Above, from left, Bell High School Principal Rafael Balderas, students Ailene Torres, Beatrice Castillo and Magnet Coordinator Mario Apodaca.
The tweet that Principal Rafael L. Balderas posted about two of his graduates read like a message a proud parent would write:
The graduates of Bell’s gifted/highly gifted STEM Magnet are among 300 exceptional students nationwide to receive a Gates Scholarship. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation introduced the scholarship this year to support Hispanic students who qualify for financial aid.
“It is with pride and joy that I was able to serve as principal to both Beatrice and Aileen for the last four years,” Balderas said. “They are remarkable and intelligent young women who will make an impact at both Columbia and Harvard. After graduation, I am more than confident these young scholars will move mountains, change the current landscape and, more importantly, change the world.”
Castillo will be the first in her family to go to college when she heads off to Harvard. Neither of her parents finished high school, and she learned to rely on her grandfather for encouragement, listening closely during his calls from Mexico as he insisted that she could achieve a higher education. She dove into the STEM program at Bell, joined school leadership and pursued community activities. With guidance from Bell’s magnet coordinator, Mario Apodaca, Beatrice decided she wants to become an environmental science researcher and help others understand global warming.
“Beatrice has a keen mind and a strong sense of self. She puts her whole heart into learning as much as she can each and every day,” Apodaca said. “Her passion for the things she believes in will lead her to the halls of the House and Senate in Washington, D.C.”
The magnet coordinator also worked with another senior Ailene Torres, who will attend Columbia University in New York, where she plans to major in mechanical engineering.
“Ailene is a driven and fierce competitor,” Apodaca said. “She wants to be the best and is persistent in reaching all of the impressive goals she sets for herself. Someday, I expect to read about Ailene’s work at NASA, JPL, or SpaceX.”
Ailene is inspired by her mother, who works in the Garment District, her fingers dyed blue as she makes the $250 designer jeans that neither of them can afford.
“Those blue fingers and the labor behind them drive me to be the best student I can be,” Ailene wrote in her college application. “There’s no question that my mother has taught me the importance of hard work. Following her example, I have sacrificed sleep and pushed myself everyday through the rigors of my AP classes to keep my grades up. Her words and actions showed me that she wanted to provide me with opportunities that were never available to her.”
Apodaca said the success of Beatrice and Ailene reflects the school’s efforts to foster the skills and talent of all of their students.
“Both are great young women who have fantastic opportunities and futures ahead of them,” he said. “As the magnet coordinator, I would like to be depicted as being a part of the school’s support system executing the mission of the Bell High School Gifted STEM Magnet.”
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UCLA high school volunteer wins state Science Fair – UCLA/Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
School nurses are essential in meeting students’ health needs – California Educator
Honoring ArTES teacher Nicole Mathis-Berman – Honored.org
Q&A with Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian – The Pearl Post (Daniel Pearl Communications Magnet)
Military veterans recruited for teaching positions – KABC-Channel 7
CSTA and Code.org announce the 2017 Champions for Computer Science – Medium magazine
How L.A. Unified Cultivates Districtwide Digital Citizenship – Common Sense Education
Around the world, and earning all A’s – The Newport (R.I.) Daily News
LAUSD, IBU and DAS Collaborate to Create the New Merchant Mariner Apprenticeship Program – Apprenticeship/California Department of Industrial Relations
Opinion: Students accepted through preferred gender pronouns – Los Angeles Times Insider
These 10 L.A. high schools are the best at getting their graduates to college – Los Angeles Times
LAUSD Making a Comeback with Instructional Technology – Converge Magazine
Dr. Frances Gipson honored as Top 30 Award recipient – Converge Magazine
New EdD in Educational Leadership graduate Michelle King named National Superintendent of the Year – USC Rossier School of Education
Pin Up, Don’t Shut Up – Public High School Art for the Scapegoats of Humanity – Random Lengths Magazine
East Bay Softball Inks Catcher Desiree Jimmy – Cal State East Bay Pioneers Athletics
California Teacher of the Year from North Hills to throw first pitch at Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles Daily News
Cleveland High band program marches on after years with no teacher, little money – Los Angeles Daily News
LAPD officers spread holiday cheer at Van Nuys elementary school – Los Angeles Daily News
Burrowing Owl delights students, staff at urban school – SoCalWild.com
Dorsey students complete College Board pilot class. – L.A. Sentinel
Girls Academic Leadership Academy: A unique opportunity.– Jewish Journal
West Valley Occupational Center celebrates 50 years. – Los Angeles Daily News
Linked Learning the focus of innovative high school. – Education Writers of America
Music, arts programs at LA schools increasing after years of decline. – Los Angeles Daily News
Coeur d’Alene Elementary: One school’s journey towards instructional excellence. – Cotsen Foundation
Student identity through the arts. Huffington Post
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