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First Global High students graduate LHS tonight

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
May 24, 2012 at 10 p.m.


At tonight's Longview High School commencement ceremony, 52 of the graduates will be trailblazers.

They are the first graduates of the school's Global High program, which is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program that operates as a sort of "school within a school" at the LHS campus.

"We're immensely proud of our graduates," said Everett Brunson, who serves as headmaster of Global High. "A lot of them were identified as 'at risk' students when they finished eighth grade, and they're not only graduating high school, but many of them are doing so with up to 24 hours of college credit."

The school began in August 2008 with 86 freshmen. Several transferred into the International Baccalaureate program when the school began offering that option in 2010, and others have moved out of the district. Those who remained have had the benefit of smaller classes and more interaction with teachers, Brunson said.

"These kids have achieved more than they ever thought they could," he said. "We'd eventually like to extend the STEM program to the middle school level, to get more students involved at younger ages."

Graduating seniors Precious French, Mariah Reynaga, Kaitlyn Kelly, Mariam Ceballos and Deontre Wilson all said they felt that being part of the Global High program has been instrumental in helping them complete high school.

"When I first applied, it was almost kind of a joke," Kelly said. "But the teachers here have really helped me a lot. I don't think I would be graduating if I hadn't been a global student."

French said she believes the global seniors were closer, to each other and to the faculty members in the program, than students in the main part of the high school.

"It's a more hands-on learning experience," French said. "We do more projects and group work."

Wilson said he had enjoyed his years at global and would recommend the program to middle school students looking for more one-on-one instruction from teachers.

"We have smaller classes, and the teachers really get to know us," Reynaga said. "They care about as individuals."

Ceballos agreed that the involvement of teachers was a big part in her success.

"The teachers know us, and they know one another," Ceballos said. "They work together to help us meet our goals."

Global students take all their core classes from teachers in the Global High program. They take electives and participate in extracurricular activities with the rest of LHS students.

Teacher Jennifer Dugger said the smaller classes and intensified interaction with the students are what drew her to the program.

"I like that we can devote more of our time to teaching rather than classroom management," Dugger said. "The students participate more and learn by doing in many cases."

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