NEW YORK, NY -- Pasadena's Marshall Fundamental Secondary School today received the College Board 2003 Inspiration Award in honor of the school's exemplary work in helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve the promise of higher education. Marshall has demonstrated steady improvement in ensuring that high school is a true springboard to college, despite the social, cultural, and economic barriers that may stand in the way of its students.
College Board President Gaston Caperton presented the 2003 Inspiration Award and a $25,000 check in Pasadena to the students and faculty at Marshall. The other two recipients of the award are Dallas's W.T. White High School and Atlanta's Tri-Cities High School.
"As we move toward our goal of leaving no child behind, it's essential we look to schools that are beating the odds," said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. "The winners of this year's College Board Inspiration Awards truly inspire all of us to look for creative ways to ensure all students have access to a quality education. These winners share a goal of making high school a stepping stone to higher education and greater opportunities in life."
The seven Inspiration Award judges found common themes among the winning schools, including Marshall. All three schools share the desire to reject low expectations and use community resources to achieve academic success. They have principals who earn an A+ for leadership, teachers who educate and motivate, parents who go the extra mile, and community members who truly believe in each school and its respective mission.
Marshall Fundamental Secondary School, Pasadena, California
Marshall encompasses grades 6 through 12, enabling teachers to start early in providing students with the skills they need to take the rigorous courses required for college. Marshall Fundamental graduate Kristine Apikian is an example. Originally from Armenia, Kristine started Marshall as a seventh-grader. Although English is not her first language, Kristine worked hard and eventually was able to take five AP courses. Now a freshman at the University of California: Santa Barbara, she attributes her 4.0 grade point average to the preparation she received at Marshall. The teaching staff firmly believes that any student can achieve. Principal Steven Miller said, "We would rather have a student struggle with a challenging and academically rigorous class and earn an average grade with support, than see a student who is not stretched or challenged earn a high grade." College comes to life when the students visit the nearby California Institute of Technology. The result: a nearly 100 percent graduation rate with almost 70 percent of the students accepted at colleges.
W.T. White High School, Dallas, Texas
Linh Lam, who recently moved to Dallas from Vietnam, agrees that W.T. White High School is a remarkable place. When she entered the school last year at the age of 19, she barely spoke English, and had already been told by another high school that she would never be able to graduate. Today, she has half of the credits she needs for graduation and has an amazing command of the English language. No-nonsense Principal Joy Barnhart sets the course for excellence at W.T. White by building coalitions with parents, teachers, students, and the community in this ethnically diverse school. A partnership with the O'Donnell Foundation encourages students to pursue rigorous course work, including Advanced Placement classes. In fact, in two weeks, W.T. White will administer 800 AP® Exams-quadruple the number of exams given just three years ago-and nearly all of the seniors have been accepted to either a two- or four-year college.
Tri-Cities High School, East Point, Georgia
Tri-Cities, near Atlanta, maintains that it believed in "No Child Left Behind" before it became a well-known phrase. Forty percent of Tri-Cities' students come from homes at or below the poverty level. With those kinds of economic barriers, it's easy to understand why so many students think college is beyond their reach. But Tri-Cities pushes its students. Through educational enrichment programs, extra curricular activities and parental communications, students at Tri-Cities confidently compete for college admissions. The school also includes the local business community. Tri-Cities engages the resources and expertise of community businesses so students can reap the benefits of partners in education, including Hartsfield International Airport, Ford Motor Company, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Chick-fil-A. Many of these businesses sponsor scholarships for post-secondary schools. Specifically, Pepsi-Cola, Legacy Ford, and Pittsburgh Paint and Glass each sponsor $5,000 scholarships for deserving students.
A prestigious panel of Inspiration Award judges selected this year's winners based on the school's success in increasing the number of students (from all school demographic groups) being prepared for college. College preparedness gains were measured based on a variety of factors, including the percentage of students taking college-preparatory core curriculum courses; the percentage of students planning to attend either a two- or four-year college or university; growth in student participation in rigorous classes such as those of the Advanced Placement Program®; and growth in student involvement in PSAT/NMSQT® and SAT® or ACT program assessments. Beyond meeting basic eligibility requirements, the Inspiration Award-winning schools were selected for their innovative ability to inspire student success.
"We stand in awe of Inspiration Award-winning high schools such as Marshall," said College Board President Gaston Caperton. "It is not just because of the success they have achieved. It is also for the spirit they have instilled in their students. These youngsters will go on through life, continuing to inspire the people they meet with the same kind of zeal and enthusiasm." The following judges selected Marshall as one of this year's Inspiration Award winners.
- Jim Avila, National Correspondent, NBC News
- Brian Cashman, general manager of the New York Yankees
- Chelsea Clinton, graduate student, Oxford University
- Rudolph F. Crew, former Chancellor of the Board of Education of the City of New York and currently director of district reform initiatives, Stupski Family Foundation, San Francisco
- Anna Deavere Smith, actor, playwright, and professor
- Ellen Ochoa, astronaut and scientist
- Chauncey Veatch, 2002 National Teacher of the Year
The following schools are recipients of a College Board Inspiration Award Honorable Mention. Each school will receive a $1,000 award.
- Edinburg North High School, Edinburg, Texas -- Mario Salinas, Principal
- Galena Park High School, Galena Park, Texas -- Marsha Masi, Principal
- George W. Fowler High School, Syracuse, New York -- Greg Walker, Principal
- Roff High School, Roff, Oklahoma -- George Tidwell, Principal
- Santa Maria High School, Santa Maria, California -- Dee Ringstead, Principal
More information about the College Board Inspiration Awards is available at www.collegeboard.com/inspirationawards.
Contact Jennifer Topiel, The College Board, (212) 713-8167.