The Northside Board of Trustees has renamed the Excel Academy in honor of the school’s longtime principal, Irene Chavez.
Though the name of the school and its location have changed over the years, the mission of the Irene L. Chavez Excel Academy has always remained the same- to serve as an academic alternative high school for students at risk of dropping out.
Originally called Challenge High School, this new type of high school first opened in the fall of 1990 as a three-year pilot program under the Adult and Community Education Department. It was funded by a Texas Education Agency grant and Chavez was hired as the first principal.
In 2003, Challenge High School was renamed the Northside Excel Academy by the Board of Trustees and merged with another non-traditional high school, Sunset High School. After 15 years at the Northside Learning Center, the Excel Academy moved to its current location on the Holmes High School campus in 2006.
Thousands of students have earned diplomas from the Irene L. Chavez Excel Academy through the years and have been able to go on to the military, higher education, and the job market. It remains a school that believes all students can thrive, survive, and graduate although some of them need a different school environment to reach their educational goals.
Chavez retired in May 2014 after 24 years as the school’s principal.