April Showers, West High School
Taxing is a fun word to use during a month of state testing. Our students were as ripe as they could possibly become by this time of the year and now their trial begins. Students spend 4 to 7 hours a day sitting, reading, bubbling, and typing away at a keyboard to demonstrate that they have had academic gains. For the students with YESS this will also test their endurance mentally and emotionally.
Most students during this time of the year are extremely stressed. The anxiety that results from this time of the year tends to lead to fights with peers, angry rants with teachers, and other outbursts that warrant some form of remediation. The emotional requirements needed to navigate the stressors of this time period are even taxing on the teachers and the proctors that have to empathize with this national routine.
But our students are maintaining their composure. Many students that are part of the YESS program and have had chronic issues of disturbing the testing environment have stepped up their game. Some have become better advocates for themselves when they need a few minutes to breathe. Others are getting better at holding their tongue until all of testing is concluded. And many other students are becoming more patient through this process both with the test and the people required to administer it.
One of the biggest successes of the year at West has been with a YESS student. The student was selected to participate in an educational trip, along with other West students, to Washington DC. Even days before the trip we all had our reservations as to permitting this student to attend but we risked it and it seems to be paying off. Although he still has a long way to go to reach the academic success we all hope our kids achieve, he is becoming the leader many of the teachers see in him. He was fortunate enough to be able to go to Washington DC and experience a life outside of Denver. He was courteous & kind to others, proactive in dealing with the needs of the group, and more aware of his behavior as he and the DC group navigated the first big trip of their lives. He returned more poised, more gentle, and much more excited to be in school. Our kids need more opportunities to see and explore the world around them and the world within. We wait all year for those beautiful cherry blossoms to spring out in DC… those beautiful gifts from our Japanese friends… it feels pretty miraculous when our kids also begin to grow… keep watering those seeds and something will eventually take root.
-Abraham Cespedes, West High School Program Manager