Published Wednesday, August 19, 2015
|Yes Academy and Northbrook High School formed a partnership for the 2015|
school session. Anna Caudle, Student Support Counselor, meets with students
for information gathering. Photo by Eddy Matchette
The 138 students who attended the four-day introductory summer camp for YES Prep Northbrook High School had been split into small groups to talk about values, such as pride, respect, community and determination; to find their voice; and to strengthen relationships.
YES Prep is an open-enrollment public charter school system serving students grades 6-12 in Houston's most disadvantaged communities.
The morning exercise, an essential part of the new school's programming, will continue through the school year in an effort to instill in students the oft-repeated values promoted by the SKY Partnership, an academically rigorous program that YES Prep Public Schools, Knowledge is Power Program, a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory schools, and the district launched three years ago.
The idea behind it was to offer more choices in SBISD and fill underused campuses.
"Obviously, I'm incredibly excited to build this from the ground up," said Bryan Reed, the school's director, a Teach for America alumnus who came up through the ranks of YES Prep.
"Part of that is focusing on creating a strong culture so that every student feels connected to the school."
A majority of the expected 150 students, who started ninth grade on Aug. 11, graduated from YES Prep Northbrook, one of two middle schools under the SKY Partnership that feeds into the new high school, housed within Northbrook High School, located at 1 Raider Circle.
YES Prep Northbrook, for grades 6-8, is housed at Northbrook Middle School, 3030 Rosefield Drive, while KIPP Courage College Prep at Landrum, for grades 5-8, is within Landrum Middle School, 2200 Ridgecrest.
KIPP Courage will graduate its first class of eighth- graders next year, and the high school will continue to add grades until it reaches a capacity of about 1,000 students.
Jasmine Razeghi and Raul Puente, graduates of YES Prep Northbrook middle, look forward to the challenges of the new high school as well as participating in Northbrook high's sports and electives.
"I'm excited about doing sports - basketball - and orchestra, and I'm also happy to be able to take all the (Advanced Placement) classes," said Razeghi, who aspires to going to Harvard and becoming a neuroscientist. Puente, who admitted to multiple discipline issues in middle school, said he's glad he stuck with the program, but understands his role at the new high school.
"We play a big part in the success of the school," said Puente, who wants to go to Texas A&M and become a petroleum engineer.
The new high school, like the YES Prep model, offers a longer school day, 50 minutes longer, and is geared toward advancing every student into a four-year college.
The additional 50 minutes will be a seminar class to prepare students for college - whether it's SAT and ACT prep, researching colleges or applying for scholarships - and ensuring they are successful in college.
"Our rallying cry is every student, despite their ZIP code, deserves a great education," Reed said.
YES Prep students will take their core classes in a separate modified wing of the Northbrook campus, but they can take advantage of the array of electives and extracurricular activities that a comprehensive high school like Northbrook has to offer. Northbrook Principal Randolph Adami said the strong fine arts and athletics' programs can only strengthen YES Prep Northbrook, while he hopes the culture of YES Prep will rub off his students and reinforce the district-wide goal to double the number of students within a five-year period who graduate a two-or four-year college, complete a technical program or a stint in the military under T-2-4.
"One thing we are looking forward to is sharing ideas and best practices. "I'm hoping they take what we do well to help them and vice versa, " Adami said.