The Preuss School USCD Helps First Generation Students to Succeed

October 14, 2016

By Ana Gomez Salcido IMG_3723

Being a unique charter middle and high school for low-income students who strive to become the first in their families to graduate from a four-year college or university is the goal of The Preuss School UCSD.
“Some of the children that come here have very low reading levels and by the time they will graduate they will be able to manage the language and have their reading up to a point that will make them able to succeed in high school and be the first ones in their families to go to college,” said Viviana Zamora-Luna, teacher of the World Language Department at The Preuss School UCSD. “We have to prepare them for college.”
The Preuss School began when a group of UC San Diego faculty began planning for the best way to increase the number of students in the university who come from low income or underrepresented groups. The first and most significant gift toward building the school came from Peter and Peggy Preuss and their family foundation. To recognize their $5 million gift, the school was named after their benefactors.
The Preuss School, which is jointly chartered by the San Diego Unified School District and UC San Diego, opened in 1999 on portable buildings located on UC San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College with 150 students in grades 6–8. Now, there is a state-of-the-art facility on the university’s East Campus off of Genesee Avenue.
Currently, there are 846 students in grades 6 to 12 at The Preuss School, with a culturally diverse student body of 68 percent Hispanic, 10 percent African American, 19 percent Asian/Indo-Chinese, and 3 percent White.
“We have a diverse student population and we try to communicate that culture is part of where we live,” Zamora-Luna said. “It’s not because it’s required, but because we live in a place like this, and because they are world citizens.”
Zamora-Luna mentioned that students this year will have a cultural celebration during an entire week at the end of this month, that will showcase the day of the dead with several activities including the building of altars by different classes.
Students come from more than 41 zip codes throughout San Diego County.
Students are selected through a process of application and lottery, and in order to be eligible for the lottery a student must be from a low-income family and have no parent or guardian who has graduated from a four-year college.
Graduates consistently get accepted to four-year colleges and universities at a rate of more than 90 percent. The Class of 2013 was the first class to achieve a 100 percent acceptance rate to four-year colleges and universities. Nearly 100 percent of The Preuss School UCSD graduates go on to some form of higher education.
Many of our graduates have gone on to attend colleges and universities such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, and schools in the University of California system.

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