, AIMS’ first African American superintendent. “I am sad to see our seniors leave us, but I am proud that in the time we had them, we instilled in them strength, knowledge, love, and wisdom.”

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