Annemarie Beran, senior at J.R. Tucker HS, will be among the 39 students in the Reynolds ACA Class of 2016 graduating with an Associate's Degree on May 15, 2016, at the Siegel Center. Annemarie is a nominee for the prestigious Lexus of Richmond Pursuit of Perfection Leadership Award, which celebrates the top 30 scholar-athletes in the Metro Richmond Area. Below, you can download her radio interview with WRVA and take a look at her interview with Fox Sports. In both interviews, she talks in depth about the advantages of being a part of the Reynolds ACA. Specifically, in the radio interview, she talks about how those 60+ college credits will provide options for her as a scholar-athlete at Christopher Newport University, including a double major and Master's Degree, all while enjoying her full four years of NCAA eligibility as a star power forward. Congratulations, Annemarie. Your fans at Tucker and Reynolds are rooting for you to win the whole thing!
On March 1, 2016, Reynolds Community College proudly hosted the Third Annual ACA Convocation honoring the 65 high school juniors at J.R. Tucker HS and Highland Springs HS who are on pace to earn their Associate's Degrees through the Advance College Academy in a little more than a year. Read all about it here.
To meet the Class of 2017, check out our new slide show below, also on our website at www.reynolds.edu/aca.
Congratulations, juniors, and keep up the good work!
When eighth-graders apply to the Reynolds ACA, they are asked to write an application essay asking them to look inward at the habits they have already developed and those they need to develop in order to be successful in this program. Here's the prompt:
Success in college-level work requires certain habits of mind: curiosity, creativity, flexibility, openness, persistence, responsibility, engagement in your own learning, and the ability to reflect on your own thinking. In an essay, describe how you have already developed three of these habits, and identify at least one habit you will need to develop further in order to make the most of this opportunity to accelerate your move into higher education.
John Mitchell Arcibal (a.k.a. Jomo)
Reynolds ACA Class of 2016
J.R. Tucker High School
Here’s the essay Jomo submitted in 2012 as a 14-year-old:
College is the most stressful experience that any student has to endure, yet students dream of going through that stressful segment of education. I am one of those dreamers. My dream is to be the first person in my family to achieve a college degree in America. My father dropped out of college to help support his family, and my mother never had the opportunity to go to some of the best colleges in the world. To succeed in college it requires students to possess certain habits of mind: curiosity, engagement in one’s own learning, and persistence. I believe that I exemplify these habits of mind; however, I’m not perfect. I also need to develop further my ability to reflect on my own thinking.
They say curiosity killed the cat; however, I’m not the cat. I’m very curious, about learning, life skills, and whatever else comes before me. My passion to be curious fuels my desire to learn and never give up on the quest for knowledge. I want to learn new things. Whenever I have questions in class, I’m never afraid to ask. I can always ask for help. My curiosity to make sure my learning stays on the right path and progresses is another skill I pride myself in. I know people think asking for help is a weakness, but sometimes it is necessary, and to do what is best to fuel my curiosity will only make me stronger in the long run.
Secondly, I believe I possess an engagement in my own learning. Ever since I was in Kindergarten I wanted to learn. When the teacher asked each student what their favorite part of school was, my favorite part was homework because it helped me learn. Even though my favorite part of school has definitely shifted, I still possess an engagement in my own learning. I always go the extra mile with my work, I do my best, pay attention in class, and I have fun with my work.
I believe that I present persistence. I never give up, no matter the circumstances. A couple of years ago, my dad passed away, and everything seemed to go downhill. However with all the new responsibilities, I had to move on, and become stronger. At first I thought it was going to be impossible to get on with my life, but I realized it was possible. I persisted and moved on and I came out a stronger person. With all these traits in mind I believe I am able to utilize this program to its fullest extent.
However, I am not perfect. There is still a skill I need to strengthen: the ability to reflect on my own thinking. I know I can further this ability and while it is strengthened I can further utilize the opportunities exhibited by this program. I understand that this program will present difficult and rigorous curriculum but I am ready and I think I will do well and grow in this program.
Late last fall, we asked the graduating ACA seniors at J.R. Tucker to take another look at those eighth-grade essays and to provide us with a brief update.
Here’s Jomo's take on his eighth-grade self, after four years in the ACA:
Looking back at my response in eighth grade, I would most likely approach the prompt in a similar fashion. I believe two of my most developed habits of mind are still curiosity and persistence. However, responsibility has emerged as an important habit of mind that I utilize at home and in the classroom. In approaching the prompt I would probably provide more recent examples and talk about my experiences at Tucker like taking AP classes, becoming class president, etc. In terms of which habit of mind needs improvement, I would still address “reflecting on my own thinking” as my greatest area of improvement. Although I have definitely developed this trait, “some habits die hard”. Also it is interesting to see how my diction and voice has changed since eighth grade.
Over my time in the ACA program, my sense of responsibility has developed the most.
Since my eighth grade year my responsibilities at home, at school, and as a student have increased substantially. At home I have become responsible for a myriad of new things, I drive my brother to school, I run errands, and I fulfill some parental duties that my mother can no longer fulfill. Additionally, since eighth grade I have increased my involvement at school, I work with the ACA committee, multiple honor societies and clubs, and I serve as a class officer. In the classroom, my work load has tripled its size since my eighth grade year. However, despite all these responsibilities I am able to live a well-balanced life. Time management, a skill I haven’t perfected, but definitely improved has played a key role in developing my sense of responsibility. In the summer learning community we took at Reynolds before our junior year, I was able to see what areas I needed to improve in and I was able to become more responsible for applying the principles I learned in that class. Additionally, the online Reynolds elective helped me develop my responsibility because I was the only one who was accountable for my grade in the class. The professor didn’t keep track of my progress and it was up to me to complete all the assignments.
I still believe that I need to develop my “ability to reflect on my own learning”. Although
I have developed the skill, and am able to reflect on what I have done on a case to case basis, I need to learn how to do it daily and increase my understanding of what I learned and how I can apply it to my life and everyday actions. Having a research experience at George Washington University taught me to take the things I learned today and work towards applying them tomorrow. Although I was able to take larger concepts and apply them, I must work on taking smaller concepts and apply them to daily situations.
Jomo is a member of the Reynolds ACA Class of 2016 at J.R. Tucker High School, where he is Senior Class President. He has recently been accepted to Stanford University (surely, one of “the best colleges in the world”) in the fall of 2016, where he will be attending on a full scholarship earned through the highly competitive QuestBridge Program.
Recently, Sierra Semel, who earned an Associate Degree as part of the inaugural class of the Reynolds Advance College Academy (ACA) at J.R. Tucker High School, was invited to address the Local Elected Officials Dinner hosted by Dr. Gary Rhodes, President of Reynolds Community College.
Here is the text of her address:
I believe some of the best things in life aren’t on your radar. They are unexpected and completely out of the blue. And I can say with absolute certainty that I never saw ACA coming.
About five years ago I received a seemingly unimportant letter in the mail. This letter described a brand-new dual enrollment program. Most of the people I knew who also got this letter were skeptical. They said I would never actually get an associate’s degree and that I shouldn’t trust something so new, but obviously they were wrong. I entered the Advance College Academy with blind optimism and what I got was something I never expected.
I quickly realized that ACA is much more than a dual enrollment program, it is a community of learners. Every one of us was curious about the world around us. Our daily lunch topics varied from the mysteries of space, like black holes, to the psychology of the Harry Potter series. The combined passion of everyone in ACA created a classroom experience unlike anything I have ever known.
Moreover, ACA turned into a second family for many, including myself. Day or night, we were always there for each other. ACA students were not threatened by each other’s success, but instead, we celebrated our peers’ achievements.
Because of ACA I have lifelong friends, but I also have lifelong skills and knowledge. I have felt incredibly prepared at VCU this semester and it is all because of ACA. Our teachers did not have us memorizing facts. Instead, they taught us to think critically and across disciplines. They taught us how to question the world around us. And perhaps most importantly, they taught us to take what we learned and apply it outside of the classroom.
During my junior year, I wrote a research paper on the underrepresentation of women in engineering in my English Composition class. As a future engineer, I was and still am extremely passionate about this topic. My teacher, Mr. Robert Meister, saw this passion of mine and encouraged me to do more- so I did.
In the Fall of my Senior year, I co-founded the Women in STEM, Science Technology Engineering and Math, club at J.R. Tucker High School. Additionally, I earned my Girl Scout Gold Award for organizing an educational workshop to get young girls interested in STEM. The workshop was held right here at Reynolds and it was a huge success. During the event, the girls participated in hands-on activities that I designed, interacted with a robot, and even talked with the Virginia Director of STEM at the time, Dr. Megan Healy.
Reynolds allowed me to use their state-of-the-art laboratory as well as high-quality science equipment. Only because of this support was I able to offer my workshop free of charge to all attendees. If it weren’t for faculty, such as Ms. Shalini Upadhyaya and Dr. Janet Adams who volunteered their time and advice, I know that my event would not have been the success that it was. Mr. Meister did not rest until I was featured on the news and in the Henrico Citizen. And Dr. Rhodes even wrote me an extremely thoughtful email congratulating me on the outcome of my workshop.
It is hard to put into words just how much ACA means to me. It gave me a family, a home, invaluable life skills, and it even gave me 61 transferrable college credits. When I first started high school, I had no idea who I was or who I wanted to be. Because of ACA, I have developed into the person I am today and I’m ready to face the world head-on. Four years ago, I had no idea how choosing ACA would turn out, but I have to say that taking that leap of faith was the best decision I ever made.
Sierra Semel (Reynolds ACA Class of 2015) is a Mechanical Engineering major in the Honors College at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). She was recently accepted into the da Vinci Center at VCU for the undergraduate certificate in Product Innovation as well as the INNOVATE Living Learning Program. Sierra is a member of the Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team and is also secretary of the VCU chapter of ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers).