Briceton Branch Jr.
Briceton Branch Jr.
Briceton Branch Jr. has caught the attention of faculty and staff at St. Andrew Nativity School in Northeast Portland. His grades are consistently kept above a 3.5, he plays football, basketball, and runs track, and he always has a quick smile or a high five for fellow students. Briceton is the first person to admit that he has come a long way.  

“In fifth grade, I was hanging out with the wrong people and was a troublemaker,” Briceton said. “I surrounded myself with people who were not motivating. In 6th grade I was not a good student. I had a 2.0 and didn’t really care.”

Briceton started classes at Nativity — a tuition-free Jesuit-sponsored middle school — the summer before his 6th grade year, completing a rigorous summer program.

“My mom was, and still is really supportive,” Briceton said. “She is a huge part of the reason why I got where I am today.” Despite that support, Briceton began his first year at Nativity with a bad attitude and little confidence in himself.

“Nativity showed me I couldn’t just be, I had to work on myself and try as hard as I could in everything that I do,” Briceton explains.

Three years later, he is viewed as a school leader, a strong student and a standout person. Briceton will be attending Jesuit High School with co-enrollment in Thomas Edison next year.

“I feel proud, because I know if I need help I can go over to Thomas Edison to get it,” he says. “I would not have asked for help three years ago but now I know I can do it.”

St. Andrew Nativity School is Oregon's only tuition free, private middle school for students whose families live at or below the poverty line. Small class sizes allow for individualized attention to raise students’ learning by as much as five grade levels in three years. Over 94 percent of Nativity School students go on to graduate from high school and 80 percent go on to attend college.