Vetting process to begin for YISD Young Women’s Leadership Academy

El Paso’s first all-girls public school will open this fall.

The Ysleta Independent School District will open the very first, all-girls public school this fall and nearly 500 girls have applied to the Young Women’s Leadership Academy.

YWLA will be located at Ranchland Middle School at 7615 Yuma Drive, in El Paso’s lower valley.

Principal Malinda Villalobos said the vetting process to choose 250 girls will begin in two weeks.

YWLA is a college preparatory school that will focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).

Students interested in attending the academy were required to handwrite a letter to the district to explain why they want to attend the YWLA in the fall, the girls also have to take an assessment test on material they were expected to learn up until December.

Other requirements include current grades, results of last year’s state-mandated STAAR test, discipline and attendance.

There is no tuition for the school and Villalobos said economic status is not a factor in deciding which girls will be accepted.

“We are not asking anything about income at all. We are asking about previous history for families in regards to high school and college.”

Last year, YISD Superintendent Xavier De La Torre told ABC-7 the goal is to promote the college culture and prepare girls who come from families where higher education isn’t an established tradition.

“We are looking for girls that are prepared to take advanced course work. We’re also looking at girls that have potential, the drive and desire that can really flourish in this type of environment,” said Villalobos.

YWLA will accept 125 sixth grade girls and another 125 seventh grade girls for the first semester. The school will eventually house sixth through 12th grades.

YISD is an open district, making the academy accessible to girls across the city.

“We’ve had an outpouring of interest from county line to county line,” said Villalobos.

“You can’t find anything like this in our city.”

The school is coming to fruition with the help of a $430 million bond approved by voters last year.

Acceptance letters are expected to go out March 1.