LA PUENTE, CA –Torch Middle School eighth-grader Emerson Melendez relies on a network of social workers for support since he grew up in the foster care system. Their professionalism and empathy inspired Melendez to become a social worker as well.
“The social workers and therapists in the foster care system have worked so hard to change my life, I would like to become one myself so that I can be a positive influence to other foster kids,” Melendez said.

Melendez listed the career choice as his goal when he joined more than 200 fellow eighth-graders for Torch’s inaugural College Signing Day on Jan. 31. Torch students made a commitment to graduate from high school and recorded their promise along with a declaration of their college and career plans.

Making a pledge to graduate from college, Torch eighth-graders named three colleges they would like to attend. Melendez listed Rio Hondo College, Duke University and UCLA as his primary choices.

“I chose Rio Hondo because my family went there, and I chose Duke and UCLA because I want to go big,” Melendez said.
The declaration and video recording will be presented to parents when their children receive their promotion to high school in May.

“We want to instill in our students the belief that higher education is something that they can achieve, and the time to start thinking about it is now,” Torch Principal Dr. Monica Murray said. “We want our students to enter high school with a commitment to a plan, and the inspiration to pursue the curriculum and activities that will get them there.”

Torch students researched and wrote a short paragraph on what their dream job looks like, and researched colleges and universities they’d like to attend. They identified entrance requirements, including high school courses, GPAs and tests.

Students also wrote a brief summary of what they have to start doing now to qualify for the colleges or universities they chose.

“Thank you, Dr. Murray, for inspiring our eighth-graders to look toward their futures with an actionable plan in place,” Bassett Unified Interim Superintendent Debra French said. “Our goal is to ensure that our students graduate ready for colleges and careers, and College Signing Day motivates our students to achieve their goals.”


032618_BASSETT_COLLEGESIGNING: Torch Middle eighth-graders make a pledge to graduate from high school and college, and create a plan to achieve their educational and career goals during the school’s inaugural College Signing Day.