News Room

Bowie High School restructuring
September 24, 2008

Equipo Bowie -- which includes members such as state state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, and the Bowie Alumni Association -- will review data in the Bowie High School feeder pattern beginning with children in Head Start programs and continuing through college-age students.

Written by Zahira Torres , The El Paso Times

Bowie

Leslie Vicari, who teaches English as a second language at Bowie High School, went over test results with students Tuesday. A team of students and community leaders was formed to tackle school problems. (Rudy Gutierrez / El Paso Times)

El PASO -- Bowie High School seniors Vivien Garcia and Luis Vaquera want to create a better community image of their campus and forge a more promising path to college for their younger siblings.

With the establishment Tuesday night of Equipo Bowie -- a team of community members, students and educational leaders that will seek ways to cultivate systemic change in the Bowie High School feeder pattern -- the two students felt both goals that were becoming more attainable.

"It really sounds like a good plan, especially since we are all the way over here in the South Side and usually people forget about us and stereotype us," Garcia said.

"This helps the students feel like people are really paying attention to them and, since most of our parents didn't go to college, it will really help us be more aware of (academic) opportunities."

Equipo Bowie -- which includes members such as state state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, and the Bowie Alumni Association -- will review data in the Bowie High School feeder pattern beginning with children in Head Start programs and continuing through college-age students.

Bowie High School and Austin High School are in the restructuring stage of Adequate Yearly Progress, a measurement, defined by the No Child Left Behind Act, which helps the federal government determine the academic performance of public schools.

If scores worsen, sanctions can lead to the eventual closing of the schools.

"If you can bring pro gress and make improvements in a community or in a situation such as Bowie's, with our community being one of the poorest ZIP codes in the state, if not the country, you can do this at Austin High School or any other campus and get some results," Principal Jesus Chavez said.

"Bowie seems to be the platform for this to take place."

Representatives from Equipo Bowie will identify weaknesses and strengths, prioritize challenges, attempt to establish resources and measure progress over next five years, officials said.

Data from more than 4,000 students at six campuses -- Bowie High, Guillen Middle, and Aoy, Beall, Douglass and Hart elementary schools -- will be studied.

"This process will be the most innovative in the state in taking a look at student progress and moving it forward in a combined team effort," Shapleigh said.

Once strategies are identified, the team will coordinate with El Paso Community College and the University of Texas at El Paso to make college more accessible and to better prepare every student in the feeder pattern, Shapleigh said.

El Paso Independent School District Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia said the team would expand on progress already being made through district initiatives. Bowie will then serve as a model for other campuses.

"At the end of the day, it's about programs and when you take a look at programs, they are districtwide," Garcia said.

"I have to ensure that all programs are implemented districtwide so that every student has the best possible education."

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