LA Times: From unhoused to high school grad: L.A. ceremony honors students who overcame the odds

LA Times: From unhoused to high school grad: L.A. ceremony honors students who overcame the odds

Relevant News
5/21/2024

By Howard Blume

May 21, 2024

One student lived variously in a car, a homeless shelter, motels and with relatives. Another was kicked out of the house in high school. And yet another shared one room with his entire family and worked washing dishes.

These Los Angeles Unified high school students represent a complex mosaic of hardship, but also have overcome tremendous adversity — and were among 130 who were honored Monday by the district at BMO Stadium south of downtown, where many received college scholarships.

“You’re here because you accomplished something, because you made sure your life has meaning,” author Luis Rodriguez said in remarks to the graduates.

Rodriguez, who also overcame hardship in his youth, told the graduates to learn to love themselves in a positive way and “the angels will come out of the woodwork — the teachers and the mentors and the people will come out to help you. That’s been my experience.”

About 15,000 students experience homelessness in the L.A. Unified School District, an increase of about 3,000 students or about 25% from the previous year. These numbers are “likely an undercount — as students self-identify as experiencing homelessness,” said district spokesman Britt A. Vaughan. Across L.A. County, about 47,700 students faced housing instability during the 2022-23 school year — out of nearly 1.4 million students.

In a given year, about 11% of California students experiencing homelessness will spend time either living in a temporary shelter or under no roof at all. An additional 6% will be living in a hotel.

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