The Inspiration Award ceremony at Hidalgo Early College High School took place on May 6.
Hidalgo Early College High School in Hidalgo, Texas, was one of three exceptional high schools to be named College Board 2009 Inspiration Award winners for improving its academic environment and helping underserved students achieve equitable access to higher education. On May 6, College Board Senior Vice President Peter Negroni presented the school with a $25,000 award to apply toward programs that encourage students to attend college. Other award ceremony participants included Principal José Rangel, Superintendent Eduardo Cancino, Hidalgo Mayor John David Franz, school board President Martin Cepeda, students, parents, faculty and community members.
Hidalgo Early College High School is located in South Texas along the U.S.-Mexico border. The school serves a student population that is 98 percent Hispanic and 91 percent economically disadvantaged. More than half of the students have limited English proficiency. However, the district is committed to providing every student with a high-quality education that leads to success in high school and beyond. To reach this goal, every student has multiple opportunities to take college-level classes while still in high school. At Hidalgo, students can earn up to 60 college credits prior to graduation at no cost to the student or family.
At the celebratory ceremony, Fernando Gonzalez, a junior at Hidalgo, described his experience with Advanced Placement® courses as follows: “AP® is an invitation. It is a different path, away from untailored academic courses, away from common education.”
Students are encouraged to think about going to college by attending college fairs, through the display of college information in every classroom, and through offerings at the college planning center. Special parent nights present information about the college admissions process and financial aid.
Hidalgo has a 98.3 percent high school graduation rate, which is the highest completion rate of any school district in Hidalgo County. Recently, U.S. News & World Report ranked Hidalgo ECHS as one of the “Best High Schools in America.” Providing opportunities for economically disadvantaged students has encouraged students to stay in school and achieve higher levels of educational attainment.
McAllen Memorial High School, in McAllen, Texas, was named one of two honorable mention schools and received $1,000.
More information about the College Board Inspiration Awards is available at www.collegeboard.com/inspirationawards.
|VP Ann B. Wright|
The Southwestern Regional Council met April 20-21 in Austin to evaluate the 2009 Southwestern Regional Forum and begin planning for the 2010 event in Austin next February. Council members applauded the great success of our meeting in Oklahoma City, recognizing the excellent turnout and the large number of first-timers who attended. There was much discussion of some innovative uses of technology for future events, with the announcement of Regional Forums OnDemand and the likelihood of better outreach to members next year. With Monique Cossich presiding, the council heard from Trustee Michael Heintze, national assembly representatives, and the director of advocacy and government relations, and received updates from senior directors Cheryll Gaffney and Julie Esau. Chair-elect Nan Davis led the group in planning for next year’s regional forum, while LaJuana Coleman, past chair, gave an overview of 2010 nominations and elections. The council will meet again in June and September.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave a big boost to the Advanced Placement Program® in a recent communication to schools and districts about using money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Duncan encouraged using these funds for AP® and Pre-AP® expansion — including for AP and Pre-AP teacher professional development — and highlighted the role of Advanced Placement® in driving reform in teaching, learning and assessment. If your school or district is seeking support from the College Board in developing plans for AP expansion or other program implementation using stimulus money, please contact the Southwestern Regional Office or e-mail email@example.com.
Catherine Dunn, associate director of state and district outreach, visited the Southwestern Region April 17 to articulate the finer points of ARRA. Several school districts worked with Dunn and the SWRO K-12 management team to use economic stimulus monies to their best advantages. Topics included investments that ensure sustainable commitments, standards and assessments for all students (including ELL and students with disabilities), equity among schools and districts, and the timeline of how the money will be delivered to states and districts. To learn more about the ARRA and how it can drive reform in your district through State Fiscal Stabilization, Title I or Race to the Top funds, contact Cheryll Gaffney, SWRO senior director of K-12 services, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SAT® continues to be a vital component of the SWRO Higher Ed division’s work. Primarily working with enrollment managers and academic affairs administrators, the charge is to share the latest developments and data — from institution-specific volumes of score senders and their respective demographics to the continued advocacy for the writing component of the exam. The SWRO’s Spencer Lightly, associate director of higher education, and Robb Chavez, senior higher educational manager, participated in the annual open house at the University of Houston-Downtown. Chavez made two presentations on the SAT — one about Score Choice™ and another on the writing component. Both sessions were highly attended by diverse groups of students. This event reminded us of the true purpose of our work at the College Board, which has always been about students and connecting them to college success, regardless of which avenues are chosen to pursue it.
On May 6, the College Board honored Hidalgo Early College High School as one of three schools in the nation to receive the College Board Inspiration Award. The $25,000 award was presented by Peter Negroni, College Board senior vice president, to a full house of cheering students and administrators. Recognizing the school’s remarkable steps to college success, Negroni spoke in both English and Spanish of the bright futures provided by this inspiring school. The Southwestern Region is proud to have honored one of our schools in each of the last six years.
The Young Epidemiology Scholars Competition was held last month in Washington, D.C., and a Texas high school student, Visakha Suresh from Plano West Senior High School, was named a national finalist and awarded a $15,000 college scholarship. Suresh was one of 12 selected from 60 regional finalists in Washington and more than 560 submissions nationwide. In total, the YES Competition, which is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered by the College Board, awarded nearly $500,000 in scholarships this year.
Each YES competitor develops a research question and hypothesis about a health issue that concerns a group or groups of people, and then conducts research to analyze the subject and suggest potential ways to improve the problem based on the analysis.
For her project, Suresh considered how socioeconomic status affects nutritional and exercise habits. She contrasted a low-income and an affluent neighborhood near Plano and found that the affluent neighborhood had three times more places to get healthy foods and three times more areas for physical activity than in the poorer neighborhood. Observing people in both neighborhoods participating in physical activities, she found that moderate to vigorous exercise was significantly more common in the wealthier neighborhood. Her findings confirm other studies that have shown that having healthy food and exercise opportunities readily available correlates to the neighborhood’s economic status.
For more information about the YES Competition, visit the program’s Web site.
Another research competition administered by the College Board is the annual Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, which is funded by the Siemens Foundation. This competition offers students an opportunity to achieve national recognition for science research projects that they complete in high school and a chance to win a $100,000 college scholarship. The deadline for entering this year’s competition is Oct. 1, with winners announced in December. To learn more about the Siemens Competition, visit the foundation's Web site or e-mail us at email@example.com.
Click here to see events and workshops in the Southwestern Region.
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