BOB HOPE SCHOOL — Stories of determination and success inspire next generation

Published 12:06 am Saturday, January 27, 2024

The license to dream big!

It is the gift offered this week to students at Bob Hope School by former NASA astronaut Jose M. Hernandez.

“I try to give students the license to dream big – through example,” said Hernandez.

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The dream of Hernandez, chronicled in the Hollywood movie “A Million Miles Away,” was to be an astronaut. His application was rejected 11 times before he was accepted. The determination and grit Hernandez embodies applies equally to the school hosting Hernandez at its annual Boots N BBQ event.

Both man and school started their journey with seemingly insurmountable odds, and both have overcome in dramatic fashion. Hernandez grew up around Stockton, California, working much of the year as a migrant farmworker who did not learn English until age 12.

However, it was his tenacity that led Hernandez to become an astronaut for NASA, a crewmember on a space shuttle mission, the subject of a Hollywood movie, and a regent for the University of California system.

By now, it is clear the Bob Hope School has been on a similarly meteoric trajectory. The district also had early hurdles to leap – in the areas of regulatory approval, funding and logistics. But the district that started in 2010 with one school and 240 students on 9th Avenue – has grown to roughly 2,600 students and five schools, three in Port Arthur and one each in Beaumont and Baytown.

Bob Hope School has seen astounding educational outcomes. About 80 percent of the district’s students graduate with dual credit for college. Several students now call Tier 1 universities, like Stanford, their home.

The state of Texas gave Bob Hope School the single highest rating in Region 5 last year, and the district consistently performs better than the state average on the STAAR exam. Clearly, determination is the germinating seed of spectacular success.

Bob Hope School has done it in the same maverick manner that made Hernandez believe so fervently in himself. Hernandez knew he could apply to a NASA position sought by roughly 12,000 people – and succeed.

Bob Hope School knew a Montessori education focusing on developing a child’s natural interests via hands — on activities would fire their educational curiosity. It worked.

Bob Hope School knew musical education could spark a fascination in young people, and today our students can beam with pride at performing in strings (violin, viola, cello and more) competitions.

The Bob Hope High School mariachi band performs all around the region. Additionally, the high school boasts the only charter Future Farmers of America agricultural education program in the area.

Bob Hope School knew a dual language education would best prepare students for a Texas profession. And all this was accomplished while winning TCAL state championships in tennis and soccer.

The movie recounts the moment Hernandez was told he had the makings of a great future. He was told, “You are a force of nature” and “nothing will stop you.”

Something Bob Hope School works to convey to students every day.

Kevin Steele is the director of marketing and public relations at Bob Hope School and former anchor of KBMT-TV.