The Ginn Academy, founded in 2007 by Ted Ginn, Sr., is the only all-male public high school in Ohio. Come in and see what goes on inside the hearts and minds of 655 E. 162nd Street each day. Let us tell you our stories. Photos and text not to be used without permission.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Ginn Academy Class of 2015, Zacchaeus Knight

Ted Ginn, Sr. told Zacchaeus Knight at a 2011 football practice when he was a ninth grader that Zach would go to West Point when he graduated. Zach laughed and thought he was crazy, but Coach Ginn repeated this prediction each year until the end of Zach's junior year when he met Captain Jamal Robinson, a Glenville HS and West Point graduate who came to talk to Ginn Academy students. At that point, Zach realized that West Point might not be so crazy after all.

Zach Knight with his little brother and sister, Chase and Kody

Zach's father, Stephaun, sits with little brother Chase

His path to West Point is not the first instance where someone else has helped Zach to see where he should go next. His father, Stephaun, knew of Coach Ginn and had always envisioned Zach at Ginn Academy.  "I knew Ginn had nothing but love for the kids and he was going to do everything possible to make your kid successful," he recalls. "It’s about what the kid is getting out of school and what he gets at home."

When scholarship money didn't come through at another high school he'd had his eye on, Zach found himself in Coach Ginn's office, listening to him describe the culture of Ginn Academy. "At the very end, he asked me if I wanted to be there and I said I did. I was captivated by his clear vision for what he wanted to happen and I thought that if he had a vision like that, I might as well be part of it!" he explains. And that was that. Four years later, Zacchaeus graduated from Ginn Academy as the Valedictorian, class president, and prom king.

Grandmother Sheilah holds Kody as she naps

Proud father, Stephaun, shows off Zach's appointment to West Point
Not that high school was a complete breeze for Zach. He was not allowed to get B's in high school, but he did get a few. "Tell her why you're not allowed," says his mother, Shelly. "Because I'm capable of getting A's," he replies. There were some scoldings, but Shelly forgave him. "Zach has been a really good kid," she says. "I complain and fuss a lot, but in reality, he's a really good kid and always has been."

Though there is no military history in Zach's family, the pride and intensity of mission in the way that Captain Robinson carried himself and spoke to the Ginn Academy students at that school assembly made an enormous impression on him. He wanted to be a part of it. 

Through periods of doubt and cold feet, Zach persevered with his interviews, examinations, and application and emerged with an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point in April, 2015. His visit to the school with Coach Ginn made him especially determined to become a cadet. "Seeing how the students were, with everything moving like clockwork, nothing out of line. It was perfect," he says.
Shelly, Zach's mother, with Chase

Zach with his various awards and accolades from his Ginn Academy days

Chase concentrates fully on tying his shoes with Sheilah, Kody, and Zach in the background

Zach and his grandmother, Sheilah

Zach with his parents, Stephaun and Shelly

Zacchaeus reported to West Point in New York on the 29th of June with his mother and his grandmother, Sheilah. They had some time to learn about the school, and then eventually were given 30 seconds to say goodbye after which they couldn't talk with him for six weeks.

The whole family was understandably apprehensive about this time period with no outside communication for Zach, but very much looking forward to the next time they'd see him -- at the A-Day parade, in his full uniform, already a changed, more mature man.

Stephaun explained that it hadn't quite hit the family yet that Zach would soon be gone from their home. Halfway through the interview with Stephaun, Shelly, and Zach's little brother Chase (5) and little sister Kody (4), his grandmother, Sheilah arrives. She had been checking out locations for Zach's graduation party.

The family obviously enjoys being together, which is, of course, part of the strong foundation that they've built for Zach. Stephaun becomes reflective as we wrap up and says, "I love him dearly. He has been more than an awesome kid -- never been in trouble, always respectful. He’s given it his all from tee-ball to football, whatever it is he’s always done a good job. Nowadays with kids? You never know. So many distractions. We're blessed."

Kody and Chase greet their big brother at West Point. Courtesy of Shelly Knight-Youngblood

Zach in his uniform with his little brother and sister. Courtesy of Shelly Knight-Youngblood

The family is now sitting back and watching as their son takes off into his own life. They have built the runway and we can all cheer for Zacchaeus as he takes flight.

Ginn Academy Class of 2015: Sam McKnight

Sam's family: Leslie, Lauren, Sami, Lamar, Kim, Leolla, Sam, Sr., and Lashon and Sam, Jr. in the back row
Ginn Academy class of 2015 alumnus and current Ohio University Bobcat, Sam McKnight, has come a long way since he began his high school career in 2011, and he has had the support of a large team guiding him the entire way.  Between his close-knit, loving family and the support of Principal Petty, his teachers, youth support, and Coach Ginn at school, everyone noticed the changes in Sam during his four years at Ginn.

Always respectful, always kind, Sam is a likeable, happy-go-lucky guy, but he wasn't able to see how much potential he had when he started at Ginn in ninth grade. "Everyone loves Sam, but it took a lot of encouragement on the part of the adults in his life to help him see his potential," says Hazel Parker of Ginn Academy.

Sam and his grandfather, Lamar
Sam has been an athlete since he was five years old and wanted to play football for Coach Ginn for a long time, as his grandparents are Tarblooders. To make that happen, every day until Sam could drive, his parents, Lashon and Sam, Sr. always drove him to and from school. 

Sam with his cousin, Lauren

Sam's mother, Lashon, with his grandfather, Lamar

The family often sits at this table together, talking, laughing, and eating. Sam and his father, Sam, Sr., with Aunt Leslie

The strength of Sam's family's support for him becomes immediately evident when we meet for this interview at his grandfather's house around dinnertime on a summer Friday evening. Sam's mom, dad, and sister, Sami, plus Aunt Kim, Aunt Leslie, cousin Lauren, grandmother, Leolla, and grandfather, Lamar are all present. Sam, Sr. keeps everyone laughing with his stories about Sam, Jr.'s childhood and his sister Kim's cooking, but the conversation gets serious when he and Lashon explain that despite their carefree youthful times before children, once Sam, Jr. came along their world shrank quickly to the circle of family right there in that room. "We don't hang out, we don't party. They always know when they go to bed, we're at home. When they wake up we're at home. Our circle is small. This, right here, is who we're with." 

Grandfather Lamar, Grandmother Leolla, Sam, and Sam, Sr.

Sam with his Aunt Kim, who cooks him steaks

Sam with his grandmother, Leolla

Though the 6'3" lineman is hard to miss, Sam is not a kid that craves the spotlight. He's a talented football player who earned a scholarship to Ohio University and many accolades along the way. But he's been happy staying close to home with his family and his few close friends at Ginn. 

The relationship between school and home paid off perfectly for Sam and he started to really see the light and mature in eleventh grade. His parents credit the guidance that he received at Ginn Academy from his principal, the life coaches, football coaches, and teachers, especially Kim Galippo with whom he has a very close bond, with making a big difference in his life. "They reinforce the things we're teaching him at home on a day to day basis," says his father. "He was hearing the same things from everybody." 

Sam, Sr., Sam, Jr., and Lashon

Aunt Kim is teased by her brother, Sam, Jr., about her cooking skills

The atmosphere at Ginn Academy is unique because the school was founded on Coach Ginn's tenets of providing love, passion, and understanding to the young men who want to be part of the school. The faculty and life coaches strive to know the whole student, both in and out of school. Sam's mom, Lashon says, "They know all the kids, just like they're their kids and that's the difference as far as getting them where they need to be. Young black men today need that type of environment." 

Sam with his family

Lashon then pulls out her phone to illustrate the difference that she sees in the young men over the course of their four years at Ginn. She recalls the first time Sam put on his red jacket to go to school and shows everyone the photo from this very blog of a young Sam starting his first day of ninth grade back in 2011. "Look at his face," she says, "I love this picture!!" 

Sam on his very first day of ninth grade at Ginn Academy, as Lashon looks on from the car

On the 14th of June, Sam headed south to Athens, Ohio to begin his life as a Bobcat at OU and leave his family a couple of hundred miles behind in Cleveland. They're sad but very excited to see him go. Sam, Sr. says, "He is ready to go and we’re ready for him to go. It's time now to get him out of Cleveland, and into that atmosphere. We've been getting him ready for 18 years and now it’s all on him."

Ginn Academy Class of 2015

On Sunday, May 24th, 2015, Ginn Academy graduated its sixth class of young scholars. This year 55 of our 52 seniors graduated, with a rate of 94%. Thirty-three are now at a four year college, 13 are at junior/community colleges, five have entered the workforce/trade school, and three are in the military. As always, we are very, very proud of our students.

We'd like to share some photos from graduation (and rehearsal) and from our traditional end of year dinner which we call Dining In. At Dining In, we celebrate the boys' accomplishments with their families and each student stands on stage and talks for a short time about what he's learned in his four years of high school.

At the end of this post, you'll find a list of all of our graduates along with their next destination.

Ginn Academy seniors rehearse for their graduation ceremony

Ginn Academy caps and gowns ready for distribution

Dining In was held earlier in May at Ginn Academy and was an evening filled with pride for everyone involved.

Tables and chairs are set for our annual formal dinner for seniors, which is called Dining In

Ginn Academy seniors enter the gym singing the school song

Ginn Academy art teacher, Judy Rickel, made vases depicting each of the grade-level neckties for decoration

Class president and Valedictorian, Zacchaeus Knight, with Mrs. Ginn and Principal Petty

Thank you for supporting our school! We are happy to announce the Ginn Academy class of 2015:

Jacquese Adkins: West Morris Community College
Terry Barker: Ohio State University Mansfield
Domaris Bennett: University of Toledo
Torelle Cotledge: United States Army
Kenneth Davis: Ohio State University Mansfield
Tyler Davis: Wright State University
Will Davis-Hereford: Urbana University
Omar Dhyll: Electrician Apprenticeship
Isiah Dye: Cuyahoga Community College
Taylor Fultz: Shawnee State University
Victor Glenn: Central State University
Milen Golden: Ohio Dominican University
De'Jon Gordon: Ohio State University Mansfield
Duray Hall: Urbana University
Justice Hart: Coffeyville Junior College
Roy Hatchett: Notre Dame College
Tavon Holcomb: Cuyahoga Community College
Derrick Hudson: Ohio State University Mansfield
Leshon Humphrey: Garden City Junior College
Alexander Jackson: Cleveland State University
Kevin Jackson: Shawnee State University
Ray Jefferson: Bethune-Cookman University
Charles Johnson: Cuyahoga Community College
Sebastian Jenkins: Mount St. Joseph University
Daishawn Jones: Ohio State University Mansfield
Phillip Kirby: Shawnee State University
Zacchaeus Knight: United States Military Academy West Point
Christopher Lavette: Florida A&M University
Tyler Lee: Ohio State University Mansfield
Marquise Lewis: United States Marine Corps
Quyel Mack: Ohio State University Mansfield
Sam McKnight: Ohio University
Joshua Mitchell: Cuyahoga Community College
Kenyon Moon: Work Force
Maceo Nickelson: University of Toledo
Bernard O'Neal: University of Toledo
Shontez Orr: Cuyahoga Community College
Ken Patterson: Garden City Junior College
Desmen Perkins: Work Force
Jonathan Peters: Ohio State University Mansfield
DeAnte Phillips: Lock Haven University
Spencer Randle: Cuyahoga Community College
Blake Reynolds: Ohio State University Mansfield
Darrionte Stewart: Lourdes University
Trevon Story: University of Cincinnati
Frank Sumpter: University of Illinois
Tayler Sutton: Cuyahoga Community College
 D'Juan Tillie: United States Army
Marshawn Tucker: Work Force
DaQuan Turner: Work Force
Darius Webb: Ohio State University Mansfield
Delonte Willis: Shawnee State University
Chalied Worley: Urbana University
Anthony Young: Goucher College

Stay tuned for more great news as we work our way through the 2015-2016 school year!