Springtime at Chinquapin! Alumni will recall it as a time of much activity: the Shell Houston Open, extra mowing and weeding, the staff appreciation dinner, Chinqua-Grammies, the Blue Bell tournament (not quite the same this year with the recent recall) - all of the events and traditions that mark the end of a school year on campus. A newer tradition I have instituted requires the faculty and staff to reflect on the year’s goals and assess our progress.
One of our goals for the current school year evaluates our program for preparing students for college. While we feel that we do a fine job (85% of our alumni go on to graduate from a four-year college!), we know that we can always improve. Our students start learning about the college process from the moment they walk through our doors. By eighth grade, we expect them to be able to assess their interests and determine a probable career choice, research the educational requirements needed to enter their chosen field and find out which schools are known for a department in the subject. Each student showcases their research in a presentation that explains where they see themselves in 5 and 10 years. The results are astonishing. Fourteen-year-olds articulate their dreams and goals in a rational and well-researched manner. Even if they change their mind about their career, they know and understand the process of supporting and nurturing each new dream.
And that’s just the beginning. In ninth and tenth grades our students meet once a semester to discuss college related topics and ask questions. A panel of alumni field questions from curious high school students. All freshman and sophomores take the PSAT, to get exposure to the test that can open so many doors. Each class visits a university each year so that our students can see and feel the difference between a big state school (UT, A&M) and a small liberal arts college (HBU, St. Edward’s). I push for a trip to Rice, as well (go, Owls)! We drive them to college fairs and encourage them to explore schools they may never have considered, but might just be the best school for them. We hold Saturday sessions for their parents, because the college application process can be daunting to them too.
We take our mission very seriously, and the current graduating class of 19 outstanding young men and women are the embodiment of that. They are prepared for the challenges that college will bring: they know how to study, how to speak up for themselves and how to ask for help when needed. I invite you to join us at our graduation ceremony on Friday, May 29, at 7 PM to help them celebrate. And, if you can, send us a college pennant from your alma mater. Part of our goal is to surround our students with college décor, and we would love ￼your help in getting it done!
Laura Henry, Ed.D.