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And BASIS San Antonio and San Antonio North Are Making Us Proud

New schools have growing pains – and don’t we know it. While each of our established schools has quickly become an institution worthy of the BASISed name… it wasn’t without bumps in the road, and skips and hops before the path became smooth. The notion of “becoming established” means that – well – you “aren’t yet established”… until, you finally are.

This is not a philosophical exercise. It is an acknowledgment – and something we don’t shy from. Rather, we’re proud of it. Growing is a process. Our schools start off quite well, thank you very much – due to our fantastic teachers, acclaimed curriculum, and vast experience.

But it takes time to grow, and requires growth to become truly excellent. Sometimes our schools can take a leap; sometimes, we require baby steps. But we move forward, and don’t stop. And we know we’ll get there.

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This notion of slow but steady growth to greatness… is one of the reasons why we are so very proud of our two schools in the great state of Texas, BASIS San Antonio, which opened just one and a half years ago, in the fall of 2013, and BASIS San Antonio North, which opened at the start of the current school year, in the fall of 2014.

Both are growing into fantastic schools — and each is now a place with a unique and vibrant personality, and a culture of its own making. That’s how it happens. It’s how it’s supposed to be.

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Have there been bumps? Of course. We always hope that that isn’t the case – indeed, we strive for perfection. But just as we wouldn’t want our child to fall down when taking those first steps… we also realize that there’s also a blessing and wisdom to be found in the skinned knee, and in getting up and journeying onward, after.

So, skinned knees and all, we were proud but not surprised when BASIS San Antonio took first place at the University Interscholastic League academic competition in Math, Science and History. The competition was fierce – it’s the most comprehensive literary and academic competitive program, anywhere. It took place in early springtime at Barbara Bush Middle School, and BASIS San Antonio student Daniel C. won 1st place overall, among all students competing. Pretty fantastic. We’d also like to note the team’s coaches, Dr. Ryan Hamilton & Mr. David Kisel. Well done, all.

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A few more details: BASIS San Antonio had twenty students compete against thirteen other schools in more than twenty categories at the UIL, which was created by The University of Texas at Austin and has grown into the largest inter-school organization of its kind in the world. The UIL exists to provide educational extracurricular academic, athletic, and music contests.

Within this competition, the activities are designed to motivate students as they acquire higher levels of knowledge, to challenge students to confront issues of importance, and to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of specific skills. It’s pretty intense sounding, but it’s just purely impressive to see as an academic and competitive exercise – and not just any group of kids would be able to do what these students did.

Cool, right?

Here’s the thing. BASIS San Antonio – with BASIS San Antonio North already getting there, too – is just doing what BASISed schools do.

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And when those BASIS San Antonio students were taking the gold medal at the UIL competition?

Well, that same weekend, BASIS San Antonio students were also celebrating other kids, who were winners at the Regional Spelling Bee, Junior Classical League competition, and Regional Science Fair.

The very same weekend.

8th grader Catherine E. was named the regional spelling bee finalist, when she beat out 156 spellers. She earned an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for herself and a parent to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

BASIS San Antonio 7th-, 8th-, and 9th-graders also earned themselves first, second, third and fourth places in the various categories at the Junior Classical League competition that weekend. The Junior Classical League is an international organization that encourages an interest in and an appreciation of the language, literature, and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. It is one of the largest student-driven organizations in the world. Sounds like something for students at an east coast school that’s been around since the 19th century, does it? Sure it does. But students from BASIS San Antonio – a school not yet two years old — led the way, at least that day.

That weekend, St. Mary’s University housed the Alamo Regional Science & Engineering Fair, where BASIS San Antonio students were honored with a plethora of awards. Among the honors:

* A second place Naval Science Award presented to Preston T. by the United States Navy;

* A Broadcom Masters awards presented to Ashara S. and Annastina T. — representing the top 30 among all participants; and

* The Charles McGibbon Middle School Achievement Award for excellence in physics, mathematics and computer science, presented to BASIS San Antonio for the second year in a row.

Growing pains, indeed.

(Or should we call them “GOING pains” – since that’s where BASIS San Antonio North is going, as well?)

Given how new an educational community this is, we could not be prouder. And as educators, awards and honors are great – but they’re not the bottom line. Test scores are fantastic – but they aren’t everything, either.

Rather, creating a culture where students quickly see what a joy learning is, how important knowledge is, how vital the process of studying is, no matter what course their lives will ultimately take – THAT’S what we do at BASISed. That’s why we care so much about our growing fast San Antonio schools – young though they be. They’re doing it. They’re on the path. Students at each are doing what BASISed students do – and we can’t wait to see where they go next.

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Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at BASISedBlog@basised.com.

The Culmination of Curiosity

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BASIS.ed is proud of each and every one of our students in all eighteen of our schools across the country. And while we often speak of them collectively – even abstractly – we know that each of them has her or his own story.

So today I want to focus on one of our students, just one, who is a wonderful example to each of our students, and to each of us, as educators. Anvita Gupta is a 12th grade student at BASIS Scottsdale. She’s quite into science, but is also the definition of well-rounded. She’s just a good kid, a happy all around student, who has taken to heart our consistent encouragement to students to find what they like and focus on it: to ask questions, seek answers, and be curious. (In fact, we hear Anvita already had that curious outlook when she arrived at BASIS Scottsdale!)

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Anvita once described herself as a future scientist – but no more. She’s a scientist now. She is thorough and reasoned and measured in her questions, research, and answer-seeking – so much so that she just won the Third Place Medal of Distinction for Global Good at the Intel Science Talent Search at the White House. Anvita was one of forty national finalists competing for $1 million in awards in the nation’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science and math competition. Each of the forty finalists had won a local or regional science fair; Anvita finished third among them.

Anvita, who is 17-years-old, was recognized for making it easier for computers to help develop disease-curing drugs. She essentially used machine learning algorithms to “teach” a computer to identify potential drugs for cancer, tuberculosis and Ebola. She developed a method to rank possible leads for certain molecular targets, chosen for diseases with intrinsically disordered proteins, which make up 70% of all cancer proteins and are implicated in Alzheimer’s, tuberculosis and Ebola.

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Let me be clear — her research is real research – not theoretical. (It’s entitled ‘A Novel Method of Targeting Intrinsically Disordered Proteins for Drug Discovery: Application to Cancer and Tuberculosis’.) And it was so successful that pre-clinical trials are already underway in China on some tuberculosis drugs that she identified.

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In addition to being recognized as one of the nation’s top science students, Anvita was awarded $35,000. She joins the ranks of other notable Science Talent Search alumni, who over the past 74 years have gone on to win eight Nobel Prizes, two Fields Medals, five National Medals of Science, 12 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and even an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Anvita’s findings expressly caught the eye of President Obama, who toured the competition and delivered remarks afterwards. In fact, soon after she presented her research to the President of the United States, he specifically recognized her research during his speech. (If you want to read President Barack Obama’s full speech at the Intel Science Talent Search, including Anvita’s mention, click here.)

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You should also know that Anvita is the founder and director of LITAS For Girls – an organization that aims to inspire middle school girls to learn to love computer science, and eventually pursue computer science careers. Anvita has loads to say about the gender gap in STEM learning and STEM-based careers. No surprise, then, that just as she’s a scientist right now, rather than a “future scientist” (not that there’s anything wrong with that)… she’s also not just a proponent of bridging that STEM gender gap. She’s actually helping build the bridge. (You can see more about this subject at www.litas4girls.org.)

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You can also check out a fun Q & A article featuring Anvita here; and a great news story covering Anvita’s success here.

Anyway, we though Anvita was someone you should know. She represents the culmination, the ultimate result of what we strive to do as educators. No, not every student can finish third in the nation and meet the President inside the White House – we know that. But what every student can do is to be curious, to find joy in learning, in asking, in answering. That’s how we roll – and that’s what Anvita did, and we are so very proud of her. Anvita’s teachers and classmates are, too.

We wish you a hearty congratulations, and a lifetime of continued curiosity, Anvita – as well as academic and scientific fulfillment, and joy in whatever you decide to pursue.

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Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at BASISedBlog@basised.com.