This week, YSC Academy will send off its second graduating class in its three-year history. Of the 13 graduates, 12 will compete collegiately and one is pursuing a professional contract. Seven graduates will play for schools that competed in the 2015 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament, including top-seeded Wake Forest and runners-up Clemson University. Justin Bajek and Andrew Verdi will find themselves in opposing goals when their teams match up in Big Ten Conference play. Four others will compete in the ACC.
The student-athletes have committed as much effort to their academic pursuits as they have to their athletic ones. YSC Academy was started on a simple belief: in order for our athletes to become world-class soccer players, everything they do in life must be world-class.
That includes their efforts in school.
In accordance with the student-written Honor Code at YSC, the members of this year’s graduating class have conducted themselves with confidence and humility. They have undoubtedly led the way and shared success on the soccer pitch and in the classroom, and treated themselves, each other, and all academic and athletic environments with honor, respect and reverence. Every day, everywhere they have gone, and with every person they have met, they worked to earn respect for the school and themselves.
Our dedicated teachers at YSC Academy have been kind enough to share some parting thoughts and wishes for the new graduates:
To Justin Bajek
I am so glad you joined the YSC family this year! You always have a big smile and a lighthearted sense of humor. You are one of the most honest and compassionate students I have taught. We will miss you, Justin! All the best next year at Maryland!
–Caroline Buchanan, Math Department Chair
To Rob Campbell
May you continue to read great books and explore the world with courage and vigor! I remember your growth from sophomore year to now your senior year. Through rough times, you showed tremendous fight.
–Carl Abramowitz, English Department Chair
To Lamine Conte
You are a brilliant and most charming young man. I am so glad to have gotten to know you. When I arrive at school in the mornings, exhausted from navigating all of the traffic, and see you, you give me a big smile and say “Bonjour!” My day brightens considerably. Thank you, Lamine, for your constant encouragement!
– Loraine Snead, Science Department Chair
To Joe DeZart
I have enjoyed having you as my mentee for two years. Whenever I ask you a question about your work, you look so somber and stone-faced. Then I ask, “why do you always look so serious!?” and you break out into the largest and most beautiful smile that I’ve ever seen. Your smile warms my heart. I will miss you, Joe, and I know that you will be successful in all that you set out to do.
To Tiger Graham
You are a charmer and a risk-taker! A very caring person. I will never forget your intense interest in a story I told you one afternoon while sitting in the common area. As I started the story, you kept your head down, but eventually—as you became enthralled by the story—popped your head up and looked at me intently for the remainder of the time we sat there. You asked me a lot of questions about what happened to the characters and were genuinely interested. I was happy to spend that time with you and see the "little boy" in you, Tiger.
To JJ Nixon
In the two years I have known you, JJ, I have always been impressed with your impeccable manners. You have a great sense of humor and can work with anyone. This year you have grown into a self-directed learner. All the best next year, JJ, at UVA!
To Emmanuel Perez
Manny, you are an incredibly hard worker, and you participate 100% in everything you do. Your ability to stay on top of your schoolwork during your recovery from surgery continues to impress me. I'm happy that you’re recovering quickly from the surgery. I've also noticed that you’re very thoughtful and considerate of others.
–Aaron Cohen, English and History Teacher
To Yosef Samuel
Yosef, you wrote an essay on Catcher in the Rye at the start of the year that is one of the most insightful pieces of student writing on the book that I’ve encountered.
To Diallo Simon-Ponte
Oratory is a discipline that does not come easy. With you, it is a muscle and a talent you love to demonstrate. Don't shy away from your love for the beleaguered and your avid thirst for just taking in a good book.
To Raheem Taylor-Parkes
I’m really going to miss you because you are such an upbeat guy with a radiant smile. You add positivity to any room you enter. You’re also hilarious, and I’m sure you’re going to be a great addition to University of Virginia’s soccer team, both on the pitch and also by contributing to their locker room culture.
–Jeremy Sullivan, History Department Chair
To Auston Trusty
Even though you have only been at YSC for a few months, it feels like you have been here for years. Auston, you are one of the kindest and most insightful students I have known. You had a difficult schedule this year with regular Bethlehem Steel training, and you worked hard to stay on top of math class. All the best next year, Auston, at UNC!
To Andrew Verdi
You are the Philadelphia spirit. Your motivation for conquering ungraspable or seemingly insurmountable tasks is divine. That is true grit. Treat motivation like a subject you study in school. Poke it, prod it, learn from it, and you will go far.
To Abu Winter
Who could ever be irritated with such an innocent and princely looking face!? Abu, you are so determined and have more perseverance than anyone I know. You will achieve all of your goals and have fun while doing it! Thank you, Abu, for choosing me to mentor you this year.
The Philadelphia Union organization is incredibly proud of this year’s YSC Academy senior class. From the classroom to the soccer field (and back to the YSC classroom modeled on a soccer stadium), the student-athletes have given, and will continue to give, what it takes to be successful in all they strive toward.
“These fine young men have set high expectations for themselves and made significant sacrifices,” said Head of School Dr. Nooha Ahmed-Lee. “They have overcome obstacles through determination, persistence and a desire to achieve excellence. Additionally, they are thoughtful, caring, and well mannered. Their character shows in all they do. I am confident that all these qualities, coupled with their passion for soccer and learning, will continue to serve them well in the future and distinguish them as the Class of 2016 YSC Academy graduates.”