On Thursday, September 13 , KIPP Massachusetts celebrated the opening of its campus on 90 High Rock Street in Lynn. The building is the new home for both KIPP Academy Lynn Middle School and KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate High School, which were previously located at 25 Bessom Street and 20 Wheeler Street, respectively. In Lynn, KIPP:MA currently serves 588 students in grades 5-10, and will grow to serve 850 students in grades 5-12 by 2015. Supporters of the schools, including Board members, donors, parents, staff and dignitaries attended the event.
Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville, and Massachusetts Commission of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester were among the speakers. The mayor spoke of the “significant investment” that KIPP has made in the Lynn community, stating that “KIPP’s commitment to use the facility as a community center as well as an educational institution will benefit residents of that neighborhood and beyond.”
“We are so proud at the state level of what you’ve achieved,” said Secretary Reville, “and on behalf of Govenor Patrick, we congratulate you on your success.” During his speech, Reville reflected on the nation’s educational landscape, stating that the nation “can no longer leave some behind while others are allowed to succeed. We need to educate all of our children, and all means all.” A proponent of charter schools and a former alternative school educator himself, Reville said the state is “relying on KIPP to be a pioneer” for reforming education throughout the state and the nation.
With extended school days and a longer school year, KIPP:MA focuses relentlessly on creating better life outcomes for 100% of its students. Teachers regularly make home visits, teach electives, and offer homework support until 9:00 pm. A culture of joy permeates the classroom with extensive field learning and electives. The robust KIPP Through College program ensures KIPP alumni have the tools and support they need to stay on the path to and through college.
“Our kids and families have worked hard to earn this beautiful building. They deserve it,” said Caleb Dolan, Executive Director of KIPP:MA. “The work that happens inside the building is even more impressive than the building itself.” The new High Rock campus is the most recent step in a journey that began in 2004 when founder Josh Zoia opened KIPP Academy Lynn Middle School. Zoia was present at the festivities and reflected on the progress the school has made. “Just like when our students climb the mountain to and through college, the realization of this building required unwavering belief, relentless work, and a true team effort,” Zoia said.
“Because of the discipline I was taught by KIPP, I have been able to find all the help necessary to pursue my education,” said Moises Martinez during his speech. Martinez, a member of the founding class at KIPP Academy Lynn, studies at North Shore Community College. Eighty-nine percent of fellow Class of 2012 alumni also attend two and four-year colleges. Nationwide, the college graduation rate for students in low-income communities is just 8%. At KIPP schools across the nation, the college graduation rate for students is 36% – more than quadruple that of their low-income peers.
“Charter schools and traditional schools traditionally have been walled off, put into separate silos, not to mix” said Commissioner Mitchell Chester, as he addressed the crowd. Chester challenged KIPP, and other charter schools like it, to work with the cities like Lynn to create “models that are hybrid approaches, with successful charter operators working within the footprint of the traditional school systems.” He added, “we want to capitalize on what you [KIPP] do so well.”
After the event, Executive Director Caleb Dolan invited over 80 guests to tour the facilities and visit classes in progress during the school day. Dolan said, “We want to conclude our celebration by witnessing the real reason we’re here: the incredible work that our students, teachers, and staff are doing everyday inside these classrooms.”
The KIPP Academy Lynn High Rock campus opens its doors to tours and visits throughout the school year, and hosts community adult education classes after school hours. Those interested in learning more about the school should visit www.kippma.org.