Throughout January, Loyola High School senior and PLN Charter Elementary School (CES) alum, Luis*, volunteered in 3rd grade classrooms at CES. He wanted to be at the school, because he has so many fond memories of attending himself; and he wanted to try to give today’s students similarly great experiences. “Perhaps I could be an inspiration for a student now,” Luis said of his decision.
Luis’s mother found CES when he was in preschool at the Salvation Army across from PLN Charter Middle School. She was glad to find a school so close to her workplace at a local McDonald’s and thrilled by the generosity of PLN staff. “My mom said that my kindergarten teacher was the kindest person she ever knew,” remembers Luis. As a young child, Luis had a stutter; and the PLN team was incredibly supportive of him and his family. “They went out of their way to help me overcome that barrier, and I’m eternally grateful,” says Luis.
During his time at CES, Luis also attended PLN’s After-School Program, which welcomes all PLN students to arrive early or stay late on campus. The program offers homework support, interest groups, and games to build relationships and connections. One afternoon, a teacher brought out the board game Monopoly. “I saw for the first time the management of wealth and strategy and the ability to change your financial future. That became my passion,” remembers Luis, “and now, going into college, my focus is going to be business.”
Luis’s memories extend beyond his own experience to other students, “Many of my classmates grew up in disadvantaged households. I saw what they struggled with, and I saw that one person can change their lives…can make them motivated in school or sports and I felt that I received that at PLN.”
After graduating from CES, Luis went to a Catholic school close to his home, and now attends Loyola High School. Loyola maintains a partnership with PLN; every year, Loyola places a group of seniors at PLN sites to fulfill community service required for graduation.
Luis is now awaiting acceptance letters from various universities. He hopes to stay in L.A. to be close to his mom and grandmother while pursuing a degree in business.
*Names changed to protect our families’ privacy.