Just 1 Question: Urbana High School opportunities

Just 1 Question: Urbana High School opportunities

Winning a national award is a big deal for most that walk the halls at Urbana High School each day.

But it wasn't a big surprise, either.

After the Colorado-based National Education Policy Center announced their school won one of its inaugural School of Opportunity awards, Urbana teachers and students expressed excitement over finally being recognized as one of the nation's best. Other schools that earned the same designation include the Boston Arts Academy, Oakland (Calif.) International High and Washington Technology Magnet School of St. Paul, Minn.

This week, staff writer Nicole Lafond asked students and staff: What makes Urbana High a school of opportunity for you?


"I am in the multicultural (English as a second language) classes, and they have opportunities for all of us after school. We have tutoring after school for any class we need help in. We have sports and clubs. There's free food for us if we need it.

"We don't speak that much English, but there's a class where we can grow more and practice our English and spend more time with Latino and other students. It's helpful because the classes are not just in English, there's two teachers who speak English and Spanish and if you need help with something, they can help you."


"Teachers are always here to ask questions and help you find which path should interest you and help narrow things down so you can figure out what you want to do in life. There's lots of things to do, too. I'm in marching band, GSA and the drama club."


"I'm a cheerleader, so that's one thing. We have a lot of opportunities, a lot more than most places do. We're such a big school. The teachers try their hardest to make sure you get a good grade, and if you need extra help, there's always study tables on certain days of the week.

"It's not just for athletes. We get tutors on Wednesdays; it's our choice to get help."

special-ed teacher

"We're very diverse. We have a great after-school program where students can come and get extra help or even take a cooking class. It's really cool. There's opportunities for everybody, for sure.

"I couldn't imagine working somewhere else. If I was in a smaller district, I wouldn't get to work with the diverse population I get to work with here."


"There's Care4You, where they help us to find a job. In the summer, we can work so we're not just sitting at home doing nothing. We have like ESL social studies, ESL geometry, algebra. They have an ESL teacher in lots of classes, and they help us.

"Sometimes, the counselor helps us to get our work done. I speak French, and they give us the opportunity to study and be in the French class and help them out, which I can do and then not lose my French, too."

community involvement coordinator

"The attitude that's cultivated here by our administrators, that our teachers buy into, is our job is really about trying to find ways for every kid to be successful. That's really what we're all about, and it's not just lip service, it really motivates people in their daily work here.

"I'm so pleased we have so many community members who come in (for the mentoring program) and become part of our effort, and university students. It does take a village, and we're trying to do that."

Spanish teacher

"Not every student has the same opportunities outside of school, so as a teacher, I try to give them what they need while they're in the classroom, whether it's a homework assignment, a project, a speaking activity, anything. It's an honor to be recognized. All of us as a community are working together to make sure the students do succeed."

Have a question you'd like education reporter NICOLE LAFOND to ask of students, teachers or administrators? Our inbox is open for submissions — send an email to nlafond@news-gazette.com.

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