YWLA Recruits New Class, Celebrates $10,000 STEM Grant

The Young Women’s Leadership Academy in the Ysleta Independent School District continues to celebrate an array of successes in its inaugural year, including winning a new $10,000 STEM grant and the successful recruitment of a new sixth-grade class that will begin attending the school in Fall 2017.

YWLA was the first single-gender college-preparatory public school in El Paso when it opened its doors in Fall 2016 to 240 sixth- and seventh-grade girls.

YWLA is a member of the Young Women’s Preparatory Network (YWPN), which played an integral part in planning and establishing YWLA by providing private enhancements based on college readiness, leadership and wellness life skills, so that graduates achieve academic success and are prepared for college and life.

“What we found out through this year’s admission process is that our school recruits very high-caliber students who are strongly motivated and interested in our STEAM work,” said YWLA Principal Malinda Villalobos, referring to the school’s emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. “We are so excited about the possibilities of what we are going to be able to do.”

YWLA acceptance letters were mailed out this month to 133 girls, about half of whom hail from neighboring school districts and private schools, or are being homeschooled. Exact numbers for this new class of incoming sixth-graders are broken down below:

ywla ns

Throughout April, the newly admitted YWLA students will register for classes and order uniforms at the campus. All YWLA students – new and returning – are required to attend a weeklong summer camp at the school from July 31-Aug. 4.

In addition, YWLA teacher Ivan Ortega has been awarded a $10,000 grant from Lockheed-Martin to purchase drones, which will allow students to add an aerial aspect to their ongoing projects in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Ortega applied for the grant in cooperation with YWPN.

“Our girls just finished a robotics piece in their class, where they built and programmed robots. But even after the project ended, they felt like they really didn’t want to take the robots apart,” Villalobos said. “Now with this grant, they finally feel like they can take their robots apart – because now they’ll be building drones!”

At YWLA, students benefit from advanced coursework and a biliteracy component, as well as three “core value” classes in Responsible Leadership, College & Career Readiness, and Wellness Life Skills. They may also choose to participate in a variety of elective classes and extracurricular activities, as well as language classes in Spanish, Chinese, American Sign Language, and Latin.