(Sounds of a crowd)
It had all the makings of a school pep rally as more than one hundred seniors got set to announce what college they’ll be attending next fall. Relatives, teachers and lower grade students packed Rice University’s basketball arena to cheer on the 12th graders.
And then, one by one they walked up to the podium and announced their college choice. They’re all students of Yes Prep, a Houston charter school with seven campuses. What makes this unique is that almost all the students are either Hispanic or African American. And every single senior is going to college. Francine Salazar’s daughter is heading to Wake Forrest. As you can imagine, she is quite proud.
“Extremely proud. Everything they’ve done the school is great. I can’t say more better things. The opportunities they’ve given my children. My children are thriving.”
If you’re wondering what the secret is at Yes Prep — how they get all their students to attend a four year university — Yes Prep counselor Joshua Hundley says it all starts in elementary school.
“It’s constantly reinforced. Our sixth grade homerooms are named after the colleges and universities of their teachers. Seventh, eighth and then in 9th grade we take them on spring college tours, our 9th graders take a bus tour of all the public of all the public and private universities here in Texas.”
Word of Yes Preps accomplishments have gotten around. U.S Education Secretary Arne Duncan had heard about the signing ceremonies and decided to come to Houston to check it out.
“We celebrate first round draft picks in the NFL and NBA. I would say this is so much more important than any of that.”
This year’s senior class is headed to colleges all over the country, but many of them decided to stay home and are attending the University of Houston. They won’t be catching passes or hitting three pointers for their schools, but the students plan to make their presence felt in other ways many people say are much more important.