On May 24th, 2012, the 20th Annual “Success is our Future” – Rewarding Probation Youth in Foster Care Ceremony was an enormous triumph for Phoenix House. In front of over 500 people, including the Chief Probation Officer for LA County, Jerry E. Powers, Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles stood out among all the other group homes in LA County. Several current and former residents received awards and scholarships, performed on stage, and showcased their artistic abilities at the art gallery.
The “Success Is Our Future” Ceremony is an annual event promoted by the Los Angeles County Probation Department and supported by Southern California Group Home and Foster Home Providers, which recognizes the varied accomplishments of foster youth and provides scholarships for school expenses. “Success Is Our Future” also offers the opportunity for foster youth to experience what most other teenagers get to experience through prom and graduation: to dress up, have a four-course dining experience and to celebrate their accomplishments with their peers. The youth are honored and awarded scholarships in various categories based on their achievements: academics, sports, literature, arts, and overall improvement in conduct and behavior.
One exceptional teen from Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles won the Darryl Pipkin Scholarship Award, one of seven scholarships given out to all of the youth cared for by the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and Los Angeles Probation Department. The Darryl Pipkin Scholarship Award is awarded to those who are excelling in their current program against all odds and who are going to attend college in the fall. This was the second time in the history of the event that a Phoenix House resident won this prestigious award.
Several other past and present Academy residents won awards as well, including a former resident who won the award for poetry and literature. She performed her poem on stage in front of the massive crowd, which responded with an enthusiastic standing ovation. Another former resident youth, who graduated high school while being on probation and who is currently attending Santa Monica Community College, won the continuing education scholarship. From our students who submitted essays, three current residents received Academic Awards, while eleven current residents – along with three former residents – received Overall Achievement Awards.
Phoenix House also was a hit as the main source of live entertainment for the event. Our students brought the house down with a performance of their hit song recorded in Phoenix House’s very own music studio. The Phoenix Rising Music Program, created by Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Kara DioGuardi, is an expressive arts therapy program under the guidance of Music Program Director John Morabito. All three young received a standing ovation after their performance. Yet another former Phoenix House resident started the event off with a jaw dropping rendition of the National Anthem, while a current resident won Second Place for the Art Award with his framed art work “Rose that Grew from the Concrete.
In front of a ballroom filled with LA county probation officers, judges, social workers and ILP coordinators, Phoenix House students sparkled. We’d like to thank all the staff and LACOE teachers who helped our residents work on their essays, poems, drawings, FAFSA’s, resumes, and scholarship applications. Let us congratulate all of our residents who won awards and participated in the event!