In March 2020, Hiawatha Academies reached a major milestone: 100 percent of the Hiawatha Collegiate High School Class of 2020 has been admitted to college! This is Hiawatha Academies’s second graduating class, and the second year of 100 percent college admission.

“I’m going to St. Thomas, it’s everything I’ve been looking for in a school” said, Irak Saenz, Hiawatha Collegiate High School Class of 2020. Irak joined Hiawatha Academies in his sophomore year after living in Cuba for 15 years. He was really happy to join Hiawatha as he saw scholars who looked like him, spoke like him and had the same experience as him, which made his transition easier.

Hiawatha Academies is a network of K-12 public charter schools on a mission to ensure that all students are prepared to go to and through college, regardless of their family’s income or demographics.

“All students are capable of achieving at the highest levels,” said Colette Owens, Hiawatha Academies executive director. “The Class of 2020 has dreamed big and worked hard to reach toward their infinite potential. They have done this with the  support of the Hiawatha community of families and educators who are relentless in their pursuit of what is possible.”

Two thirds of Hiawatha Collegiate High School’s senior class have been admitted to 3 or more colleges. They have been awarded over $10 million in scholarships. “All students should have choices for their future,” said Nicole Cooley, founding principal at Hiawatha Collegiate High School. “Our job as educators is to ensure that scholars have the doors of opportunity open to them.”

According to MPRNEWS’s article reporting on Minnesota Department of Education’s high school graduation data, “Black and Hispanic students made the biggest gains, with improvements of more than 3 percentage points for Hispanic students and more than two points for black students. The number of students dropping out of high school declined from 4.6 to 4.4 percent.”

A small victory, yes, but there is much work to be done. Data still shows students of color experiencing low graduation rates in comparison to their white peers across well to do school districts neighborhoods.

Among Hiawatha Academies Class of 2020, nearly all will be the first in their family to attend college. 100 percent college admission is remarkable in Minnesota, a state with one of the nation’s lowest high school graduation rates for students living in poverty. 

“I need to push myself to be better and focus on my senior year and create a habit for next year.” said Irak, excited about his transition into college life next year.

The entire Hiawatha Academies community extends its hearty congratulations to the Class of 2020 on their incredible individual and collective accomplishments!