Exciting School Year Ahead for BISD Students

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Remember in childhood when adults asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up? It was usually toward the end of high school when we started thinking about career plans and which college would be best for that education.

And career planning would be something that you “had” to do vs. thinking about what you would do, if you could do anything you dreamed of becoming. Things have changed, for the better, these days. Today everything is new and improved as BISD follows its motto: “Children first. Always.”

Today’s BISD students have so many choices they can make very early in their studies. Children in elementary school can apply for Ross Elementary’s “Explore Academy,” where they create their own inventions while studying electronics. This program started in 2017 and is centered on a “Maker’s Space” classroom, perfect for future inventors.

Gifted students from 5th–8th grade can apply for the Inquire Academy at Long Intermediate and Davila Middle Schools. The Pre-AP curriculum challenges students, who also study foreign language, performing and visual arts electives and a chance to earn high school credits early. Bryan ISD organizers say that Inquire Academy is a “school within a school” and considering that intermediate and middle school students have a chance at completing high school credit early gives them a genuine advantage to use their high school years toward AP courses and/or attaining actual college credit.

Odyssey Academy is offered at Rayburn Intermediate and SFA Middle Schools, definitely a curriculum based on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) courses, perfect for students who plan on technical careers. Group projects often involve robotics, space studies, and a solid grasp of the principles of physics. Recent projects completed there are “planning a mission to Mars & creating and testing underwater robots.

New at Rudder High School this fall is the BISD Capstone program. Two new AP courses: Seminar and Research allow students to pick an interdisciplinary topic of their choice to study for an entire year and then write convincingly about results.

BISD’s International Baccalaureate program is a two-year Bryan High course involving science and liberal arts that leads to admission into preferred colleges. Only 5% of high schools nationwide offer the Capstone program and only 2.5% offer an IB program nationally. I’m so proud of all the educational program options within BISD.

We have four campuses in Bryan where Dual Language opportunities thrive: Crockett Elementary, Henderson Elementary, Johnson Elementary, and Long Intermediate School. New this fall at Crockett is “the K-6th program that expands horizons through bilingualism, biliteracy and biculturalism.”

Also, at Henderson and Johnson Elementary Schools as well as Jane Long Intermediate School, it’s exciting because you can either “continue to learn a second language in middle school and high school” or acquire proficiency in an additional language. Planning early for a potentially international career is great because BISD of course has the International Baccalaureate program, which paves the way for those who want to be involved in international finance, business, and even technology sales, as well as doctors, attorneys and other professionals with dual work areas.

At Jane Long Intermediate and Sam Rayburn Intermediate, as well as the original first campus, Davila Middle School, BISD proudly offers Marital Arts training in affiliation with Chuck Norris’ KickStart Kids program, a nationally recognized, award-winning program. In it, master martial artists train Bryan schoolchildren in the physical martial arts, in addition to helping them learn “to value discipline, honesty, dedication and respect.”

There’s a clear correlation between students in our BISD KickStart Kids program and focus on classroom work, afterschool studies, and approaches to school in general. The added bonus is that Chuck Norris and his wife, Gena, visit Bryan campuses for belt ceremonies and skills testing to encourage and personally inspire the students. The Brazos Valley is fortunate that Mr. Norris is an area resident whose work in this program takes him all across the state the country.

The areas of performing and fine arts have continued to expand each year in BISD. From individual music instrument mastery, to group performances, students have multiple orchestral and band opportunities at each campus, plus regular theatrical, musical, and dramatic events occur each semester and are always well attended. Many of our own local students have gone on to professional careers in the performing arts—mentored, guided, and inspired by their BISD teachers.

The Hammond-Oliver Health Sciences Academy in Bryan is a noted Career & Technical Education (CTE) Program. Many students already know they’d like to be career health professionals, scientists, researchers, and more, so the programs here prepare students to enter the workforce upon high school graduation. There is nothing more valuable than getting hands-on experience along with the classroom learning to help a student know they’re really heading in the right direction for them. All the words in books really “come alive” when they can put them into actual practice right away.

Many take their first employment jobs after high school and use that to help finance their postsecondary education in the health professions. BISD is also a natural partner of Blinn College, especially in their allied health areas. News of other future programs on the Rellis campus of Texas A&M are also possible areas to continue further study.

Just want to take a moment to recognize the BISD Board of Trustees, because they have the responsibility, together with the BISD Superintendent, Dr. Christie Whitbeck, of overseeing these programs and studying the impact on the future careers and studies of Bryan graduates.

These include:  President, Mark McCall (At-Large, Place 7), Vice-President Dr. Julie Harlin (SMD 2), Secretary, Felicia Boxley (SMD1), At-Large Member David Stasney (Place 6), Member, Dr. Douglas Wunneburger (SMD5), Member, Ruthie Waller (SMD4), and Member, W.T. (Trey) Moore, III (SMD3). Among this group are Bryan High graduates, retired Bryan ISD administrators and teachers, interested parents, career educators, and lifelong learners. We owe them a debt of gratitude for what they bring to these elected positions for our community’s betterment.

You can study the success of any strong community and use as a valuable measurement tool the schools and their program offerings, plus the understanding of the education received while here, as well as the way the school prepared them for their future careers and educational goals beyond high school. Next, we’ll take a look at College Station schools, of which we are also proud.

Cody D. Jones ‘02
Owner and Community Member

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