Homeless High

On the Furr campus, kids are getting the chances they need.

Victor says he felt like quitting a lot of times. "I always thought people had more things than I did. Not just materialwise but familywise." But he didn't because, well, the one thing he says he ever "affiliated with" was school.

He knows a lot of students who didn't succeed. "Students who don't make it — they get used to the same pain. They get stuck."

Furr worked for him because, he says, "It's a community. I don't think I would have chosen any other school to be at. They know the surroundings; they know the problems that we have."

Laura Rae was thrown out of her home by her father and dropped out of school. The Reach Charter High School at Furr gave her the chance to get her diploma.
Margaret Downing
Laura Rae was thrown out of her home by her father and dropped out of school. The Reach Charter High School at Furr gave her the chance to get her diploma.
Furr High School film teacher Assol Kavtorina saw Victor Cardenas crying at school one day and offered him the chance to live with her family for his senior year.
Margaret Downing
Furr High School film teacher Assol Kavtorina saw Victor Cardenas crying at school one day and offered him the chance to live with her family for his senior year.

Victor doesn't want anyone to feel sorry for him. He advises that "you should always surround yourself with people who care for you. Friendships. That's what it comes down to."

Furr is not perfect; after years of quiet, MS13 showed up two years ago on campus and gang fights resumed. "But now it's peaceful," Simmons says. Test scores are up; the school may actually have some National Merit finalists by next year based on this year's scores, and Simmons is hoping for good news by July when the state releases its accreditation report.

They have tutorials during the school day instead of after school because their students are bused in; they try to figure out the learning style of each student and teach to that. Their building is far from new, but its courtyards and hallways are immaculate, the front desk welcoming, the students engaged.

They have a principal with principles and the power and authority to move mountains. We'd never have a chance to write about these two students if they'd gone to many of our schools. As sad as parts of their lives have been, for Laura and Victor, their school has been their lifeline.

Capture that magic, put it in a bottle and send it out to the world.

margaret.downing@houstonpress.com

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