Home News Business City Health/
Safety
Schools Sports Human Interest Crime THE  Arts Military Obituaries Archived
Articles
The Garland Texan

YOUR

FIRST SOURCE

FOR NEWS

 
 
 
Contact us
 
 

Search:

 
Read letters
to the editor
 
Announcements
Nicholson Memorial
Library System
 
Events
PERFORMING ARTS CALENDAR
 

 

 

Quick Links
www.ci.garland.tx.us
www.garlandisd.net

 

Schools - www.garlandisd.net 

District hosts iPad-intensive teacher conference

 

Garland ISD | August 16, 2014

 

Demonstrating its dedication to 21st-century learning, Garland ISD armed every teacher with an iPad this spring. In order to help teachers maximize iPad use in the classroom, the district hosted its first-ever GISD iCon July 24 at North Garland High School.

 

“Now that every teacher has an iPad, we wanted to give them a taste of what using it in the classroom would be like,” explained GISD iCon organizer Angie Cheatham. “There is always going to be those ‘techno-timid’ teachers who get an iPad and do not know what to do. We wanted teachers to talk to each other, get real-life accounts of what works in the classroom and inspire each other. We wanted people to leave this conference inspired and able to say, ‘Wow, I never realized that I could do this and pull this back in my classroom.’”

 

Modeled after the popular EdCamp-style “unconference,” GISD iCon featured 22 teacher-led sessions, a reflection room, a Twitter lounge and a student panel. The event kicked off with words from keynote speakers Maria Henderson, an Apple development executive, and Jodie Deinhammer, a Coppell ISD teacher.

 

“Our keynotes were amazing. Jodie was able to talk about how she used her iPad in class and went global with it,” Cheatham said. “She started out just like our teachers. She received an iPad, capitalized its use and her kids now build their own e-book in iTunes U. She also ended up partnering with students in Kenya and New Zealand using iTunes U. I think that was really eye opening for our teachers.”

 

Like Deinhammer, Beaver Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Angie Ariza wanted to show GISD iCon participants that iPads can help them teach all kinds of lessons—even complicated ones.

 

“I taught a session called Hour of Code, which showed teachers different coding, or computer programming, apps they can use in the classroom,” Ariza commented. “I wanted to share what the kids can do in different environments. It does not matter if you teach at a technology center or not, we need to equip kids with more skills. And through these apps, they will acquire problem-solving and logical-thinking skills, which are necessary. I hope my session showed teachers how to integrate coding skills in the classroom and get kids excited about something that is going to be good for them in the future.”

 

With sessions addressing everything from coding to grading, the initial GISD iCon was a success.

 

“We had about 150 classroom teachers, special education instructors, librarians and administrators attend. It was very exciting,” Cheatham stated. “I envision next year’s iCon to double in size and be bigger and better.”


New principals to welcome students

 

Garland ISD | August 15, 2014

 

Several Garland ISD schools will transition to new leadership this school year. A list of recent campus appointments is below.

 

  • Alternative Education Center - Kim Lozada, principal

  • Bradfield Elementary School - Kristin Wolfkill, principal

  • Coyle Middle School - Bonnie Barrett, principal

  • Ethridge Elementary School - Jill Vincent, principal

  • Handley Elementary School - Sebastian Bozas, principal

  • Herfurth Elementary School - Amie Pennington, principal

  • Hillside Academy for Excellence - Sonya Palmer, principal

  • Liberty Grove Elementary School - Elisa Wittrock, principal

  • Lister Elementary School - Cheryl Alexander, principal

  • Luna Elementary School - Deborah Wilkerson, principal

  • Memorial Pathway Academy - Jim Thomas, principal

  • North Garland High School - Glenda Williams, principal

  • Parsons Prekindergarten School - James Howard, principal

  • Schrade Middle School - Rachael Brown, principal

  • Webb Middle School - Kenneth Washington, principal


GISD Digital Leadership University graduates nearly 100 students

Posted August 10, 2014

Beaver and Watson Technology Centers for Math and Science will have close to 50 additional technology ambassadors on campus this upcoming school year. Eighty-eight students from those campuses successfully completed training at Garland ISD’s Digital Leadership University July 29-31 at North Garland High School.

“This year’s program was wonderful,” said Math, Science and Technology Facilitator Stacey Payton. “The kids were very excited. They got to learn all sorts of new material. This camp was different from last year’s straight-tech camp because it had underlying pieces of leadership we did not have last summer.”

The three-day program allowed participants, who were hand-selected by teachers, to create projects in two seminars per day. Ambassador training, data visualization, digital citizenship standards, Google Drive instruction, iMovie video production and troubleshooting methods were featured in this year’s course series.

“In one of the digital citizenship classes, they actually took toothpaste and squeezed it out of the tube. Then, they had to try to squeeze it back in—learning that the internet is just like the tube of toothpaste, once you put something out there you can never get it back completely,” Payton said. “They are really learning and practicing some cool things.”

Soon-to-be fifth-grader Eli Albert was one of the lucky students who enhanced his tech skills at Digital Leadership University.

“It was fun to find out that I was selected to become an ambassador because a lot of kids are not able to do this,” the Beaver student said. “When I came here, I knew I was going to learn more about computers and technology, but I did not know I would learn that much. I learned about cyber bullying, Google classroom, presentation skills and stage presence. Now I can probably tell my teacher about the stuff I learned, and hopefully they might learn something, too.”

But the students were not the only attendees expanding their education at the summer event.

“This was fabulous, and the kids are so smart. I learned new things every day,” said Jackson Technology Center librarian and digital citizenship seminar teacher Sally Odenwald. “The kids taught me as much as we taught them. It is so nice to know that they are going to go back to their campuses and share their knowledge with their teachers and fellow students. I think this is a great program. ”

Payton agrees with Odenwald and knows teachers would love to have a Digital Leadership Ambassador assisting in the classroom, which is why she has organized similar courses for secondary students.

“We will be hosting a new program for incoming freshmen enrolled in North Garland’s math, science and technology (MST) program later this year," she explained. “Incoming MST sixth-graders at Jackson, as well as students enrolled in the new Global Business, Language and Leadership program at Naaman Forest High School and Sellers Middle School, will also receive training. We are looking forward to having technology experts at these campuses, ready to help peers and teachers this school year.”


Student safety is every driver’s responsibility

Kim Everett | August 10, 2014

The new school year starts Aug. 25 and it’s the responsibility of all drivers to keep Garland’s children safe. Remember to follow these safety tips:

    Watch for school zones and obey the 20 mph speed limit along with all other traffic laws.

Expect the unexpected. Children sometimes forget to look both ways before going into the street. They may cross at the wrong place or unexpectedly run or ride their bicycles in front of you.

 

Avoid distractions – cellphones and other electronic devices; food and beverages; loud music; and anything else that could take your mind off driving safely. The use of cellphones is unlawful in Garland school zones.

 

Be aware of and watch out for children near schools, bus stops, sidewalks, in the streets, in school parking lots, etc.

 

Never pass other vehicles, change lanes or make u-turns in a school zone. Stop before the crosswalk and stay stopped until it is no longer occupied, not just until your lane is clear.

 

Crosswalks

 

Never block crosswalks with vehicles and watch for children crossing the street when approaching an intersection. Garland, Rowlett, and Sachse provide crossing guards for busy intersections near elementary schools and some middle schools.

 

Always have your child use the designated crosswalk and follow the cross guard’s instructions.

Passenger drop-off

 

If you park on the side of the road, always have your child exit the car on the side away from traffic and avoid having them cross the street.

 

Follow your school’s traffic pattern for drop-off and pickup.

 

School buses

Flashing yellow lights -- When you see a school bus with flashing yellow lights, drivers are expected to slow down to a speed that will allow for a sudden stop.

 

Flashing red lights -- A school bus with flashing red lights signals that students are getting on or off the bus. Drivers must stop and wait for the driver to turn the flashers off, no matter which direction they are traveling. Students crossing the street after exiting a school bus should cross in front of the bus. Wait until the red lights stop flashing and the stop arm is retracted before proceeding.

 

Railroad crossings -- All school buses are required to stop at railroad crossings. Keep enough distance between your vehicle and the school bus to avoid a rear-end collision.

The fine for speeding in school zones is stiff and Texas has added an extra court cost fee to school zone tickets. At least $25 is added and used to pay for school zone crossing guard and other safety programs.

The fines and fees, though, are inconsequential in comparison to students’ safety.

 

Remember that wherever you are going and whatever time you are supposed to be there, it can wait. It is not nearly as important as our community’s children.


GISD school, student management highlighted in publication

 

Garland ISD | August 9, 2014

 

With 58,000 students, 7,300 employees and an approximate 100-square-mile radius, it is no surprise that Garland ISD is one of the largest school districts in the state. Despite its great size, GISD efficiently manages student-to-school placement, facility needs and transportation routes. In order to maintain and improve these effective practices, the district recently partnered with international supplier of geographic information system software company, Esri.

 

National magazine ArcUser highlighted the district’s new partnership in its summer 2014 issue. Read the article on Esri’s website.   


Representative Pete Sessions invites SHS student to Capitol

 

Garland ISD | August 9, 2014

 

Sachse High School student Angelica Bowlin did not let summer break stop her from having an educational experience. The high schooler got to have a real-life government lesson June 22-28, courtesy of Rep. Pete Session’s Leadership and Growth Program.

 

“My summer program is about engaging North Texas students and preparing them to consider, challenge and thoughtfully articulate issues currently facing our nation,” Sessions said. “PSLGP participants have an opportunity to see Washington firsthand by observing House Committee hearings, attending program forums with government officials and Washington leaders, and touring various historical sites, memorials and monuments around the district.”

 

In addition to witnessing everyday activities on Capitol Hill, Bowlin had the opportunity to visit the National Portrait Gallery, Library of Congress, Newseum, Arlington National Cemetery and Holocaust Museum. She was also able to interact with other government leaders, including Rep. Louie Gohmert, U.S. Marine Corps Col. Dan Greenwood and Special Agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration Namon Jones.

Bowlin was the only GISD student to participate in PSLGP, and one of two Garland natives invited to the week-long program.

 

“I value the opportunity to welcome students from the Garland area each year to our nation’s capital,” Sessions concluded. “I always enjoy learning about young Texans aspirations and goals as future leaders of our community and I was pleased to have these students participate in the program.”

 

PSLGP is open to any high school student 16 or older.

 

Photo courtesy of Rep. Pete Sessions


GHS sponsors donations for college-bound seniors

 

Garland ISD | August 6, 2014

 

Preparing for the first year of college can be a daunting task for high school seniors. But eight Garland High School graduates are now geared up to begin the next chapter of their lives, thanks to the generosity of former classmates and faculty. The lucky students received college care packages this summer, prepared by Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) members and GHS secretary Sugar Estes.

 

“We started the program seven years ago through FCA,” Estes explained. “I started it after my grandson told me about a roommate who did not have blankets, sheets, pillows or other important things. When he told me this story, I just started crying. I decided to have a garage sale and check with the coaches to prepare something for the athletes who had a real financial need.”

 

For six years, Estes held garage sales, asked teachers for donations and personally bought items for gift packages, which include everything from a laptop case to laundry detergent. This year, Estes teamed up with Principal Atticus Wisener to expand the philanthropic program.  

 

“I just could not seem to find the time to hold a garage sale this year. We had some teachers donate items, such as five Vera Bradley bags, which we gave to each of the girls. Principal Wisener also suggested we have a ‘wear jeans’ campaign, where teachers who donate get to wear jeans. We included both FCA and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) students as well.”

 

The campaign was successful, providing enough money to double the number of packages prepared in the past. In order to select the beneficiaries, Estes coordinated with AVID teachers and athletic coaches.

 

The chosen eight will begin classes at eight different colleges in four states this fall.

 

“This was a big blessing because money does not come very easily,” said FCA member and soon-to-be Texas Wesleyan University student Miracle Morris. “Any little blessing here and there is a really big load off of my granny. I did not expect to receive so many things. Almost everything I had on my ‘to buy’ list is in this basket. I thought I would only get towels and soap, but this is all great. I am very, very appreciative of it.”

 

“It has been such a wonderful experience for me as the FCA sponsor and a blessing to the families we have helped,” Estes added. “The best part is seeing the smile on the faces when the students see what all has been provided. Mr. Wisener wants us to continue the program. And hopefully, as it grows, we would like to increase the number of students receiving this special gift.”

 


NFHS grad named MSU President’s Distinguished Scholar

 

Posted August 2, 2014

 

Naaman Forest High School graduate Lauren Nicol is one of 10 recipients of Midwestern State University’s President’s Distinguished Scholarships.

 

She will receive $28,000 over four years of undergraduate study at MSU in Wichita Falls. The program recognizes the leadership abilities of superior incoming freshmen and encourages their participation as MSU campus leaders.

 

Lauren is the daughter of Byron and Liz Nicol of Sachse.

 

 

 


Graduate students to spend year improving community health

 

Posted August 1, 2014

 

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship has announced the selection of its 2014-15 class of Albert Schweitzer Fellows from Los Angeles — 15 graduate students who will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health, and developing lifelong leadership skills. In doing so, they will follow the example set by famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, for whom their Fellowship is named.

 

Garland native Alyssa Concha from the USC Division of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy will be designing and implementing training to supplement Promotores de Salud [promoters of health]/community health workers training program. Promotores address a variety of health issues, including environmental health, lead poisoning prevention, allergies and asthma, prenatal care and early childhood development, and access to health services. The goal behind the supplemental training is to provide Promotores skills and resources to support their peer advocacy and peer education efforts throughout the community. 

 

“Schweitzer Fellowships change lives, both of the individual Fellows as well as those of the many vulnerable community members they serve through their Fellowship projects,” said John Su, program director of the Los Angeles Schweitzer Fellows Program. “Our Fellows learn to lead and innovate as they tackle complex health needs—skills they will use again and again throughout their professional careers. Meanwhile, their project participants learn information, skills, and behaviors that will assist them in leading healthier lives.”

 

Schweitzer Fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities, while at the same time fulfilling their academic responsibilities as full time students. Each project is implemented in collaboration with a community-based organization. This year’s Fellows will address an array of health issues affecting a range of populations, including a program to assist victims of sexual violence achieve healthy mental and physical health through yoga and art therapy; helping young adults with intellectual disabilities take care of their oral health; assisting older adults and ethnic minorities with advanced care planning; and educating parents of young children in South Los Angeles about the importance of oral health.

 

“These Schweitzer Fellows are living Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s legacy of reverence for life,” said ASF Executive Director Sylvia Stevens-Edouard. “Their Fellowship year will leave them well-prepared to successfully face the challenges of serving vulnerable and underserved populations, whose health and medical needs are many and varied.”

 

The 15 Fellows from Los Angeles will join approximately 220 other 2014-15 Schweitzer Fellows working at 12 program sites, 11 in the US and one in Lambaréné, Gabon at the site of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital, founded by Dr. Schweitzer in 1913. Upon completion of their Fellowship year, the 2014-15 Los Angeles Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of nearly 3,000 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers. Fellows for Life routinely report that ASF is integral to sustaining their commitment to serving people in need.

 

Since 2008, the Los Angeles Fellows Program has supported nearly 100 Schweitzer Fellows who have positively impacted the health of vulnerable communities in the Los Angeles area. The program is funded entirely through charitable donations and grants. Sponsors of the Los Angeles Fellowship Program include Kaiser Permanente, The Annenberg Foundation, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Charles Drew University, Keck School of Medicine at USC, USC School of Pharmacy, UCLA School of Dentistry and Azusa Pacific School of Nursing.


Student artwork enhances administration building

Posted July 28, 2014

The hard work of 26 Garland High School students recently made its debut at the Harris Hill Administration Building. A bright hanging sculpture now adorns the south side entrance of the facility, thanks to a collaborative effort between Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Linda Chance and International Baccalaureate art teacher Jessica Thompson.

“The project stemmed from the installation at Daugherty Elementary. Dr. Chance saw it and asked if we could come up with something for the Harris Hill Building,” Thompson said. “In the fall, IB art II students came up with an artist statement and proposal for Dr. Chance. Her favorite proposal was Marisa Cordova’s light bulb installation.”

Quotes by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Marianne Williamson inspired Cordova’s piece, which reflects Garland ISD’s shining future.

“My idea was for a positive inspiration to all students, parents, teachers and everyone in the GISD school district,” Cordova said in her artist statement. “I chose light bulbs to represent our hope and optimism towards our future. The multiple light bulbs symbolize diversity, while the wrap of colorful chords represents the uniqueness that is in every one of us.”

Four teams comprised of sculptors from Thompson’s IB art II class worked throughout the school year to craft the intricate piece.

“Four team leaders were appointed, and each of them was responsible for one bulb,” Thompson said. “We spent the last two weeks of school creating the final installation. Many students often stayed after school, and we finished in the last hour of the last day.”

“I am very happy with the final product,” added team leader Ashley Sandoval. “This project not only developed my art abilities. I also developed math skills throughout the planning process. I am proud that my work showcases Garland ISD.”

In addition to the glowing sculpture, three large paintings created by eight GHS student artists are also on display at Harris Hill.

“My kids work really hard and were happy to be able to contribute to the district,” Thompson said. “It is nice to know that their work is appreciated.”


GISD students attend UNT mariachi camp

 

Garland ISD | July 28, 2014

 

Exhibiting a passion for the art of performing mariachi has led 10 Garland ISD high schoolers to a unique camp experience. Students from Garland, Naaman, North Garland and South Garland high schools will enjoy four music education-filled days at the Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp, July 22-26 at the University of North Texas.

 

The GISD students, who are all members of the district’s Mariachi Estrellas, will join nearly 80 middle and high schoolers from all over the country. Attendees will mingle with peers, engage in “jam sessions,” learn about the history of mariachi and enjoy lessons from expert teachers, including Grammy-nominated Mariachi Sol de Mexico founder José Hernández.

 

“I hand-select the students who get to go,” said GISD’s Mariachi program director Javier Solis. “They have to earn it. They must have a good attitude, participate in and want to return to the program and get better. The fee is $300, but students are only responsible for half of it. This is a neat opportunity because they get to work with graduate students and see different levels of mariachi skills.”

 

In addition to intensive scholastic workshops, campers will get a taste of college life.

 

“They will get to tour UNT, stay in a dorm room, eat in Bruce Hall and socialize with college students,” Solis explained. “Having students physically feel a college is one of the main reasons this camp exists.”

Donna Emmanuel, coordinator of the Ph.D. program at UNT’s College of Music, created the Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp in 2007.

 

“My goal was to build a relationship between my students and those in public schools,” she said. “I want these kids to come out knowing what it feels like to be successful and understand it is possible for them to go to college. This is the only camp of its kind in the country for two reasons—it is a residency camp and [incorporates] a philosophical framework called positive youth development, which is a strength-based approach.”

 

After developing their strengths, students always celebrate the end of their Aguilitas experience with a concert—but this year, campers are in for a pleasant surprise.

 

“We will have José Hernández and his whole mariachi perform for them Saturday night,” Emmanuel stated. “But what they do not know is that Mariachi Sol de Mexico will call each of the camp groups at the beginning [of the concert] to play with them.”

 

GISD students and all other attendees will perform at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. July 26 at UNT's Murchison Performing Arts Center.

 

Photos courtesy of Javier Solis


GHS students win big at Texas Tech competition

Kim Everett | July 26, 2014

The Garland High School Math and Science Team recently went to Lubbock to compete in the Texas Tech Summer Math and Science Camp.

Dr. John Hobbs is the head coach of the Math Team which has won the district championship every year since 2010.

Individual accomplishments:

Freshman Khoa Pham placed first in Number Sense, first in Calculator, first in Math and third in Science.

Freshman Tien Tran placed third in Number Sense, seventh in Calculator, seventh in Math and first in Science.

Sophomore Linh Nguyen placed first in Number Sense, second in Calculator, first in Math and fifth in Science.

Sophomore Andrew Doan placed second in Number Sense, sixth in Calculator, fourth in Math and second in Science.

Junior Alyssa Shrode placed first in Number Sense, second in Calculator, fourth in Math and fifth in Science.

Senior Lexie Ford placed third in Math, first in Science and first in Physics.

Senior Casey Mendel placed sixth in Math and seventh in Science.

In addition to the individual accomplishments, the GHS team finished first in Number Sense, second in Calculator, first in Math and first in Science. In addition, the team placed first in Sweepstakes.

They won 24 of 24 awards. Khoa Pham, who finished first in three subjects and third in one, is technically an eight-grader.

Linh Nguyen had the highest Number Sense and Math scores in the competition and her math score was perfect (240 out of 240).

“I am very proud of this team,” Dr. Hobbs said. “We did great last year, but this year was even better.”


GISD grooming, dress code requirements

 

Garland ISD | July 19, 2014

 

Students are encouraged to develop and maintain good dress habits at school and at school-sponsored

activities. Students are expected to dress in a neat, clean manner and to exhibit good taste in the selection of type and style of clothing. Failure to adhere to established dress and appearance codes may result in disciplinary action. (Student Code of Conduct)

 

Please note that while the following represents the district standards for dress code, the final decision in determining appropriate dress and appearance shall rest with the teacher and the principal or assistant principal.

 

 

Standardized Dress Policy

 

A standardized dress code is in effect in many of our elementary and middle schools. Campuses observing the standardized dress policy will be able to provide information to parents regarding the clothing requirements.

 

Students attending these schools are expected to comply with the code of dress and should arrive at school dressed appropriately for the school day. If students do not abide by the dress code, the student may be subject to disciplinary consequences.

 

Each school has the option to choose specific days when alternative clothing may be worn. (Examples: School Spirit Day, College Day, Career Day, Free-Dress Day, etc.)

 


Atmos Energy donates to GISD Parents as Teachers program

 

Garland ISD | July 19, 2014

 

Garland ISD’s parent education and family support program will now be able to further encourage a love of reading in future students. The district’s Parents as Teachers (PAT) program recently received a $1,500 grant from Atmos Energy, which will help pay for materials needed in early literacy courses.

 

“Atmos is committed to supporting the communities in which we live and serve. Education is one of the primary ways we choose to do this,” said Atmos Energy Manager of Public Affairs Liz Beauchamp. “Fostering a love of learning and reading is important at any age, but the earlier, the better.”

 

“When we received the gift, it made me happy to know that someone in the community believes in the goals of the PAT literacy classes,” added Parent Involvement Facilitator Jonathan Armstrong. “This donation increases our capacity to serve families that really want their children to succeed in school and reaches them at a crucial time.”

 

The PAT program provides free child development information, ideas for effective parenting strategies, early developmental screenings and learning activities to eligible GISD families with children up to 5 years old. PAT introduced its early literacy program three years ago in order to promote student success.

 

“The early literacy classes were created as a way to support families that have high goals for their children,” Armstrong explained. “In this class, parents learn how to choose appropriate books for their children, read in a way that engages them and how to support their emerging literacy skills. They also learn the importance of developing their children’s oral language skills and vocabulary by engaging with them throughout their everyday activities.”

 

Parent Martha Pacheco is grateful that her sons, 3-year-old Emanuel and 7-year-old Richard, are able to develop and sharpen their literacy skills thanks to the program.

 

“These classes have really helped my children and me,” she said in Spanish. “[Parent Educator] Mary Ford has given me many learning activity ideas. I have made books about the alphabet, numbers, shapes and animals. My kids have learned so much and are continuing to learn. I totally recommend this program to all parents. Their kids will benefit tremendously and will learn a lot before starting prekindergarten.”

 

Because of the donation, families like the Pachecos will have the opportunity to better prepare their children for academic success in GISD. PAT will use the funds to purchase class materials and gift every participating family with a journal, reading guide and five books for their child.


GISD high schools selected as some of nation’s best

 

Garland ISD | July 18, 2014

 

Three Garland ISD high schools’ impressive state assessment and college-focused test scores earned them a spot on U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Best High Schools Rankings. North Garland, Rowlett and Sachse high schools made this year’s cut, joining 4,707 campuses deemed as the nation’s finest.

 

More than 19,400 public high schools were evaluated by U.S. News, resulting in the country’s top 500 receiving gold medals, 1,519 attaining silver and 2,688 acquiring bronze. North Garland, Rowlett and Sachse all earned silver medals, ranking within the top 2,019 schools.

 

Campuses received Best High School status if they featured all of the following: above state average scores on math and reading proficiency tests; high-performing disadvantaged students; and elevated college-readiness performance on Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate tests.

 

At the state level, just 189 Texas schools made the list. A breakdown of GISD rankings and performance, as determined by U.S. News & World Report, is included below.

 

Rowlett High School ranked 1,549 in the nation and 150 in the state. The campus had 35 percent of its students take the AP test, with 22 percent earning a passing score.

 

Sachse High School ranked 1903 in the nation and 179 in the state. SHS had 28 percent of its students take the AP test, with 17 percent passing.

 

North Garland High School ranked 1929 in the nation and 182 in the state. NGHS had 31 percent of its students take the AP test, with 16 percent passing.

 

All three schools scored above the state average on geometry and reading proficiency exams. 


GISD students compete at ACT-SO nationals

 

Posted July 16, 2014

 

After besting their peers at the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) regional competition, three Garland ISD students are gearing up for nationals July 17-20 in Las Vegas.

 

“I felt beyond ecstatic when I found we had students win gold at regionals and were headed to nationals,” said Lakeview Centennial High School technology education teacher and ACT-SO sponsor Marquis McClean. “Regionals was a great experience for them. It is unlike any other competition because only the top person in each category qualifies for nationals.”

 

The 26-category competition sees more than 260,000 African-American high school students participate every year. ACT-SO is a youth initiative of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, designed to encourage elevated academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students.

 

Garland High School’s Hannan Ahmed and Monica Ogbonnaya, as well as Lakeview Centennial High School’s Reaunna Morrer, secured their spot at nationals by dominating their respective categories: original essay, music vocal/classical and poetry.

 

Ahmed, who competed at nationals two years ago, considers the program an inspiring and eye-opening experience.

 

“ACT-SO is a springboard to display your talent and grants an opportunity to work on your strengths. I think it presents an amazing opportunity for students to meet other people who are also academically inclined,” she said. “The competition is also a special experience for me because my parents are from Eritrea. This has allowed me to learn a lot of things about black culture that I did not know. I am just really excited to meet some really intelligent and talented people who are a part of my community.”

 

Although Morrer can relate to most people in her community, the diversity that exists within it is exactly what drove her to participate in the stimulating program.

 

“I joined ACT-SO because it is aimed at involving not only black kids, but people of other cultures and ethnicities,” she explained. “When I learned I qualified for nationals, I was excited that my hard work paid off and that I could be an example to others. What I am actually looking forward to most is seeing other people who enjoy and experience the same things I do. I am really excited to meet other people like me.”

 

While all three students are looking forward to an exciting social experience in Vegas, ultimately, they are hoping to bring a national win home.


GISD student chosen to attend Samsung Mobile App Academy

 

Posted July 15, 2014

 

Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung) is continuing to help students mobilize their future with its expanded Samsung Mobile App Academies. In its third year, the mobile application (app) development program for high school students will travel to 10 cities across the country. The program also features a new app coding curriculum extension - a fundamental component to app development.

 

Thirty local high school students, including Alan Nguyen of Naaman Forest High School, representing 22 Dallas area schools, were selected to attend the three-day mobile application academies which will encourage education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). More than 132 Dallas area students applied for the 30 spots available.

 

During the event, students will work with mobile app industry leaders, learn the many facets of mobile app development, and find out about the growing world of mobile technology careers.

 

Each student will receive and use a Galaxy Note™ 10.1 – 2014 Edition tablet as a portal to the program curriculum. After completing the Samsung Mobile App Academy, the 11th- and 12th-grade students will have the opportunity to win up to $35,000 in scholarships by submitting their own mobile application concept.

 

The Dallas area program will be held at the University of Texas at Dallas Tuesday-Thursday, July 15-17.

 


Weaver ES student council wins award

 

Garland ISD | July 13, 2014

 

For the first time in campus history, Weaver Elementary School won the National Association of Elementary School Principals Student Council Excellence Award, an honor just 96 schools across the state received in 2014.

 

“I am really proud of the work our fourth and fifth-graders put into Student Council this year,” said Counselor and Student Council Sponsor Amanda Knight. “I believe our group was selected as an Honor Council because the amount of work they have done was evident by our application.”

 

Every year, NAESP recognizes exceptional elementary and middle school Student Councils throughout the nation. A campus receives the honor by effectively fostering student leadership opportunities.

 

“Our students learned a lot about what leadership looks like and how to be a leader,” Knight explained. “They then put these skills to use when planning and implementing a schoolwide fundraiser for a children’s homeless shelter.”

 

Pulling off a successful charitable campaign is a huge feat for a campus organization that is practically new.

 

“Last year was Student Council’s first year at Weaver,” Knight revealed. “We are looking to grow in numbers next year. But I am excited for the students to be recognized and have that sense of pride and ownership.”

 

Weaver’s Student Council will receive a trophy at the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association workshop in the fall.

 

Photo courtesy of Amanda Knight


Energy savings plan pays off

 

Posted July 13, 2014

 

In the fall, Garland ISD partnered with energy conservation company Cenergistic to launch an Energy Management Program. Thanks to this proactive move, the district saw $449,061 in savings in the program’s first six months—a feat the whole GISD community can celebrate.

 

“Through the efforts of everyone in the district, we have seen 8.1 percent in savings,” said GISD’s Energy Specialist Keith Reimer. “Our savings equate to preventing 2,638 metric tons of carbon, or removing 500 automobiles from the road for an entire year or planting 67,644 tree seedlings. We are cognizant of our carbon footprint and reducing it. We want to get all of the staff and students involved in the process.”

 

GISD kick-started its savings plan in September through four Energy Specialists, who visited campuses, documented energy use and provided tips, as well as information, to administrators.

 

“We are required to do 20-25 audits in the campuses a week. Bottom line, you have 100 more visits on campuses and extra sets of eyes looking at things that can be improved on or tightened up,” Reimer explained. “We are also helping to make an energy conservation culture by talking to teachers and staff.”

 

Reimer and his team did much more than just remind individuals to shut down their computers or turn off the lights at the end of the day. They also inspected big mechanical devices—like water chillers—to make sure they were functioning properly and monitored electricity, gas and water bills.

 

“In actuality, the amount of money we saved is more than half a million dollars,” Reimer revealed. “In the process of what we do on a daily basis of analyzing utility bills, we found that we were getting billed inappropriately in state sales tax.”

 

The end goal for the innovative program is to help the district keep funds where they are needed—in the classroom. Because of this important objective, there are plans to ramp up the Energy Management Program’s efforts in the 2014-15 school year.

 

“Hopefully this year we will initiate campus-based incentives for increasing awareness of our program. We will also apply for Energy Star recognition, which will be an exciting thing for campuses and students."


GHS student earns perfect SAT score

 

Garland ISD | July 12, 2014

 

According to The College Board, just 360 out of more than one million students who take the SAT each year obtain a perfect score. With practically no prep work, Garland High School junior Lexie Ford managed to join that elite group, acing the SAT and earning a 2400.

 

“I was very excited when I found out,” Ford said. “I did not take any SAT prep classes, but I took the SAT in seventh grade and have taken the PSAT twice. I did not do any test-specific preparation other than reading over essay tips the morning of the test. After taking it, I knew I had done well, but I did not know how well.”

 

“To know that less than a third of one percent of students taking the exam nationwide will do this, it was pretty amazing,” added mother Dawn Ford. “We all felt like celebrities for a few days when people heard the news and were so excited for Lexie.”

 

Ford credits her impeccable score to the exam’s format, as well as her education at GISD schools.

 

“The SAT thinks like I do. My math classes taught me what I needed to know, and my reading binges in middle school gave me all the grammar and vocabulary I needed.”

 

Ford is not only dedicated to her International Baccalaureate studies, but also leads a busy club and service-oriented life. The high schooler is currently an active member of the math and science teams, literary criticism team, Key Club, Spanish National Honor Society and National Honor Society, as well as president of the Academic Decathlon. She also acts as a tutor in an after-school program and interns at a nonprofit over the summer.

 

“Balancing [all of these activities] is hard. IB has a demanding course load, so I try to get as much done at school as possible,” she said. “There is a lot of stress, but so far it has been manageable most of the time.”

 

As far as her future is concerned, the senior is still thinking it through. Her heart is settled on attending Rice University, but she will apply to Baylor and Texas A&M universities.

 

“I have academic and personal goals, but not career ones. At this point, the plan is to devote my energies to being happy and passionate, hoping my academic success will allow fiscal responsibility to fall in place.”


Park Crest hosts family field trip

 

Garland ISD | July 12, 2014

 

Research shows students who do not read over the summer start a new school year several months behind their classmates. In fact, they could potentially fall more than two and a half years behind by the time they reach fifth grade. To prevent that “summer slide,” Park Crest Elementary School is working to promote a love of reading at a young age.

 

The campus hosted a family field trip to the Garland Central Library before the break. Students and parents were treated to a hot dog dinner by Park Crest faculty before boarding the school bus.

 

“The library staff gave us a tour, explained how we can get a library card and showed us the many programs available,” said Principal Raelyn Scroggin. “It was a great event, and I know a lot of our families will be reading this summer thanks to the Central Library staff and our Park Crest librarian, Karen Nethaway.”

 

With 70 attendees, the campus plans to make this event an annual occurrence. For more information about summer reading programs and story times, visit Garland’s public library website.

 

Photos courtesy of Park Crest Elementary


Sewell ES students explore careers at local company

 

Garland ISD | July 7, 2014

 

Approximately 90 first-grade students and teachers from Sewell Elementary School explored the inner-workings of Garrett Metal Detectors May 20.

 

“The students were amazed at the size of the company and all the different types of jobs found there,” said Sewell Counselor Susan Reinke.

 

The field trip began with a tour of the company museum, which includes 300-year-old relics discovered via metal detectors. First-graders then visited Garrett’s accounting office, marketing department and warehouse to learn about the process of making and shipping detectors all over the world. Afterward, they embarked on an outdoor treasure hunt.

 

“Students had the most fun when they actually got to use the detectors,” Reinke said. “Many times during our tour, we had to walk through a detector. Outside, they learned how to use a scanner and found many interesting things. Hunting for and finding lost money sparked the excitement of hands-on learning.”

 

Sewell’s interactive visit ended with students reflecting on the many lessons they learned throughout the day.

 

“One of the teachers said that the kids had a wonderful time and had their eyes opened to everything it takes to make a product,” Reinke explained. “A big thank you goes out to Garrett Metal Detectors for helping our first-graders learn about careers.”

 Photos courtesy of Susan Reinke


GISD board of trustees meeting recap:  June 24

 

Kim Everett | July 6, 2014

 

The Garland Independent School District board of trustees held its regular meeting June 24 at the Harris Hill Administration Building.

 

Energy savings update

 

A report on the success of the first six months of the Cenergistic energy program was presented to the board.

 

More than $449,000 was saved during the introductory period, which equals 8.1 percent of the amount allotted for energy in the district’s budget. The savings represent decreases in electric, natural gas and water consumption.

 

In addition to the financial savings, the decrease of energy usage has made a positive on the environment.

 

Elementary art plan presented to board

 

A new five-year plan is in place to improve art education at the elementary school level. At the end of the plan, all elementary schools will have art programs.

 

Qualified art teachers with an art education degree will be hired and rooms at each campus will be equipped for art instruction with sinks and the removal of carpet if necessary. Large tables and miscellaneous other equipment will also be added.

 

During the first year of the rollout, Back, Beaver, Carver, Cooper, Herfurth, Luna, Northlake, Park Crest, Shugart, Southgate and Steadham elementary schools will have a dedicated art instructor and dedicated art room. Seven more schools will be added within three years and by 2017-18, the last eight schools will be added.

 

The district will allot an additional $3 per student at each campus with the art program to cover the cost of supplies such as paint and paper.

 

Public forum

 

Several individuals spoke in favor of GISD building a natatorium for the district’s swim teams.

 

Another spoke about requiring the use of clear bags at backpacks at schools and stadiums.

 

Jan Burleson scholarship awarded

 

Hillside Academy for Excellence teacher Kara King received the 2014 Jan Burleson scholarship in the amount of $400. The money will be used to help fund continuing education.

 

Evidence of Excellence awards presented

 

The seventh and eighth grade Austin Academy academic pentathlon teams made Garland proud when they recently represented GISD at the national competition. The eighth graders took first place while the seventh grade students won second place. In addition to the teams taking the top two spots in the nation, 45 students brought home individual awards. Competition categories included language and literature, fine arts, American culture, mathematics, science and social studies.

 

Revised student code of conduct approved

 

The student code of conducted has been revised so that it is aligned completely with the Texas Association of School Boards. The trustees voted unanimously to approve the new document.


Kimberlin Academy earns recognition for healthy habits

 

Garland ISD | July 6, 2014

 

At Kimberlin Academy for Excellence, healthy eating and exercise are not only habits, they are a lifestyle.

 

Students and staff know that proper nutrition and being active can positively affect energy levels and brain function. That knowledge is credited largely to physical education teacher Marcie Adame.

 

“I try to get people moving so they can reach their full potential,” she said. “Our school community, administrators, staff and families are united in their efforts to create the healthiest school environment possible.”

 

Those efforts have garnered much recognition. Last year, Kimberlin was named a Healthy Zone School in Training. This year, the campus became a Healthy Zone School and a model for others across North Texas.  Kimberlin Academy was also recognized by Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Active Schools program. United Way of Metropolitan Dallas even sought out Adame and her students to create a promotional video for its Ready, Set, Blast! program.

 

Most recently, Kimberlin received a $1,000 grant from the National Park Trust to celebrate Kids to Parks Day in May.

 

“Students created and submitted a video that shared their love of Embree Park,” said Adame. “We are fortunate to be able to use it daily and for special events. I thought the event would be a great opportunity to teach kids about stewardship of our resources and the incredible relationship that we have with the City of Garland.”

 

On May 30, Adame invited her students and several organizations to enjoy a fun field day. Attendees included Garland’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Texas Geocaching Association, the Boy Scouts of America, the Dallas Sidekicks, North Texas Kids Triathlon, the Trinity Audubon Center, the Dallas Zoo and Wildlife on the Move.

 

“I was so pleased watching students completely engaged in activities that they had never tried, such as archery, triathlon racing, geocaching and Gaga or Israeli dodge ball. They all had so much fun,” Adame commented.

 

Before the special event ended, Garland Mayor Douglas Athas issued a proclamation recognizing the importance of public parks and how they create opportunities for kids and families to be active and try new things. Adame hopes to continue commemorating National Kids to Parks Day, inspiring youth to become involved and share a love of their community.

 


GISD students honored at National SkillsUSA

Posted July 5, 2014

 

Faisal Barakat and Michael Barnett from Lakeview Centennial High School were awarded a Skill Point certificate in audio/radio production and Nataly Patino, from North Garland High School was awarded the high school silver medal in screen printing technology at the recent National SkillsUSA competition.

 

Industry leaders representing over 600 businesses, corporations, trade associations and unions recognized the students for their demonstrated excellence in 99 hands-on occupational and leadership contests, such as robotics, criminal justice, aviation maintenance and public speaking. All contests are designed, run and judged by industry using industry standards.

Top student winners received gold, silver and bronze medallions. Many also received prizes such as tools of their trade and/or scholarships to further their careers and education. The competition is for high school and college-level students who are members of SkillsUSA.

In addition, high scorers in the contests received Skill Point Certificates. The Skill Point Certificate was awarded in 86 occupational and leadership areas to students who achieved a high score defined by industry. The SkillsUSA Championships have been a premier event since 1967. The Skill Point Certificates were introduced in 2009 as a component of the SkillsUSA WorkForce Ready System.

"Over 6,000 students from every state in the nation came to compete in the SkillsUSA Championships this week," said SkillsUSA Executive Director Tim Lawrence. "This is the SkillsUSA partnership at its best. Students, instructors and industry representatives are working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce and every student excels. These students prove that career and technical education expands opportunities."

According to the U.S. Department of Education, students who take three or more career and technical education programs in high school are more likely to attend college and stay there to graduate. In fact, 79 percent of CTE concentrators enrolled in postsecondary education within two years of high school graduation. And, students in CTE programs have a higher-than-average high school graduation rate. Research has shown the average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 90 percent compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 80 percent.

SkillsUSA helps students discover and grow their career passions. As a nationwide partnership of students, instructors and industry working together, SkillsUSA works to ensure America has a skilled workforce. It helps every student excel. The nationwide career and technical education student organization serves more than 300,000 high school, college and postsecondary students-and their instructors-in technical, skilled and service occupation instructional programs.

 

CTE is learning that works for America. SkillsUSA has the active support of more than 600 corporations, trade associations, business and labor unions at the national level. Over 11.6 million people have been annual members of SkillsUSA since its founding as The Vocational Industrial Clubs of America in 1965. SkillsUSA programs teach leadership, citizenship and character development to complement technical skill training. The organization emphasizes respect for the dignity of work, ethics, workmanship, scholarship and safety.

 


NFHS student accepted into art summer institute

 

Garland ISD | July 4, 2014

 

Naaman Forest High School senior Antonieta Thacker was one of just 30 area students to be accepted into the Nasher Sculpture Center Summer Institute for Teens. The week-long program kicks off June 23 and offers an in-depth look at the art world.

 

“Participants will be introduced to art professionals from museums and galleries who will give them a sense of the wide breadth of careers that are available to students who study art after high school,” said Tom Jungerberg, Nasher manager of touring programs and resources. “Students will also have the opportunity to work with several artists from Dallas, and one who is based in LA, to explore a number of different contemporary art practices. Finally, students will be able to experience the museum itself on an intimate level through private tours.”

 

Thacker was invited to the comprehensive institute thanks to Naaman Forest visual arts teacher Annie Knoedler.

 

“I nominated Antonieta because of her talent and commitment to her art, as well as her outstanding work ethic,” Knoedler said. “It is a huge honor for her to be accepted, since they only admit a small group of students.”

 

“It is so neat for her to be acknowledged and get affirmation of her talent,” added Principal Erika Crump. “This young lady is very quiet and focused, but she comes alive when she is talking about her artwork. This is a perfect fit for her.”

 

Thacker has never visited the Nasher Sculpture Center and is looking forward to having a memorable first-time experience.

 

“I hope to find out how to get better by gathering new ideas and drawing styles,” Thacker said. “It will be interesting to work with [other attendees] because I want to see what they can do and what techniques they have—maybe I can pick some up.”

 

The many takeaways Thacker is sure to gain from the institute will live on as she begins her journey to a Bachelor of Arts this fall. 

 


NGHS students build gazebo for senior living community

 

Garland ISD | July 4, 2014

 

In addition to learning career and technology skills, students in North Garland High School teacher Sean Denny’s construction management course are also discovering the impact of community service first-hand. With the help of Denny, students designed and built a brand-new wooden gazebo for the Garland Estate for Seniors.

 

“Assistant Principal Jeff Dorman came to me last semester with the idea to replace the gazebo that had blown down at the retirement center across the street from campus,” Denny said. “This is my first year teaching this class, so I was really excited about it. Money was raised to fund the project, and we started the build at the beginning of the spring semester.”

 

Inventive fundraisers, such as crafting and selling dog houses, yielded $3,000 for the venture. Although this amount covered most of the costs, a local Home Depot came to the rescue, donating 10 percent and a ceiling fan towards the project.

 

For about three months, students worked during class to construct, stain and perfect the gazebo. Finishing touches, including wiring and fan installation, were completed June 4-6. The year-long assignment demanded both mental and physical efforts.

 

“Because we designed the gazebo from scratch, the kids got to do some math by modifying and using angles,” Denny stated. “These students knew nothing about construction, and this is not an easy build.

 

But then you see what they did. It is amazing.”

 

The high school students were also impressed by their creation.

 

“[The gazebo] turned out to be much better than I thought it would be. I actually took some pictures and showed my grandpa,” said junior Jose Grimaldo. “I was proud and pretty inspired when I heard we would be building something for the senior living community. I am sure they are going to enjoy having a nice place to sit out and have fun.”

 

And though the senior community now boasts a newly built gazebo, the work does not stop there. Denny plans to have his students construct benches to accompany the structure next year.


GFD awards scholarships

 

Posted July 4, 2014

 

In 2013, the Garland Fire Department started a program in which a scholarship is awarded to a deserving GISD high school senior. The scholarship allows the high school graduate to attend the Garland fire academy and receive their state firefighter certification.

 

The recipient will experience the entire process of becoming a professional career firefighter. They will take the Civil Service entrance exam, the physical agility test, participate in a panel interview, as well as a chief’s interview and then attend the fire academy.

 

The 2013 recipient was Daniel Arceo, son of Victor and Patricia Arceo. He moved to Garland from Los Angeles at the age of 10 and graduated from Garland High School, where he played basketball. He enjoys playing the piano as a hobby.

 

Arceo is preparing to attend community college and wants to pursue a career in the fire service after graduating from Garland’s Fire Academy.

 

Micah Wesberry was the 2014 recipient. The son of Brad and Holly Wesberry, he is a lifelong resident of Garland.

 

Wesberry graduated from Garland High School where he played baseball and participated in theatre. He is also preparing to attend community college and pursue a career in the fire service after graduating from Garland’s Fire Academy.

 

Both recipients will be attending the 2015 fire academy set to begin in January.


Special education student receives organ lesson scholarship

 

Garland ISD | July 1, 2014

 

Garland High School special education student Brian Hataway has a passion for playing the organ. He plays at home, at church, at social events and even in front of his classmates. With a talent that continuously stirs his audience, one would be surprised to learn that Hataway cannot read music and plays complicated pieces by ear. But that may soon change, thanks to a special grant from The Dallas Foundation.

 

Hataway received the Tommy Tranchin Award May 28, which will pay for 10 organ lessons with Dallas-based, world-class concert organist Bradley Hunter Welch.

 

“It is just incredible for Brian to receive this award,” said mother Carol Hataway. “He knows Dr. Welch. We have met him in the past and have his CDs.  So, this is just a dream come true for Brian, a big honor.”

 

The Tranchin Award supports high school students in North Texas with physical, emotional or intellectual disabilities who show promise or passion in a chosen field of interest. Hataway, a senior, was one of just six honorees this year.

 

“We have had a student receive this honor two years in a row, which is really exciting for the district,” said GISD’s Director of Special Education Nidia Parra. “These are kids who do not let challenges be obstacles to their success in the community or in school. Sometimes our kids’ abilities exceed their disabilities. Brian is an example of that. He is a talented young man and has really grown this year.”

 

Hataway’s gift and self-determination are exactly what made him a winning candidate for the annual award.  

 

“The committee was very impressed by his recommendation letters. They responded to his award because he is interested in music and has an ability that deserves nurturing,” said Rob Tranchin, founder of the award. “He has clearly not let his disability define who he is. I hope the scholarship helps him develop his talent for music to his satisfaction and share it with others.”

 


BEST Education Foundation honors first responders

 

Garland ISD | June 30, 2014

 

For 12 years, the BEST Education Foundation Partners in Education (PIE) Luncheon has celebrated the invaluable work and commitment of those who support Garland ISD. This year’s affair was dedicated to hometown heroes.

 

“The PIE Luncheon was a huge success, with nearly 300 people in attendance,” said BEST board president Denise Spell.” “We decided to honor the police and fire departments because of how important they are to our school district.”

 

During the event, honorees, principals, campus partners and distinguished guests enjoyed lunch at tables adorned with patriotic flower arrangements, courtesy of the Naaman Forest High School horticulture department. Superintendent Bob Morrison welcomed guests, while Board President Rick Lambert thanked all partners for their sponsorship.

 

The luncheon ended with Spell and Garland Police Community Relations Officer Mike Hatfield presenting each police and fire unit a Star Partner Award.

 

“These men and women of the Garland, Rowlett and Sachse police and fire departments do not get enough recognition for what they do,” Spell stated. “They risk their lives every day for the students of

 

Garland ISD and we wanted to make sure they knew how much we appreciate them. We were honored to give them the Star Partner Awards this year.” 

 


SGHS students earn accolades in journalism competition

 

Garland ISD | June 29, 2014

 

Eight South Garland High School students were recently recognized in the 23rd annual Dallas Morning News High School Journalism Competition, which drew more than 1,000 entries. DMN newsroom experts judge and select winning submissions in 40 categories. South Garland’s budding reporters bested their peers in three categories: News Reporting, Long Feature and Series or Project—which resulted in a tie with Rockwall High School.

 

“It was certainly a proud adviser moment for my students to see the culmination of their hard work throughout the year,” said journalism teacher Nima Kapadia. “We have been consistent winners in the Best Series or Project category for the past five years.”

 

Seven students produced this year’s winning series piece. One of those students, tenth-grader Desiree Cadena, also dominated the Long Feature category. Senior Abraham Aviles rounded out South Garland’s wins, writing the best news reporting article.

 

Students were celebrated at the DMN Journalism Day event in mid-April. In addition to public recognition, the luncheon allowed the teens to attend a series of educational, professional-level workshops.

 

“This whole experience gave them an opportunity to interact with other student journalists across the Metroplex, in addition to veteran reporters from the DMN,” Kapadia commented. “I hope my students gained more insight about the journalism industry. I also hope that it reinforced the level of commitment they put into the student publications at our campus.”

 

And though SGHS was the only Garland ISD campus acknowledged in the contest, Kapadia considers this a district accomplishment.

 

“Knowing how competitive the DMN Journalism Day competition is, even being nominated is an honor. To be the only GISD high school recognized is also humbling,” she explained. “Each of the high school journalism advisers in our district has their own niche, and we all learn from each other. With that, we also celebrate our successes together.”

 

Visit the Dallas Morning News website to see a complete list of winners.

 

Photos courtesy of Nima Kapadia

 


Class of 2014 graduates from GISD

 

Garland ISD | June 29, 2014

 

Out of high school and on to the future, nearly 4,000 Garland ISD seniors recently graduated. Ceremonies were held at the Curtis Culwell Center June 5-7, featuring Valedictorian, Salutatorian and principal addresses, as well as band and choir performances and the presentation of diplomas.

 

Graduates will attend several educational institutions of note this fall, including Brown University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Louisiana State University, Rice University, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Texas and Vanderbilt University. Other graduates will join the military or begin their careers with trade skills learned while at GISD.

 

The Class of 2014 received scholarship offers totaling more than $52 million. Garland High School students alone tallied an impressive $13,279,827 with Naaman Forest seniors following close behind at $12,057,712.

 

The graduates with the highest accepted scholarship amounts are listed below:

 

Garland High School
Erin Nguyen - $337,920
Anibal Ceniseros, Anthony Gonzalez and James Hussey - $320,000

 

Lakeview Centennial High School
Elbert Robinson - $161,200
Kealvin Davis - $154,804

 

Naaman Forest High School
Alan Winn - $303,712
Osbaldo Hernandez - $243,536

 

North Garland High School
Priya Patel - $206,674
Olatunde Badejo - $52,950

 

Rowlett High School
Matthew Hilley - $704,186
Alan Velazquez - $256,000

 

Sachse High School
James Mayden - $273,365
Ebony Carter - $239,932

 

South Garland High School
Devyn O’Malley - $241,288
Destini Williams - $100,782


Noche de Mariachi showcase a success

 

Garland ISD | June 28, 2014

 

Several Garland ISD music and dance organizations showed off their skills during the second-annual Noche de Mariachi May 28 at the Plaza Theatre. Attracting an impressive crowd, the event boasted more than 400 attendees.

 

“This year’s Noche de Mariachi went above expectations in performance and attendance,” said Mariachi Program Director Javier Solis. “The kids really felt special getting to perform in such a nice theater, and the large crowd added to their excitement.”

 

The 25-act show included performances by GISD’s Mariachi Estrellas, as well as folklórico groups from Memorial Pathway Academy, Roach Elementary School and South Garland High School. The SGHS Southern Belles rounded out the evening’s lineup.

 

Guests enjoyed both Spanish-inspired and Mexican dance numbers, as well as beloved mariachi renditions, which garnered audience participation.

 

“Parents loved watching their kids perform. Many sang along with the Mariachi, and when a conga line formed around the audience, many got up to dance,” Solis said.

 

“The feeling of good will was palatable by the end of the evening,” added Memorial Pathway Newcomer Folklórico sponsor Barbara Hood. “To see the conga line led by a Vietnamese student, whose parents were in the audience, truly represented the power of music and dance. It crosses cultures and brings us together as one.”

 

Seeing that the arts can have an emotional impact, Solis hopes this annual program inspires a passion in others.  

 

“It is important that elementary students see their high school counterparts participate in these types of programs,” he said. “I hope it was evident that our kids love performing acts native to their culture. I also hope students moving on to middle school or different high schools will pursue dance or music as electives.”

 

Photos courtesy of Javier Solis

 


Students at Sewell ES enjoy living history lesson

 

Garland ISD | June 25, 2014

 

Numerous studies have shown that visuals lend to a more effective learning process with long-term information retention. This idea was in full effect at Sewell Elementary School when the North Texas Civilian Historians visited the campus May 23. The living history group discussed life during the 19th-century with students from all grade levels.

 

“We demonstrated a few of the many differences in an average day back then compared to an average day now,” said library aide Becky Clemens, who is also a member of the group. “We even talked about this era being the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”

 

Dressed in mid-to-late 1800s attire, the group discussed the era’s communication methods, forms of entertainment and education standards.

 

“There were no cell phones or video games. Boys and girls were in separate classrooms, and many girls did not even attend school,” Clemens said. “These and several other topics were discussed. Their curiosity and questions showed a desire to learn more about American heritage.”

 

The organization hopes their visit inspired students to study and look at this critical time in American history—a period that saw the U.S. go from colonial times to the Civil War and into the early years of the Industrial Revolution.

 

Photos courtesy of Susan Reinke


Spring Creek ES, Webb MS students

visit special amusement park

 

Kim Everett | June 24, 2014

 

Anne Redeman, a Garland Independent School District speech pathologist, along with numerous colleagues and friends, set out to make a dream come true for special needs students from Webb Middle School and Spring Creek Elementary School. The group was successful beyond its expectations.

 

The students got to go on a weekend trip to San Antonio to visit a special amusement park called Morgan’s Wonderland. Through fundraising and donations, not only were the students’ trips completely paid for, the parents, grandparents and siblings got to go, all expenses paid, as well.

 

Redeman explained that often families with special needs kids have extra expenses and cannot afford vacations.

 

“It was so great to be able to do this at no cost to the families,” she said.

 

Numerous businesses, the BEST Foundation and GISD Board of Trustees President Larry Glick made generous donations to make the trip possible.

 

The kids get to do things at Morgan’s Wonderland that they might not otherwise get to do such as fishing and riding rides; and the most important thing, have fun.

 

Morgan’s Wonderland is the first amusement park of its kind. Both special needs and able bodied individuals have been enjoying the park since it opened in 2010.

 

There is the Sensory Village which contains activities such as the Village Market grocery store and a television station where the kids can do a weather forecast and see themselves on television. In addition, there is the Wonderland Express, which is a wheelchair-accessible train ride.

 

The park also has an off-road vehicle ride, a carousel, a Water Works area, regular and wheelchair-accessible swings, and a Fishing Wharf.

 

There is an area for the kids to make their own music, a walk/roll path with scenic views and a garden along the lake shore.

 

Founder Gordon Hartman was inspired to build the park by his special needs daughter Morgan. It is described on the website as “a safe, colorful 25-acre park that serves as a haven not only for those with special needs but also for their families, friends, caregivers and the public at large.”

 

The students have already told Redeman that they want to go back next year.

 

Joey said, “It was a lot of fun running around the park. I was in a hurry to get to the lagoon. Next year I will go again."

 

“It was more than fun,” Malachi said. “I liked the activities there. I liked fishing. It was fun for me. I want to go back next year!"

 

The parents were grateful for the opportunity and enjoyed having a great time with their children.

 

One student’s mom said, “It was a really good trip because a lot of the people who are on the trip would not have been able to afford to go on a trip like this.”

 

A dad added, “It was a lot of fun. It was good to be able to bring our kids here. It’s a place that was designed for them and they had a lot of fun being able to play and do different things.”

 

Another parent said, “We’ve really had just a wonderful time here. Miss Anne and the whole staff have done such a wonderful job.”

 

Katie Battenfield, GISD speech pathologist assistant also had a great time.

 

“It was wonderful to see the kids outside the school and for the parents to meet other parents of children with disabilities,” she said.

 

Redeman expressed gratitude for everyone who helped with the trip and said that it would not have happened without Webb Middle School Principal Jim Lewis and Spring Creek Elementary School Principal Sue Sheridan.

 


Hillside Academy students boogie down

 

Posted June 23, 2014

 

After months of practice, students from Hillside Academy for Excellence showcased their dancing skills during the campus’ Movement program May 6. An annual crowd pleaser, the energetic event has been a school tradition for the past decade.

 

“This is the biggest event of the year for our campus, and we almost always have close to 90 percent participation,” said music teacher Darla O’Bryant. “We had close to 900 people in attendance this year, not including students.”

 

O’Bryant and physical education teacher Christi Becker direct, choreograph and set a new theme to the program annually.

 

“Throughout the year, students practice moving to a steady beat and keeping the proper music patterns using different kinds of manipulatives,” Becker explained. “This year, students performed choreographed dance and rhythm activities to songs about all things sweet. The final result of their hard work was a much-enjoyed program called ‘Hillside’s Got Sweet Moves.’”

 

Students from first through fifth grade performed a variety of routines, which included square dancing and a ribbon streamer act, to songs that tied to the sugary theme. “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You),” “The Candy Man” and “Tootsie Roll” were just a few of the featured musical selections.

 

“It was quite a show,” Becker said. “This puts a new spin on exercise, and the students love doing rhythmic fitness activities. Hillside students and parents are already asking what next year’s theme will be.”

 

Photos courtesy of Darla O’Bryant and Christi Becker.


Rep. Pete Sessions visits NFHS

 

Garland ISD | June 23, 2014

 

A chance meeting was all it took for state Rep. Pete Sessions to visit Naaman Forest High School.

 

“This January, as I was standing at the Martin Luther King Jr. parade, I realized that Rep. Pete Sessions was walking by me,” explained U.S. history teacher Terry Cherry. “I approached him, introduced myself and asked if he would come speak to my students. He agreed and asked me to contact his office.”

 

Cherry followed through with the request, which led to the congressman’s visit May 27.

 

The town hall-style event featured Sessions discussing the importance of education and addressing student questions. Most of the topics discussed were hot button issues, such as minimum wage, immigration, political party affiliation and the Affordable Health Care Act.

 

"[Sessions] answered the questions carefully and thoughtfully,” Cherry said. “He expressed his opinions and those of the Republican Party. Students did not challenge him on his position of not raising the minimum wage, but they did get vocal about other issues.”

 

Although the visit was a learning experience within itself, Cherry and fellow history teacher, Donna Watkins, made sure students were well-versed on politics before Sessions’ appearance.

 

“Ms. Watkins and I had students go to the library to research various political items,” he commented. “We gave them questions about Congress, which involved finding answers in the Constitution. They also answered some questions about Congressman Sessions. Then, they had to decide if they were Republican or Democrat and explain why in a short essay.”

 

By visiting NFHS, Sessions was not only able to address future voters, but also had the chance to make an impact on blossoming minds.

 

“You have to admire Congressman Sessions for being willing to come speak to high school juniors. Seeing a congressperson in the flesh and listening to their views and directions for our country could be a catalyst for creating interest,” Cherry said. “Any time an educator can create a spark for change, that opportunity should be developed. The ultimate hope is that some students will become inspired to get involved in the political process in some form.”

 

Photo courtesy of Matt Garcia

 


After-school martial arts program holds advancement ceremony

 

Garland ISD | Posted June 21, 2014

 

Twenty-nine students, parents and community members were honored for their commitment to the district’s after-school Martial Arts Knights Order program at the Belt Advancement Ceremony May 29 at Freeman Elementary School.

 

“We usually have anywhere from 20 to 40 students who will test and rank in belt,” said GISD network engineer and master instructor Rusty Truelock. “We have had students who have been with us since the beginning of this program. Some of those students actually received our program’s very first red belts at the ceremony. It was very exciting.”

 

During the event, family members and friends cheered as honorees received certificates, new belts and stripes for their discipline.

 

“We follow the World Taekwondo Federation Olympic Standard, so we have white, yellow, green, orange, blue, red and black belts. Besides the belt colors, you earn a stripe and double stripe as you advance. These show that you have earned more knowledge,” Truelock explained.

 

Overall, 17 belts, two double stripes and 10 single stripes were awarded.

 

The ceremony ended on a high note, as MAKO’s end-of-year bash began after students were recognized. Attendees enjoyed food, refreshments and cake while celebrating the night’s achievements. The year’s last gathering emphasized one of the four-year-old program’s most important features.

 

“This program gives families quality time,” Truelock commented. “We have mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and children who get to spend time together twice a week. Through this program, we are able to teach life values of honesty, integrity, self-esteem, self-respect and respect for others.”

 

The after-school MAKO program is open to anyone in the community and is currently offered at four GISD campuses: Abbett and Freeman elementary schools, Bussey Middle School and Sachse High School. 

 


GISD students eligible for free meals during summer

 

Garland ISD | June 20, 2014

 

School may be out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean Garland ISD campuses are shutting their doors. In addition to summer school activities, several campuses are also offering free meals to district students. Breakfast and lunch will be served Monday-Thursday until July 31. A list of schools, dates and times can be found below. All students must be accompanied by an adult.

 

And, GISD doesn’t have the only summer feeding program available for district students. The city of Garland is also offering free meals Monday-Friday until Aug. 8 to children ages 1-18. View a list of serving locations by clicking here.

 

Neither program requires registration. Children must only show up during designated times and eat their meal on-site.

 

GISD serving locations include:

 

Brandenburg Middle School
(June 10-25)

  • Breakfast: 8:05-8:35 a.m.

  • Lunch: 12:35-1:05 p.m.

 

Bussey Middle School
(June 10-25)

  • Breakfast: 8:05-8:35 a.m.

  • Lunch: 12:35-1:05 p.m.

 

Cisneros Prekindergarten School
(June 10-July 8)

  • Breakfast: 8-9:25 a.m.

  • Lunch: 12:30-1 p.m.

 

Daugherty Elementary School
(June 10-July8)

  • Breakfast: 8:45-9:15 a.m.

  • Lunch 12:20-12:50 p.m.

 

Davis Elementary School
(June 10-July 8)

  • Breakfast: 9:35-10:05 a.m.

  • Lunch: 12:45-1:15 p.m.

 

Lister Elementary School
(June 10-25)

  • Breakfast: 8:05-8:35 a.m.

  • Lunch 12:45-1:15 p.m.

 

Lyles Middle School
(June 10-26; July 15-31)

  • Breakfast: 8:15-8:45 a.m.

  • Lunch: 12:30-1 p.m.

 

Parsons Prekindergarten School
(June 10-July 8)

  • Breakfast: 8:10-9:25 a.m.

  • Lunch: 12:30-1 p.m.

 

Pathfinder Achievement Center
(June 23-26; July 7-31)

  • Breakfast: 8:30-9 a.m.

  • Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to noon 

 

Sellers Middle School
(June 10-25)

  • Breakfast: 8:05-8:35 a.m.

  • Lunch: 12:35-1:05 p.m. 

 

Shugart Elementary School
(June 10-25)

  • Breakfast: 8:05-8:35 p.m.

  • Lunch: 12:45-1:15 p.m.

 

Spring Creek Elementary School
(June 10-25)

  • Breakfast: 8:05-8:35 p.m.

  • Lunch: 12:45-1:15 p.m.

 

Weaver Elementary School
(June 10-July 8)

  • Breakfast: 8:50-9:20 a.m.

  • Lunch: 11:55 a.m.-12:25 p.m.


GISD bond election back up for discussion

 

Kim Everett | June 17, 2014

 

At the end of 2013, the Garland Independent School District hired Huckabee and Associates to perform an assessment of all the district’s facilities and determine updates, changes, renovations and improvements that need to be made. According to the assessment, a substantial amount of money would need to be spent to bring GISD facilities up to acceptable standards.

 

Earlier this year, the GISD board of trustees discussed whether to place a bond election of approximately $500 million on the May ballot. It would have included repairs recommended by the assessment such as new roofs, electrical and plumbing updates, heating and air conditioning updates and security improvements, as well as some extra items.

 

Almost $18 million would have been allocated for athletic facilities including improvements to playing fields and an indoor swimming pool, along with a an allotment for a career and technology center.

 

The board decided not to go ahead with the bond election after a phone survey revealed that there was not adequate taxpayer support, but they left the door open for possible placement on the November ballot.

 

The trustees have now been given a breakdown by campus and facility of items that the assessment recommended for each separate facility and a Bond Review Committee has been appointed to make recommendations to the trustees. The breakdown by facility is available at http://www.garlandisd.net/departments/facilities/tasklist.asp.

 

The committee will have a series of meetings with Superintendent Bob Morrison. The first will be informational with a review of what has already been discussed. The second and third meetings will provide time for discussion of surveys that the district has conducted and get the committee’s feedback.

 

The committee meetings are open to the public and will be held June 18, July 16 and July 30, all begin 6:30 p.m. and will take place at the Curtis Culwell Center.

 

Toward the end of the summer, the committee will recommend a plan of action to the board of trustees. The plan will contain a list of items from the Huckabee and Associates assessment that are deemed most important by the committee.

 

The trustees will then decide whether or not to go ahead with a November bond election. A decision must be made in August.

 


Abbett ES students enjoy Austin trip

 

Posted June 14, 2014

 

Abbett Elementary School fourth-grade students enjoyed a history and culture-filled adventure in Austin with Education in Action’s Proud to be a Texan field trip May 15. They enhanced their Texas history knowledge with a hands-on tour at the Texas State Capitol and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

 

Students visited the Capitol, where they were able to see where state laws are handled. They also toured the Senate and House of Representatives chambers, as well as the offices of their own state legislators—Sen. John Carona and Rep. Angie Chen Button.

 

At the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, the eight and nine-year-olds explored exhibits detailing Texas’ first inhabitants, the Texas Revolution and various culture-shaping events that lead to our state’s distinct character.

 

“Student activities during Education in Action’s Proud to be a Texan field trip reinforce and supplement fourth grade Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills learning objectives with a focus on why Texans are so proud of their unique heritage,” said Lori Duncan, Education in Action’s school programs director.

 

The museum visit ended with an exciting screening of the “Star of Destiny” at the Texas Spirit Theater. The multisensory show featured highlights in Texas history, such as an East Texas oil derrick gusher and the Saturn V takeoff, as seen from Mission Control at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston.


Sewell ES fifth-graders become UNT students for a day

 

Posted June 14, 2014

 

Approximately 90 students from Sewell Elementary School recently enrolled at the University of North Texas, experiencing a one-day taste of college life.

 

The fifth-grade field trip kicked off with a campus tour, including an enlightening visit to the sustainable Pohl Recreation Center, which is powered by electricity generated from students’ workouts. The honorary collegiates also visited Crumley Hall, where they learned about living on campus and visited a dorm room.

 

Afterward, they attended UNT’s University Day event, which featured free food, lively music and plenty of activities.  The event offered Sewell fifth-graders the opportunity to mingle with college students, which led to an amusing “caw war,” referring to the call of UNT’s eagle mascot.

 

“When students would pass another group on campus, they would have to challenge them in a ‘caw war’ yelling match,” said Sewell Counselor Susan Reinke. “It was quite fun, and it is still up for debate as to which group actually won.”

 

At the end of the day, the trip impressed many attendees, including Reinke.

 

“I felt this was an experience that was not only fun and educational, but one that stirred the students’ thoughts about college and their future. I call that a success,” she said.

 

“Spending time at [UNT] and seeing it inspired me even more to go to college,” added Sewell fifth-grader Carrisa Nicholson. “At my house, I have a secret box. I have told nobody, but it is filled with college money. I am saving up.”

 

Photos courtesy of Susan Reinke


Bullock ES hosts Istation celebration

 

Posted June 14, 2014

 

Winning a nationwide sweepstakes, Bullock Elementary School hosted a special celebration featuring two beloved Istation characters, Amelia Chameleon and Justin Time, May 15.

 

Istation—an international, computer-based reading assistance program—set up the drawing to acknowledge the participation of students, faculty and administrators in its Spanish and math-focused Item Response Theory Study.

 

During Bullock’s fun-filled event, Amelia Chameleon and Justin Time visited classrooms, posed for photos and handed out goodies. Students who participated in the study also received a personalized certificate and an Istation wristband as a thank you gift.

 

“Our students really enjoyed seeing their favorite characters come to life,” said Principal Beatris Martinez. “They were blown away when they received special recognition and an award for their work and efforts. We are very grateful to have had such an opportunity.”

 

Istation plans to use the results of the study to modify and enhance its program.

 

Photos courtesy of Bullock Elementary School


Coyle MS students enjoy robot visit

 

Posted June 14, 2014

 

Students at Coyle Middle School learned that math can be fun—and vital—in the real world when Valbrea Technologies’ Herbert the Robot and its creator, Tom Howard, visited the campus May 22.

 

Herbert and Howard stopped by sixth-grade math classes in order to demonstrate the importance of arithmetic in robotics.

 

“Many of our students do not think they will ever use math in their future. Mr. Howard was very in tune to how their grade-level math skills are used in designing Herbert,” said math teacher Virginia Dowell. “Herbert was very entertaining, and our students were very inquisitive.”

 

During the visit, Herbert the Robot provided its own quasi-presentation, following students around the library and showcasing its designated purpose.

 

“Herbert was designed to help companies with large computer rooms manage their utility bills,” Dowell said. “Herbert can map out a room and roam it on his own—without running into anything. A device can be attached so that he can record temperatures at different heights, making sure all levels are properly cooled.”

 

Howard added to the presentation by providing examples of classroom-taught math methods applied in robot design.

 

“Mr. Howard referred to using circumference when designing Herbert’s wheels and programming,” Dowell explained. “He also mentioned utilizing rate to determine Herbert’s speed, and flat plane when defining Herbert’s site field.”

 

Overall, Dowell believes the demonstration was a significant and enlightening lesson.

“Seeing a company give up its time to inform and educate students makes visits like this important. It helps students realize how their current math skills could be used in their future, and it gets them thinking about job opportunities.”

 

Photo courtesy of Virginia Dowell


Middle schools receive awards for environmental efforts

 

Posted June 14, 2014

 

Three Garland ISD middle schools received a business-funded grant for implementing eco-friendly projects at their campuses. The Classical Center at Brandenburg, O’Banion and Lyles middle schools were awarded the Kings Dental Environmental Grant May 8.

 

In January, Garland-based Kings Dental partnered with the BEST Education Foundation to set up an endowment to reward green efforts at local schools. Business owners Arun Santhanam and Dr. Vidya Suri chose the campuses closest to their office to kick off the charitable campaign.

 

“I reached out to middle schools because I thought they would have a little more motivation,” Santhanam said. “We wanted to disperse the seed of environmental conservation with this project, and these guys did a great job.”

 

Santhanam and Suri provided each campus with $100 of seed money to enact their green ventures. The schools then competed for first, second or third-place grant quantities.

 

Brandenburg snagged the first-place title, winning a $400 check for implementing two impressive campaigns on campus. Sixth-grade science teacher Heather Hewett organized the projects, which included a plastic bag exchange and a Nike Grind shoe recycling drive.

 

“These projects just enhance our ability to think green,” she said. “The green bags were such a hit, and we collected 430 pairs of shoes. We were just fortunate to have had this opportunity to further instill the importance of conservation in our students.”

 

Hewett said the grant will be allocated for next year’s eco-friendly endeavors.

 

Receiving second place and a $300 check, the women behind O’Banion’s green efforts were science teacher Anastasia Thomas and special education educator Janizelle Esquivel. Principal John Tucci said the campus’ seed money helped fund renovations of its courtyard and installation of motivational ceiling tiles that showcase green messages.

 

“We had done a little bit of recycling in the past, but this really helped start our ecological projects,” Tucci said. “We do not know what we will do with the money. We might buy more things that will help beautify our courtyard.”

 

Lyles was awarded a $200 check for its environmental undertakings. Seventh-grade science teacher April Ellis spearheaded the school’s Recycle, Reuse, Redesign program. Encouraging students to engage in a variety of green activities, they not only organized a recycling club, but also made pencil pouches out of recycled chip bags and collected plastic bottles in an effort to build a campus greenhouse.

 

“We appreciate Kings Dental for choosing Lyles as a participant, and for helping us implement our recycling program to increase our students’ awareness of the importance of recycling,” Ellis said.

 

Santhanam and Suri hope to expand the Kings Dental Environmental Grant campaign to more GISD schools next year.


SGHS students earn welding certifications

 

Posted June 11, 2014

 

Preparing to walk across the graduation stage, several South Garland High School students have already taken the first steps to a successful career. Fourteen seniors and 12 juniors were recognized at the campus’ welding certification ceremony May 9.

 

“As far as we know, my program is one of just a few in the Southwest to certify high schoolers,” said welding teacher Jim Barnett. “Our students can go straight into the welding field after graduation.”

 

Barnett’s program began at Lakeview Centennial 13 years ago and moved to SGHS this school year. Offering introduction to welding, welding I and advanced welding classes in grades 10-12, students have up to three years to train, practice, attempt and pass certification tests. Twenty-two of Barnett’s latest success stories completed all four steps in one year.

 

“Just four students followed the program from Lakeview, so this first year at South exceeded expectations in a big way,” he said. “My hope is to someday have 50 students receive certifications in a single year. I have a large number of companies that call me all the time wanting welders. I love training young adults to have a career to go into and knowing that I am changing lives.”

 

Additional success stories include an alumnus who works as an underwater welder making more than $200,000 annually. Another started his own welding fabrication shop with four employees and continues to grow the company.

 

According to Barnett, students can begin making $12-24 straight out of high school. And, many students earned multiple certifications, meaning multiple opportunities. Senior David Aradillas passed seven tests, proving his gas metal arc welding (GMAW) and shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) skills at multiple positions. A complete list of South Garland’s honorees and their certifications can be found below.

 

  • Franklin Alvarez: SMAW - 1G
  • Marvin Amezquita: GMAW - 1G
  • David Aradillas: SMAW - 1G, 2G, 3G and GMAW - 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G
  • Francisco Castillo: SMAW - 1G, 2G, 3G
  • Jacob Cunningham: GMAW - 1G
  • Luis Diaz: GMAW - 1G
  • Carlos Esparza: GMAW - 1G
  • Jonathon Floyd: GMAW - 1G
  • Elvis Gamino: GMAW - 1G, 2G, 3G
  • Ericka Garcia: GMAW - 1G
  • Oscar Martinez: GMAW - 1G
  • Eric Mendoza: SMAW - 1G, 2G, 3G
  • Manuel Montoya: GMAW - 1G, 2G, 3G
  • Carlos Morales: GMAW - 1G
  • Miguel Muro: GMAW - 1G
  • Juan Navarro: GMAW - 1G
  • Alejandro Pardino: GMAW - 1G
  • Erick Ramos: GMAW - 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G
  • De’Quoise Randle: GMAW - 1G
  • Felix Rojas: GMAW - 1G
  • James Rushton: SMAW - 1G
  • Devon Swindell: SMAW - 1G, 2G, 3G and GMAW - 1G, 2G
  • Hector Trejo: GMAW - 1G, 2G, 3G
  • Selina Velazquez: GMAW - 1G
  • Todd Young: GMAW - 1G
  • Name withheld for privacy: GMAW - 1G

LCHS competes in One-Act-Play contest

 

Posted June 8, 2014

 

Lakeview Centennial High School’s theater department recently made campus history by competing in the 88th-annual state UIL One-Act Play contest May 21 in Austin. Although the drama group did not take the grand title, the unexpected journey helped create lifelong memories and gave the Patriots an inside look at the never-before-seen competition.

 

“I was surprised by how much of a showcase of work it was, as opposed to the feeling of competition,” said theater arts director Timothy Doyle. “There was more of a feeling of being really excited to get to see all of these other schools that got as far as we did.”

 

The state competition featured a total of 40 Texas high schools competing against the top seven players in their division. Lakeview Centennial’s performance of “The Storm in the Barn” yielded some recognition, with senior Cody Thortis winning an all-star cast honorable mention.

 

Overall, the OAP experience proved to be enlightening and gratifying. It even led to the development of a strong bond. 

 

“This was almost a surreal experience,” said senior Sergio Sanchez. “But this is a really great way to end the year. I learned that it really takes an almost family-like feel to a company to really get there. Everyone has to depend on each other.”

 

“The idea that we were all able to come together and create this magnificent piece of work that so many people got to see is what the students should be most proud of,” Doyle added. “I think our goal from the very beginning was to get as many people to see the production as possible because it is such an obscure show.  By going to state and performing at Bass Concert Hall where there is 3,500 people watching the show, I think we achieved our goal.”

 

Photo courtesy of George Jones


Middle schools receive awards for environmental efforts

 

Posted June 8, 2014

 

Three Garland ISD middle schools received a business-funded grant for implementing eco-friendly projects at their campuses. The Classical Center at Brandenburg, O’Banion and Lyles middle schools were awarded the Kings Dental Environmental Grant May 8.

 

In January, Garland-based Kings Dental partnered with the BEST Education Foundation to set up an endowment to reward green efforts at local schools. Business owners Arun Santhanam and Dr. Vidya Suri chose the campuses closest to their office to kick off the charitable campaign.

 

“I reached out to middle schools because I thought they would have a little more motivation,” Santhanam said. “We wanted to disperse the seed of environmental conservation with this project, and these guys did a great job.”

 

Santhanam and Suri provided each campus with $100 of seed money to enact their green ventures. The schools then competed for first, second or third-place grant quantities.

 

Brandenburg snagged the first-place title, winning a $400 check for implementing two impressive campaigns on campus. Sixth-grade science teacher Heather Hewett organized the projects, which included a plastic bag exchange and a Nike Grind shoe recycling drive.

 

“These projects just enhance our ability to think green,” she said. “The green bags were such a hit, and we collected 430 pairs of shoes. We were just fortunate to have had this opportunity to further instill the importance of conservation in our students.”

 

Hewett said the grant will be allocated for next year’s eco-friendly endeavors.

 

Receiving second place and a $300 check, the women behind O’Banion’s green efforts were science teacher Anastasia Thomas and special education educator Janizelle Esquivel. Principal John Tucci said the campus’ seed money helped fund renovations of its courtyard and installation of motivational ceiling tiles that showcase green messages.

 

“We had done a little bit of recycling in the past, but this really helped start our ecological projects,” Tucci said. “We do not know what we will do with the money. We might buy more things that will help beautify our courtyard.”

 

Lyles was awarded a $200 check for its environmental undertakings. Seventh-grade science teacher April Ellis spearheaded the school’s Recycle, Reuse, Redesign program. Encouraging students to engage in a variety of green activities, they not only organized a recycling club, but also made pencil pouches out of recycled chip bags and collected plastic bottles in an effort to build a campus greenhouse.

 

“We appreciate Kings Dental for choosing Lyles as a participant, and for helping us implement our recycling program to increase our students’ awareness of the importance of recycling,” Ellis said.

 

Santhanam and Suri hope to expand the Kings Dental Environmental Grant campaign to more GISD schools next year. 


Brandenburg student

recognized for heroic act

 

Posted June 8, 2014

 

Students at the Classical Center at Brandenburg Middle School will soon honor the life-saving act of one of their own. Sixth-grader Qualynn Lester will be recognized during the campus’ Awards Night May 27 for helping rescue a three-year-old girl.

 

Last summer, Lester came to the aid of the child when he saw her face-down in his apartment complex’s swimming pool.

 

“I had just come out of the office and saw the little girl in the Jacuzzi. I jumped in and grabbed her,” he explained. “I saw water coming out of her mouth, so I laid her down on the ground and called for help.”

 

Lester helped a neighbor call 911 and perform CPR on the girl. They were able to restore her breathing before paramedics arrived. The three-year-old survived the ordeal, thanks to the heroic acts of an 11-year-old and a caring adult.

 

“We just found out about this,” said Principal Elise Mosty. “The Garland Police Department recently recognized him, and Officer Mike Hatfield, who used to be a School Resource Officer here, said he really wanted to honor him in front of his peers. I was so proud. We have such quality kids here, and we teach them to do the right thing. It is nice to know they put it into action.”

 

Lester is looking forward to his school’s ceremony. He wants to share his story with the Braves community and appreciates being acknowledged.

 

“It feels good to be honored. I know that I did something good, and if you do a good deed, you will get recognized for it,” he said.


College-sponsored scholarship winners announced

 

Posted June 7, 2014

 

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has announced the winners of the National Merit Scholarships financed by U.S. colleges and universities. Officials of each sponsor college selected their scholarship winners from among the finalists in the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program who plan to attend their institution.

 

These awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship. The following GISD students received scholarships:  

 

Sierra Nicole Brune from Rowlett High School

Laura E. Toler from Garland High School

 

College-sponsored Merit Scholarship winners announced today are a part of the distinguished group of about 8,000 high school seniors who will receive National Merit Scholarships for college undergraduate study worth more than $35 million.

 

2014 National Merit Scholarship Competition:  About 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools entered the 2014 National Merit Scholarship competition when they took the 2012 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, approximately 16,000 semifinalists were named on a state representational basis in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors.

 

Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than one percent of the nation’s seniors.


Special Education Department names Educators of the Year

 

Posted June 4, 2014

 

Every year Garland ISD’s Special Education Department recognizes four educators who go above and beyond to meet the needs of all students. The 2014 General Educator of the Year honorees were named May 15.

 

“These are teachers who promote a culture of high expectations and who engage students with disabilities in meaningful learning,” said Nidia Parra, director of Special Education. “They challenge all students, regardless of their ability and instructional level. They also include students with special needs in all aspects of the learning environment without making them feel different or excluded.

 

Leila Toribio received the Elementary General Educator of the Year award. She teaches third-grade English language arts at Kimberlin Academy for Excellence. Nominations praised Toribio’s welcoming personality and passion for student success.

 

“If every child could have a teacher like Mrs. Toribio, they would be so fortunate,” said Kimberlin Counselor Tammy Sullivan. “To her, each student has tremendous potential and ability. She believes in them, respects them and encourages them. They know that she is behind them, and they grow because of that assurance.”

 

Sixth-grade science teacher Christina Sweek was named the Middle School General Educator of the Year. She teaches at Jackson Technology Center for Math and Science, where administrators describe her as someone who easily builds rapport with students.

 

“She takes the time to get to know each one, to find differentiated ways to help them learn and to get extra resources if needed,” said Assistant Principal Coleman Bruman. “It has been very refreshing to see a first-year teacher go all out for her students.”

 

The High School General Educator of the Year is from Naaman Forest High School. Cameron Madkins teaches several science classes, which have become some of the most popular on campus. As a product of GISD, he strives to continue the district’s tradition of educational excellence.

 

“His enthusiasm, love and passion for teaching, as well as his students, have hardly a rival on our staff,” said Courtney Carr, NFHS special education department head. “Cameron does not work for awards or accolades, but simply to inspire and impact all those he comes in contact with every day.”

 

Victoria Estrada received the overall District General Educator of the Year award. She teaches chemistry and TAKS science at Garland High School, her alma mater. Nominations commended her ability to truly connect with students.

 

“She has a teaching style that puts reluctant students at ease so they can let down their guard and spend time learning,” said Assistant Principal Gwen Jack.

 

“I am so thankful that I had Ms. Estrada for chemistry,” added a GHS student. “When I could not see something, she would quietly print it out for me. She always took the initiative to make sure I had everything I needed to pass.”


Local student receives SFA scholarship

 

Posted June 4, 2014

 

Casey Byrne of Garland was awarded the Glenn and Nancy Chancellor Scholarship at the 2014 Forestry and Environmental Science Awards Convocation at Stephen F. Austin State University.

 

The Glenn and Nancy Chancellor Scholarship was established through the SFA Alumni Association by the Chancellors with matching contributions from Temple-Inland. A 1959 graduate of the SFA School of Forestry, Glenn Chancellor retired as group vice president of the forestry division at Temple-Inland Inc. of Diboll, Texas.

 

Byrne, a sophomore studying fire management at the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, chose SFA because of its distance from his hometown as well as the many opportunities offered by campus organizations and his field of study.

 

In addition to his interests of rock climbing, backpacking and ultimate Frisbee, Byrne finds time to focus on academics, made evident by his 3.8 grade-point average and academic-based scholarship awards such as the SFA Academic Excellence Scholarship and Top 10 Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Scholarship.

 

After graduating, Byrne plans to work with the National Forest Service in California or Colorado implementing prescribed burns. In the meantime, Byrne feels that his time spent at SFA is preparing him well for his future career.

 

“I feel that the classes taken so far have taught me the technical aspects of the job and career I am going to need,” said Byrne.

 

Byrne is the son of Sheila and John Byrne of Garland.

 

For information on related topics, visit the college of forestry and agriculture’s website at www.atcofa.sfasu.edu.