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Friday, September 22, 2023

Academics & Research

UH program plans to expand horizons for high school students

A new UH program hopes to show high school students there is more to life than what they know.

Scholars in Schools, a UH Honors College program, is giving 15 students from Pasadena's Sam Rayburn High School a college-like experience to show them they have options.

“Many of them (Rayburn students) don’t seem to think beyond high school, their horizons don’t extend beyond the oil refineries that ring Pasadena,” French history and Honors College professor Robert Zaretsky said.

Zaretsky is working on the program with Rayburn 10th-grade level English teacher Brian Johnston, his brother-in-law.

Students will study “The Iliad” and attend seminars on the UH campus.

Zaretsky believes this program will give these students a broader outlook on life.

“Brian has been trying to make these students see the great works (and show how) they are relevant for these students, too.”

Zaretsky credits Honors College Dean Bill Monroe and Rayburn principal Robert Stock with helping get the program off the ground.

“The Honors (College) for far too long has looked beyond Houston for its recruiting base. It was in part the decision of Dean Monroe that we should be working with high schools in the Houston area,” Zaretsky said. “Especially high schools where students traditionally don’t go on to universities.”

The semester starts and ends with the students coming to UH for seminars.

Throughout the semester, Zaretsky will be attending the Rayburn class every other Friday to teach alongside Johnston.

Guest lecturers with expertise on “The Iliad” will also be involved.

Casey Due-Hackney, professor of modern and classical languages, and Richard Armstrong, associate professor of classical studies, will take part in giving these students a broader educational experience.

“The Iliad,” is already a staple of college literature and at many high schools.

Zaretsky said that the students at Rayburn will be able to relate to Achilles and his journey to define himself and his life.

“The Iliad” deals with the very same themes the students are dealing with in their lives," Zaretsky said. "It deals with love, honor and shame."

“Ultimately what ‘The Iliad’ deals with is finding meaning in one’s life. I can’t see how this can’t speak to the lives of these kids.”

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