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Susan Bonoff, 58; counselor helped raise graduation rate at North Hollywood High

June 13, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Susan Bonoff, 58, a longtime college counselor at North Hollywood High who oversaw a college-awareness program credited with greatly increasing the school's graduation rate, died of acute leukemia May 25 at Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Medical Center, said her husband, Frank.

In 1999, Bonoff secured a federal grant that enabled her to begin working with the class of 2005 when they were seventh-graders at Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood. The federal program targets low-income students who often are the first to go to college in their families.

About 80% of the class of 2005 graduated, an increase of about 30% over previous years, said Sonia Nunez, who succeeded Bonoff as program director.

Bonoff began the program by taking the entire seventh grade -- 700 students -- on a field trip to UCLA.

"As a college counselor she was amazing," Nunez said. "She had a natural instinct and knew how to match students with the right schools."

Bonoff was born Nov. 11, 1948, in New York City and grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. She graduated in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in English from what is now Cal State Northridge and earned a master's in school counseling from the University of LaVerne in 1987.

After retiring in 2005, Bonoff became a college-counseling consultant and advised North Hollywood High's college-awareness program, which is targeting the class of 2011.

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