The SABIS® International Charter School (SICS) and the Holyoke Community Charter School (HCCS) are two SABIS® Network charter schools in the U.S. that are currently celebrating 20 and 10 years of successful operation, respectively.
SICS, one of the state of Massachusetts’ original charter schools, opened shortly after the state passed a charter school law back in the mid-1990s and has been on a success path ever since. The K-12 school has been ranked among America’s best high schools by U.S. News and World Report for six consecutive years. The school has consistently closed the achievement gap between minority and Caucasian students and between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. In its 20-year history, the school has graduated over 1,100 students, all of whom have gained admission to college and several of whom have received scholarships. In the 2014-15 academic year, SICS graduates earned over $9.6 million in college scholarships.
HCCS, located in Holyoke, Massachusetts, opened its doors in 2005 and welcomed 702 students, many the children of Puerto Rican immigrants to the U.S. Students at the K-8 public charter school have set a high bar of achievement, most recently earning recognition on the National Spanish Examination. HCCS students are active, engaged members of the Holyoke community and are looked up to as role models by others, even earning a citation from the governor of Massachusetts for an anti-bullying campaign implemented at the school.
Both schools have held events throughout the 2015-16 academic year to celebrate their milestone anniversaries. Kick-off anniversary events for both schools were held in late September 2015 and involved the entire school communities. Most recently, the celebrations continued with dinners for all staff members at each school.
HCCS faculty, staff, and administrators got together for an evening of celebration on March 16, 2016. The dinner, which gave everyone the opportunity to come together as a team, included a welcome from School Director, Dr. Sonia Correa Pope, and was followed by a speech from SABIS® President, Carl Bistany, who commended the staff on their efforts. “By working as a caring and cohesive team under the leadership of Dr. Pope,” stated Bistany, “and using the SABIS® Educational System, all of you have contributed to helping HCCS students build a solid academic foundation and develop essential life skills.” He went on to encourage everyone to continue working together to make a difference in students’ lives.
At a similar event held for SICS faculty, staff, and administration, attendees were welcomed by Karen Reuter, SICS School Director, who invited Carl Bistany to speak. His message praised SICS for its many accomplishments and pointed out the challenge that often accompanies institutions that have been placed on pedestal. “For the times ahead when you feel the pressure mounting and need something to motivate and sustain you, remember that no one picks on number 2,” he said.
Following the speeches, celebrations continued, giving the teams at both schools the opportunity to renew their commitment to the active pursuit of success through the end of the current academic year as well as for years to come. Mr. George Saad, SABIS® Vice President – U.S. Operations, who attended the dinners characterized the spirit of the events: “The energy and camaraderie were palpable; the message of encouragement and resilience echoed loudly and was timely as both schools gear up for the final stretch before students take state exams.”
Reflecting on the event, HCCS’s Dr. Pope said, “The ten years have flown by. It’s heartening to see all the lives we have touched and the positive impact this SABIS® Network school has had.” Mrs. Reuter from SICS echoed her sentiments and offered a bright outlook on the future of the school. “We are fortunate to be able to draw on momentum built up over years of success,” she said. “Moving forward, together with ongoing support from SABIS®, we can leverage that momentum to carry our students even further.”