Four years ago today, Feb 18, I sat in a room in Sam Houston High with Yahterie-Anne Sykes Ortiz and her mom, Anne Ortiz. Anne placed Yahterie-Anne's sophomore year PSAT score report from the previous October on the table where we sat. Immediately, this question came to mind: "What do you do with a student from your ZIP code who scored higher than 95% of sophomores in Critical Reading and higher than 98% of sophomores in Writing Skills?
Both mom and daughter were willing to explore the possibility of developing an Academic Excellence & You guide as a supplement to Yahterie-Anne's Project-Based Learning school curriculum. This required Yahterie-Anne to spend time with me listening to the opportunities I see and the resources available for students to demonstrate Academic Excellence. Her task was to absorb complex concepts and translate them into words that other high school students might easily grasp. The three of us met routinely through the end of the school year. In June 2014, Yahterie-Anne presented me with the finished product, the Academic Excellence and You Guide.
So today, we celebrate a four-year journey that began with Yahterie-Anne receiving and accepting an invitation to promote Academic Excellence on San Antonio's Eastside. Wow, I just marvel at the memories created along the way:
A Riverwalk fellowship with members of Voices of Faith, the University of Notre Dame’s Gospel Choir;
The Project-Based Learning presentation to the Leadership SAISD class cohort during a visit to Sam Houston High;
The Inaugural PTSA Annual Celebrating Academic Excellence Dinner;
Watching a student take a Summer Engineering Program and Algebra II on online simultaneously;
Meeting and getting to know Catherine “Reads Good Books” Espinoza, Yahterie-Anne’s Bestie;
Attending Yahterie-Anne’s National Honor Society Induction Ceremony;
Attending District and State Academic Decathlon Competitions for the first time;
Hearing the reply, “Apply to Notre Dame” when Koinonia asked Yahterie-Anne where she wanted to go to college during a March 2015 fellowship at Spaghetti Warehouse;
Learning how much time a Sam Houston student has to invest in order to take an off-campus dual-enrollment class through Alamo Colleges for two years;
Seeing what an Eastside San Antonio Presence at Notre Dame looks like, Version 1.0;
Seeing what an Eastside San Antonio Presence at Notre Dame looks like, Version 2.0;
Seeing what an Eastside San Antonio Presence at Notre Dame looks like, Version 3.0;