Houston high school works to change image

By Khambrel Marshall - Meteorologist, 'Newsmakers' Host

HOUSTON - Eleven years ago, when the principle of Furr High School came out of retirement, Furr High  was filled with wide spread gang activity.

"People really don't know what this school is any more" said Bertie Simmons, Furr High School's principle.

"They're still judging it on the way it was at one time when it was nothing but a lot a gang war fare. It's not that way anymore."

Now, instead of widespread gang activity, Furr High is an example of how to turn bad to good. 

The hallways are filled with plenty of students who want to be here, along with evidence of former students who set the standard.

Principal Simmons is always visible and ready to give and receive hugs. There are plenty of students and parents in line.

She started a principal's advisory committee this year, made up of freshmen, sophomores and juniors who all heard plenty of bad things about Furr, but say those days are gone.

"Really there's no fights, no violence," Junior Kevin Berrios said. "There are so many different cultures so everyone is really accepting about everything."

Oladipo  Moyosore says he tells everyone he knows that Furr is one of the best schools in HISD.

"I have some friends if I tell them I go to Furr, they say why?" "I say we get awards and that we compete at the top levels with Debakey and all the top schools."

Rather than gang activity you're more likely to see collaborative efforts like a recent documentary on environmental injustice in east Houston shot by Furr students.

 HISD police still walk the halls but say there is much less to do these days as the school's graduation rate grew from 45 to near 90 percent.

Much credit is given to Dr. Simmons, who took the job when no one else would, and says her philosophy is simple and is the core of her hopes for Furr's future.

"We spend too much time, especially with minority students finding reasons why they can't succeed and I believe the only thing that holds us back is our lack of imagination."

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