Pershing Middle School was established by HISD in 1928. Originally connected to West University Elementary School, Pershing moved to its own campus on Braes Boulevard in 1948. It has since been rebuilt at the same location but with a new address on Blue Bonnet Street. Pershing’s mission statement is “to educate all students in a safe, enriched, learning environment, to become responsible, productive citizens in an ever-changing society.”
As a magnet school within HISD, Pershing Middle School has no religious affiliation. Students’ religious convictions do not factor into admissions, and the curriculum does not include theological material. While there is no institutionalized prayer in the school, there is a daily minute of silence during which students may choose to pray. Additionally, absences due to religious holidays do not count against a student’s record, though the student is still responsible for make-up work.
Pershing’s 18-acre campus is located at Blue Bonnet Boulevard and Stella Link Road. Between 2005 and 2007, the entire school was rebuilt. The facilities include a baseball field, an all-purpose sports field, one 195,336-square-foot, two-story main building, and a smaller auxiliary building. The two buildings house 84 classrooms, a media center, a cafeteria, an administration suite, a gymnasium, a gymnastics facility, a weight room, a natatorium (covered swimming pool), and an auditorium. Braeswood Place, the neighborhood surrounding Pershing, is a largely residential area close to West University Place, Southside Place, and Bellaire.
Pershing’s Fine Arts Magnet admissions process requires that applicants complete and submit an application along with their most recent report card and test records, the previous year’s report card, their permanent record/transcript, their immunization record, proof of HISD residency, and a copy of their guardian’s photo ID. Prior to application, students must have maintained an overall grade point average of 78 or higher, good conduct, and good attendance. Students must also have experience with or demonstrate potential in the fine arts. If the applicant meets the requirements, the school will then send a letter with a specified audition time. Students may choose to audition for one of the following specializations: band, orchestra, choir, art, dance, gymnastics, guitar, or theatre arts. When auditions are completed, applicants will be ranked according to their audition scores.
Pershing’s Neighborhood Vanguard G/T Program requires a completed application, the applicant’s end of semester report card, the previous year’s final report card, a teacher recommendation form, Stanford/Aprenda achievement test scores, current Naglieri Non-Verbal Ability Test-2 results, and proof of HISD residency. The applicant may be required to complete extra testing, which will be arranged by the G/T Coordinator.
Students may also be eligible to attend Pershing by virtue of zoning (see map below). However, even zoned students must complete the requisite application in order to participate in the Fine Arts Magnet or Neighborhood Vanguard G/T Program.
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Pershing has four academic tracks: On-Track, Pre-AP, Vanguard/GT, and Accelerated Vanguard/GT. The Vanguard/GT curriculum includes language arts, mathematics, a language other than English, science, social studies/history, and speech. Seventh and eighth grade students in the Vanguard/GT program will have the option of choosing Spanish, French, or Mandarin Chinese to fulfill their language requirement. Additionally, eighth grade students in the program will take Algebra I and Integrated Physics and Chemistry (IPC). In the Accelerated Vanguard/GT program, an Advanced Pre-Algebra math class is offered for sixth graders, who will then take Algebra I in seventh grade and Geometry in eighth grade.
Accommodations are available for students with special needs who meet the requirements for admission. If the parents already have documentation about the student’s special needs, the school will need a copy of that documentation. After receiving the documentation, the school will set up an annual ARD meeting that the parents, the student, an administrator, a core subject teacher, a special education teacher or 504 representative, and an HISD advocate will attend to discuss the specific modifications necessary for the student and to create an individualized education plan (IEP) for the student. Every teacher will receive a copy of the modifications for the student after they are set in the ARD meeting.
If the parents want to request modifications for their child, then the special education teacher will give the student’s teachers paperwork to document the student’s behavior and any modifications the teacher uses for the student. After 6 weeks of documentation, the teachers will turn in the paperwork, and the special education teacher or 504 representative will call a meeting similar to an ARD meeting. If the meeting determines that the student needs accommodation, then the school will have documentation of the student’s special needs and will follow the same procedures as above.
Pershing offers French, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese. On-Track and Pre-AP students are not required to take a foreign language, but may choose to do so; Vanguard and Accelerated Vanguard students must take a foreign language.
Students who successfully complete a foreign language class in seventh and eight grade will earn high school credit. Spanish speakers may qualify to take AP Spanish classes during 8th grade and can earn up to four high school credits.
Students in Pershing’s Fine Arts Magnet program select one area of concentration: visual arts, band, dance, theatre arts, choir, orchestra, gymnastics, or guitar. The intermediate and advanced electives require auditions or successful completion of the beginning level electives. Each program has a variety of performances and exhibitions, both mandatory and optional, throughout the year. The school runs a blog dedicated to posting both art and performance schedules.
Students are not allowed to use laptops or their other unnecessary electronics during school. Computer labs are available for schoolwork; the labs contain high-tech equipment and facilities to teach 3D rendering, digital sciences, wood shop, and video and audio production.
Numerous clubs are available both before and after classes: BETA club, Bluebonnet Street Journal, Booster, Chess, Cheerleading, Club de Espanola, Drama, Math Counts, Name that Book, National Junior Honor Society, No Place For Hate, Odyssey of the Mind, a Perfect Ten step team, Prep Bowl, Robotics, Spanish Book Club, and Student Council. Additionally, the neighboring YMCA offers after-school programs with enrichment and athletic activities in which students are encouraged to participate.
After-school sports are available throughout the year. Pershing fields more than 13 teams across 10 sports: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, softball, cheerleading, and volleyball.
Parents can join the Pershing PTO to host events, help with fundraisers, and volunteer. To volunteer, parents must first be approved through HISD’s Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) program.
The school also has a Shared Decision Making Committee, through which interested parents can join with teachers and community members to advise the principal on important administrative matters.