Archive: Hoopster Rises to Meet Tall Challenge

For National School Choice Week, Capitol Vanguard is featuring seven Florida students learning in diverse ways.  Here is the second in our series; former JMI intern Kelly Barber contributed to this story.

When Luis Aponte, Jr. was a senior in high school in 2011, he waged a friendly battle for class valedictorian with another student – his girlfriend.  In the end, Luis managed to win the prize without losing his girl, which is just the sort of outcome one might expect from a hoops star known for his deft maneuvering on the basketball court.

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Still, no one should think that Luis’ success came without a lot of hard work.  In fact, when Luis was a boy, his father worried that his son wasn’t being challenged enough in the classroom. One day, when Luis was about to enter fourth grade, his parents learned that their family qualified for the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship.  So, they moved Luis from his neighborhood public school to Blue Lake Academy, a private school for grades 4-7 that offered Luis what he called a “completely different environment” for learning.

Luis thrived at his new school, and at Liberty Christian Academy, where he attended high school. While Luis believes “you can get an education anywhere if you put your mind to it,” he’s grateful for the opportunities his Step Up for Students FTC scholarship provided him. Because of this program, he was able to tackle a full load of challenging courses (which included some dual enrollment classes at Lake-Sumter Community College) while working part time at a grocery store and playing point guard on the school basketball team.

Luis is now enrolled at Adventist University in Orlando where he is studying nuclear medicine technology. He frequently returns to his alma mater to watch his younger brother, another Step Up scholar who is “ridiculous at basketball,” deftly maneuver his way to success.