My wife and I went to Odessa Friday night to watch Tascosa, whom our son plays for, go against Odessa Permian. We spent the night and then hit the Tech-Kansas football game in Lubbock Saturday afternoon.
While eating at the Golden Corral in Lubbock before the game, we saw an Amarillo ISD bus there. What athletic team could it be? No athletic team, but a horde of sixth-graders from Sam Houston Middle School. Then later at the game, they and sponsors all marched in to Section 116 to watch the Red Raiders and Jayhawks.
It was a memorable weekend for 47 students. They were part of a college readiness program at Sam Houston, which is applying to be part of the "No Excuses University" national program. SH sixth-graders are broken into three teams of teachers, and one teaching team wanted to let their top students get a taste of university life as well as take an out-of-town trip.
Those who went were based on academics and citizenship. Most paid their way, but a few were on scholarship of need. It was quite a weekend. They left at 7 a.m. Friday and met with Tech financial aid and admisison officials. They ate lunch at the Rec Center, and got a guided tour of campus and then ate at CiCi's Pizza.
Because hotel rooms were hard to come by in Lubbock, they drove up to Plainview and spent the night. They returned to Lubbock to attend a science spectrum on Saturday morning, followed by lunch at the Golden Corral and then to the football game.
We sometimes take things like this for granted, but these students did not.
"I would say out of those 47, 20 to 25 had never been away from home," said Bea Gonzalez, Sam Houston assistant principal. "Fifteen of them had never eaten in a Golden Corral. A lot had never slept in a hotel. I was making wake-up calls at 6:30 (a.m.) and so many of them were so excited they were already up. And most of them were boys, and every one of them had made their bed. How about that?"
The most important thing is it exposed students to a college campus, and let them experience first-hand what their post-high school goals hopefully are. It's important for a goal to be tangible.
"They see Amarillo College and West Texas A&M, and that's great. We love to take them there," Gonzalez said. "Those are great places. But there are some that want to go beyond Amarillo and Canyon, and for them, this was to say this is what another campus looks like."
Good for them, and good for Sam Houston to take an incentive step like this.