'Whatever your struggles are, make them your strengths'
The Park Academy class of 2019 collected their diplomas June 8, marking a huge milestone in the life of any student. Graduates at Park Academy have even more to be proud of, having overcome dyslexia and other learning challenges throughout their education.
Park Academy is a small nonprofit school in Lake Oswego, located on South Shore Boulevard. It was founded in 2005 by Piper Park to address diverse learning challenges, including dyslexia, and help students reach their highest potential.
This year's graduates embody that goal, and have big plans for the future. We asked Park Academy grads to reflect on their time at the school, and share their post-grad dreams.
Tyler started at Park Academy in the 6th grade. Coming from a large, public school with hundreds of students, he remembers this as quite a transition. During his seven years at Park Academy, Tyler believes he has really gotten to know himself and learned who he is as a person — becoming more confident, valuing education, and realizing this is all an ongoing process.
In addition to his core classes, Tyler explored electives in art, culinary studies and theater, where he played the part of Officer Krupke in "West Side Story" and was a natural as Coach Calhoun in "Grease." This year, Tyler has been a teacher's assistant, working with Ms. Kumanchik, and has been a great role model for the elementary students.
Tyler has a passion for athletics. While a full time student at Park Academy, he also played football for Tualatin High School in 9th grade. His true love is baseball — he played for both his high school and club teams all four years, and participated in training year round. Tyler earned a varsity letter in his junior and senior years. He has been in the catcher position, or the
"quarterback" of the baseball team.
One of the funniest moments at Park Academy that Tyler recalls was an incident in Mr. Dever's class. "It had something to do with batting practice..." Tyler said. "All we know is that Mr. Dever's clock was no longer on the wall and then a new one mysteriously appeared, and is still there to this day."
One of Tyler's favorite quotes comes from Mr. Devers. The first thing he taught Tyler was "whatever your struggles are, make them your strengths." Tyler's advice to future students: "Teachers at Park Academy are here to help you and know how to help you learn. Make sure to have fun while you are doing it."
Tyler will be moving to Scottsdale, Arizona in August to pursue his passion for baseball. He has received a partial scholarship to play with Post Grad Sports baseball program and continue his studies at Scottsdale Community College. Tyler's long term goal is keep playing ball and work in the field of athletic training and sports medicine.
Zach has enjoyed his six years at Park Academy. One of things he really appreciates about Park Academy is that students are more connected and kinder than in the public schools. During his time here, he has become more social and a better
Zack has enjoyed a variety of electives at Park Academy: philosophy, yearbook, leadership, culinary arts and as a teacher assistant in physical education for Ms. K, building on his interest in fitness training. His favorite memories stem from theater, where he filled the lead role or various roles in the Park Academy's theater productions every year of high school: "Lion King," "Princess Bride," "West Side Story" and this year's "Grease."
Zack has maintained a balance between school and his commitments outside of school. In addition to his interest in sports and dancing, he has had a job with the same food service provider for the last two years. He has worked his way up from busser to dishwasher, and now cook and cashier.
Zack says that there are too many funny moments in high school to recall just one. He advises students to strive to do well in school, but to not push themselves too hard. His favorite quote is, "The future isn't certain but what is, is that it'll be a new chapter." The next chapter for Zack will be to go to PCC in the fall to earn his associate's degree and become a personal trainer.
Kurt has the distinction of being the student who has attended Park Academy the longest of anyone from the Class of 2019. Starting at Park Academy in 4th grade, Kurt noticed how teachers were more focused on helping students than in his public school experience. His favorite memory is the annual grill-out at George Rogers Park, which began his sophomore year. He enjoys the opportunity it provides to hang out with teachers and classmates. You'll have to ask Kurt about his funniest moment in high school, as he says there are too many to single out just one. While at Park Academy, Kurt has completed courses in philosophy, advanced history, robotics, culinary arts, theater and the fine arts. For his most recent project, he did a re-design of a Nike shoe and used the "Sunday Comic Section of the Newspaper" as his theme. He won first place in the juried vote. Kurt is an accomplished piano player and has been active in theater with major parts in "West Side Story" and "Grease." Kurt has been an integral part of the after school Taekwando program where you can find him every Wednesday after school until 5:00, participating in, leading and even sometimes teaching the class! Kurt really enjoys Taekwando and may be an instructor one day.
Kurt's advice to his fellow students is to keep assignments up to date and ask peers or teachers for advice if you don't understand the subject or work. These words of wisdom will continue to serve Kurt well as he attends Portland Community College in the fall. After completion of his associate's degree, Kurt plans to major in psychology at a four-year university in order to become a counselor.
Nadya has attended Park Academy for the past three years. In addition to her core classes, she has taken music, art, culinary arts and careers classes. During this time, she says she has grown and become more social. Through her studies and experiences, she has developed her goals for the future.
Nadya's favorite experience at Park Academy was when Mrs. Mart and the high school girls went on a skiing trip. She said the funniest moments have been during the amazing high school theater productions.
After graduation, Nadya plans to continue working full time in the food service industry, where she has been employed for the past year. She plans to continue her education when she is sure of what she wants to pursue. In the meantime, she will continue working and enjoying hiking, music festivals, road trips and adventures.
Nadya's advice to future students is to use your class time wisely and to utilize the teachers' help because you won't get this kind of support anywhere else.
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