Above, graduating cadets from the District’s four Police Academy Magnets line up in their dress uniforms during a commencement celebration.
More than 120 graduating cadets of the District’s Police Academy Magnets (PAM) got a special send-off on Friday, with a special commencement address from retiring Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.
The celebration took place under sunny skies at the Los Angeles Police Department Academy in Elysian Park, where relatives and friends cheered as each cadet received a certificate marking their completion of the rigorous academic and physical program.
Beck offered solemn words of advice, urging the graduating seniors to make smart choices and seize opportunities as they progress along the pathway to college and career.
“The most important thing about your life,” he said, “is that it is something of significance.”
According to Magnet Coordinator Alise Cayen, it appears that all 124 of the cadets are getting off on the right foot. A dozen are headed next fall to the University of California, 65 others will be attending Cal State University, and eight are bound for private universities. Community college is the choice of 32 graduates, and seven have enlisted in the military.
“You are the epitome of the vision of LAUSD,” said School Police Chief Steve Zipperman, who joined the District after a 30-year career with the LAPD.
The Police Academy Magnet program was launched in 1998 by Cayen and former School Board Member Roberta Weinbraub. There are now PAM programs at Byrd and Mulholland Middle schools, and Monroe, Reseda, San Pedro and Wilson High schools. Fairfax and West Adams High will open police magnets next year.
Students in the career-pathway program must complete all of the District’s graduation requirements and also learn about law enforcement. LAPD and School Police officers are assigned to each campus to teach, counsel and mentor the cadets. Community service is a core value, and the graduating cadets volunteered more than 14,600 hours during their time in the program.
Whether the cadets dream of a career in law enforcement or have other career aspirations, all of the soon-to-be graduates said the academy has been a life-changing experience.
“This program has taught me to be honest and take action,” said Chad Wilson, who plans to enlist in the Air Force and eventually envisions a law-enforcement career. “It has made me a better person, and I am proud because of that.”
Added Kelly Arana, a Wilson graduate who plans to major in criminology at the University of Pennsylvania: “The program has given me an unforgettable experience, where the definition of determination was learned and passion through motivation was successfully sought.”
Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian said she was proud of the students’ academic achievements, perseverance and leadership, and urged them to put the lessons they’ve learned into action.
“I count on you to make this world a better place.”