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Alumni Spotlight - Emma Baker, Class of 2019

Emma is currently studying linguistics at the University of Arizona. She impressed all of her teachers at Hillside with her love and talent for learning languages, which include English, Spanish, French, Armenian and American Sign Language (ASL).

“Hillside provided me with a stable base from which to grow emotionally and academically,” Emma shared with us recently. “My favorite part of Hillside was how small it was. Everyone knew everyone else and that made for a remarkably special high school experience.”

It’s also remarkable to see how the small and supportive environment at Hillside prepared Emma for success at a university where the undergraduate student population is over 35,000 students.

Alumni Spotlight - Charlie Lysikhina, Class of 2021

Charlie Lysikhina, Hillside alum who graduated in 2021, is now a sophomore at University of California Santa Cruz double majoring in environmental studies and art with a goal of creating community engagement in every project. 

Charlie currently works in habitat restoration and is learning everything about plants and birds in the hopes to lead his own habitat restoration project in the future. He is also working as a manager in one of the campus gardens hosting weekly workdays and bringing volunteers together to create a beautiful oasis to grow food and a place to hang out in between classes. In pursuit of his creative side, he is looking forward to traveling to Japan this summer to get hands on experience with the art of Japanese printmaking. 

Charlie shared with us recently, “Teachers at Hillside always looked out for my best interest and went above and beyond to provide me with the level of support I needed. Seeing all the students grow and learn alongside each other truly helped me see what was possible for myself.”

Emma Schaedel headshot

Alumni Spotlight - Emma Schaedel, Class of 2018

Emma Schaedel attended classes at Hillside and graduated high school in 2018. Throughout high school, she was a passionate advocate against ableism. She participated in the organization Best Buddies, and pushed for celebration of neurodiversity, rather than the stigmatization she witnessed growing up. After high school, Emma studied education and special education at the University of Oregon. Currently, Emma is in her second year of working towards a Masters in Education at UCLA. Simultaneously, she is a full time first grade teacher at an arts magnet school in Echo Park. She is working toward her master’s inquiry which will explore her passion for creating a student-led learning environment that allows for neurodiverse students to thrive and reach their full potential. She believes that rigid schooling philosophies designed for one type of brain are detrimental to communities. “The teachers and faculty at Hillside met me where I was in high school and supported my learning from a place of understanding and encouragement. Being able to engage with challenging subjects like math and science in small classes with dedicated teachers opened doors to the higher education I needed to make the impact I am working towards.”

Alumni Spotlight - William Haddad, Class of 2009

William Haddad is a Hillside alum who graduated in 2009. After graduating Hillside, Will went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in Cinema Arts from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. Then he continued his education and received his master’s degree in Therapy with Trauma Studies at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena. Today, he is currently a licensed psychotherapist at Foothill Family, a mental health facility in Pasadena. Will works with teens and their families as well as individuals from the film and entertainment industries. Will shared, “Every person is different and each session offers its own unique experience. I often learn from my clients just as much as they do from me.” Will also shared about his time at Hillside stating, “I felt seen and appreciated by the teachers. They were always happy to help me if I needed it and I felt like I was able to connect and learn on an individual level rather than just another face in the class. Hillside also impacted me in that I met some of my best friends among the other students. Even today, more than 15 years later, we still get together regularly!”

Will Haddad headshot
Lennon Bryden headshot

Alumni Spotlight - Lennon Bryden, Class of 2022

Lennon Bryden graduated in 2022 and is currently a sophomore at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York majoring in film studies. He’s eager to find an internship to further his experience in film editing, sound, directing and cinematography. At Pratt, Lennon is discovering what aspect of film to pursue as a career path and has had the opportunity to be a production assistant for a commercial. Lennon had a lot to share about his experience at Hillside impacting his confidence. He stated, “The friends I made there were some of the greatest people I’ve met. Everyone worked with each other and got along which helped me grow as a person. Hillside gave me the ability to work better with people, and also be confident in myself. Most classes I took at other schools gave me busy work and it all felt pointless, but teachers at Hillside really built a positive community in the classroom that required you to work with others and put yourself out there.”

Alumni Spotlight - Peter Ferguson, Class of 2016

Peter Ferguson graduated high school in 2016 and is currently working as an Associate Embedded Solutions Engineer at Microchip Technology in Colorado Springs. He received his bachelors and masters degree from Santa Clara University in Computer Science and Engineering. His career goals are to advance in the embedded sciences and space applications. 

Peter shared about his Hillside years, “Hillside has had a large impact on my life. The nurturing environment helped me to grow both emotionally and intellectually and develop a better understanding of myself. The small classroom sizes and support from teachers helped give me the tools to navigate challenging times in my life and a place to regroup. I am very grateful to all the wonderful teachers and staff at Hillside for the love and support that they showed me through my junior high and high school experience.”


Alumni Spotlight - Jason Goldhammer, Class of 2019

Jason Goldhammer, alum of 2019, recently completed a three year occupational program for acting at Los Angeles City College Theater Academy, earning multiple certificates in theater. He participated in several productions as Actor, Director and Stage Manager, and took part in a national theater festival in Las Vegas. His next goals include transferring to a four year school to pursue a degree that would enable him to teach acting and theater. 

Jason stated, “I came to Hillside at a time in my life when I was deeply struggling to find a place for myself within my education where I could thrive and feel supported. I felt demotivated every step of the way. On top of that I had to contend with recovering from chronic illness. Once I got to Hillside, I realized I found that place. Over time Hillside became somewhere I could not only learn, but thrive and be a part of a community. Hillside gave me the tools and the individual care I needed to not only pull through these obstacles, but to find out what my dreams were.”

headshot 2_Jason Goldahmmer