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Community members become Principals for a day

MCISDlogoMISSION—At 7:30 a.m., Principal Orlando Farias can be found enjoying his first cup of coffee, and standing at the entrance of Mission Collegiate High School greeting his students every morning.

Mission Collegiate HS is known for its size of 225 students and rigorous curriculum. Farias said the idea that the top students in the district are attending his campus is a misunderstanding, but he said by the time the students graduate, they will be.

Through the annual Principal for a Day Mission CISD event, members of the community had the opportunity to shadow a principal for half a school day to get a glimpse into the daily routine of school leaders.

The early college campus services first-time college attendees, currently the campus only has freshmen and sophomores but will have the full four grade levels by 2015. Having spent his 28 years teaching and administrating with MCISD, Farias himself was the first in his family to graduate from college.

Farias spent his younger years as a migrant worker but eventually found himself with a college degree and an interest in mathematics. Now, Farias focuses on making sure his students find their interests and work hard to not only graduate high school but earn college credits simultaneously.

Some students have chosen to attend Veterans Memorial High School or Mission High School for electives and extracurricular activities, and Farias said two of his students participate in varsity football.

“After coming here, I’ve learned you have to manage your time…if not, you are going to fail,” sophomore Cristian Navejar said. “It is more stressful, but I like the blocking of classes. Teachers get to see you more.”

Navejar, along with Jose De Leon, both play football and said they’ve managed to handle the workload and practices. Both students added without the school they would have never learned how to utilize time management.

After greeting his students in the morning, Farias strolls around campus, making sure classes are going according to schedule. Not only does he carry the hat of principal, but he also handles counseling, teaching and security guard when needed.

Art teacher, Juan Saenz, said the campus has days where they encourage students to dress in business attire or wear shirts from their favorite university.

“It’s a little different. We are starting a student closet, where we bring shirts and ties for the students,” Saenz said. “We don’t set our kids up for failure; a lot of us are here until 6 p.m. We are even here on Saturdays.”

With the campus made up of 100 percent economically disadvantaged students, the staff and teachers hope to help them learn, polish their reading skills and graduate with basic college course hours.

The campus is set up to the north of the Mission High School property and occupies fewer than 10 portables. The campus will have its own property in the near future, but Farias said they have worked with what they’ve been given.

Students have taken the time out of their weekends to plant flowers, put up picket fences and even build a water fountain from recycled materials.

“This campus is student led, and student driven. The kids make it their own and they like to protect it,” Farias said. “They want to keep and protect what they have invested their time in.”

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