|Pictured are (left to right) Jennifer Garcia,Bryan Turtius, Amy Rodriguez and Elvira Campos.|
These four – Jennifer Garcia, Elvira Campos, Bryan Turtius and Amy Rodriguez -- are now headed to top Texas colleges and universities, the U.S. Marine Corps, and even to an elite liberal arts college in woodsy central Maine.
For one of them, a traumatic skateboarding accident resulted in months of physical rehabilitation and neurological retraining exercises during the past two years.
“Four years ago when I first met the Class of 2016, I challenged them to leave a legacy behind after they graduated,” 12th grade Principal Stacy Sanchez says. “I wanted everyone to say, ‘Hey, that Class of 2016 was outstanding!’”
“The day has come and the Class of 2016 has met my challenge and surpassed my expectations. I couldn’t be happier to have Bryan, Elvira, Amy and Jennifer showcased for their awesomeness. They’re just a glimpse of what Northbrook High School’s Class of 2016 has accomplished.”
Two Raiders Ready for Texas A&M
Jennifer Garcia and Elvira Campos are headed this fall to Texas A&M University at College Station, a favored destination for many Raider high achievers.
For Jennifer, walking across the stage at Don Coleman Coliseum on Saturday will be a testament to an incredible comeback story. In August 2014, just weeks before her junior year, Jennifer was struck by a car on the street outside Landrum Middle and hospitalized with serious head and pelvis injuries. She was on her skateboard.
A month or so later, she left the hospital and began the journey back to health and high school coursework. She came back to Northbrook High by attending athletic training class, and then was homeschooled in English. She returned to a full set of classes in February 2015, and has pushed herself this year to meet both junior and senior-year requirements.
“School was hard, and it still is. I still sometimes have trouble speaking words. I’ll know the word I’m looking for, but it doesn’t come out. For senior year, it was the two years smashed into one,” she says.
This year, she ran morning cross country practice, followed athletic training after school, and then found time for outside work. “Every day, I was exhausted. I had days I wanted to give up, but I never did. Everything has now paid off with being able to graduate and to go on to college!”
In addition to Northbrook High, Jennifer attended The Lion Lane School for Early Learning, Treasure Forest Elementary and Landrum Middle.
A Treasure Forest fifth-grade teacher, Mirith Ballestas, an intervention specialist at the school today, inspired her.
“She was always a little bit hard on me, and that pushed me. She noticed I could do more. She made me take my tests in English, and she recommended me for Pre-AP Math. I tried harder because of Ms. Ballestas,” Jennifer says.
Elvira Campos found her voice and emotional footing in Jaime Trigo’s Landrum Middle choir room. “He was a parent figure for me,” says Elvira, who did not have a dad living at home. “Mr. Trigo taught me right from wrong. He taught me to take risks and to believe in myself above all.”
She is also a graduate of Lion Lane PreK, but attended Ridgecrest Elementary and then Landrum Middle and Northbrook High.
Jennifer is planning a career in accounting, starting with a small company and then working her way up. She’s won three scholarships so far, including a $2,000 award from the Assistance League and $500 athletic training award through the Memorial Hermann Hospital system.
Elvira’s college goal is a teaching degree. Her English III teacher helped her think about how family income may predict student educational attainment, opportunity and future success.
“I want to teach others that money should not make such a difference. If I can make it, then others like me can make it, too,” she says.
Texas A&M University has named her a recipient of both the Regent and Century four-year scholarships, valued at up to $160,000, and Leadership Houston alumni with Landrum Middle ties have awarded her a $1,000 Flight XXV Scholarship. A $750 Delta Kappa Gamma scholarship has been awarded to her, too.
This Marine Thinks About Digital Security
In a few months, Bryan Turtius will trade summer heat here for the Pacific Ocean breezes and rigorous training associated with the Camp Pendleton Marine base in California.
According to Bryan, Coach Andre Brooks at Landrum Middle said a few words to him in eighth grade and turned him away from a troubled school history.
“He said, ‘I heard you haven’t been in trouble. I’m proud of you. Keep it up.’ That made a real impression on me,” he recalls. Bryan has huge plans for his future, and he is already thinking about his goals after four years in the U.S. Marines.
“I want to study computer science and cybersecurity,” says Bryan, who enrolled in basic computer classes at The Guthrie Center. “I have made it a goal to learn some computer languages myself. I find it really fascinating to see how easily corporate systems and programs can be compromised and manipulated.”
During Marine service up to 100 percent of education expenses may be paid by the federal government through programs like tuition assistance, the Post 9-11 G.I. Bill and the Marine Corps College Fund. Selected Marines may earn degrees through a college degree program with two- and four-year degree options.
Posse Scholar Preps for Maine’s Colby College
If Amy Rodriguez hadn’t been moved from her first choice of orchestra to choir during sixth grade, she might not have discovered a passion so early nor learned how to sing under Spring Oaks Middle choir teacher Greg Morgan.
“I want to be a choir teacher. I plan to major in theater, dance and music thanks to Colby’s dual theater and dance major,” says Amy, a Posse Scholar group member who will attend Colby College in Waterville, Maine, this fall.
Colby is a small, liberal arts college consistently ranked among the top colleges in the nation. Waterville, Maine. Posse Scholars like Amy are chosen by a nonprofit organization, the Posse Foundation, to be part of small student teams prepared for top-tier universities and colleges with special, senior-year group training.
Posse focuses on team success through college academics while improving cross-cultural awareness. The Posse Foundation, founded in 1989, identifies public high school students with high academic and leadership potential who might be passed over in the traditional college selection process.
Posse students are placed in supportive, multicultural teams – or posses – of about 10 students. Partner colleges and universities award these students four-year, fully paid tuition leadership scholarships.
Amy has attended The Tiger Trail School for Early Learning, both Spring Branch and Spring Oaks elementaries, Spring Oaks Middle, and Northbrook High School after spending her freshman year at Spring Woods High.
Spring Oaks Middle’s Greg Morgan is the teacher who first inspired her. “I had no singing experience, except what I sang in the shower. But I did feel so comfortable with him, and when everything came together, it was beautiful. He has inspired me to be and become a choir teacher,” she says.
A National Honor Society member, Amy won high honors in UIL Science early as a sophomore. Her Advanced Placement courses included English and government, in addition to senior calculus.
She was a varsity choir member, performed this year in the all-district musical, In The Heights, and played Annie in the same musical last year at Northbrook High. If not busy enough, Amy’s also a new mom to Sophia Elizabeth, born in January.
“I’d like to be a high school theater director and be involved in community theater to help rekindle interest in all the fine arts,” she says. “But who knows? I could be on Broadway in my future, too!”
As a Posse Scholar, she attends required meetings downtown with other students. She was attracted to Colby College in Maine after spending time in Montana as a Woods Project summer program student.
“The orientation for freshmen at Colby is a hiking trip. That really attracted me,” she says. She picked a good week to visit the Maine campus – during the recent flooding here – but she admits her first frosty winter is still ahead.
Amy’s advice to her earlier self might well apply to the future: “Life will slowly work itself out. Don’t stress too much!”