This month, Ivan Sanchez celebrated his graduation from Xavier High School with a handful of friends he has known since second grade at the Partnership’s Our Lady Queen of Angels. But these young men share a bond that goes deeper than just attending school together—one that demonstrates that relationships are crucial for the power our schools can have.
Like Ivan, his closest friends are each among the first—if not the first—in their families to attend college. And they agree with Ivan about one crucial factor in their progress so far: “The friends from OLQA who I went to Xavier with held me to my expectations that I could make my family proud. I wanted to be surrounded by people who wanted to do more than me, so that I would be motivated to want to do more.”
That “doing more” included a decision they made in middle school to go together to Xavier. It started, apparently, with Diego’s brother, who was already at the high school, and Ivan’s mom, who wanted him to go there. Their friend Gael agreed. Jesus was ready to go his own way, but he opted to join the others. He says, “my parents work double shifts, and my sisters helped raise me, so it is great to have friends, too—a brotherhood.” A few other OLQA classmates joined the brotherhood too.
All agree that their support of each other began at OLQA, and it was an extension of the encouragement and high expectations their teachers had for them. “We were a bit disruptive in middle school,” Jesus admits. But with the help of a few teachers and the desire to go to a competitive high school together, they “got better at differentiating when it’s time to joke and when it’s time to work,” Ivan adds.
Each brings a helpful trait to the group. “I’m the instigator,” Diego explains. That initiative is playing out in his plans; headed to City College in the fall, he already runs a clothing company that sells merchandise at music events.
Ivan, who is going to Cornell in the fall to study architecture, is “the organized one; he keeps me on track,” Jesus shares.
Gael—the one of the guys to play a varsity sport at Xavier—says that his friends have helped him remain competitive while also learning to take a loss. He’ll be studying computer science at Baruch.
And Jesus—“the one who is always on time”–is studying electrical engineering at NYU.
They agree that the values they learned at OLQA–integrity, humility, hard work, and service—and the academic preparation they received there were crucial as well. And Ivan, who has gone back to volunteer at OLQA, likes how the Partnership’s curriculum has become more advanced since he graduated. “Sixth graders are learning mixed fractions–I didn’t do that until eighth grade!”
The boys are adamant that Xavier isn’t just an excellent high school; it has been excellent for them. “The quality of teachers here is amazing, the electives and activities are amazing, and it is a real community. Everybody gets treated equally in the classroom, no matter their background. I met an alum who was forty or fifty years old, and we really hit it off; there is always that connection, always that community,” Ivan says.
For several years, Partnership Schools has asserted that our schools are “more than classrooms; a community.” That community extends beyond the one the boys formed and includes the supporters who made it possible for them to attend both schools. Jesus explains that support was particularly pivotal for his family during COVID, when they needed extra help that the schools provided to his family and others.
As young “men for others” who have benefited from support in their school communities and provided it to each other, Ivan, Jesus, Diego, Gael, and their other friends from OLQA vividly embody how crucial relationships are to the future we envision for our students and our communities. And they figure prominently in each other’s vision for the future too; Ivan volunteers with conviction that these friends “will be the groomsmen at my wedding some day.”
We wish them and all the friends formed at our schools the very best this graduation season.
This post has been edited to reflect the correct college destinations.