Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Weekly Wave: GECHS Starts Running Club with Support of Fit 2 Run

Members of the GEC Running Club with their new shoes provided by Fit 2 Run

Students at Galveston Early College have started the GECHS Running Club. Leanna Pickens, Instructional Specialist/Intervention Specialist at GEC gathered 50 kids, three teachers, and six parents running in practice each Monday and Friday from 4 p.m.-5 p.m. Fit 2 Run generously sponsored the club and has gathered community members to donate and pay for $100 pairs of shoes for each student. Students received the shoes on Friday, Oct. 29

On Saturday, Oct. 30, the group will run in the D’Feet Breast Cancer Run starting at Moody Gardens. The runners each collected pledges of $25 or more to enter. Each member will be at the start line sporting “GECHS Roadrunners...running towards our future!” t -shirts, ready to run three miles.

To comment on this blog post, please go to the official GECHS site.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Weekly Wave: GECHS Students Share Their Artwork With The World

From exhibit "O'Keeffe-inspired pastels"
by Justin7624
From the October 23, 2010 Weekly Wave:

Move over famous artists: Galveston Early College High School artists are taking over the spotlight. Theresa Pacheco, the school's Art Teacher, has teamed up with Artsonia, -- the world's largest online kid's art museum -- to display the students' artwork.

Anyone can view the school gallery online. Visitors can browse the school gallery by grade level, or by specific exhibits. Galveston Early College High School students join thousands of students from over 100 countries whose artwork is showcased on Artsonia. "This program is a wonderful way to get parents and family members more involved in Art Education," said Mrs. Pacheco.

All of Artsonia's artwork (nearly 10 million and counting!) is viewable online, and any teacher or parent can create an online art gallery for their child or school. Artsonia provides several online features such as fan clubs and personal guestbooks, as a way for families to encourage the creativity and imaginations of their young artists. In addition, family members can purchase keepsakes imprinted with the child's artwork, with Artsonia donating 15 percent of their annual product revenue back to school art programs.

To comment on this blog post, please visit the official GECHS blog site.

Friday, October 22, 2010 Where students can get ahead of the class

Editor's note: The following article appeared in The Santa Clara Valley Signal October 14, 2010.

Education: Students at local high school earn college credits and diploma

Vivean Muna, 17, enrolled at Valencia High school about two years ago after moving to Valencia from Georgia.

“It was such a big school,” the Kenyan-born student said. “It was so easy for people to get lost in the crowd.”

She soon applied and was accepted to Academy of the Canyons, the William S. Hart Union High School District’s early college high school. The opportunity meant Muna had a chance to study in a small-school environment and take classes at College of the Canyons.

“I enjoy school more now,” the Academy of the Canyons senior said. “It’s so small. So you get to know everybody, and you get to know your teachers a lot more.”

A growing demand
Unlike typical Hart district high schools that have more than 2,000 students each, Academy of the Canyons has about 400 students.

The school merged with Early College High School in 2009 and is in its second year of serving students in grades 9-12, Principal Jill Shenberger said.

While many of the students come from the Hart district’s comprehensive high schools, Academy of the Canyons includes students who were once homeschooled or attended local private schools, Shenberger said.

“One size doesn’t fit all,” Shenberger said. “For some kids, they just need a different path.”

Students must go through an application and interview process to attend Academy of the Canyons. The school typically tries to seek out students who are among the first in their families to attend college, are socioeconomically disadvantaged, underrepresented on college campuses or show high potential but are considered “at-risk,” she said.

College students in high school
Students at Academy of the Canyons are able to enroll in college classes at College of the Canyons, where they can potentially earn up to 60 college credits before graduating high school, Shenberger said.

Students earn anywhere from 24 to 44 credits, which still puts them past the number of credits they need for the first year of college, she said.

It’s an experience that Muna looks forward to when she comes to school on her campus located at the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center on the COC Valencia campus.

“I at least get a taste of what it’ll be like when I go to college,” said Muna, who hopes to graduate with about 40 college credits. “Who can say that when they were in high school, they were also in college?”

She hopes to graduate high school this year, attend a university in the northeast and eventually become a doctor for the United Nations, she said.

Science teacher Michele Siner said Academy of the Canyons students graduate with four years of college experience. “I think it ensures them success in college,” Siner said.

Siner, who has spent 15 years teaching, finds that her students are unique.

“They’re driven, and they care about where they’re going in life,” she said.

The dedication shows when it comes to state testing.

For the last two years, students have earned a 100-percent pass rate on the annual high school exit exam.

The school’s Academic Performance Index score, which takes into account a number of state tests, is 930 of a maximum 1,000.

Although the school doesn’t have its own sports teams, Academy of the Canyons has several student clubs, serving interests like American Sign Language and knitting. The school’s student-government program is thriving, and students even have a yearbook class.

Students have found a way to make the school their own.

“It’s all about your individualism,” said senior Cristian Cardenas. “Being able to be who you are and not be confined by tradition.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Galveston Daily News: On the move to get kids running

The following was published in the Galveston County Daily News October 15, 2010

People sometimes talk about running from their past, but the local running community gets a chance to run for the future Thursday in the Harvest Moon and Margarita Fun 5k.

The event, which takes place along the Galveston seawall on a moonlit evening, benefits Kids on the Move and two initiatives to produce a new generation of runners and exercisers.

“We’re committed to helping any kids involved in a running program to get the shoes they need so they can stay active,” Kim Bachmeier, organizer of the Harvest Moon and Margarita 5K, said.
“One of the teachers at GISD’s Early College High School, Leana Pickens, has developed a training program, but among the 55 kids who are running, more than 20 can’t afford real running shoes. The run will raise money for Kids on the Move to provide running shoes to the ones in desperate need.”
The 5K begins and ends at Salsa’s Restaurant, 4604 Seawall Blvd., and travels east along the south (beach) side of the seawall to the turnaround point beyond the Flagship Pier. Walkers and younger participants can shorten the distance by turning around anywhere. “This is family friendly,” Bachmeier said. “Last year, there were many children in addition to adults, and everyone seemed to have a great time.”

The fun on the 5K course will be complemented by a post-race Mexican buffet and margaritas (adult participants receive a drink ticket at registration), door prizes and a pre-race howl at the moon. Registered participants also receive a towel and water bottle with the event’s logo. Registration opens at 5 p.m. on-site, with the race beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Bachmeier is creating other ways for runners to support and encourage children to be active.

“We’re looking for ‘Running Angels’ who will sponsor one child for one pair of running shoes,” she said. “New Balance makes it possible to do this for $49 per child.”

Kids on the Move also is developing a “Running Buddy” program to pair adult mentors with kids who want to run.

More information on the Harvest Moon and Margarita 5K is available online at

To comment on this blog post, please visit the official GECHS blog site.

Sunday, October 17, 2010 Funding Early College High Schools

Editor's Note: The following post was written by Steve Bowen and published on The target revenue (amount the District receives from the State) per student in GISD is approximately $5,400.

In my most recent column for the Bangor Daily News, I discussed Paul LePage’s early college high school idea, describing it as the most compelling school reform idea put forward by any of Maine’s gubernatorial candidates.

A number readers who posted comments on the BDN’s website wanted to know how such a program would be paid for, with some suggesting that it might prove to be very costly.

Here’s why.

According to the Maine Department of Education, average per pupil spending by Maine’s schools is little over $11,000. Generally speaking, about 60% of that spending is instructional in nature, while 40% is devoted to non-instructional spending such as administrative, facilities, and transportation costs.

So the average Maine school spends about $6,600 providing instruction to students. At $6,600 per year, can students be provided with enough college-level courses that they could receive an Associate’s Degree in five years of high school as LePage proposes?

Well, according to the Maine Community College System, it can provide courses to students for $84 per credit hour, which amounts to $252 per three-credit course. Twenty courses, which would get you to an Associate’s Degree, would cost $5,020 per student, which is less than what the average K-12 school spends per-pupil on instruction in a single year. Spread those courses out over 2 or 3 years and they could easily be done within existing resources.

Where would the savings come from?

Making senior year matter. Any parent of a high school senior will tell you that far too much of 12th grade is simply wasted. For instance, having fulfilled most graduation requirements already, seniors often end up taking electives that are largely meaningless. The time and money being consumed by these elective courses could be redirected into college-level courses that result in transferable credit.

Cutting the number of remedial courses colleges are forced to offer.  According to a recent report in Education Week, 3 out of every 5 Community College students nationwide “need at least one remedial course.” That means that taxpayers are paying twice for the same course – once in high school and once at the college level. Early college high schools, though, have modified curriculums that begin preparing students for college-level work as early as middle school. Since students in these schools are better prepared for college-level work, the remedial courses so many students need to take today can be replaced with courses that actually move them closer to a degree.

Cutting non-instructional costs. While 40 percent of K-12 spending is non-instructional in nature, the non-instructional share of total spending at the college level is closer to 60 percent.  That was what we found, anyway, when we used federally-reported data to calculate instructional and non-instructional spending at the schools of the University of Maine and the Maine Community College System. Having college-level courses available in Maine’s high schools would cut down on the need for many of the non-instructional programs and services at the college level, and those savings could be put back into course development and support.

According to the Legislature’s Office of Fiscal and Program review, Maine’s K-12, Community College, and University systems will spend $1.3 billion taxpayer dollars this fiscal year. It simply can’t be that in all that spending, there are no places to find savings that can redirected toward an initiative as innovative and potentially transformative as this one.

For more on the early college high school concept, visit, which is a great source of information about early college programs across the country.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Weekly Wave: GISD Wins Clash of the Cans vs. Texas City ISD

Students from Galveston Early College High School pass cans of food to Ball High School from their campus

Galveston Independent School District won the Clash of the Cans food drive against Texas City ISD. The results were announced at the Ball High-Texas City football game on the night of Oct. 1. Community members and students donated over 10,000 pounds of food to the cause.

The Ball High Student Council received a huge trophy as well as a $1,000 scholarship for their efforts. The trophy will travel to each of the GISD schools that participated over the next several weeks.

One of the major highlights of the food drive was the creation of a human chain consisting of students from the Galveston Early College High School and Fifth Grade College Prep programs at Scott Campus that stretched all the way to Ball High's food bank. Over 300 students participated in the event.

"We couldn’t have done it without you," said Student Council sponsor, Lisa Schweitzer. "Thank you for all of your continued support. It's great to be in a district that works together!"

To comment on this blog post, please visit the official GECHS blog site.

Friday, October 1, 2010

GECHS/EC lends a hand to support Ball's Clash of the Cans

Hand over hand, can over can, Galveston Early College High School and College Prep students delivered the food they collected to support Ball High School's Clash of the Cans food drive competition against football rival Texas City. The line of 300-plus students cast long, early morning shadows as it stretched from the entrance of the Scott Campus, through the parking lots, across the street, and to the doors of Ball High.

To comment on this blog post, please visit the official GECHS blog site.