Dear Help Group Friends & Families,
Every year in June, you can see it all around – it’s graduation season! It’s an exciting time not just for students, but for parents and our educators too. At The Help Group, we graduated 160 students across all of our fourteen K-12 Help Group schools in Sherman Oaks, Valley Glen, Van Nuys, and Culver City, including Bridgeport School, Bridgeport Vocational Education Center, North Hills Prep, STEM3 Academy, Summit View School, Sunrise School, Village Glen School, and Westview School.
We’ve compiled a short video from our graduations this year. Make sure to scroll down to watch the video! We hope that you find joy and inspiration while watching it.
To say that we are proud would be an understatement. Our high school students have no doubt put in a lot of hard work and had special support from their teachers, family and friends to reach that goal. We’re equally proud that our students are given the same opportunities to plan out their postsecondary lives. Many of our students will go on to experience college and vocational programs. If you’re finding that your teen or you, as a parent or caretaker, are in need of additional support during this transition, please do not hesitate to reach out. We have a monthly virtual parent support group and life skills coaching for young adults through Advance LA, as well as vocational opportunities through Bridgeport Vocational Education Center.
We hope you enjoy the recap graduation video, the blog post for high school graduates transitioning to college, and a few graduate highlights below!
Lastly, if you would like to lend your support to the schools and programs of The Help Group, please donate here.
Dr. Jason Bolton
VP of Community Partnerships & Admissions
Many recent high school graduates view the summer months as a long celebration of the end of high school. And, of course, we want our recent grads to spend time at the beach, enjoy lazy afternoons, and warm summer evening barbeques.
But the summer months are also the perfect time to practice the soft skills that college freshmen need in order to have a successful freshman year at college. By practicing the skills mentioned below, neurodivergent college freshmen can feel prepared and confident in their abilities to achieve college success.
Angelita – STEM3 Academy Graduate
An engaging, friendly and witty young woman, Angelita was a favorite among her circle of high school peers, but was also a support to the younger students who looked up to her. Three years ago, Angelita was working through her own emotional difficulties, trying to find her place in the world. Yet despite the pandemic and distance learning for over a year, she has returned stronger than ever. She credits STEM3 Academy with being the perfect school she needed—it provided the academic and emotional support for her not only to regain her footing and survive, but to thrive. Angelita is a gifted young artist and she applied her creative skills to all of her STEM projects. During her second semester at school, she took biology and created many sculptures, including an anatomically correct model of the heart. Angelita was also an active member of the garden club and contributed to the design, cultivation, and maintenance of the school’s garden. Angelita will be attending community college in the fall, and is thinking about becoming an entomologist (bug scientist). It’s been a privilege to have Angelita with us and we know that with her drive, determination, and wonderful sense of humor, she’ll be a great success wherever she goes.
Christian H. – Village Glen Sherman Oaks Graduate
Christian H. arrived at Village Glen Sherman Oaks as a shy and reluctant 9th grader. With the support and encouragement of those around him he has grown into an exceptionally poised young man with the confidence to recognize his many talents and abilities that others have always seen in him. Christian has embraced his time at Village Glen High School with enthusiasm and a resolve to expand his knowledge and experiences and to cultivate a future outlook full of promising opportunities. Christian has been an active participant in the VGHS sports program, a leading member of the student council, is the Editor-in Chief of the school newspaper, drives himself to and from school daily, and holds a part-time job – all while impressing his teachers with his love of learning and excellent grades! Christian is thrilled to enter college next year and was accepted into several of his top choice universities. Christian will enroll in the California State University, Monterey Bay in the fall. We wish him all the best!
Greer – Summit View West Graduate
Greer has been at Summit View West since the eighth grade. She struggled significantly with anxiety, ADHD, difficulties in math as well as some trauma related to her previous school. Every year since then she has thrived and exceled at Summit View. She has been a student teaching assistant in our elementary school, the president of student council, participated in sports and in a play, and is also active in the community outside of school. She is going to the University of San Francisco to major in education and is doing a 4+1 program where she will graduate with a Masters degree and credential in five years. Way to go Greer!
Cisco – Bridgeport School Sherman Oaks Graduate
At Bridgeport School, Cisco has learned to overcome many obstacles to become an outstanding young man. One of Cisco’s strengths is his sense of purpose. He has a great interest in his education and works really hard to make up for some of his challenges. He has a desire to succeed and be independent one day. He knows that for that to happen he has to develop work skills and further his education. He plans to attend the Bridgeport Vocational Program to develop work skills and will also start studying for his GED so he can take college classes in the future. Cisco is a responsible, respectful and a great role model. He is athletic, enjoys writing, loves Science and has developed great computer skills. Cisco has thrived in the Bridgeport alternate education program. He has been a member of our student council since elementary school, done an outstanding job in our workability programs and contributes daily to his class environment by volunteering to help peers and doing day to day tasks in the classroom. His teacher fondly refers to him as her “Unofficial Teachers Assistant”. As for Cisco, he says he is grateful because at Bridgeport he has learned how to control his anxiety and has greatly improved his communication skills. He says this is important for him to be able to function in the work place in the future.
Gavin R. – Summit View Valley Graduate
Graduating senior Gavin R. has been at Summit View since 2017, and has quietly become one of the leaders of his class. Active in the school community, Gavin graduates with our Bina Varughese Academic Excellence Award for the highest GPA and most rigorous classes, and the Nancy Rosenfelt Leadership award that goes to our graduating senior that exemplifies what we look for in a Summit View student. He will be greatly missed, but we know that he’ll continue to excel. Gavin will be starting California State University, Northridge in the fall.
Tekoah – Westview Graduate
Over the three years Tekoah attended Westview School of Arts, he overcame obstacles and grew into a respectful and articulate young man who is on his way to Arizona State University. Throughout his tenure at Westview, he showed initiative by consistently attending office hours and utilizing the small class setting to get more individualized help with his academics. His lighthearted energy was infectious on campus and he developed strong relationships with his peers and staff. During his senior year, Tekoah was a leader on the basketball team and he used his status to effectively mentor younger students. Supporting students in middle school, he would always lend an ear to students who needed someone to talk to. We have no doubt that he’ll enjoy his time at Arizona State University!
Jonathan C. – Bridgeport West Graduate
Jonathan’s journey with The Help Group began in 2018. He came to the Culver City campus from another school, where his father said he endured bullying. It was difficult for Jonathan to recover from some of the incidents. He had to learn to trust that Bridgeport West could provide a safe environment for him. There were ups and downs, but Jonathan continued to persevere. Jonathan now loves school and enjoys having friends. Jonathan is excited to begin his transition to adulthood by enrolling in the Bridgeport West Vocational Center in the Fall. He is looking forward to gaining job training skills to help him find a job in a grocery store. Jonathan also looks forward to buying his own clothes. Way to go Jonathan!
Autumn C. – North Hills Prep Graduate
Autumn joined North Hills Prep and The Help Group’s Project Six residential home her senior year after being placed in multiple schools and programs over the last four years. At NHP, Autumn felt like she was given her space and made to feel independent, yet safe. As a senior classmen, Autumn took core subjects like English 12, which takes on a research paper as its project. The class explores skills one needs to have in order for a successful transition into adulthood, such as resume writing, preparing for an interview, budgeting, and other “how to’s” in the adult world. Autumn also took Economics, Government, and Art. Autumn won an excellence in Fine Arts during NHP’s commencement ceremony. She is a very talented artist. Autumn came to us with challenges in the area of social skills. NHP helped her navigate those waters and supported her making friends and then keeping them. It is always a challenge to stay out of high school “girl drama”, but with guidance from the NHP staff as well as her Project Six mentors, Autumn was able to engage in positive peer relationships. She really thrived the entire time at NHP thanks to her teachers, family, and her support team. Graduation was a big day for Autumn, as well as for the family and NHP staff. We couldn’t be prouder of Autumn and everything that she has accomplished. We look forward to her continued progress and growth as she transitions into an independent adult living situation with the help of her family.
SUPPORT PROGRAMS & SERVICES
Life Skills Coaching for Young Adults
One of the most frequently asked questions by parents of teens and young adults with special needs is “What happens next?” Advance LA provides clients with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, executive functioning difficulties and learning differences the experiences and opportunities necessary to lead a fulfilling adult life. We offer coaching services for neurodivergent young adults and support groups for parents. A shining example of how coaching services can inspire personal growth and development is Advance LA client Emma, who was open to learning new skills such as executive functioning, time management, and organization. Emma recently graduated from college cum laude, and is now working in her field of composing music at a post-production house. The sky is the limit for Emma and all of our coaching clients! Learn more about life skills coaching.
Lumina Counseling – In Person and Virtual Counseling
Lumina offers health insurance funded and private pay individual, group, couples and family therapy to persons of all ages, in addition to psycho-educational evaluations and diagnostic assessments. Within our new Lumina Counseling Center, we aim to provide empathic, affirming services to everyone who is interested in the support that counseling provides. We are here to help people of all ages and with any of the challenges many are experiencing, including those who are neurodivergent.
ABOUT THE HELP GROUP
The Help Group is the largest, most innovative and comprehensive nonprofit of its kind serving children, adolescents and young adults with special needs related to autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse and emotional challenges through its wide range of specialized education, therapy and outreach programs. Recently, The Help Group launched programs to serve LGBTQ+ youth. At the heart of its efforts is the commitment to helping young people fulfill their potential to lead positive, productive and rewarding lives. www.thehelpgroup.org
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