Dear Classmates,

Thanks for a great 30th reunion. It made me really happy to reconnect with so many of you during the weekend. I’m checking in now to tell you about something surprising I learned while I was back in Shaker.

Over the reunion weekend, I was hosted by Jennifer (Cohen) Estlin and her parents. Dr. Cohen is also a Shaker grad (class of ’50). During my visit, he told me that some students are especially challenged to make the transition to Shaker High from junior high school.

As many as 40 students come to Shaker each year with a grade point average of 1.7 or less. Their counselors believe that most of them have the potential to continue on to college, but they lack important skills to help them be successful. Through the generosity of Dr. Cohen’s class, more than $200,000 was raised to help fund a program called the Summer Academy, designed to help underachieving students transition to high school. At the University where I work, we have a similar program for students who may have trouble transitioning from high school to college. It makes all the difference, helping them succeed academically and ultimately attain a degree.

The six-week Summer Academy meets four days a week. During morning sessions, Shaker faculty members teach classes in language, reading, math, and science. In the afternoons, the students work on teamwork, cooperation, time management, goal setting, and confidence building with community groups like Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio. All students are provided with breakfast and lunch; a full set of school supplies; and, if appropriate, vouchers for transportation. When the school year begins, participating students continue to meet with guidance counselors, teachers, and student mentors. The Summer Academy for each incoming group of 9th graders costs about $38,000 to sponsor.

Though the program is just starting out, there’s good evidence that it’s having an impact. Every member of the first cohort of students improved at least one grade – and in six cases, all their grades. Their attendance, behavior, and engagement in school have also increased. The District continues to monitor each Summer Academy cohort in terms of grades, attendance, behavior, and participation in extra-curricular activities. It will be interesting to see the impact the program has going forward.

One of the things that struck me during the reunion was how many of our classmates have accomplished remarkable things in the professional world. It’s clear to me that we were privileged to get an exceptional education at Shaker.

As the year comes to a close and you think about how best to support the causes that are important to you, I hope you’ll consider joining me and other members of our class in supporting the Summer Academy through the Shaker Schools Foundation. This is a unique opportunity to help an important group of Shaker students get the best possible start on their path in life—exactly the kind of beginning that Shaker Heights High School gave to us and the kind that every student deserves.

To make a donation, click on the icon in the blue box to the right and look for the Summer Academy option. I hope you also will read the note from a member of the Class of 1950/January 1951.


Thanks so much.


 Kindra Orr



Letter of Support

Click Below to Make an Online Donation, select special projects, and enter Summer Academy in question on checkout page.

Click Below to Watch the SSF Video

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