• January 17, 2019

Falcon students get early college acceptance - Odessa American: Education

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Falcon students get early college acceptance

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Posted: Friday, December 7, 2018 3:30 pm

Falcon Early College High School senior Haley Lavergne is one of about 16 seniors out of a class of 28 who have already been accepted to college and one to the U.S. Marine Corps.

Lavergne, 17, has gotten into Texas A&M and Texas Tech universities. She also has applied to Harvard, Yale and Rice universities. She said she expects to hear from the Ivy Leagues Dec. 14 and Rice in the spring, but she’s leaning toward Texas A&M.

AVID Coordinator Elizabeth Gray said part of the reason is awareness of financial aid and that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid opened in early October.

Lavergne started at Falcon, where students can earn up to 60 hours of college credit, in her sophomore year. She plans to study economics and potentially medical school later on.

She and the other seniors will make up the first Falcon graduating class.

“I was pleased with myself,” Lavergne said. “I felt like I had worked so hard since kindergarten in order to be accepted to my dream schools. I was really excited to be able to have multiple options and to get to choose from any school that I applied to.”

Lavergne said students are introduced to college courses from day one and that teaches them responsibility.

“… It taught you how to be responsible and take initiative for your own actions; for your own grades. It taught how to grow up and mature way faster than any other high school would where you’re just put in a class,” Lavergne said.

One factor in student success is that students get more personalized attention from teachers and administrators and get help from them when needed.

Gray noted that she’s had these students for three years and they have done a lot of career exploration and college research, including field trips. She said they start looking at colleges freshman year; sophomore year is career exploration; and junior year they’re gearing up to be seniors.

“We’re all very excited for our futures,” Lavergne said. “We all contribute to each other’s success. We want the best for each other, so we’re all excited for wherever we get accepted, wherever we choose to go.”

Dean of Students Rene Barrientes said the early acceptance makes life easier for students.

“… It takes a lot of weight off your shoulders to be able to be going to a college that they applied for and got accepted to,” Barrientes added.

He said Gray has done a “wonderful job” with the seniors. Barrientes said some of the students may come from low-socioeconomic backgrounds and/or be first-generation college students.

“She keeps an eye on them and makes sure that they’re doing what they need to do. Part of the AVID process is to make sure that the students are accepted into college. … Our goal is to have 100 percent (acceptance). The goal is to have the opportunities to apply for college and know the process to get into college,” Barrientes said. “ … Being able to have somebody like Ms. Gray guide them and show them and have great relationships with students and parents. It’s a great attribute to have for the students.”

Many of the students plan to attend Angelo State University.

Phillip Santana, 18, was accepted to ASU and University of Houston-Victoria.

Santana said teachers and administrators drove him hard at Falcon.

“It was a lot. It was very stressful, but it’s prepared us a lot for what’s to come and I think we’re going to be OK,” he said.

He’s leaning toward Angelo State where he intends to study world history.

“It’s scary because my entire life I’ve been sheltered and nurtured by my parents. Now I’m going to have to go off on my own,” Santana said.

Alexis Castillo, 17, who was also accepted to ASU and University of Houston-Victoria wants to go into the medical field. Castillo said she’s glad to have college acceptance accomplished.

“I think it’s great because I have options and a lot of people don’t have that. It’s really stressful (being at Falcon), but whenever my friends in college talk about being in college I’ve already been through that. It’s an advantage,” Castillo said.

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