The first cohort of the EPISD Young Women’s STEAM Research and Preparatory Academy is getting a head start on school this week with a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math Exploratorium Camp.
“This was an opportunity for our students to experience some STEAM activities, but most importantly an opportunity to make friends,” principal Dr. Cynthia Ontiveros said. “Coming on the first day of school to a brand-new campus can be really scary. I wanted them to make a friend so that from here until we start school there’s comfort knowing they have a friend waiting for them.”
The weeklong camp will culminate with a field trip Friday to the University of Texas at El Paso, where the students will visit engineering labs.
“A lot of the students have never been to a university campus, so this allows them to interact with professors and visit the laboratories,” Ontiveros said. “We want to set that expectation they are going to college, and this is what it looks like and feels like.”
During the camp, the students rotate between seven different stations, such as Podcasters, Building Bridges and Brain Break.
In the Podcasters station, students were able to hear themselves on the radio thanks to a collaboration with KINT. They talked about themselves and what their expectations for the new school were.
Seventh-grader Sara Alvarez was nervous at first, but she nailed the interview questions with ease.
“It was really cool hearing myself on the radio,” Alvarez said. “It’s been really fun being at this camp. All the girls are nice, and the teachers want us to make friends.”
“The camp has been really fun. It’s cool to interact with other people. I feel really comfortable to be around other girls that understand me,” Riza said. “I’m looking forward to the projects we are going to do.”
So far, her favorite activity at the camp has been learning about her fellow schoolmates.
“I really liked when we passed around a paper ball and talked about ourselves,” Riza said. “I thought that was really great because we got to know each other better.”
For Riza’s mom, the school was a chance for her daughter to grow as a student and a strong woman.
“I want her to be empowered. I want her to have an opportunity to be able to develop her interests in an environment where she is going to be supported by other girls her age,” Rangel said.
Sisters Genevieve and Joslyn Espinoza, who will be attending the school together, beamed with excitement as they checked in for the second day of camp.
“I like how they are interacting with us and helping us. I am looking forward for my sister and I to help pick out the mascot and school colors,” Genevieve said. “I have even made a couple of new friends already.”
Joslyn wasn’t sure at first how she felt about attending a school with no boys, but she is now happy to start sixth at the academy.
“When my mom was explaining all the things I could do at this school, I got really excited about attending and have a different learning experience,” Joslyn said. “I get really happy when I learn new things.”