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USC East College Prep can transform the lives of its students and community

Provost and neuroscientist Michael Quick knows that a good education can change the course of a person’s life.

The son of a construction worker and the first in his family to attend college, Quick helped cut the ribbon Oct. 20 on the new USC East College Prep, a high school for students who carry the college dreams of their families.

“My parents instilled in me a sense of the transformative power of education and what going to college could mean, not only for me, but how it can transform communities,” Quick said.

“I preach a lot about having impact in the world, of solving problems — of pipelines of students having access to higher education — in tackling wicked problems around poverty and social justice. USC East College Prep rings all those bells.”

Hybrid High set the standard
The school opened in Lincoln Heights near the Health Sciences Campus in August; it’s the second charter high school developed and designed by the USC Rossier School of Education.

USC Hybrid High, the predecessor of USC East College Prep, now enrolls 450 students in downtown Los Angeles, with its first class of seniors due to graduate in June.

USC Provost Michael Quick, center. talks with prep-school students Kate Alvara, 14, left and Joceline Morales, 14, right, during the opening and dedication of East College Prep in Los Angeles, Tuesday, October 20, 2015.(USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

USC Provost Michael Quick, center. talks with prep-school students Kate Alvara, 14, left and Joceline Morales, 14, right, during the opening and dedication of East College Prep in Los Angeles, Tuesday, October 20, 2015.(USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Ednovate, the charter management organization of which USC is a fiscal and operating partner, operates both schools, which are chartered through the Los Angeles Unified School District.

“We pride ourselves on doing work that has direct impact on K-12 schools and higher education,” said USC Rossier Dean Karen Symms Gallagher, who is also chair of the board of Ednovate. “The research we do will not just sit on shelves but will actually get put to use in the field to promote learning and better outcomes for students.”

At USC East College Prep, Gallagher said: “All students, regardless of their personal circumstances, have the opportunity to graduate from high school, attend and complete college.”

The school curriculum couples quality instruction with the use of technology to create personalized learning programs for each student, in addition to group work and community projects.

‘Quite a feat’
The ceremony also honored USC Trustee Lydia Kennard, who helped fund the renovation of USC East College Prep. Kennard spoke of her father, a Trojan who broke boundaries as an African-American attending the USC School of Architecture in the 1940s.

(left to right) USC Dean Karen Gallagher, Principal Drew Goltermann, USC trustee and USC East College Prep donor Lydia H. Kennard and USC Provost Michael Quick cut the ribbon during the opening and dedication of East College Prep in Los Angeles, Tuesday, October 20, 2015.(USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

(left to right) USC Dean Karen Gallagher, Principal Drew Goltermann, USC trustee and USC East College Prep donor Lydia H. Kennard and USC Provost Michael Quick cut the ribbon during the opening and dedication of East College Prep in Los Angeles, Tuesday, October 20, 2015.(USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

The renovated USC East College Prep, with its open layout, sprinkling of modern furniture and students working on personal laptops, resembles more of a college student union than a high school classroom.

The event kicked off with a spirited welcome from the Spirit of Troy marching band.

“You guys made us feel like we just won the Rose Bowl,” said Oliver Sicat ’01 CEO of Ednovate.

“It is quite a feat to build a school in a new community,” said Sicat, turning to the dozens of students who had gathered outside in their school uniforms.

“Students, let’s not ever forget that we never do this journey alone and that people are here to support you,” he added. “And when it’s your turn, and you have the privilege to give back in any way — whether that’s your money or your intelligence or your humor, give back when you can and continue to create that positive multigenerational change.”

By: Merrill Balassone