Most parents are delighted when their child makes their school’s “Honor Roll.” Now imagine the pride of José and Angeles Cuevas when all five of their children who attend John H. Reagan HS make the school’s honor roll at the same time — not once, but twice.
During the second and third nine weeks grading periods, the siblings accomplished something that has never been done at Reagan, or possibly any other local high school for that matter. All five siblings made the school’s honor roll at the same time, earning all A’s or A’s and B’s.
“This is certainly a first for Reagan, as far as our registrar can tell,” claims Principal Connie Berger. “We’re very proud of the Cuevas family and their contributions to the Reagan learning community. I know their parents must also be very proud of them.”
María Brenda, Mayra, Candy, Jésus and Jose Cuevas Lara enrolled in Houston ISD schools in 2006 when they moved to Houston from their native hometown of San Luis Potosí, Nueva León, México. Their father had been living and working in Houston for many years before their move. Finally, when the senior Cuevas was granted his citizenship papers in 2006, he saw the opportunity to reunite his large family.
When the Cuevas sisters showed up to register at Reagan midway through the semester, Principal Connie Berger was unsure of Mayra’s and Maria’s success. “Both spoke little English and were a few years older than our typical seniors,” Berger remembers. “In fact, I recall encouraging them to try evening classes instead.” Ultimately, all three sisters enrolled as sophomores.
According to the sisters, Mexican students are provided free education through the 9th grade, and have the option to complete a high school education by paying for their final years. “Because we are a large family with 10 children, our chances to complete high school and continue on to the university were not very good,” states Maria.
“Even if our family could pay for the tuition, we lived very far from the city and it took us an hour to get to school by bus. Our father knew that we could be successful if we had the chance to finish our high school education,” she remembers. “The English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and our teacher, Mr. Shea, have helped us learn so much. We are so grateful to our parents who gave us this opportunity — and to Reagan for giving us the chance to prove that we could succeed,” state the elder Cuevas sisters.
“These students came to me with a ‘0’ level of English proficiency,” recalls Michael Shea, ESL teacher. “They became successful learners because of their family’s values and support, but they routinely exceed their instructors’ expectations because of their positive attitudes and their personal work ethics.” In fact, Shea has featured Myra and Candy in updated ESL instruction videos that he is currently preparing for HISD’s districtwide use.
Now, two successful years later, María, Mayra and Candy are getting ready for their graduation in June while their brothers are in their freshman and sophomore years. Four of the siblings are in the business academy where they have learned skills useful in the business field, while the youngest brother is enrolled in the fine arts academy. Mayra would like to become a bilingual teacher and Maria is considering a health career with special needs children while Candy wants to continue her studies in political science. Whatever paths their diplomas take them, the Cuevas sisters seem likely to succeed.
Reagan High School, located at 413 East 13th Street in the Heights, is a Computer Technology magnet with additional academies of study in Fine Arts, Business, Health Sciences and Engineering/Architectural Design.
For more information about the school’s programs, please contact visit the school website: http://www.jhreagan.org/.