"Girard is the Right School for Me"
Zion is in seventh grade. Last year, he was a “new kid,” and at first was hesitant about joining in. He was confident in his academics, but was a little bit quieter than the other students. In the spring, his music teacher, Maria Slowey-Johnson, announced that the fifth- and sixth-grades would present “Lion King Jr.,” a musical production that would engage all members of the two classes.
Zion heard this and was intrigued. He’d always loved music class, and he thought this sounded like fun. When Ms. Slowey-Johnson began to think about the cast, Zion said he might like to be one of the lions. Agreeing at once, she said, “Good idea. I think you would make an excellent ‘Scar.’”
Scar is the evil member of the royal (lion) family, brother to King Mufasa and uncle to Prince Simba. Zion was thrilled, but a little nervous. Could he pull it off?
Throughout several weeks of rehearsals, Zion made the most of every opportunity to stretch his wings theatrically and musically. Students and staff encouraged him as he became more and more confident on stage.
“I guess I was a little bit unsure of myself at first,” Zion said. “Ms. Slowey-Johnson had to remind me to speak out and lift up my head when I spoke, but eventually I really got into it.”
Of course the play was a hit and Zion glowed with pride when he and other cast members took their bows.
His increased confidence didn’t hurt his already excellent academic record. At the conclusion of sixth grade, Zion was named valedictorian.
Today, a seasoned seventh-grader, Zion says, “Now I understand why Girard College is the right school for me.”
"I am so Grateful"
Another valedictorian, but of the class of 2016, India has just completed her first semester at the University of Pennsylvania.
Looking back at her Girard years, India says, “Girard definitely changed my life.”
India’s mother had three children, the first at age 18. Her educational opportunities were limited, and a successful future was hard to see.
“When my sisters and I enrolled in Girard College, our mother was able to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees,” India says. “So really, Girard changed the lives of the whole family.”
An excellent student, India took every math class offered at Girard by the end of her junior year, and so she applied to the dual-enrollment program at CCP (Community College of Philadelphia). This program allows advanced students to take college classes while still in high school. She earned 12 credits before graduating from Girard, essentially starting her college career one semester ahead.
India also values the close family atmosphere of the Girard community that supported her during difficult times. Her mother passed away when India was a freshman, and strong relationships with the staff allowed her to continue on a successful path.
“I would not be here at Penn or in such a good place personally if I had not gone to Girard College,” she says. “I am so grateful.”