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Summer Programs Kickoff at TSTC

Saturday, May 31, 2014
By Eladio Jaimez

TexPREPThe end of the academic school year signals the start of summer vacation. But for more than 200 students in the Valley, summer doesn’t mean that learning takes a break.

The Center for Science and Math Education at Texas State Technical College will host a couple of summer camps starting next week that accommodate middle and high school students mostly from Cameron and Willacy Counties.

The MAARS (Migrant Academic Achievement Residential Summer) Program will be hosting 85 students on the TSTC campus from June 8 through July 23.

The MAARS Program works with high school seniors and juniors and prepares them for college life. Students enroll in the six-week summer program where they come on campus and stay in the dorms. The hope is that early exposure to college life will motivate the students to stay in high school and move on to college.

“They receive two high school credits for attending and they also get a living allowance,” director Adan Trevino said. “They do 20 hours of community service while they’re here too and the goal is to turn them on to college at a young age.”

This is the largest group that TSTC has hosted since the start of MAARS three years ago. School districts taking part in the MAARS Program include Harlingen, San Benito, Mercedes, Los Fresnos, Raymondville, Mission and the Ignite Public Schools System which has students from Brownsville to Weslaco.

Another large group coming to TSTC this summer will be the TexPREP (Texas PreFreshman Engineering Program) cohort.

TexPREP, which gets under way on June 9 and runs through July 24, is open to students in grades sixth through 10th from school districts across the Valley. TexPREP is a four-year program and students are invited back every year depending on their academic standing at their schools.

Students take math and science classes with an emphasis on engineering. All students are bused from their school districts and attend classes from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. over the seven-week period Monday through Thursday. For every year completed, the student gets one high school elective credit.

Trevino said there are 140 students signed up for TexPREP this year. Students are chosen by their school counselors and principals in part because of their grades. Prospective students must also write an essay addressing which STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) field they’d like to pursue. The essays are reviewed by the staff at TSTC’s Center for Science and Math Education, Trevino said.

“This prepares the students for the upcoming years in regards to math and science,” Trevino said.

Every week, students are treated to educational field trips on Fridays. In the past, students have visited the UTPA Coastal Lab on South Padre Island, United Launch Alliance, Valley International Airport, Gladys Porter Zoo, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Engineering Department at TSTC.

“We like to expose them to the services provided and the fields of study offered at TSTC,” Trevino said.

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