Category Archives: Student Spotlight

Despite missing classmates, Energized for STEM Academy valedictorian embraces innovation

Although he is more of a “face-to-face person,” Energized for STEM Academy valedictorian Michael Duru is excited to be at the top of his class during this time of virtual learning.

Michael Duru

“The circumstances under which this is happening aren’t great, but I feel somewhat special to be part of something that has never happened before.” Duru said.

A natural leader, Michael encourages his fellow students to participate in the online school environment by joining in virtual class discussions.

“I’ve been able to help lead my class by reaching out to other students via text and being as active as possible in class group chats,” he said. “I welcome this change as a way to stay connected with my peers and encourage them to finish the year strong.”

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Eastwood Academy HS student accepted to 25 universities across nation

Voters in Harris County may want to remember the name Mercedes Sotelo. The Eastwood Academy senior has some serious goals – and clearly likes to have options.

Sotelo, who is a proud lifelong resident of Houston’s East End, has been accepted to 25 colleges across the nation. States with universities with her name on their acceptance lists range from Hawaii to Maine. On top of that, her scholarship offers totaled a whopping $559,000.

The choice wasn’t easy, but Sotelo ultimately chose to stay home, in Texas. In the fall, Sotelo will attend Concordia University in Austin, where she will pursue a degree in Political Science and Government.

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HISD students adjust to new reality of distance learning

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series on how six HISD students are adjusting to the shift to virtual instruction throughout the district amid COVID-19 precautions. Read Part 2 here.

Earlier this week, the district launched HISD @ H.O.M.E. (Home-based Online Mobile Education), a distance learning plan, and students at all levels of education are transitioning from physical to virtual classrooms.

We checked in with three students to see how their first week of distance learning went, the steps they’ve taken to succeed and the things they miss the most about school.

While making the shift to online learning, Class of 2020 copes with interrupted senior year

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HISD graduate studying at Yale selected as Rhodes Scholar

Liana Wang (Photo credit: The Rhodes Trust)

Bellaire HS alum and EMERGE program participant Liana Wang among 32 U.S. students chosen for elite honor

Houston Independent School District graduate Liana Wang has been selected to join the 2020 Rhodes Scholarship class from a pool of nearly 1,000 U.S. applicants who attend top colleges and universities throughout the nation.

“This is a testament to the community that has brought me here: my family, friends, professors, and supporters throughout my life, including my teachers and mentors in EMERGE and HISD,” Wang said. “They motivate my work, and I hope my time at Oxford helps me better achieve my goals of pursuing a more just and equitable society.”

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Language competition, love of Mandarin Chinese unlocks a world of opportunity for MIMS student

Dressed in a red floral brocade dress and her blonde hair illuminated in lights, Cambry Gerardi, an eighth-grader from the Mandarin Immersion Magnet School (MIMS), stood alone on a stage in Zhengzhou, China and shared her story of learning Chinese. 

In near perfect Mandarin, the non-native speaker described to the judges of the Chinese Bridge World Language Competition how a simple, albeit significant, chain of events solidified her love of the Chinese language and led her to that moment.   

“My trip to the Chinese Bridge (competition) has helped me improve my Chinese and connect with friends from all over the world,” she told the audience. 

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Preliminary HISD STAAR scores show strong gains across multiple grades, subjects, and student groups

Houston Independent School District students showed strong gains that exceeded those made by the state in third- through eighth-grade reading and math, and on end-of-course (EOC) assessments in English I and Algebra I, according to preliminary 2018 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) scores.

“This year, our students made significant progress on the state-mandated STAAR tests,” Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “We are excited about what these preliminary results mean for our schools labeled by the state as Improvement Required and our district’s accountability ratings. HISD is shifting course and turning schools around. We know that it is critical that we continue our commitment to strengthening the supports in place to further advance our progress in student achievement.”

Overall, the spring administration of the 2018 STAAR grades 3-8 assessment results indicate the district held steady or showed increases in the percentage of students meeting the Approaches Grade Level standard in reading, math, science, and social studies. Continue reading

Student Spotlight: Short digital safety videos from HISD students win national recognition

HISD students have been busy this spring making short videos to teach their fellow students about digital safety.

The district’s Educational Technology department received 39 multimedia submissions from 61 HISD students (four high schools, two middle schools, and five elementary schools) regarding online safety, digital citizenship, and privacy security.

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Student spotlight: Yates HS communications students participate in CBS Sports Symposium

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles designed to highlight the work of HISD students, particularly as it relates to developing global graduate skills, connecting learning to careers, or preparing for higher education. In this entry, we see members of the communications program at Yates High School participating in a CBS Sports Symposium, one of the many Final Four events benefiting HISD students.


Representatives from CBS, Turner Sports, and the NCAA held a symposium with Yates HS students on March 30 as part of the lead-up to the Final Four showdown.


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