first_img“We pick them up and make sure they do what they need to do to make things work for them.” Students had to apply to participate in the Puente Project, which attracted students with grade-point averages ranging from 2.0 to 4.0, Martinez said. She met with all the students and their parents to get a commitment from them for the so-called “A-G requirements” – the classes a high-schooler must complete in order to be considered for admission to University of California and California State University campuses. “Even though they hear `A-G,’ we’re making them understand what that means – and that means not only taking the algebra/geometry/algebra II series of classes, but also getting a B or better in them,” Martinez said. “We’re taking them beyond the average.” Pioneer is the third school in the Whittier Union High School District to participate in the Puente Project, which is co-sponsored by the UC Office of the President and California Community Colleges. Whittier and other California high schools also participate in the program. “Puente gave me a light, like now maybe I have a better chance to go to college,” said Pioneer High freshman Matthew Villasenor. “I would be the first in my family to go.” By the time this school year is done, Puente students will have visited Cal State Long Beach, Whittier College, Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine. “We want them to make that connection when they’re freshmen and sophomores, that it’s possible, but you’ve got to put work into it,” Martinez said. “We want them to be able to compete,” she added. “And we know how rigorous the competition is now for four-year colleges.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WEST WHITTIER – Most kids in high school, if they’re asked, will say they want to go to college once they’ve cleared graduation, says Pioneer High School counselor Yolanda Martinez. They talk the good talk, Martinez says, but when it comes down to working hard in class in preparation for higher education – that is where their desire starts to wither. That is also where Pioneer High’s new Puente Project steps in. The Puente Project is a statewide college-bound program that aims to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students who enroll in four-year colleges, earn degrees and then return to their communities as mentors. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonNamed after the Spanish word for bridge, the Puente Project serves thousands of California students in 56 community colleges and 36 high schools, officials said. At Pioneer High – where most of the 1,500-student population is Latino – officials got the go-ahead to start the program last fall with a group of 39 freshmen who will get extra counseling services and be monitored to make sure they stay on track through their senior year. They’ll have the same English teacher, Sully Garcia, this year and next year, with a curriculum that includes Chicano literature and prepares them to take honors or advanced placement classes in their final two years. They’ll also get progress reports every three to four weeks – instead of five weeks – as well as field trips to several colleges and a conference in the spring at UC Riverside to teach them leadership skills. “We take them where they not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk,” Martinez said. “It’s easy for them to say they want to go to colleges, but we hold them accountable. last_img

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