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4/28/2014 6:00:00 AM
Kingman Unified School District eyes program's ACT test success
Border town students thrive in CTY initiative
The skinny on the GESD
Most students in Gadsden Elementary School District 32 have relatives across the border they visit on weekends and are of Mexican descent. The major industry is farming, and large migrant and farm worker families live there. In 2010, only 50 percent of the students spoke proficient English. About 500 new students a year with limited English skills move into San Luis. The district consists of about 5,100 students, and 97 percent qualify for free and reduced lunches. The average household income is $22,788 annually, which is $6,910 less than the typical average.

Kim Steele
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Local educators hoping to provide more opportunities for their students learned about a program Friday that is boosting test scores and connecting low-income, Spanish-speaking Arizona border town students with the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Three educators from Gadsden Elementary School District 32 in San Luis, which is located near Yuma, presented information on their initiative for talented students to Kingman Unified School District staff. The local district is looking for ways to increase educational training for students and steer them into programs that will provide future career options.

"We wanted kids to have better opportunities to find good jobs," said Homero Chavez, a GESD teacher. "We didn't have any money, but our students had potential and were hungry. We found out about the John Hopkins program and wanted our kids to go, so we made it happen. Last year, we got $650,000 in scholarships for them. When you have a community with no money and now can send more than 150 kids, it makes a big difference."

The GESD students have been participating in a district program that helps seventh- and eighth-graders improve their scores on the American College Test (ACT), required for entrance to college. Students also take math classes to increase their knowledge. The program, which began with Saturday tutoring sessions and evolved to an in-school curriculum, also helps them qualify for the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth.

CTY is a three-week summer program for students with qualifying ACT scores that offers courses such as anatomy and physiology, zoology, principles of engineering design, foundations of programming, geometry through art, bioethics and the mathematics of money. The sessions take place in a variety of locations throughout the U.S.

Since the district program began in about 2006, said Chavez, the students' ACT scores have increased dramatically. In fact, Johns Hopkins officials traveled to San Luis in 2011 to recognize the GESD as the top district in the country with the highest percentage of students qualifying for and participating in the university's CTY program.

"This program takes a lot of effort from everyone, but the parents definitely want their children to participate in it," said Jesus Arrizon, another GESD educator.

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