College-bound seniors celebrate at Academic Signing Day

Nearly 200 graduating seniors from HISD — many wearing college T-shirts — signed certificates of intent to attend various colleges on May 21, while their proud parents cheered them on. Pennants, pompoms, and other college paraphernalia at each table marked the students’ school preferences during the third annual Academic Signing Day event, which took place at the Region 4 Service Center.

Four college-bound ambassadors from each HISD high school were recognized during the event for their academic excellence, school and community involvement, and ability to overcome personal obstacles. Many of the students will be the first in their families to attend college.

HISD Board of Education President Rhonda Skillern-Jones offered words of encouragement to the seniors. “Don’t think of this as the last step of high school,” she said, “but as the first step of the rest of your lives.” She congratulated them on being accepted into colleges ranging from Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford to the University of Texas and Baylor.

Keynote speaker and former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia told students how proud he was of them and encouraged them to give back whenever they can. “Be visible in your communities when you come home,” he said. “Mentor younger students and volunteer at the schools you attended.”

EMERGE Academics Program Manager Danny Rojas gave an inspiring speech as well, and Tyra Jenkins, a Lamar graduate and International Baccalaureate diploma candidate who will attend Cornell University in the fall, served as emcee. Other attendees included Chief Major Projects Officer Don Hare, Chief Middle Schools Officer Michael Cardona, and Special Assistant to the Superintendent Dan Gohl. Sterling High School’s Army JROTC Color Guard presented the colors and led the pledges of allegiance to the flags.

Academic Signing Day was created in 2013 to bring students, administrators, teachers, school counselors, and parents together to celebrate seniors who are headed to college, thanks to academic scholarships. The HISD Class of 2015 has already received numerous acceptances to top schools and earned more than $200 million in scholarships and financial aid offers.

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