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Area High School Seniors, Juniors Complete MAARS Summer Program

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

MAARSFor a couple of years now, Adan Trevino hasn’t had much of a summer.

The MAARS (Migrant Academic Achievement Residential Summer) Program Director at Texas State Technical College has been busy on campus directing a six-week summer program offered to area high school juniors and seniors.

This year’s MAARS Program ended this weekend and Trevino said the work and effort put forth by everyone involved made for a great summer for the students.

Last year, MAARS accommodated 66 students. This year, Trevino and his staff only hosted 55 students from across the Valley and Laredo. But the completion rate of the program this year was 100 percent as opposed to 99 percent last year, Trevino said.

During the six-week period, the students will take high school credit courses for classes they might have missed during the school year due to their migrant worker status. Last year, 15 seniors went on to graduate high school and earned scholarships to attend college, Trevino said.

“Students build confidence and motivation after experiencing a positive college atmosphere,” Trevino said. “Students are now in their appropriate grade level due to earning credits while attending the program.”

When the students enroll in the MAARS program, 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.

The students check into the dorms at the start of the six-week period and remain on campus for the duration of the program. Students are allowed to go home on weekends. Usually they are allowed to leave by 5 p.m. Friday s and expected to return by 6:30 p.m. on Sundays.

The students that don’t go home on weekends are usually treated to an array of field trips that encourage community service and involvement.

This summer, students helped out at the Ronald McDonald House, Loaves and Fishes and the Harlingen Human Society. Students were also treated to trips to the movies, bowling and a dolphin watch on South Padre Island.

“You learn to be more responsible,” said Eddie Garza, a senior from PSJA Southwest. Garza plays football, basketball, baseball, does power lifting and runs track for the Javelinas in Pharr. He said the discipline learned by being involved with MAARS will help him in the classroom and the athletic field.

“I’m more committed to my studies,” Garza said.

Raymondville High School senior Santiago Huerta echoed Garza’s sentiments about living in the dorms and learning responsibility. But Huerta said he also got the push he needed in the classroom.

“I was able to take some technical courses that I needed to graduate,” Huerta said. “Last year I needed help getting ready for the math portion of TAKS. I passed it on my first try.”

Huerta plans to attend TSTC then transfer to Texas A&M University and major in animal science.

Leo Rio, a junior at Mission High School, said TSTC has been like a second home to him this summer.

“I’ve learned a lot of responsibility,” Rios said. “There are certain subjects I have trouble with in school like social studies and being here really helped me out in those areas.”

For more information on the MAARS program, go to http://www.tstc.edu/harlingenmaars.

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