The following is a republished press release from a community organization or member and NOT written by the Ithaca Voice … to submit community announcements to The Voice, contact us at

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ITHACA, NY – On February 4, New Roots Charter School is hosting a free public screening of Most Likely to Succeed, an award-winning documentary about an innovative charter high school in San Diego that inspires 98% of their diverse student body to enroll in college — and persist at rates far above the national average.

The event will be hosted at Cinemapolis from 6:30pm – 9:00pm.  A panel discussion following the documentary will feature New Roots education intern and High Tech High alumna Mara Jacobs (Cornell ‘17) and founders Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs, as well as local charter school leaders.

“The Charter Schools Act gives educators and parents an opportunity to create innovative and inspiring new models for public education,” said Tina Nilsen-Hodges, New Roots Founder, Principal and Superintendent.  “High Tech High doesn’t just “get outside the box” — it blows the top off the box and flattens the sides.  We are so excited to have the opportunity to meet the people who made this vision a reality.”

At High Tech High, real-world problem-solving, student engagement, and teacher empowerment are at the heart of the high school experience, said Nilsen-Hodges. Students are allowed to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills that can’t be learned in traditional classroom settings.  “There is no ‘teaching to the test,’ she emphasized, “and the outcomes for students are far superior to those that the tests alone inspire.”  According to the High Tech High website, 86% of alumni either graduated from or are still attending college, compared to the national rate of 59%.

“Our goal for this event is to showcase project-based learning, increasing community awareness of how new educational models can inspire students’ aspirations while increasing the capacity for entrepreneurial innovation in our future workforce in this region,” said Peter Bardaglio, Vice Chairman of the New Roots Board of Trustees and President of the Black Oak Wind Farm project.  “We hope this will initiate an ongoing community conversation about how all of our public schools, charter and district alike, can collaborate in working towards our mutual goals.”

This event is inspired by Cornell student and High Tech High Alumna Mara Jacobs’ work at New Roots.  In an internship for her education minor at Cornell, Mara has supported teachers in developing an exciting interdisciplinary school-wide project: the Cayuga Lake Wetland Restoration Project.  “Mara is living proof of the power of project-based learning to create inspired and innovative leaders in all fields,” Nilsen-Hodges said.  “I am thrilled that her passion is education — and I’m not surprised, given her experience at High Tech High.”

We would also like to thank our sponsors Ithaca College, Cornell University, and Alternatives Federal Credit Union, and our venue Cinemapolis for making this event possible. Thank you!

To watch the “Most Likely to Succeed” movie trailer visit

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.