They met at a picnic on a sticky August evening in 2013. Four years later, 74 students donned a cap and gown and recently received a diploma while representing the first graduating class from Green Run Collegiate (GRC).
“I would say that I am honored,” said graduating senior Journey Matos. “It’s a most amazing experience. I really feel like I am part of the family environment here. I have gotten so many opportunities. I will be attending my dream school, Penn State, on a full scholarship and I cannot be more grateful than to be part of this first graduating class at Green Run Collegiate.”
The city's only public charter school, GRC opened in September 2013 with a focus on college readiness. A public charter school is allowed to be more educationally innovative, while still being held accountable by the state for improved student achievement.
The curriculum is based on the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, with the support of Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID).
For Virginia Tech-bound Nicholas Babb, being part of something unique has been a measure of success.
“I’d say achievement, achievement is the biggest thing,” he said. “I feel so much pride in that I am part of the first graduating class. I’m setting the table for all of the other classes that will be graduating. A lot of people actually look up to us and they will be following in our footsteps, it’s like passing the torch to the next group of students coming up.”
Tatyanna Adams will attend Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall and enlist in the Air Force Reserve in the spring of 2018.
She says her GRC experience prepared her for her future.
“I think that I am happy, I’m moving on to further my education, but, it’s bittersweet," she said. "When you’re in high school, you’re with these people for four years and we’re so small, so there’s a lot of memories that you keep with you as you move forward. GRC was definitely an experience that turned out great, especially with the education opportunities and all that I learned and got to do I don’t think I would have gotten that at any other school.”
Graduating senior Kiara Ramos agrees.
“It’s surreal," said Ramos. "It’s a brand-new school and you get to be the person who is part of the legacy left for the underclass program. I think it’s a really cool and unique opportunity.”
IB Coordinator Rianne Patricio is happy to see the Class of 2017 succeed, but sad to see them go.
“They are our 'trailblazers,' " she said. "They are our first class and they are amazing. They’ve grown so much. They are amazing and we wish them well, but it’s hard to let go.”