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No Excuses

Members participate to influence future generations

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Program provides incentive for children to pursue higher education   By Celeste Paulson Ranger Reporter   Guiding future generations toward college, the 21st Century After-School Program allows children from San Jacinto Elementary and Whittier Elementary schools to participate in activities with Amarillo College clubs through the No Excuses program. San Jacinto and Whittier are part of the No Excuses program that aims to show kids that there isn’t an excuse to not continue their education. AC is the first college in the nation to join the No Excuses movement. “It’s Amarillo College connecting with San Jacinto Elementary and Whittier Elementary,” program coordinator Hilary Cordero said. “They partner up to support the No Excuses philosophy of giving every child an equal opportunity to go to a secondary school. The purpose is to promote post-secondary education.” To participate in the 21st Century program, clubs need to be active and fill out paperwork. “To join, they have to fill out a request form and a background form,” Cordero said. “I’ll give them the dates that are available and the times that are available; then they’ll see what’s best for them and fill out a request form to reserve a date. Then I’ll do paperwork, and that’s how they get their date.” An activity takes 45 minutes to an hour. Each club will participate one to eight times a semester and has the option to make its own activity or have an activity planned for it. “The activity can have to do with the club, but it doesn’t have to be,” Cordero said. “If they need help with the activity, I’ll make an activity for them.” AC’s Photo Club visits San Jacinto the second and fourth Fridays of each month. The club plans hour-long photography activities with fourth and fifth graders. “The AC students plan the activities,” photography instructor René West said. “Last time we worked with the Camera Clubhouse Read more [...]

Amarillo College named first ‘No Excuses’ campus

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February 15, 2012 By Bailie Myers| Ranger Reporter Amarillo College officially became the first postsecondary school in the nation to be named a No Excuses campus earlier this semester. The No Excuses concept was developed by Damen Lopez, a former teacher and principal, at a California elementary school in 2004 in an attempt to better prepare students to succeed in college. The No Excuses initiative has spread to elementary schools, middle schools and high schools nationwide and now, with AC as the pioneer school, to community colleges. AC’s goals for the spring semester inspired by the initiative include expanding tutoring services, redesigning courses to include more technology, a focus on building social support through a poverty initiative and development of a first-year seminar to give students career and college readiness skills. Ten schools in the Amarillo Independent School District have joined No Excuses, including San Jacinto Elementary and Tascosa High School. According to Lopez’s website,, there are 114 No Excuses University schools in 19 states, representing more than 70,000 students. Jill Gibson, an assistant professor of speech and mass communication, said the No Excuses initiative is a multi-tier approach to helping students succeed while they are at AC. ‘”You can make it in college. We can help you,” Gibson said. “We are going to work hand-in-hand with Damen Lopez to create the template for No Excuses Universities,” said Dr. Lana Jackson, director of quality enhancement, plan assessment and development. “We are walking a path that no one has gone before.” According to the book Turn Around Schools by Lopez and Jeff King, the key strategy for closing the achievement gap is creating six core systems that are central and can work for any school. The six-core system includes interventions, data management, an assessment plan, standards alignment, teacher collaboration and a culture Read more [...]

VIDEO: Benefit Bank, helps students in need get the help they need

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Benefit bank of Texas comes to AC

Benefit bank of Texas opens at Amarillo College

Community runs for education

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Photo by Joshua Wagner
Intramurals 5k run raises awareness for 'No Excuses' By Vanessa Garcia Students and employees of Amarillo College as well as members of the community participated in the No Excuses 5K Run/Walk Oct. 22. The number of participants was 166, an increase from last year. “A good amount of students showed up,” said Trena Rider, intramural specialist. “Each different group that was invited was presented well. I think it was fantastic.” Rider said the 5K Run/Walk benefits the No Excuses initiative by sending a portion of the proceeds from the event to San Jacinto Elementary School. Some of the money also will go to the No Excuses March Madness event in the spring. Rider said they were able to write a $500 check last year for San Jacinto Elementary School. Eric Ross and Marsha Fair­child won $500 scholarships, and Christopher Quintana won a $250 bookstore scholarship. Canyon Coach Wes Kirton placed first overall. Kirton didn’t compete in AC’s 5K Run/Walk last year because of heart problems. Beginning last January, he trained over the next 10 months, and it led him to AC’s 5K Run/Walk. Kirton said he gained confidence from the race and that he enjoyed the event. The second place winner was Luis Perez, a wrestler who runs to stay in shape. “I love that feeling of exhaustion,” Perez said. Third place winner Eric Ross, a biotechnology major, said, “I learned I need more training.” Ross said he has a passion for getting the community healthy and involved. The race was a good way to promote health, he said. Tory Dees, a teacher at Hamlet Elementary School, said she participated because the 5K Run/Walk was for a good cause. She competed with her father. This was the first year they competed in AC’s event, but they have competed in others. Top male and female winner for ages between 10 and 14 were Dawson Schmidt and Rylee Simmer. Top male and female winners for ages 20-29 were Luis Perez and Ashlee Jefferies. Top male Read more [...]

Achieving the Dream AC takes ‘No Excuses’ for failure

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By Linda Cortez Amarillo College is one of 35 Texas community colleges promoting a program created by Achieving the Dream, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to boosting student success. The "No Excuses" movement at AC launches this semester, supported by pre-existing and new programs designed to help students from all backgrounds succeed. The program focuses on providing aid to low-income students and improving student retention and graduation rates, according to AC's pledge at AC will roll out the Achieving the Dream initiative officially to the community at 9 a.m. Friday in a public event called "No Excuses: Building Student Success" at Central Church of Christ at 1401 S. Monroe St. Dr. Kay McClenney of the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin will be the event's keynote speaker. McClenney also directs the Community College Survey of Student Engagement and serves in leadership roles in the Ford Foundation's Community College Bridges to Opportunity Initiative and the MetLife Foundation's national student retention project. "This is our big launch for Achieving the Dream, our No Excuses initiatives," said Dr. Lana Jackson, director of the AC quality enhancement plan. "Dr. Matney also has invited community leaders to come and hear our big launch." According to the Achieving the Dream website,, the national nonprofit organization was conceived in 2004 by the Lumina Foundation for Education to help community college students succeed with a focus on students in the minority and who struggle financially. The organization emphasizes the use of data to drive change on college campuses nationwide, pushing efforts in research, public engagement and public policy. AC not only will have an opportunity to learn from other Achieving the Dream institutions but will receive assistance from the organization in gathering and using data to identify problems, Read more [...]

VIDEO: No Excuses 5k 2011

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Image by Trey Holt

Amarillo College participates in the second annual No Excuses 5K.

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