AUSTIN (KXAN) - The saying goes "Once a Rebel, always a Rebel."
The mantra is recited by all Travis High School students past and present, and principal Ty Davidson has made it his mission to recruit more Rebels.
When he first came to campus two years ago, Davidson noticed enrollment was down. He says students living in the Travis attendance zone were transferring to other area high schools.
"We started formalizing plans on how we could get kids back," said Davidson. "The best thing to do is ask students."
One of the main things student didn't like was a simple fix. Travis is an academy-based school. That means kids get to choose a career path such as engineering, video game design, teaching or culinary arts.
In the past, once students started one thing they couldn't switch. Davidson and his staff changed that.
"If we're not a place we can assist and help them get to their future plans, then they're not going to want to be here," said Davidson.
Junior Rio Esquivel has her sights set on an ivy league school. She transferred to Travis from another high school her freshman year.
"Once I got here there was no changing it," said Esquivel. "I love it here."
Her mom let her choose where she wanted to go. Esquivel says she was drawn to the family atmosphere and teachers are eager to help her succeed.
"I love the progress this school is making and how we are bettering ourselves for the future," said Esquivel.
State data shows the campus grew by 131 students from the 2010-2011 to the 2011-2012 school year.
The principal says the spike can also be attributed to getting incoming students excited about the programs they offer. Staff members visit elementary and middle schools that feed into Travis to advertise.
Davidson would like to think some of it has to do with hard work going on outside the building, too. He and his staff have walked through neighborhoods just to say "hello" and believe in good old advertising.
"The staff will tell you I push them wearing their [Travis] shirts so people recognize who we are and we can tell them the great things that are happening on our campus," said Davidson.
There are times the sales pitch is too good to pass up for students slated to attend other high schools.
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