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Hollenbeck Middle School Celebrates Achieving Middle School Certification, First in the Nation

December 14, 2022 | Linked Learning Alliance

Last week, Los Angeles Unified School District’s Hollenbeck Middle School became the first in the nation to achieve Linked Learning Middle School Certification. Educators, families, students, industry partners, and district leaders gathered to honor this momentous accomplishment.

Situated between two Linked Learning Gold Certified high schools in the historic Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, Hollenbeck Middle School has helped lead the way on Linked Learning Middle School Certification. For the past two years, leaders have worked closely with the Linked Learning Alliance and other middle school partners to develop, pilot, and refine a set of standards to guide the new Linked Learning Middle School certification strand. Their STEMM pathway displays the same high-quality, relevant academics, career-technical education, work-based learning, and student supports found in high school pathways in a format appropriate for middle school learners.

During their celebration, the Hollenbeck Middle School team unveiled a pathway video, highlighting the range of engineering, technology, and biomedical experiences students have access to throughout their time in the STEMM pathway. Los Angeles Unified School District Linked Learning Director Susan Canjura kicked off the program, praising Hollenbeck Middle School students and educators for “showing that middle schoolers can do really important and rigorous work through the Linked Learning approach.” During this celebration, the Hollenbeck community also honored their Industry Partner and Students of the Year. As Industry Partner of the Year, Department of Water and Power engineer Andres Perez reflected that “the students at Hollenbeck are being exposed to topics and skills I didn’t experience until high school, or even college.”

Student of the Year Matthew Arce spoke about how Linked Learning has “helped me learn outside the four walls,” connecting his classroom experiences with real issues in the community. As part of a project-based learning unit, Matthew applied research, engineering, and technology skills to create maps of the liquor stores in the community and analyze their impact on young people based on their proximity to schools. With this project, Matthew placed 4th in a state-wide competition, and he credits his Linked Learning experience for his success.

Samantha Gonzalez, another Student of the Year awardee, spoke about how her pathway experience has influenced her career aspirations. While the focus of her pathway is science-based, Samantha shared that she hopes to be a lawyer someday thanks to her experiences with mock trial and other extracurricular activities offered in the pathway. She has been able to apply the knowledge and skills she learns in the classroom to her passions for law and public service, exemplifying the ways Linked Learning prepares young people for a wide range of college and career pathways within and beyond the pathway’s industry focus.

This celebration marks an exciting new era for the Linked Learning movement, bringing evidence-based college and career readiness that starts students on their path to purpose even earlier. The Linked Learning Alliance commends the incredible work from the Hollenbeck Middle School and Los Angeles Unified School District team for their exceptional work and dedication to students, equity, economic justice, and community success.

Interested in learning more about bringing Linked Learning to middle school? Be sure to register for Our Golden Opportunity: Creating Coherence in College & Career Readiness, the 2023 Linked Learning conference! Here, we will officially launch the Middle School standards, with opportunities to dive deep into how you can harness the transformative power of Linked Learning in your middle school context. Learn more and register today!