Members of the HISD African-American Advisory Committee held their regular meeting Wednesday at the historic Yates High School campus. In November, HISD voters approved a $1.89 billion bond package that includes $59.5 million to build a modern new Yates campus.
HISD Community Relations Liaison Lawrence Allen who has been instrumental in assembling the group of educators, journalists, community, and business leaders said Yates High School was selected as the site of this month’s meeting because of its longstanding commitment to excellence in education, a sentiment echoed by Yates Principal Marla McNeal-Sheppard.
“Although Yates has always been known for excelling in athletics, we are extremely proud of our triumphs in academics,” said McNeal-Sheppard. “There have been an increasing number of students applying for admission into our communications magnet program and in 2012 the number of scholarships increased from $2.1 million to $3.5 million dollars.” However despite the successes, she said there is more work to be done. “We’re always working to create business partnerships and to get more resources for our students,” she said.
A highlight of the meeting was when three student ambassadors took the group on separate tours of the campus. Senior Talisha Rhodes who will be studying nursing beginning this summer at Prairie View A&M University was one of the student ambassadors. As Rhodes guided her group through the school’s television studio, graphic design classrooms, and printing press, she raved about what her years at Yates have meant to her.
“Since I started until now, I have changed a lot but only for the better,” said Rhodes. “I will miss my teachers who pushed me to work hard, especially Ms. Clayton. Although I’m excited about studying nursing, I’m going to miss Yates, but I look forward to returning to the school to share my experiences with other students.”
Advisory committee member Dr. Jacqueline H. Cobbin said Yates is a wonderful example of what’s right with our schools. “You can tell from walking through the halls and meeting with the students, teachers, and Principal McNeal-Sheppard how enthusiastic and energized everyone is about Yates,” said Cobbin.
The African-American Advisory Committee was created in 2011 by HISD’s Strategic Partnership Department to advise and support HISD in strengthening and encouraging public support of HISD schools, improving student achievement, and increasing parental and community involvement within the African-American community.