The ‘last hoorah’ for Paschal seniors

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An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Paschal graduation was to be held at R.L. Paschal High School.

The pomp and circumstance, cheers from relatives and a sea of purple caps and gowns will set the scene for the Paschal graduating class of more than 500 high school seniors at TCU Daniel Meyer Coliseum at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 2.

“Graduation is a celebration of everything you’ve done in high school,” said senior Carly Eason. “Not just your grades and all the AP classes you took but it’s also all the memories you made with your friends and all the stuff you’ve done with your extra-curricular groups. It’s the last hoorah.”

Saying goodbye to the high school experience may leave some emotional, but not Katelyn Roberson. She said she views graduation as part of growing up and reaching the next milestone in life. She said the event would serve as a last chance to be commended for all the work and achievements students had accomplished.

With more than $15 million of scholarship offers, 38 National Merit Finalists and Minority Scholars and high placement in numerous academic competitions, the Class of 2011 has demonstrated Paschal’s commitment to academics.

Barbara Ozuna, academic coordinator at Paschal, said the culture within the school reflected this commitment. She cited how faculty pushed students in the classroom and emphasized the importance of tests like the PSAT as ways that helped students succeed, especially academically.

Teri Blaisdell, a literature teacher at Paschal and also UTA, said she taught her literature classes at Paschal in the same way she would teach her college courses.

She added she also set similar expectations for her Paschal and college students.

“The higher you raise the bar, the higher they have to reach to get it,” Blaisdell said.

Ozuna said one of the primary goals of a Paschal education is to help students realize their future aspirations are attainable – and those goals include acceptance into the colleges of their choice. The Class of 2011 as a whole had been accepted to numerous colleges in Texas and across the nation.

Senior Bailey Gandy plans to attend the University of Texas in Austin, where she will study psychology. Eason said she would travel to the University of Mississippi, where she planned to study public policy and international studies. Other college acceptances include Harvard University, the University of California, Berkeley and Vanderbilt University.

While not all students will attend college, Ozuna said, she hoped students’ time at Paschal would leave them feeling prepared for whatever their future endeavors might be.

“A place like Paschal shows you that with community support, alumni support and teacher dedication you can create a good public high school even when 41 percent of your kids are offered reduced lunch,” Ozuna said.

2010-2011 Achievements

Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews’ High School Challenge index ranked Paschal No. 39 out of 149 high schools in Texas, making it the highest-ranked Tarrant County high school. The index is calculated by taking the number of Advanced Placement or other college level tests ordered by a high school in 2010 divided by the number of graduating seniors, according to The Washington Post website.

Apart from the school recognition, individuals and groups representing Paschal have participated in competitions that have brought state, regional and national recognition for the school Ozuna said.

Martina Brozynski and Sai Gourisankar were named semifinalists in the 2010 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. The science team had a successful year, including being named UIL State Science Champions and winning the Regional Science Bowl. Five science team members also traveled to Washington, D.C., to compete in the National Science Bowl.

Paschal had also seen success in athletics this school year, Ozuna said. Five senior athletes signed on NCAA Signing Day to participate in collegiate athletics, including three baseball players and two football players. The girls’ soccer team was named 2011 Bi-District Champions in District 4-5A and the swimming team broke as many as seven school records.

Ozuna said she believes these accomplishments in academics and athletics prove the school fosters success in a wide variety of areas.

“This is a great place to get an all-around education — whether that’s a sports education, scientific education or humanities education, you can do it all,” Ozuna said.
 

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