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State of the Union to Feature Expeditionary Learning Mentor School Senior

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    Lauren Parent

Tonight at 9pm EST, President Obama's State of the Union address will feature senior Estiven Rodriguez of Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS), an Expeditionary Learning Mentor School. Estiven will be acknowledged as an extraordinary American who underscores the importance of the President's goal to give all kids a chance to get ahead, regardless of the circumstances of their birth. Following a longstanding tradition, Estiven and several other exemplary Americans have been invited to attend the Address as guests of the First Lady.

Estiven is the son a Dominican immigrant and arrived in the United States when he was nine years old. By the time Estiven entered WHEELS in the 6th grade, he spoke very little English.  Today, as a high school senior, Estiven is one of the top students in his class (currently ranked #5) and is the recipient of a full-tuition, four-year Posse Foundation Scholarship to attend Dickinson College beginning in fall 2014.  

Less than two weeks ago, the President commended Estiven for beating the odds and achieving at high levels, while also acknowledging the support he received from the WHEELS community as central to his success. Part of that support, the President explained, was the school's College March, in which seniors march their college applications to their local post office while being cheered on by the school, the community and family members. 

The College March originated at WHEELS in 2011, and then spread to NYC Outward Bound Schools' entire network of NYC-based Expeditionary Learning schools in 2012.  In 2013, the event expanded to the Expeditionary Learning network and included several Mentor Schools – Capital City Public Charter School in Washington DC, Casco Bay High School in Portland, Maine; Harborside Academy in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Springfield Renaissance School in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 2014, the event will expand nationally across the Expeditionary Network.