(El Paso Times (TX) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 12--With many attesting that a bachelor's degree is the new high school diploma, students at Socorro Independent School District are making sure their diplomas carry a little extra weight.
Starting this fall, students at Eastlake and Montwood high schools in East El Paso will be offered two new academic programs that will focus on computer science, technology, engineering and math, district officials said.
"As a whole Socorro ISD is leading the way," Eastlake High School Principal Gilbert Martinez said.
Eastlake's academic program, called School of Advance Technology Applications (SATA), will provide students with "trade-ready and industry-standard knowledge," said Aaron Ruth, an Eastlake junior.
Under SATA students will study subjects such as computer programing, HTML and JAVA to name a few.
To clear the high-tech alphabet soup clutter, the classes offered are meant to equip Eastlake students with the know-how to compete for high-paying, high-demanding jobs. These include careers in the biomedical industry, engineering and computer information.
"When they leave here, they can go into an industry and write programs," Martinez said.
Similarly, students at Montwood High School will be offered SYNERGI4, a program designed to provide "opportunities for inquiry, investigation, innovation and inventions," a district news release stated.
Montwood Principal Rosa Menchaca said that while the emphasis will be on math and science, other areas such as technology, engineering, English and social studies will also be part of the curriculum.
"We are hoping that it provides a sequence of courses for our students," Menchaca said.
She added that SYNERGI4 will be endorsed by House Bill 5 -- which requires students to complete four credit hours in English, three each in math, science and social studies, two in a foreign language, seven elective credits, and one each in fine arts and physical education. Eastlake's academy also falls under the House Bill 5 endorsement.
"We are preparing them with courses that are rigourous courses. One of the things they are going to be able to do is to graduate with the possibility of having up to 30 hours of college credit," Menchaca said.
Montwood Senior Taylor Gamboa, who is helping launch and promote SYNERGI4 to incoming freshmen, said the program was unique because it offered students continuity. Freshmen who get accepted into the Montwood program will remain together throughout their four years in high school.
"One thing that is extremely unique about the synergy program is that you'll stay with the same core group of students. The students that you begin your classes your freshman year, they continue on as you go to different classes," Gamboa said.
"One thing that helps you establish is communication skills. You are able to learn how to work with different people... You form relationships," she added.
To promote their new academic programs both schools will host information nights. Montwood will host its meeting on April 15 at 6 p.m. in the school's theater.
Eastlake will offer its meeting on April 16 at the school's auditorium.
Eighth-grade students who have not already been accepted to other district programs may apply for SATA or SYNERGI4. The deadline for both programs is April 17, school officials said.
Interested freshmen and sophomores that want to join the academies once enrolled at either high school can be accepted by committee, Martinez said.
Luis Carlos Lopez may be reached at 546-6381.
To promote their new academic programs both schools will host information nights.
Montwood: will host its meeting on April 15 at 6 p.m. in the school's theater.
Eastlake: will offer its meeting on April 16 at the school's auditorium.
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