• The new Vashon

    Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 10:51 pm

    By Kelvin R. Adams | 0 comments
    Dr Adams

    Close your eyes and think about Vashon High School. What images come to your mind?

    If you have watched television news or listened to radio reports or read newspaper stories for the past 10 years or so, your images of Vashon may not be very positive. Are you ready to have your eyes opened?

    It’s time St. Louis gets to know the real Vashon High School. New Principal Joseph Williams III has re-energized the student body at one of St. Louis’ most challenged high schools with a hands-on, caring approach to learning that may become the model for other urban high schools to follow.

    Starting in November, Williams will introduce the Vashon Honors Program for the school’s top 50 freshmen. Membership in the Vashon Honors Program is a privilege and must be earned through academics, attendance and citizenship. In short, the Vashon Honors Program is for highly motivated learners.

    Students accepted into the Vashon Honors Program will take Honors Level courses in English, algebra, American history, biology and American government. These students will be subjected to a rigorous and differentiated curriculum and will learn higher-level thinking skills and problem-solving techniques that will more than prepare them for college and beyond.

    Are you starting to see different images of Vashon High School? Keep reading.

    One of St. Louis’ most respected companies, Wells Fargo Advisors, has forged a partnership with the students of Vashon High School to provide tutoring in reading and math, financial literacy and incentive programs to mark progress. Nearly 75 Wells Fargo Advisors employees leave their office each week to work one-on-one with Vashon High School students. They have seen the real Vashon High School and they look forward to their tutoring sessions each week.

    Inside a beautiful, state-of-the-art building, Vashon High School students are truly focusing on academics. Many seniors are earning college credit through a dual-enrollment partnership with St. Louis Community College. Career-minded students are gaining real-world experience in areas such as marketing, computer networking, desktop publishing and fashion through valuable internships.

    Despite poverty levels nearing 90 percent, more than six out of every 10 Vashon graduates continue their education at a two-year or four-year college.  

    At one time, Vashon was one of St. Louis’ most revered high schools, turning out notable graduates such as New York Yankees star Elston Howard, jazz musician Clark Terry and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters. Today’s Vashon students have that same potential. They just need the rest of St. Louis to see them in that light. 

    I encourage you to take three minutes and visit www.slps.org/ShowMeVashon to see today’s Vashon students in the proper light.

    Kelvin R. Adams, Ph.D., is superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools.