Tucson students celebrate school choice

Educators, students and school leaders gathered in Tucson earlier this week for the Arizona School Choice Celebration.

The celebration took place in recognition of National School Choice Week (NSCW), which bands K-12 students, schools, educators, organizations and others together to show their appreciation and raise awareness of school choice.

“School choice means giving parents access to the best K-12 education options for their children. These options include traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling,” as stated by the NSCW website.

“The rapid growth in quality choice options in Arizona has directly contributed to the educational progress of our students, who are outpacing their peers across the country,” Emily Anne Gullickson, executive director at A for Arizona, said. “At A for Arizona, we are agnostic to school type but are unapologetic about keeping the quality bar high. We are proud to celebrate Arizona’s students, teachers, and schools in honor of National School Choice Week.”

Gullickson announced Governor Ducey issued a State Proclamation that recognizes January 20 through 26, 2019 as Arizona School Choice Week. Throughout the week, Arizona will see more than 1,000 school choice events.

The Tucson celebration took place at the University of Arizona. There, students entertained the crowd with performances and school leaders spoke about the importance of choice.

Alicia Alvarez, principal and founder of Alta Vista High School, told attendees, “National School Choice Week is the world’s largest celebration of opportunity in education. Students and school personnel, let’s embrace this opportunity and the ability to choose the school where we learn and work.”

Darcy Mentone, Vail School District director of communications and public affairs, added, “Today, we are here to celebrate education. The kind of education that transforms lives and inspires students to reach for the stars. Not a one-size-fits-all education, but one that provides each student what he or she needs- exactly the right fit for each child and each family.”

The event’s emcee, thinkLaw founder and CEO Colin Seale, encouraged the students to wear their yellow NSCW scarves with pride and use the colorful accessory to spark conversations about school choice.

Students and faculty members from 26 schools joined the celebration. Followed by a NJROTC presentation of the colors, some students had the opportunity to woo the crowd with steel drums, ballet folklorico, ballroom dancing and other dance performances.

Also to join the stage was Cheryl Brangaccio, Mission Heights Preparatory High School (MHPHS) valedictorian, where she discussed her high school journey.

“At Mission Heights, I was heavily involved,’ Brangaccio said. “I made so many incredible friends, the classes challenged me, I was able to talk one-on-one with my teachers whenever I needed to, we had a gaming class and we had a Dungeons and Dragons Club. I did not want to leave.”

She added, “There were countless reasons why I loved being there. At times, you know, I didn’t’ even want to go home because of how many opportunities I had even after school.”

Although Brangaccio was hesitant about attending a charter school rather than the public high school most of her friends attended, she explained that she quickly realized MHPHS was the right choice for her.

Sierra Ciaramella

Graham Bosch

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