More HISD Students Earning Diplomas Through Twilight High Schools

Three dozen students expected to graduate by summer’s end, thanks to program’s flexible hours

July 26, 2011
Recent HISD graduates Juanita Bonilla (right) and Marc Leal are just two of the three dozen students expected to receive their high school diplomas before summer's end through the Twilight High School program. Marc completed his degree requirements at Yates High School, while Juanita finished hers at Jones High School.

Recent HISD graduates Juanita Bonilla and Marc Leal didn't think a high school diploma was in their future, but thanks to the district's Twilight High School program, the two now have their sights set on pursuing higher education.

HISD's Twilight High School initiative, which allows students to take online courses for high-school credit during the evening and weekend hours, appealed to both students, who had dropped out of high school to work and support their families. A postcard mailed to their homes prompted them to come back to HISD in early 2011, and since then, they have managed to earn enough credits to graduate this summer.

"When I got the postcard in the mail and it said I could attend in the evening, it made me very hopeful and excited," says Juanita, who had dropped out of Madison High School in her senior year to take care of her two children, as well as her siblings. Juanita ended up calling Elisabeth Carswell, the Twilight coordinator at Jones High School, every day asking when she could begin.

"I have never seen such dedication and determination to get a diploma," says Carswell. "Juanita not only worked a full-time job and managed a household with two children, but she went to school as well. She is just a wonderful example of what someone can accomplish if they set their mind to it."

According to his Twilight coordinator, Marc Leal exhibited the same drive and determination. "The Twilight Program is really helping students who are overage and feel uncomfortable in a typical classroom environment," says Marie Hampton, the Twilight coordinator at Yates High School. "I know that it helped Marc achieve his dream of not only getting a diploma, but a better job as well."

Both Marc and Juanita now want to attend college. Juanita would like to pursue a degree in nursing and Marc just wants to steer clear of manual labor. "It's hard and grueling work, and without a high-school education, that's the only kind of work you can find," he says. "I learned my lesson the hard way, but thankfully I was able to come back to school and graduate."

Since the first student graduated from a Twilight School last December, fourteen more students have earned their diplomas through the program, and 22 more are on track to do so by summer’s end.

For more information, visit the Twilight Schools website or contact your school’s registrar or counselor.