Seniors celebrate perseverance, community, and success at LLA’s 16th graduation

0 / 0

“This school made me realize that giving back to the community just gives you a feeling that you can’t even describe.” 


“This school made me realize that giving back to the community just gives you a feeling that you can’t even describe.” — Quora Epps, class of 2015


By Justin Warren


Off task. Not going to school. Without direction. Angry. Struggling. Hopeless.

These are some of the ways LLA seniors described themselves before they joined the small school on Treasure Island that sparked profound changes in their minds, hearts, and choices about the future.

“Im the type that never gives up, no matter what I do,” said LLA graduate Johnny Merchez. “I plan on accomplishing that one dream that’s different from the rest.”

Scroll to bottom for more audio clips from graduation! 

Speaking at the podium before a beaming audience of family and supporters, Merchez shared a story to which the class of 2015 could easily relate. A story of new beginnings. A story of perseverance, and personal sacrifice. A story of change.

Apply to LLA for Fall 2015! Click here to begin.




Life Learning Academy celebrated its 16th graduating class today in the spacious, bare-timbered Town Hall at Delancey Street Foundation, where extended families, networks of friends, and community partners applauded the effort that each senior demonstrated to reach this moment.




“Before I came to Life Learning Academy,” said graduate Lamont Skinner, “I barely went to school. This school made me actually enjoy coming to school,” Skinner said, noting the family atmosphere that allowed him to forge a real connection to classmates and teachers.




As in years past, almost every student acknowledged the unique support of Principal Teri Delane, a Delancey Street graduate herself who earned a Ph. D. in Clinical Psychology before founding the school in 1998.

“Teri taught me how to ‘act as if,’ and to ‘stop, think, and decide,” said graduate Dalino Almeda.

“She told me if you don’t like something, but it’s good for you, you need to learn how to act ‘as if,’ to put on a smile, and change your attitude” to make it to your goal.




As the ceremony closed with the presentation of the graduates, raucous cheers replaced prideful tears, and a palpable sense of accomplishment washed over the hall.

Merchez and the 2015 graduates had reached a goal that no one ever expected them to achieve.

No one, that is, until they themselves did.


“Always remember that today is the foundation of your life… Don’t ever give up.” — Patricia Rodriguez, Class of 2006


 Patricia Rodriquez, LLA class of 2006, speaking at LLA’s 2015 Commencement Ceremony


 Graduate Dalino Almeda speaking at the  2015 Commencement Ceremony



 LLA Principal Dr. Teri Delane speaking at the  2015 Commencement Ceremony


For information about becoming an LLA student, or to refer someone you know, click here to contact us!


Sabrina-01Johnny-01Lamont-01 (1)Victor2-01Amane2-01Dalino2-01


Graduation photos by the amazing Alyssa Hunter!