ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- When the STEM Academy first opened its doors in 2014, the educators there made a promise to parents taking a leap of faith and enrolling their children in the project based, STEM focused, charter school. That promise? To graduate students who are both college and career ready.

And many STEM families believe the school has made good on its promise. To highlight that, today, STEM Academy honored two students who received national recognition for their scores on the PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT. 

This morning, senior Isaac Arellano, 17, and junior Jashon Lemons, 16, were honored in front of their classmates, parents, and staff for scoring in the top 10% of all Texas students in the nationwide exams. Both young men received the National Hispanic Recognition Award. In addition, Jashon also received the National African American Scholarship Award. 

“We are very proud of them. We’ve been trying to build lifelong learners- that’s one of our goals at STEM, to prepare our students for college or university. This is an example of two young men showing preparedness for college and career,” said Secondary Principal Dr. Cody Griffin. 

Griffin attributed not only a STEM education, but extracurricular activities to Jashon and Arrellano’s success. He said Jashon serves as a soccer referee and Arellano is an intern for the City of Odessa. 

“When you couple their testing performance with their real-world experiences, these young men are very well rounded,” Dr. Griffin said. 

Arrellano, who has been a student at STEM since 5th grade, said he was excited to be honored with such an award, and he had some advice for future test takers.

“It’s nice to be recognized,” he said. “The PSAT is intimidating at first, but just work it out. When you see a question, read it again over and over until you get it.”

Arellano said he plans to go to college after graduation and wants to pursue a degree in computer science.

Jashon, who joined STEM Academy in 9th grade- he was homeschooled through 8th grade, echoed Arellano’s excitement about the award and offered some advice of his own.

“I’m proud. It was unexpected, but it’s exciting. I feel like now I can get a higher SAT score. You have to work hard, you can’t slack off,” Jashon said.

Jashon’s mom, Nicole Lemons said, “I’m very excited. Just so proud…he will do great things if he just puts his mind to it.”

Jashon said he wants to one day attend college and pursue a degree in software engineering.

Jashon and Arellano are the first two students at STEM Academy to receive this high honor, but Dr. Griffin issued a challenge to all upperclassmen today, saying every student there is capable of achieving the same level of success through determination and hard work.