High school seniors in the Portland Public Schools’ Make It Happen! (MIH) program were honored for their accomplishments at a ceremony May 10 at the University of Southern Maine. High school graduation is just weeks away and many of the 105 students recognized at this year’s MIH Senior Celebration are headed to college. The special ceremony each year honors the students and their families, acknowledging that their educational journey has not been easy and that their achievement is something very much to be celebrated.
At the celebration, each student was recognized and honored and given a certificate of achievement. Students also were invited to share their stories about how they made their educational successes happen.
MIH is an award-winning college readiness program in PPS high schools and middle schools run by the district’s Multilingual & Multicultural Center. It helps multilingual students aspire to and prepare for higher education. It does that by making sure they know what college opportunities are out there and how to take advantage of them, and by encouraging students to take challenging classes, develop strong college applications and take part in school and community civic and leadership activities. The students are assisted by MIH staff and volunteer academic coaches.
MIH is a nationally recognized program. In 2021, MIH won a Grand Prize Magna Award for its work. Magna Awards are given annually to honor school districts across the country for programs that advance equity and break down barriers for underserved students. Each year, approximately 95 percent of MIH students go to college and some are the first in their families to do so.
MIH began in 2008, supported by grant funds. Due to budget limitations, the MIH middle school program was discontinued six years ago, but was relaunched in the district’s middle schools this school year with new funding resources. The proposed new FY 24 school budget also contains funding for both the high school and the middle school MIH program for the next school year.