Life at Mastery : In the News : Mastery Grads Stride Towards Success

Mastery Grads Stride Towards Success

Monday, May 20 2013. By Damon C. Williams

Mastery Charter Schools — the nonprofit charter school operator who has long partnered with the School District of Philadelphia and currently manages 12 schools in the region — celebrated on Monday the 450 high school students who have either applied to and been accepted to post high school institutions, or received partial and full scholarships to their targeted school.


In what had the feel of a homecoming or pep rally, the 450 students were led down the aisles of Temple University’s Liacouras Center, each holding placards with the name of their school emblazoned on it.


In all, those 450 students are going to attend roughly 90 institutions in the fall.


“I’m so proud of Mastery’s seniors. Today, we are demonstrating what we know to be true: Public school students, through hard work and high expectations, will rise to the challenge and succeed,” said Mastery Charter Schools CEO Scott Gordon, who also served as Mastery’s first principal. “Today our community celebrates seniors, not only for their hard work and accomplishments so far, but for the inspiration they are providing to the rest of Mastery’s students.


“Our seniors signed a pledge to attend and graduate with a degree in 2017,” Gordon continued, imploring the students to become the leaders and role models he knows they can be. “I look forward to celebrating with these same students four years from now.”


While all 450 students deserve congratulations, some in the graduating class have managed to separate themselves even further, by achieving rare academic heights. Master Charter School’s Thomas Campus senior Kevin Beaford became Mastery’s first Gates Millennium Scholar, and will use the attached scholarship to attend local Ivy League school University of Pennsylvania, while Keiya Rankin, a senior at Mastery’s Shoemaker Campus, becomes Mastery’s first Dell Scholar and will attend Drexel University.


Other graduating students have endearing stories that made Monday’s even that much more important. Aimee Chhorn, a senior at Mastery-Thomas, is from a family that escaped the sheer brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime during its bloody rule in Cambodia, while Mastery-Pickett senior O’Shay Knox’s parents have battled substance abuse issues for the majority of Knox’s life, forcing Knox to be raised by her grandparents since she was an infant.


Chhorn will attend Esperanza College, while Knox will go to Bloomsburg University.


The Mastery graduating class also has among its ranks a Keyholder Award recipient (Felicia Lewis, Mastery-Lenfest) and 12 Lenfest Scholars.


Mayor Michael Nutter joined a litany of elected officials in congratulating Mastery’s 450 graduates, while imploring them to continue their education.


“In today’s world, a high school diploma is not enough,” Nutter said, adding that he has been a staunch supporter of Mastery and was very excited when the charter management company appeared on the educational horizon. “To succeed in the 21st century economy, individuals need at least some level of post-secondary education. Mastery Charter Schools’ College Signing Day is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s graduating seniors, who are pursuing higher learning, to encourage these students to complete their studies and to give back to their communities later as successful adults.


“The most important people in this building are you, the graduates.”


Contact staff writer Damon C. Williams at (215) 893-5745 or