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May 03, 2017

"Our #1 Ranking Feels Like We Are Proving People Wrong:" A Scholar's Story

Last week, U.S. News and World Report ranked Amistad Academy the #1 high school in Connecticut and #20 in the nation. What’s it like to attend Connecticut’s top high school? Achievement First sat down with AF Amistad High senior Diva to find out.

What is your favorite thing about going to school at Amistad?

The best thing about it is the support I get from all of my teachers. Everybody loves me, and they are very understanding. I really appreciate the encouragement, especially this year. There have been some moments where I have gotten upset about not getting into a certain college, or having to make a difficult decision, and they have always been there to help me make the right choice for me.

What are the academics and extracurriculars like?

I really like A.P. Language. The structure of writing essays and reading passages has changed the way I see things. I will never be able to read a book without looking for rhetoric, or looking at an advertisement without thinking, “Oh, they wanted this audience to think that.” I also love writing and composition class, because we’re able to write our own research questions and essays. That way you can write about what you’re most interested.

For extracurricular activities, I’ve been on student government for four years, and I’m a member of the senior committee and our school’s student advocacy group. I am also on the soccer and cheerleading teams, the yearbook staff, and I work on our TV station, Wolf Watch.

You mention A.P., and all students at AF Amistad High take Advanced Placement classes. That is something that makes the school different, right?

Definitely. I am this school’s student government marshal, and so we get together with student government leaders from other schools. Recently, we were talking about A.P. testing. Almost everybody at my table had only one A.P. class, or they don’t have any. I was really frustrated because everybody should have the opportunity to push themselves and take A.P. math or writing or history. I expected to hear that they were. Once I heard that this wasn’t the case everywhere, it made me sad that other schools don’t have the opportunities to take A.P. that students here have.

What did it feel like when you learned Amistad was ranked the #1 high school in the state?

I was pretty excited. It’s a big deal, especially since we’re all minorities. I understand why some people might be surprised. We live in the city and sometimes people talk about how our school is really structured – but most people don’t know how smart we are. Our #1 ranking feels like we are proving people wrong. Yes, minority students can succeed and work hard if you give us access to these classes, and these structures. We show our school’s core values, especially integrity, independence and excellence.

Later this month, you and your classmates will announce your acceptance to colleges and universities. What does it feel like to go to a school where all of the students are accepted to college?

It’s hard work being a student at Amistad. But we have people to support us, and it’s a great feeling that our Senior Signing Day just seems normal – everyone gets accepted to college, that’s how it is. We all come here through a blind lottery. I got into Amistad Academy Middle in seventh grade, and we’re all getting into college, that’s our tradition. We are all really smart kids when we are given the opportunity.

Diva will attend Eastern Connecticut State University in the fall, where she plans to study communications and TV broadcasting.


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