"I chose to be in the program to make my mom proud"
Merlinda Montoya and Breann Rangel will accomplish a first Friday.
They will be the first members of their family to graduate from high school.
The two Pilot Point High School seniors participated in the Choice program at the school. Choice allows interested students an alternative path to finish high school. Montoya and Rangel, along with fellow seniors Karina Davila, Jaida Tapia and Codie Wheeler, will walk the stage at commencement Friday night along with their classmates at Denton Bible Church.
Choice allows at-risk students to accelerate and get through the academic program quicker, PPHS Principal Todd Southard said.
“It’s done on computer, but they will go out [to the classrooms] for some of their classes,” Southard said.
Southard said the graduating seniors took the program seriously and finished their requirements. Students have to request to be in the program.
“There are certain things – criteria – that they have to meet,” Southard said. “One of the criteria is they have to be an at-risk student. They have to have been enrolled here for more than a year. They have to be short in some credits.”
This is the second year for the Choice program, which has filled a need at the school.
“We had a problem three years ago that we had kids that we felt like just weren’t being successful in the traditional setting,” Southard said. “The only place we could send them over to was Sanger. The problem with that is the space for the seating was limited.”
Rangel was supposed to graduate last year with her original class; she finished the course in January. She plans to attend North Central Texas College, but she is not sure what she wants to study at this point.
Wheeler, on the other hand, joined Choice in November and finished in April and already has made definite plans.
“It’s not that easy,” she said. “It’s self-taught. I’m kinda happy that I’m done – it’s a year early that I’m graduating. The day after I walk the stage, I’m going to move down to the coast and be attending Del Mar College and be joining the marine biology program.”
Davila started early this year, explaining that she was formerly homeschooled, but she wanted her picture on the wall with her other graduates, so she came back to PPHS. She eventually wants to go to cosmetology school and get her barber’s license.
“I came back, got my [requirements] done,” she said of the Choice program. “I’m very proud to be a part of a program like this. I’m happy that I got it finished in time.”
Montoya, a young mother, finished in March.
“It was pretty hard, but I kind of got some help from some teachers,” she said.
She plans to study cosmetology at Grayson College and eventually move on from junior college and become an architect.
Tapia joined the program because her of her poor attendance and she thought she might drop out of school.
“I didn’t want that, so I chose to be in the program to make my mom proud,” she said, adding the program was hard for her. She plans to either Grayson College or NCTC and study cosmetology and criminology.
They all encouraged others who were in their spot to take the Choice program, explaining that students must be willing to put in the work. Wheeler said one advantage of the program is that people can get out early or ahead of their classmates who are in the regular school setting.
“I finished within five months of joining, but it takes a lot of focus and dedication, and if you use your time right, you can get it done,” Wheeler said.