American Graduate | KERA News

American Graduate

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Unlike a lot of kids his age, Chance Hawkins needs help with the most basic of needs – getting out of bed, getting dressed and brushing his teeth. That’s common for those diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The disease is almost always fatal before the age of 30. Chance is a member of KERA’s Class of ’17. KERA checked in with him to see how he’s working on gaining some independence.

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As part of its American Graduate initiative, KERA is looking for a North Texas high school media class to become a partner on a project called the Class of ’17 Yearbook. The idea is for the students in the class to team with teachers and KERA journalists to write posts on the KERA education blog, record and edit audio and video, and create social media streams with student-generated content.

Shelley Kofler / KERA News

A new Texas law requires public school students to decide a career track in eighth grade. It’s a sea change with challenges for schools -- and some anxiety for kids.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Kelli Bowdy, one of the students we’re following in our Class of '17 series, is almost through her freshman year at Fort Worth’s O.D. Wyatt High School. She’s even thinking about graduating early. Nationwide, only 3 percent of high school kids manage that.  

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

One in 10 adolescents suffers from depression by age 18. It’s something that one of the members of KERA's Class of '17 is wrestling with. The series is part of a nationwide public broadcasting initiative called American Graduate. This week, we check back in with Cedar Hill ninth grader Phantasia Chavers.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

For decades, it’s been a rite of passage for American teens. Now it’s Ricky Rijos’ turn. The Flower Mound freshman is learning to drive.

Ricky is a member of KERA's Class of '17, a group of North Texas kids we’re following from eighth grade through graduation.

Shelley Kofler / KERA News

State lawmakers reviewing new graduation requirements that go into effect in the fall say they’re confusing and districts may not be prepared to implement them.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Ninth-grader Joel Luera is a smart kid in a tough neighborhood. Sometimes other kids don’t get why he’s so studious. He loves to read – so much that he’s in a book club at W.W. Samuell High School in Dallas. Joel is the latest kid to join KERA’s series Class of ’17 – a five-year project following a group of North Texas students from eighth grade to graduation. It’s part of the national public media initiative American Graduate.

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A new report raises questions about whether tests like the SAT and ACT are a good indicator of how well students will do in college. The study, which was published by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, looked at student data from 33 colleges and universities around the country that have optional admissions policies.

You can see an interview with the study’s author below and read more about it here.

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For a teacher, education is so much more than just taking attendance, assigning homework and administering tests; it’s figuring out creative ways to challenge and inspire kids.

Tonight at 7, KERA-13 will broadcast Teaching the Future: A KERA American Graduate Special. During the program, meet a group of cutting-edge North Texas teachers, see them in action as they bring their innovative approaches to the classroom and hear their thoughts on the future of education in a roundtable discussion led by KERA’s Krys Boyd.

Teachers have a huge responsibility as they prepare students for the future. Tonight, you’ll hear how they do that in Teaching the Future, the second installment of a two-episode television series focused on education in North Texas.

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Middle school can be a tough transitional period. Students leave the comfortable nest of elementary school and face new challenges like harder classes and older kids.

Middle school students and the obstacles they face were the focus on Monday’s noon hour of “Think.” The show reairs tonight at 9 on KERA 90.1 FM or listen online.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Middle school can be a tough transitional period. Students leave the comfortable nest of elementary school and face new challenges like harder classes and older kids.

 

KERA News

Earlier this year, we introduced you to a diverse group of students making the transition from middle school to ninth grade. The series, called Class of 17, is part of a nationwide public broadcasting initiative called American Graduate.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

All year long, KERA has followed the Class of ’17 from eighth grade to high school as part of the American Graduate initiative. Today, we catch up with Alex Gutierrez whose struggles in math sent her to summer school. Alex is now in a brand new charter school with a multicultural twist.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

When you think of book clubs, you don’t necessarily think of boys. And when you look at the most recent Nation’s Report Card, the scores reveal that boys don’t fare as well as girls on reading tests. Here’s one book club that’s bucking that trend.

A new documentary airing next week on KERA-TV takes an in-depth look at the challenges facing Latino students, their families and educators. Bernardo Ruiz, executive producer of The Graduates/Los Graduados will be speaking with “Think” host Krys Boyd during the 1 p.m. hour of the show today. You can tune in on 90.1 FM or listen online.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

In KERA’s Class of ’17 series we’ve been featuring students as they begin their journey through high school. For Chance Hawkins, that trip has been bumpy. Chance, who has a form of muscular dystrophy, started the year at Cassata, a small, private Catholic high school in Fort Worth. But he didn’t stay long. He has since transferred to a big public school, Dunbar High. His story shows the challenges schools face in adapting to a student’s special needs.

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The national American Graduate public media initiative gets its own day Saturday — you can watch a live broadcast here or on your TV’s KERA World 13.2 channel from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time. The seven-hour broadcast will feature notables ranging from Colin Powell to Brian Williams to Christine Ha, a star chef from Houston who’s also blind.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Jarrell Brown made an impression last month as one of the stars of Student Speak Out: A KERA American Graduate Special. During the hourlong TV show, he and five of his peers asked each other questions and talked about what it takes to graduate from high school.

Willow Blythe / KERA News

Phantasia Chavers has faced a lot of heartachce for a 14-year-old: a stepdad who died in a car crash, a dad in prison, a cousin shot to death. But this 9th grader has her sights set firmly on college, and she's just started out as a football trainer.

Phantasia Chavers
Willow Blythe / KERA News

Meet Phantasia Chavers. She may only be 14, but she’s already experienced a lot of heartache. When she was 7, the man who raised her was killed in a car crash. Last year, a cousin her age was shot in the head and killed.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

One of KERA’s Class of ’17 high school freshmen, Jerry Harris, injured his foot on vacation and and is wearing a “boot” these days until it heals. He’s certainly not doing what he loves: shooting hoops.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

When we last talked to Ricky Rijos Jr. for KERA’s Class of ’17 project, the freshman at Flower Mound High confidently figured he would make one of two freshman basketball teams, and he has. It’s just not clear which one yet. He’s relatively short for now, but ninth graders have been known to grow. He belongs to a traveling team and works hard on his shooting, which he concluded would be at least one plus for the team.

What does it take to finish high school? In this hour-long special, you’ll meet six North Texas students tackling this topic. Four of the students will describe the odds they’ve had to overcome to graduate while two are still trying to finish.

If you missed it on KERA TV Wednesday night, you can watch the entire show online. We’d also like to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter using #studentsspeakout.

Mayra Millan is the daughter of a single mother. And they’re tight.

So when Mom was diagnosed with congestive heart failure a couple of years back, “I was devastated,” Mayra tells KERA’s Krys Boyd. “The good thing is, I didn’t have to learn the hard way. She’s doing fine now.”

Ashley Tilley wasn’t completely alone. She had her older sister along at least some of the time while she was bouncing around the foster care system. Her mother was coping with a mental illness, so Ashley had to come to terms with a new normal.

She tells KERA’s Krys Boyd that she and her sister are “just now talking about it ’cause it’s a shock…. You think it’s normal until you see other people and then it’s not.”

Scottie Gipson wants to own his own business. And after dropping out for three years, he now knows he’ll need to finish high school and go to college to accomplish that goal.

Scottie didn’t have a very stable life as a kid. His father’s been in and out of prison; he says his mother didn’t really seem to care whether he went to school or not. Scottie dropped out at 15 and began using and selling drugs to make ends meet.

When Prabhesh Patel was 5 years old, his father was killed in a car accident that also severely injured his mother. “She went into a coma for about three months,” he tells KERA’s Krys Boyd. “She couldn’t remember my parents or my dad, or really that I was even her son, which was a little scary.”

As his mom recovered, Prabhesh poured his energy into school and work. He graduated from Fort Worth’s South Hills High School last spring, and he’s now on a full scholarship at Texas Christian University.

Jarrell Brown is an achiever, and even after meeting him you might not know just how difficult it was for him to get good grades, play sports and win college scholarships.

Brought up in a tough neighborhood, Jarrell worked hard in school, was elected  president of his senior class at Dallas’ South Oak Cliff High School and earned a full ride to Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he’s just started his freshman year.

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