KIPP Indy’s first graduation will mark historic moment for neighborhood

ByAleksanda Appleton

Shariah Miller will always remember leading more than 100 of her fellow students on a Juneteenth Peace Walk through Indianapolis’ Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood this summer.

Their route passed by Miller’s school, KIPP Indy Legacy High, where she and 98 other students will become the first graduating class this spring.

Reflecting on the moment when she took the megaphone to address the crowd during the walk, Miller said the KIPP teachers and staff who have known her since freshman year “never fail to remind me of when I first started here how quiet I was and how much I kept to myself.”

That changed, she said, as she found a passion for social justice in high school, through events like the peace walk and in encouraging other young people to speak out.

“I spoke about how important it is for events like this to be student-led because it gives young people voices that deserve to be heard,” she said of the walk. “They felt like they were making a change and their voices were heard by being at this event.”

The Class of 2023 is not just Legacy’s first class, but the first class to graduate within the boundaries of Indy’s Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood, a historically Black, working-class area affected by industrial collapse, the construction of a highway that bisects the community and federally mandated busing.

That graduation will be a moment of pride for Martindale-Brightwood, where the school — part of the national KIPP charter school network and the Indianapolis Public Schools Innovation Network — has become a focal point in the neighborhood’s efforts to improve residents’ quality of life.

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