Students from Heights High School and Hogg Middle School participate in Mission Squash, a program for low-income students that promotes academic and athletic achievement. (Contributed photo)
Rodrigo Chon Him said he spoke little English when he arrived in Houston from El Salvador about three years ago, and he was only somewhat familiar with the sport of squash.
He had played tennis in his native country and wanted to do something similar when he enrolled at Hogg Middle School as a seventh-grader, so he decided to join the school’s Mission Squash program. He picked up the sport rather quickly and said the Houston-based program – which operates primarily at Hogg and Heights High School – helped him learn to speak English and also improve his academic performance.
Three years later, the 16-year-old Chon Him is attending Choate Rosemary Hall, a private boarding school in Connecticut where he said he’s on a full scholarship and plays competitive squash. He aspires to play the sport at the college level, too, and said he likely will have that opportunity.
“Most of the credit goes to Mission Squash, because they supported me,” Chon Him said. “They supported me academic-wise. They were on top of my grades and also on top of my squash improvement as well as they helped me a lot financially and my family as well.”
Chon Him is one of a few products of the Mission Squash program who is playing the sport at a boarding school in the Northeast, according to Maggie Trendell, a Heights High School teacher who has worked with the program for about a year. She said the nonprofit was founded in 2012, moved to Hogg when squash courts were constructed there in 2015 and now serves about 55 Hogg and Heights students in grades 6-12, with an annual operating budget of about $500,000 that is raised through donations to the organization.
Pictured are members of the Mission Squash program at Heights High School. (Contributed photo)
The free program is geared toward helping low-income students stay engaged in school, improve their grades, help them graduate and attend college, according to Trendell, who described Mission …….