Joshua Quinn admits that being a Salutatorian is not as great as being Valedictorian, and he says so with a smile. But what most will not understand is that his accomplishment is actually a tremendous victory for himself, his family, and his high school, as Joshua faces the daily life of living with autism. 

“I couldn’t ask for (anymore of) this young man, and as a mother of a child on the spectrum, I would never trade him for anything in this world, because he is the best,” said Joshua’s mother, Shakei Quinn. “Joshua made me better as a parent. I didn’t have patience at first. But now I’ve learned to grow and I have patience.  I’m more educated on what a child on the spectrum is expected to do. Their do’s and don’ts. Anything he goes through, I go through as well.”

Joshua Quinn at Westbrook High School prom /
photo provided by Shakei Quinn.

 Joshua has been attending Westbrook Academy since the 6th grade. His education at Westbrook has earned him a Young Professional Council Your Future Scholarship and a Black College Success Scholarship. Joshua has also been recognized by his teachers for several awards including the National Honors Society, outstanding in Economics and Multimedia, and receiving the highest honors of a grade point average higher than 3.8. Joshua was also recognized as only one of two students to receive the Highest Lexile Level award.  Shakei attributes much of his success to his learning environment at Westbrook.

“I am proud of the school because they have done so much to help my son to achieve his goals. Again, I can’t express enough how I am appreciative of the school because if it wasn’t for them, my son would have never gotten his IEP (Individual Education Plan). He wouldn’t have been able to get the accommodations needed to get him so far in life,” said Shakei.



“I am proud of the school because they have done so much to help my son to achieve his goals.”

Shakei Quinn, mother of Salutatorian, Joshua Quinn

Evidence of Shakei’s words were witnessed at the school’s graduation ceremony, when Joshua got up to give his Salutatorian speech in front of his peers, parents, family and friends. Also, in the audience was 9-time NBA all star and LA Promise Fund Board Member Russell Westbrook. Joshua stood silent at the microphone for a moment, evidently nervous. Soon his peers were applauding for him, encouraging him to begin his speech. Joshua smiled and then confidently began his speech.

“All I would like to say is congratulations to me and my peers because today we are graduating, so no more high schools for us,” said Joshua. The audience laughed. “Thank you to all of the people that have helped me and I wish everyone the best of luck for the future. I know we have all faced challenges but today is one of many accomplishments in life.  Life is like a book, this is not the end of your journey. Make your next chapter your best chapter,” said Joshua. And with that, the audience applauded in pure encouragement. 

Westbrook Academy, operated by LA Promise Fund, is proud of its graduating class and has served as a community hub and resource for its South Los Angeles community. Westbrook Academy’s class of 2023 is unique in that it will be the first graduating class of students who attended the academy from 6th grade to 12th grade.