The auditorium of YWCPA was filled with parents, teachers, administrators, lawmakers, and of course students of the unique all-girl college preparatory school located in the 3rd Ward. It was opened in August with a 1-million dollar investment from the Foundation for the Education of Young Women.
Director Carmyn Neely says since 2004 the foundation has opened five other schools across the state.
"Since then, the Foundation has supported over 2,000 young women in the state of Texas, and we have graduated three senior classes among our schools. One hundred percent of each of those classes has been accepted, gone on, and been scholarshipped, in colleges and universities in Texas and across the United States."
The event was a chance to recognize people responsible for YWCPA to become reality.
Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, the guest speaker, was instrumental in laying the groundwork for gender specific schools in the country. She recalled a visit to one school in Harlem that was excelling academically.
"Rod Paige, who was Secretary of Education, went and visited that school with me, and he came out and he said, 'We're gonna do this.' And he made sure that the regulations were written, and that opened doors for so many young boys and young girls to have the opportunities that we know, will allow them to reach their full potential."
From left to right: Houston School Board Second Vice President Anna Eastman, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Houston School Board President Paula Harris and Councilwoman Wanda Adams
YWCPA's focus is to get girls to apply themselves and take on more challenging subjects like technology, science and math. 9th grader Natalie Espinoza admits she had some reservations at first:
"However once I began attending YWCPA, my views changed. After meeting new teachers and fellow classmates in a new environment, I now see the benefits of attending a school that offers so many opportunities. Opportunities that will help my potential for becoming a future leader, whether it be in law, medicine, business, engineering, or any other type of career."
Houston School Board president Paula Harris is also a proud parent of a student attending YWCPA:
"And I'm going to tell you who else is doing it, are the teachers and the faculty that has been put in place. Every day they work with these girls, and stretch them to phenomenal, phenomenal lengths. They do."
The year began with a class of 6th graders and 9th graders, and will soon be adding other grades.
More information can be found at schools.Houstonisd.org/YWCPA, or by calling 713-942-1441.