Los Fresnos High School Receives 2013 Gaston Caperton Inspiration Award

Award Celebrates High Schools Promoting High Standards for Student Achievement, Doing Exceptional Work in College and Career Readiness

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LOS FRESNOS, Texas — Los Fresnos High School has been named a 2013 Gaston Caperton Inspiration Award school by the College Board for providing low-income students with the support they need to succeed academically. One of only three high schools nationwide to receive the award in 2013, Los Fresnos High School will receive a $25,000 award to apply toward programs that encourage more students to attend college.

“The extraordinary work done by teachers and administrators at Los Fresnos High School to ensure that each of their students succeeds truly embodies the spirit of the Inspiration Awards,” said Peter Negroni, senior vice president of relationship development at the College Board. “Though a large majority of their students come from low-income families, last spring Los Fresnos High School educators celebrated as more than 90 percent of their graduating seniors went on to attend college. Their efforts demonstrate that with access to rigorous academic opportunities, every student can achieve at a high level. The College Board is proud to recognize the achievements of Los Fresnos High School with a 2013 Inspiration Award.”

College Board representatives presented the award to Los Fresnos High School at a celebratory event held this morning on the school’s campus attended by administrators, faculty, students, parents, and community leaders.

Awards Reflect Importance of Access to Higher Education

Created by former College Board President Gaston Caperton in 2001, the Inspiration Awards honor high schools that help expand access to higher education by providing students with rigorous academic offerings and innovative college-preparation programs. Selected by a panel of higher education faculty from across the country, winning high schools demonstrate significant and consistent growth in the number of students taking honors and college-level courses and in the percentage of seniors accepted to two- or four-year colleges.

The Gaston Caperton Inspiration Award-winning schools do much more than meet basic eligibility requirements: They are selected for their innovative ability to inspire student success.

About Los Fresnos High School

When Ronnie Rodriguez became principal of Los Fresnos High School in 2009, he joined a school community with a reputation for academic and athletic excellence. An educator for more than 20 years, Rodriguez set out to expand opportunities for Los Fresnos students even further by creating a more robust college-going environment; growing the number of activities and programs; and forging tighter bonds with middle and elementary schools in the district. Today, Los Fresnos students continue to graduate from high school and enroll in college at rates that surpass most high schools in the state and country.

“In my first year at Los Fresnos, I worked with my assistant principal to hang college flags and banners above every classroom and throughout the hallways so it was the first thing students saw as they arrived at school,” Rodriguez said. “My goal was to provide a place where students are reminded every day that college is attainable, and that their administrators and teachers are there to help them be successful in and after high school.”

 Academic rigor and preparing for college have become the epicenter of life at Los Fresnos High School, and the faculty plays a significant role in encouraging students to pursue higher education. Teachers create “university boards” that highlight different colleges and universities throughout the country, and wear their favorite college T-shirt every Thursday for “University Day.” Los Fresnos students and administrators host campus tours for district elementary and middle school students as a way to introduce younger grades to the Los Fresnos environment and get them excited about attending a high school with a strong college-going culture. The school serves students in one of the poorest counties in America, and these seemingly small measures help Los Fresnos educators reinforce their commitment to getting students ready for college and careers.

Offering 14 AP courses and academic opportunities at local colleges and universities, Los Fresnos also provides a wide and diverse array of activities, including the Robotics Club, a working animal farm for the Future Farmers of America, an EMT training program for students interested in the field of medicine, the “Ready, Set, Teach!” program for students interested in becoming educators, and a plethora of academic, professional, cultural and arts programs. Los Fresnos teachers show their support by frequently attending students’ games, competitions and performances. Seeing “teachers in the bleachers”— as Mr. Rodriguez calls it — is reassuring for many Los Fresnos students, particularly those whose parents cannot easily find transportation or leave work to attend. This is yet another way Los Fresnos educators support student achievement.

“Our goal is to provide a supportive place of learning where our students can develop their minds and their goals for the future,” Rodriguez said. “I have the privilege of working with amazing teachers who really have what it takes to inspire and motivate our students to be successful.”