Approximately 46 freshmen boys and girls opened the doors to a new school of choice in the Comal Independent School District this school year. Featuring project-based learning and collaboration, the Hill Country College Preparatory High School occupies one side of Spring Branch Middle School on U.S. Highway 46 in Spring Branch.
The inaugural class is excited to establish traditions as the new year begins with the school’s mascot, the Falcons, and its colors navy blue and Columbia blue.
“We are offering a smaller-school setting, collaborative learning environment, STEM and advanced academics,” said Principal Julie Wiley, who is beginning her 17th year with the district and her seventh year as an administrator.
The ninth grade students who opened the school submitted applications in order to attend HCCPHS which is a project-based learning and New Tech Network campus, similar to the district’s first school of choice, Memorial Early College High School with St. Philip’s College.
“I like project-based learning instead of traditional learning where you memorize a lot of information for a test and then you forget it,” said Larissa Boring, 14, who is a member of the inaugural class at HCCPHS. “I feel like I get to fully understand a topic more. You go completely in-depth on what you are learning and then give presentations, collaborate and work through questions with your peers to come up with solutions and answers.”
With a 90-minute block schedule, HCCPHS offers STEM-focused career and technology education (CTE) courses including computer science and engineering as well as art and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a college readiness and preparedness program. They also have the opportunity to receive between 45 and 62 college credit hours through dual credit courses.
“I chose Hill Country College Prep because my goal is to be a neurologist, and I know that it will take some time. Here, I will get a head start on college,” said Boring who attended Pieper Ranch Middle School last year. “It is a better location for my family than MECHS, since it is closer to our home.”
The inaugural class has already begun to build a culture that emphasizes collaboration, embraces diversity and promotes peer support. They will be learning through projects and hands-on assignments, and they are establishing their own clubs.
“I’m glad that I chose to come here,” said Boring who is starting a yearbook club. “I like the small number of students, and we are becoming a family which I really enjoy.
“I believe that this will prepare me for real life especially through leadership skills, giving presentations in front of groups, collaborating with others who have multiple ideas and help me stand out to my dream colleges.” Those colleges include Harvard University, Columbia University and Yale University.
-A member of the inaugural class, Larissa Boring, 14, chose to attend Hill Country College Preparatory High School to further her goal of becoming a neurologist.
-The staff of Comal ISD’s second high school of choice are excited about the new year. The Hill Country College Preparatory High School teachers and staff include the following names: left side from left; Principal Julie Wiley, Kendi Quidachay, Luz Antolinez, Jenny Cox, Natalie Jones, Marla Byrd and Stephanie Linehan; right side from left; Lauren Fooshee, Tristan Solano, Reno Keinrath, Tyrel Young, Jennifer Fey and Garrett Kelley.