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An important lesson on faith, hope, and the power of community

2013 January 15

These are exciting times for members of Waltrip High School’s Ram Band. After weeks of fundraisers, and a nail-biting race to the finish line that featured an unexpected windfall from a United States representative, the students managed to raise enough money to pay for a trip to Washington, D.C., where they have been selected to perform at the upcoming presidential inauguration.

When speaking with a member of the press recently, Waltrip band director Jesse Espinosa was asked why he submitted an application for his students to play at the event, knowing full well that many of them couldn’t afford to pay for the trip.

His answer was that even if his students were limited financially, he didn’t want them to be limited in opportunities. That mindset is admirable—and it is one that many of us share. More than 80 percent of our students—or 4 out of every 5—are considered economically disadvantaged. Does that mean we should lower our expectations for them? Of course not!

Here at HISD, we know that every child can learn, and we want to give them the best chance possible to excel. That’s why we asked Houston voters to approve a plan to rebuild so many of our high schools last year, and it’s why we continue to work toward having an effective teacher in every classroom, and an effective principal leading every campus.

Like Jesse, we also know that we can’t do it alone. In another interview, he gave a shout-out to U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and her “angels” for contributing the $40,000 they needed “to put us over the top” in their quest to raise $150,000 to pay for the trip—and that is precisely that kind of community spirit that makes me so proud to be a part of this city.

Please join me in extending both congratulations to Jesse and his band, and thanks to Congresswoman Jackson Lee and to all of the other generous supporters who made Waltrip’s upcoming trip to Washington possible. You can watch a brief clip of them performing here.

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