Students who Overcome Odds Graduate in Special Ceremony

Eighteen-year-old Jeremy Schaub of Culver City has been arrested for vandalism and assault, placed on house arrest for not going to school and, eventually, shipped off to a youth home. With his life spiraling out of control, he ended up at Christa McAuliffe High School, a juvenile probation camp in Lancaster, operated by the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

“I came to the camp very pessimistic, not wanting to be there,” said Schaub. “I was sad and angry.”

But then, to his surprise, he started enjoying school at the camp. He excelled academically and scored among the highest in his class on the GED test. He also discovered his love for music – a profession that he is excited to explore in the next chapter of his life- – he’ll be attending college to fulfill his goal of becoming a music producer.

“I was blaming the world for my problems,” he reflected. “But every day, I changed a little it so that when I left, I was very optimistic and looking forward to life. I think I took the long way but I made it. It was worth it in the long run.”

In June, Schaub joined 279 other graduates as they walked along the stage at Walt Disney Concert Hall to officially mark their completion of the county’s alternative and special education programs. One-by-one the graduates marched into the Frank Gehry – designed landmark in downtown Los Angeles to the roaring applause of more than 1,000 well-wishers who attended in the commencement ceremony.

The annual event, sponsored by the Los Angeles County Office of Education and the County Probation Department, celebrates the academic achievements of truly remarkable high school teens who have persevered through delinquency, behavioral problems, substance abuse, and pregnancy.

“We don’t focus on what may have gotten them in trouble,” said LACOE Public Information Officer Margo Minecki. “We focus on getting students back on track with their education.”

Anthony Magdaleno, 38, came with his wife and seven children to watch his 17-year-old son, Manuel, graduate from Camp Kilpatrick, a juvenile detention center in Santa Monica.

“It’s an honor to know that not all is lost and he is headed for a better future,” said the relieved father.

Schaub said he learned some valuable lessons—not only in the classroom but about life.

“If I could go back and tell myself something, I would tell myself not to give up, work your hardest at everything you do because you never know where you might end up,” said Schaub. “Life is good if you just let it be.”