Eastside pride: Graduates celebrate change for the better

Jaquande Lee smiles after graduating from Eastside. (Courtesy AISD)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Wednesday night marked an important milestone for an Austin school that has seen more than its share of challenges. 106 graduating seniors walked the stage to become the first-ever graduates of Eastside Memorial High School at the Johnston Campus.

Four years ago there was debate on whether the state should close the school’s doors over performance issues at the old Johnston High.

When KXAN visited the campus last January we learned from teachers and students things were turning around.

“The teachers are more enthusiastic about doing their jobs and everybody is really getting along,” said Jaquonde Lee who graduated Wednesday night at a ceremony at the Frank Erwin Center. “And students are doing the right thing this year, too.”

Eastside Memorial has made consistent academic improvements with the assistance of Johns Hopkins.

“It’s a good school. People try to say it’s a bad school, but it’s really good,” said Bulls Taban, another Eastside graduate. “You actually have to come here to find out how good it is.”

“It makes me more thankful that I was able to graduate from here, Eastside, because there was a risk of it not even being here,” Lee added.

Not only did Lee make it thru high school, just hours before the graduation ceremony he applied for classes at Austin Community College.

Lee says the message should be clear to future students and to all that Eastside has turned the corner.

“They need to know, if you have courage, hope and strength, then Eastside is the place for you,” he said. “It’s like a family. Nobody leaves anybody behind.”

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