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Widener University welcomes home first Widener Partnership Charter School alumni, as freshmen in class of 2022

Freshmen -- and alumni

Twelve alumni from the Widener Partnership Charter School have begun their college careers as freshmen at Widener University.

Widener University is pleased to welcome home 12 students who entered the university this fall as freshmen in the class of 2022, and whose primary education began at the Widener Partnership Charter School.

Widener launched the charter school with a kindergarten and first grade in 2006, in partnership with community leaders and residents of Chester. Five of the charter school students who are now Widener freshmen were in the inaugural first grade class and continued there as the school added grade levels through middle school. Others joined the school in grades two through four.

Together, they were among the 37 eighth grade students in the first class promoted to high school, in 2014. They were also the first class to receive a promise from Widener University: those who excelled in high school and met Widener’s admissions requirements would be eligible for $100,000 scholarships over four years to pursue their undergraduate degrees full time.

The university is fulfilling that financial promise to the 12 charter school alumni who have entered as freshmen.

“We are so excited and honored that these students have returned to Widener to pursue their undergraduate degrees,” said President Julie E. Wollman. “All of them have met our rigorous standards for admission and have earned their place in Widener’s class of 2022. I am proud of their accomplishments, and especially gratified because we nurtured them through their elementary and middle school years and watched as they headed off to high school. It truly feels like we have welcomed them home as they begin the next chapter of their academic lives.”

Freshman Destiny Barnes, an exploratory studies major, said she was happy to be back with former Widener schoolmates.

“We started together. We’re going to finish together,” Barnes said. “That’s what makes me happy. I’m proud of us.”

Biology major Jada Cottman, a Maguire College Scholar at Widener, said she is volunteering at the charter school, working with students on their sight words. The experience makes her feel like a role model, and teachers there encourage her to talk with the elementary children about her education. Cottman wants to be a pediatrician.

“They want them to know it’s possible. You can go to college,” she said.

Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland added his support for the students.

“Anytime a young person commits themselves to higher education, it is a win for the future,” Kirkland said. “Even more so, when those young persons are products of our very own community, we know that commitment signifies a win for our city. As these students matriculate at Widener University, the power of partnerships is reaffirmed. We are proud of these students and salute all parties involved for helping to cultivate our next generation of leaders.” 

The Widener Partnership Charter School is Pennsylvania’s first university-based charter school. It takes a holistic approach to K-to-8 education, equipping the next generation with skills and resources to succeed. The school emphasizes a low student-to-teacher ratio, the social and emotional development of each student, a close partnership with parents and caregivers, and the inclusion of music, art, physical and health education and foreign language instruction as integral parts of the curriculum.

The university-charter school partnership also benefits the younger learners through use of Widener’s Wolfgram Memorial Library, and resources available through the Center for Education, Center for Social Work Education, and the Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology. Widener also encourages charter school students to use university facilities such as the Art Gallery and the Science Teaching Center.

Charter school alumni who are members of Widener’s class of 2022, and their majors, include:

Robert Harvey, criminal justice
Asia McDonald, nursing
Brea Simms, communications studies
Kennae Wood, biology
De-Avion Johnson, criminal justice
Destiny Barnes, exploratory studies
Jada Cottman, biology
Kenia Ramos, nursing
Cire Holmes, nursing
Aqeel Collins, business
Jaami’a Boyer, biology
Brandon Nichols, accounting

A photo of the group is available for download here.