Video: Samueli Academy prepares for first graduating class

Samueli Academy will celebrate a milestone next month when close to 120 seniors will receive their diplomas as part of the public charter school’s first graduating class.

The campus opened four years ago after it received a charter from the Orange County Department of Education. Originally, the school focused on foster youth and students from low-income families. But now it accepts students from all backgrounds.

“Our first seniors are getting ready to graduate,” said Head of School Anthony Saba. “They’re going to the best colleges around the country. It’s a very exciting time. We’ve had a lot of success in short amount of time.”

This year’s seniors, who will graduate on June 12, have been accepted to colleges and universities that include UCLA, UC Berkeley and USC.

The idea for Samueli Academy started more than a decade ago when local philanthropists Susan Samueli and Sandi Jackson, who both serve on the board of directors for Orangewood Foundation, decided to develop a plan to tackle low graduation rates among teens in Orange County, including foster care teens served by Orangewood.

Last month, the state Department of Education awarded Samueli Academy a Gold Ribbon, the state’s top honor for schools based on academic gains. The charter was one of 275 schools statewide to win the award.