celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

Academy offers identity

Student ready to study nursing

By Philip Stake
Globe-News Correspondent

Three years ago Michelle Anderson-Barnes thought she would never graduate from high school.

During her freshman year, she skipped classes regularly to avoid fighting with a group of antagonistic peers. She was summoned to juvenile court on more than one occasion. By the end of the second semester, she was failing every class.

"If I was at (my former school) I probably would have dropped out by now and got my GED," Anderson-Barnes, 17, said.

But after discovering the small class sizes and caring supervision at Richard Milburn Academy, a public charter high school in Amarillo, Anderson-Barnes enrolled immediately.

"Somebody is there to look after you," she said. "You don't feel as alone, like an outcast. Whenever I went to Richard Milburn, it changed my whole outlook. Why would I drop out when I can get a high school diploma, go to college and make something out of myself?"

The positive environment has had a profound effect. She said she ended ninth grade with an overall 2.1 grade-point average. Now, the prom queen will walk the stage May 31 with a 3.3 GPA and intends to study nursing at West Texas A & M University this fall.

Anderson-Barnes said her mother, a registered nurse, helped inspire her choice of major. The decision to specialize in pediatrics and the ambition to one day work for Child Protective Services are her own, but admittedly influenced by her now 6-year-old sister, Staxia.

"I love working with kids," she said.

In part, she attributes her academic success to Gloria Chunsberry, her 11th-grade English teacher, for taking time out of her days to help when homework was confusing - even science homework - and for going above and beyond to prepare her for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test.

Her parents and grandparents also have been supportive role-models, she said.

Outside of school, she enjoys bowling, volleyball and dancing. She loves to read the "An Unfortunate Series of Events" books by her favorite author, Lemony Snicket. And like most teenagers, she enjoys spending time with friends.

"She helped us out at the front between classes, very energetic ... a major force behind prom organizing," said Richard Milburn School Director Mark Peters.

"She's always been very positive ... her teachers say she lights up the room."

Celebrate Education is a yearlong community project to encourage lifelong learning and help raise the education level in the Texas Panhandle.

Editor's Note: The Amarillo Globe-News is profiling a student a day from May 9-29 as part of its 2008 graduation coverage. Students were nominated by Globe-News readers.

calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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