Top scholars were ‘newcomers’ 4 years ago

Jesus Hernandez and Luis Trejo. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAN MARCOS CISD

Two students in the Newcomer program at SMHS graduate in top 10 percent

Both Jesus Hernandez and Luis Trejo moved to the United States during their 9th grade school year and entered San Marcos High School through the Newcomer program. Now less than four years later, to say they have adjusted would be an understatement, for both young men have earned places in the top 10 percent of the 2017 graduating class of San Marcos High School.

They credit the teaching systems in place at the high school and their dedicated teachers for their success. As non-English speakers, Hernandez and Trejo began in the Newcomer program. Passing the required End of Course exams and STAAR tests can be challenging for many students, but add to the mix that one must learn a new language concurrently with regular school work. For many English language learners, passing the required English exams is daunting.

The Newcomer program is designed to address those specific needs, as it’s a support system to help keep students from falling behind in their school work because of a language barrier. Kari Nelson is one of the Newcomer English teachers who worked with Hernandez and Trejo until the young men were able to be integrated into regular English classes. She says that students are taught language skills that help them thrive in their studies and become more secure about transitioning to other classes.

Now Nelson proudly adds that her two former students “are an asset to their families and our school and our community.”

In due time, Hernandez and Trejo became a part of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program at San Marcos High School. There was some initial reluctance on their parts, for they had graduated from the Newcomer academy two years earlier, and AVID meant new challenges and commitment.

AVID is a college-readiness program that accelerates student learning and provides motivation for achievement. An academic elective, the program holds students accountable to high standards and provides academic and social support—primarily to the least served students in the academic middle, and thereby helps close achievement gaps.

• Submitted by San Marcos CISD

San Marcos Daily Record

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