Wharton ISD is pleased to announce the Wharton Early College High School ROAR (Realizing Our Academic Reward) Academy has been, and continues to be a huge success for Wharton ISD students. ROAR continues to establish program culture and degree plans that serve as a vehicle for rigorous teaching and learning.
ROAR Academy, established during the 2014-2015 school year, is geared toward students who would not traditionally attend college, although the program is open to all students. It serves as a gateway for under served students to complete an associate degree while earning a high school diploma at Wharton High School. The ROAR Academy has an outstanding partnership with Wharton County Junior College to offer students dual credit college courses. ROAR is specifically designed to provide students the opportunity to begin college beginning their ninth grade of high school. ROAR redefines the typical, comprehensive high school experience by providing a small college setting within the regular high school. The program enables students to progress in four years, beginning in the ninth grade, through the first two years of college, earning both their distinguished high school diploma and an associate of arts. The program’s tuition, fees, books – and, in some cases, laptops – are all provided to the ROAR students free of charge.
Wharton ISD has a total forty-one students that have graduated from the ROAR Academy. Of these forty-one graduates, nine of them have earned an associate’s degree. Currently there are seventy-eight students enrolled in ROAR.
Donovan Krushall, a senior at Wharton High School, is one of these seventy-eight students. While visiting with Donovan, he shared that his parents were not college graduates. However, his two older brothers are both graduates from Prairie View A&M University; Donovan has also been accepted at PVAMU and will be attending and playing baseball after graduation. He will enter college with enough credits to be classified as a junior.
When asked what ROAR has done for him, he said, “ROAR prepared me for adversity and college. Taking college classes as a 14-year-old with a lot of adults really makes you responsible early on. It has built character within myself.”
Donovan went on to say that playing football and baseball during high school helped a lot as well. It taught him how to manage his time and stay focused.
ROAR Academy’s vision is, “All students will progress academically and intellectually and will have success for today and be prepared for tomorrow.” It is a student centered learning community committed to providing an advanced educational experience that prepares students for success in college, career and life. It is an opt-in program that students simultaneously choose to exemplify standards of character that contribute positively to program culture and reputation.
Students who are enrolled in ROAR are given the opportunity to obtain an associate degree through a combination of dual credit courses and credit by exam. It is a collaborative effort of Wharton Independent School District and Wharton County Junior College that enables students to earn up to 60 college credit hours during high school. Although the ROAR goal is acquisition of the associate degree, students are not guaranteed this outcome. Wharton Early College School has designed several systems of support to propel students toward their program goal, however, the burden of responsibility and performance lies with the student. A bar of very high expectations has been set for the students of the ROAR Academy. These expectations extend to our students’ character, academics, attendance, and discipline. Learning cannot take place in a college setting without developing self-discipline and self-advocacy. It is also crucial that students acquire the skills necessary to be successful in any social context- respect, professionalism, punctuality, communication, as well as compliance with standards and policies.
Wharton ISD is extremely proud of this program and the success it has had with past students. We are seeing that same success rate with our current students and we look forward to it carrying on within our district and community. WISD appreciates WCJC for partnering with the district in offering such a rewarding program. Through their support, WCJC is making many opportunities possible for students at Wharton High School. We cannot celebrate this partnership enough!