September 12, 2016
Cypress Ridge High School special education administrator Soul Singh delivers the keynote address for the Regal Rams girls’ event at Cypress Ridge on Sept. 7. (Photo by Carly Gutierrez, Cypress Ridge HS)
By Carly Gutierrez & Lizeth Gonzalez, Cypress Ridge HS
Sept. 12, 2016—Cypress Ridge High School held the third annual Regal Rams Freshmen Summit Sept. 7-8 with an estimated 800 Rams in attendance. Launched in 2014 by the American Association of University Women as a way to empower freshmen girls, Regal Rams expanded in 2015 with a parallel program for freshmen boys.
Travis Fanning, assistant superintendent of secondary school administration, delivers the keynote address for the Regal Rams boys’ event at Cypress Ridge on Sept. 8. (Photo by Luis Duque, Cypress Ridge HS)
The two-day event inspired the first-year high school students to overcome obstacles and reach their goals as they navigate through their high school careers and lives.
“[AAUW] came in and offered an opportunity for our freshmen students to get a full day of character building, self esteem and instruction,” said assistant principal Stephanie Lyle. “So it's evolved each year. We began with five classes; now we have eight and bring in outside presenters and house presenters.”
Sessions were held at Cypress Ridge High School. The Lady Rams were divided into groups of precious gems like diamond, ruby and sapphire. Each group of nearly 30 girls rotated through eight sessions around the building that lasted around 30 minutes each.
Freshmen girls wait to hear a speaker at the Regal Rams event at Cypress Ridge High School on Sept. 7. (Photo by Carly Gutierrez, Cypress Ridge HS)
Freshmen Kayla Lewis thought Regal Rams was helpful because she got the helpful answers to questions she’s always had.
“You get information that your parents don’t know and your teachers don’t know the answer or have the time to answer,” Lewis said.
Teachers and administration shared some of their personal stories about the path to success through goal setting or overcoming obstacles and setbacks, like professional communications teacher Rebekah Hill’s “Success 101” and special education administrator Soul Singh’s “Bag Lady” seminar.
Caleb Sanderson, Cypress Ridge High English I, speaks to freshmen about academic toolbox and high school expectations at the Regal Rams boys’ event at Cypress Ridge on Sept. 8. (Photo by Luis Duque, Cypress Ridge HS)
Principal Stephanie Meshell rotated to some of the sessions to listen to the speakers along with the girls.
“Some of these stories... if you haven’t been through something this strong it’s a little shocking to you,” Meshell said. “But the really hard part is that we have kids sitting in these classrooms that are living some of what’s being shared today, and so if they feel a little more comfortable in their skin and what they’ve been through so that they can see themselves becoming the person they want to be, then we’ve done what we needed to do.”
Tim Ray, Cypress Ridge High School wrestling coach, speaks to young men about etiquette, hygiene and attire at the Regal Rams summit at Cypress Ridge on Sept. 8. (Photo by Luis Duque, Cypress Ridge HS)
Through the efforts of Regal Rams, Cypress Ridge has seen tremendous successes statistically in an increased attendance for ninth-graders, an increased promotion from ninth grade to 10thgrade and decreased discipline referrals. Although the numbers show improvement, Meshell believes that it isn’t always about the numbers but about empowering and moving forward together as a school.
“We have a good culture at Cypress Ridge High School,” Meshell said. “In order to sustain it and make it better we have to start with our ninth-grade group, so that they have the opportunity to be stronger leaders as they grow up. Since we started this program we see it in the battle, but we also feel it in our school.”