One Big Happy Family
SCHOOLS, STUDENTS | July 7, 2020
One Big Happy Family

How a McAuliffe Elementary Graduate’s Academic Success Ties Back to Her Special Relationship with Her Mom

Brianna A. says sixth grade at Sharon Christa McAuliffe Elementary was a year that she will never forget. It was the year she joined the volleyball team and had her biggest friend group ever. As a student known to support her peers unconditionally and achieve academic excellence, she was named valedictorian this year. Even though she had to deliver her speech from her house, Brianna still used the opportunity to encourage her peers to keep moving forward. 

“It was definitely bittersweet to graduate without being with my friends,” said Brianna. “I focused my speech on all the challenges and obstacles we’ve experienced as a group and how we’ve overcome them together.” 

By her side was her mom, Leticia, who had a unique vantage point for watching her daughter grow up over the years. As a Pre-K teacher at McAuliffe—and Brianna’s own Pre-K teacher many years ago—her bond with her daughter has only been strengthened with each new school day. 

Leticia will never forget the time she needed to jump in as an emergency volleyball coach for Brianna’s team. Even though she had no idea what she was doing, watching her daughter take control of the situation and motivate her teammates was an extremely proud moment for her. As much as she wants to follow her daughter to high school, she is excited for Brianna to spread her wings. 

“As a mom, it’s been the best of both worlds to be a professional with my job but also see what’s going on in Brianna’s life,” said Leticia. “It’s been nice being involved together in the activities going on and watching her open herself up to others.” 

As a straight-A student year after year, Brianna has attended many, many honor roll celebrations with her family. Principal Ryan Belville says events like these celebrations—and even the school’s virtual graduation—connect back to the family-centered environment that he’s worked hard to cultivate at the school. 

“We’re always thinking about ‘What does family and community mean to us?’ and that was reflected in how we celebrated our students this year,” said Principal Belville. “Having all of our families together virtually brought so many great moments.” 

On top of strong academic performance, Brianna will always be remembered at McAuliffe for her maturity. She hopes to continue being a role model for other students when she attends Lane Tech High School in the fall. While transitioning to a school of nearly 5,000 students from a school of 600 will certainly be a challenge, she hopes she can continue playing volleyball to make her experience feel more familiar. She also wants to try out cheerleading and yearbook to further explore her passion for photography. 

To maintain the high standards that she’s set for herself, you can expect Brianna to depend on the same advice she’s used to transform into a leader at McAuliffe. 

“Since I started at McAuliffe, I’ve always told myself to stay focused and do all my work,” said Brianna. “Meeting so many new people at this school was extremely helpful and important because it showed me more about how the actual world is going to be.”