By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
Jose Atkinson is more than just a Port Isabel High student-athlete. He is involved in so many extracurricular things that to this observer it’s a wonder that he not only has time to study, but that he consistently gets top grades.
Atkinson plays basketball in the wintertime and runs track in the spring. He is president of the Student Council, a member of National Honor Society, and participates in DECA, UIL academic competitions, and Junior Leadership.
One skill that is absolutely necessary to someone who is active in so many ways is time management, and Atkinson definitely has it. “When I stepped in here I saw that we had somebody who was able to manage his time wisely,” first year Port Isabel High basketball coach Anthony Velarde told the Press recently. “The kid works real hard in the classroom, in the school community, and that’s the kind of people we want on our basketball team.”
“It’s fun doing all those things,” Atkinson said last Saturday before morning practice. “It gets you involved and it looks good on my resume for when I apply to college.”
Atkinson consistently earns grades in the 90-percentile range in his classes, which qualifies him for National Honor Society membership. DECA involves on-the-job training. “I do travel and tourism with my partner,” Atkinson said. “We compete and we actually made it to state twice.”
Junior Leadership is open to seniors who can demonstrate qualities of leadership. “You apply as a junior and they judge you on your grades and letters of recommendation and essays. I applied and got accepted. It teaches about leadership. We do field trips.”
Coach Velarde recognizes these qualities of leadership in Atkinson. “He’s focused, he’s driven, he has ambition, and that’s the kind of guy you want as your leader. He leads by example and that’s the biggest thing.”
Atkinson was asked if he sometimes has to study until past, say 10 o’clock on school nights. “(I may) have three tests in one day and I would have to study till … two in the morning.” Then it’s up at 7 a.m. in order to be at school in time for his first class the next day.
“My mom always tells me, ‘The more you learn, the more you earn.’”
But to a young person like Atkinson, with his whole life in front of him, it’s about more than just earning a living. It’s about remembering where one comes from and giving back as much as one can. “I’ll never forget where I came from. I was raised here and I love it here. My friends and I, we want to get out of here, and we will, but we’ll never forget where we came from.”
Atkinson plans to “get out of here” by going to college and he’s involved in the application process now.
“I plan to apply to UTSA and major in kinesiology and exercise science. Then I want to apply to physical therapy school.”
Coach Velarde is much involved in that process. “I push every single one of these guys to go to a college, university, a trade school. You’ve got to have a plan, though. You can’t just wake up and decide you’re going to go to college. So I remind these guys to take the SAT’s, ACT’s, and I’m usually the one that’s telling them when the dates are and all that kind of stuff. I really make sure … remind them and get them to apply … turn in paperwork and do all those things.”
But for some people all the prodding and reminding isn’t necessary. “Jose’s a kid I don’t have to tell that to. He’s on it and he’s got a plan.”
“I’m applying before Dec. 1st. I have my essays ready – I’m just too scared to hit submit!” Atkinson said.
One thing is certain: this is a young man with a plan, and anyone who follows a plan as well as Atkinson does is going to be all right.
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