The First Great Hearts Kinders Graduate Chandler Prep

Chandler Prep May 26, 2023

Tonight’s commencement ceremony for Chandler Prep’s graduating class at Chandler Center for the Arts is a very special occasion in Great Hearts history. “Since its inception, Great Hearts has graduated 4,422 seniors, and this year alone will graduate 583,” said Leanne Fawcett, Executive Director of Lower Schools in Arizona. But as impressive as those numbers are, that is not what makes this commencement noteworthy. “Today, 13 of those students will be the very first to walk across the stage after going through all thirteen years, from kinder to twelfth grade in a Great Hearts school,” said Fawcett. These graduates include Mitchell Bialecki, Jake Bruns, Gabriella Chu, Mary Crawford, John Idle, John Paul Iker, Nolan Kemper, Amarah Malcolm, Ian Miranda, Maya Patel, Sadieka Sor, Lilian Weber, and Eva Zimm.

“Thirteen years ago, the Great Hearts Archway schools were birthed right here on this campus, and the very first kindergarten students walked through the doors into Archway Chandler,” said Fawcett, who served as the Founding Headmaster for the first lower school. “That year we started with 60 kindergarten students and today there are over 1,200 kindergarten students in our network, but these were the first. I remember that day with so much fondness, as I am sure all of you remember your first days of school.”

Four Chandler Prep Graduate Portraits

Our archway academies are such a large part of the Great Hearts culture, it may surprise some to find out they were not always part of the landscape. “Great Hearts began as an effort to redeem the formative educational years of American adolescents. Part way through that journey, we realized just how hungry families were to begin this emphasis as early as possible with their children,” said Brandon Crowe, Great Hearts Arizona Superintendent. “When we began Archway Chandler, we were starting something entirely new and a little out of order in the educational process from where we began in our prep schools.”

Dan Scoggin, Co-Founder of Great Hearts, was reminded of the many families that were coming to them in middle school, feeling like their children were jumping into a classical education late in the game. Families felt like it was a big step for their child to make coming from a traditional lower school education. “We know when you look at classical education, that the earliest years in kindergarten, first, and second grades are just so important,” said Scoggin, “This is when habits are formed, children are inspired to be a learner, and we develop a sense of wonder that sets them up for a lifetime. Plato says, ‘It’s the beginning that defines the end.’ It just made so much sense to give it the beginning it deserves and begin with lower schools. Starting the archway schools has been the best decision we ever made.”

Three Chandler Prep Graduate Portraits

It’s a beautiful story that these scholars paved the way as the first students coming up through the complete and full Great Hearts experience throughout their thirteen-year educational career. The possibilities seem endless for these scholars who will begin their higher education with an advantage. “These young men and women are pioneers,” said Scoggin. “They have opened the doors for so many students to follow behind them. They are the most classically educated children in the entire country and we can’t wait to see what they achieve, and we know their stories will be beautiful with what they achieve with that great philosophically grounded education.”

Crowe knows this is just the beginning of what will soon spread all over the Phoenix area and in all areas of the country where Great Hearts academies exist. “This is an accomplishment indeed,” he said. “To be the first to blaze a trail for so many others.” The first class of Veritas kindergarteners will graduate next year, and many more for years to come as the archway academies spread to all our campuses.

Three Chandler Prep Graduate Portraits

“Out of 60 students who started kindergarten that year, these 13 continued all of the way through. I have fond memories of each one of them,” recalled Fawcett. “Graduating from a Great Hearts High School takes grit, and I am not surprised that these were the students who persevered all the way through. Some of these students were frequent visitors to my office. You know who you are. I knew then that their strong wills would evolve into tenacity and perseverance in high school, and now here you are. It has been an honor to watch you grow into the young men and women you are today.”

“Over the last 13 years, several families have moved and/or have pursued other options, but these 13 started something new and saw it to conclusion,” said Crowe. “We are honored to have these young men and women as the stable cohort around which the Great Hearts Chandler K-12 community has been built and replicated.”

Three Chandler Prep Graduate Portraits

Congratulations to all 13 seniors for this special graduation. We look forward to seeing great things in the future from these graduates of the class of 2023! Do you have a story or know of a story that you would like to see featured at Great Hearts?  Please contact

Back to Press Room