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      Opportunity School becomes first No Excuses University preschool in U.S.

      No excuses for not going to college, or making sure every student is educated in a way that prepares them for it. That's the philosophy behind the "No Excuses University" incentive. Opportunity School is now the first pre-school in the United States designated as a No Excuses campus.

      Even though Opportunity School has been in Amarillo since 1969, few have heard of it. It has two locations and provides high quality early childhood education to children starting from birth to five-years old. Just recently, taking their vision for their school to the next level by becoming the first "No Excuses University" pre-school in the U.S.

      "We like like planting that seed for college when children are very very young and encouraging their parents perhaps to pursue a few educational goals they haven't achieved is a great thing for our community," said Opportunity School Executive Direction, Jill Goodrich.

      Goodrich says adults need to recognize the importance of discussing higher education with kids early on.

      "80-percent of our brains are wired by the time we're three-years old. So if we can plant that seed really early and encourage parents that two generational approach really makes a big difference".

      No one understands that importance better than Adrian Meander. Once a student at Opportunity School, he's now a successful business man, community leader, a school board member and his son even went to the school.

      "Early education childhood is so important to me. I just remember the relationship with my teachers, I remember the field trips, story time, the learning, the museum, the art work. Just the over all experience for at Opportunity School was a great one," said Opportunity School Board of Directors Member, Meander.

      He says he recalls not even knowing about college until high school. Which is why he says the "No Excuses University" incentive is pivotal to our future.

      "I remember as a child I did not have that opportunity, I didn't hear about college until probably early high school. But planting that seed at a young age, my son is in the 8th grade and attends a No Excuses campus and he's already excited. He talks about colleges he would like to attend and colleges he would like to visit," said Meander.

      Goodrich says some of the steps they're taking to implement the incentive is place college decorations, and language throughout their campuses. But mostly importantly, it's having an open conversation with their students.

      "It's really about helping kids understand if you want to be a police officer, what kind of education do you have to have. And understanding that after pre-k comes elementary school, then middle school, and then high school. After high school comes college," said Goodrich.

      Opportunity School is funded mostly by the community. Coming up on October 10th, the school is hosting their annual LIPS! event. It starts at 6:00 p.m. in the Amarillo Civic Center Heritage Room. LIPS! is the school's biggest fundraiser for the year. The evening includes complimentary cocktails, silent auction bidding, and hors d'oeuvres. Dinner will be at 7:00 p.m. followed by a live sponsorship auction and the lip-sync show starting at 8:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend. Advance reservations are needed due to cartering. Tickets at $50.00 per person. Call 806-373-4245 for more information.