Saying 'Yes' to college

April 29, 2008 8:17:34 AM PDT
Graduating high school is a great accomplishment. Then comes the hard part, guiding teenagers to college. One local school appears to have mastered the craft of making sure students don't fall through the cracks. And on Monday, we saw proof.

For seniors at Yes Academy, college signing day is about academics, not athletics.

"This fall, I will be attending Texas Lutheran University," said one senior during Monday's ceremony.

Everyone in the graduating class, all 78, are college-bound.

"This fall, I will be attending Harvard University," said Yes Academy valedictorian Keara Cormier-Hill.

Cormier-Hill never considered her acceptance into the Ivy League's Harvard a sure thing.

"It's not, 'You would have done it anywhere'," she told us. "It's honestly the way the school works, the way my friends have always supported me and the way my teachers have always looked out for me."

Alonso Zavala also credits his success to the environment around him at Yes. He'll attend University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. A son of immigrants, he knows he is living the dream.

"They came here because they have more opportunities for education, college, good jobs, just a better life," he said. "So I came here, I'm already here. I got accepted and I'm just one step closer to the dream."

Another secret to the winning formula may be the amount of time the students spend trying to get into school. Every junior and senior takes a class where the entire period is focused on applying to colleges and researching them.

As part of the unique concept, Yes Prep employs three full time college counselors who walk students through the application process.

"With college counselors explain to me, I got kind of like that, I researched a little bit every time I got more used to it, and I wanted to be there," said Zavala.

And he'll be among all of his high school peers as they reach the next level.

This is the eighth year Yes Prep has done this. On average, students applied to eight four-year colleges. Over 90 percent of them are first generation college-bound students.

** What's making the news in local schools? Find plenty of education news and student achievements in our 'In the Classroom' section


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