Luis Gonzalez-Vinces Killed in Motorcycle Accident

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The Palm Beach Sheriff today reported a fatal accident in Boynton Beach. According to the report, Luis Gonzalez-Vinces, a 20-year-old from West Boca, was killed last night when his motorcycle collided with a car near the Turnpike interchange at Boynton Beach Blvd. It is our understanding that he was a graduate of Olympic Heights, though he may have gone to Spanish River.

V1 (Gonzalez-Vinces) was traveling westbound on Boynton Beach Boulevard in the 8200 block at a high rate of speed. V2 was traveling eastbound on Boynton Beach Boulevard and attempted to turn left to head north on the FL Turnpike’s southbound on ramp. The driver of V2 did not see V1 and V1 violently struck the front passenger side of V2. V1 rotated clockwise and its rear struck the passenger side rear of V2. The driver of V2 was pronounced deceased on scene by PBFR.

Gonzalez-Vinces was a resident of the 9000 block of Boca Gardens Trail. Boca Gardens is on the east side of 441 south of Clint Moore and across from Boca Chase.

9000 block of Boca Gardens Trail; image by Google
9000 block of Boca Gardens Trail; image by Google

His Luis Gonzalez Facebook page is filling up with posts from friends who have learned of his passing.
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West Boca News extends our best wishes to his family and friends.
The full report from the Sheriff is below. Please note that the report incorrectly states that the driver of V2 passed away. The Sheriff’s e-mail advised of that mistake. Also the accident is indicated to have happened at 9 pm on Friday.
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AP Exams in Boca Schools

Image Credit: Full Ben from JoyReactor.com
Image Credit: Full Ben from JoyReactor

Are West Boca kids getting the short end of the AP stick? Data from the school district shows that students at West Boca High and Olympic Heights High take fewer Advanced Placement exams and leave school with significantly less AP credits for college compared with Boca High and Spanish River.

We should start by noting that all the Boca high schools compare well to most schools in the state, as we discussed in December.

There are substantial differences in Advanced Placement exam statistics between the four public high schools in greater Boca Raton. More students at Boca High and Spanish River take AP exams, and they take more of them.
While differences exist between all the schools, the starkest disparity is between Boca High and West Boca High. Both schools have very similar SAT and ACT scores but their AP statistics are not even close.
In 2014, 41% of students at Boca High took at least one AP exam. Of the ones taking exams, the average student took 2.5 exams. As far as scoring, 65% of Boca High AP exams were scored at 3 or higher, qualifying them for credit at many universities.
At West Boca High only 27% of students took an AP exam, and among those students they took an average of 1.7 exams, with 61% passing (3 or higher).
Put another way, the average Boca High student enters college with credit for two and a half classes. The average West Boca student only gets credit for one college class.
Looking at the other two schools, Spanish River has significantly higher SAT and ACT scores. The kids who take AP exams also take an average of 2.5 exams in a year, like the kids at Boca High. But only one third of Spanish River kids take AP exams. That’s significantly fewer than the Boca High kids, though more than West Boca. Spanish River kids also have the highest pass rate, at over 73%.
Olympic Heights has the lowest SAT and ACT scores in Boca, but they still take more AP exams than West Boca High kids. Olympic also has the lowest pass rate on the APs at 58%. These numbers are actually quite good when you consider that the school has a relatively high poverty rate, students who are English learners, and a program for students with autism, Asperger’s, and emotional issues.
Olympic also has a program for a relatively small group of advanced students called OAPA. Those students do take a lot of AP exams.
Looking at the rest of the county, magnet school Suncoast Community High is by far the highest performer on APs. Three quarters of the kids take AP exams and they average 3 AP exams a year. Not far behind, the other big magnet school is Dreyfoos where 85% of the kids take at least one AP. They average just under 2 AP exams a year. At those two schools the average student graduates with credit for roughly five college courses.
Outside the magnets, Jupiter High and Atlantic High have numbers similar to Olympic Heights.
We reached out to the school district, to the principals of the four Boca schools, and to the two school board members (Frank Barbieri and Karen Brill) representing Boca. We have not received any meaningful response from the district or the school board.

Craig Sommer, New Principal of West Boca High
Craig Sommer, New Principal of West Boca High

West Boca High has a new principal, Craig Sommer, who has been received enthusiastically by the community. He sent us this response:

… I have the seen the same data that you refer to in the draft of your article. I agree that we have an outstanding opportunity to significantly increase the number of students that graduate from West Boca Raton High School with college credit as a result of taking and passing College Board’s Advanced Placement Exams. We are in the process of rapidly expanding both our AP and our Cambridge AICE program course offerings (including AICE Diploma and AP Capstone) to maximize our students’ potential.
In addition to the AP data, it is also very important to consider that there a number of ways students can graduate with college credit, beyond the AP program. We are very proud of our college dual-enrollment program that was recognized this past year as one of the largest and most successful dual enrollment programs in the county. West Boca High School also has an extremely strong industry certification program for our outstanding academy programs. This past school year our pre-Med Academy students earned the highest pass rate in the school district.
We look forward to an outstanding future at West Boca High School, and please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

One other source also pointed to AICE and other programs as an alternative way for students to get college credit. We did not find any data on that so we can’t compare it.
We also talked to some parents, students, and recent alumni. One parent said:

AICE courses are not always given college credit. They are in Florida, but outside of Florida it is not at all a guarantee. In fact, at the colleges where my daughter … applied she didn’t even get the 6.0/A credit for her AICE class outside of Florida …. All colleges recalculate GPA when a student applies; within Florida the AICE classes get the bump to GPA like AP does; outside of Florida AP gets a bump while AICE usually doesn’t.
The interesting fact is that both Boca and West Boca offer AICE. At West Boca the AICE classes seem to be “replacing” AP’s for kids while that isn’t happening at Boca. Maybe Sommer is right when he says that the Academy classes fill in the gap for kids at West Boca. Boca High does have 2 academies – STEM and JROTC, we have 5. And the dual enrollment has always been popular at West Boca.

An OH parent with a kid in the OAPA program said:

Olympic Heights which now has it’s own AP academy, OAPA, that selects the highest performing academic students who are then required to take at least 7 AP classes in their four years of school. The first graduating class will be 2016, and it will be interesting to see what effect this will have on the numbers, taking into account OAPA only accepts approximately 50 students a year. There are many AP classes offered at Olympic Heights, taught by some truly incredible teachers and along with the opportunities for dual enrollment at FAU/PBCC students at this school are being presented with a wide variety of options to earn college credit.

Another parent from West Boca High expressed both positives and negatives that happen in all schools:

I am overall impressed with the academies offered at the school, in particular the Medical Academy. … That being said, most of the classes associated with the Medical Academy taken so far have been AICE and the quality of teachers has been absolutely exceptional. They take the time with the students and their primary concern is to make sure the students learn the material.
One frustration we have in this current year, is a class now being taken …. The teacher in this class … is one of the worst we have seen. This teacher is talked about among most of the parents & students as a frustration. She spends most classes playing a video and assigning an immense amount of homework … that literally takes the students at least 10 hours a week to complete. This class has taken up so much time to stay on top of it and maintain a good grade, that it takes away from our child’s study time in the rest of the classes. She doesn’t appear to even enjoy teaching.
Even at the parent teacher night, when parents have gone there hoping to hear the teacher speak, she chose to stand on the side and have former students speak on her behalf. The only time she spoke up was to laugh about how incredibly hard she tries to make all of her tests. When we have asked around to other students and parents of one’s taking this AP class, the same experience is repeated over and over again. …
I might also add that the new principal is very liked at our school this year. He is very personable and out there with the students staying involved. We hope he will continue to be a positive influence on West Boca High School.

We’ve heard similar complaints about math teachers at West Boca High for a few years now, but in writing this story we noticed that the pass rate for the AP Calculus classes is essentially 100%. A couple parents told us that the Calculus teacher is outstanding.
One other parent hit a note that rang very true for us:

I am in a state of awe that so much emphasis is placed on getting college credits in high school. I understand the competitive nature of college education but, perhaps the real litmus test for the performance of these schools should be SAT/ACT scores? As you point out in the article, these schools pull from many social, economic and diverse learning skills levels, the results are going to be skewed a bit.

We wonder if getting college credits should be the goal of high school. We send our kids to college to get college credit. On that note this book might interest some parents:


And one more parent quote:

I am shocked and disappointed to see we are at the low end of students graduating with college credits. Lower than Olympic is disappointing. I personally think a lot had to do with our previous principal who was not involved enough. IMO. I truly believe Mr. Sommer will help us improve those scores with his leadership.
My daughter has taken AP classes since she started West Boca. … Her teachers were VERY good in preparing them, and being available to them for help.
I was never even aware of dual enrollment until senior guidance night this year. I am not even joking. I am a pretty involved parent, but the guidance department is not very good with communication. Too late for my daughter, but we will try and take advantage of it with [our younger child]. Very frustrating.
My daughter has had 3 different counselors so far in 3.1 years at West Boca. Not helpful. Maybe not the school’s fault, but anyone on the latter half of the alphabet basically had no true guidance.

We also heard from one recent high-performing graduate of one of the local high schools who now attends a nationally ranked university:

The only AICE class I’ve ever taken, AICE General Paper, is probably the best class I’ve ever taken. Although I hated the class at the time, the teacher made me into a significantly better writer.
For AP, although I did not like all of my teachers and did not agree with many of their teaching methods, I do genuinely believe they wanted me to succeed. I found the classes to be very difficult and time consuming.
I got very little sleep in high school because taking APs with any extra-curricular is extremely difficult. But, to get into a good college, you gotta have a ton of APs and get really involved. So APs caused me a ton of stress in high school.
I also took dual enrollment classes and I found them easier than any regular classes I’ve ever taken.
High school, like college, is all about getting out of it what you put in. No matter where kids go to high school, they won’t get anything out of it if they don’t make an effort.
As much as I hated taking the APs (they made my high school life miserable) they are making my college experience significantly easier. I have pretty much gotten most if not all of my general education requirements out of the way, which is allowing me to double major. If I hadn’t gotten so many credits out of the way in high school, my college life would have been significantly more difficult.
So my advice to high schoolers: AP classes are NOT for the weak of heart, nor the lazy. BUT, if you’re up to the daunting task, the benefits are bountiful.

What do our readers think of all this? Please let us know in the comments here or on the Facebook post.
A spreadsheet showing some of the AP and SAT/ACT exam data is below:
[gview file=”https://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/AP-Boca-Schools.pdf”]
Next is a similar document but adding in the data from the four other schools in the county:
[gview file=”https://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/AP-Scores-wide.pdf”]

Foundation Scholarships to Local Students

All photos by Carlos Aristizabal
The Eda and Cliff Viner Community Scholars Foundation awarded 18 four-year scholarships to local students this week. This first Annual Award Ceremony took place at Boca West Country Club on Sunday, June 14th.

Floor: Maia Groman, Congressman Deutch, Nusrat Noor, Amanda Hirschman. Sitting: Adina Hoffman, Lauren Brito, Wenda Fils-Aime, Eda Viner, Natalia Leal, Fernanda Rodriguez, and Teagan Murphy.  Standing: Lucas de Carvalho, Maribel Dupont-Bedolla, Raquel Dunn, Megan Rahnama, Shaaz Feldman, Cliff Viner, Isaac Azoalos, Travis Young, Javier Gomez, and Brett Wolff.
Floor: Maia Groman, Congressman Deutch, Nusrat Noor, Amanda Hirschman. Sitting: Adina Hoffman, Lauren Brito, Wenda Fils-Aime, Eda Viner, Natalia Leal, Fernanda Rodriguez, and Teagan Murphy. Standing: Lucas de Carvalho, Maribel Dupont-Bedolla, Raquel Dunn, Megan Rahnama, Shaaz Feldman, Cliff Viner, Isaac Azoalos, Travis Young, Javier Gomez, and Brett Wolff.

“We are offering not only financial assistance,” says Foundation Co-Founder Cliff Viner. “But we are also providing a comprehensive mentor program to keep students on-track, so they can graduate and then go on to fulfill the promise they’ve all shown.”
The students awarded these scholarships came from: Atlantic Community High School, Boca Raton Community High School, Donna Klein Jewish Academy, Olympic Heights Community High School, Spanish River Community High School, Weinbaum Yeshiva, and West Boca Community High School.
Eda Viner, Congressman Deutch, Wenda Fils-Aime (scholarship recipient), Ruthe N. Francis, Assistant Principal Atlantic Community High School, and Cliff Viner
Eda Viner, Congressman Deutch, Wenda Fils-Aime (scholarship recipient), Ruthe N. Francis, Assistant Principal Atlantic Community High School, and Cliff Viner

The Award Ceremony featured U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch (a West Boca resident) as the speaker. Foundation Co-Founders, Eda and Cliff Viner, presented the awards.
“The purpose of this program is to work with the most dedicated and talented students, some of whom don’t have the financial means to fulfill their potential.” says Eda Viner, Foundation Co-Founder. “This will not only assist students and their families, but also greatly benefit our own community.”
The program accepts applications from students who achieved at least a 3.50 unweighted GPA, performed substantial community service, and were from families that required significant financial assistance. This scholarship will be a “last dollar” scholarship to cover tuition not already covered by financial aid, and will provide assistance with room and board as well as daily living expenses.
Cliff Viner, Fernanda Rodriguez (scholarship recipient), and Eda Viner
Cliff Viner, Fernanda Rodriguez (scholarship recipient), and Eda Viner

Eda Viner is a realtor with Sotheby’s. Her husband Cliff is a businessman, investor and hedge fund manager. He was the general partner of the Florida Panthers ownership group until they sold the franchise in 2013. He is a member of the B’nai Torah congregation in West Boca. He has a substantial history of philanthropy as well as bipartisan campaign contributions.

Olympic Heights Offers Marine JROTC Program

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From the Palm Beach County School District
Olympic Heights High School will be home to Palm Beach County’s first Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) in the 2015-2016 school year, after a two-year effort by the Department of Choice and Career Options to bring the program to the School District.
The Marine Corps JROTC joins 10 JROTC programs in the district – eight Army, two Air Force and two Navy – at district high schools. The Choice and Career Options department began working in 2013 to secure a sponsorship for a National Defense Cadets Corps from the U.S Marine Corps.

Editor’s note: We see only two other Marine JROTC programs in South Florida, one at Deerfield Beach High, and the other at Stranahan High in Fort Lauderdale. There is an Army JROTC at Atlantic High, an Air Force JROTC at Lake Worth High, and a Navy JROTC at Boca High.

The Marine Corps JROTC program will be led by two instructors who are retired military personnel. Students who become cadets are issued uniforms, participate in leadership programs and learn military history along with citizenship, leadership, personal growth and responsibility, public service and career exploration.
“We are excited and proud that this two-year effort had been awarded to us. It is another opportunity for our students to gain valuable leadership experience and career opportunities,” said Dr. Peter Licata, Director of Choice and Career Options. “The goal of JROTC programs is to build better citizens and to make students leaders in their community. Leadership skills are instilled so the students can be a success in whatever lies ahead for them.”
Olympic Heights Principal Dave Clark said it is an honor for his school to offer the district’s newest JROTC program. “Being a part of JROTC is like being a part of a big family,” Clark said. “There are all different sorts of people, but they get along well because they are all part of the same team.”
JROTC programs are offered by branches of the Armed Forces to prepare high school students to become leaders as they pursue their post-graduate careers, whether in college, the workforce of future military service. Schools with JROTC programs receive approximately $250,000 worth of uniforms, supplies and equipment, including classroom materials and curriculum, from the federal government.
Students are not required to join the military after high school, but the Armed Forces often offer incentives, such as accelerated promotion, to those with high school JROTC experience. There are approximately 155 graduating seniors throughout Palm Beach County who have chosen to enter the military after high school.
To learn more about the Marine Corps JROTC program, contact Tara Kobel, Choice Specialist-JROTC, at tara.kobel@palmbeachschools.org.

Hit and Run at 441 & Kimberly? Victim Identiified

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Late last night we learned there had been a serious accident at the intersection of 441 and New England, which is between Glades and Yamato at the north end of Boca Greens plaza.

The initial report we had just before 11:30 pm was:

New England Blvd & State Road 7 — PBCFR station 54 on-scene of a motorcyclist hit by a van that fled the scene, advising Priority-1 Trauma Alert to Delray Medical Center by ground, suspect vehicle is a silver van Hispanic male driver — Tac 4A

Shortly thereafter we had an update:

State Road 7 will be shut down, both directions, from Yamato Rd to Kimberly Blvd for a couple hours at least, for an active Traffic Homicide Investigation

This morning we received an update from the Sheriff. Their report did not mention the van or anything else about a hit and run.

V-1 was westbound on New England Boulevard, approaching US Highway 441 in the right turn lane. V-1 made a heavy braking application before reaching the intersection, which resulted in the vehicle overturning onto its right side. The motorcycle slid through the intersection on its side and came to rest on the west side of US 441, within the westbound lanes of Boca Green (Entrance to a gas station). The operator of the motorcycle was not wearing a helmet and was ejected from the motorcycle. He was transported to Delray Medical Center for treatment.

New England is the north side of Boca Greens plaza, and it is where the gas station is located.
They did identify the motorcycle driver as James Andrew Bishop, age 20, a resident of The Colony in Delray Beach. He is an Olympic Heights graduate.

James Andrew Bishop
James Andrew Bishop

Friends of Mr. Bishop gave us an update on his injuries:

He’s in the Trauma ICU at the Delray Medical Center in critical condition. Skull fractures and a few other head injuries.

Note that the PBSO report indicated Mr. Bishop was in serious condition, rather than critical.
There are a couple of discrepancies in the story that we can’t resolve at this point. We checked with our contact at PBSO who had also initially heard about a van leaving the scene and did not know why it’s not in the report. The way the report is written suggests that there was no van involved.
We’re not sure why but we see a lot of accidents in this area. Last May there was another motorcycle accident there. And there was a fatal accident very close to this in the southbound lanes in August.
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Just north of this at Yamato there was a rollover accident in November.
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