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Travis (William B. Travis) High School
In South Austin, Rebel pride runs deep
July 26, 2012 - “Whether at the grocery store, a restaurant or local event, it is inevitable that I will run into an alumni,” Travis High School Principal Ty Davidson said. “Our exchange always ends with me saying ‘Once a Rebel!’ and alumni responding ‘Always a Rebel!’ I’m proud of the fact that I can’t go anywhere without that happening.”
During his first few days as principal, Davidson got a taste of alumni loyalty after he accepted an invitation to the reunion of the class of 1954—the school’s first graduating class. At the gathering, many former Rebels still proudly displayed paraphernalia, such as yearbooks, from their high school days.
Travis High School, which opened in 1953, is an academy-based school. In this system, students choose to join a particular academy, based on career clusters, at the end of their freshman year. Although career based, students have the option of switching between academies throughout their high school career in order to experience different opportunities that lie ahead after high school. The academies prepare students with skills in areas such as media, engineering, video game design, teaching, business, hospitality, culinary and law. Seniors have the ability to enroll in internships, in addition to the core classes needed to graduate.
“The academy structure helps students,” Davidson said. “They provide academic and social safety nets for students while at the same time provide a peek into the academic and occupational possibilities after high school.”
Practicums, in particular, offer students hands-on experience in a specific industry. Academic strands like video game design, engineering and Ready, Set, Teach afford students the opportunity to one day work with the likes of Samsung and the University of Texas. The school’s longstanding practicum programs maintain partnerships with local businesses, like the Hyatt Hotel, where hospitality students can develop the skills necessary for careers in hotel management, restaurant management and human resources. The school also works with Seton Medical Center where students interested in the health care profession experience working in a hospital setting.
Although practicums are not required for graduation, they can provide students with an opportunity to network with professionals in their chosen field and, sometimes, to train at facilities across the country. During this past year, for example, two culinary students were able to gain real hands-on experience when they traveled to New York’s famous James Beard House restaurant to help prepare food for a private reception.
Students at Travis High School have many resources to help prepare them for college, career and life.
One such resource is the Go Center, which functions similarly to a university career center. Here, students have access to college and career counseling, information about financial aid and scholarships, and a designated room in which they can work on resumes and applications; and the school offers the Educational Talent Search program, which helps prepare low-income high school students for entrance into college.
Tradition also plays a role in the experience of a Travis student. One popular ritual is the annual Battle of the Bell football game, where the Rebels take on their cross-town rivals, the McCallum Knights. In addition to bragging rights, the winning team gets to ring the prized, old locomotive bell at the end of the game and house it at their school until the following year.
Of course, some bragging rights are more permanent. For example, Travis is the only AISD school to have produced a Rhodes Scholar, as well as a state championship baseball team. Travis also is the only high school in AISD and Central Texas to have an academic decathlon team.
Aside from competition, Travis students enjoy another tradition knows as the “passing of the torch.” At the end-of-the-year bash, outgoing seniors give the junior class representatives letters of advice. Sometimes the counsel regards certain traditions that must be upheld. Sometimes, however, the advice is more practical: Keep up with the homework in Mr. Wyman’s class—he can be tough.
At Travis High, rebel spirit runs high. The next time you’re in South Austin, just call out, “Once a Rebel!” and see what happens.