ACE comes to PI-ISD: After school program to provide extra instruction, activities

By Gaige Davila 

From left: Hilda Zermemo (Point Isabel High School Site Coordinator), Irene M. Hernandez (Point Isabel Junior High Site Coordinator), Arleen Marin, Director, Ana L. Ochoa-Loera (Derry Elementary Site Coordinator), Michelle A. Barreiro (Garriga Elementary Site Coordinator). Photo courtesy of PI-ISD.

Port Isabel students can expect a little more from their school for the next few years. 

The Afterschool Centers on Education (ACE) has come back to PI-ISD, thanks to a competitive Department of Education grant the school district applied for and received.

The ACE program provides after-school, extra curricular activities and academic help, such as homework and assignment assistance, to any student for free. The program will be at all PI-ISD campuses for the next 5 years, which is the lifespan of the grant. 

Heading the ACE program is Arleen Marin, who came from Weslaco ISD, where she served as a site coordinator for the ACE program there. It was the first time Weslaco ISD had the ACE program, which Marin says helped in becoming the director of PI-ISD’s program. She feels right at home, saying PI-ISD’s community has been welcoming and helpful. 

“Right away, when I came to my interview, I connected with the people here,” Marin said. “I come from a big district, so this is a little different for me. But it feels so homey.” 

The program, Marin hopes, will improve academic performance, attendance, graduation rates and preparing students for college. 

On the academic end, ACE will have tutoring, ACT/SAT prep, financial literacy and college readiness courses. Extracurricular activities include coding, drone flying; book, art and photography clubs; folklorico, karate, running, swimming, culinary arts, football, soccer and more. Marin says ACE is a community program, too, mentioning family events are happening once a month. 

Some of these activities will take place off campus, thanks to partnerships with United Way and SpaceX, which the district sought out once the program was established. Marin said local businesses are welcome to contact the ACE program for partnerships. 

The ACE program will have the same COVID protocols as PI-ISD, including wearing masks inside, which was recently passed by PI-ISD’s school board in defiance of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates. 

There are four site coordinators for each of PI-ISD’s campuses: Hilda Zermemo, at Port Isabel High School, Irene M. Hernandez, at Port Isabel Junior High, Ana L. Ochoa-Loera, at Derry Elementary and Michelle A. Barreiro at Garriga Elementary. 

The program, which starts on September 7, will run from 3:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. at Garriga and Derry Elementary; 3:35 p.m. to 6:35 p.m. at the Junior High; and 4:05 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. at the high school.  

Students must be registered with the ACE program before attending. For more information, call (956) 943-0611.

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