Nearly 10 percent of Houston Independent School District (ISD) students missed 18 or more days of school during the 2014 through 2015 school year, according to the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation – a problem compounded by the direct correlation between chronic absenteeism and low academic performance. To motivate students to stay in school, CITGO Petroleum Corporation and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), as part of the “Kindling Young Minds” program, provided students from seven Houston-area schools with Kindle Fire tablets to recognize their outstanding attendance records and encourage them to continue their educations.
“Seventy-five percent of crimes in the U.S. are committed by dropout students, based on a study from anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. While the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the national school dropout rate has declined over the past few years, it is important that we maintain this momentum for the benefit of our community,” said Harris County Sherriff Ron Hickman. “The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is proud to partner with CITGO in an effort to keep students motivated and lower the dropout rate by providing an incentive to stay off the streets and remain in the classroom.”
As part of the program, the Alief, Houston, and Spring Branch ISDs each identified schools that traditionally have high rates of absenteeism, selecting a total of seven participating institutions. The schools chosen for the “Kindling Young Minds” program this year include:
• Hastings High School, Alief ISD
• Elsik High School, Alief ISD
• Spring Oaks Middle School, Spring Branch ISD
• Northbrook High School, Spring Branch ISD
• Yates High School, Houston ISD
• Worthing High School, Houston ISD
• Sugar Grove Academy, Houston ISD
Starting in February, CITGO and HCSO representatives visited the schools to reward students for their commitment to perfect attendance or significantly improving their attendance during the Fall semester. The program will continue throughout the school year, with a total of 100 students receiving tablets.
“Houston is our home, and we’re committed to bettering our community for generations to come,” said CITGO President and CEO Nelson Martinez. “Through ‘Kindling Young Minds,’ we have the opportunity to touch many students’ lives, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact a program like this may have on their academic careers.”