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Saturday, June 15, 2024
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McAllen
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Student Alliance Forms at Lamar Academy

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Group: Pictured above, six of the ten students that have formed a student alliance hoping to accomplish three ambitious goals in the weeks and months ahead. From L-R: Valeria Juarez is an IB/Rowe senior of the Class of 2016 and will continue her education at The University of Texas at Austin where she will major in Biochemistry; Giovanna De La Tejera is an IB/Rowe senior of the Class of 2016 and will continue her education at The University of Texas at Austin where she will major in Biochemistry; Emily Crews is an IB/McHi senior of the Class of 2016 and will continue her education at The University of Texas at Austin where she will study Biochemistry; Zachary Lucio is an IB/Rowe senior of the Class of 2016 and will continue his education at The University of Texas at Austin where he will attain a dual degree in Government and Chemistry; Vanessa Cruz is an IB/Rowe senior of the Class of 2016 and will continue her education at The University of Texas at Austin with a major in Nutrition and Yuria Paez is an IB/Memorial senior of the Class of 2016 and will continue her education at The University of Texas at Austin with a major in Child Development. Photos by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
Group: Pictured above, six of the ten students that have formed a student alliance hoping to accomplish three ambitious goals in the weeks and months ahead. From L-R: Valeria Juarez is an IB/Rowe senior of the Class of 2016 and will continue her education at The University of Texas at Austin where she will major in Biochemistry; Giovanna De La Tejera is an IB/Rowe senior of the Class of 2016 and will continue her education at The University of Texas at Austin where she will major in Biochemistry; Emily Crews is an IB/McHi senior of the Class of 2016 and will continue her education at The University of Texas at Austin where she will study Biochemistry; Zachary Lucio is an IB/Rowe senior of the Class of 2016 and will continue his education at The University of Texas at Austin where he will attain a dual degree in Government and Chemistry; Vanessa Cruz is an IB/Rowe senior of the Class of 2016 and will continue her education at The University of Texas at Austin with a major in Nutrition and Yuria Paez is an IB/Memorial senior of the Class of 2016 and will continue her education at The University of Texas at Austin with a major in Child Development. Photos by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

Barely eighteen and they want to change the world around them to benefit others

Texas Border Business – 

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The International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Lamar Academy in McAllen, Texas, is an award-winning and nationally recognized program. U.S. News and World Report ranked Lamar Academy 4th in Texas and 9th in the nation for Best High School in 2015.

Daniella Diaz, a Class of 2010 academy alum and producer at CNN, was recently named among the most influential young Latinas in American politics according to The Huffington Post.

Ask Valley residents about Lamar Academy, however, and you may not find many who know about the program. McAllen ISD recently made headlines after it announced the district would discontinue the IB program at 27 of its campuses across the district. The Lamar Academy, at present, appears to have been spared.

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For Valeria Juarez, a senior at Lamar Academy, the district’s decision remains problematic.  In the last week she and others have formed a student alliance dedicated to preserving the program and improving its image.

“Many people aren’t (even) aware of the program,” says Zachary Lucio, a senior. Zac and his classmates are hoping to change that.

The newly formed student alliance hopes to accomplish three ambitious goals in the weeks and months ahead: raise positive awareness about the IB program within and outside the district, engage administration in a dialogue about the program’s future and funding, and address any misconceptions about the program that might exist.

There are currently 10 students in the newly formed organization. Valeria Juarez, a founding member and coordinator for the program, expects to see that number grow over the next several weeks as word spreads and plans are made.

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Funding is a priority. “We get funding for curriculum,” they say, but the facilities need work.  Their requests are far from fanciful. The gym was recently repaired, says student Emily Crews and her classmates, after a complaint was lodged regarding warped flooring. Now the students would like to see the leaks in the ceiling addressed. More science and lab space is needed, they also say.

The students were quick to express an appreciation for the funding challenges their district faces each year.  “We don’t blame anyone,” they were quick to express. “We are very appreciative.”. But funding allocated for IB appears insufficient. Each student at Lamar is assigned a “home school”, says Giovanna, and she believes those campuses, and not Lamar Academy, are receiving the funding assigned to headcount. If true, the student group would like to see more monies diverted to Lamar Academy through better allocation. Their alliance hopes to address this with the help of administration and the community.

“We don’t have choir, band, or orchestra,” say seniors Giovanna de la Tejera and Yuria Paez. Academy students wishing to participate in select extracurricular activities must travel to one of the other high schools, taking up time they would rather apply toward academics. Mock Trial is also unavailable, they say.

Securing a bright and future for Lamar Academy’s IB program is their aim. Valeria and her classmates are currently formulating plans and actively seeking the support of their classmates, teachers, and community. Their passion and determination are rooted deeply in their experience and education at Lamar Academy, and they are grateful to the IB program and appreciative of their teachers at Lamar for having prepared them for the transformative journey ahead. TBB

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