HISD moves closer to all-girls school

February 10, 2011 3:40:50 PM PST
We are learning more details about the Houston Independent School District's new all-girls college preparatory school which opens this fall. On Thursday the principal spoke to some potential students. The all-girls college preparatory campus is designed to help girls cooperate, participate and eventually graduate from high school.

"Each young lady will have her own computer to take with her," said Delesa Thomas, principal of the all-girls prep academy.

It's a promise Thomas says she can keep. She is the newly appointed principal of HISD's first-ever all-girls college preparatory academy.

"Many of our young ladies may be first generation college graduates, and we're not going to rule out anyone," Thomas said. "Our academy will be open to all students who fit the application requirements."

The all-girls campus is expected to be at the Contemporary Learning Center on Cleburne and open next year with a sixth and ninth grade. One hundred girls will be in each grade, expanding eventually to 12th grade in subsequent years.

A million-dollar grant means laptops for each girl and special training for teachers. But is it at the risk of overshadowing other schools with both boys and girls?

"You're not going to be shortchanged at mixed gender schools at all," said HISD Middle School Officer Dallas Dance. "What we're doing is saying that if you elect to have your young female student in the all-girls academy, it's going to be a high flying college and career prep academy."

Thomas said, "This is an awesome, awesome opportunity."

Thomas has spent the past few weeks recruiting students at campuses like Grady Middle School. The all-girls school is seen as a way to encourage girls to participate and graduate -- a concept 13-year-old Deborah Hill likes.

"Because I can show my personality more, because when I'm around guys, I'm kind of shy," she said.

There is no entrance exam, but there are requirements to be accepted to the school. A girl must have at least a 75 average, write an essay and go through an interview process. The school has an open registration. Although there is a limited number of girls -- just 100 students in each of the sixth and ninth grades -- anyone who wants to apply is welcome.

School board members say there is no opposition to the concept of the all-girls school. HISD already has plans for an all-boys campus to open next year.