Alicia Thomas knows the transformative power of The Preuss School UCSD firsthand. A 2009 graduate of Preuss—a charter middle and high school for motivated, low-income students whose parents have not graduated from college—Thomas was born to Mexican and Panamanian immigrants who had little more than a high school education. While her parents did not attend college, they knew that a college education was the key to a better life.
“They encouraged me to apply to Preuss and then to apply myself once I got in,” said Thomas, a graduating senior at the University of California, San Diego and alumni coordinator for Preuss. “They knew that Preuss would provide me with opportunities that I would not have had at other schools. They were right.”
Thomas will share her inspirational story as one of the featured speakers at Preuss’ annual benefit, The Preuss Promise: Design Your Future on Friday, April 19. The festivities will begin at 6 p.m. in the Price Center East on the UC San Diego campus.
The event starts with a cocktail hour at The Loft featuring music, science demonstrations and a fine arts exhibit by Preuss students. After the cocktail hour, guests will enjoy an elegant dinner in the Price Center East ballroom with a performance by Preuss alumna, Cassandra Lopez. A 2010 graduate of Preuss, Lopez is a singer, dancer and actress who has recently appeared in the musicals Spring Awakening and Rent with the California Youth Conservatory Theatre in San Diego. Lopez will perform “One Song Glory” from Rent and “Home” from The Wiz.
“I always had a lot of fun performing at the benefits with show choir and musical theatre while I was at Preuss, so I'm honored that I was asked to perform again,” said Lopez.
UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla will speak during the event, which also kicks off The Preuss School’s “Campaign for Longer Learning Time.” Expanded learning time is a fundamental tenet of the Preuss educational model and a concept that is currently gaining traction as a part of the solution to the nation’s educational challenges. Preuss students are in school longer each day and for 23 more days a year than the typical student in California, which adds up to almost an entire extra academic year over the course of their middle and high school careers.
“With additional time we can offer an array of academic support as well as art, music and physical education—subjects that are increasingly cut from other schools, yet have been shown to improve students’ educational outcomes,” said Scott Barton, principal of The Preuss School UCSD. “But, the extra days of instruction we offer are not covered by the state so we must rely on our community to help us ensure the transformative power of a Preuss education is available for generations to come.”
The benefit will also feature a live auction with a variety of items up for bid including a seven-day voyage aboard the largest private residential yacht in the world, a walk-on role in the Broadway show Jersey Boys—a Tony Award-winning musical—and a one-week stay in a spectacular 8,000-square foot home in Vail, Colorado.