Friday, September 28, 2012

KIPP Courage College Prep at Landrum Middle School holds special ribbon-cutting event for new SBISD student program

Several hundred students, staff, parents, elected officials and community members gathered at Landrum Middle School for a Sept. 4 ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of an exciting new student program – KIPP Courage College Prep at Landrum Middle School.

On Aug. 13, more than 100 fifth-graders began the new school year as the inaugural class at KIPP Courage College Prep.

A lottery will held next spring to fill the next fifth-grade class, and in four years the program will send its first class to high school. SBISD has also teamed up with YES Prep Public Schools to enroll about 140 sixth-graders at Northbrook Middle School in the new YES Prep Northbrook program.

Together, the two programs and SBISD have formed an innovative alliance known as the SKY Partnership.

The Sept. 4 ribbon-cutting ceremony included remarks from KIPP founder Mike Feinberg, new program School Leader Eric Schmidt and fifth-grader Alyssa Vargas. Local leaders in attendance included six Board of Trustees members, SBISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Duncan Klussmann, several Houston City Council members and Dr. Zachary Hodges, who is president of Houston Community College (HCC) - Northwest. KIPP Courage School Leader Schmidt thanked parents in English and Spanish for being “a big reason for the success that we have had over the last two months” and for their support and permission to work with their children.

He also thanked the KIPP teachers. Schmidt noted that his staff and the fifth-graders, or “big KIPPsters” and “little KIPPsters” as they are called in the charter program, had given him many ways to answer this simple prompt: “Tell me about a time you showed courage.”

Some of the answers included the following, he told the attentive audience:
  • “Courage is coming to school even when your mom hasn’t had the chance to clean your KIPP shirt that you worked so hard to earn during Summer Session.”
  • “Courage is coming into school to work on Saturdays so that on weeknights you can get home to see your significant other before they work the night shift.”
  • “Courage is looking at the full moon on Thursday night when you left work and seeing it in the same spot on Friday morning when you came back.”
  • “Courage is learning how to do your multiplication in 3 minutes and 20 seconds for 100 facts.”

Fifth-grader Alyssa Vargas spoke for students, saying that “KIPP is a school that has a bunch of courage.” She will graduate in 2020. Her “college” at KIPP Courage is Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

The charter program has a longer school day and school year. KIPP students attend school at Landrum from 7:25 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday; their day ends at 2 p.m. on Fridays so that their teachers can meet and plan weekly.

“What KIPP means to me is team and family,” Alyssa told the gathering. “It is a pretty long day for KIPP Courage students, but we have fun and learn new kinds of things.” Students in the program took part in the ribbon cutting.

Each used a small scissors to clip off gray strips of ribbon as a personal memento and reminder of the day’s ceremony.

Other speakers included Dr. Klussmann and KIPP founder Mike Feinberg. Students were also told about the importance of learning by Houston City Council Member Jack Christie, a former SBISD Board of Trustee member. City Council Member Helena Brown and staff representative for City Council Member Melissa Noriega also attended.

“It’s a real honor to be here, and to be known as a big KIPPster,” SBISD’s Superintendent quipped. “As a school system, we (in SBISD) want to provide as many student options and program possibilities as possible, and that is what KIPP Courage is doing here at Landrum Middle School.”

For more information about the KIPP Courage College Prep program at Landrum Middle School, please call 713-251-3800.