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Kids give up their summer to get ahead of the game

By Carolina Astrain
Aug. 4, 2012 at 3:04 a.m.

Jamie Ramirez concentrates on finishing her English paper on the last day of summer school at Patti Welder. Students wanting to pursue the fast track can opt to take courses during the summer.

Bianca Gonzales knew what she was getting herself into in May. No parties, no late nights at the drive-in and no summer vacation.

Bianca, 16, took English III this summer to get ahead of the class. On the last day of summer school, Bianca flipped through the pages of William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily."

"It's not my best subject," she said. "Our teacher breaks it down really well for us."

But summer school for some wasn't about getting ahead of the game - but keeping up with it.

Fifty-two percent of students in summer school worked on earning early credit, said David Lynn, a principal for this summer session. Lynn also serves as principal of the Career and Technical Institute.

The remaining 48 percent focused on credit recovery. This year's summer school was at Patti Welder Magnet Middle School.

Larry Rodriguez, the English department chairman at West High School, taught the English III and IV class Bianca attended.

Rodriguez combined English III and IV into one course load, a setting he believes has given the soon-to-be seniors an upper hand for English IV in the fall.

Class sizes were relatively smaller than the ones during the regular school year, varying from 20 to 25 students per class.

"It was funny," Rodriguez said. "They were like, 'we almost hate to leave,' because of how much the kids had bonded."

"They're making sure they have a good class rank," Lynn said. "Some of these kids even have summer jobs on top of this."

Bianca started her summer days at Patti Welder and ended them working the concession stand at the Victoria Softball Complex.

"I'm doing it to graduate early in May," Bianca said. "I can't play sports anymore because of my knee injuries."

Bianca said her injuries have not only spurred her onto an academic fast-track, but it has also awakened an interest in nursing.

"This is like another way of making myself feel accomplished," she said. "I just want to get out of Victoria and maybe get into Incarnate Word."

MaKaylia Jones, a 17-year-old West High School senior, said it's been fun and worth the leap ahead.

Although MaKaylia spent her summer in a studious setting, it didn't hinder her fashionable flair. All her nails were painted white, with the exception of her middle fingernails, which were painted dark pink with black dots.

"I'm just trying to graduate early so I can go to Houston and become a cop," she said. "It's just something that I've always wanted to do."



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