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Transfer Trend

Twenty-five percent of Kingwood Park students are transfers.
James Pham
Transfer student freshmen Allie Tally and Faith Combs talk in the commons between classes. Tally said joining the cheer team helped her adjust to the new school when she transferred in as a freshman. “Coming into here I didn’t really have any friends, so when I met a lot of people on the cheer team it was really good,” Tally said.

When sophomore Emerson Harris watched Kingwood Park’s production of “Almost, Maine” in eighth grade, she knew she wanted to go to Kingwood Park for high school. She was in her final year at West Lake Middle School and zoned to Atascocita High School.

“Having a smaller theater department was especially one of the reasons I transferred,” said Harris, who is also on the newspaper staff and on the JV cheer team. “I really wanted somewhere where I was going to have the opportunity to grow. I think the main reason I transferred, though, is I didn’t want to be just another number.”

Each year, 1,900 students attend Kingwood Park. Around 25 percent of those students are transfers.

Before many kids reach high school, their parents reach out to district officials with questions and occasional requests for tours from the schools.

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“They want to know what programs or thriving programs are [at Kingwood Park] and if they can be a part of that,” assistant superintendent Trey Kraemer said. “That does draw some kids there. And for some families, life happens and things don’t go as you expect – you feel like as a student you want to change or you’re a parent and you want your kid to have another experience.”

The size is often the biggest draw for transfer students. Kingwood Park’s enrollment is significantly smaller but offers most of the same programs as Kingwood High School (2,739), Humble High School (2,816), Summer Creek High School (3,334) and Atascocita High School (3,854).

However, a smaller overall student population does not mean smaller class sizes.

“[Parents] always want to know about class size, and that’s a misnomer,” Kraemer said. “Like ‘I want smaller class sizes, and so I want my kids to go to Kingwood Park.’ And what I always tell them is smaller class sizes are not happening anywhere.”

While most students who request a transfer to Kingwood Park for freshman year are accepted, there has been a waitlist for grades 10-12 since the school opened in 2007. The number of transfers for each campus is based on the building’s capacity. If the school is at or over capacity, no transfers are allowed.

Kingwood Park is the only Humble ISD school classified as 5A for athletics and academics. The rest of the schools are 6A. Because of the smaller size, students at Kingwood Park are encouraged to be in multiple activities and sports.

Senior Sean Kloesel chose to transfer from Kingwood High School in part because his brother and sister also went to Kingwood Park.

“It just seemed like it was a better fit,” said Kloesel, who played football and became a state qualifier in swim. “I could get out of the friend group I was in previously, and I wouldn’t have to deal with how big the [graduating] class sizes were over there [at Kingwood High School].”

Once students are accepted as transfers, they have to follow guidelines for behavior, attendance and passing grades. If they fail to meet any of these, their transfer can be revoked.    

Junior captain Bailey Fovargue takes control of the ball in the Bi-District Championships against Whitehouse on March 26. (Maya Ortiz)

Transfers are also unable to play sports at the varsity level for their first full year at the school.

Bailey Fovargue, a junior captain on the varsity girls soccer team, had to spend her first year at the JV level because she was originally zoned for Kingwood High School. She finished the season as the JV team’s MVP, Offensive MVP and Most Goals awards.

“It ended up being a fine experience on JV,” Fovargue said. “I got to play a different position. But I think being on [varsity] my freshman year would have been a little, I don’t know, more exciting because competition is greater. But I still ended up having a great time with JV and meeting people.”

The transfer program is run at the district level, with parents and teens having to fill out forms and go through a variety of processes to get accepted to transfer. The forms are due in February for the priority list, with any late forms only considered later.

At the school level, principals provide school tours and answer questions when requested. Many families considering a transfer attend Kingwood Park’s 8th Grade Night in the fall, where they meet teachers and coaches and scope out what classes and programs are offered.

“[I think Kingwood Park offers a] more family-type environment where students are allowed to do a lot more things,” associate principal Tiffany Major said. “Like you can be in an orchestra and play a sport. We typically are more accommodating. And I just think that it has a good reputation and a good culture and people want to be a part of it.”

This story was originally published on Park Times on May 16, 2024.