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

Eyes set on the world

Graduate takes interest in cultural studies

By Bruce Beck

Katie Beckham is waiting for Texas A&M University to send her an acceptance letter. If the Aggies don't hurry up, they'll lose the Ascension Academy senior to St. Gregory's University in Shawnee, Okla.

Beckham, 18, the daughter of Steven and Lori Beckham, will graduate third in her class.

"Katie has worked tirelessly to maintain academic excellence," said Jane Howk, Ascension's Key Club adviser. "She placed at state level in the (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) academic meet."

Howk said Beckham organized a number of fundraisers to help Amarillo nonprofit organizations, but the daughter of Steven and Lori Beckham downplays the importance of her involvement.

"Everything I do is within the framework of an organization," she said. "(Even though I'm) president of the National Honor Society, we got together to decide what needs to be done."

That may be the truth, but Beckham has had a major hand in NHS and student council efforts to bring school supplies to Opportunity School students, collecting socks for homeless people at Faith City Ministries and the school's canned food drive to benefit the High Plains Food Bank.

Beckham said she focuses on balancing her extracurricular activities with her studies to keep from being overwhelmed by either.

"I try to do the things that are my top priority," she said. "I try to work on everything a little every day so I can take care of everything without having to cram at the end."

Her studies in English seem to come easy to her, Beckham said, but she has to study harder to make the grades in math, economics, science and government.

Beckham has some firsthand knowledge of the workings of government, having served as a student ambassador to Australia for three weeks last summer through the People to People program. The year before, Beckham spent those three weeks in Italy.

"Even though we learned about their governments, what was most valuable was we learned to know the people and to forge ties with (the people of) another country," she said. "We found out what people think about Americans, and sometimes we had to set them straight.

"I love traveling, I love meeting people from other countries and I think I'd like to know how we came to be the people we are today" by studying cultural anthropology beginning in the fall - either in College Station or Shawnee, Okla.

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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