Alief Kerr High School

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Alief Kerr High School
AliefKerrhs.jpg
Front view
Location
8150 Sugarland Howell
Harris County, Texas
United States
Information
TypePublic magnet school
Motto"Be the difference that makes the difference!"
Established1994
School districtAlief Independent School District
PrincipalVinson Lewis
Grades9-12
Enrollment809 (2015-16)[1]
Color(s)     Purple
     White
Team nameTigers
Website

Alief Kerr High School is a magnet school located in the Alief community, near the city of Houston in an unincorporated area of Harris County, Texas, United States. The school is a part of the Alief Independent School District and serves grades 9 through 12.

Kerr High School was awarded the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the United States Department of Education, the highest award an American school can receive, during the 2010-11 school year.[2] The school also received the award in 2016,[3] one of only 26 Texas schools to receive the award.

History[edit]

Kerr High School was formally dedicated on March 12, 1995. It was named for Carey Jean Kerr, who began her 15-year career in Alief at Chancellor Elementary in 1976. In 1982, she transferred to Alief Middle School, where she was a special populations counselor and worked with at-risk students.[4]

"Her open-door policy inspired a trusting bond special needs kids often find hard to develop...Carey's accomplishments are immeasurable," reads the letter of nomination to the school board.

Kerr died in 1992 after a severe asthma attack.[4][5] The school opened in the fall of 1994. In May 1996, the first class had approximately 55 students graduate.[4]

The school currently has approximately 200 students per graduating class, along with designated sponsors for each class.

Structure[edit]

Unlike a regular magnet school, such as Houston ISD's DeBakey High School for Health Professions, Kerr does not have an official area of concentration. Unlike traditional campuses, students are not separated into individual classes with one assigned teacher. Students can seek out a variety of peer and teacher input, and can work at their own pace, following their given deadlines. Rather than the teaching of a traditional classroom, students are taught in big centers, where students from 9-12 grade are together learning their different core subjects. [6]

Students usually apply to Kerr in their 8th grade year, but applications can be accepted in later grades. Students and their parents must attend an orientation and then students submit applications. Admission to Kerr is determined based on grades, student behavior, and attendance records.[7] Traditional high schools in Alief ISD are assigned by a lottery to either Alief Elsik High School, Alief Hastings High School, or Alief Taylor High School. Alief Kerr and Alief Taylor are located across the street from each other; Kerr shares transportation with Alief Taylor.

Kerr High School added an extension building in the summer of 2017, which was targeted towards the fine arts, such as band, orchestra, choir, visual arts, and theater arts.

School-wide traditions[edit]

One of the school's most popular and memorable moments is the pep rally on the day of the school homecoming game. Students gather in the cafeteria during advisory and are welcomed by the Kerr Band and several student cheerleaders. The group perform dances and engage with students throughout the day.

The school's homecoming game puts the freshman and senior classes against the sophomore and junior classes in a fall intramural football game. Although the school does not have athletics, the homecoming game does its best to compensate for it.

Towards the end of the school year there is the week-long event of class wars. Students in each grade level come together in for chances to earn points for their graduating class with activities throughout the week. This concludes on the Friday of the event week with games, and the winning class is determined by who earned the most points overall.

The school's theater hosts an end of the year Smile & Nod play, in which noteworthy teachers are teased by student actors. The act is performed with respect, and the tradition has become one of the school's most popular.

Since Kerr doesn't have sports, they host intramural tournaments that students can sign up to compete in against each other. The tournaments include: basketball, volleyball, and soccer.

Independent learning[edit]

Kerr is based on independent learning. Under a teacher's guidance, the student proceeds through their course on their own. They are given deadlines for completion of assignments, projects, and tests.

Although students are in an independent learning environment, they can always ask teachers for help. Mondays through Fridays (excluding Wednesdays due to it being a short school day) are days where students can stay after school for tutorials or seminars for any extra help. An example of this would be on Mondays where the Science center is open during after-school hours for students to come for any needed help or to ask questions on material. Students may also go the library to complete assignments, study, or read.

In many classes, teachers go over the course material once a week in a seminar. Separate seminar rooms are available for teacher instruction. These seminars are usually given when students receive a new PAK, or a few days before testing day, as a review.

Personal Activity Kits[edit]

Front page of an AP Calculus PAK

Instead of traditional assignments, PAKs (Personal Activity Kits)[8] are administered for each class. PAKs include all the work for the unit. Teachers inform students of the objectives, direct them to learning materials, and prepare them for tests/quizzes. The PAK system encourages students to participate in teamwork, seminars, and large groups to provide opportunities for teacher-directed and group learning.[8] After the PAK is turned in, a test or a quiz is given over that material. New PAKs are typically issued every one to two weeks.

Centers[edit]

Alief Kerr Science Center

Instead of small traditional classrooms, Alief Kerr has large centers for each core subject. Every class in a specific subject is held in the subject's center. For example, all the science classes are held in the Science Center. This includes Anatomy, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Aquatic Science, and Physics.[9] Centers can hold up to 150 students. Teachers are typically responsible for more than one subject at a time. A science teacher may be teaching Chemistry I, Physics I, and AP Physics during the same period. The centers at Alief Kerr include Art, Business, English, Foreign Language Math, Science, and Social Studies.

Webmastering/Computer Science, Journalism, and Speech are all held in traditional-type classrooms. While these classrooms are smaller than the major centers, these classes still abide by Kerr's theme of independent learning and the PAK system.

Testing[edit]

Because of Kerr's unusual environment, traditional examination administration is difficult, especially when other classes are in the center. The three main testing administration methods at Kerr:

  • Teachers pull their students away from the center (into a seminar room) and administer the test themselves.
  • The whole center will have its tests due on the same date and turn into a testing zone. For example, all the science classes schedule their tests on the same date and close the center for testing.
  • Students take their tests in the testing center.

The testing center is where tests are administered for most classes.

Clubs and organizations[edit]

Some clubs organize events throughout the school year. Each has a sponsor who is a Kerr staff member, who help supervises the club and its officers. The clubs at Kerr encourage students to be more involved in school activities and form friendships throughout that experience. The clubs welcome anyone who wants to join. Some clubs at Kerr include:

  • African Student Association
  • Anime Club
  • Art Club
  • Board Game Club
  • Cadre Kerr
  • Chess Club
  • Christian Fellowship
  • Engineering Club
  • Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)
  • Gamer Club
  • HOME Club
  • Kerr Film Society
  • Kerr Pals
  • Korean Club
  • Muslim Student Association
  • National Art Honor Society
  • National Honor Society
  • No Tiger Left Behind
  • Speech and Debate
  • Student Council
  • Students For Humanity

Fine Arts Program[edit]

The fine arts program in Kerr is a major part of the Kerr school body. Due to the lack of team sports, Kerr's fine arts program is a major focus of the school. The fine art departments include band, orchestra, choir, theater, and others which participate in many events, ranging from school to national level.

This was not the case when Kerr was opened. The school had no fine arts program and was strictly for academic achievement and improvement in traditional core areas. The fine arts department at the school gives the students an option for things artistically related and continues to grow bigger and bigger each year. An example of this would be the Kerr band which started with very few members into a constantly growing and youthful program that can now compete with the other three regular high school bands of Taylor, Elsik, and Hastings, which all have big programs also. This just goes to show the amount of progress which has been made in a short time. The addition of the new theater and fine arts building is only looking to continue the forward progress.

Kerr's fine arts program brings something that the students find, entertaining, fun, and relaxing, which is great considering the amount of stress that can be felt when the school is based on academic achievement.

Rankings and acknowledgements[edit]

Kerr High School was awarded the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the United States Department of Education, the highest award an American school can receive, during the 2010-11 school year.[2] The school also received the award in 2016,[3] one of only 26 Texas schools to receive the award.

TEA acknowledgements[edit]

Alief Kerr achieved the "Recognized" status from the Texas Education Agency accountability ratings system in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 school years. For the 2009, 2010, and 2011 school years, Alief Kerr received the highest recognition possible, "Exemplary", from the TEA.[10]

2008 Texas Education Agency Gold Performance Acknowledgements Program:

  • Advanced Course/Dual Enrollment Completion
  • Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Results
  • Attendance Rate
  • Commended Performance: Reading/English Language Arts (ELA)
  • Commended Performance: Mathematics
  • Commended Performance: Social Studies
  • Comparable Improvement: Reading/ELA
  • Recommended High School Program/Distinguished Achievement Program
  • SAT/ACT Results
  • Texas Success Initiative-Higher Education Readiness Component: ELA
  • Texas Success Initiative-Higher Education Readiness Component: Mathematics

Children At Risk is a policy research and advocacy organization focused on improving children's quality of life. The organization ranks public high schools in eight counties of the Houston metro area.[11] Kerr has done well on Children At Risk rankings annually. It is currently ranked 5th in the Greater Houston Area.[12] Kerr is also ranked 4th best as a Math and Science school in the Houston area. In addition, Kerr was 10th "most improved" in the Houston area.[13]

Rating 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Top HS in Houston 11 19 9 3
Top HS in Texas N/A N/A N/A 9
Top Math and Science HS in Houston N/A N/A N/A 4

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "KERR H S". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  2. ^ a b http://www2.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/2010/national.pdf
  3. ^ a b "www.aliefisd.net/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=33&ModuleInstanceID=8568&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=11888&PageID=59". www.aliefisd.net. Retrieved 2017-10-03.
  4. ^ a b c "About Kerr / Carey Jean Kerr". www.aliefisd.net. Retrieved 2017-10-03.
  5. ^ Markley, Melanie. "New Alief high school named for late counselor Carey Kerr". Houston Chronicle. Section A, Page 34, 2 STAR Edition. November 27, 1993. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  6. ^ "Kerr High School / Kerr High School Homepage". kerr.aliefisd.net.
  7. ^ "Selective schools top survey; some other campuses beat odds".
  8. ^ a b "How to Apply to Kerr / How to Apply to Kerr". www.aliefisd.net.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-12-16. Retrieved 2006-01-04.
  10. ^ "Kerr High School-Home spots". Alief ISD. 2009-05-18. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
  11. ^ http://www.childrenatrisk.org/childrenatrisk.cfm?a=cms,c,929
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  13. ^ http://www.childrenatrisk.org/childrenatrisk.cfm?a=cms,c,932

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°41′28″N 95°38′04″W / 29.69111°N 95.634313°W / 29.69111; -95.634313