||Nominations sought for 2008 Distinguished Citizen Award
In the news:
Distinguished Citizen Award
Nominations are now being sought
for the Pasadena Independent School District's Distinguished
Citizen Award. The award is given annually to a Pasadena ISD
resident or business person who has demonstrated a strong
commitment to the cause of education and youth-related
activities and organizations in the community.
Nominees must demonstrate a
commitment to the educational, social, spiritual and personal
growth and development of the young people of our community
through volunteer efforts in Pasadena schools or any
youth-related organization. They also must reside or work within
the boundaries of the Pasadena Independent School District.
The individual is named by a
selection committee from a list of nominations received from the
The Distinguished Citizen Award
will be presented at a special reception in November. A 15" X
19" bronze plaque is commissioned, dedicated and placed on a
concrete pedestal located at the front entrance to the Pasadena
Independent School District Administration Building. A smaller
replica of the plaque is given to the recipient of the
Distinguished Citizen Award.
The plaques of both the
Distinguished Citizen Award recipients and the Distinguished
Alumnus Award are exhibited in the Walk of Honor just outside
the entrance of the district administration building. The
Distinguished Alumnus Award is presented in March of each year.
Past recipients of the
Distinguished Citizen Award include:
1995 - Faye Schimek
1996 - Kathryn Whitfill
1997 -- Kathleen Morris
1998 - John Phelps
1999 - Denise Converse
2000 - Gilbert Aguilar
2001 - Eddie Dansby
2002 - Judy and Russell Lamontagne
2003 - Dr. Paul Covell
2004 - Rosalie Kuntz
2005 - Emory Gadd
2006 - Charles Davis
2007- Herman Williams
Nomination forms are available on
the school district website at
www.pasadenaisd.org/citizennominate.htm. Return the
completed form with any supporting documentation such as
newspaper clippings or resumes by September 5, 2008. When
filling out the nomination, please
the name and phone number of the person making the nomination
Send nominations to Candace
Ahlfinger, associate superintendent for communications and
community relations, Pasadena ISD, 1515 Cherrybrook, Pasadena,
Texas 77502. For more information, call 713-740-0247.
||Teaming up for success: Pearland partners with Pasadena in annual basketball tournament
In the news:
with Pasadena in annual basketball tournament
The annual McDonald's Texas Invitational
Basketball Tournament gets bigger and better every year, and this
year is no exception as the tournament is going regional with the
help of the Pearland Area Chamber of Commerce, Pearland ISD and the
Pearland Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"We are very excited about working with all of
the folks in Pearland and know that the partnership will add greatly
to our tournament success," said tournament chairman Ben Meador. "We
see a long-term relationship developing here."
Pearland Convention and Visitors Bureau Vice
President of Tourism Bryan Roller joined the tournament's steering
committee recently, and he said the city is excited to be involved
in such a great tournament.
"The Pearland Chamber of Commerce, the
Convention and Visitors Bureau and Pearland ISD are all strong
supporters of working regionally for the betterment of our area,"
Roller said. "I think a strong alliance between our cities, our
chambers and our school districts will equate to success for all the
entities involved. It takes a lot of resources to pull off a
first-class tournament of this size, and by combining our talents
and efforts, we can really showcase our region."
tournament hosts the most talented 48-boys' teams and 32-girls'
teams from across the state and is sponsored in large part by
McDonald's, the City of Pasadena and the Pasadena Chamber of
Commerce. The tournament serves as the primary fundraiser for the
Pasadena ISD Education Foundation, which provides $100,000 in grants
every year to help fund innovative educational programs districtwide
that cannot be afforded through regular operating budgets. Last
year, the tournament made a record $100,000 donation to the
quality of talent in this region and from across the state makes
this one of the top tournaments in the nation," Roller said.
"Pearland will bring tremendous energy and a potential for growth to
the tournament. Our energy, resourcefulness and determination
combined with our commitment to showcase Pearland, will help us
achieve this goal."
Pearland's involvement in the tournament
started with the need of another facility to be used as a game site
since Pasadena High School's gym will be undergoing renovations at
the time of this year's tournament, which will be held Nov. 20-22.
Pearland ISD's Pearland High School will be a new site at this
"This will be good for the tournament because
Pearland ISD has a great facility," Meador said. "Their people are
very nice to work with and have always been great supporters of our
tournament. They will also be able to play a student game there as
well as have several pool games there."
In addition to providing additional facilities
for games during the tournament, Pearland will also be involved in
securing sponsors and selling advertisement space in the
tournament's program. With 50 percent of Pearland's secured income
going back to the city, Meador said he believes the positive trends
of the tournament's past five years will continue to grow for
Pasadena ISD's Education Foundation.
"All sponsorship funds and program advertising
funds raised from Pearland will be shared equally with the city, its
school district and the tournament," Meador said. "The addition of
the Pearland chamber and the people in that community just expands
our capabilities and will allow us to derive more funding and be in
a position to exceed the donation made to the foundation last year."
Pearland will also be responsible for securing
volunteers at the Pearland game site and for helping promote the
tournament and gain attendance at games at the Pearland site.
Roller said he believes the City of Pearland
and its school district will benefit tremendously from being a part
of this tournament because of the large economic impact special
events such as this one brings into the cities in which they are
"From the city's standpoint, I think the
continued efforts to bring first-class athletic events to Pearland
assists us in branding our city and our region as a destination for
sports or student-related events," he said. "Teams, parents and
friends travel to support those teams meaning new revenue is brought
into our community by way of hotel, gas, food and retail purchases.
It will also help our schools with fundraising through booster clubs
that run the concession stands at these various events."
Meador said some future goals of the
partnership include expanding the tournament to include more teams
and utilize more facilities in the Pearland area.
"With Bryan on board our steering committee, we
will be soliciting Pearland's ideas and opinions as we move forward
to explore all of our options," Meador said. "They are great people
to work with and we look forward to a longstanding and very
Meador said he thinks it's important for
organizations in surrounding cities to get involved in this event
and that he is looking forward to the success of this year's
tournament with Pearland's participation.
"This is not just a Pasadena event," Meador
said. "We have long had the opinion that anything that happens in
southeast Harris County is good for every city located here. The
success of this tournament has sent a clear message that says our
people are enthusiastic and energetic enough to stage a major
undertaking such as this event; our business community is very
generous; and those who work the event have the planning and
visionary capabilities to improve the event and make it better each
year. When we begin to think about what can be rather than just what
is, then we begin to see the possibilities."
For Pearland area businesses interested in
becoming a tournament sponsor, please contact Roller at
281-485-3534. For Pasadena area
businesses interested in sponsoring the event, please contact Rita
Townsend, tournament executive assistant, at 713-986-0527. Visit
www.texasinvitational.com for more information about the
||A 'Monumental' Event: Annual tournament to bring in top sponsors
In the news:
Annual tournament to
bring in top sponsors
Written by Lyndsey Kees
For the past five years, the McDonald's Texas Invitational
Basketball Tournament has taken over the city of Pasadena during the
third week in November-and this year proves to be no different.
With 80 teams competing for the championship prizes, it is certain
this year's tournament will provide endless excitement and
entertainment for all involved. In order to ensure the success of
the event, community involvement and sponsors are essential. Good
sponsors for a good cause, is definitely a phrase that could not be
"All profits derived from this tournament are donated annually to
the Pasadena ISD Education Foundation, which provides grants to
deserving teachers and students for a myriad of projects they work
on each year," said tournament chairman Ben Meador. "These programs
typically require funding that is not available from normal
example of a project made possible by foundation funds is Pasadena
Memorial High School's "Switched-On Physics: Engineering Wave
Phenomena," which is an on-going project that has allowed AP physics
students to design and build a fully functional digital pipe organ.
Project coordinator Scott Graham said if it weren't for the increase
in tournament sponsors each year, the foundation would not be able
to increase the number of grants given each year and the
implementation of his project would not be possible.
"Businesses should realize that any contribution to the tournament,
no matter how small, allows our students to learn in extraordinary
ways and provides them with experiences they would not otherwise
have because our budgets don't allow for it," Graham said. "I have
been fortunate to see just how much good these projects and grants
do for our students. We are truly grateful to the foundation and all
of our sponsors, and we are forever in their debt in so many ways."
The tournament has generated more revenue with each passing year. In
2003, $10,000 was an impressive first year collection. For the 2007
tournament, the goal of $100,000 was set and achieved. This year,
the bar will be raised and expectations for the tournament are
greater than ever.
"We have been very blessed to have the support of so many generous
people who have assisted in achieving these goals. We will continue
to have high expectations, but we have not yet established a goal
for this year. We think we will definitely meet and exceed what was
done in 2007," Meador said. "We have great momentum and we
anticipate the number of sponsors this year may increase
The Texas Invitational has grown to be one of the nation's premier
high school events. With over 80 teams and 30,000 spectators viewing
200 games, it is a feast for any basketball fan. The tournament is
host to many of Texas' finest high school basketball talent.
"Sixty-five percent of the teams playing in this tournament were in
the state playoffs this past year. The defending state 5A boys and
girls champions were here last year and will be returning," Meador
said. "A number of our teams were nationally ranked last year. We
expect continued growth and we already are talking about adding 16
more girls' teams, bringing our total to 96 teams."
Not only is the tournament beneficial for the school district, but
it also provides the city with increased activity and economic
"This tournament brings considerable revenue into our city over the
three day period and as we expand that revenue increases for our
area businesses," said Meador.
Community involvement and volunteers go hand-in-hand with the
tournament. Without the help of so many dedicated individuals,
Meador said the success of the tournament would not be possible.
"We have 50 community leaders who work on our steering committee
year round. Over 400 volunteers are involved working with the
tournament in some way," said Meador. "This tournament has a lot to
offer our sponsors in advertising possibilities and there is a
sponsor level that fits the budget of every business."
Becoming a sponsor for the tournament offers a great opportunity for
corporate sponsors and businesses to support the tournament and
school district by participating in one of five levels.
For the first time, the Pasadena Lions Club is a Gold sponsor for
the tournament. The Lions have a strong commitment supporting
Pasadena ISD by providing eyeglasses to children in the district who
cannot afford them. Meeting the vision needs of local children is
the top priority of Lions Clubs around the world, and for many years
the Pasadena Lions Club has helped hundreds of needy Pasadena ISD
"Our club has an annual 'Walk For Sight' to raise money for
eyeglasses. Elementary and fifth and sixth grade students
participate and raise money for this event. The event has been very
successful due to the efforts of the Pasadena ISD physical education
teachers and students, and contributing back in this way is our
pleasure," said Joey Bowers, president of the Pasadena Lions Club.
"We are motivated to sponsor because money generated from the
basketball tournament is used to help the teachers and students
districtwide," Bowers said. "The district is made up of many
wonderful, caring people, and our club understands the importance of
helping them succeed."
The McDonald's Texas Invitational Basketball Tournament is a prime
opportunity for businesses to contribute to a worthwhile cause.
Combining superior Texas athletics along with the help and support
of the community is what has made this tournament one of the state's
leading high school sports events.
"People like to support our schools, and there is no better
investment than to invest in the education of our youth," Meador
To become a tournament sponsor, please contact Rita Townsend,
tournament Executive Assistant, at 713-986-0527. For more
information on the tournament, visit
||GT students 'go green' in summer camp
In the news:
GT students 'go
green' and more in summer camp
Written by Lyndsey Kees
Underwater adventures, going green and Texas
history recently sparked the interest of many gifted and talented
students around Pasadena ISD. Each summer, qualified students take
advantage of the opportunity to learn, create and explore different
areas through Pasadena ISD's exciting GT camp.
"The goal of camp is to enhance each student's
potential for success in future challenging studies and to promote
application of the state goal for services for gifted students,"
said Pasadena ISD instructional specialist for advanced academics
The camp was divided into three categories
based on grade level. Primary Campers (grades K-2) enjoyed diving
in and exploring the world deep beneath the ocean's surface. By
discovering the colorful creatures and fascinating landscape
beneath, students were able to share their adventures in a
multi-media presentation at the conclusion of the camp.
Elementary Campers (grades 3-4) learned what it
takes to "go green." With the environment changing rapidly,
students were given the chance to experience what is really going on
around them. Projects through art and technology enhanced and
demonstrated the knowledge obtained by the students about the
"Students created 'Go Green People' out of
recycled water bottles and wood that represented a way we could help
keep the earth clean," elementary camp coordinator Amanda Khan said.
"They made 'sit-a-pons' out of recycled paper, a compost pile, and
designed and created their own can crushers."
Each of these activities provided students with
an understanding and appreciation of how they can make a
contribution to the world and what it takes to keep the earth
"My hope is that students left camp with a
renewed passion for learning and challenging themselves to reach
higher goals. I hope that the experience of working together with
other students who have similar interests and abilities will inspire
them to be leaders on their home campus and throughout their life,"
Khan said. "I hope camp set a small fire inside of them to help make
this world a better place to live for themselves and the future
"GT has Gone to Texas" was the theme of the
Intermediate Camp (grades 5-7). Students created and constructed a
the King Ranch
facade and sample fencing helping them to develop
appreciation for Texas history as deep as the heart of Texas.
their own work and the products created by the others at camp,
they were able to see the many ways their knowledge can be
instructional specialist for secondary
advanced academics Michelle Reynolds said. "
hope the participants walked away with a well-rounded understanding
of the history of Texas and the many ways it is reflected in the
traditions and cultures."
created individualized brands and barbed wire designs, generated
their own cowboy hat bands, and branded hand-made leather cowboy
"As in any educational pursuit, the goals of
the activities were deeply layered. First and foremost, we set out
to further develop their areas of giftedness and give them the
framework for growing their intellectual aptitudes," Reynolds
said. "We also worked to supplement their learning of Texas history
without duplicating what they might have learned in their history
classrooms. We also worked to enrich their understanding of the
bases of Texas' culture and traditions."
The final day of camp concluded with
presentations and demonstrations of the week's work. Students
created altered art, which is
form of artistic expression that utilizes found objects and collage
techniques to reflect a key concept. Students researched historical
Texas figures where they dressed and became that character for the
of taking on another person's traits, characteristics and mannerisms
in order to share background information encourages students to
discover more about the person. Students were not just giving a
report, they were defending the character's place in the 'museum,'
thus leading them to a real, hands-on learning situation that
creates interest and success," Reynolds said.
The camp not only provided students with ample
learning opportunities, but it allowed them to branch out and create
lasting memories and friendships.
"GT camp starts the students' summer off with a
positive, enriched environment, and the students can continue to
research the information learned at camp," Axel said. "The
activities provided an opportunity for challenging thinking and
in-depth research as well as provided a space for the GT students to
get together and develop new friendships."
||Three Pasadena schools receive 'A+' with BP grants
In the news:
schools receive 'A+' with BP grants
British Petroleum, which is more informally
known as BP, believes that with education comes success, which is
why the leading international energy company gives back to schools
nationwide through its BP A+ for Energy grants program.
Pasadena ISD schools continue to impress the
company with innovative projects in math, science and energy, as
Rick Schneider Middle School, Dobie High School and Pasadena
Memorial High School were each awarded $10,000 BP A+ for Energy
grants for the 2008-09 school year. The A+ for Energy award program
was developed to meet the needs of Pre-K-12 teachers who want to
expand their core curriculum with energy education activities.
This is the second year in a row Schneider
Middle School has received an A+ for Energy grant, and this year the
school was awarded the grant for an after-school science program
called "Power Hour," which will meet twice a month to cover
different topics and how energy is related to each of those topics.
The grant will fund hands-on activities for students participating
in the program including solar car races, a school-wide composting
project, the designing of eco-sensitive future cities and much more.
Amy Denton, Schneider science teacher and grant
coordinator, said she believes modest gains seen in school-wide
science scores were a result of the BP grant the school received
last year, and she plans to continue to build on those gains with
this year's grant.
"We know the power of this grant program, and
we are excited about what it will allow us to do through our new
project 'Power Hour,'" she said. "These funds will allow us to give
our students exposure to relevant concepts through actual
experiences that many of the students would otherwise not have.
There are also math, ELAR and social studies aspects to the program
so we hope to strengthen our students in those areas as well, and BP
is helping us do just that."
Collaboratively, Pasadena Memorial's
"Switched-On Physics: Engineering, Waves and Alternative Energy"
solar powered digital pipe organ project and Dobie's "Switched-On
Optics: Lasers, Light and Electromagnetic Radiation" also switched
on the interest of BP and each received a $10,000 A+ for Energy
grant. The digital pipe organ project has allowed AP Physics
students at both Dobie and Memorial to build a fully functional
mobile digital pipe organ that is exclusively solar powered. Through
grants such as this one, the students have been able to design and
build an additional immobile pipe organ as well as study wave
phenomena, alternative energy, related wave topics such as tsunamis
and electromagnetic radiation, and wave propagation.
"BP has helped provide a means to the
realizations of this project," said Memorial AP Physics instructor
and grant coordinator Scott Graham. "We can not adequately express
the magnitude of our thanks. It means a great deal to have the
support of BP, and the exposure they have given to our vision will
help us share it with thousands of students. We can not thank them
enough for their interest and participation."
Dobie's grant for "Switched-On Optics" will
allow students to add a laser and light effect show to the musical
shows performed by students on the digital pipe organ.
"By partnering Dobie and Memorial together, we
are able to involve many more students in the benefits of BP's
generous award," said Dobie's AP Physics instructor Mary Obenauf.
"The students come together to share ideas and work side-by-side in
every step of the project. It is truly an honor to have been given
the opportunity to offer so much more to our students than we have
time or money for in the regular curriculum."
Memorial also received another A+ for Energy
grant for its ongoing biodiesel project (also in collaboration with
Dobie), allowing students to design and implement the project using
recycled vegetable oil. The end product of the project will go
toward fueling either one of the school's buses or a faculty
member's diesel automobile.
"BP strongly encourages student interest in
education toward science and engineering because that is where they
will acquire their next generation of engineers," said Memorial AP
Physics instructor David White. "They are very involved in supplying
the funding necessary to provide students with the opportunity to
experience small scale and real world applications that will
motivate students to pursue engineering and science degrees in
In addition to their energy education grant,
the schools will receive a scholarship to attend an all-expense paid
three day Energy Education Training Conference, energy education
materials for their classroom, and an A+ for Energy award and banner
to display at their school.
"When organizations such as BP work with us to
provide our students with a high quality education, it lets our
students know their community cares," said Pasadena ISD
Superintendent Kirk Lewis. "And that alone can make a difference in
||Tournament officials seek volunteers for annual event
In the news:
seek volunteers for annual event
The annual McDonald's Texas Invitational
Basketball Tournament is one of the premier high school basketball
tournaments in the nation featuring the most talented teams-and the
event wouldn't see the success it has if it weren't for the
dedication and efforts of its volunteers.
"The volunteers are the heartbeat of this
tournament," said tournament chairman Ben Meador. "It is so exciting
to see people year after year who are so willing to do whatever it
takes to make this event a success. We have some of the finest
people in the world living in our community. They care and are so
generous in committing their time and talent to make this event one
of the best in the country."
The tournament hosts 48-boys' teams and
32-girls' teams from across the state and is sponsored in large part
by McDonald's, the City of Pasadena and the Pasadena Chamber of
Commerce. The tournament serves as the primary fundraiser for the
Pasadena ISD Education Foundation, which provides $100,000 in grants
every year to help fund innovative educational programs districtwide
that can not be afforded through regular operating budgets. Last
year, the tournament made a record $100,000 donation to the
Every year, the tournament draws in more than
300 volunteers, and tournament volunteer committee members are
starting their search for volunteers for this year's event, which
will be held Nov. 20-22.
"Volunteers play a critical role in this
tournament," said the tournament's volunteer chairwoman Darla
Haygood. "By supporting this tournament, these volunteers have made
a significant difference in the lives of our children."
Some volunteer opportunities available for
those interested in participating in the tournament are selling
T-shirts and tickets to students and adults at each of the
tournament's eight venues. Volunteers are also needed to host the
hospitality rooms at each venue offering refreshments and food for
the coaches and tournament officials. Most volunteers work an
average of two to four hours when they are available.
"Without the support of our volunteers, we
would not be able to host this tournament," said Haygood. "We
encourage community members and Pasadena ISD employees to get
involved because we are giving back to our community by enriching
the lives of our children. They are our future, and as community
members, we need to pave the way for our future."
Hosting a tournament team is another way for
individuals to get involved in the tournament. Team hosts serve as
liaisons for their teams for the length of the tournament and are
responsible for meeting their team, handing out "goodie bags"
(provided) to each participant, giving directions to gym locations
and suggesting restaurants.
"Team hosts serve as ambassadors for not only
the district, but the city," said team host chairs Debi and Jerry
Krampen. "It is a great way for them to meet some of the finest
athletes and coaches in the state, and they also get to watch some
awesome basketball. Team hosts are a unique part of this tournament
because it's their job to make the teams feel welcome and serve as
'fans' for the participating teams."
Volunteers are directed by team captains who
oversee them at each venue to ensure adequate coverage and volunteer
schedules are flexible. Two volunteer training sessions are also
provided at Pasadena Memorial High School two weeks prior to the
tournament so that each volunteer is informed of their duties.
With more than 30,000 in attendance over the
three-day tournament, Meador said this event provides a great
opportunity for community members to help showcase the premier City
of Pasadena and its citizens.
"We want all of the coaches, teams and fans
attending the games to see that the tournament is well organized and
all details are handled so that everything runs smoothly," said
Meador. "Our volunteers handle their duties in such a manner that
all visitors who come to the tournament leave with a very positive
impression of our city, our schools and our citizens. That is
something that advertising dollars can't buy."
For information on volunteering, please contact
Haygood at 713-594-2305. To become a team host, call Debi or Jerry
Krampen at 713-740-0046 or 713-740-0827. For more information on the
tournament or to fill out volunteer and host forms online, please
||Jacobs employees pave the way for Dobie students
In the news:
Paving the way:
Jacobs employees lead Dobie students to careers in engineering
Written by Lyndsey Kees
Construction companies, bid proposals, and
project managers are not what come to mind when thinking of everyday
school life. However, for the engineering design students of Dobie
High School, these positions and tasks do not seem out of the
With the help of Jacobs Engineering employees,
the engineering design course, implemented last year at Dobie, has
really taken off providing students with adequate tools to better
their future and ample learning opportunities.
"Jacobs volunteered to form a partnership with
our engineering class, and it has made all the difference in the
world to its success," said Dobie High School principal Steve
Developed for upperclassmen interested in the
field of engineering, the class has caught the attention of many,
and the partnership has increased student interest, as well as set
the standard for years to come.
"The class is open to juniors and seniors who
may be interested in engineering as a career. It is a project-based
class that, although isn't always easy, we work hard to make
rewarding," said the class instructor Chris Ferguson.
Each week, the students fastened their hard
hats and headed off to participate in construction inspections,
punch list activities and specification reviews. Through the
partnership, Jacobs employees have been able to combine class
curriculum with real world experience.
"Jacobs has graciously provided ideas, speakers
and real-world problems for the students to tackle," Ferguson said.
"Jacobs' time is very important to the students' understanding what
exactly an engineer is and does."
After weeks of practice and learning
engineering skills and tactics, the students were challenged with a
class competition. Their task was to develop a bid proposal on a
project that was actually being bid on by contractors on Dobie High
School. The students, divided into three "construction companies,"
researched construction cost, called vendors and developed a bid
proposal sheet. Each group submitted their bid with a presentation
as to why it should be accepted.
"All of the students were graded on their level
of participation, enthusiasm and team contributions," Ferguson said.
"Evelyn's Corporation," the winning team,
devoted much of their time to ensure the success of their proposal.
After hard work and several weeks of creating and planning, their
dedication paid off when they were announced the winners of the
The winning corporation was recognized by the
school district and Jacobs. They received a certificate from
Pasadena ISD and Jacobs as well as gift cards. Ferguson said he
could not be more pleased with the outcome of the project.
"I would like to thank Jacobs for taking the
time and initiative to make a difference in the lives of our future
engineers," said Jamail. "This partnership with Jacobs was perfect
for our students to actually see what really goes on out there on
||McDonald's manager, employees mentor in HOSTS program
In the news:
employees mentor in HOSTS program
For Rick Garza, serving as a mentor in Pasadena
ISD's HOSTS program isn't just beneficial for the students he
tutors-it's beneficial for him and his employees, too.
HOSTS (Helping One Student to Succeed) is a
highly-structured one-on-one mentoring program designed to help
students improve reading, writing and problem-solving skills.
Garza, a 1998 South Houston High School graduate and owner of the
McDonald's on Richey, is a mentor in the program at South Houston
Elementary and recruited five of his employees to participate as
"This program has helped me understand the
foundation our teachers are trying to lay for our students to
succeed," he said. "It helps me know what is going on in the
schools, and it allows me to better help my children at home with
their school work. It has helped my employees see how important and
valuable it is to read to a child even if it's just for one hour."
The five employees participating in HOSTS are
John Maldonado, Carl Smith, Olga Cuevas, Maria Silva and Odilia
"We want to show the community we're not just
here to make money but to help invest in the local communities with
our children as well," Garza said. "We want to build a bridge
between the community and our schools."
Not only do Garza and his employees mentor in
the HOSTS program, but they also provided breakfast for mentors and
students every Wednesday throughout the year and happy meals for
students once they reached their reading goals.
"We want the kids we mentor to understand that
working for McDonald's is not just about selling hamburgers and
fries," Garza said. "We can do so much more as long as everyone is
willing to help with every opportunity that becomes available."
Garza has also provided appreciation coupons
for teachers' birthdays and bag stuffers for school carnivals and
"Since our participation in this program, we
have seen more of the South Houston locals visiting some of our
events at the store," he said. "It's been great."
Garza and his employees also help with the Head
Start program, DECA, the cosmetology program at Pasadena High
School, the Mini Grand Prix, Strawberry Festival, Taste of Town and
the Space Race.
||Pasadena board named Region 4 Outstanding School Board
In the news:
Pasadena ISD Board of
Region 4 Outstanding School Board
The Pasadena Independent School District's Board of Trustees was
recently named the Region 4 Outstanding School Board. With the
honor, the board is now in the running to become one of five Texas
Honor Boards and the state's Outstanding School Board of the Year.
Pasadena ISD Superintendent Dr. Kirk Lewis nominated the
seven-member board for the honor. The Texas Association of School
Administrators will announce the five Honor Boards in August. The
five boards selected will interview before a panel and the
Outstanding School Board will be announced at the Texas Association
of School Administrators/Texas Association of School Boards
Convention in September.
The Pasadena Board of Trustees consists of Marshall Kendrick,
president; Vickie Morgan, vice president; Frank Braden, secretary;
Jerry Speer, assistant secretary, and members Carmen Orozco; Fred
Roberts and Nelda Sullivan.
"Our board members live by one sole mission - and that's 'to do
what's best for kids.' That is the foundation of every decision they
make," Lewis said. "I am very fortunate to work with such a fine
group of individuals."
In 2003, the same group of Pasadena board members received Region
4's top award and was named one of five Texas Honor Boards. The
Board was also recognized with the same honors in 1997.
"There are three kinds of people…those who make things happen, those
who watch things happen, and those who ask what happened. Clearly,
the Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees are people who as a team make
things happen," said Dr. Bill McKinney, executive director of Region
||Kruse principal honored as nominee for national award
In the news:
Rosie Prusz recognized
as nominee for National Distinguished Principal
Kruse Elementary School Principal Rosie Prusz was recognized as one
of eight National Distinguished Principal nominees by the Texas
Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) at the
organization's annual conference.
Each year, TEPSA recognizes one National Distinguished Principal
from the elementary school level. Mentoring Minds and Horace Mann
sponsor the Texas program. Criteria for selection of the principals
are set by the National Association of Elementary School Principals
and the U.S. Department of Education.
Prusz has served as principal at Kruse since 1997. During her time
at the school, the campus has received several recognized ratings
from the Texas Education Agency. She has also implemented many
programs geared toward increasing student achievement, including the
school's after-school program.
In 2005, Prusz was honored for her contributions to the success of
students as she was selected as a statewide finalist for the H-E-B
Principal of the Year award. She was also recognized as Pasadena
ISD's Region 4 Principal of the Year that same year.
Prusz is relentless in the pursuit of grants for her school. Some of
the major grants the school has received over the years include a
Comprehensive School Reform Grant for $600,000, a 21st Century
Community Learners Grant for $330,000 and a Capital Investment Grant
"Rosie's devotion to students is unmatched," said Vicki Thomas,
Pasadena ISD's deputy superintendent. "She is an instructional
leader who dedicates her life to the academic, social and emotional
well-being of children."
Since 1917, TEPSA has served Texas principals and supervisors. TEPSA
has more than 5,300 members. These administrators supervise 153,000
teachers who direct the activities of 2.3 million Pre-K-8 school
||Workshop shows teachers how to launch the 'high-tech' classroom
In the news:
teachers how to launch
the 'high-tech' classroom
across Texas may be out of school for summer, but teachers in
Pasadena ISD were hard at work learning how to bring the world of
high-tech into instruction as they participated in an interactive
technology workshop recently.
More than 150 Pasadena ISD teachers attended the training at the
district's Guidance Center, which included demonstrations featuring
ACTIV boards. Workshop presenters showed the teachers the classroom
opportunities that new technology provides.
Pasadena ISD teachers and Promethean representatives hosted
workshops to show how the ACTIV boards can be used to make school
more interactive and fun. Some of the topics included Math Olympics,
how to tell time and group projects using the many features of the
"We don't purchase technology for technology's sake," explains Dr.
Kirk Lewis, Pasadena ISD superintendent. "We use technology to help
our student achieve academic success and be better prepared for the
"real" world. ACTIV boards have proven to be an excellent tool for
increasing classroom participation and bringing relevant hands-on
experiences to students."
Pasadena ISD already has over 800 ACTIV boards installed throughout
the district, but the need for more becomes apparent when one sees
the excitement that technology generates among students.
"ACTIV boards make learning fun which, in turn, means that our
students learn more," Lewis said. "With proper funding, by 2010 we
will have this tool available in all our classrooms to help students
in their learning process."
This day-long workshop featured Mark Elliott, president of
Promethean Americas and Michael McKinstry, president of ProComputing,
attended the workshops to see how the technology is being
implemented in Pasadena ISD. Elliott and McKinstry plan to share
what they learned with other districts nationwide.
||New technology is vital tool in keeping schools safe
In the news:
tool in keeping schools safe
Pasadena ISD schools will begin their year with a new
state-of-the-art technology in place to provide greater security for
all students and staff. In the case of an emergency, all school
floor and crisis plans will be online - in a secure environment -
for first responders such as police and fire to view to save
The in-depth plans are possible through the coordinated efforts of
Pasadena ISD staff members, first responders, and Rapid Response.
"We hope that there will never be the need to use these plans in a
real-life situation," said Dr. Kirk Lewis, Pasadena ISD
superintendent. "However, we want to be prepared as possible,
because the safety of our students and staff is our first priority."
Rapid Response, through funding by the Readiness and Emergency
Management grant (REMS grant) received by the district, has worked
with every principal and school custodian and also the Pasadena ISD
Police Department to record details about the school and make them
available at the click of a mouse to first responders.
"If there is a fire, a Pasadena fire official will be able to pull
up the picture of the school immediately, find the cut-offs for gas
and electricity, identify potential explosive hazards, and pinpoint
the best entrance to use to fight the fire," said Tom Swan, the
district's executive director of special projects.
"This tool is invaluable to first responders," explains C.L. Ellis,
chief of the Pasadena ISD Police Department. "In many instances,
time is wasted that could save lives because a significant number of
details about a facility are unknown. This tool can help us as we
work with the other local police, fire, and EMS departments to make
faster, better informed decisions for the safety of our students and
The development of these plans is only one in many that Pasadena ISD
is taking to ensure the safety and security of students.
"With the funds provided by the REMS grant, we have already been
able to provide emergency buckets for classrooms, emergency flip
charts for our staff and send out newsletters to parents with
information concerning the various drills that we do and what
parents should do during an emergency," Swan said. "We want to do
everything possible to keep our students and staff safe in case of
Lewis said since the safety of our staff and students is a priority,
the district is being proactive by planning and preparing.
"We still have fire drills, but we also have lockdown drills,
tornado drills, shelter in place drills and evacuation drills. We
have to treat every drill as if it is an actual emergency so that
staff and students know how to respond," Lewis said. "It is very
important for the safety of our students and staff that we provide
both equipment and training."
||Rayburn JROTC takes part in camp at Sam Houston State University
In the news:
Rayburn JROTC takes
camp at Sam Houston State
the second consecutive year, 18 Junior ROTC cadets from Sam Rayburn
High School conducted their JROTC Leadership Camp at Sam Houston
State University in Huntsville.
The event was hosted in large part by Lt. Col. Rick King, head of
the SHSU Military Science Department and the Bearkat Battalion.
Several days were spent at Gibbs Ranch bivouacking and using the
ROTC facilities to participate in the obstacle and leaders' reaction
course, as well as to conduct land navigation and practice basic
leadership, said retired Lt. Col. Alan Mooneyham, Sam Rayburn's
JROTC instructor and former head of SHSU's Military Science
The JROTC cadets also had an opportunity to spend some time on
campus during freshman orientation and at the visitor center and the
Health and Kinesiology Center.
Mooneyham said the 18 JROTC cadets were selected from the Rayburn
JROTC program of over 250 other cadets.
"They are the best of the best," he said. "They have all
successfully passed TAKS (the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and
Skills test), have a good grade point average, are members of at
least one high school organization or team, have met high physical
fitness standards and hold leadership positions within JROTC."
Mooneyham and King said this event is a win-win opportunity for both
SHSU and Sam Rayburn. "The leadership camp teaches basic
leadership and self-discipline, while conducting it on a great
university campus like Sam exposes high school students to an
achievable alternative after high school," Mooneyham said.
In addition, King awarded each of the cadets with their camp
completion certificates, recognized six for earning the RECONDO
badge, and extended an invitation to SRHS again next summer.
||Deputy Superintendent Vicki Thomas receives organization's top honor
In the news:
organization's top individual honor
ISD Deputy Superintendent Vicki Thomas was recently presented with
the International Center for Leadership in Education's Ben Kruse
Award - the organization's top individual honor.
Thomas received the award at the International Center for Leadership
in Education's 16th Annual Conference in Orlando, Fla. The award is
given to an individual who works behind the scenes in helping to
increase the levels of student achievement.
"This is a great honor for Vicki and for Pasadena ISD," said Dr.
Kirk Lewis, Pasadena ISD superintendent. "Her strength in the area
of curriculum has helped us transform the way we approach
instruction through the Expectation Graduation initiative."
Thomas has served as Deputy Superintendent since 2001, after serving
as an associate superintendent for campus development for six years.
She was principal at Thompson Intermediate School from 1989-1994 and
served as the top administrator for a year at the Tegeler Career
Center before moving to central office.
In helping to implement the Expectation Graduation plan, Thomas has
worked closely with campus teams and administrators and the
International Center for Leadership in Education. Much of the
emphasis of the initiative is focusing instruction around
relationships, students' interests, learning styles, and aptitudes
through a variety of small learning community approaches.
"Working together, this plan will lift our schools from good to
great," she said. "Through implementing the Expecation Graduation
program is has helped our curriculum to be even better aligned and,
more rigorous and more relevant. It gives students an even greater
path toward success."
||Miller students 'gear up' for the future with career event
In the news:
help Miller students 'gear up' for the future
Before school let out for summer, more than 40
community organizations, business leaders and local universities
took part in Miller Intermediate School's GEAR UP Career Day.
GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness
for Undergraduate Programs) is a six-year grant that is designed to
encourage students to pursue education after the K-12 experience. It
is aimed at not only ensuring high school graduation, but enrollment
in college. At the start of the 2007-08 school year, the program was
launched at Jackson, Queens, South Houston, Miller, San Jacinto,
Southmore, Park View and Beverly Hills intermediate schools and will
follow the students through their high school graduations.
"Our career day was able to provide our seventh
and eighth grade students with an opportunity to learn about a wide
spectrum of careers," said Miller's GEAR UP coordinator Neitzy
Retta. "GEAR UP's goal is to push students to obtain a
post-secondary education, and by providing a career day, it helps
students understand why they need that education."
The career day was divided into two parts of
individual classroom presenters and an expo to target all seventh
and eighth grade students. The expo was open to both grade levels
and included representatives from San Jacinto College, Pasadena ISD
Police Department, Army, Texas Chiropractic College, HEB,
construction, Go Center, Houston Chronicle, home builders,
photographers, adolescent counseling, insurance companies, and Rice
University and University of Houston. Miller students who won a
college poster contest also were able to have a station in the expo
of their winning college.
"The information these businesses and
individuals provide to our students is priceless," said Retta. "Our
students don't always have the opportunity to interact with
professionals, so this is a great chance for them to network. It is
also an opportunity for individuals in the community to learn what a
great influence they can be on our students."
Houston Community College also provided
training sessions for the career day through its Mobile Go Center.
Mobile Go Centers, funded in part by an $800,000 grant from the AT&T
Foundation to the College for All Texans Foundation, aims to close
the gaps in Texas college participation and success by 2015. The
eight-year grant will fund technology for a fleet of mobile
education resources, equipping vans with Internet-accessible
computers and high speed Internet connections that are designed to
bring college-related information, motivation and assistance to
students and their families.
Dr. Susan Stabe, a pediatrician with the
Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, was one of 15 presenters who spoke to the
eighth graders for the event and said a patient's mother asked her
"I enjoy sharing what I do with others, and I
appreciated the opportunity to talk with doctors or mentors when I
was growing up, so I hope I offered some insight for those
interested in a medical career," she said. "I think that with hard
work, most of our goals can be met, but we need to help our young
adults with career information early on so they have the time to
investigate many of life's possibilities."
Other speakers included individuals from NASA,
Global Healthcare Alliance, Inc., and the Fairmont Pet Hospital.
Retta said she feels "blessed" to have had so
many local professionals dedicate their time to the career day and
"Most professionals do not have the time to
dedicate for a public school career day, and I feel fortunate that
these professionals found the time to interact with our students,"
she said. "The information they provide is very important for our
students to hear, and it truly makes a difference in the educational
decisions our students make. They all helped expose our students to
new worlds of opportunity, and we can't thank them enough."
||Board honors individuals for contributions to district
In the news:
individuals for contributions to district
Much of the success of the Pasadena Independent
School District is attributed to the contributions of its community.
To show appreciation for those contributions, the Pasadena ISD
Administration and Board of Trustees nominated Ben Meador of Meador
Staffing Services in Pasadena for the 2008 Community Motivator
Governor's Volunteer Awards. LyondellBasell-Houston Refining was
nominated for the 2008 Community Connector Governor's Volunteer
Awards, and retired NASA engineer and Pasadena resident Norman
Chaffee was nominated for the 2008 Heroes for Children award. All
three received certificates and were honored by the board at its
regular June meeting.
The Governor's Volunteer Awards recognize
exceptional individuals and organizations committed to creating
positive, long-lasting change, and Meador and LyondellBasell have
both shown their dedication to student success by creating positive
changes and growth within Pasadena ISD.
"Mr. Meador and the employees of LyondellBasell
have truly made an impact on the lives of our students," said
Pasadena ISD Superintendent Kirk Lewis. "Whether they are giving of
their time or money, they are making daily efforts to see that our
students receive the best education and support that is available.
We can't thank them enough, and it is a true honor to recognize them
for their invaluable contributions."
Meador has served as a friend, leader and
support system to the Pasadena school district since his graduation
from Pasadena High School in 1957. His heart lies at home in
Pasadena and within Pasadena schools as can be seen by his strong
ethic of service that has created many opportunities for the
Pasadena community and its children. His passion for building a
strong community is contagious making him a perfect candidate for
the Community Motivator award.
"It is an honor to be nominated for the 2008
Community Motivator Governor's Volunteer Award by Pasadena ISD,"
said Meador. "We have enjoyed working with the many leaders and
educators in our district to meet the challenge we are faced with
today. The quality of education has a tremendous impact on the
economic well-being of a community and anything we can do to help
improve that quality is a wise investment of our time and
For more than 10 years, the employees of
LyondellBasell-Houston Refining have played a significant role in
the Pasadena community and in the lives of Pasadena ISD students and
employees. Whether they are taking time to write a monthly Pen Pal
letter to a child in need or renovating a city park, LyondellBasell
employees focus on projects that create solutions to community
problems, promote economic prosperity and enhance the quality of
life in their communities.
"LyondellBasell is honored to be nominated for this
award," said the company's community
relations representative Denise Jennings. "LyondellBasell believes giving back to
the community is the right thing to do, and we support many
educational projects. We value our partnership with Pasadena ISD and
look forward to many more years of working together."
The State Board of Education established the
Heroes for Children award program to honor individuals who provide
outstanding service and dedication to helping provide Texas children
with a meaningful, positive learning experience in school.
Math, science and technology are all areas in
which Pasadena ISD is trying to generate student interest and
achievement to better prepare students for the needs of the 21st
century. As a retired NASA engineer and a mentor in many of Pasadena
ISD's programs for more than 30 years, Chaffee has met that need by
creating unique opportunities for Pasadena students and sharing his
knowledge and experiences with them. He has truly helped Pasadena
students soar to new heights.
"Our mentors offer priceless support to our
students," Lewis said. "Mr. Chaffee has served as a mentor in this
district for more than 30 years bringing his knowledge and
experiences from his career at NASA first-hand to our students. He
has created many fun learning experiences for our kids that have
engaged them and intrigued their interest in the fields of science
and technology. We are appreciative of his support and involvement
as he is a true hero for our children."
||Hollywood spotlight shines on 1999 Dobie graduate Audi Resendez
In the news:
shines bright on
1999 Dobie graduate Audi Resendez
Pasadena ISD Staff
From cheerleader and homecoming queen to Hollywood lights and major
motion pictures, Audi Resendez has proven there are no limits after
After graduating from Dobie High School in 1999, Resendez obtained
two degrees from the University of Houston in theater and
psychology. With a few years of acting in various Houston community
theaters and landing small roles in local commercials under her
belt, Resendez decided two years ago it was time to pack up and move
to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of acting.
Upon arriving in Los Angeles, Resendez realized it was important to
obtain her Screen Actors Guild card and become a member of the
actor's union. She began working on various productions in order to
build her resume.
Within a few months, Resendez began performing stunts for Eva
Longoria on the show "Desperate Housewives." When first offered the
role, Resendez was asked only a few times to take the fall for
Longoria, but now, she is the regular double. Resendez is honored to
have obtained the role, however, it does come with a small price.
"Ms. Longoria is so tiny and her clothes are so small that I can't
wear pads when doing the stunts. Once, I had to fall down the stairs
six times in a little dress with no padding," she said.
For all aspiring actors, networking is a key component in being
successful in Hollywood. Many beginning actors become swept away in
the social aspect of Los Angeles, but for Resendez, it is all about
"I would rather be working on a Friday night than out on the town,"
Resendez said. "I have a lot of close friends and surround myself
with positive people who support me with my acting."
When she first moved to L.A., Resendez found it beneficial to ask
for insight from her peers who had made the transition from home to
"I talked to everyone I knew who made the move out to L.A. to see
how they handled the change," said Resendez.
One of her contacts was able to help her score a role in the newly
released "Indiana Jones" film. Resendez' part in the movie was to
participate in the first big action scene. They cast people who were
able to perform the stunts as well as act. With her theater
background, this role was a sure fit. For Resendez, one of the most
rewarding experiences of the film was meeting Steven Spielberg.
"When I first met Spielberg, he introduced himself as Steven. I was
stunned," Resendez said. "He is a great director and gives crystal
clear instructions on everything he wants for his films."
To an audience, exhilaration and excitement of action scenes are all
that is seen, however, bruises and pain are often overlooked. In an
upcoming children's film by Disney, Resendez had to run through cars
doing 180 spins in reverse while fireworks were being aimed and shot
"It was the scariest thing I have ever done, and it is ironic
because it was for a children's movie," said Resendez. "The scene
was the biggest thrill of my life, and when it was over, I had to
ask myself if I was still alive."
Although stunts are a priority, Resendez has recently focused much
of her time to acting. She spends her free time in acting classes
and talking with her agent about her future career in acting.
"I'm good at getting banged up, but I want to expand my career
beyond stunt work," said Resendez.
Recently, with the help of her agent, Resendez made it through three
callbacks and was second pick for an acting role on the TV series,
"CSI." Although she was not cast for the particular role, there is a
chance she will be called to do the stunts for that character on the
"Even though I didn't get the acting role on the show, I still might
get to take part in doing the stunts. Either way, I am happy with
the outcome," she said.
For Resendez, the transition from Pasadena to Los Angeles has been
as smooth as one could hope. In two short years, she has achieved
more than many aspiring actors ever dream of accomplishing.
"I am so thankful for all the opportunities that have been presented
to me during this short period. Hopefully, if I keep praying and
surrounding myself with positive people, there are many more good
things in store."
||State funding holding 'harmful' for Pasadena, other districts
In the news:
State funding holding
'harmful' for Pasadena, other districts
Take a moment to think back to the monthly
budget you created in 2005 for your household to ensure bills were
paid and enough money was left over for other daily needs,
emergencies and savings. That budget was probably based around basic
necessities including gas, groceries, rent or mortgage, health and
car insurance, utilities and other things you and your family
Now, imagine using that same budget from 2005
for the increased expenses of today's living. Could you survive? You
probably could find a way to make ends meet for a short time-but
certainly not forever.
And this is the problem Pasadena ISD-along with
the majority of other Texas public school districts-is facing today.
When the Texas Legislature voted to pass House
Bill 1 (HB-1) in 2005, funding for school districts was capped at
the amount of funding a district received per student in 2005. For
this school year, Pasadena ISD receives approximately $4,700 per
student based on WADA (weighted average daily attendance). This
amount per student is derived from property taxes and state revenues
Local property values have seen an increase of
$1 billion since the 2005-06 school year, but because of HB-1, any
increase in property tax revenue is offset by a decrease in state
revenue creating a significant loss in revenue for the district. In
past years, the district would have seen roughly a $20 million gain
in revenue from the property value growth.
The Legislature referred to HB-1 as "holding
harmless," which was supposed to help public school finance because
it essentially caps state revenue where it neither increases nor
decreases. But it has only "held harmless" for the state-not its
"Although we have seen a significant increase
in our costs that is beyond our control, we are being held to the
same budget of 2005," said Pasadena ISD Superintendent Kirk Lewis.
"Holding harmless has worked to benefit the state, but our districts
are suffering, which means our students are suffering and that is
the last thing we want. Hopefully the Legislature will take some
sort of action or there will be a major problem."
And that major problem includes bankruptcy for
the district in the next four to five years if the Legislature fails
to reform state school funding regulations. While state funding has
remained the same since 2005, district costs have drastically
increased since then and are projected to be $20 million more in
2008-09 than they are in the present school year.
Lewis said an approximated $11 million is
necessary to keep teachers' salaries competitive with surrounding
"Our main goal first and foremost is to
continue to do what's best for our kids, which means keeping the
quality programs and curriculum in place that are helping our
students achieve state standards and overall success," he said. "We
also have to recruit and retain quality teachers and staff to ensure
our students are receiving the best instruction and support
available. To do that, we have to compensate our employees for their
work so we don't lose them to neighboring districts that pay more."
Other increased expenses include nearly $7
million to staff three new schools opening in the district and $2.5
million for an additional 51 teachers necessitated by enrollment
growth. Lewis also said utility costs are projected to increase by
$800,000 while fuel costs are expected to increase by $350,000.
Property insurance has also climbed significantly in recent years
due to post-hurricanes rates.
The salary increases and other rising costs are
causing the district to dip into its fund balance (savings), which
Lewis said is fine for now, but it can only be done for a short time
because of state requirements for school district fund balances and
for long-term planning purposes.
"Just as you use your savings to pay for
emergency situations or extra things that aren't allocated in your
regular budget, we are having to do that now because compensating
teachers to ensure quality education is a priority for us," Lewis
said. "It will work for now, but we are required to maintain a
certain balance and we also want to be good stewards and manage our
funds for the future."
Regardless of the increase in expenses, the
school district is only expecting a net gain in revenue of $1.5 to
$1.6 million for the next school year, and the district is limited
in options of gaining additional funds.
One source of additional revenue is enrollment
growth. For each newly enrolled student, the district receives
$5,177 (a number accumulated from all revenue sources), which is
significantly less than that of other Texas districts. For example,
Deer Park ISD currently has $6,171 annual revenue per weighted
student and Barbers Hill ISD receives $7,343. By comparison, if
Pasadena ISD were to have Barbers Hill's per-student allotment, the
district would have an extra $136.5 million per year. Even Deer Park
is receiving an extra $62.7 million per year more than Pasadena ISD.
"While we are currently growing at a slower
pace than in previous years, we are still growing steadily," said
Lewis. "We don't receive as much per student as some other
districts, and if we did, we would be in better shape than we are
now. But without changes in state funding for education, most school
districts in Harris County are projecting financial distress in
three to five years whether or not they are property wealthy or
poor. We'll all be facing the same situation."
As another option to meet increasing needs, the
district may choose to hold a referendum to increase the local tax
rate, which supplies the district's maintenance and operations fund
(M&O) that pays general operating expenses. The current local tax
rate is $1.07, and any increase would be capped at 13 cents ($1.20)
by state law, which would bring in an additional $400 per student
annually ($25.5 million) if approved. Even at the maximum increase,
the local tax rate would still be well below that in 2005-06 of
The district has other limited options
including the acquisition of financial grants. This school year, the
district received over $35 million in combined grants, but these
funds can only be used for specified purposes.
"We are actively pursuing grants that will
benefit students and lessen the burden on local taxpayers," Lewis
said. "This school year, we received grants for literacy, safety and
security, staff development, after-school programs and technology,
which are all areas that prepare our students for the future, and we
are trying to get a little more aggressive in this area. We look to
our foundation, local businesses, and the state and federal
governments for success in these efforts."
Although the additional sources of revenue
can't be guaranteed, Pasadena ISD is doing its part districtwide to
save money. The 2007-08 budget reflects cost reductions and cost
avoidance measures totaling approximately $16 million.
Administrative costs have been kept well below the state limit of
11.05 percent of a district's budget. The highest percentage
Pasadena ISD's administrative costs have reached since the 1999-00
school year is 7.09 percent.
One Associate Superintendent position and other
central office and support positions were eliminated. In addition,
central office budgets were all reduced by five percent and a hiring
freeze was put in place for all central office and support positions
until reviewed by a committee. Fifty aide and teacher positions were
eliminated by attrition districtwide and reductions were also made
through property insurance where possible, utility costs, travel
retire/rehire salary adjustments and more.
"We are doing what we can where we can while
keeping our focus on our kids," Lewis said. "All measures of
elimination or reduction are made only after careful consideration
of their effects on students, staff and the community."
Whatever happens regarding district funding,
Lewis is adamant student needs must be met.
being leaders in public education, we have a responsibility to
ourselves, our community and most of all our students, to provide an
education that will best prepare them for what is needed of them to
succeed in today's world," Lewis said. "How can you-how do
you-downsize that responsibility? You can't without putting the
success of these kids at risk, and we're going to continue to do
what's right for kids."
||Three Dobie students receive $20,000 from Dell family foundation
In the news:
foundation awards three Dobie students with $20,000 scholarships
The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation is
helping Pasadena ISD students achieve their dreams of higher
learning as three Dobie High School students recently received
$20,000 scholarships each through the Dell family foundation's Dell
The Dell Scholars program enables students with
financial need to attain their greatest potential through
post-secondary education. This year, the Dell family foundation
awarded $5 million to 254 graduating seniors nationwide, and Dobie
graduates Lam Nguyen, Hong Thai and My Nguyen are three of those
"The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation has
taken a leading role to form partnerships with schools, and we
appreciate their commitment to education," said Dobie principal
Steve Jamail. "These scholarships will enable these students to
reach for the goals they have set for their future."
The Dell Scholars program places greater
emphasis on a student's determination to succeed than just academic
record and test scores, and in addition to the financial benefit,
recipients are also provided with technology, resources and
mentoring to ensure they have the support they need to obtain a
"The Dell Scholars program is more than a
check," said program director Kevin Byrne. "These students are
low-income or financially underserved students who may not shine on
paper with the top test scores but have overcome significant
obstacles to pursue their education. We want to help them fulfill
Most Dell Scholars are first-generation college
students and are chosen because they participate in an approved
college readiness program and maintain at least a 2.4 grade point
average while dealing with personal responsibilities at home or in
their communities. Requirements also include graduation from an
accredited high school, demonstrated financial need and intent to
enter a bachelor's degree program at an accredited higher education
institution in the fall.
"We believe all children, regardless of
economic circumstance or ethnicity, deserve access to a
high-quality, public education," said Megan Matthews, director of
communications for the Dell family foundation. We know most of the
students we serve would never have the opportunity to go to college
without a scholarship program like this one. As a foundation, we
also believe educations is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty
so many of our children live in today."
The Dell family foundation also provides
training to Pasadena ISD's Pre-AP and AP teachers, financial
incentives to students and teachers fro successful exam results,
funding for exam registration fees, AP preparation session for
students, and financial aid for equipment and resources for AP
Pasadena ISD's director of advanced academics
Pat Sermas said the Dell Scholars program has significantly
increased the number of students enrolling in Pre-AP and AP courses
in Pasadena ISD and that the AP program would not be as successful
as it is without the financial support of the foundation.
"Many of these students were reluctant to
attempt a more rigorous curriculum because many believe attending a
post-secondary institution was not in their reach," she said. "This
program has motivated teachers to rethink strategies and teaching
methodology to create a more rigorous academic environment for
students. And it has shown our students that their dreams can become
a reality with hard work and the support of the community."
||HOSTS seeks financial help for annual breakfast
In the news:
HOSTS program seeks
financial help for annual event
For the last 15 years, Pasadena ISD HOSTS
mentors have helped more than 12,000 children overcome the biggest
challenge they face-reading.
And every year, the mentors were thanked for
their continued contributions to student success with a breakfast
held at the Pasadena Convention Center at the start of the new
school year. Every year except for last year, that is.
With funding running scarce districtwide, the
annual HOSTS breakfast had to be cancelled. Funds are still running
low, but Pasadena ISD HOSTS coordinator Ginger Lay is hopeful the
traditional breakfast can make a comeback this year with the help of
"If everyone just gave a little, I know we
could make this happen," she said. "We have never had to ask the
community to help financially with this event, and we hate to do it.
But we also hate to go another year without having it. Our mentors
deserve this breakfast, and we just don't have the money to do it on
While the breakfast is held primarily to
celebrate HOSTS mentors, it is also a time to recruit new ones.
"This is a great time for us to introduce HOSTS
to individuals or organizations who are looking for a way to help
our kids," Lay said. "Our kids need good mentors, and the breakfast
is a wonderful way for us to recruit them. The more volunteers we
have, the more students we can serve."
HOSTS (Helping One Student to Succeed) is a
highly-structured one-on-one mentoring program designed to help
students improve reading, writing and problem-solving skills, and
Pasadena ISD's program is the largest in the state with more than
2,000 annual volunteers.
"A number of our students struggle in reading,"
said Pasadena ISD Superintendent Kirk Lewis. "Their unique
circumstances create a barrier to learning which can only be
overcome when teachers and volunteers work together to provide the
extra help needed to build that strong reading foundation. HOSTS
mentors make a difference, and this breakfast has served as a small
way for us to honor them for their support."
Texas Bay Area Credit Union in Pasadena has
already made a $5,000 contribution for the event. Since the HOSTS
program began in Pasadena ISD, numerous TBACU employees have served
and volunteered their time as mentors. Eight employees are currently
mentoring in the program, and nine-year mentor and TBACU's director
of marketing Tiffany Washington said they are eager to see the
breakfast return this year.
"It was heartbreaking when we learned last
year's breakfast was canceled, and we immediately knew we wanted to
do what we could to help with the event for this year," she said.
"We knew we couldn't cover the expense of the entire event, but we
wanted to do something."
This year, the HOSTS program is trying to
solicit donated food items from various companies to bring the cost
down, but funds are still needed for decorations, food, printing and
"Hopefully other companies will follow our
lead," Washington said. "The HOSTS program is such a wonderful and
rewarding program to be a part of. As local business leaders within
this great community, it's important for us to give back in any way
Smith Elementary teacher Eva Mercado and her husband own Mercado
Remodeling in Humble, and the couple also made a $200 donation for
"It is good to help the community," she said.
"It helps our students achieve a better education for a better
HOSTS is offered at 18 Pasadena ISD campuses
where more than 1,000 students need assistance with their reading
and English skills. In the last five years, 81 percent of HOSTS
students have passed the reading portion of the TAKS exam all
because of the support provided by their mentors.
This year's breakfast is set for Sept. 4 at
7:30 a.m. at the Pasadena Convention Center. Donations will be
accepted until then, but Lay said she hopes to receive any donations
no later than the end of August.
For more information, to make a donation or to
attend the breakfast with a guest, please contact Lay at
713-740-0051 or e-mail her at
||Southmore band makes a 'splash' at SplashTown competition
In the news:
captures awards at SplashTown event
The students and directors of the Southmore Intermediate Bulldog
Symphonic Band could not be more proud of their recent victory at
the Spring SplashTown Invitational Music Festival. After three years
of receiving first-runner up, this year, the band was successful in
bringing home numerous awards and wins.
After much hard work and preparation, the members of the Symphonic
Band knew they were capable of winning first place at the
competition. The band received all 1st division superior ratings
from the judges and were also selected as the "Best In Class" Band
in the CC open competition.
||Students participate in national taste test
In the news:
in national taste test
one of three nationwide representatives, Pasadena ISD was selected
to represent the South and take part in a taste testing survey for
one of Tyson Chicken's newest creations. The students at Queens and
Park View intermediate schools took part in the surveys during their
summer school lunch breaks.
"We try and have the students sample as many of the products we
serve as possible. Their opinion is very important to us," said
Mary Harryman, Director of Child Nutrition Services.
Before the students arrived for lunch, the Tyson team prepared 150
of their Breaded Chicken Sandwiches for the students to analyze. For
Tyson, it is important for their products to receive an 80 percent
success rating for all of their products in order to be placed on
the market. If the percentage is not met, the product is sent back
to Research and Development for more testing and tweaking.
After sampling the sandwiches, the students were asked to complete a
survey to be taken to Tyson's Marketing Research and Development
team to evaluate. Questions included the students' initial reaction
to the taste, their likelihood to purchase the sandwich in the
cafeteria and the overall appearance of the sandwich.
As with all food served in the Pasadena ISD cafeterias, Harryman
said the nutritional value of the food for the students as well as
their satisfaction with the menu is most important.
"We want to make sure we offer the most nutritious student approved
menu items that we can," she said.
||Bondy student selected for Lone Star Leadership Academy
In the news:
Lone Star Leadership Academy
Bondy Intermediate School student Brandon Kafarela has been selected
to participate in Education in Action's summer 2008 Lone Star
Leadership Academy program.
Kafarela's selection for the Lone Star Leadership Academy was based
on his demonstrated academic success and leadership ability, an
educator recommendation and involvement in school/community
activities. Kafarela will be an eighth grader at the start of the
2008-2009 school year in August.
During the weeklong residential Lone Star Leadership Academy
programs, selected students join delegations of other distinguished
students from across the state to develop leadership skills while
learning facts about Texas. Participants experience what they are
learning in school through visits to historically, politically,
scientifically and environmentally significant sites including the
U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Fort Worth Stockyards
National Historic District and Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza,
the offices of their state legislators, The Bob Bullock Texas State
History Museum, bat watching on the Lone Star Riverboat and a Cowboy
Cookout and NASA, the Houston Ship Channel, San Jacinto Battleground
Monument and Moody Gardens. Career speakers introduce participants
to a wide variety of unique career and internship opportunities.
||Sam Rayburn JROTC cadets participate in leadership camp
In the news:
Sam Rayburn JROTC
participate in leadership camp
JROTC cadets from Sam Rayburn High School joined 80 other cadets
from seven other area schools and districts to participate in their
annual summer JROTC Cadet Leadership Camp at Hargrave High School in
During the six-day camp in early June, cadets from the different
schools were combined together into small leadership groups. "They
learned how to lead and follow cadets they likely have never seen
before. It can be both challenging and rewarding and in many cases
a positive, life-changing experience," said Lt. Col. Alan Mooneyham,
Sam Rayburn JROTC lead instructor.
During each leadership camp, one cadet is selected as the overall
Camp Honor Graduate, which is the number one cadet with the best,
all-around performance. This year that honor was awarded to Sam
Rayburn Texan and senior cadet Albert Casas.
According to hosting camp commander Capt. Rick Nelson, "all of these
cadets have gifts and talents needed to be successful - and summer
camp and JROTC helps them find and use these gifts and talents."
||PHS swim coach named to leadership post for U.S. Scholar-Athlete Games
In the news:
PHS swim coach
appointed to commissioner's
post for United States Scholar-Athlete games
Pasadena High School head
swimming coach Darla Kelly has been selected by the Institute of
International Sport as the commissioner of swimming for the United
States Scholar-Athlete Games.
Kelly was selected for the
position from a group of applicants and will direct all the swimming
and finswimming activities and competition at the Games.
The United States
Scholar-Athlete Games are held every four years and bring together
3,000 athletes and 300 coaches, staff, and trainers for training and
competition in basketball, volleyball, soccer, lacrosse, track and
field, golf, swimming, finswimming, field hockey, tennis, rugby,
squash, softball and baseball.
Kelly will oversee over 100
athletes and 10 coaches whom will participate in the swimming and
finswimming competition. In addition, she will set up and direct the
training programs and the competitive meet for the swimmers and
Previous she has served as
coach at the Games in 1999 and 2003 in addition to being a coach at
the 1997, 2001, and 2005 World Scholar-Athlete Games. In the 1997
and 2001 Games, she was the one of the co-head swimming coaches for
the United States and in 2005 served as the head coach for the
Kelly was selected for the job
based on her coaching and administrative experience and her pervious
national and international coaching positions. In 2000, she was the
assistant coach for the United States national team at the 2000
World Finswimming Championships in Majorca, Spain.
The Games will be on the
campus of the University of Rhode Island on June 28-July 5 and will
include athletes from all 50 states and special invitees from over
15 countries. Kelly is the first woman to be selected as swimming
commissioner for either the United States or World Scholar-Athlete
"I was honored to be selected
for this position. It is a great opportunity and I hope to do the
very best for the athletes, coaches and staff of the Games. I have a
good group of coaches to work with and I know they will do their
very best to make these Games the best ever," said Kelly.
Kelly will be joined in Rhode
Island by two other PISD coaches/teachers. Sam Rayburn High School
swimming coach Robert Kelly, (Kelly's husband) will serve as one of
her staff coaches. In addition, Pasadena High School teacher Lisa
Hernandez will also be members of Kelly's staff. Hernandez is a UIL
swimming official and also is a volunteer assistant swimming coach
for Pasadena High School.
||School starting, dismissal times to change
In the news:
dismissal times to change
Because of the number of middle schools that will
be operational in the 2008-09 school year, school starting and dismissal
times will change for Pasadena ISD elementary, intermediate and middle
schools to allow appropriate time for transportation.
The times for the 2008-09 school year are as
High School (Unchanged)
||Wal-Mart shows appreciation of Gardens teachers
In the news:
appreciation of Gardens teachers
managers visited Gardens Elementary recently to show teachers their
appreciation. They gave each teacher, support personnel and
paraprofessionals tote bags with teacher supplies. They also provided
cake and drinks for the staff and a drawing for a $50 Wal-Mart gift
card. The school also received a gift of $1,500 in support of Gardens'
Family Literacy Project.
||Keller Middle School holds Parent Night, staff development for teachers
In the news:
Keller staff hosts
Parent Night, staff development
The staff of Keller Middle School held a
meeting with parents recently at San Jacinto Intermediate School. In
addition to the presentation, school T-shirts were sold at the event.
Also, in preparation for next school year, new Keller staff members
participated in several staff development workshops.
||Freeman students hold Destination America concert
In the news:
Freeman students hold
1950s tunes to hip-hop music, students at Freeman Elementary School
entertained their fellow classmates and faculty at the school's
"Destination America" concert.
||Matthys students' collection of caring will benefit troops overseas
In the news:
collection of caring
will benefit troops overseas
popsicle party was more than enough incentive for the students at
Matthys Elementary to collect pennies for a great cause. After two weeks
of vigorous collecting and motivating, the students and teachers have
collected over 37,000 pennies for care packages sent to military
As one would expect, the first week's collection of 11,096 pennies was
sure to be the most successful week of the drive. However, the following
week, the piggybank was bursting with 26,096 pennies and other coins,
surpassing all expectations. Each day, the school's Safety Patrol would
travel the halls collecting the pennies from each class. "Walking around
and collecting pennies from the classes was lots of fun," student Alexis
In cooperation with Operation Interdependence, Norma Rodriguez-Garcia,
Matthys' peer facilitator, worked with Chaplin Paul R. Renfro of
Operation Interdependence to ensure the success of the care packages.
For many students, filling the bags with various items such as
toothpaste, snacks, and soap in an assembly line fashion was their
favorite part of the project. "Putting the packages together in a
structured assembly line taught the students organization as well as
teamwork," Rodriguez-Garcia said.
Fourth grade students had much to say about the project. Marcelo Treviño,
one of the leading penny collectors, said "putting the bags together and
delivering them to Renfro" was definitely his best experience. Danny
Cruz and Ivan Lopez enjoyed filling the bags and writing the thank you
letters to the troops that were also placed inside the care packages.
Irma Gutierrez was especially excited about "sending the troops good
snacks" because she currently has a family member stationed overseas.
Gabriel Ledesma felt good about "being able to help others through the
Members of the safety patrol credit much of their success to the parents
and faculty for getting so involved. Surpassing all expectations the
project benefited not only the soldiers but the students as well. To
Rodriguez-Garcia, "this is an experience the kids will never forget."
||PHS holds annual 'Real People, Real Careers' event
In the news:
PHS holds annual
'Real People, Real Careers' event
As the "real world" quickly approaches the high
school graduates of 2008, Pasadena High School alumni played their role
in preparing the community's future leaders for life after high school
as guest speakers at the school's third annual "Real People, Real
Pasadena High students recently had the opportunity
to listen to 10 alumni talk about their journeys of success from high
school to where they are now. PHS librarian Jane Golenko initiated the
project, and she said it is designed to meet the more practical needs of
the students as they identify with former PHS students.
"The students have immediate connections with these
speakers because they 'walked the same halls' before they went on to
life after high school," she said.
PHS 1988 graduate Ted Gleason is the Terminal
Operations Manager of North America for TETRA Technologies, which is an
oil and gas group that produces and sells calcium chloride for
agricultural and industrial uses, and his message to the students was to
always remember where they came from.
"When I say to remember where you come from it
should encompass family, friends, city, organizations, jobs and
experiences along the way," he said. "Every day you should be hungry to
learn. These kids are in the position they are in today because they
worked hard and because of the help others provided, and they need to be
aware of that as they move forward."
After his high school graduation, Gleason received
his bachelor's degree from the University of Houston-Downtown, and he
said he thinks it's important for students to see the success endured by
their school's alumni.
"Although the dynamics or demographics of the
student body have changed since I attended PHS, the struggles,
challenges and set-backs are unfortunately a constant no matter who you
are," he said. "Although things can get tough, always remember you don't
have to fight through the obstacles alone. Be willing to accept
guidance, but most importantly, remember to pay it back."
For PHS 1990 graduate Lucy Podmore, a librarian at
Jefferson Middle School in San Antonio, participating in the event was
just a small way for her to give back to the school that played an
important role in her life.
"I have such wonderful memories of PHS and the
staff that it felt like a family reunion when I was there," she said.
"It speaks volumes of the PHS community that so many staff members spent
their entire teaching careers there and that many of them care enough to
share the stories of the past and continue on the great traditions of
But a reunion with her former teachers and a trip
down memory lane weren't the only items on Podmore's agenda. As a former
Eagle Escort and student council member, Podmore knew she could relate
to the students sitting in front of her and was in hope her presentation
would show them success is attainable regardless of where they come
"They need to know that they don't need a head
start like a wealthy family, a brand new school with brand new equipment
or a college scholarship to get somewhere-they just need to take the
first step and keep going," she said. "They shouldn't ever let whatever
labels that may have fit them in high school stay with them forever. Go
out and try new things, never stop learning, and above all, seek a
career that involves something you love."
Podmore also used her time with the students to
sell the profession as a school librarian as well as to tell them
success doesn't come without hard work.
"Being a librarian isn't what it was years and
years ago, and it keeps changing," said Podmore. "I wanted to share with
the students that this career is full of opportunities that don't
involve a typical library setting. Also, I wanted the students to
understand that success is not without pain, hard work and sacrifice.
There are no easy answers or shortcuts, and I think that is sometimes
what makes success so sweet-you earn it."
Brian McTaggart, 1988 PHS graduate and senior
sports writer for the Houston Chronicle, said he thinks the most
important thing for the students to understand as they leave high school
is that nothing is easy and they only have one shot at life.
"If they leave high school and don't take their
career goals seriously, life can sneak up on them and it becomes even
harder," he said. "It's going to take hard work, making some
opportunities and taking advantages of those opportunities when they are
there. Yes, it's hard. But if it were easy, then everyone would be doing
While a student at PHS, McTaggart was a member of
the Eagle Alliance, the jazz band, the orchestra and the Latin club, and
he said he hopes the students realize they can do whatever they put
their mind to.
"I grew up just a few miles from the school and we
didn't have that many luxuries at home or money for college, and I want
these kids to know that's okay," he said. "There are other ways. If you
work hard, be patient, stay dedicated and get practical experience in
your chosen field, you can succeed. You just have to want it."
Other guest speakers included 1997 graduate and
Spanish teacher Roel Saldivar; 1977 graduate and Pasadena Fire Chief
Lanny Armstrong; 1985 graduate and human resources director Curt
Bludworth; 1986 graduate and business owner Edward Salazar; 1988
graduate and flight attendant Allyson Parker-Lauck; 1978 graduate and
neuron-oncologist Morris Groves; and 1951 graduate and business owner
All of the speakers travel at their own expense and
make adjustments in their schedules to attend the event, and Golenko
said they are all true role models for the students.
"The speakers are honest when they speak to the
students and even admit sometimes that they were not perfect students
either when they were here," she said. "You can't find a better role
model than that-one who admits they wish they had done better when they
were here. And their stories are compelling because many of them speak
with candor about obstacles they had to overcome in the face of
More than 1,220 students and 59 classes were
impacted by the project, and Golenko said that the value of the advice
and information given to the students is priceless.
"We certainly hope the students take away
interesting information about careers that might never have sounded
realistic to them," she said. "But more than that, we hope they take
away connections and ideas about life, which are motivational and
||Pasadena community members are 'champions' for children
In the news:
members are 'champions' for children
Pasadena ISD high school students aren't the only
ones graduating this week as Pasadena community members and business
leaders recently graduated from the district's Champions for Children
Champions for Children is a leadership program
implemented this year by Pasadena ISD Superintendent Kirk Lewis and is
designed to improve the understanding of the school district throughout
the community. Community members from local groups including the
chambers of commerce and city councils of Pasadena, South Belt and South
Houston, hospitals, companies, refineries, media sources and various
civic organizations were invited to be a part of this year's program.
"The community plays a vital role in the overall
success of our students, and we want its members to be properly educated
on how Pasadena ISD operates," Lewis said. "When community members know
more about the district, they can share their understanding with those
Only half of the overall participants were able to
attend the last session and graduation ceremony, but the program was
supported by more than 20 participants from throughout Pasadena. Lewis
said the number of participants in the first year shows the commitment
the community has to its youth.
"Our community is extremely supportive of the
district-its students and staff," he said. "We are excited about the
number of individuals who gave their time to be part of this program
during its first year. We are also excited about the potential for the
program in years to come as we build upon the current base of
individuals and give others the opportunity to join."
The program began in September and participants met
monthly with district administrators, campus principals and other staff
members on topics including expectation graduation, career and technical
education, advanced academics, finance, instructional technology,
special programs and human resources. Tours of the district's facilities
were also a part of the program agenda.
"We want every taxpayer to have the information
that he or she needs to know where to get information and how they can
be involved," Lewis said. "We also learn from the questions program
members ask and the recommendations they give so we can make
The last session, which was held this month, was a
meeting with members of the district's Board of Trustees. Program
participants listened to board members Nelda Sullivan, Frank Braden,
Vickie Morgan and board president Marshall Kendrick speak about their
duties and goals as board members.
"First things first, and kids are always first in
every decision we make," said Kendrick. "We are always looking for
people who can serve and those people are those who are strong and can
come in with the right attitude and no personal agendas."
Ashley Wright, a program participant, said meeting
with the board for the last session was "icing on the cake."
"They were amazing to listen to, and I was
fascinated about the inner workings of the meetings and relationship
between the board members and the superintendent," she said. "I feel
blessed to have seen the passion in Dr. Lewis as he spoke about the
children, especially since I have a child that directly benefits from
that passion at Turner Elementary."
After serving the district in numerous
administrative capacities for 33 years, Braden joined the board eight
years ago, and he thanked the graduates for their interest in the school
"You're here today because of a desire for us to
include you in our decisions, and I think that's wonderful," he said.
"We need the community to be involved so that we can make the best
informed decisions we possibly can for our students."
Another program participant, Pat Bland, said the
knowledge she has gained from the program has benefited her in her own
work and she thanked the board members for the opportunity to be a part
of the program.
"This year has been so wonderful to learn more
about the district," she said. "There are some kids who come from low
socioeconomic situations and some that don't, and this district treats
them equally. I really appreciate that and all of the programs the
district has available for its students and staff."
Wright said she too gained a greater foundation of
knowledge about the district and that she will use what she learned in
this program to share with the community not only as a business leader
but as a parent.
"My conversations regarding the school system will
be much more factual now that I know more," she said. "I feel that I
have a deeper heart for the school district than I had before. Seeing
the compassion and true love for children the employees' posses
certainly is inspiring and provides a sense of hope for our kids. These
are our future leaders-our future employees. To have this knowledge of
the district is priceless."
Board member Vickie Morgan, who has served on the
board for 22 years, said she encourages community members to become
involved in next year's program because it will be an opportunity for
them to see how education has changed for the better.
"If you haven't been in a classroom in the last
five years, you will be shocked at how much education has changed," she
said. "It's amazing. The teachers, the students and the curriculum have
changed-lecture is no more. Everything is hands-on. I encourage you to
visit our classrooms."
Lewis said he is looking forward to starting the
program at the beginning of next school year and to sharing the
district's knowledge with the community.
"There are so many excellent things going on in
Pasadena ISD, and the more we can share this information, the better our
entire community is," he said. "We have found that, as individuals learn
more, they want to be more involved whether on committees or as some
other type of volunteer, and I'm looking forward to what this program
will do for our district and our community."
information on becoming involved in the 2008-09 Champions for Children
program, please contact Pasadena ISD Associate Superintendent of
Communications Candace Ahlfinger at 713-740-0247.
||Pasadena ISD AYES students receive GM scholarships
In the news:
scholarships help Pasadena ISD students tune up for the future
For Pasadena Memorial High School senior Bryan Day
and Pasadena High School senior Daniel Garcia, working on cars has
always been a favorite hobby. But now they are both using their passion
of cars to rev up for their future as they are both recipients of the
2008 General Motors Goodwrench Educational Scholarship.
Day and Garcia are two of 15 AYES (Automotive Youth
Educational Systems) students nationwide to receive the scholarships.
AYES is a two-year program designed to prepare high school students for
careers in retail automotive repair service. The GM Goodwrench
Educational Scholarship Program was developed by the GM Service and
Parts Operations division to provide scholarship opportunities to AYES
graduates allowing them to continue their education in automotive
technology through the GM Automotive Service Educational Program (GM
ASEP). The scholarships are for $7,000 each and will be awarded in two
payments of $3,500.
Day and Garcia are enrolled in Pasadena ISD's AYES
program, and Garcia's automotive technology instructor James Jackson
said he is glad to see a deserving student such as Garcia receive this
"Daniel has the intellect to do anything he wants
to do," he said. "He is an overachiever. His documentation for his daily
activity is the best I've ever seen. If you ask him to meet a standard,
he will exceed it. I'm glad he has chosen to enter the auto service
industry, and I'm very proud of him."
Day's instructor and the district's AYES
coordinator Chris Wasson said Day is an exceptional student and he is
glad he has the opportunity to further his education in this field
because he knows he will do great things in the automotive industry.
"Bryan went on his own to secure employment this
school year," Wasson said. "If anything, he is an example of dedication
Pasadena ISD's director of career and technology
Sarah Wrobleski said Day and Garcia serve as role models as students in
the AYES program and that she is honored to have two Pasadena ISD
students be scholarship recipients.
"We are honored to have an opportunity to work with
great students like Daniel and Bryan," she said. "They both work very
hard to reach and exceed their goals. When looking at the odds of having
two of the 15 recipients in Pasadena, we are very pleased with the
success of the teachers and students."
To be eligible for the scholarship, students must
be graduates of the AYES program, possess a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or
higher on a 4.0 scale, demonstrate both academic excellence and
outstanding community service, be employed at a GM dealership and must
intend to complete the degree in a two-year timeframe. This year, 420
interns were eligible to receive the scholarship.
Garcia said he feels honored to have received this
"This is an accomplishment that makes me feel proud
of myself and very grateful to the people who made this possible," he
The GM ASEP process streamlines the path to
becoming a certified service technician to only two years, and students
alternate between formal classroom training and hands-on work experience
at GM dealerships. Scholarship recipients can choose which GM ASEP
college from anywhere in the nation they want to attend. Both Day and
Garcia will be attending San Jacinto College in Pasadena.
"This scholarship will help me out in a big way,"
said Day. "It will get me into the GM ASEP program at San Jacinto, and
when I finish with the program, I will be a step closer to being a
technician at Monument Chevrolet."
As part of the AYES program, students intern at
local dealerships such as Monument Chevrolet to receive hands-on
training. They work on a full-time basis during the summer at the end of
their junior year and continue to work part-time during their senior
year. Day and Garcia both work at Monument Chevrolet, which has been a
part of the district's AYES program since 2000.
"The goal of AYES is to provide career entry
through internship opportunities," Wasson said. "It gives students the
chance to test drive their career while they still have time to change
their minds. I think it's important for students to have these
opportunities to help them decide what direction they want to take their
Day said he has received a great deal of valuable
experience from the AYES program with the help of his auto technology
instructors and his mentors at Monument Chevrolet.
"I have learned more than I ever imagined I could
about cars," he said. "I started off working on big medium duty trucks,
moved to drive train, and now I'm learning the interior electrical
section of a car, which I really enjoy. My mentors have taught me a lot,
and I'm still learning. I appreciate this opportunity and everyone
supporting me in furthering my automotive career."
Garcia said he has benefited from AYES and his
internship because it has allowed him to develop valuable skills.
"This program has provided me with skills that will
be of great importance to my future," he said. "Through my internship,
I've learned what the automotive field is all about. When I finish
school, I hope to be one of the top graduates of the GM ASEP program and
receive a full-time job at Monument Chevrolet."
Pasadena ISD was the first district in Texas to
offer AYES to its students, and the program is NATEF (National
Automotive Technicians Education Foundation) certified. The L.P. Card
Skill Center became certified in January 2000, and Dobie and Pasadena
high schools became certified in September 2003. After completing the
required number of classroom and work experience requirements, AYES
students are eligible to test to become ASE (Automotive Service
Excellence) certified, which will allow them to obtain jobs as
professional automotive service technicians.
This year, 135 students were enrolled in the
district's Auto and Collision courses districtwide and 20 of those
students have been placed as interns for next school year. Seven interns
will graduate from the program this week and several of them will pursue
their studies at San Jacinto College, University Technical Institute in
Arizona and WyoTech after graduation.
"Pasadena ISD is committed to helping our students
become productive members of the community," Wrobleski said. "The
district and community are very supportive of the AYES program in our
schools. This program stresses the importance of our students being both
career and college ready."
||Kruse, South Houston received $6,000 library grant
In the news:
South Houston, Kruse
receive $6,000 library grant
Kruse and South Houston elementary schools will be
expanding their school library collection with the help of a $6,000
grant from The Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries.
Every year, the foundation gives more than $1
million in grants to school libraries nationwide, and 190 school
libraries received grants this year.
"I'm very excited that I am able to help the school
and especially the children with this grant," said South Houston
Elementary librarian Jackie Burch.
Richey and Parks elementary schools were grant
recipients in 2007, and Parks librarian Catherine Pleasants said her
students have benefited greatly from the books she was able to purchase.
"Occasionally, we have budget cuts due to increased
expenses in other areas or due to reduced funding in our district, so
any opportunity to expand our collection is important," she said. "Our
students were able to access books we would not have been able to
purchase with our regular annual budget. It's especially rewarding to be
able to provide books to our students that they enjoy reading."
The foundation states that because funds are
limited and because research shows that children in low income families
are least likely to have access to books, the grants target the nation's
neediest schools that have a high percentage of students who qualify for
free and reduced lunch. More than 90 percent of both Kruse and South
Houston students qualify for free and reduced lunch.
"Our students have limited resources for having
books in their homes or attending public libraries due to a lack of
transportation," said South Houston principal Karen Holt. "In addition,
they have limited experiences resulting in limited oral language
development or in one or both languages. Sometimes, there isn't anyone
at home who can help them practice reading in English or Spanish."
Burch said students with such limited resources
also have large gaps in their background experiences.
"We feel that if we have quality, up to date books
in our library, then we will be able to supply experiences which these
children lack," she said.
The grants will allow both schools to purchase
anywhere between 300 to 350 books for their libraries. Kruse principal
Rosie Prusz said the focus of the grant for her school was for
"At Kruse, we have a need to provide high interest
non-fiction texts that can help students with their reading and writing
skills," she said. "We seek grants to be able to supplement our regular
school budget and provide additional materials and resources for our
students, and this grant is helping us do that."
More than 60 percent of South Houston students
qualify for bilingual education, and Burch said they are in need of low
level Spanish books.
"We did not previously have enough of these books
in our library to meet the needs of the students or the teachers," she
said. "It's important to purchase books that inform and entertain the
students as well as correlate with the curriculum."
Kruse's librarian Mary Escobedo said an updated
collection of books is crucial to the success of any library.
"School libraries are a gift to the community and
society as a whole because it's a place where students can explore the
world and develop their reading and research skills, allowing them to
become well-rounded educated members of our society," she said. "By
adding to the collection, it allows students to become aware of the
different writers and topics that may peak their interest."
Because many of these children don't even have
books to read at home, Burch said it's the responsibility of the school
to provide a library of books that students can continuously learn from
and find interest in.
"The more a child reads, the more varied his or her
interests will become," Burch said. "We hope to be able to supply some
of the experiences which our children lack through experiences with
quality books. Our children are very proud of our school library, and
they love when we receive new books, so this grant is a great way to
help us foster that love for reading among our students."
||Retired Richey Elementary teacher leads effort to build gazebo on campus
In the news:
retiree leads effort
to see gazebo built on campus
After 20 years of faithful service to Pasadena ISD, Richey Elementary
teacher Linda Dsouza will be retiring at the end of this semester.
However, instead of participating in retirement parties and farewell
celebrations, Dsouza has decided to give back to the school and is
asking for donations to have a gazebo constructed on the campus for
students and teachers to enjoy.
"I want the gazebo to be a place where students can be rewarded for good
choices. It will be a place where the teacher can treat a student to
lunch," Dsouza said. "The list is endless and is only limited by the
This dedicated teacher of 27 years hopes the gazebo will bring joy and
pride for everyone at Richey Elementary.
"My children used to come home and tell me about how thrilled they were
to have the honor to eat lunch with a friend or their teacher in the
gazebo at their grade school," she said.
The gazebo will be located on the back side of the school outside of the
library. This will be the perfect location for the students and teachers
to mingle as well as a place for study and work.
"The gazebo will be a place where teachers can meet on a nice day for
their team meeting and a place for students to read and do science,"
Not only will the gazebo provide endless amounts of socialization and
quality time among teachers and students, but it will also allow for a
place to sit when it is time for the students to spend time outside.
"Every time we took students out for a reward, with the new building,
there was no place to sit, so we sat on the grass or sidewalk," she
Dsouza has always known she had a special place for teaching in her
heart and wants to give back to what she loves once more before
"I wanted to make a difference for future children," she said. "I will
take with me a belief that all things are possible, and we have the
power as teachers to really change the future."
For Dsouza, one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is having
students come back as "successful and wonderful adults." With the new
gazebo in the making, teachers will also be able to reminisce with their
past students and share part of her dream.
If you would like to donate to this venture, please send all
contributions to Mary Majumdar at Richey Elementary or call 713-740-0712
to contact Mrs. Majumdar. All checks should be made out to Richey
Elementary with Dsouza in the memo line.
||After-school intermediate soccer programs help students to be 'goal-oriented'
In the news:
intermediate soccer programs
help students to be 'goal-oriented'
Severino and the coaches of the after-school intermediate soccer
programs in Pasadena ISD want their student-athletes to keep their eyes
on the goal. And that's not just on the soccer field, but in life.
Severino, the peer facilitator at Southmore Intermediate, formed the
first intermediate soccer program in 1994 as part of an after-school
initiative. Today, the program has grown to include seven Pasadena ISD
intermediate schools that field both boys and girls teams. Schools
participating in the program include Jackson, South Houston, San
Jacinto, Miller, Bondy, Park View and Southmore.
"As a young teen, many of my friends and I did not speak the same
language, but we played the same game and soccer became our mode of
communication and a vehicle of cross-cultural understanding," he said.
The Southmore Soccer Club began as an extra-curricular after-school
incentive program. Severino said during its first year, the only other
schools he could find to play against were private schools in Houston,
who had had soccer as part of their regular curriculum for years.
"The private schools were so impressed by our players and the quality of
their play that we would be invited every year since then to their
annual tournaments, facing such soccer powerhouses as St. John's, River
Oaks Baptist and Kinkaid," he said.
This year, Southmore won the championship of the prestigious Kinkaid
Tournament, where they faced the British School of Houston in the
semi-final and KIPP Academy in the final.
After Southmore's first year, other intermediate schools in the district
began showing interest in fielding after-school soccer clubs and then
the growth of the program began.
"The mission of our program is to provide an opportunity for our
students to strengthen their spiritual, personal and intellectual growth
through participation in a global athletic endeavor integrating
cognitive and physical challenges within a community of peers," Severino
said. "I think that the most critical aspect of the intermediate soccer
program is that the students engage in a cognitive activity under the
guidance of a positive adult role model - their coaches. Soccer gives
students another incentive to perform well in school, and the lessons
they learn from both the game and their relationships with their coaches
and each other are lifelong."
Although it is an after-school club sport, the programs follow the same
eligibility requirements of the University Interscholastic League.
"Students must pass their classes in order to be eligible to play.
We apply these standards very tightly," Severino said.
This spring, the intermediate soccer program reached a milestone as the
seven participating intermediate schools helped the third annual
Pasadena Intermediate Cup become the largest intermediate soccer
competition in the greater Houston area, with 24 matches being played
over a span of three weeks at Veterans' Memorial Stadium. San Jacinto
Intermediate took the boys tournament title, while the Park View girls
won their division.
The intermediate after-school soccer program is quickly becoming a
pipeline for high school soccer talent.
"The high school coaches absolutely love our program," Severino said.
"They come out to the games to scout their future players, donate
equipment, host games on their grounds, invite our players to their
summer training camps and even volunteer occasionally as referees. Many
players who have gone through the intermediate programs go on to stellar
high school careers and are recruited by colleges around the country."
Severino touted the success of several former intermediate school
players. Former Bondy player Isaac Yanez plays for Memorial High School
and earned All-District honors as a freshman. One of the Southmore
players, seventh grade student Derick Gonzalez, recently made it into
the Houston Dynamo youth development system.
Some of the former players even come back to coach. Erica Reyna, who
played for Southmore during the first year of the girls program, went on
to play at Rayburn and San Jacinto College. Now, she coaches the
Southmore girls' team.
Severino credits the work of the many coaches and volunteers in the
schools for the programs' success, including South Houston's Brenda
Villarreal and Terrance Maldonado, Miller Intermediate's Antonio Bernabe
and John Hardy, San Jacinto's Amanda Gaeth and Misty Riggenbach, Park
View's Wilfredo Puente and Donna Rossino, Bondy's Ian Birch, Cindy Zaid
and Sara Henderson, Jackson's Joe Garza and parent Hector Ramirez , and
Southmore's Eric Ortega and Erica Reyna.
"In order for an intermediate soccer program to succeed in the district,
it takes some very dedicated teachers, who not only are willing to
commit their spare time, expend extra energy and even spend some of
their own money for their students, but who also have a deep
understanding and belief in the game and what it can do," Severino said.
"When you find that very special teacher, your program will succeed. And
that is what we have done in Pasadena.
"It is and always has been my hope that the players we produce are
inspired by their coaches and their experience of playing soccer at the
intermediate level to live a life of integrity and compassion,
transcending cultural barriers to develop a deeper global understanding
of humanity, and dedicate themselves to the development of
their community, much in the same way their coaches did for them," he
added. "Whenever I see evidence of this, I know that all of our hard
work has been worth it."
||Still plenty of time to register for Gifted/Talented Summer Camps
In the news:
Still plenty of time
to register for
Gifted/Talented Summer Camps
With summer right around the corner, the time has
come for this year's Gifted/Talented Summer Exploration Camps. Each
summer, students enjoy the opportunity to learn, create, and explore
different areas of interest in a fun-filled and exciting way.
The camps have been planned for the month of June
and are sure to be a big hit yet again. Young Elementary School will be
buzzing with eager students June 11-12, 16-19, and 23-26. Each camp will
run from 8:15-11:45 a.m. and bus transportation will be available upon
request. Walk in registration is available from 8-4:30 p.m. at the
Administration Building until the day of camp. The payment of $60 must
be made in cash. No checks will be accepted.
Three camps have been set up to provide students of
different ages with the chance to uncover certain aspects of our world
that are not only educational, but intriguing for the young minds as
Primary Campers (Grades K-2) will enjoy diving in
to explore the world deep beneath the ocean's surface. By discovering
the colorful creatures and fascinating landscape beneath, students will
share their adventures in a multi-media presentation.
Elementary Campers (Grades 3-4) are "going green"
this summer. With the environment changing rapidly, students will be
given the chance to see what is really happening in the environment.
Projects through art and technology will enhance and demonstrate the
knowledge obtained about the eco-system. The camp will conclude with a
presentation of the environmental discoveries for family and friends.
G/T has "Gone to Texas" during the Intermediate
Camp (Grades 5-7). Students will create and construct a variety of
Texas' historical projects. The camp will conclude with a celebration
of Texas history with family and friends.
For more information or to register, call
||Chevron Phillips donates $5,000 to Gardens Elementary reading program
In the news:
to Gardens reading program
When it comes to helping children develop a
lifelong love for literacy, Gardens Elementary and Chevron Phillips are
helping these students open new chapters in their lives.
For the 14th year, Chevron Phillips
donated $5,000 toward the reading programs at Gardens. The company was
recognized for their donation at a special program hosted by the
students and staff at the school.
"We believe strongly in our partnership with
Gardens," said Van Long, Chevron Phillips plant manager. "We want to do
our part to help these students toward a bright future."
The donation will be used to purchase books, other
materials and reading resources.
In addition to the donation, several Chevron
Phillips employees are involved in a variety of school activities,
including the Helping One Student to Succeed (HOSTS) program.
"Reading helps kids to open their minds and broaden
their knowledge. It is a skill that they will use for the rest of their
life," said Gardens Principal Celia Layton. "We appreciate Chevron
Phillips for everything they do. They've always been very supportive and
always willing to go the extra mile to help our kids."
||Mae Smythe Elementary hosts Memorial Day celebration
In the news:
Mae Smythe hosts
Memorial Day celebration
Sounds of patriotic
music and words of thanks were shared with military personnel at Mae
Smythe Elementary School's Memorial Day celebration. Students sang
patriotic songs, viewed a slide show and were able to personally thank
the military veterans and current service personnel.
||PHS seniors receive laptops from alumnus
In the news:
1985 graduate awards
four PHS seniors with laptops
As a 1985 Pasadena High School graduate and
successful businessman, Curt Bludworth is familiar with the history and
success that his alma mater breeds. And to help jump-start the success
of Pasadena High's graduating class of 2008, Bludworth recently
presented four seniors with HP laptops.
"A computer allows students to access, use and
analyze information in a way that affords them tremendous opportunities
to make informed decisions," Bludworth said who is the Director of Human
Resources for Global Information Technology for Hewlett-Packard.
"Knowledge is essential to making good decisions, and a laptop provides
a portal to the world of knowledge. We live in a global world and our
graduates need to be equipped to interact in it so they can stay
Bludworth created an essay contest for Pasadena
High seniors called "Curt Bludworth and Friends Essay Contest." Through
the contest, Bludworth challenged participating students to reflect on
their years at Pasadena High and write an essay explaining what it means
to be a PHS graduate and how they will use the values and ideas they
learned to help them forge the path to their future. Seniors Brittany
Zick, Oscar Guerra, Kristy Vargas and Tanner Trimm were chosen as the
winners and received the laptops.
"I know we have a lot of smart, hard-working
seniors at Pasadena and I wanted to provide a few of these students a
great tool they can use to capitalize on all the opportunity that awaits
them after graduation," Bludworth said.
Guerra said receiving the laptop means much more to
him than being able to surf the web and chat with friends.
"This means an opportunity to better myself in
college," he said. "It means knowing there will always be kind and
generous people willing to stretch out a hand to help, no matter how
tough it may be. Most of all, it's knowing that in the road of life,
there are some who choose to be passengers and some who choose be
drivers-but there is only one Curt Bludworth who chooses to be a driver
and make things happen."
Bludworth said he chose the essay topic that he did
because he thinks it's important for students to reflect on their time
during high school and to put on paper what road they want to take into
"Everyone at PHS is blessed to be a part of the
rich and deep history of our high school," he said. "To better prepare
for the future, you have to appreciate how much our history has helped
prepare us to interact with what's ahead. I wanted the students to
really think about PHS and what it means to be an Eagle and to realize
once they move on, they too become a part of this school's history-the
very history that has helped make them who they are today."
Only three essay winners were supposed to be
chosen, but Bludworth said he reviewed each of the final 10 papers at
least six times before deciding on four winners.
"All of the papers were phenomenal, but I had to
choose the four clear winners," Bludworth said. "They each struck a
chord with me, but what ultimately put the four winners over the finish
line was that each of their papers exhibited integrity, honesty, pride,
respect and passion for their future."
Bludworth described Trimm's essay as a "compelling
story" and he commented on how "real and very talented" Zick was in her
story. Bludworth also admired Guerra's essay saying it was the "most
interesting and edgy." Vargas' poem received Bludworth's praise on her
"originality" as well as for being able to tell a story through a poem
that could be easily understood.
"It was really cool what these kids did with this
challenge," Bludworth said. "I was amazed at what all of them had to
say, and I enjoyed reading all of their essays."
Pasadena High School librarian and contest
facilitator Jane Golenko offered her congratulations to the students.
"We are so proud of these students and what they
have accomplished not only in this essay contest but in their time here
at Pasadena High," she said. "They are outstanding students, and I know
they will find great use for these laptops."
Each laptop was equipped with Microsoft Office 2007
Home and Student Edition, a web camera, a laptop cleaning kit, Wi-Fi and
a carrying case.
Trimm said Bludworth is a PHS graduate who truly
demonstrates what it is to have Eagle Pride and that he can't thank him
enough for the laptop.
"To be honored by someone who graduated from my
school and has become so successful is a great feeling," he said. "The
laptop is a tremendous help to me for my future. I hope that some day I,
too, can come back to PHS and be as generous to students as he has been
in helping me with my future."
Bludworth said it feels great to help the students
in this way.
"I just want these kids to go out there and
contribute," he said. "I want them to contribute to their families,
friends, jobs, communities and their spirituality. I'll feel really good
if one day one of these kids comes back to Pasadena High School to give
something back to the next generation-that's what it's all about."
||Sam Rayburn students get connected with future careers
In the news:
Sam Rayburn students
get connected with future careers
More than 100 Sam Rayburn High School students
connected with their futures recently at the school's Career Connection,
which showcased a myriad of business professionals for students to speak
Students visited with an artist, an aviation
mechanic, real estate agent, hotel manager, insurance agent, attorney
and representatives from different military branches. Students were
placed on committees and helped with the publicity, food and decorations
for the event.
"It was exciting to see students and their parents
involved in such an endeavor," said Sam Rayburn junior English teacher
Donna Cox. "The greatest benefit of all the hard work is that the
students had the opportunity to interface with people in the
marketplace. The students felt a sense of accomplishment as well as a
sense of hope and direction for their future."
Sam Rayburn junior Maria De Leon said her favorite
guest was Ron Jungman, an aviation mechanic for Southwest Airlines.
"He told me about how it was more exciting to work
on planes than being an auto mechanic because in the sky you can't just
stop and get someone to help you, so you have to be really careful," she
Another junior Chad Kelly said the Career
Connection was a great opportunity for him.
"Being able to speak with people from different
career backgrounds inspired me to expand my possibilities and unlock
doors to my future," he said.
Career Connection was the culminating event of a
program called Project Breakthrough that was implemented at the school
through a $5,000 grant from the Pasadena ISD Education Foundation.
Project Breakthrough allowed 400 Sam Rayburn
students to complete The Birkman Method questionnaire by Birkman
International, an online personality assessment questionnaire and a
series of related report sets that facilitate team building, executive
coaching leadership development, career counseling and interpersonal
"Project Breakthrough has proven to be an
effective, innovative approach to career counseling because it provides
an online interactive and self-interpretive report that can be accessed
not only by the student, but by the student's parents and teachers as
well," said Cox who was the grant coordinator. "By working with the
students on this level, I have been able to create a strong bond of
trust and enrich the overall classroom environment."
Birkman provided the 400 questionnaires for Sam
Rayburn students, normally $300 per person, at $10 each. Birkman also
provided the week-long training and certification for Cox so she could
consult with students after they took the questionnaire and covered the
cost of printing the reports. The grant will also allow an additional
130 students to take the assessment.
"It has been said that as many as 60 percent of
students who graduate from high school do not have a specific career
focus," Cox said. "This causes students who pursue a college education
to make faulty academic course choices and spend additional time and
financial resources in pursuit of their college degree. Students who
choose not to pursue a college degree bounce from job to job and
eventually gravitate to a career with little fulfillment of financial
The 298-question assessment combines motivational,
behavioral and interest evaluations into one single assessment reviewing
each student on an individual basis rather than clumping them into a
career category. The questionnaire includes five major perspectives of
usual behavior, underlying needs, stress behaviors, interests and
"The teacher-guided career feedback made it
possible for students to make a career choice based on knowledge rather
than on a whim or a shallow career assessment," Cox said. "Through this
project, we hope to increase the number of students who graduate and
find a fulfilling college major of a fulfilling career. We can't thank
the Pasadena ISD Education Foundation and Birkman International enough
for their generosity."
||Miller, Dobie students cut locks of love
In the news:
students cut locks of love
More than 55 intermediate school students, high
school students, elementary-aged youngsters and even mothers all
received shorter hairstyles recently courtesy of Dobie High School's
Their shorter styles might have been different, but
their cause was the same-they cut their locks out of love.
The cutting frenzy was a part of the Miller
Intermediate School Teen Leadership program and the Dobie Cosmetology
Department's sixth annual Locks of Love project.
"I was proud of my students for doing such a
selfless act of kindness," said Miller Intermediate teen leadership
sponsor Rachael Manraj. "It's a great project because they get to see
the various areas of the community working together to make it all
happen. It teaches them the act of giving without expecting anything in
Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that
provides high quality hairpieces of financially disadvantaged children
suffering from long-term medical hair loss. Many recipients have lost
their hair due to an auto-immune condition known as alopecia areata,
which has no known cause or cure. Others have suffered severe burns,
radiation treatment or any number of dermatological conditions resulting
in long term or permanent hair loss.
For the last six years, the two schools have
partnered to include the community in these efforts and have collected
several hundred hair pieces for the cause.
"I hope my students realize how lucky they are to
have hair and to be healthy," Manraj said. "Their participation just
shows how generous they can be. They are thoughtful and concerned about
Donated hair must be 10 inches or longer to be used
for a wig, and Miller Intermediate seventh grader Laura Sosa said she
grew her hair out for over a year so she could participate in this
"I decide to cut my hair because I wanted to give
it to kids that need it because they can't grow more due to their
illness," Sosa said. "It felt good because I have never done something
like this or given others something of mine."
Six to 10 ponytails make one wig, and the Locks of
Love crew exceeded their average of 65 pieces this year.
"This is a good project for us to participate in
because we are doing something good for someone to help them have a
better life and for them to be happy," said Miller Intermediate eighth
grader Rosalinda Garza. "I've never had a feeling like the one I got
when my hair was cut for this cause, and it feels so good doing
something good like that."
||Pasadena ISD named National Model School District
In the news:
Pasadena ISD named
National Model School District
The Pasadena Independent School District has been named the National Model
School District for 2008 by the International Center for Leadership in
The ICLE recognized the district for its ongoing effort to reform the
educational program in Pasadena ISD to reflect higher standards and
greater rigor in its instruction throughout the system, which is the
intent of the district's Expectation Graduation initiative. The
International Center cited as evidence of its achievement significant
improvement on TAKS over the past four years, the decrease in high
school failure rates, its decrease in dropout rates and its increase in
student attendance after only one full year of implementation.
"This is a huge award and wonderful national recognition for Pasadena
ISD," said Dr. Kirk Lewis, Pasadena ISD superintendent. "The gains we
have made are a tribute to the teachers, principals and support staff
who worked so hard to change the delivery of instruction and add greater
rigor and relevance to the curriculum from pre-kindergarten through the
The district will be recognized at the ICLE's Model Schools Conference
in Orlando, Fla., in June. The Model Schools Conference is the largest
national forum for K-12 educational reform.
Dr. William R. Daggett, president of the ICLE, shared his words of
praise about Pasadena ISD's programs.
"We are delighted that this exceptional district will be sharing its
best practices, which mirror the International Center's mission of
providing a rigorous and relevant education for all students," Daggett
This is the first national recognition the entire district has received
since the 1970s when Pasadena ISD was recognized by the
nationally-syndicated Parade Magazine for moving to the intermediate
"Our students, teachers and staff have made this happen through their
tireless and focused efforts," Lewis said. "While we recognize that we
still have a long way to go to reach our final goals within Expectation
Graduation, this honor is a significant achievement worth celebrating."
||Summer Food Service program to be offered at 24 schools
In the news:
Summer food service
to be offered at 24 schools
The Pasadena Independent School District has announced the sponsorship
of their Summer Food Service Program. Meals will be provided at 24
schools in the district.
Schools offering the program include the following:
Dates: June 10-13 (Tuesday-Friday) and June 16-July 3 (Monday-Thursday)
Times: Breakfast 7-8 a.m., Lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Kruse Elementary, 400 Main St.
Meador Elementary, 10701 Seaford, Houston
Fisher Elementary, 2920 Watters
Bailey Elementary, 2707 Lafferty
Parks Elementary, 3302 San Augustine
McMasters Elementary, 1011 Bennett
Garfield Elementary, 10301 Hartsook, Houston
Jensen Elementary, 3514 Tulip
Williams Elementary, 1522 Scarborough
Matthys Elementary, 1500 Main, South Houston
South Houston Elementary, 900 Main, South Houston
Jessup Elementary, 9301 Almeda Genoa, Houston
Pomeroy Elementary, 920 Burke
* Pomeroy Elementary's serving times will be 7:30-8-10 a.m. for
breakfast and 11-11:40 a.m. for lunch
Middle and Intermediate Schools
Dates: June 11-July 2 (Monday-Friday)
Times: Breakfast 7:30-8:30 a.m., Lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Park View Intermediate, 3003 Dabney
Queens Intermediate, 1112 Queens
South Houston Intermediate, 900 College Ave., South Houston
Milstead Middle School, 338 Gilpin, Houston
Carter Lomax Middle School, 1519 Genoa Red-Bluff
Intermediate Schools: Special Programs
Jackson Intermediate, 1020 E. Thomas - 8-9 a.m (breakfast), 12-12:30
p.m. (lunch), June 16-July 31
Miller Intermediate, 1002 Fairmont Parkway - 8-9 a.m (breakfast), 11:30
a.m.-12:30 p.m. (lunch), June 16-26
Southmore Intermediate, 1200 E. Houston - 7:30-8:30 a.m (breakfast),
12:30-1:30 p.m. (lunch), June 9-July 3
Sam Rayburn High School, 2121 Cherrybrook - 7:30-8:30 a.m (breakfast),
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (lunch), June 16-July 10
South Houston High School, 3820 South Shaver - 7-8:30 a.m (breakfast),
11 a.m.-12 p.m. (lunch), June 16-July 10
In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture
policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis
of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of
Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410
or call (800) 795-3272 or (202) 720-6382 (TTY).
For more information contact Mary Harryman at 713-740-0146
||Miller Intermediate student captures third place at State Science Fair
In the news:
captures third place at State Science Fair
slime and flatworms sounds like an odd combination, but for Miller
Intermediate eighth grader student Tony Garcia it created for a perfect
trio as he took third place in the State Science Fair recently.
Garcia's project, titled "Slimey Healing" captured the bronze medal in
the Zoology category. He advanced to the state competition after a first
place finish at the regional contest. Miller Intermediate has had
students compete at the regional event for the past 14 years.
The objective of Garcia's experiments was to see if snail secretions
would make a planarian (flatworm) grow faster when it was cut in half.
"I got the idea from a commercial that I saw that said it helped
regenerate skin tone," he said. "The lotion had 40 percent snail
secretions in it. I thought it was a challenging theory and I decided to
More than 60 flatworms were cut in half and some of them were placed
into containers that contained the snail secretions. After four weeks,
Garcia's testing concluded that the secretions did help the planarian to
grow at a more rapid rate.
"I'm very proud of Tony," said Miller science teacher Cindy Bagwill.
"This project required an intense amount of higher-level thinking and
experimentation. He put in a lot of time and effort into his analysis."
Bagwill said the project caught the judges' attention, but they were
even more impressed with his oral presentation.
"Tony is a great speaker and he is one of our student leaders on
campus," Bagwill said. "He was able to take what is a complicated
project to explain and put it into terms where anyone could easily
understand. You could really tell that he knew his subject matter inside
and out - and explained it all with ease."
In addition to being an award-winning science student, Garcia is
involved in several organizations on campus including the Robotics team
and PALS (Peer Assistant Leaders).
Garcia will attend Pasadena Memorial High School next year. He said he
wants to join the Pasadena ISD Robotics Team. He added that his future
goals are to attend Rice University and pursue studies in robotics.
||Sam Rayburn students receive sobering teenage message
In the news:
Sam Rayburn students
receive sobering teenage message
The alcohol related car accident resulting in the
death of two Sam Rayburn High School students may have not been real-but
the tears shed by their friends and families were.
The families and friends of Sam Rayburn senior Kris
Ferrell and junior Mariana Martinez wept recently at mock memorial
services for the students as they considered the thought of losing them
to an accident that could have been prevented.
"We used to be a happy family of four, and now
we're an unhappy family of three," said Martinez's younger brother at
the service. "I miss my sister and my best friend."
The memorial service for Ferrell and Martinez was
the second part of "Shattered Dreams," an educational drinking and
driving prevention program coordinated and presented at high schools
statewide by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. This two-day
comprehensive program held before prom or spring break brings to light
the dangers associated with drinking and driving while showing young
adults the consequences of their actions. The school held the event for
the first time in 2006.
On the first day of the program, Ferrell and
Martinez were made up as crash victims for the dramatic demonstration of
a two-car, alcohol-related fatality accident that was staged near the
school. Sounds of the accident, the call to 911, voices of law
enforcement and emergency responders were played over the school's
public address system, signaling the juniors and seniors to assemble
near the crash scene, which was realistic with Pasadena's EMS, police,
fire and funeral home responders enacting the rescue of Ferrell and
Martinez and Ferrell were passengers of the vehicle
hit by the drunk driver. Martinez was removed from the car and was taken
immediately to Bayshore Hospital by Life-Flight where she later died,
and Ferrell died at the scene of the accident.
"It's hard to describe how it felt pretending to be
dead," Ferrell said. "It's weird. But I did this because I wanted to
show my friends that this can happen to anyone. Presenting it in a
real-life situation will stick with them longer."
Sam Rayburn junior Sarah Roelse saw the program as
a freshman and said she knew she wanted to be a part of it as a junior.
In this year's event, Roelse was selected to play the role of the drunk
driver and was arrested by Pasadena Police Sgt. Josh Bruegger at the
scene. She was taken to the Pasadena police station, put in an orange
jumpsuit, fingerprinted and had her mug shot taken.
"It wasn't easy being the drunk driver because I
knew how my friends and classmates would feel about me after learning
that Mariana and Kris died in the accident," Roelse said. "I just hope
this shows my friends that they need to think before they make the
decision to drink or to drink and drive. If this affects even just one
person out of our entire student body, then we did our job. We did what
we came to do."
Senior Samantha Samuel was Roelse's passenger and
was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the accident. She also
saw the program as a sophomore and said that she wanted her friends to
feel how she felt when she watched it two years ago.
"We have to realize that actions have good and bad
consequences and those consequences don't only affect us but the people
we love as well," she said. "We have to pay close attention to the
people we associate with. One bad decision can have life-changing
To symbolize how many people are killed in a day
from drunk driving accidents, a heartbeat sounded throughout the school
every fifteen minutes signaling the Grim Reaper to pick students from
class to become the "Living Dead." The students chosen attended classes
but were not allowed to converse with their friends or teachers.
Guardian Angels assisted the Living Dead throughout the day.
Sam Rayburn teacher and project coordinator Jane
Sidwell said she thinks it's important to have a dramatic representation
of what can happen when drinking is involved with driving.
"If lectures and statistics worked, Americans would
not be faced with the drinking problem we have today," she said.
"Houston and Harris County lead the way in the unfortunate statistics of
the most drinking related traffic fatalities. The program is about our
students, their friends, their families and their classmates. They live
in a visual world, so we need to show them exactly what can happen."
And visuals are what the students got. Besides the
realistic scene of the accident, a casket provided by Rosewood Funeral
Home in Pasadena was carried in by Sam Rayburn football players for the
memorial services of Ferrell and Martinez.
"When they see that casket, the students visualize
someone they know lying in there, even if they only know them from
passing them in the halls, and it becomes very real for them," Sidwell
said. "They can no longer think that something like this can't happen to
During the memorial services, the parents of
Martinez and Ferrell also read letters they wrote to their children as
though they were really gone.
"You could hear a pin drop as the students listened
intently to these parents emotionally sharing their 'memories' of their
son and daughter," Sidwell said. "We think the collaboration of all
these events really makes the kids stop and think, and we think they are
getting the message."
On the first day of the program, the accident
victims, the Living Dead and the Guardian Angels attended an overnight
retreat at Bayshore Medical Center where they participated in team
building activities as well as spoke with doctors who treat victims of
drunk driving. The students also visited the Pasadena Police Academy and
attempted to drive a golf cart through a course while wearing goggles
that portrayed the visual impairment one would have if under the
influence of alcohol.
"The activities helped to build relationships and
get a point across at the same time," said Lori Ford, Sam Rayburn's
Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) sponsor who also helped
with fundraising for the project. "The students were allowed and encouraged to share
experiences and ask questions. It was evident that students began the
connection of the effects of their decisions in life on themselves and
Sidwell said she hopes all high schools present
"Shattered Dreams" for their students because it is a great way for
students to see the lifelong trauma wrong decisions can have on
themselves, family, friends and their community.
"We hope the students understand that happiness can
not be found in a bottle," Sidwell said. "We also hope to empower them
to understand how strong and resourceful they are and to develop strong
dreams and goals for the future. Once they have a plan they are
confident in and goals to work toward, they are less likely to be
sidetracked with harmful activities such as binge drinking for 'fun.'"
||Summer preschool pre-registration to open May 21
In the news:
Pasadena ISD to hold
pre-registration for summer preschool program
Pasadena ISD is offering a free Summer Preschool
Program and pre-registration is open from Wednesday, May 21 to Friday,
Students who may sign up for the program must be
eligible for admission to kindergarten or first grade in August 2008 and
must qualify as limited English proficient. Pre-registration is strongly
encouraged for parents to ensure a place in the program for their
Late registration will be held at the summer school
sites on the first day of class Tuesday, June 10. The four-week program
will be offered at Bailey, Kruse, Matthys, Meador, Parks, Pomeroy, South
Houston and Williams elementary schools.
"This program is designed to provide an opportunity
to limited English proficient students to receive special instruction
that will prepare them to be successful in kindergarten and first
grade," said Pasadena ISD bilingual instructional specialist for
pre-kindergarten to second grade Martha Andrade. "The instruction will
focus on language development and essential knowledge and skills
appropriate to the level of the student."
To register their students, parents need to present
a birth certificate or adoption documents issued by the court stating
the legal name of the child, immunization records, proof of residency, a
social security number if the child has one, and records from a previous
preschool in the state of Texas if the child attended one.
All supplies and materials will be provided free of
charge, but students must attend regularly and complete the work
assigned by the teacher. Transportation must be provided by the parent
as no busing will be provided by the school district.
"This program will focus on literacy, mathematics
and English oral language development," said Andrade. "Students will be
involved in hands-on interactive learning that will help maintain and
enhance the skills they learned throughout the year."
For more information, please call the office of the
child's home school through June 6. After that date, call the summer
school site. Campus phone numbers can be found on the district website
||Barmores named Pasadena ISD Education Foundation Community Shining Star
In the news:
annual Pasadena ISD education foundation community award
For the last five years, the Pasadena ISD Education
Foundation/Dell Shining Stars Gala has served as a night when the stars
come out. From the top 50 students in academics districtwide to the
annual table sponsors, the event has become a night to remember for
all-and this year was no exception.
The gala honors the top 10 seniors from Sam
Rayburn, South Houston, Dobie, Pasadena and Pasadena Memorial high
schools along with Pasadena ISD educators they selected as those who
inspired them the most. Each educator and student received a plaque for
their recognition, and each student received a Dell laptop and case.
Dell has served as a partner with the district for more than 10 years,
and representative Mark Horan said it is a privilege to be able to help
"We're honored to serve as a sponsor for this
event," Horan said. "We appreciate the partnership we have with Pasadena
Among some of the stars that were recognized at the
annual event were 1969 and 1973 Pasadena High School graduates Mike and
Bill Barmore. The brothers are president and vice president of Barmore
Insurance Agency, Inc. in Pasadena and were given this year's Shining
Stars Gala Community Shining Star Award for their contributions to the
school district over the years. The award was created three years ago
with the first two recipients being Ben and Janice Meador of Meador
Staffing Services and Mel Cowart.
"We're honored to have received this award," said
Mike Barmore. "Our roots run deep in Pasadena, and we have a deep
appreciation from what we learned here-not only in education but in
The duo have made numerous financial contributions
to the Education Foundation including two $25,000 donations during the
last two years, with $5,000 of each donation designated for the annual
McDonald's Texas Invitational Basketball Tournament. Barmore is also a
table sponsor every year at the gala and has donated $20,000 through its
sponsorship at the event.
"Mike and Billy Barmore are the type of business
leaders that make a community great," said Pasadena ISD Education
Foundation's past-president Randy Perry. "They know how important it is
to give back to a community where they have attained success. They are
models for what the Community Shining Star Award is all about."
Mike Barmore graduated from Texas Christian
University and attended Williams Elementary and Jackson Intermediate
before his graduation from Pasadena High. He began his business career
as a Certified Public Accountant and obtained his Certified Insurance
Counselor designation after entering the industry. Mike serves in
leadership roles in the community and the insurance industry including
national, regional and state agent's council positions with various
Bill Barmore joined the firm following his
graduation from the University of Texas. He also attended Williams
Elementary and Queens Intermediate before his graduation from Pasadena.
He obtained his Certified Insurance Counselor designation in 1980 and
serves in leadership roles in various church, school and civic
Barmore was founded in 1952 by William C. Barmore,
Sr. as a life insurance agency and later expanded to a property and
casualty insurance agency serving the greater Houston area. The company
has continuously maintained offices in the Pasadena ISD area and has
grown to become one of the leading independent insurance agencies in the
"The Barmores, starting with their father, have
served as an asset to the community for over 50 years through service
organizations and direct contributions to community organizations,"
Perry said. "We are happy they have made their career here, and we are
proud to honor them for their efforts."
||Foundation receives largest individual contribution in its history
In the news:
education foundation receives $100,000 donation from PHS graduate
and managing partner of Williams Kherkher law firm and Pasadena High
School 1972 graduate John Eddie Williams, Jr. is known for making
As one of the lawyers representing the State of
Texas in its infamous lawsuit against the tobacco industry, Williams
went into the history books for being a part of the largest settlement
ever made in U.S. history. As an alumni giving back to the community
that provided him with his education, Williams recently made history in
Pasadena ISD for giving the largest individual donation to the
district's Education Foundation that has ever been made.
At the sixth annual Pasadena ISD Education
Foundation/Dell Shining Stars Gala, which honors the top 10 seniors from
all five Pasadena ISD high schools along with Pasadena ISD educators the
students selected as those who inspired them the most, Williams and his
wife Sheridan announced their individual donation of $100,000 to the
Pasadena ISD Education Foundation.
"It is really something special to receive that
level of contribution from a Pasadena ISD graduate," said the Education
Foundation's past-president Randy Perry. "John Eddie remembers the
teachers and administrators in this district that made a difference in
And now Williams is helping to make a difference in
the lives of future Pasadena ISD graduates. He and his wife's $100,000
contribution is equal to the amount the foundation has awarded in grants
every year for the last few years. The foundation awards grants of up to
$5,000 bi-annually to educators districtwide to help provide innovative
instruction in the classroom.
"This one contribution equals one full year of
grants," Perry said. "It makes it possible for us to expand
the amount of grants we give to deserving programs in a year."
Before announcing his donation, Williams served as
the guest speaker at the gala. He told the students about his childhood
and growing up as the son of a longshoreman in a union family. Perry
said Williams serves as a representation of what the foundation tries to
achieve for its students through grants.
"John Eddie referred to education several times in
his speech at the gala," he said. "He owes all of his success to
education. The son of a longshoreman, he was destined to be one as well.
But through education, he has attained a higher level of success that
has allowed him to give back to his former school district that gave him
the foundation of his education."
Attending Baylor University on a football
scholarship, Williams graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Business
Administration degree and graduated first in his class from Baylor
School of Law. Williams said he owes his success to hard work.
"I wasn't the smartest in my class, but I worked
harder than anyone else," he told the students. "I only knew one thing
to do and that was to work hard. As long as you stay focused and work
hard, too, the sky is unlimited."
Williams also congratulated the parents present at
the gala saying that if it weren't for his parents, he would not have
pursued the education he did.
"There will be distractions, but it's up to you to
keep your eye on the ball," he advised the future graduates. "Be
passionate about your education. Persevere and never give up."
Williams served as editor-in-chief of The Baylor
Law Review and was the 2002 recipient of Baylor's "Lawyer of the
Year" award. He is the past-president of the Texas Trial Lawyers and
Houston Trial Lawyers associations and of the Houston Trial Lawyers
Foundation. He was also selected by practicing attorneys throughout
Texas as a Super Lawyer from 2004-2007.
Staying true to his roots, Williams based his
25-year practice on representing workers and organized labor and
specializes in representing plaintiffs in mass tort cases involving
asbestos, silicosis, benzene, fen-phen, welding rod fumes and toxic
"We have always prided ourselves on being on the
forefront of helping our clients regardless of changes in the law or the
world around us," Williams said. "We have fought hard for each of our
clients, ensuring that every person's right to a fair trial is
preserved. Giving our clients the very best legal representation is
important to us, but conducting ourselves morally and ethically is even
||Pasadena ISD police officers honored for National Police Week
In the news:
Pasadena ISD police
officers honored for national police week
The week of May 9-16 is marked annually as National
Police Officers' Week. Nationwide, it's a time to honor those who serve
and protect their communities and to remember those who have lost their
lives because of it-and Pasadena ISD's very own finest didn't go
unnoticed. The 35 police officers were honored recently at a reception
at the district's Administration Building.
"Along with student achievement, student safety is
our top priority," said Pasadena ISD Superintendent Kirk Lewis. "The
officers of the Pasadena ISD Police Department are committed to making
our students and staff feel safe and secure."
The Pasadena ISD Police Department is responsible
for keeping each student, parent, faculty member and guests safe on each
of the schools campuses and buses and to ensure a positive learning
environment free of crime, violence and the threat of violence. The
department's assistant chief Troy Harrison said it's important to honor
officers during this time.
"I believe that honoring these officers once a year
is a privilege for each community," he said. "Police officers work in a
very complex field and fill many roles such as counselor, mediator,
nurse, bouncer and even preacher at times. They can go from the simplest
of calls to the most extreme of circumstances. It's important for
communities to recognize and honor their efforts."
Pasadena ISD, a school district encompassing nearly
90 square miles with more than 60 schools and home of more than 50,000
students and 7,000 employees, leaves room for crime to take place-but
the Pasadena ISD Police Department works around the clock to make safety
"Our responsibilities are taken very seriously by
the members of this department and a great deal of training and
commitment are needed to assure safety in all the areas," Harrison said.
"We want parents, students and staff to feel safe on campus and to know
that we are here for them. We consider ourselves lucky to live and work
in a community such as ours where family values are still present."
Along with its police officers, the department is
also made up of 8 civilian support personnel, 75 crossing guards and two
K-9 units. Among the 35 sworn officers, several are specialized in K-9,
bikes, CNT hostage negotiators, SWAT, Internet Crimes against Children (ICAC)
and detectives. Each member of the department is a member of the
Emergency Response team and is trained to respond to a threat with one
officer if needed and to protect the lives of the students and faculty.
The K-9 officers provide narcotic and explosive
ordinance detection and the program is highly rated, consistently
performing well in the certification process. Detectives are responsible
for detailed and/or involved criminal investigations, and the CNT and
SWAT officers serve with City of Pasadena tactical units. The Bike
Division Officers patrol all district facilities and special events.
The department's ICAC Unit, responsible for
responding to online child exploitation in Texas, was created under a
$250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile
Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Pasadena ISD is the only school
district police force in the nation that has been awarded the grant, and
the department has made over 20 arrests for internet crimes against
children in the past year.
"One of the goals of this task force is to give
presentations to principals, students, parents and community members,"
said Pasadena ISD Detective Matthew Gray. "By knowing the dangers and
how these predators attempt to manipulate the system, it is an extra
resource for the safety of our young people."
Every Pasadena ISD police officer receives a
minimum of 100 hours of training annually. In addition to state required
training, officers receive specialized training in areas such as
interview techniques, handwriting analysis, active shooter resolution
and a wide array of force-on-force scenarios using the latest Simunition
pistols and rifles.
"Having our own department assures continuity in
safety and response no matter what city or county an incident occurs
in," Harrison said. "Having officers on duty who are specially trained
in emergency response to active shooters, chemical leaks, bomb detection
and other high profile incidents is paramount. The response time to
these type incidents is very quick due to the officers being on duty
during the school day."
While safety always comes first for Pasadena ISD
police officers, the department is also instrumental in educating
students and parents through a variety of programs such as Safe and Drug
Free Schools, GASP (Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play), Tobacco
Prevention, DARE, Gang Awareness and Beat the Heat, which educates youth
about the problems of illegal drug and alcohol use. In addition,
officers are active participants in the Texas Police Olympics, Red
Ribbon Week and Law Enforcement Day.
The Pasadena ISD Police Officers Association is
also a valued asset of the department and school district. The members
have donated about $30,000 in time to cut costs associated with the
annual McDonald's Texas Invitational Basketball Tournament, which is an
annual fundraiser for the Pasadena ISD Education Foundation. The
Association also holds various fundraisers throughout the year including
its annual golf tournament allowing it to provide more than $15,000 in
local scholarships to 20 students in the last few years.
"The men and women of the association work
tirelessly to help the youth they serve to become productive citizens in
our society by providing not only positive role models, but a means of
furthering their education in a career field of their choice," Harrison
Funds from the association have also been used to
assist local families devastated by fire or other disaster throughout
the year as well as to injured district employees.
"Our officers are always taking the extra steps
needed to ensure safety and academic achievement on our campuses and
instill values in our students needed to live safe and healthy lives,"
Lewis said. "They do their jobs with a high level of professionalism and
integrity, and I am extremely proud of the job they do on a daily
||Pearl Hall choir takes centerfield at Astros game
In the news:
Pearl Hall choir
takes centerfield at Astros game
Pearl Hall Elementary School fourth graders Daisy Milan and Estephanie
Torres, seeing Minute Maid Park for the first time was an amazing
experience-especially from centerfield.
The two youngsters along with 85 of their other fourth and third grade
peers, sang the National Anthem from centerfield in front of thousands
of Houston Astros fans prior to the team's 4-3 win over the Washington
Although they were nervous, the duo said performing at the game was
"We felt like stars," the girls said. "It was really exciting to see all
the fans cheering for us. We think we sang really well even though we
The young choir is a Houston Astros National Anthem Choir and has sung
at one of the team's home games every year for the last six years. This
is the first year third graders attended the performance, and Pearl Hall
music specialist Pat Surface said she couldn't be more proud.
"Our choir performed exceptionally at the Astros game," she said. "Many
of our parents came to us proudly stating that people all around them
throughout the stadium were commenting on how beautifully they sang. We
were very proud to stand back and hear the results of their preparation
and dedication to produce their musical best."
Anyone can audition for consideration to sing the national anthem at one
of the Astros games by submitting a video of their group performing the
anthem A Cappella. A committee reviews all recordings that are submitted
and then selects those appropriate for one of the home games.
Pearl Hall music specialist Seth Fewell said performing on a scale as
large as this will help the students become better performers and said
that a greater sense of self confidence is developed.
"Learning to control one's emotions and gaining experience and success
in high pressure situations can only lead to a better and more confident
performance next time," he said. "It does get a bit easier each time the
more often you place yourself in front of an audience and are able to
perform a high quality presentation."
While the choir begins practicing the anthem months before their
performance at a game, the training to become a great musical performer
starts with kindergarteners at Pearl Hall.
"The preparation begins with developing great listening skills for
learning and listening," Surface said. "We are very detailed in how we
speak and how we sing with our youngest learners at Pearl Hall and this
pays great dividends as they mature through the years."
Jami Lupold, Pearl Hall music specialist who conducted this year's
anthem choir, said these skills help the children overall become better
"These skills develop a wonderful sense of self-confidence which carries
over into other areas of academia, including reading and communication
skills with teachers, guests of our international programs and with
other students who may speak different languages," she said.
Lupold said singing the national anthem from centerfield is a great
experience for students to have because they need to feel a part of
their community beyond the walls of their school.
"Participation in performances such as this one is a fantastic way for
young people to support their community through their musical skills
other than being on stage for a concert or competition," she said. "They
become part of the Major League Baseball experience and feel valued as a
member of society even though they are only eight or nine years old."
While the experience is a good learning one, some young singers still
get overwhelmed with performing in front of such a large audience. But
Lupold said the support of parents, teachers, peers and administrators
helps the performers work through their nerves.
"While a mild case of the butterflies can sharpen your attention, there
are times when it becomes overwhelming, which is why it's always good to
have great support from other educators and administrators at our
school," she said. "They are a super team of teachers to work with, and
we loved having everyone at the ballpark to share in the excitement of
the kids' success."
In addition to their performance, the choir also received hot dogs and
nachos prior to the performance as well as watched the game from behind
home plate. Only about 15 percent of the choir had been to Minute Maid
Park before Wendesday's game.
Surface, Sewell and Lupold all said they hope their students enjoyed the
"We hope they learned that dedication to obtaining excellence is worth
the effort and time involved," they said. "It was a performance that
lasted only 90 seconds, but it's an experience that these children will
remember and cherish for a lifetime."
||Morgan, Kendrick re-elected to Board of Trustees
In the news:
re-elected to Board of Trustees
ISD Board of Trustees Marshall Kendrick and Vickie Morgan were both
re-elected to their positions on election day, May 10.
Morgan, who holds the Position 7 spot, was opposed by Randy Clay Smith.
She received 1,029 votes over Smith's 322. Kendrick ran unopposed for
his Position 6 seat and received 1,092 votes. Morgan and Kendrick will
both serve three-year terms.
has served 19 years on the board. He is the retired director and general
manager of Maleic Anhydride Business for Bayer Corporation. He holds a
Bachelor's degree from Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches. He
and wife Denie have two children, both graduates of Sam Rayburn High
School. Kendrick is a deacon, Sunday School teacher and member of the
finance committee of South Main Baptist Church.
Morgan is the mother of three children, two who graduated from Pasadena
schools and one currently enrolled at Bondy Intermediate. She has served
on the Pasadena ISD Board for 22 years. She has been honored with two
Texas Life Memberships (1982, 1988), a National Life Membership (1989),
and an Extended Life Membership (1991) from the PTA, was named Leader of
the Year by the Girl Scouts of America (1984) and Outstanding Young
Woman of America (1983). She currently serves as secretary to a
city-appointed Board of Directors for the Pasadena Second Century
Corporation, which is a non-profit industrial development corporation.
Morgan is actively involved in the Girl Scouts of America, the Parent
Teacher Association, and is an active member of South Main Baptist
Church, where she serves as Sunday School and Vacation Bible School
director and greeter
||Pavone, Jamail named Pasadena ISD's Region 4 Principals of Year
In the news:
Pavone, Jamail named
Region 4 Principals of the Year
Hall Elementary principal Marilyn Pavone and Dobie High School principal
Steve Jamail were named as Pasadena ISD's 2008 Region 4 Principals of
the Year recently.
Every year, districts throughout Texas select an
elementary and secondary principal for this honor. Region 4 will honor
Pavone and Jamail along with the other statewide honorees at a principal
recognition banquet on June 4.
principals were selected based on demonstrated excellence in concern for
all students and staff and the capability to inspire them, ability and
willingness to work cooperatively with all staff and administrative
colleagues, implementation of strategies for continuous improvement in
student performance, continuous personal and professional growth and for
meaningful contributions to education.
Under Pavone's leadership, Pearl Hall has been
consecutively named an Exemplary or Recognized campus by the Texas
Education Agency and as a Just For Kids Honor Roll school. Pasadena ISD
Deputy Superintendent Vicki Thomas said Pavone was selected because of
her proven track record in establishing a school of excellence.
"Marilyn encourages innovative practices such as
regularly providing students the opportunity to have live video
conferences with NASA Astronauts while they are in space," Thomas said.
"Her passion for excellence and devotion to students is unmatched. She
truly serves as a model to all."
Thomas said Jamail was selected because of his
outstanding ability to build a positive school culture and climate aimed
at excellence for all.
"Steve truly believes in and supports his
students," she said. "He is highly visible on the campus and is an
ardent supporter of student activities and the events in which they
participate. He encourages innovation in the classroom."
Jamail said he was surprised and honored and to
have been named secondary principal of the year and said Dobie's success
wouldn't be possible without the support of staff, administration, the
community and parents.
"I feel extremely honored to receive this
recognition knowing there are so many deserving principals in our school
district," he said. "You are only as good as the people around you. I am
surrounded by some incredible teachers, administrators, counselors and
staff who work hard to have a successful school. We have fantastic
support form the district, which provides us with the training and tools
that are necessary, and our parents and community are very supportive. I
feel very blessed."
Jamail has overseen the implementation of academic
teaming at the 9th and 10th grade levels to help
ensure increased graduation rates and initiated a freshman first day
back program to aid with the transition into high school. The school is
also currently involved in a project where students use cooking oil from
the cafeteria to turn into diesel fuel.
"This type of rigorous and relevant instruction
helps to foster student interest and engagement," Thomas said. "Steve
has fostered a wonderful educational setting for students to learn and
||13 Pasadena High students named semi-finalists for scholarships
In the news:
13 Pasadena High
as semi-finalists for scholarships
Pasadena High School students were selected as scholarship
semi-finalists for the Linda Lorelle Scholarship Fund. These students
interviewed with the selection committee recently, and scholarship
winners will be notified on May 16.
The Linda Lorelle Scholarship Fund provides college
scholarships, support and guidance for high school students in need of
financial assistance. Sophomore and junior high school students from
selected area school districts with a GPA of 2.0 or above who are
planning to attend a college or university in the fall after their high
school graduations are eligible for the award.
"I am thrilled to have 13 of my students chosen as
semi-finalists," said Pasadena High math instructor Linda Puckett. "To
be chosen as semi-finalists is a great honor for these young men and
women. It's an indication of how well they have represented themselves
through the essays they submitted with the application."
Pasadena High sophomore Angela Johnson and juniors
Kimberly Leal, Jason Davila, Sony Perez, Lindsy Rice, Jorge Vargas, Lily
Rodriguez, Lucy Rodriguez, Andy Garcia, Anali Gomez, Robert Nunez and
Elizabeth Moore were 13 of 261 semi-finalists chosen from 1,100
applicants throughout Harris and Fort Bend counties.
Scholarships are awarded to anywhere between 12 and
15 students and each scholarship is worth $15,000. But the scholarship
is more than just a monetary award-it is the start of a two-way
partnership between the scholarship recipient and the Scholarship Fund.
Each winner is assigned a mentor that will work with them until they
graduate from college. New scholarship recipients are also required to
attend a series of seminars during their junior and/or senior year to
help them prepare for college.
"This scholarship can be a life-changing
opportunity," said Puckett. "The winners will meet other students from
around Houston as well as come in contact with Houston-area businessmen
and women. The scholarship is just the first of many of the doors that
will be opened for the winners."
Recipients will also receive a laptop and the fund
will work with the community to provide quality internships and jobs for
Puckett said she required her students to apply for
the scholarship as part of their grade and that she hopes this is the
first of many scholarships for years to come.
"I required the project so my students could learn
the process and type of information necessary for their college and
scholarship applications," she said. "Too many of our students go on to
attend community colleges because they do not understand how much money
universities and companies have available to assist in the rising cost
of tuition. Finances should never hold any student back from attaining
Puckett said she hopes some of the scholarship
winners will be her own students so they have the opportunity to take
full advantage of the benefits of this scholarship.
"If some of my students do win this scholarship, I
hope they look forward to the new experiences and learn as much as they
can but never forget where they came from," she said. "Their past is a
part of who they are and they take their experiences with them wherever
they go. They will be role models for their siblings and peers."
While she hopes all of her students receive the
scholarship, Puckett knows there is a chance that some won't and said
for them to always keep trying.
"This is not the only scholarship available to them
and this is just the first step," she said. "They need to keep applying
for all the scholarships they can find. It is disappointing to not be
chosen, but they cannot allow that to keep them from aiming for the
||South Houston High student heading to MIT
In the news:
South Houston High
student heads to MIT
her high school graduation is still a year away, South Houston High
School junior Nicole Neveu will be living the college life this summer
as a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in
Neveu is one of 40 applicants from a pool of the
top eleventh grade female math and science students nationwide admitted
into MIT's Women's Technology Program in Electrical Engineering and
Computer Science (WTP-EECS). She applied for financial help and was
admitted into the program free of charge.
"It truly does feel like a dream," said Neveu. "Not
only did I get accepted, but they are waiving the $3,000 fee and paying
for my transportation. It doesn't get much better than that."
WTP is a four-week summer academic and residential
experience where female high school students explore engineering through
hands-on classes, labs and team-based projects in the summer after 11th
grade. Students eligible for the program are expected to have taken the
most advanced classes in math and science appropriate for their grade
level in their schools, have standardized math test scores (PSAT, SAT,
ACT) in the 80th percentile or higher and be able to handle
college-level material at a rapid pace.
Neveu's AP science teacher Jim Preston encouraged
her to apply for the program and said that he knows she is prepared to
"I am very proud of Nicole," he said. "She has all
the qualities of a great student. She is bright, she is inquisitive, she
works hard, she is not afraid to make a mistake, she leads but does not
lord over those she is leading, and most important, with all her skills
and talents, she is humble. I don't know if she will be an engineer or a
computer scientist, I only know she will be successful, under any
Neveu said applying for the program wouldn't have
been easy without the support of her teacher and her family.
"Mr. Preston especially encouraged me to shoot for
this experience, and my family also backed me generously," she said. "My
mom was just as anxious to check the mail every day as I was. It's nice
to have that support system. It makes going after your dreams seem even
just a little easier. This has turned out to be one of the best
decisions I have ever made."
While her academic credentials meeting program
requirements are what got her into the WTP program, Neveu's interests in
attending MIT go beyond that-she loves math and science.
"They explain just about anything," she said. "They
basically make the world make sense. I love the way you can calculate or
predict something with uncanny accuracy. It interests me to know that
there is so much we can understand through math and science, yet there
is so much more to learn."
WTP works to spark the interest of young women in
the future study of engineering and computer science, and Neveu said she
thinks it's important for young women to venture into such promising
"It's a career field that's busy," she said.
"Technology is rapidly improving with great thanks to engineers, and
there is always a new project around the corner. With an ever-changing
job, monotony is not exactly a problem. I think it's a great job for
people who like to learn, and women are not excluded."
The WTP-EECS curriculum introduces students to
computer science, electrical engineering and mathematics topics. The 40
students will be divided into two groups of 20 and will all attend each
of the three classes daily. The students will learn to think like
computer scientists, be provided with college-level material covering
both digital and analog electronics, and use discrete mathematics
curriculum to cover a range of subjects that directly apply to
electrical engineering and computer science.
Neveu said she knows the course load will be
challenging but that it's part of the excitement of the program.
"I am positive the work load is going to be heavy,"
she said. "I know there is plenty I can learn and tons they plan to
teach me. Overcoming the obstacles will just mean that I have to study,
work, study, and try to sleep somewhere in between. I know it's going to
be hard work, but I'm willing to do it for my future."
The courses will be taught by female graduate
students from the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer
Science. The instructors are assisted by female MIT undergraduate
"I think it will be awesome to meet and learn from
other girls and women who share common goals with me," Neveu said. "I
have no doubt the instructors will be great role models for my peers and
me. Knowing them will definitely make me feel more comfortable not only
in my abilities but in knowing there is a place for women in the
classroom and out in the field as well."
While she doesn't have a great deal of experience
in the engineering field, Neveu said her interests in it originated with
her stepfather who is a technician that works at Ellington Field and
does electrical repairs on the jets astronauts practice in. Neveu said
she couldn't contain herself when he took her to the hanger one day.
"To see planes gutted and chaotic wires was
incredible," she said. "The realization that someone, my stepdad, holds
the knowledge to fix something so complex enticed me. It set the
standard high for me, and I want to reach a level of education where I
can one day fix the problems that will help the world go round, at least
in some small way."
But her stepfather wasn't her only inspiration as
Neveu said Preston is the teacher that got her excited about
"Since I didn't know much about the field, I
decided to go asking around," she said. "Mr. Preston answered most of
any questions I could throw at him. He really shed light on what it
meant to be an engineer. After he started teaching electricity in
chemistry, I knew I was sold."
When she's not preparing herself academically,
Neveu is involved in the school's student council and the National Honor
Society. During football season, she marches as lead trumpet and plays
first for the school's concert band. She also volunteers in Pasadena's
infamous Big 225 Band.
Neveu attended Pearl Hall Elementary, DeZavala
Fifth Grade Center and Miller Intermediate School before heading to
South Houston, and she said she owes much of her success to her
"I could give a laundry list of the teachers that
have helped me get to where I am today," she said. "They all deserve
Preston offered his student some words of advice
before her real world experience and said he couldn't wait to hear about
it upon her return.
"I want her to just remember who she is and where
she comes from and get all she can from this time in Boston," he said.
"When she returns, she'll be better for it and can use the experience as
she prepares for college and beyond. But most importantly, I told her to
||Voting in Board of Trustees election is Saturday, May 10
In the news:
Voting in Board of Trustees
is Saturday, May 10
For Precinct Polling Places list --
Voting in the Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees
election will be held Saturday, May 10. Polls will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Positions up for election this year are seats held
by incumbents Marshall Kendrick (position 6) and Vickie Morgan (position
7). Morgan is being opposed by Randy Clay Smith, while Kendrick is
running unopposed. Polling places are based
on the voters' Harris County voting precinct numbers rather than
Pasadena ISD attendance boundaries. For a list of polling precincts and
places, refer to the link at the top of this release.
For more information, call 713-740-0027.
||Miller, Dobie students to participate in sixth annual Locks for Love event
In the news:
students to participate
in sixth annual Locks for Love
On Wednesday, May 7, more than 20 Miller Intermediate School
students, families and community members will get new, shorter
hairstyles courtesy of Dobie High School's cosmetology students.
The shorter styles aren't to prepare for a hot summer or to start a
fashion craze. These locks are being cut out of love.
Miller's Teen Leadership program and Dobie's Cosmetology Department
are sponsoring their sixth annual Locks of Love project for the
Locks of Love Foundation in Dobie's cosmetology lab from 9-11:30
a.m. Dobie is located at 10220 Blackhawk in Houston.
Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that provides high
quality hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering
from long-term medical hair loss. Many recipients have lost their
hair due to an auto-immune condition known as alopecia areata, which
has no known cause or cure. Others have suffered severe burns,
radiation treatment or any number of dermatological conditions
resulting in long term or permanent hair loss.
"Six years ago, our campus in collaboration with Dobie began a
commitment to make a difference for this cause," said Miller's peer
facilitator Carol Baird. "It's amazing that a project originated
from the determination of one person has grown into the successful
event it is today. We encourage anyone who can to come out and
Donated hair must be 10 inches or longer, so many students at Miller
have been growing their hair for some time preparing for this event.
According to the Locks of Love website, it takes six to 10 ponytails
to make one wig.
For more information on the event or to schedule a time to cut hair
on Wednesday for donation to Locks of Love, please contact Margaret
Rabago at Dobie at 713-740-0370 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
||'Shattered Dreams' to provide sobering teenage message to Rayburn students
In the news:
will provide Rayburn
students with sobering teenage message
Prom poses many difficult decisions for high school students that go
beyond what shoes to wear with what dress or what girl the guy
should ask for the perfect prom date.
Unfortunately for today's teens, this time of celebration has also
become a time when they are faced with the temptation of making
alcohol part of the post-prom festivities.
To ensure its students are educated about the dangers of underage
drinking and drinking and driving before their prom on May 17, Sam
Rayburn High School is holding its bi-annual "Shattered Dreams"
event on May 12 and 13.
"Shattered Dreams" is an educational drinking and driving prevention
program coordinated and presented at high schools statewide by the
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. This two-day comprehensive
program brings to light the dangers associated with drinking and
driving while showing young adults the consequences of their
actions. The school held the event for the first time in 2006.
On Monday, May 12, a dramatic demonstration of a two-car,
alcohol-related fatality accident will be staged near the school at
the corner of Cherrybrook and Burke around 8 a.m. Sounds of the
accident, the call to 911, voices of law enforcement and emergency
responders will be played over the school's public address system,
signaling the juniors and seniors to assemble near the crash scene.
The scene will be realistic with Pasadena's EMS, police, fire and
funeral home responders enacting the rescue of student volunteers
who are made up as crash victims and the mock arrest of the drunk
driver. The Jaws of Life will be used to save the volunteer victims
from one vehicle while Life-Flight will mock-land to rush another
volunteer victim to the hospital. All activities will be as
realistic as possible while ensuring the safety of all participants.
"We believe it is necessary to have Shattered Dreams right before
prom because the images of the mock crash and memorial will be in
the students' minds as they make their own decisions on prom night,"
said project co-coordinator and special education teacher Jennifer
Edwards. "We want our students to stop and think about how their
actions carry consequences beyond themselves."
To symbolize how many people are killed in a day from drunk driving
accidents, a heartbeat will sound throughout the school every
fifteen minutes signaling the Grim Reaper to pick students from
class to become the "Living Dead." The students chosen will attend
classes but are not allowed to converse with their friends or
teachers. They will have Guardian Angels to assist them from class
to class. The accident victims, the Living Dead and the Guardian
Angels will all attend a retreat at Bayshore Medical Center on
Monday night to participate in team building activities as well as
speak with doctors who treat victims of drunk driving.
On Tuesday, May 13, mock memorial services with coffins provided by
Rosewood Funeral Home will be held for the student volunteers who
died in the staged car accident. Students and parents will read
eulogies and letters written to the students who died.
"This is a very in-depth look at alcohol and drugs and the role both
play in a teenager's decision," said Edwards. "It shows our students
what life would be like for them not to see and speak to their
friends for a day. When they hear the heartbeat throughout the day
and know that someone else is dying due to an alcohol-related
accident and hear the memorial speakers, they really stop and listen
because it is coming from their peers."
||Gardens, Turner elementary students raise 'Pennies for Pasta'
In the news:
raise 'pennies for pasta'
a little is never too much for Gardens and Turner elementary school
For the last three weeks, the students have been turning out their
pockets and emptying their piggy banks for the school's annual Pasta
for Pennies fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This
is the third year both schools have participated in the fundraiser,
and the students collaboratively raised more than $8,800.
Every year, Gardens' student council made up of 10 fourth graders
heads up the school's project, and student council sponsor Andrea
Luna said it is a project the students have come to look forward to.
"Even though I have a new group of student council members every
year, they now expect us to participate in this fundraiser because
they have helped contribute to it in their previous classrooms the
past few years," she said. "It makes them feel like they are doing
something that is very important, and they realize that even a
little bit of money eventually adds up to help those who truly need
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is the world's largest voluntary
health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research,
education and patient services. Pasta for Pennies is one of the many
fundraisers the society has through its School and Youth programs.
Turner Elementary third grade reading and science teacher Dana
Babineaux said it is a wonderful feeling to know that students give
their savings and allowances to help with this project every year.
"It shows their compassion for others who are in need," she said.
"It's important for students to be involved in fundraisers like this
because it teaches them about teamwork and lets them know when they
work together they can make a difference. It also teaches them about
the gift of giving."
At Gardens, the student council members are responsible for
advertising for the fundraiser and for collecting money every week.
Gardens student council treasurer Valerie Galvan said she enjoys
preparing for and organizing the fundraiser because it helps others.
"I feel excited raising money because we are helping people who have
Leukemia," she said. "It's important for us to help others so those
with Leukemia will be able to get more medicine to help them get
The classes compete for the cause by raising the most money. The
winning class from each school receives a pasta party from Olive
"Being involved in a project like this allows our students to see
that not everyone has the same kind of life," said Babineaux. "It
helps teach students to be appreciative of what positive things they
do have, such as their health."
Luna said the project has served as a continuous learning experience
for her students because it allows them to do something good that
doesn't involve their own personal needs and wants.
"It's important for students at this age to participate in
fundraisers like this to help them think about others who are in
need and the simple things they can do to make those lives better
and easier," she said. "It allows them to realize there are people
in our community their age and older that deal with having cancer
and what they have to do and experience on a daily basis."
Student council member Jon Ramirez said this project has shown him
that the kids at his school do truly care about others.
"It feels good to do this because I know I'm helping someone," he
said. "It's important to help so that those who are sick can have
the chance to live a longer and healthier life."
||Memorial's Corrington to experience summer at Stanford University
In the news:
summer at Stanford University
Abigail Corrington, the end of the school year can't arrive soon
enough-but not because she's ready to put away the books. In fact,
the Pasadena Memorial High School junior is keeping the books open
this summer-at Stanford University.
Corrington was recently accepted into the Stanford University High
School Summer College program, which is an eight week program for
junior and senior high school students to take undergraduate courses
for Stanford University credit.
Corrington's high school counselor Mahla Christopherson said she is
excited for Corrington to have this opportunity.
"I am highly honored and so excited for Abby to see where this might
lead in her life," she said. "Abby is a highly self-motivated young
person with a passion for learning. Her drive and determination are
qualities that help her set high goals then work to attain them.
These characteristics will serve her well in this program."
Corrington said she received an invitation to attend the program in
the mail and that she couldn't resist after seeing pictures of the
school, reading personal statements of past program participants and
reviewing course descriptions during her research of Stanford and
"I simply could not pass up such a wonderful opportunity to do
something great this summer," said Corrington. "It feels great to
have been accepted into this program because it shows me that I have
succeeded in making the most of my education so far. I am thrilled
about the opportunity to study under some of the nation's greatest
professors at one of the nation's most respected universities."
Christopherson said programs such as this one are great
opportunities for high school students.
"Programs like this one allow students a greater learning
opportunity being taught by professors at the college level," she
said. "In addition, students have the chance to connect with other
young people from around the country with similar interests."
In hopes of pursuing the medical, engineering or biomedical
engineering fields once in college, Corrington said she chose to
take Introduction to Human Physiology and Greek and Latin Roots of
English as two of her courses.
"The functions of the human body have always intrigued me, and if I
do become a physician one day, the information I will learn in the
course is invaluable," she said. "Also, the majority of medical
terms are derived from Latin words, so as I learn these roots, I
will have a deeper understanding of the human body, diseases and
Corrington will also be using her time at Stanford to reconnect with
her musical side as she registered for Introductory Piano as well.
"I love the piano, and I feel that mastery of an instrument is
essential to a person," she said. "The joy and fulfillment of
mastering a piece and successfully playing it in a recital is
unmatched. Due to a stringent schedule, my piano-playing skills have
dwindled, and I hope to regain those skills in this piano class."
An Abs and Glutes class is also in Corrington's schedule for this
summer, and she said she believes her diverse choice of classes will
maximize her talents and help her become a better-rounded person.
"I want to make the most out of my time at Stanford, so by balancing
my time with a mixture of difficult academic courses and more fun
courses will allow me to do that," she said.
Along with other program participants, Corrington will stay on
campus in the university's historic Lagunita Court residence with a
trained staff of residence mentors. She will also be walking the
campus with current undergraduate and graduate Stanford students.
"I cannot wait to be among other students with the same vivacious
commitment to their education as I have," said Corrington. "I think
it's great that I will get the chance to exist in the same academic
sphere as the exceptional students that attend Stanford. It will
also be good for me to work, learn and live with other young people
from around the globe because such an assorted group of students
will open my eyes to the great diversity that exists in the real
Students also have the chance to take optional courses and seminars
on college planning during their time at Stanford including college
admission, SAT preparation and other college-level strategies and
skills in time management, reading, speaking, writing and test
On evenings and weekends, program participants will have
opportunities to attend field trips, play intramural sports, eat
dinner with a Nobel laureate, hold informal discussions with
Stanford faculty, participate in outreach projects, take coastal
excursions and enjoy the city of San Francisco.
"I am most excited about the sun and surf," said Corrington. "I
cannot wait to be in sunny California studying out on a rolling lawn
on the gorgeous campus. I am also very excited about forming new
relationships and learning in a college setting. I know it will be
much different than the classes I'm taking now, so it will prepare
me for the college life."
Corrington said she has narrowed her top college choices to Rice
University, Stanford University, Harvard College, Yale University,
Princeton University and Baylor University. The credits she will
receive this summer will transfer to her college of choice.
Corrington is a member of the Varsity Track and Field team and the
Varsity Cross Country team. She was the first cross country athlete,
male or female, to qualify for Regionals in Memorial's six-year
history. Corrington is also an active member of the National Honor
Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Student Council, STARS
(Students Taking Action Reaching Solutions) and Fellowship of
Christian Athletes. She is the junior class Parliamentarian and has
received the Academic Excellence Award for three consecutive years.
In 2007, Corrington served on the Superintendent's Student Advisory
Committee and was Memorial's high school delegate to the District
Education Committee Student Code of Conduct Review Meeting this
Corrington is also a member of the Southern US Society of Women's
Engineering and interned under a University of Houston professor in
the summer of 2005. She also was a member of the winning team at the
NASA Space Settlement Design Competition this year. Corrington is
currently enrolled in all AP or pre-AP courses.
Corrington came to Pasadena ISD her eighth grade year as a student
at Bondy Intermediate. She said without the education and
opportunities she has received from her supportive teachers and
administrators, her many accomplishments would not have been
"The amount of education and opportunity I have received in the past
five years in Pasadena ISD is incredible and has prepared me
immensely for this experience at Stanford," she said. "The teachers
at Memorial are phenomenal, and I am in awe of many of them. Their
confidence and belief in me has instilled in me a sense that I can
really accomplish anything I set my mind to. They are always
available to help, guide, teach, encourage and inspire any student,
and I will forever be grateful."
||Dobie musician plays his way to Juilliard
In the news:
Dobie High School
student plays his way to Juilliard
his home in Houston to the heart of New York City, Dobie High School
senior John Potter is following his passion of music to The
Juilliard School after his high school graduation in June.
With only four years experience on the organ, Potter was recently
accepted into Juilliard after a rigorous audition process where he
had to perform a prelude and fugue for organ by Bach, an organ
composition by a 19th century composer and an organ composition by a
representative 20th century composer. Out of 14 auditioning, Potter
was one of two individuals selected for the program. Potter will
pursue a Bachelor of Music degree in Organ Performance under the
direction of world-renowned organist Paul Jacobs.
Potter said he began showing interest in music when he was
seven-years-old. After mastering the recorder at Burnett Elementary,
Potter said Michael Schoen, his sixth grade orchestra instructor at
Thompson Intermediate, introduced him to the violin. He has dreamed
of attending Juilliard ever since.
"To have been accepted to Juilliard is a dream come true, and I owe
much of my inspiration to music to Mr. Schoen," said Potter. "I have
always known I wanted to become a student at Juilliard. I just
didn't know I would be attending as an organist."
Potter said his Algebra instructor at Dobie Sarah Young has also
served as a great inspiration to him.
"Ms. Young has always told me to never give up because she saw that
I was persistent to get what I desired, and she proved to me that
when you work hard enough, things will work out in your favor," he
Young said she couldn't be more proud of her student and that her
first thought was that he had made his own dreams come true.
"This young man is extremely deserving of this honor," she said. "He
loves his music, and he is a unique person who will be on top in his
career field. Juilliard is lucky to have him and his talent, and
Dobie is very proud to have him represent our music program."
Some of Potter's recent musical achievements include first place in
the American Guild of Organists (AGO) Quimby Chapter Level
competition in San Antonio, second place in the Oklahoma City
International Organ Competition, and a tie for second place in the
AGO/Quimby Regional Competition at the Dallas Regional Convention.
"My inspiration to pursue music as a profession is the wonderful
feeling I get inside when I play the music," he said. "It is a joy
to play and see how much other people appreciate it."
Currently, Potter also plays violin and piano as well as sings bass
in his church choir. For the last two years, Potter has served as a
student under St. Martin's Episcopal Church Organist and Director of
Music Dr. George Mims. Mims said he was thrilled Potter was accepted
"To learn John was going to Juilliard moved me personally, and I
couldn't be more proud of him," Mims said. "He has a great sense of
humor, and he really listens to what people say to him."
Because Juilliard seeks to educate individuals with exceptional
talent, disciplined practice and a serious commitment to music
training, Mims said he feels Juilliard is the perfect place for
Potter to be.
"As I began working with John, I was fascinated at how fast he could
absorb, learn and play the music," Mims said. "He's an excellent
student. He is willing to learn, he concentrates, he follows
instructions and he puts his time to good use. John is music-it's in
Holding a job as an organist while attending Juilliard is
imperative, and Potter is well on his way to learning the ropes as a
professional organist. As part of the cooperative program at Dobie,
Potter is an organ scholar under Mims' direction at St. Martin's for
30 hours a week. He works with Mims in preparing concerts,
practicing with the church choir and musicians and other duties
assigned to him.
Potter's music abilities have also served him well in his academics
at Dobie. He is the chief artistic and performance advisor in Dobie
and Memorial High School's digital pipe organ project. The project
recently received a grant from BP, and Potter has been invited to
perform on the student-made organ at the regional award ceremony for
the 2008 grant winners.
Project coordinator and Memorial AP physics instructor Scott Graham
said Potter has provided invaluable insight and advice into the
project and the organ's construction and that it wouldn't have been
possible without him.
"John's input has been essential to the project as he has helped us
set up sound parameters for the organ and given us much technical
advice, especially in making the organ more performance friendly,"
said Graham. "He has shared his vision for excellent organ music as
well as his passion for performing. He serves as inspiration to us
all, and we are very proud of him."
Graham said he hopes to take Potter, as part of the project, to the
Philippines next spring to perform at the annual bamboo organ
"John is a visionary musician who is extremely dedicated to
tradition while simultaneously having the creativity to express his
own style," Graham said. "John will be an asset to Juilliard's
commitment to excellence and its long legacy of producing truly
great performing artists."
Upon his graduation from Juilliard, Potter said he wishes to pursue
a graduate degree in Organ and Sacred Music from Yale University as
well as his doctoral of musical arts degree from another university.
Potter said he plans to return to Pasadena ISD during his years at
Juilliard to perform on the organ and to promote the project to
raise interest in young people in organ music. For his younger
peers, Potter has some last words of advice.
"I feel it is important for young people to find their special
talent because it can lead to a possible career that they would
enjoy," he said. "They should never let anyone tell them that they
can't do something. If they put forth the effort and the knowledge,
anything is possible."
||Garfield principal Scott Harrell named District 4 TEPSAN of the Year
In the news:
named District 4 TEPSAN of Year
Scott Harrell, principal
at Garfield Elementary was named District 4 TEPSAN of the Year for
the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA).
Harrell currently serves as District 4 president.
Each year, members from
the 20 TEPSA districts across the state honor a colleague who makes
a difference in the lives of Texas students. Honorees will be
recognized at TEPSA's Summer Conference in June.
"These educators hold
themselves and Texas students to high standards - we are proud of
their work," said TEPSA Executive Director Sandi Borden.
Harrell received his
master's from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. He has served
as a district officer since 2003.
TEPSA represents more
than 5,300 elementary and middle school leaders, including
principals, assistant principals, central office administrators and
supervisors of reading, mathematics, science, special education and
other disciplines. Formed in 1917, TEPSA was created to improve
children's futures by bettering education at the elementary level.
||Pasadena ISD named one of nation's 'best communities' for music education
In the news:
Pasadena ISD named
one of nation's
'best communities' for music education
For the second consecutive year, Pasadena ISD's
music programs were named among the nation's best in the NAMM
Foundation's "Best Communities for Music Education" survey.
"We are absolutely thrilled with this news," said
Linda Fletcher, Pasadena ISD's director of fine arts. "It is wonderful
to see the hard work of our students and teachers recognized. This honor
is a true reflection of their dedication and work."
The survey included 110 school districts across the
United States. The designated programs exemplify community commitment to
include music education as part of a quality education for all children.
The NAMM Foundation and its music education advocacy efforts work to
ensure that all children have access to quality music education programs
that encourage lifelong participation in music making.
This year's roster of musical schools represents 29 states with New
York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia representing
the most districts.
Hundreds of teachers, school and district administrators, school board
members, parents and community leaders, representing communities in all
50 states, participated in the Web-based survey. The districts were
measured across a variety of program support, curricular and
programmatic criteria. Furthermore, the results were measured
proportionally, so that communities of different sizes were compared
Participants in the survey answered detailed questions about funding,
enrollment, student/teacher ratios, music class participation,
instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, private
music lesson participation, and other relevant factors in their
communities' music education programs. The responses were verified with
district officials, and the sponsoring organizations reviewed the data.
"We commend these school districts for their commitment to assuring that
music is part of a complete education for children," said Mary Luehrsen,
executive director, NAMM Foundation. "It takes the commitment of an
entire community to assure that music is part of the core curriculum.
Children engaged in music will be the innovation leaders of tomorrow,
and there is no better way to build life-long participation in music
than with a solid base of music education."
Luehrsen also noted that throughout the survey's eight years several
districts have reported that making the "Best Communities" list has had
a tangible effect on their ability to preserve music for their students.
This year, recipients cited increased enrollment in music programs and
more support from parents and community members as they realize the
physical, mental and emotional value music education brings to students.
The NAMM Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to
advancing active participation in music making across the lifespan by
supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service
programs from the international music products industry. For more
||Early Voting underway in Board of Trustees election
In the news:
Early voting underway
for Board of Trustees
For Precinct Polling Places list --
Early voting in the Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees
election is underway through May 6. Voters may cast their ballot at all
five Pasadena ISD high schools. Early voting will take place on weekdays
from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on April 28-May 2 and 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on May 5-6.
In addition, voters may cast their votes early at
South Houston City Hall, 1018 Dallas from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. April 28-30 and
May 5-6, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. May 1-2, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., May 3 and 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Positions up for election this year are seats held
by incumbents Marshall Kendrick (position 6) and Vickie Morgan (position
7). Morgan is being opposed by Randy Clay Smith, while Kendrick is
Polls will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on election day, May 10. Polling places are based
on the voters' Harris County voting precinct numbers rather than
Pasadena ISD attendance boundaries. For a list of polling precincts and
places, refer to the link at the top of this release.
For more information, call 713-740-0027.
||Pasadena ISD awarded $1 million American History teaching grant
In the news:
Pasadena ISD awarded
American History teaching grant
The Pasadena Independent School District has been
awarded a three-year federal $949,434 Teaching American History grant
designed to raise student achievement by providing teachers with
in-depth, professional development in American history.
This year, the Teaching American History program will award 121 new
grants worth $114.7 million to schools districts in 40 states
Fifty-three percent of students who attend Pasadena Independent School
District are limited English proficient or bilingual and, therefore,
have limited or no generational knowledge of American history. To remedy
the knowledge gap, the "From Kings to Presidents" project will provide
quality American history content and intense training that improves
teacher instruction. Through collaboration with various organizations
and Texas A&M University, 170 teachers will receive interactive, high
quality American history content training.
The Teaching American History grant program is designed to improve
student achievement by enhancing teachers' knowledge of traditional
American history through intensive ongoing professional development in
both content and research-based teaching strategies. Grants fund
projects for up to five years, and grantees must partner with one or
more organizations that have extensive knowledge of American history,
including libraries, museums, nonprofit history or humanities
organizations and higher education institutions.
History is one of the core academic subjects under the No Child Left
Behind Act. The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress
(NAEP), commonly known as the "Nation's Report Card," shows some overall
improvement in history performance at all three grade levels, however,
less than one-quarter of America's students in grades 4, 8 and 12 are
performing at the highest, or proficient level, in American history.
More information about the Teaching American History Grant program is
||South Houston Int. students experience life as college students
In the news:
experience life as college students
For five South Houston Intermediate School eighth
graders, the journey to college has already begun as they recently spent
an entire weekend as college students at the University of
Jose Alvarez, Pedro Isidro, Idalia Martinez, Carlos
Trevino, Olga Trevino and Anthony Gonzalez lived the college life for a
weekend recently as part of the Duke University Talent Identification
Program (TIP) and the University of Houston-Downtown Scholar Weekends
Scholar Weekends is an opportunity for students in grades 8-11 to take
short college courses during weekend long programs at the university.
Eligible students must have been recognized in the Duke University TIP,
which is a non-profit organization that recognizes academically
qualified students and invites them to complete college entrance exams
(SAT or ACT) alongside high school students. Students are recognized for
their test scores, provided with detailed information about their
abilities and introduced to a network of academic opportunities through
"It is very important to capture the interest of
students on their future post-secondary goals at an early age," said
South Houston's GEAR UP coordinator Neitzy Retta. "Career oriented
workshops such as the Scholar Weekends provide the students with
hands-on experience and education on several careers."
The students were able to choose to attend one of
five courses during the Scholar Weekend. Alvarez and Isidro chose the
"Extreme Engineering: A Design Challenge" course in which they learned
first-hand how engineers succeed while working under constraints. They
were presented with a "MacGyver" design challenge where they only had a
limited supply of every day materials available to solve their problem.
While solving their problem, the students were able to investigate
real-life examples of "extreme" design challenges from many engineering
discipline and learned how engineers use their proficiency in math,
science and creativity.
"Having the opportunity to take a course such as
the extreme engineering one provides accelerated enrichment for students
on topics they can't typically take courses in at this age," said
Pasadena ISD's GEAR UP coordinator Karen McCarley. "It allows them to
explore a topic and make connections between that topic, the education
required to study that topic and the future careers related to it."
Martinez, Gonzalez, and Carlos and Olga Trevino
enrolled in "The Super Bowl Commercial Phenomenon" course where they
were able to create self-produced commercials on gum product called
"I wanted to learn about media," said Martinez. "We
invented and advertised for a product called Gumza. It was really fun
and interesting to make the commercial."
The students learned techniques for effective
commercial writing by hearing about the inside stories behind great
Super Bowl commercials and analyzing the ideas and key points that
resulted in their success. They judged commercials for their
effectiveness using a remote polling device and then wrote the
storyboard for their own $2.6 million commercial.
"We learned a lot about cameras and the editing
process," said Olga. "It's hard work but a lot of fun."
But the Scholar Weekend wasn't all about taking
classes. The soon-to-be college scholars also stayed the night in a
university dorm, ate university food and toured the campus during their
"It was fun experiencing the college life," said
Gonzalez. "I got to see what real college students do almost every day,
and I can't wait to be able to really live that way."
Other courses the students could have chosen
included "Is There a Doctor in the House?," "Detective with a Syringe,"
"Decision 2008: Presidential Campaigns and Elections," "Out of the Box:
Writing Creatively," and "Criminal Trial Advocacy."
Along with having fun as a college student, Retta
said this experience helped prepare her students for college by
providing them with the information needed to start making decisions.
"Programs like this one prepare students with a
pathway to their future," she said. "It gives them guidance on what
classes are recommended to take in high school and what colleges are
popular for that particular career. Students can start researching
universities offering that major and start planning out their
Retta also said the Scholar Weekend will push her
students ahead of their peers and that she hopes it motivated them to be
excited about and involved in their education.
"When you provide students with this type of
experience, you provide them with a purpose as to why they are in
school," she said. "We expect students to perform well in school, but we
also need to show them what they can become if they do. When students
are exposed to college and obtain knowledge of careers, they start
||25 high school students honored for community service efforts
In the news:
25 high school
for community service efforts
ISD awarded five graduating seniors from Sam Rayburn,
South Houston, Pasadena, Dobie and Pasadena Memorial
high schools with the district's annual Vanguard
Community Service Awards last night at the Board of
Trustees regular April meeting.
The awards are presented annually
to the top five seniors from each high school who have
dedicated themselves to community service throughout
their high school career. A reception was held in honor
of this year's recipients last night prior to the board
"Pasadena ISD's educational program
strives not only for academic excellence among its
students but also to encourage them to make positive
contributions in their community," said Pasadena ISD
Superintendent Dr. Kirk Lewis. "By doing so, our
students are acquiring the knowledge and skills they
need to achieve personal excellence and to become
The students are chosen by their
campus administration based on guidelines that require
them to have at least 300 logged hours of community
service done outside of regular school hours for
organizations or projects that benefit the community.
South Houston's 2008 Vanguards are
community service leaders in their community by
participating in various community projects including
beach clean-ups, holiday food drives, clothing drives
for needy children, annual fundraising events and more.
South Houston's Vanguards are Fabiola Slagado, Phung
Truong, Rocio Rubio, Darnella Holland and Eliud
"Volunteering within the community
is an important aspect of an individual's life because
it is a great opportunity for you to repay your
community for all it has done for you," said Truong. "It
has allowed me to me to establish many new friendships
as well as gain a sense of personal fulfillment."
Involved leaders in their
community, Pasadena High's Vanguards participate in
various projects including church activities, helping
zoo keepers at the Houston Zoo, tutoring youth, annual
fundraising events, serving veterans, annual food drives
and adopting families in need. Pasadena's 2008 Vanguards
are Jassmine Duron, Gracy Murillo, Luke Scallan, Tanner
Trimm and Traci Viscarra.
"Volunteering is a very important
part of my life because it teaches me many life lessons
that cannot always be taught in a classroom such as
compassion, giving and the willingness to help others,"
said Murillo. "Teamwork, leadership and motivation are
the key elements and skills I have gained from making
time to volunteer."
Sam Rayburn's Vanguards give back
to their community through church activities, the
Pasadena ISD Police Department annual toy drive,
tutoring youth, food drives and many other projects.
Thomas Daniels, Jesus Munoz, Randy Rowell, Jeanell Smith
and Tessa Thompson are Rayburn's 2008 Vanguards.
Daniels said he volunteers because
he believes it is essential to the growth of the
"I have been afforded many
privileges which others lack, and with that comes what I
feel is a great responsibility to enrich the lives of
those whom I can touch in a positive manner," he said.
"Community involvement is an amazing way to learn about
the community and is the easiest way to make a real
change in the place which you and those whom you help
The Vanguards at Dobie are making a
difference in their community by volunteering in
activities including sports tournaments, helping local
elementary schools with carnivals, aiding homeless
shelters, annual fundraising events and judging school
science fairs. Dobie's 2008 Vanguards include Jennifer
Vu, Evelyn Maciel, Samantha Rodriguez, Dolly Roby and
"By helping others, I have learned
that giving back to the community is a great thing to do
in life," said Roby. "Giving up my time to contribute to
others is worth the small differences I make and the
smiles I receive."
Memorial's Vanguards are active in
their community by serving as math tutors, raising funds
and awareness for cancer, helping the homeless,
volunteering as coaches for local Little League teams,
participating in the annual Trash Bash event,
establishing the Greens Bayou site and assisting in
annual fundraising events. Andrew Bohuslav, Priscilla
Riojas, Brock Roark, Kayla Taylor and Lisa Vavricka are
Memorial's 2008 Vanguard honorees.
"I think it's important to
volunteer because I want to give back more than I have
been given," said Bohuslav. "When we all give a little,
there is a lot to go around."
Lewis said the Pasadena ISD
administration and Board of Trustees were proud to honor
the recipients for their contributions.
"These 25 students were chosen to
receive the Vanguard Community Service Award because
they share a commitment and sense of responsibility for
their families, peers, community and country," he said.
"They are all leaders who are truly helping to build a
brighter future for us all."
||Genoa, Young receive 'We the People' bookshelves
In the news:
Genoa, Young receive
'We the People' bookshelves
Pasadena ISD's Genoa and Young
elementary schools' libraries are two of 3,000 libraries
nationwide to receive the We the People "Created
Every year, the National Endowment
for the Humanities (NEH) in collaboration with the
American Library Association (ALA) selects libraries
from across the nation to receive a We the People
Bookshelf, which is a set of classic books for readers
from kindergarten through high school.
"It's an honor to have been
selected to receive such a wonderful collection of
books," said Young's librarian Silvia Sandoval. "Our
school community is very diverse and these books will
reach out to all our students and allow us as educators
to teach them about the real meaning of 'Created
We the People is an initiative to
explore significant events and themes and enhance the
teaching and understanding of American culture and
history through grants to scholars, teachers, libraries
and other individuals and institutions. NEH identifies a
theme important to the nation's heritage every year and
selects books embodying that theme. This year, the theme
is "Created Equal," which allows students to explore the
Revolutionary generation that declared that "all men are
Sandoval said the "Created Equal"
theme is relevant to the current issues facing the
"This theme comes at a great time
since we are about to choose a new president," she said.
"We can expand on how this country has grown and changed
and how an African-American and a woman can also strive
to be president of the United States. Anyone can fulfill
their dreams in this country because we are all 'created
The bookshelf consists of 17
classic books including The Ugly Duckling by Hans
Christian Andersen, The Gettysburg Address by
Abraham Lincoln, Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco,
Lyddie by Katherine Paterson and more. In
addition, the libraries received four of the books in
Spanish, a bonus "History in a Box" resource kit created
by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and
supplementary materials for programming, including
bookplates, bookmarks and posters.
"The diversity of the books will
allow us to present the theme in different formats,"
Sandoval said. "There are picture books to use with the
lower grades, and biographies and historical fiction
books for the upper grades. Students learn differently
by having such a diverse list of books for their
individual interests, so we are able to reach them all.
What more could we ask for?"
||Pasadena High students head to state academic competition
In the news:
to state academic competition
Pasadena High School's Manuel Garcia and Adriana Tovar
will compete in the UIL Academics State meet May 2-3 at
the University of Texas at Austin after taking second
place in the regional competition.
Tovar is advancing
in the Accounting competition, while Garcia will compete
in the Spelling and Vocabulary event. Garcia is a senior
and is the first student to be a four-year member of the
team. Tovar is a junior.
"I couldn't be more proud of Mannie," said the
Spelling and Vocabulary coach and Pasadena High teacher
Angela Kresse. "It's been a joy to see him grow. Sheer
determination has pushed him this far."
The Spelling and Vocabulary contest is a written
test. Students are given a list of 1,500 words in which
they compete by proofreading words and filling in blanks
with appropriate vocabulary as well as spelling words
"I'm proud to represent Pasadena High school at the
state level," said Garcia.
Pasadena High teacher and Accounting coach Jennifer
Davis said she is proud of Tovar and her accomplishments
on the team.
"It is truly a great feeling to
have one of my students advance to the state
competition," she said. "Knowing I helped encourage and
inspire a student to at least take a risk and try is
The Accounting part of the
competition requires students to answer a series of
questions about the completion and correction of various
Tovar and Garcia also will qualify for several Texas
Interscholastic League Foundation scholarships depending
on their success at the state competition.
At the UIL Academics Regional competition recently,
the school's Accounting and Spelling and Vocabulary
teams took second place.
Davis said it's important for students to compete
academically because it builds self-esteem as well as
impresses post-secondary institutions.
"Competing academically lets the students know they
can hold their own with any other student in the
district, region and state," she said. "They know the
quality of education they are receiving is comparable to
their peers. Demonstrating participation in Academic UIL
also looks good on college admission applications."
||Gardens Elementary students camp it out for TAKS
In the news:
students camp it out for TAKS
math and reading portions of the TAKS are fast
approaching, and Gardens Elementary School has taken
extra measures to ensure student success.
The school offered two Saturday
TAKS Camp sessions to its students to help motivate them
as well as review testing strategies, and more than 60
students attended each session.
"The purpose of these camps is to
provide an intensive, targeted math and reading
instruction for third and fourth grade taking the TAKS
test," said the school's assistant principal Vicki
Lenio. "Our goal was to review all the strategies in
different formats and in extremely small groups."
Teacher and instructional aide
volunteers tutored students in small group instruction
using hands-on activities that were TEKS based and
targeted to passing the TAKS test.
The school's principal Celia Layton
said the camps helped the students be more prepared for
the exams because the instruction differentiated to meet
the needs of all students.
"Our students come to get more
instruction and assistance to help them become better
test takers," Layton said. "We help raise their
self-esteem so they are confident they will do great on
any test. Instruction is made fun and exciting."
Lenio said one of the most
challenging tasks for students on the test is reading
and understanding the vocabulary.
"The reading is always difficult
for students on both tests," she said. "If they struggle
to read, they will struggle on the reading and math
sections of this test. Analyzing the text is key to
passing both tests."
Layton said it's important to
provide opportunities for students to receive extra help
for TAKS such as these camps because it shows students
their success is important to their teachers.
"These opportunities show our
students that as employees of our school, all of us are
very much interested that they succeed and do their very
best," she said. "All of our teachers and aides
volunteered their time to help them because we care that
they do well. We want all our students to know we value
them and want to continue to nurture them and build good
||District's Robotics Team continues its success at nationals
In the news:
to success at nationals again
ISD's FIRST Robotics Team is shocking the nation with
its Team 231 "High Voltage" robot as it ranked 13 out of
84 teams at the US FIRST Robotics National Championship
competition in Atlanta, GA. recently.
"It feels great to have the team do as well as we did,"
said Grace Blasingame, a team mentor and teacher at Sam
Rayburn High School. "The students, teachers and
engineers put in many hours all after school to
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and
Technology) is a non-profit, mentor-based program
offering innovative opportunities for students in the
fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
"High Voltage" competed against 84 other robot teams in
the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) portion of the
national event, which is designed to help high school
students discover how interesting and rewarding the life
of engineers and researchers can be. The team made it
into the quarter finals winning five of its seven
matches. Its highest score was a 92. Overall, the
national competition had 343 teams from across the
country as well as from seven other countries competing
in other fields including Tech Challenge and Lego
"High Voltage" has several functions and is broken into
subgroups including the drive, programming, build,
inventory, safety, AutoCAD, Web, communications,
animation and spirit teams, and the pit crew.
"I feel really excited and can't wait to come back next
year to help mentor," said the team's lead programmer
and a Pasadena ISD senior Alexandria Heysquierdo. "The
success is encouraging and makes me want to start
another season right now."
FRC challenged the team and their mentors to solve a
common problem in a six-week timeframe using a standard
"kit of parts" and a common set of rules. The team,
which is comprised of 22 Pasadena ISD students, built,
designed and tested its robot from the parts. The team's
sponsors and mentors include employees from Oceaneering
Space Systems, LyondellBasell, United Space Alliance and
four engineering students from the University of
"This competition is so challenging because there are so
many 'right' choices, but figuring out which is the best
is what makes you successful," Heysquierdo said. "The
better solution you find, the better you do."
Although it didn't take first place, "High Voltage" did
well as its success at this year's competition earned it
a spot at next year's national event. Pasadena ISD's
Robotics team has been invited to attend the national
event every year since it started in 1997. "High
Voltage" was also chosen by one of the top eight teams
to join its alliance, which Blasingame said is also a
"Only the best robots get chosen as an alliance partner,
which is a true honor that shows the capabilities of our
team and our robot," she said. "We also feel honored to
have been invited to attend the national event again
next year. Our team has done very well."
Blasingame said the Robotics program is a great way to
teach students what engineering is all about.
"From inventory control, to design to communication, to
the final product being delivered on time, our students
have an array of opportunities to learn about
engineering and working together as a team," she said.
"We only have six weeks, and we must document every
aspect of the project. This program has encouraged many
of our students to select engineering as a major in
college. Last year alone, we had six students who went
into engineering at major universities."
There was more to the national competition than robots.
Teams had the opportunity to listen to former President
George Bush, Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia and several
CEOs from large corporations such as Boeing, Google,
AutoDesk and others speak about what the talent of the
competitors' means to the future of the country.
Students also visited with colleges and universities at
"scholarship row" and will possibly be getting
scholarships and other opportunities.
"I enjoyed visiting the different colleges and
universities," said team member Zachary Johnson. "It
sounded like they had a lot to offer. I found a lot of
colleges and universities that I had never heard of
Blasingame said she hopes her students learned a great
deal about engineering, problem solving skills and how
to work together as a team as well as what they want for
their futures from this competition.
"Our hope for our country is that these talented
students will choose a field that will allow them to
help solve some of the world's issues," she said. "We
must have more students willing to go into math, science
and technology or our country will suffer from many
ills. If we inspire just a few students to look to the
future and what they can contribute to society, then we
have done our job."
According to Heysquierdo, the Robotics program and
competition has done just that.
"In robotics, you have to think your way out of the
box," she said. "As students taking on such a time
consuming and difficult task, it prepares us for
real-world experiences. Life isn't always easy and
things aren't going to fall into your lap. We are given
a task, and we create the vision. And that is where it
||CATCH wellness program honors Pasadena ISD for efforts
In the news:
Pasadena ISD's efforts
ISD Assistant Director for Athletics, Health and
Physical Education Pam Tevis was named the Outstanding
District Coordinator for the Steps Consortium (CATCH
Project) for Harris County. In addition, Williams
Elementary was named the consortium's outstanding
The district has been involved in the CATCH program
since 2005, led by Tevis' efforts. CATCH is an
evidence-based Coordinated School Health Program
designed to promote physical activity and healthy food
choices, and prevent tobacco use in elementary
school-aged children. By teaching children that eating
healthy and being physically active every day can be
fun, the CATCH Program has proven that establishing
healthy habits in childhood can promote behavior changes
that can last a lifetime.
As part of the program, Tevis has taken an active role
in encouraging parents and students to lead healthy
lifestyles. This year, she coordinated the School Health
Advisory Committee, comprised of parents and community
members. The group has provided advice to the district
on coordinated school health programming and its impact
on student health and learning.
Williams Elementary was only one of two schools in
Harris County to be named a CATCH Outstanding School.
The school received the award because of educating
students in the proper food groups and the wellness
opportunities the school offers students, teachers and
parents. Physical Education teacher Oscar Torres leads
the program at the school.
Some of the activities offered at Williams include a
Turkey Trot race, a running club, a bicycling club,and
teachers fitness room. A bike ride for students and
parents is planned for sometime in May.
||Frazier after-school students take the ice at Aeros game
In the news:
take the ice at Aeros game
Elementary School's CASE after school program's hip hop
group performed on the ice during intermission at a
Houston Aeros game recently.
coordinator Susan Blue said she asked the hockey team if
her students could perform at a game this year because
she thought it would be great for the community to see
the talent her students have.
students did an outstanding job," she said. "I'm very
proud of them and their teacher, Dana Thomas. They all
worked so hard to get ready for the performance, and it
students showed that same performance to their peers
during a school pep rally recently.
after school program offers a different enrichment
activity each day of the week. Along side of hip hop
dance, students also participate in art, computers,
karate, photography, Homework Club, Game Time and recess
every day. Thomas is the hip hop dance teacher, and Blue
is the program director.
students are able to experience many things in CASE they
would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience,"
Blue said. "The kids love CASE and often don't want to
leave when it's time for them to go. Our program gives
kids an enriching, fun and safe place to go every day
||Online staff development offered for district employees
In the news:
Pasadena ISD offers
staff development for employees
Pasadena ISD has partnered with
Atomic Learning, an award-winning provider of Web-based
software training and support, to provide employees with
24-hour access to its online library of tutorials,
training and curriculum resources for professional
"Atomic Learning is relevant,
up-to-date and user friendly," said Pasadena ISD's
executive director of instructional technology Denise
Gooden. "It is a wonderful resource that empowers our
users to extend their knowledge of software applications
in order to help with the integrations of technology
into classroom curriculum."
Atomic Learning's online library
with more than 35,000 tutorials on over 110 applications
allows educators to access what they need. Employees
simply log on to
www.AtomicLearning.com and can easily find one- to
three-minute tutorial videos that answer questions with
a show-and-tell approach.
Because Pasadena ISD is praised as
one of the state's top staff development programs and is
dedicated to providing the tools and resources teachers
need to prepare students for the 21st century, Gooden
said resources such as this are fundamental to teacher
and student success.
"Atomic Learning is an online
resource that allows employees to address questions in
the moment of need providing self-guided, step-by-step
instruction on how to use software application," she
said. "It's like having a one-on-one technology coach
meeting individual interests and needs. The ability to
access this resource at any given time is vital for the
teachers and students of our district."
||Registration to begin for Summer GEAR UP Camp
In the news:
Registration to begin
for Summer GEAR UP Camps
Summer is fast approaching, and so is
registration for Pasadena ISD's GEAR UP summer camp. GEAR UP
(Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate
Programs) is a six-year federal grant that is designed to
encourage students to pursue education after high school
graduation and serves more than 2,800 eighth graders at
eight of Pasadena ISD's 10 intermediate schools.
The camp is open to all Pasadena ISD eighth graders who
passed all eighth grade classes and TAKS exams. The program
will be held June 16-26, Monday through Thursday.
Registration is being held at individual campuses from April
21-25. The camp registration fee is $20 per student, which
includes breakfast and lunch every day, a camp T-shirt,
backpack, GEAR UP school supply kit, field trip,
transportation and a family awards ceremony and dinner at
the end of the two weeks. District transportation will be
provided for all participating students.
Late registration is $25 and will be held June 9-10 in the
Advanced Academics Office at the Pasadena ISD Administration
Building from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The camp is broken up into two sections: the College Summer
Institute and the Campus Summer Institute. The College
Summer Institute is tailored for students going into Pre-AP
courses in the ninth grade. English, geometry and fine arts
courses will be offered for students at San Jacinto
College's central campus.
The Campus Summer Institute is for all other eighth graders
who want to attend the camp. Each student will participate
in the Acceleration Academy where they will become
detectives as they solve crimes involving math, science and
reading. Students will also be able to take one of the
* The Leadership Academy is for students interested in
being future school leaders. Students will learn leadership
skills and participate in community service projects.
* Robotics Camp is ideal for students interested in
robotics, technology and engineering. Students will have the
opportunity to work with NASA while designing their robot.
* In the Culinary Arts class, students will learn food
preparation techniques. This class is tailored toward
students who are interested in being a chef, restaurant
manager, bakery owner and more.
* The Journalism class will teach students how to
write stories, conduct interviews, edit papers and
photography. Students will help create a GEAR UP newspaper
and work with professional videographers.
* In Theatre Arts students will learn all components
of theater including but not limited to acting, directing,
sound, props and stage setup. This class is ideal for
students planning to take drama in high school.
Students will also take field trips during the camp based on
the second class they choose to take.
Pasadena ISD's GEAR UP coordinator
Karen McCarley said she encourages eligible students to sign
up for the camp because it will help them stay on top of
their learning during the summer months.
"Learning should extend beyond the school year," she said.
"This camp will provide experiences and endless
possibilities for the students who participate. We have a
lot to offer in this camp with specialized curriculum
designed to help students transition comfortably from the
eighth to ninth grade."
For registration times and further information, please
contact the GEAR UP Coordinator at your eighth grader's
San Jacinto and Southmore intermediate schools
Park View and Bondy intermediate schools
Beverly Hills and Thompson intermediate schools
South Houston and Miller intermediate schools
Jackson and Queens intermediate schools
||Dobie's Talton makes Academic All-State basketball team
In the news:
Dobie's Talton named
to All-State Academic
Dobie High School senior basketball shooting guard Scott
Talton Jr. has excelled on the court and in the classroom as
his accomplishments landed him on the Texas Association of
Basketball Coaches 2008 Academic All-State boys 5A team.
Scott was one of 35 high school basketball players selected
for the team, and his father and basketball coach Scott
Talton said he couldn't be more proud.
"Scotty is very deserving of this honor because of his hard
work, being conscientious and just being a great person,"
said Talton. "It's important for players to be recognized
for their academics because it gives them more opportunities
for college and life itself."
To qualify for the honor, players must be graduating seniors
with a GPA of 3.9 or higher, be members of either the first
or second team all-district, and either receive a score of
1000 on the math and reading portions of the SAT or be in
the top 10 percent of their graduating class. Scott has a
GPA of 4.58, is a member of the first team all-district,
earned a score of 1000 on the math and reading portions of
the SAT and is in the top 10 percent of his class.
"I feel honored to have been selected for this team," Scott
said. "It takes a lot of effort to play sports and maintain
good grades. I think it's important for players to maintain
good grades because the decisions that are made on the court
pertain a lot to how they do in the classroom. Athletes who
do well in class will do well on the court, too."
Scott also made two all-tournament teams in his senior
season, and he is also involved in Dobie's baseball program
and in the National Honor Society.
"The work he has done will last his entire lifetime, and my
advice to him is to keep up the good work through college,"
his father said. "I feel honored and am very proud of him as
a player and as my son."
||Three Pasadena ISD choirs to perform with Bay Area Chorus
In the news:
Three Pasadena ISD
choirs to perform
with Bay Area Chorus
Choir students from Turner Elementary School, Lomax Middle
School and Schneider Middle School will share the stage with
the renowned Bay Area Chorus in the 43rd season of its
Awakening performances Sunday, April 20 at 3 p.m. at
Pasadena Memorial High School located at 4410 Crenshaw in
"I am honored and excited for the Bay Area Chorus to be
performing in our area and to have invited three of our
choirs to perform for their pre-concert," said Pasadena
ISD's director of fine arts Linda Fletcher. "This is a well
deserved recognition of the work being done in our
district's elementary and middle school choral programs."
The Bay Area Chorus is one of Houston's oldest non-profit
groups bringing musical performances to the Houston and
Galveston Bay areas. More than 60 singers comprise the
Sunday's performance is titled "On the Move: Spotlight on
Young Voices," and the Pasadena ISD choirs and Bay Area
Chorus will be singing songs about different modes of
transportation in different times and places.
Fletcher said the Turner, Lomax and Schneider choirs in
unison with the Bay Area Chorus will have a lot to offer the
"The audience will experience the inspiration that comes
from witnessing the result of a disciplined, systematic
approach to developing musical understanding and singing
skills," she said. "This will be a powerfully expressive
performance uniting singers of diverse abilities in the
common goal of sharing their music with the audience."
Keith Dixon is the musical director for the Bay Area Chorus.
Deborah Oakes is the director of Turner Elementary's choir;
Jennifer Robbins directs Lomax Middle School's choir and
Sharnell Jones and Lori Muirhead serve as directors of
Schneider Middle School's choir.
Tickets can be purchased in advance for $6. At the door,
adults can purchase tickets for $8 and students and senior
citizens (65 or older) can purchase them for $7. Order
tickets by phone at 713-684-6030 or e-mail at email@example.com.
Door sales begin 30 minutes prior to the concert.
Fletcher said she encourages the community to attend the
event to support Pasadena ISD students and the Bay Area
"This is a great opportunity for the community to see
singers from age nine to 70 unite to present a program that
offers a wide spectrum of musical styles," she said. "The
audience will be able to sing-along with the choir in songs
about travel, and most importantly, they will show their
support for the Bay Area Chorus and the school district."
||PHS students honored for performance on college readiness benchmarks
In the news:
Pasadena High School
students honored for
performance on college readiness benchmarks
Eight Pasadena High School students received the "Texas
Student Achievement Award" from the Texas ACT Council for
their performance on the PLAN (Pre-ACT) Assessment. These
students are on target to meet or exceed ACT's College
Readiness Benchmarks by graduation.
The Pasadena High School students honored were Crysal
Suarez, Magie Annab, Denise Gonzalez, Omar Rodriguez,
Vicente Garza, Humayn Jafar, Adrian Hernandez and John
Carinhas. The students took the assessment as sophomores
ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks are empirically-based and
identify the level of achievement necessary in English,
mathematics, reading and science to have a successful
college freshman experience. Only 17 percent of Texas PLAN
tested students received this award for this level of
The Texas ACT Council is made up of secondary and
postsecondary educators who advise ACT, Inc. on the
utilization of ACT programs and services in Texas schools
and colleges. ACT, Inc. is the not-for-profit organization
that provides assessment, research, information and program
management services in the broad areas of education and
workforce development and the publisher of the ACT
Assessment. The ACT Assessment is the college admissions
test that is accepted by all colleges nationwide.
According to Karen Pennell, ACT Assistant Vice President and
Southwest Regional Manager, "The Texas ACT Council
recognizes those students who are making significant strides
to prepare themselves for college by taking rigorous courses
and meeting the PLAN (Pre-ACT) College Readiness Benchmarks.
We also want to recognize that student PLAN (Pre-ACT)
achievement is the result of a strong commitment by
Pasasdena High School teachers, staff, administrators and
parents to increase college readiness for all students."
||Not just a pipe dream: Digital organ project nets Memorial $10,000 grant
In the news:
Not just a 'pipe'
dream: Digital organ project
nets Memorial $10,000 Toyota physics grant
Pasadena Memorial High School's "Switched-On Physics"
project is switching on the interest of business leaders as
the project recently received one of Toyota's $10,000
"This is the greatest honor an educator can receive," said
Memorial's AP physics instructor and project director Scott
Graham. "Toyota projects are instrumental in making
educational opportunities available to students. The
Tapestry program is magnificent and is the 'brass ring' of
Toyota TAPESTRY recognizes outstanding educators who are
making a difference by demonstrating excellence and
creativity in science teaching. This year, 50 large grants
of up to $10,000 each and 20-32 mini-grants of up to $2,500
were awarded to K-12 science teachers in the United States.
The categories include Physical Science, Environmental
Education, and Integrating Literacy and Science.
"It's extremely rewarding to support educators who bring
quality science to our children," said Michael Rouse,
corporate manager, philanthropy and community affairs at
Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. "TAPESTRY was designed to
directly impact the children and improve science learning
opportunities and over the past 18 years, we've truly had
the opportunity to do just that."
The National Science Teachers Association partners with
Toyota in the program and the association's assistant
director of corporate partnerships Eric Crossley said the
judges thought the "Switched-On Physics" project was a
unique one worthy of the $10,000 grant.
"The purpose of this grant is to help fund innovative,
community-based science projects in K-12 schools nationwide
and to provide teachers with the opportunity to implement
projects that would otherwise not take place," said Crossley.
"I think this is an unusual and exciting community-based
project, and we hope to see more about it soon."
The digital pipe organ project is a dynamic, multifaceted
combination of physics, music, engineering, ecological
science, performing arts and mathematics and is designed to
generate the participation of students of all interests.
Graham also works with Dobie High School science instructor
Mary Obenauf and Memorial AP Physics instructor David White
on the project, and one mobile digital pipe organ has
already been created from previous grants.
Graham said the TAPESTRY grant will assist in purchasing
more organ components, computer hardware and sound equipment
to help the students further the organ project.
"We plan to focus on the alternative energy aspects of the
organ systems," Graham said. "We plan to take the organ to
district elementary, middle and high schools to involve
students in science and to let them see what types of
technology and science projects they can participate in if
they enter Pre-AP and AP physics courses in high school."
Graham also said an immobile organ that will be housed in
Memorial's dining hall is planned to be built with the
funds. The project also allows students to study wave
phenomena, alternative energy, related wave topics such as
tsunamis and electromagnetic radiation, and wave
"We hope to encourage an interest in engineering by allowing
students to design and build the fully functional organ
powered exclusively by alternative energy so the students
will conceive, design, build, test and operate the organ,"
Each year, the engineering and physics students will design
and build a new mechanical rank of organ pipes from
different materials such as recycled Coke bottles and PVC
Graham said the continued success of this project would not
be possible without the support of grants such as this one,
and he and his team and students are grateful for the
support of the community.
"Toyota and other contributors who rely on us to provide
their future workforce pool understand that by involving
students in science, they will ultimately benefit by having
a trained and adequate number of candidates for their
positions," Graham said. "Increasing participation in the
academics and careers of science, technology and engineering
has too many benefits to list, and the benefits of the
projects they invest in will pay huge dividends in the
||Gardens Elementary to host Family Literacy Night on April 17
In the news:
Gardens Elementary to
host Family Literacy Night
Gardens Elementary is partnering with
Literacy Advance of Houston to provide a Family Literacy
Night from 6-7:30 p.m. on April 17 at the school campus.
Sam Rayburn Key Club and Pasadena
Memorial HOSA members are expected to make a guest visit
along with several Pasadena ISD Administration members,
school district police and business members from the
community including Target, Wal-Mart, and Chevron Phillips.
"Family Literacy Nights are a great way
to promote reading readiness and educate parents on how to
help their children be successful in reading and in
school.," said Celia Layton, Gardens principal.
During the event, parents will listen
to a presentation on how to be a reading coach. Parents
will receive a folder with parenting advice, pamphlets, and
flyers geared towards helping them create positive learning
environments for their families and what resources are
available in the community.
"The Family Literacy Nights also serve
to encourage the parents in attendance to participate in the
free Adult Literacy programs offered at Gardens or across
Houston by organizations like Literacy Advance, to help them
improve their English Literacy," Layton said.
While the parents participate in the
presentation, the children will participate in hands-on
literacy activities. At the end of the presentation, the
children will choose a book to keep for their home
For more information about Literacy
Advance of Houston, call 713-266-8777 or visit
||Tex-Anns take national title at dance competition
In the news:
national title at dance competition
The Sam Rayburn Tex-Ann Drill Team is
dancing its way to the top as the team claimed the national
title at this year's MA Dance National Competition.
The team received the national award
for their Team Lyrical Dance, and the team's director
Jennifer Forst said she couldn't be more excited.
"This was their first time as a team to
perform a lyrical dance," she said. "They really
accomplished our goal of dancing in the music as opposed to
with the music. We have been working on emotion and
technique and they really pulled it off."
The Tex-Anns competed against 11 other
teams in the large team category. The team also competed in
the categories of pom, hip-hop, lyrical, novelty, ensembles,
and officers as well as a solo and a trio performance.
The national title wasn't the only
award the team received. Team Novelty received third place,
all four companies received Division I medals and the
officers received Division I awards for all four of their
routines. The team's colonel Kelsey Moore also brought home
a Division I medal, and she said the team's success at this
year's competition was rewarding.
"It's amazing to know all our hard work
throughout the year has paid off," Moore said. "It took a
lot of dedication and a will to push forward. We couldn't
give up when practices got hard, and we had to keep a
positive attitude. We've worked non-stop all year long, so
to come home National Champions was much deserved."
Forst said she is in high hopes for
future competitions but that the dedication of her girls
must be maintained.
"We are going to have to work very hard
to maintain the competitive drive we have going and keep
challenging ourselves to improve each year," she said.
The Tex-Anns aren't new to the feeling
of being national champions as their Team Modern also took
the national title in the medium team category at last
year's competition. Team Pop and Team Hip-Hop came in second
and third places respectively last year.
"This win has really boosted the morale
of the team and they are gradually making a name for
themselves and improving the dance program overall," said
Forst. "They are proud to be back-to-back national
||Online meal account system aims to make life easier for parents
In the news:
Online meal account
aims to make life easier for parents
ability for parents to pre-pay for their child's school
meals and also be able to monitor their eating habits is
just a few keystrokes away through the new MyNutrikids.com
service in Pasadena ISD.
With more statewide and national
attention being focused on children's health and wellness
issues, Pasadena ISD Child Nutrition Department is now
providing the secure online pre-payment service where
parents may deposit money into their child's meal account at
any time. In addition, parents will have the ability to view
and print their child's eating history report over a 30-day
"We are very excited about being able
to offer this service," said Mary Harryman, Pasadena ISD
Director of Child Nutrition. "It allows parents a quick,
convenient and secure option of funding their child's lunch
account. But even more importantly, it allows them to track
what their child is eating - which is helpful to parents in
promoting how important it is to eat healthy foods."
Parents may access these services by
going to the district's website at
www.pasadenaisd.org, navigating to the Parents drop-down
menu on the left side of the page and clicking on "Nutrikids
Website." Once parents reach MyNutrikids.com, they may set
up their child's account. Parents will need their child's
student identification number and school zip code. Payments
may be made through an existing PayPal account or with a
major debit or credit card. In order to use the service, a
fee of $1.75 will be assessed for each deposit. In addition,
if parents have more than one child in the district, they
may handle all online prepayments from the same account.
Harryman noted that using the new
system is optional for parents and that their child may
still pay for their meals in cash in the cafeteria line.
Students registered in the Nutrikids
system will still use their ID/PIN numbers for
identification at the cash register when purchasing their
meals. However, Laura Bush Elementary and San Jacinto
Intermediate are piloting a biometric system (using points
of the thumb) where students and staff place their thumb on
a pad and their Nutrikids information will be recorded into
Assistant Director of Child Nutrition
Susan Casey stresses to parents that the images of the
fingerprints are not stored in any database at any time.
"The biometric software stores the fingerprint as a
calculated number, which makes the software extremely secure
because it prevents anyone from having access to an image of
your child's fingerprint."
All of the schools will convert to the
biometric system at the start of the 2008-2009 school year.
"In our tests of the biometric system,
we've seen that the transactions in the meal line are going
more quickly and smoothly," Harryman said. "We've found the
lunch lines move along much faster, so the students have
more time to eat and spend with their friends."
If parents have questions about the new
system, they may call Child Nutrition Services at
713-740-0146 or e-mail Harryman at
||Pearl Hall Elementary School celebrates new era at dedication
In the news:
Pearl Hall Elementary
new era at school dedication
50 years of students coming in and out of Pearl Hall
Elementary School's classrooms, the school finally opened
the doors to its new campus at the start of the 2007-2008
school year. And last night, community members, Pasadena ISD
officials, students and staff came together for the formal
dedication of the new campus.
The school is named after well-known and respected school
administrator Pearl Hall who was principal of South Houston
Elementary School from 1935-1953 and headed Queens
Elementary School from 1954-1962. Hall's family members also
attended the dedication.
"We have always been so very proud of our students and
staff, and now we are proud of our new campus," said the
school's principal Marilyn Pavone. "It is such a pleasure to
have such a nice learning environment for our students and
teachers, and we were proud that Pearl Hall's family was
able to represent her at the dedication and see the
beautiful new building that her legacy will continue to live
Construction of the campus located at 1504 Ninth Street in
South Houston was funded through a $299 million bond package
approved by voters in November 2004, and Pasadena ISD
Superintendent Kirk Lewis said this school became possible
because of the overwhelming support of the community.
dedication of this new building opened a new chapter in the
history of this school," said Lewis. "The former campus
served the students of Pearl Hall well for many years, but
as times change, so do student needs, and the community saw
the need where the students of this school needed a newer
more spacious state-of-the-art facility in which to learn.
We are grateful for their support."
Pavone said she can't thank the community and the people who
helped create the school enough for their support.
thank the community, the Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees,
Jacobs Engineering, Bay Architects, Cadence McShane, Julian
Garcia and Charlie Knight and their crews for making this
happen for our students and staff," she said. "This has been
such a rewarding and exciting experience for us all, and it
wouldn't have been possible without the support of all
Lewis said that when building new facilities, the district
maintains a goal that reaches far beyond the appearance of a
"We always keep one thing in mind when we construct new
facilities in this district and that is to create an
atmosphere that contributes positively to learning," he
said. "As I have walked through the classrooms and through
the halls of this school during the year, I have seen the
great amount of learning taking place. This building is a
gift to this community-a gift that will keep on giving
toward the bright futures of our young people."
Pearl Hall student and current South Houston High School
student Anessa Rios received a standing ovation for her
performance of "God Bless America" at the dedication.
As another special part of the dedication, students and
staff opened the time capsule that was placed in the
cornerstone of the 1955 original building. The time capsule
included a picture of Hall and the president of the Board of
Trustees, W. H. Dickerson, a picture of Hall's
granddaughter, Hall's mother's spelling book from 1889, a
first grade reader that was used in 1955, coin of the realm,
an article titled "Atoms for Peace" from an issue of the
Ladies' Home Journal, and documentation of the laying of the
cornerstone that started with "Dear friends in future
Pavone said her staff and students plan to construct a time
capsule sometime in May. They will place items in the
capsule that pertain to what they believe impacts learning
"Time goes on and techniques and tools change, but some
things always remain the same," said Pavone. "We must start
at the beginning and build a solid foundation. As present
and past generations of educators at Pearl Hall hold the
same philosophy; we want our kids to be successful because
we know they're our most valuable asset."
||De Zavala bilingual students visit Houston Museum of Natural Science
In the news:
De Zavala bilingual
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Laura Quisenberry's bilingual fifth grade class at De Zavala
Fifth Grade Center recently took a field trip to the Houston
Museum of Natural Science in preparation for the Science
TAKS test. A grant from Target Stores helped fund the field
||Inaccuracies in Children At Risk ratings addressed
From the Superintendent:
Children At Risk ratings addressed
Dear Parents and Community Members:
First, let me apologize for the length
of this message. Since we all have a stake in the reputation
of our district, I believe the information is important for
you to know and to share with others. Please take the time
to read it.
The Children at Risk organization
released its annual report on high school rankings in the
Houston area published in the Houston Chronicle last Sunday.
I know many of you saw it and were as distressed as I was to
see where our schools had been ranked compared to others on
the list. If you remember, there were issues on the same
rankings list last year that ranked our schools lower than
they should have been ranked. We have problems again and I
thought you would want to know the rest of the story.
One of the indicators used in the
rankings is the high school graduation rate for the Class of
2006. (These reports are always a year behind.) After
analyzing the formula they used and talking with the
director of the organization, he admits an error in their
calculation that impacted Pasadena ISD schools.
Essentially, the formula used by the organization to
compute its high school rankings failed to take into account
the opening of Memorial High School and the impact that
event had on the size of the ninth grade and subsequent
graduating classes at Pasadena, Rayburn and South Houston.
As a result, 422 graduates from Memorial who would have
graduated from one of the other three schools did not get
counted in the calculation. Therefore, the graduation rates
for Pasadena, Rayburn and South Houston were incorrectly
calculated and artificially lower than they should have been
using their formula. In fact, the organization listed
graduation rates at Rayburn and South Houston, for instance,
at less than 40%. We know that's not true. Had they
calculated the rate accounting for the loss in enrollment
caused by opening Memorial, the three schools would have
seen graduation rates more comparable to districts higher in
the rankings. I also believe Dobie's ranking was negatively
impacted to a degree by the double digit enrollment growth
they experienced during the four years Children at Risk used
to estimate the freshman cohort, based on what I understand
of their formula. Memorial was again not included in the
Children at Risk report because it did not open until
How to accurately calculate graduation
rates has been heavily debated across the country. Children
at Risk uses a variation of an extremely conservative
approach used by the Manhattan Institute in New York which
estimates…let me say that again…which estimates
the size of the freshman cohort (including repeat freshmen)
by averaging four years of ninth grade enrollment,
ultimately inflating the denominator in its formula. On the
other hand, the graduation rate computed by the state of
Texas actually tracks each individual student and
counts them as a dropout if they are not enrolled in a
school somewhere the following year. If they are "no shows"
they count against our graduation rate. According to the
state data for the Class of 2006 (the most recent class
available in the AEIS Report), the graduation rates for our
five high schools are as follows:
South Houston 69.5
These are numbers I've shared with the
community in some of my presentations. The completion rates
as computed by TEA, a figure that includes repeat freshmen
and those who stay around for their fifth year of high
school in order to graduate, are as follows:
South Houston 80.0
While better than Children at Risk
estimated and reported, our graduate rates are still too
low. We all know that. We must keep pushing for more and
more of our students to graduate and graduate on time.
That's one of the primary reasons we are so heavily engaged
in Expectation Graduation. Remember, the Class of 2006 was
not a class that experienced any of our Expectation
Graduation initiatives. Progress is being made, but we have
a long way to go. I just felt you needed the rest of the
story so you could share with your friends and neighbors the
facts and the errors in assumptions made in the Children At
I'm sorry this message is so long, but
I felt it was critical that you knew the rest of the story.
I hurt for the staff and students who have such pride in
their campus. It's unfortunate that one news article can
taint the excellent work that is being done on each of our
campuses and the reputation they have worked so hard to
||Organization presents Memorial principal with award
In the news:
presented with award
Pasadena Memorial High School Principal
Billye Smith received Abydos Learning International's
Principal A+ Honor Roll Award for her support of teachers
and her commitment to their professional growth in writing
instruction. She was recently honored March 29 in Austin
during the instructional group's Annual Teachers' and
The nomination praised Smith's
leadership, saying "Her strength encourages those around her
to shine. Expecting excellence from herself, her staff, and
her students, she is able to walk into any classroom and
quickly ascertain the learning environment because she stays
current in best teaching practices and expects her teachers
to also. Not only does she encourage her teachers to come
to her if they need help, she expects them to, and she is
supportive of any teacher's desire to acquire training in
order to implement new research-based, student-centered
strategies in the classroom. If it's good for kids, she'll
vigorously support it and work tirelessly to insure best
practices occur at PMHS."
||Pearl Hall Elementary School dedication set for April 8
In the news:
Pearl Hall Elementary
dedication set for April 8
formal dedication of the new Pearl Hall Elementary School
will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday April 8 at the campus, 1504
Ninth Street in South Houston.
The newer, larger building opened to students at the
beginning of the 2007-2008 school year. Construction of the
campus was funded through a $299 million bond package
approved by voters in November 2004. The old building stood
for more than 50 years behind South Houston High School near
Edgebrook and was demolished in August.
The school is named after well-respected school
administrator Pearl Hall. She was principal of South Houston
Elementary School from 1935-1953 and headed Queens
Elementary School from 1954-1962.
||Lady Maverick player, manager named to All-Star team
In the news:
Lady Maverick player,
named to All-Star team
has been a part of Quinisha Cipriani's life since she was
young. And now the Pasadena Memorial High School Lady
Maverick senior post will play her last game of high school
basketball as a Greater Houston Area Girl's Basketball
Cipriani was recently selected by the association as one of
the top 44 senior basketball players in the Greater Houston
Area to participate in its All-Star game Saturday, March 29
at 5 p.m. at the Wheeler Field House in Sugar Land. Cipriani
is the first female athlete in Memorial's history to play in
an All-Star game.
"I feel really happy to have been selected for this honor,"
Cipriani said. "Basketball is one of the sports that have
made me who I am today, and this is a great opportunity for
me to represent my school one last time as a basketball
The Greater Houston Area Girl's Basketball Association was
founded in 2001 to bring attention to girl's basketball by
creating opportunities and promoting area talent. The
organization provides scholarships for players and a forum
for setting up games between Houston area high schools as
well as an annual clinic and All-Star game.
While she said she knows her time with the Lady Maverick
team has prepared her for this game, Cipriani said she is
still nervous because of the talent that will be on the
"I'll be playing with and against the best and most
successful players in the Houston area," she said. "I'm
nervous, but I'm also very excited and can't wait to play
with these girls. It's going to be a great experience to be
on the court with so many great players. This will be a
memory I will never forget."
Lady Maverick coach Barbara Leon said her advice to Cipriani
as she prepares for the game is to relax, have fun and "take
the ball to the hole."
"This is the last time Quinisha will represent the Lady
Maverick Basketball program and Memorial on the basketball
court and she needs to enjoy it," Leon said. "She will be
playing with 43 other fantastic basketball players,
something that may never happen to her again, so she needs
to absorb it all and enjoy this memorable experience."
Outside of basketball, Cipriani has also played volleyball
for four years and track and field for three years and has
been involved in the FCA, FCCLA, the Teal and Black Gala and
community service. After graduation, Cipriani said she plans
to attend college and medical school to become a
Cipriani won't be attending the game alone as senior
basketball manager Erin Tollett has also been selected as
one of eight managers to be honored at the All-Star game.
"Quinisha and Erin are deserving of this award because they
are hard workers committed to our program and have been
instrumental in the development of Lady Maverick
Basketball," Leon said. "I feel honored and humbled they
were selected because they are both fantastic young ladies."
Tollett has served as the program's manager for four years
providing assistance in keeping score, filming games,
running the clock for freshman home games, making sure all
needed equipment was ready for games and any other duties
that facilitate the process.
"It makes me feel great and appreciated to be selected as a
manager for the All-Star game," said Tollett. "This
opportunity means a lot to me, and it's a great way to
finish the four years that I was involved with Lady Maverick
Along with being involved in basketball for four years,
Tollett is also involved in the Ready, Set, Teach program,
FCCLA and softball.
"Hopefully this experience will be a memorable one for
Quinisha and Erin as they conclude their high school
careers," Leon said. "It should leave them both with
feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction, pride and with no
regrets for having participated in the Lady Maverick
Basketball program and giving so much of their time, sweat
||Don Lazenby presented national budget excellence award
In the news:
Don Lazenby presented
national budget excellence award
Lazenby has a knack for making sense of the numbers in his
job as Pasadena ISD's director of budget.
For the sixth year in a row, Lazenby was given the
Meritorious Budget Award from the Association of School
Business Officials International at the March regular board
meeting. Lazenby has served as the district's director of
budget since 1992.
The award is given for excellence in the preparation and
issuance of school system annual budgets and for districts
exceeding standard budget development criteria.
The Meritorious Budget Awards program was designed by ASBO
International and school business management professionals
to enable school business administration to achieve a
standard of excellence in budget preparation. The program
helps school systems in the skills of developing, analyzing
and presenting a budget.
According to ASBO International, the award is only given to
school districts that have gone above and beyond normal
standards in budget planning and preparation.
||Matthys Elementary receives grant for SPARK Park project
In the news:
Grant approved for
Matthys SPARK Park project
Matthys Elementary School was awarded a $89,118 Community
Development Block Grant from Harris County that will go
toward the building of a new SPARK Park on the campus.
The announcement was made at the March regular meeting of
the Pasadena Independent School District Board of Trustees.
In 1983, former Houston City Council member Eleanor Tinsley
spearheaded the SPARK Park program in an effort to transform
public school grounds into neighborhood parks. Other
contributions to the project include a $7,500 donation from
HEB, an $8,000 donation from the Matthys Booster Club and
$5,000 donations from the Pasadena Education Foundation,
Lowe's and Harris County Precinct 2.
A timetable has not been set for construction to begin on
the project, but once the park is built, it will be one of
194 in the Houston area and the second in Pasadena ISD. A
SPARK Park on the Parks Elementary campus opened in May
In other grant news, board members announced that Gardens
Elementary and Southmore Intermediate are the recipients of
a $9,780 Cooperative After School Enrichment (CASE) program
grant from the Harris County Department of Education.
The grant will help provide a media production class to
Southmore students during its spring enrichment program,
while Gardens will use the funding for a summer arts-based
||New Sparks principal, two assistant principals named
In the news:
New Sparks Elementary
two assistant principals named
Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees approved the appointment of a
new principal for Sparks Elementary School and filled two
assistant principal positions at its March regular meeting.
Sherri Means was named the new principal at Sparks,
replacing longtime principal Gayle Holder, who will retire
at the end of the school year.Means came to the school in
1990 and has served as assistant principal since 1994. She
began her career as a third grade teacher at Gardens
Elementary in 1989. She earned her bachelor's degree in
elementary education from the University of Houston and her
master's in educational management from the University of
J.P. Rodriguez was named assistant principal at Pomeroy
Elementary School. He has served as counselor at Morris
Fifth Grade Center since 2004. He began his career in 1997
as a bilingual teacher at Morales Elementary and has also
worked as a bilingual peer facilitator at De Zavala Fifth
Cindy Owens is now one of the new assistant principals at De
Zavala Fifth Grade Center. She has served as the school's
peer facilitator since 2002. She has also worked as a fifth
grade reading teacher at Morales Elementary and at Richey
Elementary in her 17-year career.
||Two students participating in Houston Chronicle Spelling Bee
In the news:
Two Pasadena ISD
students compete in
Houston Chronicle Spelling Bee
Samantha Garcia, Queens
Intermediate sixth grader, and Casen Bury, Bailey Elementary
third grader, are going head-to-head with students from more
than 1,200 other schools in east Texas in the annual Houston
Chronicle Spelling Bee being held today at 1:30 p.m.
Garcia was the District Spelling
Bee champion with winning word lampoon and Bury was
runner-up in the contest. They will both be representing
Pasadena ISD in today's contest.
truly honored," said Garcia's reading teacher at Queens and
her spelling bee coach Bonnie Huebel. "I am so proud of
Samantha. I am so happy that she is only in the sixth grade
and did so well not only at the campus level but at the
district level as well."
she knows her student is prepared to do well in this
Samantha will do just fine because she has worked extremely
hard," said Huebel. "She is well prepared and definitely has
the ability to win. This is an opportunity for her to learn
that no matter how hard we work, there is always something
greater in life that we can obtain. We should never be
satisfied and always strive for more."
Karin Polk, Bury's third grade teacher,
said she is very proud of him and his accomplishment.
"Casen is dedicated and hard-working,"
she said. "He strives to be the best in everything he does.
This opportunity teaches Casen about competing and the need
to persevere in the Spelling Bee as well as with any
challenges that come his way."
Bury's second grade teacher Maria Ward
said it has been an honor to be his teacher.
"We hope his continual love of words
and vocabulary comes from this experience and will help him
to continue to be successful in the future," said Ward.
"He's just an amazing student."
The champion of the Houston Chronicle
Spelling Bee will receive airline tickets for the winning
speller and two parents and an expense paid trip to
Washington D.C. in May to participate in the Scripps
National Spelling Bee. The winner will also receive the
Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary,
Unabridged and The Samuel Louis Sugarman Award of a $100
U.S. Savings Bond, Series EE from Jay Sugarman. The Houston
Chronicle has also sent a medal and winner certificate to
each school winner. Each district and county winner will
also be presented a prize from the Houston Chronicle at
today's spelling bee.
following Pasadena ISD students were the spelling bee
champions at their individual campuses and each competed in
the district spelling bee:
Juarez, 10, Teague Elementary
Luis G. Aguirre, 9, Garfield Elementary
Ashton Litonjua, 10, Frazier Elementary
Jasmine Hernandez, 10, Jessup Elementary
Ilse Vielma, 11, Rick Schneider Middle
Samantha A. Garcia, 12, Queens Intermediate
Brandon Shantharaj, 10, Harvey Turner Elem.
Vanessa Gomez, 10, L.F. Smith Elementary
Tareen Kazi, 9, Meador Elementary
Annalicia Martinez, 10, Challenger Elementary
Christopher Gannaway, 10, Genoa Elementary
Brianna Horton, 11, Carter Lomax Middle
Vi Thao Le, 9, Morales Elementary
Emily Fair, 13, Bondy Intermediate
Jacob Balerio, 12, Fisher Elementary
Jacqueline Alonso, 9, Gardens Elementary
R. Vincente Rodulfo, 11, Beverly Hills
Syed Shahzar Ahmed, 11, Milstead Middle
Tina Nguyen, 10, Stuchbery Elementary
Jose Matus, 11, Morris Fifth Grade Center
Jennifer Macias, 10, Sparks Elementary
Isabel Abilez, 9, Red Bluff Elementary
Brynn Erin Dempsey, 8, Richard Moore Elem.
Angel Garcia, 12, Park View Intermediate
Jamal Khan, 13, Thompson Intermediate
Victoria Sandoval, 10, Young Elementary
Samantha Long, 11, Jensen Elementary
Heidi Tran, 10, Atkinston Elementary
Adam Hare, 10, Mae Smythe Elementary
Alicia Olivo, 10, Dezavala 5 th Grade Center
Luis Machain, 9, South Houston Elementary
Casen Bury, 9, Bailey Elementary
Mariana Triana, 10, Burnett Elementary
Eric Pena, 12, Jackson Intermediate
Doris Lopez, 11, J. D. Parks Elementary
Ana Perez, 10, Richey Elementary
Marcos Martinez, 9, South Shaver Elem.
Joaquin Ostos, 9, Kruse Elementary
Sapana Gautam, 9, Laura Bush Elementary
Oscar Rodriguez, 10, Williams Elementary
Arden R. Castillo, 12, Southmore Intermediate
Josiah McClure, 13, San Jacinto Intermediate
Priscilla Turrubiates, 13, South Houston Intermediate
Nicholas Garcia, 12, Miller Intermediate
Braulio Garcia, 9, McMasters Elementary
Ernesto Ramirez, 10, A.B. Freeman Elem.
Alexis Strech, 9, Golden Acres Elementary
Adrian Rosas, 8, Pomeroy Elementary
||Filing for write-in candidates set for March 17
In the news:
Filing for write-in
candidates March 17
Filing for write-in candidates for the Pasadena Independent
School District's Board of Trustee election will be held
from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday, March 17 at the district's
Administration Building, 1515 Cherrybrook. Persons who come
to file are asked to enter the building through the
Strawberry Road entrance.
Positions up for election this year are seats held by
incumbents Marshall Kendrick (position 6) and Vickie Morgan
(position 7). For more information, call 713-740-0027.
||High School students head to Geneva as part of international physics project
In the news:
Dobie, South Houston
students among elite
group to participate in international physics project
Physics and journalism students from Dobie and South Houston
high schools are among only five groups in the nation that
were invited to participate in an international project to
learn and report about a new super-collider project in
CERN, an international physics consortium, is unveiling its
new particle physics experiment - the Atlas Project. The
consortium, the National Science Foundation and Quarknet, a
national organization of universities, physics laboratories
and high school teachers, have invited the students to
Geneva to observe, learn and produce news reports on the
Dobie and South Houston will send a physics student, a
journalism student, a student videographer and a physics
teacher overseas to Geneva to participate in the project.
Dobie students participating are Preston Andrews, Kelsey
Kaiser, Hong Thai and science teacher Susan Fontanilla.
South Houston students Nicole Neveu, Cindy Le, Jose Bermudez
and physics teacher Jim Preston will also participate in the
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these
students," said Alena Grinstead, Pasadena ISD science
instructional specialist. "They will be able to learn from
some of the world's top physicists and then share what they
have learned with their classmates."
The students from the two Pasadena ISD schools will act as
news reporters to students in the community and across the
nation and will chronicle the project through blogs,
websites and videos.
The experiments will occur during CERN's "Open Days" event,
scheduled for April 5-6. During this time, the public will
be able to view the Atlas experiment. The particle physics
experiments are designed to examine the fundamental nature
of matter and the basic forces that have shaped the
universe. As part of the experiment, scientists are
searching for the collisions of high-energy protons.
Students will visit the Atlas Project's Large Hadron
Collider (LHC), which is a gigantic scientific instrument
near Geneva that spans the border underground between
Switzerland and France. The LHC is a particle accelerator
used by physicists to study the smallest known particles -
the fundamental building blocks of all things. Physicists
will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the
Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high
"This is a great honor for the students at both of these
schools," said Pasadena ISD Superintendent Dr. Kirk Lewis.
"This is going to be an outstanding learning opportunity
that they will remember for the rest of their lives."
||San Jacinto Intermediate in the hunt for National Academic League title
In the news:
Intermediate academic team
in the hunt for national title
Jacinto Intermediate School's National Academic League team
has the opportunity to bring a fourth NAL National
Championship title home to Pasadena as the team will compete
in the national competition's "Sweet 16" level against the
Carson Middle School team in Pittsburgh, PA via
videoconference tomorrow from 10 to 11:30 a.m.
San Jacinto made its way into the
national competition after claiming the district
championship against three-time NAL national champion
Thompson Intermediate with a win/loss record 5-3 for the
season. Thompson took its last NAL national championship
title in 2001. This is San Jacinto's first time to make it
into the national competition.
"Tomorrow's game means many things to
our team," said San Jacinto's head coach Maggie Allen. "It
shows that our team is capable of doing whatever they set
their minds to and that we have many bright students that
excel at many things. It also shows that our team not only
succeeds in academics but that our school's pride and
talents show in their character."
Team members competing in tomorrow's
game include Gustavo Huitron, Quienten Yarbrough, Natalie
Hudson, Daniel Cruz, Brenda Moreno, Aaron Neito, Alvin Pham,
Joel Rivera, Jehnytssa Zetina and Daniel Cobb. Other team
members are Mirna Aguilar, Abel Ballin, Kesta Barber, Cesar
Carrillo, Clayton Day, Ashlie Dotson, Fernando Gonzalez,
Mario Guzman, Micelle Huitron, Daniel Martin, Aracely Munoz,
Xochytl Nunez, Diana Palonco, Alexandra Rivera, Aleyda
Salazar and Eduardo Vazquez.
If San Jacinto beats Pittsburgh in
tomorrow's game, the team will continue on to the "Elite 8"
level of the competition in which it will either compete
against South Charlotte Middle School from Charlotte, NC or
Hanes Middle School from Winston-Salem, NC for a place in
the "Final 4" of the competition.
"Anyone with an interest in the success
of students should watch," said the National Academic League
Commissioner for Pasadena ISD and former Thompson NAL coach
Carolyn Carmichael. "The game will be fast, fun,
educational, stressful and an exciting experience. This is
the perfect example of academic competition at its best."
Because intermediate school students
are not allowed to leave the area for competition, the San
Jacinto team will compete via videoconference from Sam
Rayburn High School's videoconference center. The district
semi-finals and finals were also competed via
videoconference. The game will be streamed live over the
district Internet allowing all Pasadena ISD employees to
view the game at
The link will be active today
until 4 p.m. so the connection can be tested and then it
will be active again starting at 9:45 a.m. tomorrow. It can
not be accessed by computers outside of the district's
"Videoconferencing allows the
intermediate students to compete on a much broader level
including nationally," said Carmichael. "It is also a great
educational experience for the students to see how modern
Parents interested in watching the game
who aren't Pasadena ISD employees are invited to come to the
school tomorrow morning at 3102 San Augustine in Pasadena to
watch as the school is broadcasting it over school
televisions. For more information, please call the school at
Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's
game, Allen said her NAL students will always be winners.
"I want my team members to understand
that they have done a fantastic job and that I am very proud
of them no matter if we win or lose," said Allen. "They are
all winners in my book, and they can follow any dreams and
goals they set for themselves."
||Gardens Elementary students learn about space
In the news:
learn about space
students at Gardens Elementary are participating in the
Federation of Galaxy Explorers program. Recently, they
studied about astronauts and were able to try on some space
||District Spelling Bee winners announced
In the news:
Winners announced in
District Spelling Bee
Garcia, a sixth grader from Queens Intermediate, was the
District Spelling Bee winner and Casen Bury, a third grader
from Bailey Elementary, was runner-up in the contest. They
will both be representing Pasadena ISD at the Houston
Chronicle Spelling Bee on March 26.
||Dobie student advances to national DECA competition
In the news:
Dobie student headed
to national DECA competition
High School student Samantha Rodriguez won first place in
the Marketing Management Competitive Event at the DECA State
Conference recently and now advances to the national
competition in April in Atlanta, Ga.
Students competed in certain
occupational areas related to their job training. Students
are judged on their knowledge of marketing, economics, and
management skills as well as their social and selling
skills. Business owners, managers, and other community
leaders were involved with the judging at the conference.
"I am very proud of Samantha for
representing Dobie HS at this state conference. Being a
first place winner is a fantastic accomplishment," said
Karen Daigle, Dobie's DECA advisor.
DECA is a youth organization for
students who are currently enrolled in a marketing class.
These students work at local employers within the community
and are receiving high school and college credit for their
||Mae Smythe celebrates Dr. Suess' birthday as part of national event
In the news:
Mae Smythe students
Dr. Seuss birthday in nationwide event
many children, celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday is just as
important as it is for them to learn how to read his books,
which is why Mae Smythe Elementary School brought the
National Education Association's annual Read Across America
event to its classrooms on March 3.
Read Across America is a reading motivation and awareness
program calling children in communities nationwide to
celebrate reading on or around Dr. Seuss' birthday by
providing a fun opportunity for them to have adults read to
them in their classrooms.
"Seeing adults take time out of their schedule to read a
picture book to children was a wonderful way for students to
grasp the importance of reading and learning to read," said
Mae Smythe's librarian Tricia Moore. "Cultivating this love
of learning is one of the most important parts of our jobs
as educators, and it is one that our district believes
Readers included numerous Pasadena ISD employees, retired
teachers and librarians, the manager of the Red Lobster on
Spencer and high school students. The students listened
intently as the volunteer read some Dr. Seuss classics
including "The Cat in the Hat" and "Horton Hears a Who."
Some readers even brought stuffed characters to go with
their Dr. Seuss books.
"I loved seeing our students light up when they some of the
characters our volunteers brought," Moore said. "The books
and the volunteers were enough for the students to get
excited. They absolutely loved it."
The event also served as an opportunity for teachers to help
motivate the students about the reading part of the TAKS
test, which will be taken this week. Moore said the
experience was a great way for the students to learn the
importance of reading from others and to see the personal
experiences that different readers can bring to a story.
"Students need to see that reading is important, not just
the week of the Reading TAKS test, but for the rest of their
lives," she said. "Hopefully seeing different walks of life
come through our classrooms helped our students realize that
reading is not a test to take, but a lifelong skill that is
essential in being whoever you are when you grow up."
||Classrooms receive emergency preparedness buckets
In the news:
emergency preparedness buckets
across Pasadena ISD are receiving Emergency Preparedness
Buckets through the Readiness and Emergency Management for
Schools grant. The buckets contain various items including
water, first aid kits, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and
flashlights that might be needed in the case of an
emergency. In addition, teachers put their individual class
rolls and emergency flip chart guidelines in the buckets.
Teachers are asked to take their
buckets out with them any time there is an evacuation of the
building so that they can check their rolls and, if
necessary, have water and first aid supplies. These buckets
can also be used in case of a shelter in place or lockdown.
"We hope that there is never an
emergency, but because the safety of our staff and students
is our first concern, we are being proactive by planning and
preparing. We still are having fire drills, but we also have
lockdown drills, tornado drills, shelter in place drills and
evacuation drills. We have to treat every drill as if it is
an actual emergency so that staff and students know how to
respond," said Candace Ahlfinger, associate superintendent
of communications and community Relations. "It is very
important for the safety of our students and staff that we
provide both equipment and training."
The grant, one of the largest Readiness
and Emergency Management for Schools grants provided
nationwide, also provides for an on-line resource for first
responders to give them information about Pasadena ISD
facilities in case a problem occurs as well as training for
staff members and parents.
"With the funds provided, we have
already been able to provide the emergency flip charts for
our staff and send out newsletters to parents with
information concerning the various drills that we do and
what parents should do during an emergency," said Tom Swan,
executive director of special projects. "We want to do
everything possible to keep our students and staff safe in
case of an emergency."
||All-American Football League players visit with Pasadena ISD students
In the news:
visit Pasadena ISD students
part of their "We are all part of Team Texas" goal, six
members of the all-new All American Football League's Team
Texas recently manned the parent drop-off and bus lines with
smiles and handshakes at several Pasadena ISD elementary and
intermediate schools to "meet and greet" students and their
parents before school.
With the team's inaugural kick-off against Team Arkansas at
7 p.m. April 12 at Rice Stadium, the team wanted to begin
making an impact in the community by spending time at local
"It is extremely important to be involved with schools,"
said Team Texas' punter Jared Scruggs. "By meeting students
and their parents, our team hopes to reinforce the
importance of the role a parent plays in their child's
The football players spent two mornings at Gardens
Elementary, Park View Intermediate, Stuchbery Elementary and
Thompson Intermediate. They will also be visiting Bondy
Intermediate and Turner Elementary. Players Wade Koehl
(linebacker), John Syptak (defensive end), Phillip Hawkins
(guard), Keith Brooks (fullback), Will Gulley (defensive
back) and Jared Scruggs (punter) greeted students and
parents. Scruggs and Syptak are Rice graduates; Koehl,
Gulley and Hawkins attended the University of Houston; and
Brooks graduated from Western Kentucky University.
The All American Football League is a for-profit,
professional football league that was established after the
termination of the NFL Europa, which was an American
football league that operated in Europe from 1991 to 2007.
The AAFL consists of six teams including Arkansas, Alabama,
Florida, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas.
League teams only employ players who have completed their
college football eligibility, earned a four-year college
degree and passed a background check. The Team Texas roster
is comprised mostly of former college football players from
well-renowned universities such as Rice University, the
University of Texas and the University of Houston who did
not get a chance to participate in the NFL, although some
members of the team are former NFL players.
"Our league is built on character, integrity, education and
traditions," said the team's coordinator of community
relations Donald Hollas, who is a former South Houston High
School football coach. "The unique feature of our league is
that all players must have attained a college degree. This
is a great message for the Houston community, and it allows
our players to stand out as role models to the youth of this
Scruggs, a Rice graduate, said having a positive role model
or mentor is essential to the success of every young child.
"In today's world, there are many role models that a child
can follow, and we have to ensure that those experiences are
positive ones," he said. "The AAFL wants to reach out to its
communities and become connected with them. All of the
athletes have their own stories and testimonies that make
them an ideal candidate for someone youth can look up to.
With so many different athletes, there is bound to be one to
whom every child can relate."
One message Scruggs has for students and that he hopes they
see through the team's interactions with them is that team
sports is a metaphor for life.
"The individual work that one puts in contributes to the
success of all," he said. "Similarly, in a team setting, as
well as for later in life in a work setting, individual hard
work alone is not enough to warrant success. One must learn
the give and take of group dynamics and the fine balance of
working with others so that no weak link exists."
While Pasadena ISD students can learn from the Team Texas
players, Scruggs said he and his teammates know they will be
pleasantly surprised with lessons from the students as well.
"Lessons that can be learned from interacting with others
are endless," Scruggs said. "The wonderful thing about life
is that no one is the same. Everyone has their own set of
special skills and talents; therefore, everyone brings
something unique to the table through their different
Not only does the team intend to make a difference in the
lives of students, but it is also eager to bring traditional
family fun to the community.
"Team Texas will offer a product that will provide the
community an outlet to becoming a closer family," said
Scruggs. "With tickets that are affordable and a spectacle
that is enjoyable to watch, we hope to bring the joy of
'family outings' to this community. Because of opportunities
to meet and greet throughout the community, the fans and
athletes will share a closer bond."
Hollas said Team Texas intends to implement a student
mentoring program in partnership with Pasadena ISD and other
school districts in the Houston area. Player contracts
mandate they serve in the community every Monday during the
"Seeing professional football players on campus even if just
for a few minutes really has a positive effect on our
students," said Pasadena ISD HOSTS coordinator Ginger Lay.
"We are thrilled to have the players of our new football
team already active in our schools and are looking forward
to future partnerships with them. We know Team Texas will
serve as a great asset to this community."
||Board approves the names of three schools
In the news:
Board approves the
names of three schools
The Pasadena Independent School
District Board of Trustees approved the naming of three
schools at its regular February meeting.
Robert "Bobby" Shaw Middle School (formerly called North
Central) is being constructed on the current Southmore
Intermediate campus. Lonnie B. Keller Middle School (called
Northeast) will move into the present San Jacinto
Intermediate building when San Jacinto moves to its new
campus on Red Bluff in August. The new elementary school
being constructed in the Riverstone Ranch area was named
South Belt Elementary School.
Shaw was a 1940 Pasadena High School graduate who was a
Musician Second Class in the United States Navy. He
tragically lost his life on the USS Arizona, the infamous
battleship that sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor. As a
member of the PHS band, Shaw played trombone and
received many honors at state competitions for his solos. He
enlisted in the U.S. Navy only a few months following his
graduation and entered the U.S. Navy School of Music in
Keller was a longtime administrator and educator in the
Pasadena Independent School District. He opened the San
Jacinto Intermediate campus as principal in 1959 and
remained in that position until 1965. Keller became
principal of Pasadena High School in 1967 and served as the
school's top administrator until his retirement in 1982.
South Belt Elementary will be located in the Riverstone
Ranch subdivision off of Blackhawk near Dobie High School.
In selecting the name for the school, Board Member Vickie
Morgan said the intent was to "honor the proud history of
All three projects are being funded by a bond program that
was approved by Pasadena ISD voters in November 2004. Shaw
and Keller middle schools will open in August, while the
targeted completion date for South Belt Elementary is in the
summer of 2009.
||Guidance Center to hold parent meeting on Choking Game
In the news:
Guidance Center to
hold parent meeting
on 'choking game'
The "choking game" is a deadly trend growing nationwide among
youth, and Pasadena ISD officials are doing their part to see
that it doesn't claim the lives of their students.
Pasadena ISD's Guidance Center is holding its monthly parent
meeting Thursday, Feb. 21 at 1:30 p.m. in the school's
cafeteria, which is located at 3010 Bayshore Drive in Pasadena
across from Phillips Gym and next to Park View Intermediate.
This month, Pasadena ISD parents are invited to listen to
Pasadena ISD police officer Cliff O'Quinn's presentation on the
"This activity is not a game," said O'Quinn. "This is something
that has gotten out of control among our youth, and the best way
to put a stop to it is to educate students and their parents
about the dangers of this so-called game."
The "choking game" is played both in groups and by a single
child most popular in ages 9-14 with the object of the "game"
being to asphyxiate or apply pressure to restrict oxygen and/or
blood flow to the brain of the victim. This restriction of
oxygen creates a desired tingling or high sensation, which
O'Quinn says are the cells of the brain seizing and beginning
the process of permanent cell death. Students play the game
either by using their hands to choke themselves or one another
or by using some type of ligature such as a rope to apply the
"When the victim becomes unconscious, the pressure is released
and the secondary 'high' of the oxygen or blood rushing to the
brain is achieved," said O'Quinn. "If the victim is alone upon
unconsciousness, there is no one to release the pressure and the
victim's own body weight continues to tighten the ligature
usually resulting in death."
O'Quinn said this "game" is popular among youth because of the
brief sense of euphoria they receive when participating in the
activity. It offers an altered state of consciousness and
enhanced erotic feelings that provide entertainment to students
and their peers.
"This activity is free, easily accessible and not a drug or
illegal, so it creates the temptation for a quick thrill," he
said. "Adolescents feel as though it's just 'passing out,' when
in reality, every time they participate they are risking death."
Other dangers this activity poses to a child's health include
bruises, concussions, broken bones, seizures, brain damage,
retinal hemorrhaging and stroke. Signs parents can look for
indicating child participation in this activity are blood shot
eyes, increased headaches, markings on the neck and possession
of a rope or plastic bag.
Guidance Center counselor Rose Rankin said one objective of this
month's parent meeting is to educate parents and students on how
the game is played along with its possible tragic consequences.
"The so-called 'choking game' is done when students are alone or
not under direct supervision of adults so most parents are not
aware of this secretive game," Rankin said. "Since this game can
end in the untimely death of our students, we must make parents
aware of what is going on so they can join in our efforts to put
an immediate stop to this practice."
O'Quinn has appeared on KRIV Fox 26 television to warn area
parents about the deadly consequences of the "choking game" and
ahs been asked to participate in a nationwide documentary to
help alert and educate parents about the activity. He said he
strongly encourages parents to attend the meeting.
"Parents need to hear about the dangers of this deadly activity,
and they need to have the opportunity to ask questions about
it," O'Quinn said. "This meeting will give them the opportunity
to see first-hand what the 'choking game' is all about and how
to prevent their children's participation as well as to receive
facts and information about what to look for and how to help."
||Daughters of the American Revolution to honor Bondy Intermediate teacher
In the news:
Daughters of the
to honor Bondy Intermediate teacher
Annette Hill, eighth grade Social
Studies teacher at Bondy Intermediate School, was a second
place winner in the Texas Society Daughters of the American
Revolution's American History contest.
Hill was nominated by Pasadena's Jane Long Chapter of the
Daughters of the American Revolution. She will be honored at
the organization's state conference in Dallas on March 15
and will be presented with a check for $500 and a
Hill is a member of the local chapter of the Daughters of
the American Revolution. The organization exhibits their
patriotism through service to schools, active duty military
and veterans, historical commemoration, and volunteering in
||Sam Rayburn Tex-Anns to hold annual dinner, show
In the news:
Tex-Anns to hold
annual dinner, show
Rayburn High School Tex-Ann Drill Team is holding its annual
Competition Showoffs Dinner Friday, Feb. 29. The dinner
starts at 6 p.m. in the school's cafeteria and will be
followed by the show at 7 p.m. in the school's gym. Tickets
are $7 for a barbecue baked potato and the show. Tickets are
$3 for only the show. For more information, contact the
team's instructor Jennifer Forst at the school at
||Jensen Elementary spelling bee winners
In the news:
spelling bee winners
Rodriguez, left, was first runner-up and Samantha Long was the
winner of the Jensen Elementary spelling bee. Long will now
participate in the district spelling bee.
||Juilliard professor plays student-made pipe organ
In the news:
plays student-made pipe organ
Memorial High School students had the experience of a
lifetime recently when professor and chair of the organ
department at Juilliard Paul Jacobs visited their school and
played an organ for them.
But Jacobs didn't just play any organ-he played the organ
the AP Physics students made as part of the school's
"Switched On Physics" project.
"I've never seen anything like this,"Jacobs said. "It's extraordinary what these students have
"Switched On Physics: Engineering, Waves and Alternative
Energy" is a perpetual project in which AP Physics students
designed and built a fully functional digital pipe organ.
The project is a dynamic, multi-faceted combination of
physics, music, engineering, ecological science, performing
arts and mathematics and is designed to generate increased
student interest in advanced engineering, science and high
technology while exposing students to fine music.
Memorial AP Physics teacher and project coordinator Scott
Graham said he was excited for his students to have the
opportunity to meet Jacobs and listen to him play the organ.
"I am a huge fan of the amazing skill Mr. Jacobs has,"
Graham said. "If there could be anything that exceeds his
skill at organ, it would be his passion and enthusiasm for
fine organ music. We are proud to expose our students to the
music and to his positive message of how to realize goals
through hard work and discipline."
In his message to the students, Jacobs expressed his love
and passion for music, which he said is what has carried him
to his success in life and encouraged the students to find
that same love and passion in their interests.
"Passion is the right word for music," Jacobs said. "My love
for music was so intense ever since I was a young boy. Music
is about people and making connections, and my greatest joy
is to share my music with others, such as you are doing
through this extraordinary project."
Graham said he hopes the students took away a deeper
understanding of the musical message Jacobs shared with
"I hope our students realized how much their situations
might possibly have in common with Mr. Jacobs' musical
odyssey, even though it may not be overtly obvious or
apparent," he said. "I also hope our students could see how
dedication can produce excellence in a person's life, and
that they have the means to pursue and realize a dream
through sheer determination and will power."
Graham started the digital organ project as a teacher at
Dobie High School last spring with Dobie AP Physics teacher
Mary Obenauf receiving a $10,000 grant from BP through
KHOU's A+ for Energy program. Moving to Memorial last fall,
Graham and Obenauf decided to expand the project to both
schools to directly impact the nearly 6,000 students at both
schools instead of limiting the project to just one school.
Representatives from BP and KHOU were also present at
Jacobs' recent performance at Memorial.
"BP and KHOU have helped provide a means to the realization
of this project," Graham said. "We can not adequately
express the magnitude of our thanks. It means a great deal
to have the support of BP and KHOU, and the exposure they
have given to our vision will help us share it with
thousands of students. We can not thank them enough for
their interest and participation."
The organ is powered exclusively by solar power cells which
store energy in deep cycle batteries, and it runs from DC
(Direct Current) power and draws 400mAmps. Graham said he
and his colleagues plan to pursue a sustainability proposal
with BP to build a second organ. The organ components are
portable, and students are able to break down the organ to
Many skills were required on behalf of all students involved
in the planning, design and creation of the computer from
"While the project has created the organ which can be
performed by one person, the project captivated the interest
of all students who participated in its design and
construction and it appeals to all students who wish to
hear, play it or design one of their own," Graham said.
Memorial student Matt Koby has been responsible for
programming the MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface),
which is an industry-standard protocol that enables
electronic musical instruments, computers and other
equipment to communicate, control and synchronize with each
other. Koby has solely implemented the functionality of the
Musical performance skill is also critical to the successful
final presentation of the organ project, and Dobie student
and regional organ champion John Potter has performance
skills and general knowledge of the organ and music that
have made the final implementation of the project viable.
Although the skills of Potter and Koby are crucial to the
development and production of the digital pipe organ, Graham
said all science students who participate and provide
valuable contributions are necessary to the project's
success as project participants include ESL, IPC, SIOP,
general physics and AP students in ninth through 12th
"Dobie and Memorial students have come together to design
and implement this project, and it would not be a reality
without all of them," Graham said. "This project is the
combination of efforts from a variety of students working in
harmony as a team. Our builders and designers range from
ninth graders to seniors. We are grateful to each of them
and are incredibly impressed with their contributions."
The project recently received a $5,000 mini-grant from the
Pasadena ISD Education Foundation, which will assist in the
beginning construction of the second organ. To help the
world go "green," Graham said he is in hopes of building
operable ranks of pipes from recycled materials such as
glass bottles, metal pipes and bamboo while powering them
exclusively with alternative energy sources. Each year, new
groups of students will design calculate, test and construct
pipes for the organs.
Graham also said a future goal for the project is to take
the organ to as many middle schools and elementary schools
as possible for physics, math and music demonstrations to
encourage young people to enter science and appreciate
"Through this project, we ultimately hope to showcase the
skills of our young musicians and engineers and we hope to
recruit young students into science, technology, engineering
and education careers," Graham said. "We want to help our
students create partnerships for scholarship programs with
our sponsors to help our nation improve the shortages we are
currently facing in these fields."
While it is the work of the students that is making the
project come to life, it is the support of the district and
the community that has made it a reality.
"I hope that Mr. Jacobs, BP, KHOU and our education
foundation can have some idea of the enormity of their
integrated contributions to the realization of this
project," Graham said. "Their support of teachers and
innovative projects allow us to stimulate the creativity of
our students, and it gives our students the opportunity to
see that people care for them and that their needs and
interests are worthwhile and a noble investment. We
appreciate their sharing of our vision and we express to
them our deepest thanks."
||100 Day activities at Laura Bush Elementary
In the news:
"100 Day" activities
at Laura Bush Elementary
Bush Elementary students participated in the "100 Day of School"
parade recently. Students and teachers created a variety of posters
and other items for the event.
||Jim Smith named Pasadena ISD's Distinguished Citizen
In the news:
Jim Smith named
Jim Smith believes that the greatest
reward is in helping others to succeed. He made an impact in
many young lives in Pasadena ISD as a teacher and
administrator. In his church and his community, he always
quick to lend a helping hand.
The Pasadena community and its people
have always been close to the 1960 South Houston High School
graduate. His accomplishments and his willingness to put the
needs of others above himself are the qualities that have
earned him the Pasadena ISD Distinguished Alumnus Award. He
will be presented the award at a special ceremony at 6:30
p.m., March 13 at the Pasadena ISD Administration Building.
Pasadena ISD has been a large part of
Smith's life, as he attended Gardens, Richey and South
Shaver elementary schools, along with Jackson Junior High
(now Jackson Intermediate). He then graduated from South
Houston High School in 1960. Smith returned to Pasadena ISD
in 1967 as an American History teacher at Pasadena High
he became assistant principal at Southmore Intermediate
School and was elevated to the principal's position at
Miller Intermediate in 1980. He assumed the district's
Director of Transportation position in 1995.
Under his leadership, as principal of
Miller Intermediate School, the campus was named a U.S.
Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School of
Excellence in 1988-89. Over the years, he also participated
in many state education committees, including the Texas
School Improvement Initiative. In addition, Smith was
awarded the district's Award of Excellence for his work as
Director of Transportation.
Through the years, Smith has been
extremely active in his community. He is a volunteer in the
district's HOSTS reading mentorship program at Parks
Elementary School. He is an active member of South Main
Baptist Church, serving as a deacon and choir member. Smith
is involved in the Sunday School department and also plays
handbells. He also puts his knowledge of mechanics to use,
helping maintain the church vehicles.
Smith's community service includes his
membership in the Citizen's Police Academy of the Pasadena
Police Department. He is currently employed at Fairmont
Funeral Home, carrying out tasks during services to help
members of the community cope in their time of bereavement.
The Distinguished Alumnus award began
in 1996. It recognizes an alumnus who has made significant
contributions to society and whose accomplishments and
career have brought credit to the Pasadena school district.
||McDonald's Texas Invitational donates $100,000 to Education Foundation
In the news:
$100,000 donation to Education Foundation
2007, the theme of "A Monumental Event" was embraced to spotlight
the fifth annual McDonald's Texas Invitational Basketball
Tournament, and it lived up to its billing in more ways than one as
tournament officials recently presented a $100,000 check to the
Pasadena ISD Education Foundation.
At a special reception honoring tournament volunteers, education
foundation and school board members, teachers and tournament
sponsors, Pasadena ISD Education Foundation President Randy Perry
proudly received the check and thanked the community for its
"The Pasadena ISD Education Foundation has grown significantly in
the last 5 years and most of the credit for that growth belongs to
the McDonald's Invitational Basketball Tournament," Perry said.
"Through the efforts of all the sponsors, volunteers, the school
district and the community, teachers will be able to provide
something special to enhance the education process. This level of
contribution will mean more students will be positively affected. I
can't think of any other activity that provides more community
involvement than this tournament."
The Pasadena ISD Education Foundation provides funds for educational
programs and activities, which either have not been funded or have
been under-funded by the normal operating budget, allowing teachers
to provide innovative instruction that increases student achievement
and expands community involvement. To date, the foundation has
awarded a total over $500,000 in grants to teachers, and the
tournament has served as its primary fundraiser since 2003.
"As the tournament supports the foundation and the foundation
supports our schools, the students ultimately benefit from a more
rigorous and relevant instructional program," said Pasadena ISD
Superintendent Kirk Lewis. "We are truly grateful for the dedication
and commitment many volunteers have demonstrated and are
appreciative of their generosity. Everything this tournament does
makes a difference in the lives of our students."
The tournament has grown each year, contributing $260,000 since
2003. McDonald's became the headline sponsor in 2005, and attendance
and the waiting list of quality teams has continuously increased.
Establishing itself as one of the premier high school basketball
tournaments in the state, this year's tournament hosted the talents
of several of the nation's top players and the state's top-ranked
teams in a 48-team boys' division and 32-team girls' bracket.
"This is more than just a tournament, and we have said that from the
beginning," said tournament chairman Ben Meador. "This is about
providing more educational opportunities for our students and
showcasing the wonderful city of Pasadena. We couldn't do this every
year without the help of our sponsors and volunteers, and we are
very pleased to have met our $100,000 goal this year with their
help. It has made believers of us all, and we are going to continue
to make this event the best it can be."
||Mae Smythe chorale, Morris band steals show at TSPRA Conference
In the news:
Mae Smythe Chorale,
Morris Band entertain
members at annual TSPRA conference
The Mae Smythe
Elementary School Chorale and the Morris Fifth Grade Center
Band kicked off the "Lift-Off to Higher Learning" Public
Schools Week campaign and served as the featured
entertainment at the Texas School Public Relations Annual
Conference at the Westin Galleria Hotel in Houston recently.
Both musical groups played this year's Texas Public Schools
Week song, "The Stars are Within Our Reach" and the "Mickey
Mouse March." The lyrics and music of the Texas Public Schools Week
piece were written by Morris band director Paul Busby and
Mae Smythe choir director Ken Davis.
The theme of "Lift-Off to Higher Learning" is designed to
encourage schools to hold activities to promote the value of
take children's learning to new heights in order to prepare
them for college. Pasadena ISD will celebrate Texas Public
Schools Week on March 10-14.
Members of the Pasadena Independent School District's
communications staff and other departments served on this
year's Texas Public Schools Week committee, along with
public relations staff members from area districts.
Texas Public Schools Week committee includes Pasadena ISD communication
staff members Candace Ahlfinger, Mark Kramer, Ashley Holt,
Bruce Stone, LaVonna Alexander-Carew and Pat Brenneman.
Pasadena ISD elementary science specialist John Elmer,
director of fine arts Linda Fletcher, coordinator of Library
Services Kay McBride, along with Busby and
Davis served on the committee. Tammy Dowdy, public
information officer with Dickinson ISD, was a member of the
Texas Public Schools Week was established in 1950 by the
Masonic Lodges of Texas to recognize contributions made by
the state's free system of education. Each year, the event
has grown and it continues to be a meaningful way to
showcase the many educational opportunities given to more
than four million students attending Texas Public Schools.
||Sam Rayburn students meet Nobel Peace Prize winner
In the news:
Sam Rayburn students
meet Nobel Peace Prize winner
Rayburn High School WorldQuest students recently met 2006 Nobel
Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus at a Houston World Affairs Council
luncheon at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Houston.
The Houston World Affairs Council sponsors Academic WorldQuest
groups throughout the area to attend educational seminars and the
council invited and paid for the Sam Rayburn students to attend the
luncheon. Yunus visited with the students after his speech and
autographed copies of his book Creating a World Without Poverty.
"This was a great opportunity for us to interact with a world
renowned economist and a man with a truly unique vision who has made
an enormous impact on the people of Bangladesh and other developing
nations," said WorldQuest student Etni Flores. "Mr. Yunus is an
inspiration to the future generation that one man can solve huge
problems if ingenuity and effort are applied."
Yunus, a Bangladeshi banker and economist, founded the Grameen Bank
through which he pioneered microcredit, the innovative banking
program that provides poor people-mainly women-with small loans they
use to launch businesses and lift their families out of poverty.
WorldQuest student Roberto Guzman said this opportunity made him and
his peers feel special and that it was a great opportunity to speak
face-to-face with an international leader.
"It is very empowering to know our opinions matter and that a man
such as Muhammad Yunus will answer any questions that I have,"
Guzman said. "It's very important that these leaders pass on the
message to us that we are the future and we have a responsibility to
understand current events, get a better education and make something
Yunus spoke to the WorldQuest students among many other listeners at
the luncheon about ending poverty by breaking the cycle of
indentured labor to corrupt money-lenders. He also told his audience
about how his bank gives loans to people who have no collateral, no
money and offers them the opportunity to invest in themselves and
"Mr. Yunus spoke to us about how he came to discover this need for a
bank that would help the less fortunate by providing micro-loans to
them and that when given the opportunity to work for themselves and
control their destinies, most people rise to the occasion and make
their own lives better," said the school's WorldQuest sponsor Jane
Sidwell. "That's a very inspirational message for our students to
WorldQuest is a Flagship Program of the World Affairs Council system
in which participating students throughout the country attend 10-15
educational seminars and lectures a year and stay up to date on
current events. So far this year, Sam Rayburn students have attended
seminars on the use of child soldiers, malaria prevention in the
third world, the future of Mexico by Vicente Fox and a conversation
with Dr. Anthony Lake. The students also just recently attended a
lecture by Jonathon Spence, a Yale professor and leading expert on
China, at Rice University.
"This student group gives us the opportunity to see the world
through different eyes," said Maza. "It allows us to see other
cultures and events while also making us realize that living in the
most advanced civilization at this time in history comes with an
obligation to help others."
Sam Rayburn WorldQuest students will compete with other Houston area
groups this month by answering rounds of questions testing their
knowledge on international affairs, geography, history, culture, the
world economy, religion and more. The competition is divided into
four rounds, and the students have 20 seconds to answer each of 10
questions. This is the second year Sam Rayburn's group has competed,
and last year, they
ranked in the 50th percentile of the competition. There are 10
WorldQuest students at Rayburn.
Student Meagan Chambers said she is excited about the upcoming
"The majority of teams are from private and charter schools,"
Chambers said. "The question are tough and the competition is
tougher, but we will do better this year than last given our
experience and that we have put together a stronger team."
Sidwell said students can best prepare for the competition by
reading magazines such as The Week and The Economist, listening to
cable news and using the Internet to gather information on current
events and their impact around the globe. The team with the most
accumulated points will advance to Washington, D.C. to represent
Houston against other major city WorldQuest teams.
"As a long-term goal for this group, I hope our students will seek
careers with a global emphasis, have opportunity to travel and to be
aware of global events and their influence on American culture and
economic development," said Sidwell.
||Pasadena ISD Communications staff wins top awards at state contest
In the news:
wins top awards at state contest
For its excellence in communications, the
Pasadena ISD Communications Department recently received five
Best of Category Awards, a Crystal Award and six Gold Star
Awards at the annual Texas Schools Public Relations Association
(TSPRA) convention in Houston.
Award entries were made in 35 categories with three divisions
including districts and organizations with less than 10,000
students or members, 10,000 to 30,000 students or members, and
more than 30,000 students or members. More than 900 award
entries were submitted for this year's Star Awards.
Pasadena ISD Communications Specialist Mark Kramer and Pasadena
ISD Graphic Coordinator Bruce Stone received a best of category
for their work on the 2007 Service Awards Program. Kramer has
been a member of TSPRA for nine years and has served in several
capacities for the organization including Vice-President
At-Large from 2005-2007.
"We are excited about the wonderful recognition we've received
from TSPRA," Kramer said. "It is always a great feeling when you
are honored by your peers who are outstanding and talented
professionals in school communications."
Stone also received a best of category for his Rick Schneider
Middle School invitations for the school's dedication, and he
and the district's director of community relations Cindy Parmer
received a best of category on the booklet they published for
last year's Pasadena ISD Education Foundation/Dell Shining Stars
Gala. Stone joined the communications team in October 2006.
"We always do our work with the students and employees of the
district in mind," Stone said. "We want to deliver materials for
them that illustrate the hard work they do on a daily basis
within our classrooms and that illustrate the mission of this
district. I'm truly honored to have received these awards."
Pasadena ISD Graphic Designer LaVonna Alexander-Carew joined
TSPRA in January 2006 when she began working for the district,
and she earned a best of category for the logo she created for
Earnesteen Milstead Middle School. This was her first year to
attend a TSPRA conference.
"It is an honor for me to be recognized through such a wonderful
organization," said Alexander-Carew. "In designing on a daily
basis, I never considered receiving accolades for my work. When
I created the Milstead, logo I was thinking of the student who
would be carrying the backpack or wearing the t-shirt with the
logo, and I wanted to create something they would be proud of.
This award reinforces that I did just that."
Pasadena ISD Communications Assistant Ashley Holt received a
best of category for her published feature "A Dream Fulfilled"
about Beverly Hills Intermediate School's former orchestra
instructor Leigh Ledford who led her students to perform at the
national Midwest Clinic in Chicago before losing her battle with
"It is absolutely amazing to be recognized among our peers in
this way," Holt said. "Our department works year-round to
promote Pasadena ISD and to serve its employees and students,
and it is truly an honor to have our success recognized. We
couldn't do it without the leadership within our district and
department, the support of our print shop employees or the
dedication of our teachers and students."
Holt has been a member of TSPRA for more than two years and has
attended three conferences. This is her second best of category
since her membership, and she was also named as the
organization's 2007 Rookie of the Year. She also presented twice
at this year's conference for the first time and has served on
several conference committees.
The department also received a Crystal Award, which one is given
in seven different categories for a multifaceted promotional
campaign employing a variety of media occurring over a period of
time and encompassing well-defined goals, strategies or
activities. The department submitted last year's marketing
campaign "Join us Under the Big Top" in the staff and student
"I am extremely proud of our communications and printing
department for their hard work," said Pasadena ISD Associate
Superintendent of Communications Candace Ahlfinger. "They are
creative and detail oriented, and their positive teamwork is
reflected in these awards and in what they do on a daily basis."
Ahlfinger joined Pasadena ISD in August 2006 and has been a
member of TSPRA for 14 years. She is a past-president and has
served the organization in a variety of ways.
The employees of the printing department helped make the success
possible through their daily efforts. Print shop employees
include Mike Kravetz, Maria Alcala, Rachel Arevalo, Rosie Lopez,
Christine Luis, Gwen Nguyen, Cody O'Quinn, Joan Stanley and Van
"Our printing department is vital to our communications team,"
said Kramer. "They handle every task with extreme care and
detail and are a main source of service and support to our
Gold Star Awards were also given to Kramer, Holt, Ahlfinger and
Stone for the district's external newsletter "Pinnacle;"
Alexander-Carew for Laura Bush Elementary School dedication
invitations; and Stone and Holt for their Pasadena Virtual
Holt also received Gold Star Awards for her article "Going the
Extra Mile" about the districts fundraising efforts for the
Komen Houston Race for the Cure and for her article "Engineering
Design Students Step into the Real World" on Dobie High School
students' mentoring program with Jacobs Engineering. The
department also received a Gold Star Award for its image and
identity package "Under the Big Top of Pasadena ISD." Kramer
received a Silver Star Award for photography.
"These awards are a tribute to the hard work of our
communications staff," Kramer said. "At the heart of any
project, it is the mission of our staff to promote what's right
in public education and spreading that good news to the public."
TSPRA is a nonprofit, professional organization dedicated to
promoting public schools through effective communications with
more than 850 members comprised primarily of public information
and communications professionals who serve the public school
districts and education organizations of Texas. The membership
also includes superintendents, principals and other school
administrators. TSPRA is an award-winning chapter of the
National School Public Relations Association chartered in 1962.
||Students, parents attend Bush Science Night
In the news:
Laura Bush Elementary
holds science night
Bush Elementary School students recently interacted with "mad
scientists" at the school's annual Science Night.
Presenters from Mad Science of Houston kept
students and their parents actively engaged in learning a variety of
science concepts. Families rotated between stations where students
were able to have hands-on experiences with the topics presented.
Students also received take-home items from many of the stations to
reinforce the concepts taught. More than 300 students and family
members attended the event.
"Science night is a great way for us to
encourage student interest in science and to provide a fun,
educational opportunity for family interactions," said the school's
counselor Suzanne Anderson.
||Building Cultural Bridges to be spotlighted by Bay Area Chorus
In the news:
Bridges program to be
highlighted by Bay Area Chorus
Awake to the vibrant connections from
country to country, continent to continent and culture to
culture as, through music, we discover and share our common
bonds. The Bay Area Chorus will perform spirituals and pieces
by American composers Charles Ives and Alice Parker and will
welcome two guest choirs who will provide an authentic
The 105-voice United National Association
International Choir has members from more than twenty-five
nations and focuses on singing music of all genres and
historical periods in the original language . Formed in 1989,
the Clear Lake Chinese Chorus is a group of music lovers from
China, Taiwan and Hong Kong who reside in the Clear Lake area.
Hear special guests from NASA and the
Houston Symphony share how the Building Cultural Bridges Program
has brought the world to Pearl Hall Elementary School through
the music and literature of the International Space Station
Countries. Highlights will include a solo performance by
Russian violinist Sergei Galperin, a member of the Houston
Symphony Orchestra, and video shot from the International Space
Magdy and Sonia Kotb, owner of the
Mediterraneo Restaurant and Cafe, 18033 Upper Bay Road, are
providing hot and cold hors d'oevres for a post-concert
reception for the performers and audience. This event is being
underwritten by Mitchell Dale of McRee Ford, 2800 Gulf Freeway
in Dickinson and Daniel B. O'Neill, M.D., NASA Bone and Joint
Specialists, 2020 NASA Parkway.
When: 7:30 p.m., Monday, February 25
Where: Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
18220 Upper Bay Road
Nassau Bay, TX77058
Tickets: $7 in advance
Adults $10; Students/65+
$8 at the door
(door sales begin 30
minutes prior to the concert)
Order tickets by phone: 713.684-6030 or
||Laura Bush Elementary spelling bee winners
In the news:
Laura Bush Elementary
spelling bee winners
Gautam, right, took first place in Laura Bush Elementary School's
spelling bee. Gautam now advances to the district spelling bee. Adam
Boswell, left, was the runner-up in the competition. They were both
congratulated by school principal Debbie Barrett.
||Students win big at basketball 'shoot-out' event
In the news:
Pasadena ISD students
win big in 'shoot-out'
In Pasadena ISD's recent annual Big Shoot-Out, 24 students took
the top three prizes in the third through sixth grade boys' and
The Big Shoot-Out is a basketball skills contest open to all
girls and boys in grades three through six. One boy and one girl
from each campus in each grade level compete in the districtwide
Pasadena ISD's assistant director of health and physical
education Pam Tevis said this event helps contribute to the
overall education of students.
"This gives students an opportunity to push themselves past what
they think they can accomplish," she said. "It teaches them what
the expectations are in the intermediate school athletic
programs and that behavior and attitude are more important than
the skill level."
The contest consists of two parts in which students shoot from
numbered "hotspots" for one minute and "dribble, weave, pass,"
which is run against time. Scores from the two parts of the
contests are added together to determine the winners.
All campus champions were invited to participate in the Elk's
Club Hoop Shoot and received t-shirts. The first, second and
third place winners received trophies.
"This event gives students who excel in basketball an
opportunity to compete against other students who are very
skilled," said Tevis. "All students who excel at something
should be given an opportunity to shine on a districtwide
The following students are the winners of the 2008 Big
3rd Grade Girls
1st Place Charli Mobley/Golden Acres
2nd Place Taylor Sheppard/Turner
3rd Place Amaya Martin/Frazier
3rd Grade Boys
1st Place Oseas Rodriguez/Matthys
2nd Place Christien Lake/Stuchberry
3rd Place Jacob Garza/Golden Acres
4th Grade Girls
1st Place Toraya Bass/Bush
2nd Place Miranda Green/Teague
3rd Place Aileen Garcia/Moore
4th Grade Boys
1st Place Daniel Cabreja/Meador
2nd Place Roberto Vasquez/McMasters
3rd Place Robert Tamayo/Williams
5th Grade Girls
1st Place Emily Wolfe/Morris
2nd Place Jackie Martinez/Parks
3rd Place Amanda Horstman/Lomax
5th Grade Boys
1st Place Hugo Mercado/DeZavala
2nd Place Enrique Callado/Bailey
3rd Place JonAlek Harrison/Milstead
6th Grade Girls
1st Place Britney Lamb/Schneider
2nd Place Tabitha Barrett/Lomax
3rd Place Sydney Graham/Lomax
6th Grade Boys
1st Place Ruben Guevara/Schneider (new record)
2nd Place Jesus Gutierrez/Jackson
3rd Place Devin Cruz/Park View
||Filing begins for Pasadena ISD board elections
In the news:
Filing begins in
Pasadena ISD board elections
The candidate filing and voting dates have been set for the Pasadena
Independent School District's Board of Trustee election.
The Board election will be held jointly with the City of South Houston
elections on May 10. This situation occurred because of House Bill 1
(2006 Leg. Session, ending in May 2006) that contains a provision
requiring school districts to hold their school board elections jointly
with either the county or city during the year in which the county or
city elected officers.
"We appreciate the generosity of the City of South Houston for working
with us in this matter," said Kirk Lewis, Pasadena ISD superintendent.
By being able to partner with South Houston, the Board members will
remain on three-year terms.
Candidate filing dates for the Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees election
will be Feb. 11-March 10. Candidates may begin filing on Monday, Feb.
11. Positions up for election this year are seats held by incumbents
Marshall Kendrick (position 6) and Vickie Morgan (position 7).
Prospective candidates may file from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. during the filing
period, except for March 10, when office hours will be extended to 8
Early voting in the Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees election will occur
April 28-May 6. Voters may cast their ballot at all five Pasadena ISD
high schools. Early voting will take place on weekdays from 8 a.m.-4:30
p.m. on April 28-May 2 and 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on May 5-6. In addition, voters
may cast their votes early at South Houston City Hall, 1018 Dallas from
8 a.m.-5 p.m. April 28-30 and May 5-6, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. May 1-2, 8 a.m.-5
p.m., May 3 and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. May 4.
Polls will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on election day, May 10 at all Pasadena
ISD intermediate schools, South Houston City Hall, South Houston
Municipal Court and South Houston High School. Polling places are
based on the voters' Harris County voting precinct numbers rather than
Pasadena ISD attendance boundaries.
For more information, call 713-740-0027.
||Pasadena High student accepted to NASA program
In the news:
Pasadena High School
is accepted into NASA program
Pasadena High School junior Marcus Puckett is starting to
fulfill his dreams of a career in aerospace engineering as he
was recently selected by Congressman Mike Jackson to join the
High School Aerospace Scholars program through the NASA Johnson
Space Center (JSC).
"I feel like I have accomplished a big goal," Puckett said. "It
is an honor to be selected by a congressman."
Students from across Texas are selected to participate in the
Aerospace Scholars program by their state legislator through a
competitive process. To participate, students must be a U.S.
citizen, Texas resident, currently in their junior year of high
school, committed to a one-year relationship with JSC and access
to the Internet.
Puckett said he is excited to be a part of this program. "I
enjoy NASA and am interested in how the space program and
exploration works," he said. "I also would like to meet others
that share the same interests. I thought it would be great to
work at NASA alongside real engineers."
The program is divided into two components. During the spring
semester of their junior year, participating students are
required to complete 10 online lessons and a final project.
Assignments are due every six weeks via e-mail requiring
students to read lessons online, take quizzes and submit the
assignments, which consist of an essay, math problems and some
require a graphic.
Assignments and the final project are graded by selected
educators from across Texas and are graded on the completion of
the lessons, quality of work and timeliness. Assignment topics
include the Space Shuttle, space station, the moon and Mars.
This program will expose me to more advanced scientific topics
than what my high school can offer," said Puckett. "The physics
required for some of the math questions is complex, but it helps
me to understand how both subjects work together."
After the assignments are completed and graded, students with
the highest grades will be selected to attend the summer
program. If selected, scholars will attend a six-day summer
session at JSC, which will include a team project in Mars
exploration, tours of JSC facilities, mentoring by NASA
engineers, participation in hands-on engineering activities and
briefings by astronauts, engineers and other NASA experts.
Puckett said he hopes to be selected into the summer program and
to do so he will have to work hard.
"I will have to divide my time more responsibly and be more
efficient with my management skills," he said. "I hope to be
accepted into the summer program because I will meet others that
share my interests as well as learn a lot about the space
program and the business world. I would like to see what kind of
things real engineers do."
||Dobie student named National Merit Finalist
In the news:
Dobie student named
National Merit Finalist
three and a half years of hard work and dedication in high school, Dobie
High School senior Samantha Rodriguez has received one of the ultimate
honors as she was recently named as a National Merit Finalist.
Rodriguez was named as a National Merit Finalist by the National Merit
Scholarship Program after being selected as one of approximately 16,000
semifinalists in the program, which is less than one percent of U.S.
high school graduating seniors.
"I am thrilled to be named as a National Merit Finalist," said
Rodriguez. "Receiving this title adds to my confidence concerning my
future goals for college. When taking the PSAT and SAT tests, I had no
idea the outcome would be this overwhelming. Nevertheless, it feels
amazing to be recognized for my work throughout my high school career."
The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for
recognition by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). This
year, the NMSC stated that more than 1.4 million juniors in nearly
21,000 high schools entered the program by taking the 2006 Preliminary
SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which
served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of
semi-finalists includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.
To become a finalist, a semi-finalist must have an outstanding academic
record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the school
principal and earn SAT scores that confirm the student's qualifying test
performance. Rodriguez's testing scores were ranked within the top one
percent of the nation.
"It's very exciting to have a student who is bright, talented and modest
be recognized in this way," said Dobie senior counselor Jennifer Haynes.
"Not only is Samantha representing herself, her family and her school,
she is also the best of the best, and I couldn't be more proud of her."
Rodriguez said that this award serves as a strong motivator for students
to be active in school while maintaining good grades. She also said this
achievement has taught her that hard work and dedication pays off and
she now see that her achievements not only affect her, but her school as
"As students, we always want our work to be acknowledged, but many
students' hard work goes unnoticed at times," she said. "Striving toward
a goal such as becoming a National Merit Scholar is striving toward the
recognition that any hard working, dedicated student deserves. It has
kept me motivated during my senior year, when it is so easy to lose
Since her time at Dobie, Rodriguez has represented her peers in a
variety of ways. She first served as the vice-president of her freshmen
class and as an active member of student council. She remained a member
of student council through her junior year when she became chairman of
education and needs. As a senior, her peers elected her as Student
Council/Student Body President.
Rodriguez is also a representative on Dobie's Site Based Decision Making
Committee and is a member of Pasadena ISD's District Education Committee
and the Superintendent's Student Advisory Committee. She was chosen to
sing in Dobie's top varsity choir, JFD Singers, her junior year, which
she still currently sings for. Among her highest achievements, Rodriguez
was published by the Texas Folklore Society for a paper she wrote
(Tattoos in Texas) about teenage Texans expressing themselves through
body art. Rodriguez's paper was chosen as one of few others to be
published, and she will present her paper to the society in late March
along with the other selected students and professors.
Rodriguez is also an active member of Distributive Education Clubs of
America (DECA), an organization allowing students with a career interest
in hospitality, finance, sales and service, business administration
and/or entrepreneurship to gain training and competitive opportunities.
As a member of DECA, Rodriguez is required to have a job, and she works
nearly 20 hours a week at San Jacinto College South's Student Success
Center tutoring college students in Composition I and II and in
mathematics courses up to Finite math. Rodriguez recently competed in
DECA's regional competition and advanced to the state competition, which
will be held in late February. Rodriguez was also inducted into Dobie's
National Honors Society at the beginning of the school year.
"Samantha has a passion for volunteer work and gives of her time behind
the scenes at Dobie and in the community," Haynes said. "She is a
humble, well-rounded young woman who represents her peers well through
all of her activities all while working a part-time job and keeping up
with her rigorous course load."
To ensure she achieves her goals, Rodriguez said it has been important
for her to be involved and have good grades throughout high school.
"High school is not just a student's holding place until they go to
college or get a job," she said. "High school is a place meant for
intellectual expansion and growth."
Rodriguez plans to attend Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island
after her graduation from Dobie in June and plans to major in Applied
Mathematics and International Relations. In the next five years,
Rodriguez hopes to graduate in the top five percent of her Dobie class,
graduate with two undergraduate degrees from Brown and begin work on her
Dobie's principal Steve Jamail said he expects to see great things from
Rodriguez in the future and that she is the perfect example of "Dobie
"Samantha's positive attitude is contagious to all that come in contact
with her," Jamail said. "We are so proud of her accomplishment, but the
greatest thing about Samantha is the fact that she is just a great kid.
We interpret 'Dobie Pride' as doing your best at whatever task you
undertake and going the extra mile when no one is looking. I don't think
I know anyone who exemplifies this more than Samantha. I know in the
future she will be a great success, and she makes us all very proud."
||Southmore Intermediate band sets new records
In the news:
Southmore band sets
The Southmore Bulldog band set a new record in medals won at the
Pasadena Invitational Solo and Ensemble Contest. The band won 49 1st
Division, inlcuing class three bronze medals (9th grade level music)
and three 1st Division, class two medals (10th-11th grade level music).
The following Southmore Band students won a superior rating, winning
a bronze solo medal:
Noemi Chirinos -Flute
Jessica Contreras -Flute
Daisy Flores -Flute
Alyssa Calderon -Bb Clarinet
Arnoldo Castillo -Bb Clarinet
Edgar Chavez -Bb Clarinet
Nallely Gutierrez -Bb Clarinet
David Marin -Bb Clarinet
Theresa Perez -Bb Clarinet
Elizabeth Sanchez -Bb Clarinet
Kelsey Davis -Bass Clarinet
Cristina Sancez -Bass Clarinet
Luis Tamez -Bass Clarinet
Isabel Garcia -Alto Saxophone
Carolyn Woodruff -Alto Saxophone
Edgar Zarazua -Tenor Saxophone
Josue Callado -Baritone Saxophone
Terrance Ely -Bb Trumpet
Dallas Murr-Thompson -Bb Trumpet
Amanda Villarreal -Bb Trumpet
Josie Garcia -French Horn
Antonio Hernandez -Trombone
Jesus Garza -Tuba
Jose Flores -Snare Drum
Lauren Hernandez -Snare Drum
The following Southmore Band students won a "superior" rating,
winning a silver solo medal:
Lea Salmeron -Flute
Charles Pena -French Horn
Armando Moreno -Euphonium
The following students won a "Superior" rating, winning a bronze
Noemi Chirinos, Jessica Contreras, and Lea Salmeron -Flute trio.
Arnoldo Castillo, Nallely Gutierrez, and David Marin -Clarinet trio.
Alyssa Calderon, Edgar Chavez, Daniela Jauregui, and Kassie Benavidez
-Mixed Clarinet Quartet
Elizabeth Sanchez, Isel Sevilla, Luis Tamez, and Iliana Vasquez -Mixed
Josue Callado, Isabel Garcia, Carolyn Woodruff and Edgar Zarazua
Jesus Garza, Antonio Hernandez, Armando Moreno, Dallas Murr-Thompson,
Charles Pena, and Amanda Villarreal -Brass Sextet
||Pasadena Noon Optimist Club to sponsor oratorical contest for students
In the news:
Optimist Club to sponsor
oratorical contest for students
"Why me? Why Not?…" is the topic for this year's Oratorical Contest
sponsored by the Pasadena Noon Optimist Club and hosted by Park View
Intermediate School. The purpose of the contest is to encourage area
students to speak their minds about the prompt and qualify for an
opportunity to win a $1,500 scholarship.
The Optimist Club will judge the local students' speeches based on
content and presentation to determine the top winners. Winners will
receive medallions for first, second, and third place in both male and
female categories. The winning speeches will be sent to the zone level,
and possibly the district level for the opportunity to win college
scholarships. Students under the age of 16 as of December 31, 2007, are
eligible to participate.
"As they prepare for their future, many of our local students need
experience expressing their thoughts and opinions to an audience," Club
President Rob Hasson said. "The Oratorical Contest challenges them to do
just that, and also offers an opportunity for scholarships. In this way,
our club hopes to bring out the best in each of them and help them
achieve their goals for the future."
The Pasadena Noon Optimist Club of has been participating in the
Optimist Oratorical Contest for over 50 years and has been active in the
community since 1947. Other programs and service projects that the Club
is involved in include Christmas Shopping with the Boys and Girls Harbor
Shelter of La Porte, Texas; "Bell Ringing" for the Salvation Army;
Annual POJO (Pasadena Optimist Junior Open) Tennis Tournament sponsor;
sponsor for the McDonald's Texas Invitational Basketball Tournament,
Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Expo participant; "Good Citizenship Award
Ceremony" recognizing 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders and a distinguished
educator at each of the elementary schools in Pasadena ISD; "Get Fit for
Jog" sponsor; Optimist Essay Contest sponsor; Junior Optimist Club
sponsor for Park View, Bondy, and South Houston Intermediate Schools;
support/sponsor The Bridge and Neighborhood Center of Pasadena; and
various student scholarships through club fundraising efforts.
Students wishing to participate should send copies of the speech,
completed registration and birth certificate to Mr. Rob Hasson at Park
View Intermediate School, located at 3003 Dabney, Pasadena, Texas 77502,
by Wednesday, February 27th, 2008. The contest will be held on Monday,
March 3rd at 5:00pm in the Park View Cafeteria. To obtain a copy of the
registration form and contest rules, please contact Mr. Hasson by e-mail
at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at 713-740-0461. Optimist
International is one of the world's largest service club organizations
with 120,000 adult and youth members in 3,800 clubs in the United
States, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico and throughout the world. The
Optimist Oratorical Contest is one of the organization's most popular
programs, with more than 2,000 clubs participating annually.
||Morales Elementary students celebrate 100 Day
In the news:
students celebrate "100 Day"
in all grades participated in "100 day" activities at Morales Elementary
to celebrate the 100th day of school. The highlight of the day was a
parade around the school.
||Two Dobie marketing students head to state
In the news:
advance to state DECA competition
High School had two winners in the DECA district competition that are
advancing to the State Conference in Corpus Christi. Jennifer Vu took
first place in the Business Services Marketing category, while Samantha
Rodriguez captured top honor in Marketing Management.
||Matthys Elementary spelling bee winners announced
In the news:
spelling bee winners
Matthys Elementary School
held its schoolwide Spelling Bee recently. The winners, from
left, were Xotchil Flores, Karla Pinon and Zachary
||Jessup Elementary, Memorial students team up for Read-a-Thon
In the news:
students team up for Read-a-thon
Elementary School recently held its second grade
Read-a-thon in conjunction with The Ready, Set, Teach
students from Pasadena Memorial High School. The RST students
selected a book "The Biggest Snowball Ever" and prepared
activities based on specific reading skills. The students and
parents from Jessup rotated to the interactive stations as the
RST students explained their activities. Each Jessup family
received a take home packet of activities. More than 165 people
participated in the event this year.
||PHS students participate in Sports and Entertainment Marketing event
In the news:
Sports and Entertainment competition
Pasadena High School DECA students participated in the Sports
and Entertainment Marketing competition at DECA's recent Career
Development Conference. Daniel Cerda and Justin Molina competed
against students from schools in the Greater Houston area.
||Input sought on Proposed 2008-2009 School Calendar
In the news:
Input sought on
Proposed 2008-2009 School Calendar
Pasadena ISD is planning its
calendar for the 2008-2009 school year. The district is seeking
input from parents, teachers and community members in regard to
next year's school calendar.
Please go to the link below to
view the 2008-2009 Proposed School Calendar. This is only a
draft of the calendar. After studying input on the calendar, it
will be presented to the Board of Trustees at a later date. The
calendar will become official once it is approved by the Board.
For more information, call 713-740-0278.
CLICK HERE to view a draft of the
Proposed 2008-2009 School Calendar
||Public meeting scheduled at Morris Middle School
In the news:
Meeting planned for
parents of students
who will attend Morris Middle School
A public meeting is planned for parents whose
children will attend Morris Middle School next year. The meeting
will be held at 5 p.m., Feb. 21 in the Morris Middle School School
If you have a child who is in kindergarten
through fifth grade who currently attends Bush, Meador or Atkinson,
your child will go to Morris Middle School for fifth and sixth
grades and then feed into the Beverly Hills Intermediate. If you
have a current sixth or seventh who attended Bush, Meador or
Atkinson, your child will go to Beverly Hills Intermediate next
The meeting will allow community input related
to these proposed changes. District administrators and principals
will be present to answer questions and gather information.
Through the 2004 bond election, the district
built Schneider, Lomax and Milstead Middle Schools. Next year,
campuses located at Hughes Road (Dr. Dixie Melillo Middle School),
the current San Jacinto Intermediate campus and the current
Southmore Intermediate location will also open. The district is also
being able to convert two fifth grade centers, De Zavala and Morris,
into middle schools serving both fifth and sixth graders.
||Community meeting planned for Melillo Middle School parents
In the news:
planned for parents
of students who will attend Melillo Middle School
A public meeting is planned for parents whose
children will attend Dr. Dixie Melillo Middle School next year. The
meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m., Feb. 21 in the Thompson
Intermediate School cafeteria.
If you have a child who is in kindergarten
through fifth grade who currently attends Burnett, Stuchbery,
Frazier, your child will go to Dr. Dixie Melillo Middle School for
fifth and sixth grades and then feed into the Thompson Intermediate.
If you have a current sixth or seventh who attended Burnett,
Stuchbery or Frazier Elementary, your child will go to Thompson
Intermediate next year. Parents who have fifth graders attending
Morris Fifth Grade Center this year are also invited to the meeting.
The meeting will allow community input related
to these proposed changes. District administrators and principals
will be present to answer questions and gather information.
||South Houston Elementary students take top spots in rodeo art contests
In the news:
take top prizes in rodeo art contests
As the only certified and specialized art
teacher at the elementary school level in Pasadena ISD, South
Houston Elementary School first-year teacher Almarosa Umanzor is
already creating success among her students as four of them recently
took the top prizes in the Pasadena and Houston Livestock Show and
Rodeo art contests.
"I was so pleased and happy that my students
won these awards," said Umanzor. "I couldn't' stop smiling when I
saw them win. With this being my first year as a teacher, I didn't
really know what to expect. But it gave me great relief when I saw
students working hard on their projects because it all paid off."
South Houston Elementary third grader Angel
Ruiz took first place in the 3rd-5th grade
category in the Pasadena Livestock Show and Rodeo art contest. In
the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo art contest, first grader Edith
Silva received "Best of Show" and first and fourth graders Cesar
Velasquez and Hector Davila both finished in the contest as
Davila's artwork illustrated two expressionist
red bulls based on artist Franc Mark. Davila said it feels great to
have been a finalist in the Houston competition.
"I felt so excited because I was considered as
one of the best," he said. "It was very emotional to find out my
artwork was selected. Next year, I hope to do something different
and even better."
South Houston Elementary's principal Dr. Karen
Holt said she is proud of her students and that competitions serve
as avenues for them to showcase their numerous talents.
"Our goal is to teach and expect students to
always do their best and to create high quality products, regardless
of competition," Holt said. "The competitions are ways for students
to show off their work when they autograph their work with
excellence. In addition, the student receives affirmation about
their talents from a greater and more diverse audience as well as
experiences encouraged risk-taking, self-confidence and pride."
Umanzor said it's important for elementary-aged
students to be involved in visual arts because art education
contributes to the overall education of students as well as serves
as a way for students to fulfill a sense of achievement from a very
"Art is capable of providing an atmosphere
where children are able to feel they can take chances without fear
of disapproval or disappointment if the results end in failure," she
said. "It promotes open-ended activities and critical evaluations
that help develop an atmosphere of mutual respect and freedom of
expression. Visual arts helps children learn about their own history
and culture, as well as those of others, giving students their own
view of the rich and interesting world around them."
Holt said the art curriculum is beneficial to
students at the elementary level because it serves as an outlet for
students to express themselves and relieve stress from the intense
academic programs they are involved in.
"Art is a component of multiple intelligences
that addresses all learning styles, but it is not usually developed
at the elementary level due to a lack of time and specialized
training," she said. "Some of our students do not have special
talents or interests in music or PE, but they may really excel in
art activities. TAKS skills can also be reinforced through art, and
it is a great way for students to learn different ways to express
While drawing, sketching and painting is fun
for these students, the competitions weren't an easy task, taking a
great deal of motivation and hard work from the students. Umanzor
said the three main things she believes it takes to be a good artist
are heart, respect and dedication.
"A student doesn't have to be good in drawing
or painting to be a good artist because if they don't have the
willingness to do art or have the respect for art they won't be
considered good artists," she said. "Competing in the contests was a
great jump for these students because I had to start of teaching
them very basic skills since most of them have never had an art
class before. I'm just happy to have students who are willing to
learn, hard working and most importantly appreciate art."
Umanzor teaches art to 653 students in
kindergarten through fourth grades. Holt said Umanzor has served as
a great asset to South Houston Elementary and to the education of
the students as she stays after school to tutor students in reading
as well as help them on projects.
"For the first time, we have a teacher who is
specialized and certified in children's art and is able to present
complicated skills at the appropriate developmental level of our
students," Holt said. "The students learn to model the artistic
styles of well known artists, which assist the students in
developing their own artistic style. Our students love going to art
and it's because of the fun and creative learning styles Alma brings
to the classroom."
||Gardens after-school program receives recognition
In the news:
Gardens Elementary School's Cooperative for After-School Enrichment
(CASE) program is one of four after-school programs in Harris County
that was recently recognized on the Harris County After-School
Initiative's (ASI) website.
Each month, four schools will be recognized on the ASI website for
their unique after-school programs and for the impact they are
making in their communities. Gardens CASE Coordinator Liliana
Rosales said she is honored.
"I feel very honored that we have received this recognition," she
said. "But the recognition is for the students. It's all about
Rosales has seven years of experience with Pasadena ISD and
Communities in Schools. This is the school's second year of the 21st
Century Community Learning Center CASE program, which supports the
creation of community learning centers that provide academic
enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children. The
program helps students meet state and local student standards in
subjects such as reading and math. In addition, the program offers
students a broad array of enrichment activities that complement
their regular academic programs and offers literacy and other
educational services to the families of participating children.
"Along with academic enhancement, enrichment activities and
character development, we teach our students to engage in critical
thinking through experimental activities," said Rosales. "They learn
to be independent and creative as well as to have high self-esteem
and to believe in their dreams, goals and in their great potential."
Over the years, the Gardens after-school program has provided a safe
place for students to continue to learn long after the last school
bell of the day has rung through fun, hands-on activities. Rosales
said it is important for her students to have this program.
"Most of these students' parents are working," she said. "We foster
relationships between caring adults and youth through positive
interactions as well as support our students' learning and personal
development. We encourage them to become caring, responsible adults
and productive professionals and citizens. This is a great way to
help our kids stay safe and actively learning even when the school
day is over."
Rosales said the program helps many families and children of the
community and that she loves being a part of the program's success.
"I believe in this program and in what we are implementing here-and
by believing-you always try to go beyond," she said. "There are no
limitations in what we do because we always try to do the best and
go beyond expectations."
||District alerts parents about incidents
In the news:
parents about incidents
Because the safety of our students is always our first concern, the
district is informing you know about incidents that have occurred in
the district so that you can take precautionary steps with your
children. Students at both Bailey and Stuchbery have reported
incidents that an adult male attempted to lure them into his car as
they were walking. The man was driving a small black truck with a
red stripe on the side. Since the incidents were in different areas
of the district, we wanted to let everyone know.
staff and police have been alerted and will be watching and doing
everything possible to protect your children. This message is not
meant to alarm you, but to inform you so you can take any
precautionary steps with your children.
have any information regarding this incident, we encourage you to
contact the Pasadena ISD Police Department at 713-740-0200.
la seguridad de nuestros estudiantes es siempre nuestra primera
preocupación, quise avisarle sobre incidentes que ocurrió en el
distrito así usted puede tomar cualquier medida precautoria con sus
niños. Estudiantes de la escuela Bailey y Stuchberry relataron que
un adulto intentó atraerlo en su coche cuando ellos caminaba después
de la escuela. El hombre conducía un troca pequeña con una raya roja
en el lado.
Nuestro personal y la policía han sido alertados y mirarán y harán
todo que podemos para proteger a sus niños. No se destina que el
mensaje lo alarme, pero informarle así usted puede tomar cualquier
medida precautoria con sus niños.
usted tiene alguna información en cuanto a este incidente, le animo
a ponerse en contacto con el departamento de Policía de Pasadena ISD
||Vietnamese election workers sought for school board elections
In the news:
for School Board elections
The Pasadena Independent School District wants to
hire Vietnamese election workers for the Trustee Election to be
conducted on Saturday, May 10, 2008.
Under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1975,
jurisdictions that possess populations that meet certain criteria, such
as limited English proficiency, are required to provide election
materials to the voters within that jurisdiction in their appropriate
language. For many years, PISD has provided voting materials in both
English and Spanish at all polling places. In a good faith effort to
accommodate voters, PISD began in 2003 to provide voting materials in
In addition, the school district would like to have
election clerks at several PISD polling places on election day to
provide Vietnamese language assistance to voters. If the district is
unable to recruit qualified election clerks for these polling places,
the district would like to recruit one election clerk to be housed in
the PISD Administration Building during the hours that the polls are
open on election day to provide Vietnamese language assistance via
telephone to any of the district's polling places where it may be
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on
Saturday, May 10, 2008. The hourly rate of pay for election clerks is
$10, and clerks will be compensated for 15 hours on election day.
Election clerks must be fluent in both oral and
written English and Vietnamese. In addition, they must be registered
voters residing within the Pasadena School District. PISD employees are
not eligible to serve as election clerks.
Anyone qualified and interested in serving in the
PISD Trustee Election on May 10 is asked to call the PISD Administrative
Services Office at (713) 740-0027 no later than Friday, February 8.
||Pasadena ISD puts hold on questionable meat
In the news:
Pasadena ISD puts
hold on questionable meat
The Texas Department of Agriculture asked area
school districts, including Pasadena ISD, to put on hold a meat that it
Pasadena ISD was shipped some of meat in question
from 21st Century Foods which received it from Westland Meat Company.
However, this meat had not been prepared or served to Pasadena ISD
students. According to published and broadcast reports, it is alleged
that Westland butchered weak or ill cattle.
The Texas Department of Agriculture advised
Pasadena ISD to keep the meat on hold until the district receives
notification as to the further steps that should be taken.
"We are thankful that we had not served the
questionable meat to our students because the safety and well-being of
our students is always our first priority," explains Candace Ahlfinger,
spokesperson for the district. "We are also thankful that our parents
and students do not have to worry about whether or not they ate the
||Meeting set for Melillo Middle School parents
In the news:
Meeting set for
Melillo Middle School parents
A parent informational meeting will be held on February 21, 2008 at 6:30
p.m. in the Thompson Intermediate cafeteria for all fourth grade parents
from Burnett, Frazier and Stuchbery elementary schools. This meeting
will be to discuss the transition for the 2008-2009 school year to Dr.
Dixie Melillo Middle School. For more information, call 713-740-5260.
||Golden Acres Elementary to celebrate 70th anniversary
In the news:
70th anniversary event
Golden Acres Elementary is celebrating
its 70th anniversary with a reception in the school
cafeteria from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, February 28. The campus
also is sponsoring a 5K Fun Run/Family Walk at 8 a.m. on
Saturday, March 1 in front of the school.
"We are really hoping to see a lot of former students and
faculty," said Principal Gloria Chomenko. "Golden Acres has
changed a lot during the last 70 years, but one thing that
has remained the same is the wonderful students and teachers
who have passed through these halls."
Located two blocks north of Spencer and two blocks west of
the Sam Houston Tollway, the original campus on Holly was
replaced in 1998 with the current building on Sycamore; the
school playground now encompasses the area where the first
"Golden Acres is a true neighborhood school," Chomenko said.
"We have great neighbors and we love being a part of this
The February 28 reception will feature many photographs
spanning Golden Acres' history, along with other
memorabilia. The Golden Acres PTO will be selling a 70th
anniversary cookbook for $8, and there will be a silent
auction of decade-themed gift baskets. All proceeds from the
cookbook and silent auction will benefit Golden Acres
Former teachers and students are invited to the reception.
All RSVP's and questions regarding the reception should be
directed to Golden Acres Elementary at 713-740-0600.
The 5K Fun Run/Family Walk will begin in front of the
school, located at 5232 Sycamore, at a.m. on Saturday, March
1. Pre-registration is highly recommended. People of all
ages are invited to participate. For registration
information, call Kellie Nelson at 713-740-0600, ext. 23135,
or email her at email@example.com. Proceeds from the
Fun Run/Family Walk will benefit the PTO in efforts to
purchase recreational equipment for the school.
||Memorial artist named finalist in Culture Shapers contest
In the news:
Memorial student is
in Culture Shapers art contest
Pasadena Memorial High School Roy Neely
has been chosen as one of fifteen finalists out of
approximately 1,300 entries in the Culture Shapers Visual
Art Contest. Neely is in contention for a $5,000 Grand Prize
award among other monetary and scholarship awards in the
Culture Shapers is a group of Houston-area businessmen
and women who are dedicated to serving student artists in
many ways, including unique visual and performing arts
contests. If students attend high school in Harris, Waller,
Liberty, Chambers, Galveston, Brazoria, Fort Bend or
Montgomery counties - they are eligible to compete for more
than $100,000 in cash prizes.
||Will Rogers Follies to take stage at Sam Rayburn
In the news:
'Will Rogers Follies'
set to take
stage at Sam Rayburn
In their young age, Milstead Middle
School sixth graders Eduardo Cabrera and Brittany Rios,
fifth grader Tristan Sanchez, and Laura Bush Elementary
School first grader Aidan Sanchez, are becoming stars as
they are taking center stage in Sam Rayburn High School's
theater arts department's upcoming presentations of the
famed Broadway musical "The Will Rogers Follies."
Milstead choir teacher Pam Goza said she suggested that the
students be given roles in the show because of their
"I feel like these kids have the vocal qualities and
personalities the directors were looking for in casting
these roles," said Goza. "They are all great choir students
at Milstead, and when I found out that Tristan had a younger
brother who likes to sing, too, I suggested that both he and
The Will Rogers Follies is a Tony Award-winning musical
focusing on the life and career of famed humorist and
performer Will Rogers, using the Ziegfeld Follies as a
backdrop, which he often headlined, and describes every
episode in his life in the form of a big production number.
This musical will be Rayburn's fourth to perform. A free
preview for senior citizens will be held tonight at 6 p.m.
in the school's auditorium. Show times are Thursday, Jan. 31
through Saturday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7. For more
information, call the school at 713-740-0330.
"This is a great show because it tells the audience about
who Will Rogers was," said Rayburn's choir instructor Tony
Tuckwiller. "His humor and comments are as relative today as
they were when he was alive. Being an election year, his
comments about politics and politicians will resonate with
Will and Betty Rogers were parents of four, and Tuckwiller
held auditions for each of the four Rogers children's parts.
Kids interested in the parts learned a part of one of the
songs as well as a few steps from one of the dances and
auditioned individually. Eduardo is cast as the Rogers'
oldest son Will, Jr., Brittany as their daughter Mary,
Tristan as son James, and Aidan as their youngest Freddy.
All four students will be singing, dancing and acting.
"I think they were good selections for these roles because
they love to be in the spotlight and because they all sing
well and move well on stage," said Goza. "This serves as a
fantastic learning experience for these children because
they get to see what live theater is all about. It's a lot
of hard work that really pays off in performance, and they
get to experience it from a totally different perspective
than most students."
Frank Sanchez, father to Aidan and Tristan and a Milstead
teacher, said he is proud that his sons were selected to
perform in this musical.
"I am thrilled to have such talented children," Sanchez
said. "They are awesome boys, and this experience will teach
them how to prepare, rehearse and love the ambience of the
theatrical atmosphere. They will also learn about
collaboration and teamwork."
Tristan said he his excited about his upcoming performances
and that he isn't nervous.
"I'm not nervous because my parents told me not to look at
the crowd," said Tristan. "It's awesome because I have never
been in a play before."
Tuckwiller said the collaboration between the high school
students and the younger students has been an enjoyable
experience for all and that it will show on stage.
"Audiences always enjoy seeing young kids on stage, and we
have the good fortune to have ones that are good singers and
dancers," said Tuckwiller. "The high school students have
taken the younger ones under their wings and have taken care
to be sure everything goes smoothly for them. It's been
The performances are directed by Peggy Hinojosa, who has
been the choreographer for Rayburn's previous musicals.
Analie Cuadras will play Betty Rogers, and Theatre Under the
Stars students Michael Carver and Storey Hinojosa will play
Will's father Clem Rogers and Ziegfeld's Favorite,
Paul Driscoll, a professional magician who is a Rayburn
graduate, will be appearing as part of "Texas Jack's Wild
West Show" in the first act. The two-time "Magician of the
Year" honoree is a frequent headliner at the famed Magic
Castle night club in Hollywood, where he recently appeared
with Jason Alexander, who played the character George on the
hit television comedy series "Seinfeld."
The students built a staircase over six feet tall and 40
feet wide that they will be dancing on, consisting of five
walking steps and five platform steps that fills the entire
"It takes hard work to put on a show, but the effort is
worth it, so we encourage the community to come out at least
one of the nights and enjoy the show," Tuckwiller said. "No
other high schools in the area have done this recently, and
it's unique because not only do the characters tell a story,
but they interact with the audience as well as they tell
about the life of Will Rogers."
||Beverly Hills Intermediate students turn walls into murals
In the news:
Beverly Hills art
students turn school walls into murals
is covering the walls between rooms 2403 and 2405 in Beverly
Hills Intermediate School - and it's not wallpaper.
It's the artwork and creativity of the eighth grade advanced
"The renovation that took place on the former Dobie High
School really transformed the building," said Lisa Anders,
the school's advanced art teacher. "In the process, they
stripped the school of any identity, turning it into a real
But in the world of art, blank canvases are made to be
painted on, so Anders took advantage of the opportunity at
hand, creating a year-long project to cover the walls of the
art wing with a floor to ceiling (7'7" tall by 104'10" long)
mural of her students' artwork.
A former graphic design artist, Anders knew how to
manipulate photographs and used her talents from her former
vocation to create the idea of a collage of student
photographs as a mural.
"I wanted something that not only gave a bit of art history
but that also created a sense of ownership for the
students," she said. "This is their wall, their project."
Anders snapped a series of photographs, and then digitally
added a collage of masterworks onto the wall. Once the
images were printed students traced sections of the montage
onto a transparency, which was then projected onto the wall
for the students to trace.
In addition to painting the images, students also researched
various artists and artworks from the collage, which they
presented at the end of the third six weeks. As extra
publicity for their efforts, the students also created and
displayed "Wanted" fliers around the school for their
"crime" of marking on the walls. A lock-in was held after
school until 11 pm during the fall semester for students to
paint as well.
"Getting started was the hardest part," said Anders. "We had
a lot of problems with getting the sizing right. Now, a
90-minute project just flies by. The students get so
absorbed in what they're doing that they don't even realize
it's time to pick up."
Anders is currently writing a grant to travel abroad to see
some of the artworks in person. The mural will be finished
by the end of the semester.
||Rohm and Haas donates $5,000 to Pasadena ISD Education Foundation
In the news:
Rohm and Haas donates
to Education Foundation
As part of its commitment to the
education of local students, Rohm and Haas Texas Inc.
recently made a $5,000 donation to the Pasadena ISD
Rohm and Haas' manager of communications Beth Dombrowa said
the donation is just a small part of the organization's
goals in supporting education.
"Foundations depend on donations from businesses and
individuals to provide additional funding that supports the
extraordinary efforts of educators and students," said
Dombrowa. "Rohm and Haas is a tremendous supporter of
educational programs around the globe, and we recognized
Pasadena ISD's foundation as a giving opportunity that
compliments our goals of helping to develop learning and
The Pasadena ISD Education Foundation enhances the quality
of the district's educational services by providing funds
for educational programs and activities, which either have
not been funded or have been under-funded by the normal
operating budget, allowing teachers to provide innovative
instruction that increases student achievement and expands
community involvement. Funds are donated to the foundation
by the community and business leaders. To date, the
foundation has awarded a total over $500,000 to teachers
Pasadena ISD's director of the education foundation Cindy
Parmer said teacher and student dreams become realities
because of the donations from organizations such as Rohm and
"The generosity of Rohm and Haas has impacted many Pasadena
students directly by funding mini-grants to enhance their
education," said Parmer.
Dombrowa said she believes it's important for the company to
be involved in the local education system because today's
students are tomorrow's business, civic and community
"In the not-so-distant future, students currently enrolled
in Pasadena ISD will be responsible for making major
decisions that will impact all of our lives," she said.
"It's critical that we help provide them with the foundation
they need to make solid choices."
Rohm and Haas' primary involvement in Pasadena ISD is
through its annual calendar art contest. This is the
company's 21st year to hold the contest, and winning
students, which Pasadena ISD has had many over the years,
have their art featured in a calendar that is popular in the
community. In past years, the competition has required that
students enter artwork with a theme of "responsible care."
For this school year, Dombrowa said the theme of the contest
was changed to "Chemistry: Imagine the Possibilities."
"We want students to recognize the role chemistry and the
chemical industry play in their every day lives," she said.
"Our primary interest in our efforts in the school system is
to promote educational excellence in the areas of math,
science and technology. However, we want all students,
regardless of their chosen path, to have confidence in their
own ability to drive change and improvement."
Along with its annual calendar art contest, Rohm and Haas is
also involved in a variety of employee volunteerism
activities and giving initiatives supporting educational
outreach programs, conservationism and a wide variety of
health, human services and cultural organizations.
"Our employees have very generous spirits, and many of them
donate their own time and money to local organizations that
help to improve life every day life," said Dombrowa.
Dombrowa said she thinks it's important for students to have
opportunities to interact with local organizations such as
Rohm and Haas because everyone has a responsibility to help
students succeed whenever possible.
"It's beneficial for students to see and understand the
opportunities they have to develop successful, rewarding
careers," she said. "In our case, it's also important for
students to understand the economic and social rewards of
living close to industry. Companies located in their
community are improving lives around the globe every day
through innovative products and services."
||PHS students gives from the heart to help 2-year-old cancer patient
In the news:
PHS students give
from the heart
to help 2-year-old cancer patient
face of Joshua Cranfill was still a happy one from his
recent second birthday as he wandered energetically
throughout the front office of Pasadena High School in his
Houston Texans pantsuit greeting students and employees with
a bright smile and showing off his soon-to-be famous
touchdown victory dance.
Although he has some 20 years before he faces the battles on
a professional football field, Joshua is somewhat prepared
as he has already faced one of the toughest battles a small
child ever could-cancer.
At only five months of age, Joshua, son of former Pasadena
High School agricultural teacher Allan Cranfill, was
diagnosed with a rare cancer in May 2006 that caused a tumor
to grow behind his left eye. After undergoing 48-weeks of
chemotherapy, the tumor went away only to return again in
April 2007. As the Cranfill's medical bills continued to
climb, Pasadena ISD employees and students have gone the
extra mile to help the struggling family.
Most recently, Pasadena High School students in the
constructive systems course hand-made 70 Christmas tree
ornaments raising more than $2,000, which the students gave
to the Cranfill family right before the holidays and two
days after Joshua's second birthday.
"Words can't describe how I felt," said Cranfill. "The
people of Pasadena, especially Pasadena High School, have
been so good to us since I started there, even way before
Josh's situation began. These students have so much going on
in their lives, and just to think they spent a little of
that time focusing on my family is so touching. We are so
blessed to have angels like these surrounding us."
And angels are exactly what the students made for Joshua as
the ornament design was two angels surrounding Joshua's
name. Victoria Harris, course instructor and fundraiser
initiator, said the ornament design represented the prayers
school employees and students are saying for Joshua's
"We've sustained many set-backs by our angels," said
Cranfill. "We have angels that we've never met that pray for
Josh and sign his website with inspirational messages,
angels in our family that spend every free moment with us to
help hold down the fort while we're in the hospital and
friends that pray for us every night. These students and
those who donated money are our newest angels."
Harris said she was inspired to start this fundraiser for
the family because both of her parents had cancer.
"The experience of watching someone you love go through the
brutal process of radiation therapy and chemotherapy is
devastating," Harris said. "I remember how helpless I felt
being part of that process with them. Through the
Caringbridge Foundation website, I witnessed the same
process happening in the life of my ex-coworker Allan and
his family. I wanted to help."
Harris modified the angel ornament, a pattern the class
already had, by adding Josh's name in the middle. From
there, the students made copies of the ornament and created
cutting patterns. Each student was in charge of cutting out
a stack of five ornaments on the scrollsaw, which is a task
Harris said her students had never done before.
"Stack cutting is an advanced method of scrollsaw cutting
where many pieces of wood are fastened together and cut all
at the same time," Harris said. "The process requires
patience and persistence, especially with the tedious
pattern we chose for the ornament. My kids felt like I had
thrown them in over their heads, but in the end, they made
70 beautiful ornaments."
After cutting the patterns, the students sanded, cleaned and
sprayed the ornaments with layers of primer and then gold
metallic spray paint. Once finished, the students cut and
glued bows so the ornaments could hang from a Christmas tree
in the school's front office. Cards were also attached to
the ornaments so those who made donations for the ornaments
could put their name and well wishes for the Cranfill family
on the card. The project took a total of 30 hours for the
students to complete. Harris asked for donations for the
ornaments to start at $10, but employees and students were
far more generous.
"I feel overwhelmed by the response I received from this
fundraiser," said Harris. "I've never attempted anything
like this. It's kind of like throwing a party and wondering
if anyone will come. I didn't need the Santa Anna winds to
start this fire. I presented an opportunity and our school
spirit took over. I was only the spark. God bless all the
generous hearts that created this success."
Cranfill said the making of the ornaments goes to show
people can make a difference in the lives of others even if
they don't have the money to give.
"I just feel that there is no such thing as a small act in
charity," he said. "Basically, these students turned one
hour a day at a scrollsaw into something that will allow a
family to pay medical bills and to stay together with a roof
over their heads. That's no small thing."
Harris said she thinks it's important for students to
participate in projects such as this one because kids
sometimes feel like they have nothing to give because they
don't have money.
"This was my way of demonstrating to my students that their
talents and skills are every bit as valuable as any amount
of money they could give," she said. "They have everything
they need in their hearts and in their hands to make a
difference in their communities."
While a hospital bed is no place for a child to spend his
days or nights, Joshua does it with bravery, determination
to overcome his illness and with his mother, father,
4-year-old sister Isabell and the thoughts and prayers of
many by his side. Cranfill said this experience has served
as the greatest learning opportunity his children could ever
"Even at two and four years old, this whole situation has
begun to teach my kids to take nothing for granted," he
said. "Cancer can take away, but it can give so much, too.
It has given me a closer relationship with my Lord, wife and
children, and it has given us all an opportunity to meet so
many caring people like these 18 high school students."
Cranfill said he and his wife have high hopes and dreams for
both of their children.
"Well, I hope Isabell's dream comes true and that she will
in fact one day become a princess," he said. "Josh is
destined to be an NFL quarterback or maybe a linebacker.
He's got the form tackle down by using Isabell as a guinea
pig. Truly, I just hope they live to eventually experience
the love of their own children. This experience has taught
us so much but most importantly that each day is a gift and
to treat it accordingly."
||Pasadena Memorial to present Beauty and the Beast
In the news:
Memorial to present
"Beauty and the Beast"
The Pasadena Memorial High School Fine
Arts Program invites Pasadena ISD employees and community
members to attend one of its seven performances of Disney's
musical "Beauty and the Beast."
Performances will be held on the
weekends of Feb. 1-3 and Feb. 7-10. All Friday and Saturday
showings begin at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees begin at
2:30 p.m. The school is located at 4410 Crenshaw, Pasadena,
Texas 77504. For ticket information and purchases, contact
the school at 713-740-0390.
||Junior Optimist named for month of January
In the news:
Houston Intermediate School eighth grader Kenneth Marshall
was recently named as the school's January Junior Optimist
of the Month.
Active in sports, Marshall was chosen as an optimist because
of his attitude and drive to be successful not only in
sports but in academics as well, said the school's peer
facilitator Gail Ward.
"We look for students to serve as optimists who have
positive attitudes and are good role models," Ward said.
"Kenneth serves as a role model because he makes good grades
as well as participates in a variety of activities."
Marshall said he is honored to serve as a Junior Optimist
for his school.
"I feel like I won some type of lifetime award," said
Marshall. "I am grateful for teachers and administrators
nominating me and am glad they see me as a role model for
Marshall is the school's football team's running back and
quarterback, the basketball team's center and the relay
team's anchor. Outside of school, Marshall volunteers at a
homeless shelter in downtown Houston called "Bread of Life."
He also participates in fundraisers and plays football for
the Southside Cowboys, which is in the Pop Warner League.
"Kenneth always comes to class with an attitude to succeed,"
said science teacher Emmitt Drumgoole. "The same drive and
determination he displays on the football field, he displays
in my classroom."
Marshall said he is in hopes of receiving a college football
scholarship after high school and ultimately wants to be a
professional football player.
"The Optimist of the month is a good program," Marshall
said. "It gives students a chance to express their feelings.
I'm grateful for this opportunity."
||Garfield student selected to attend state Bluebonnet Award luncheon
In the news:
selected to attend
state Bluebonnet Award luncheon
one of 10 students from around the state, Garfield
Elementary School fourth grader Jesse Paredes was selected
to attend the Texas Library Association's (TLA) annual Texas
Bluebonnet Award (TBA) luncheon in Dallas in April where he
will meet the author of this year's winning Bluebonnet book.
The Texas Bluebonnet Award is a reading program established
by the TLA to promote excellence in literature among
children, as well as encourage them to explore a variety of
current literature, develop powers of discrimination and
select their favorite book. Every year, a list of 20 books
determined by the TBA Committee is distributed to
participating schools and public libraries. Participating
students must read a minimum of five books from the current
Bluebonnet book list before they may vote for their favorite
title. The author of the book receiving the most votes is
then recognized at the annual luncheon. Voting is still in
session for this year's winner.
"I am happy and honored to have been selected to represent
my school at the Texas Bluebonnet Award luncheon," said
With more than 344 schools statewide applying for one of the
10 winning spots, the TLA chose Garfield to represent state
District 8, and Garfield students interested in attending
the luncheon had to write an essay on why they thought they
should be chosen to attend the Bluebonnet luncheon.
After the essays were submitted, a school committee reviewed
each essay. The writers of the best selected entries were
asked to make an oral presentation before the committee in
which committee members looked for oral presentation skills
including poise, enthusiasm and confidence, as well as
refined responses to general questions such as "What is your
favorite Bluebonnet book and why?"
The school's librarian Diane Pine said Paredes will serve as
a good representative for the school, Pasadena ISD and
District 8 at the luncheon.
"Jesse loves to read, and he especially enjoys Bluebonnet
books," said Pine. "In addition to loving to read, he
exhibits good citizenship and respect for his teachers and
other students in our school."
Paredes is only one of two Pasadena ISD students to attend
the TBA luncheon in the last 13 years, and Pine said her
school is proud of this honor.
"This recognition showcases our support for this program as
well as the importance of reading in our school, district,
city and state," Pine said. "It brings the relationship
between Pasadena ISD students and the Texas Bluebonnet Award
program closer. We all have a greater understanding of the
magnitude of this program as our student meets with children
from all over the state representing hundreds of other
schools and districts."
The five Bluebonnet books Garfield students are voting on
include The Greatest Skating Race written by Louise Borden,
Down Girl and Sit: On the Road written by Lucy A. Nolan,
Pompeii: Lost and Found written by Mary Pope Osborne, Ballet
of the Elephants written by Leda Schubert and George Crum
and the Saratoga Chip written by Gaylia Taylor.
Pine said meeting an author of a book a student has read is
a significant learning experience for children because it
provides them with opportunities to learn from the author
and allows them to find that events in their own lives are
important enough to become a story.
"It is important for children to meet an author because
authors explain how and why they write," said Pine. "Through
interactions with authors, children discover the actual
writing process and may use it as a mirror for their own
writing. The authors also give first-person accounts of
personal experiences in their own lives that have become
their story. They learn the heart of the writing process is
the creation of meaning and a sharing of their own
Pine said the program serves as an asset to schools as well
as to any reading program because it allows students to have
"The children are allowed to choose their favorite books to
read through this program," said Pine. "This independence in
book selection encourages students to reflect on their
reading and evaluate their preferences as readers. That's an
important skill to develop on their journey to becoming
||Dobie Academic Decathlon team heading to state
In the news:
Decathlon team heading to state
The Dobie High School Academic Decathlon team is heading to
the state competition once again as they finished second in
the regional event, which they hosted Jan. 18-19.
The state competition will be Feb. 29-March 2 in Plano.
Success is nothing new to Dobie's decathlon team, as they
claimed national titles in 1992 and 1996, along with
finishing third in the nation in 2003. In addition, they
have advanced to the state competition 10 times since 1991.
Members of the team include Mariel Arhelger, Chingyung Li,
Brandon Nguyen, Amado Gonzalez, Angela Salinas, Ivan Mejia,
Ely Dorantes, Brenda Montoya and Daniel Olivarez. The team
is coached by Steven Higginbotham and Brad Rampp.
Higginbotham is also a Dobie graduate and was a member of
the 1995 team that advanced to state. He is in his third
year of teaching U.S. History, sociology and psychology at
||CenterPoint awards district $126,000 for energy efficient building upgrades
In the news:
for energy efficient building upgrades
Energy awarded Pasadena ISD $126,345.75 for energy efficient
building upgrades implemented in 2006 through the Schools
Conserving Resources (SCORE) Program. The award was
presented district's regular January meeting of the Board of
The SCORE Program is a pilot program offered through
CenterPoint Energy to a limited number of school districts
to help improve energy efficiency and reduce school's energy
operating costs. ClearResult Consulting is implementing the
program for CenterPoint Energy.
Incentives are paid by CenterPoint Energy at $185 per peak
kilowatt of energy saved. The Public Utility Commission of
Texas provides the mechanism for calculating energy savings
achieved. The district is awarded an incentive check when
projects are finished and the new equipment is inspected.
"The incentives were an encouraging factor but the actual
motivation for our effort is the money we will be saving on
future utility bills," said Tom Swan, Pasadena ISD's
executive director of special projects.
Pasadena ISD joined the SCORE Program in June 2006. Since
then, the district has made a committed effort to identify
and implement energy saving measures. With assistance
provided through the SCORE Program Pasadena ISD identified
the district's facilities with the most
energy-saving potential. They also developed a master plan
so that the best approach toward reducing the district's
energy bills could be taken.
"The SCORE Program has helped our district save money and we
have been able to advance our students' learning
environments. We were surprised to find so many
opportunities to save energy and ultimately money. We are
beginning to fully recognize the importance and benefit of
reducing our energy use," Pasadena ISD Associate
Superintendent of Facilities and Construction
Julian Garcia said
The SCORE Program helps the district by facilitating a
focused look at what it can do to use energy most
efficiently. In order to achieve the incentive earning
goals, the program involved administrators at all levels in
the decision making process. The SCORE Program helps the
district's Financial Department understand that sometimes
spending more in the design and
construction phase of a project can lead to a bigger payback
in the utility savings for years to come.
"This aspect of the program is important because it gives us
the opportunity to calculate the lifelong cost of the
equipment and helps us plan for rising energy costs," said
Tom Douglas, the district's director of maintenance.
"CenterPoint is working to encourage and help our
communities conserve energy. We are excited to make Pasadena
ISD a part of our efforts" said Gary Shadwell, SCORE Program
Manager for CenterPoint Energy.
||Pasadena High BPA students put on good showing at regionals
In the news:
Pasadena High BPA
students put on
good showing at regionals
group of 55 students competed in the Business Professionals
of America Regional competition this past Saturday at Clear
Brook High School. PHS brought home a total of 48 medals.
Also, Coral Cruz won the BPA Region 5 Presidential
election. She will be representing our Region in
The following students were named
State Alternates in their events:
Alexandria Heysquierdo 6th
place Financial Math
Esteban Aguirre- 5th place
Magie Anab- 4th place
Melissa Valverde- 5th place
Amy Story-5th place
Fundamental Word Processing
Jorge Ramirez- 4th place
Advanced Word Processing
Daysy Valdez- 6th place
Coral Cruz-5th place Desktop
Victoria Esquivel- 6th place
Legal Office Systems
Luz Palacios, Aracely Reyes, Laura
Martinez- 3rd place Website Design Team
Cecilia Delgado- 4th place
Graphic Design Promotion
Nathali Fernandez- 4th place
Vanessa Zamarron- 3rd place
Michael Torres- 3rd place
Advanced Interview Skills
Jesus Benavidez- 6th place
Human Resource Management
Samantha Herrera- 3rd place
Presentation Management Individual
Leslie DeLaCruz, Mario Hernandez,
Stephanie Reyes- 5th place Presentation
The following students were named
State Qualifiers and will be representing Pasadena High
School at the State competition in Dallas:
Adriana Tovar- 2nd place
Esteban Aguirre- 2nd place
Noel Gutierrez- 1st place
Erica Solares- 2nd place
Alexandria Heysquierdo- 3rd
Esteban Aguirre, Adriana Tovar, Erica
Solares- 2nd place Financial Analyst Team
Lesly Villareal- 2nd place
Basic Office Systems
Rubi Del Toro- 3rd place
Medical Office Systems
Alexandria Heysquierdo, Coral Cruz,
Melissa Valverde, Cynthia Martinez- 1st place
Administrative Support Team
Ruth Danford- 1st place
Administrative Support Research Project
Alexandria Heysquierdo- 3rd
place Administrative Support Concepts
Daniela Luna- 1st place
Digital Media Production
Jassmine Duron and Wendy Areedondo- 1st
place Video Production Team
Irene Guerrero 2nd place
Graphic Design Promotion
Daniel Cerda- 1st place
Vanessa Zamarron, Michael Torres,
Victoria Esquivel- 2nd place Presentation
||Ruth Rabago named principal of Pomeroy Elementary School
In the news:
Ruth Rabago named
a sense, Ruth Rabago is heading back "home" as the newly
appointed principal of Pomeroy Elementary.
Rabago served as an assistant principal at Pomeroy from
2000-2003 under the guidance of then-principal Susan
Blalock. She said she has always held a special place in her
heart for the campus.
"It was my first administrative job and the relationships
with the students, parents and teachers created a huge
family atmosphere," she said. "As principal, it will be just
like coming home again."
In Rabago's new position, she will replace Liz Ortiz, who
was recently named principal of North Central Middle School,
which will open next fall.
Since 2004, Rabago has served with Blalock once again as
assistant principal at Morris Fifth Grade Center. Rabago
credits Blalock for helping prepare her to lead her own
campus. "Susan is my mentor and a great principal," she
said. "I owe so much to her. I will never forget her."
Rabago began her teaching career in 1996 in the
Lufkin-Nacogdoches area, before coming to Garfield
Elementary as a peer facilitator in 1998. She was then
promoted as assistant principal at Pomeroy in 2000 and left
the district in 2003 and served a short stint as a bilingual
teacher in Nacogdoches ISD. She returned to the district in
November 2003 as an assistant principal at Jessup
Elementary. Rabago received both her bachelor's and master's
degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Rabago and her husband Joe (assistant principal at Miller
Intermediate) have three children, Emmah, 5, Ellie, 2, and
Tre, 7 months.
||Grant will provide added muscle in fighting internet crimes against children
In the news:
$250,000 grant will
provide added muscle
in fighting internet crimes against children
The Pasadena ISD Police
Department has made a positive impact when it comes to
cracking down on internet crimes against children, making
over 20 arrests in the past year. And now, its impact will
be even greater.
The department was recently awarded a $250,000 grant from
the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice
and Delinquency Prevention to establish an Internet Crimes
Against Children (ICAC) Task Force responsible for
responding to online child exploitation in Texas. Pasadena
ISD is the only school district police force in the nation
that has been awarded the grant.
"This grant will give us the additional resources we need in
fighting this ongoing problem and bring these offenders to
justice," said Pasadena ISD Detective Matthew Gray.
Gray has led the efforts behind the many internet crime
stings conducted by the department over the past year, in
addition to performing various other duties for the
department. The grant will now enable him to exclusively
focus all of his attention on investigating internet crimes
against children, as he serves as the lead investigator for
the Southern Texas ICAC unit. Pasadena ISD will work with
other Harris County agencies and the National Center for
Exploited Children as they investigate those who prey on
children using technology and the internet.
The ICAC task force program is a national network of 59
multi-agency law enforcement organizations that investigate
such crimes. The program was developed in response to the
increasing number of children and teenagers using the
internet, the proliferation of child pornography and the
heightened online activity by sexual predators searching for
illicit contact with underage victims.
"When investigating online child predators, the one thing
that I always keep in mind is that there is always a 'live'
victim somewhere," Gray said. "We then use the information
we have to capture their offender and take them offline and
off the streets."
Gray said one of the main tools in combating these internet
crimes is education. "Information is a powerful tool," he
said. "One of the goals of this task force is to give
presentations to principals, students, parents and community
members. By knowing the dangers and how these predators
attempt to manipulate the system, it is an extra resource to
ensure the safety of our young people."
In addition, Gray stressed that anyone who suspects internet
crimes taking place against children are encouraged to use
"cyber tip-lines," which are linked to law enforcement
agencies, who will then investigate the alleged activity.
"We want to make sure the public is well-informed about
these crimes," Gray said. "We will aggressively investigate
these cases to the fullest extent of the law."
||Sam Rayburn students help eighth graders prepare for high school
In the news:
Sam Rayburn students
eighth graders for high school
from eighth grade to high school isn't always an easy task
for most students. But Park View Intermediate eighth graders
recently gained some insight into the 'big move' from Sam
Rayburn High School freshmen and seniors as part of the
school's GEAR UP program.
GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for
Undergraduate Programs) is a federally funded six-year
initiative currently serving more than 2,800 eighth graders
at eight of Pasadena ISD's 10 intermediate schools. GEAR UP
is designed to encourage students to attend either a college
or university after their high school graduation and to
prepare them for college success. Park View's GEAR UP
coordinator Laurie Etnyre said holding the transitional
meetings with Rayburn students have helped their program
reach its goals.
"Having the opportunity to speak with high school students
allowed our eighth graders to develop a better understanding
of what it will be like to move into the ninth grade,"
Etnyre said. "Hopefully their discussions with the Rayburn
students helped them understand how important it is to
attend class and to always do their homework and turn it in
on time, which will also ultimately better prepare them for
A panel of seven Rayburn students including three freshmen
who attended Park View last year and four seniors discussed
a variety of topics with the eighth graders including
extra-curricular activities, time management, Pre-AP and AP
classes, and taking the PSAT, ACT and SAT.
"I hope the students listened to what we said, and hopefully
they plan to participate in school activities and keep their
grades up," said Rayburn senior Julie Nguyen. "I also hope
they understand that high school is a step closer to being
on their own in the real world, so they can't slack off
anymore if that's what they're used to doing."
Park View eighth grader Gabriel Florez said speaking with
the high school students made him feel less nervous about
"I have a better perspective and understanding now of what
high school is going to be like," he said.
Rayburn's freshmen counselor Sandra Henry said students will
face the challenge of having to pass all their classes every
year because now graduation requires 26 credits as compared
to the required 24 credits in the 2005-2006 school year.
"High school is fun but there is little time or tolerance
for foolishness that takes time away from academics," said
Henry. "The faculty is under pressure to teach certain
concepts and expect their students to continue to learn on a
Etnyre said some other major differences between high school
and eighth grade include the size of the campus, the number
of students and more strict tardy rules.
"Eighth graders can start preparing for high school now by
making sure they go directly to their classes instead of
slowly making their way to class while they socialize, and
they need to make sure they write down what their
assignments are and be sure to turn them all in," she said.
"They can also help themselves make a smooth transition by
taking school more seriously this last semester and by doing
their very best."
Henry said students can also start preparing themselves for
high school by increasing the amount and level of material
they read every week as well as mentally prepare themselves
about coming to high school and being serious about
preparing for life after high school.
"I think asking questions and listening to experienced high
school kids was a good way to understand what high school
expects of us," said Park View eighth grader Favian Cortez.
Etnyre said the Rayburn students offered the eighth graders
good advice and that overall the transitional meetings were
"The high school students did a wonderful job speaking to
our eighth graders about moving into high school," said
Etnyre. "They were excited about talking to them, but they
were also serious when and stressed the important areas with
the students. I, along with my students, were so impressed."
||Students receive martial arts lessons through $60,000 in scholarships
In the news:
martial arts lessons
through $60,000 in scholarships
successful in life, young people must learn the lessons of
self-respect and self-discipline, which is why Kuk Sool Won
of Pasadena has awarded more than $60,000 in martial arts
scholarships to Pasadena ISD students.
Named in honor of one Pasadena ISD student's aunt, Kuk Sool
Won began the Sylvia Harding Scholarship program for
Pasadena ISD students in grades K-12 in January 2006. The
scholarships hold a monetary value of $1,500, which includes
testing costs, 12 calendar months of training and one
uniform for each scholarship winner.
Nineteen students from 10 campuses were recently awarded
including Michael Rocha and Shellsea Avina from Morales
Elementary, Javier Elizondo and Estefania Zarazva from
Bailey Elementary, Gaby Tovor and Amanda Mireles from De
Zavala Fifth Grade Center, Celestana Rivera and Kenesha
Williams from Jensen Elementary, Janette Castillo from
Gardens Elementary, Jonathan Solis and Ricardo Ocha from
South Houston Elementary, Stephanie Hernandez and John
Harris from Parks Elementary, Gerald Gonzalez and Diamaris
Sanchez from Young Elementary, Clarissa Hernandez and
Jamisson Wilson from Burnett Elementary, and Brennan Guidry
and Rebecca Stephens from Moore Elementary.
Kuk Sool Won co-owner Jason Franklin said the ultimate goal
of the program is to have at least one student from each
Pasadena school attending classes on scholarship. "Reaching
out to our local schools gives us a great opportunity to
have a positive impact on the lives of the children in our
community," he said. "As long as we are able to bring the
lessons of respect, discipline and self defense to as many
students as possible, then we are achieving the true idea
behind this program."
Each of these scholarships were awarded to students who
attended Franklin's "Honest Talks" in their schools and then
wrote an essay on how they believed martial arts would
improve their life. The "talks" are centered on issues
present in today's schools and among young people. The two
most popular topics are "Dealing with Bullies" and "The
Three Selfs: Self Respect, Self Discipline and Self
Defense." Each essay was endorsed by a parent or guardian as
well as a faculty member before consideration.
"The primary goal of our entire program is to improve the
lives of our students outside our school by what they are
learning inside our school," said Franklin. "If we teach our
children 'Self Respect,' we will give them the power to say
'No.' If we teach our children 'Self Discipline,' we will
give them the power to say 'Yes.' If we are able to give our
children both of these, they will provide the next
generation with a better culture and society than we have
Aside from the mental development the students are offered
at Kuk Sool Won, the students are also offered physical
benefits through 20 different kicks and hand strikes, seven
different moving forms (each of which takes several months
to learn properly), as well as 226 different situational
"Regardless of what we as parents may like to believe, the
world we grew up in isn't here anymore," said Franklin. "Our
children have to be taught a new way to deal with the never
ending barrage of situations thrown at them on a daily
basis. It is the responsibility of every parent, teacher,
businessman and politician to help these children thrive in
the culture and society we have provided for them."
Pasadena ISD's director of school and community relations
Cindy Parmer said the scholarships provided by Kuk Sool Won
offer unique and valuable opportunities for Pasadena
"By offering these scholarships to our students, Kuk Sool
Won is providing a resource beyond the academic
classroom-one that reaches into the community itself," said
Parmer. "The district is fortunate to have partnerships such
as this one. Kuk Sool Won has truly shown they care about
the youth of our community, and we are grateful for their
||Motivational speaker prepares Jackson students for TAKS, life
In the news:
Jackson students for TAKS, life
her own journey into the future, Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch
recently reached out to tomorrow's future and invited
Jackson Intermediate eighth graders to join her on the
pathway to success.
After serving as a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army for two
decades and being recognized as the highest-ranking Hispanic
woman in the US Army Combat Support Field, Kickbusch decided
to retire from the military to fill her mother's dying wish
to support the children and families of America and Mexico
by founding the Educational Achievement Services, Inc (EAS).
EAS is a group of highly-qualified and experienced trainers
and professionals that provide services and products that
develop leadership qualities. Through her 10 years as the
president of EAS, Kickbusch has worked with more than one
million children and their parents in 43 states to empower a
new generation of Hispanic leaders.
As part of Jackson's GEAR UP program, Kickbusch was asked to
speak to the students to help motivate them to do well on
their upcoming TAKS tests. "This test is everything to you
right now because it will follow you the rest of your life,"
Opening her speech with laughter and finishing it in tears,
Kickbusch used her life as one of eight children to
immigrants living in a two-bedroom house in Laredo to
explain to the students that anyone is capable of
accomplishing anything they put their minds to.
"My mother was a maid, but she didn't just clean toilets-she
made them sparkle," Kickbusch said. "And that's what we're
asking you to do with this TAKS test. Don't just go in there
and take it. Make the most of your abilities, and do the
best you possibly can."
During her speech, Kickbusch pointed out to the students
that the United States is ranked 28th in the world in high
school graduation. "We live in the richest country in the
world," she said. "But this just goes to show that money
doesn't always mean success."
Instead, Kickbusch told the students they could find wealth
and success in family, culture and faith, as well as in
respecting oneself and others and becoming lifelong
"Growing up in my family and with my parents, I knew respect
had to be a part of my life," said Kickbusch. "Money will
never define me, as it should never define you. I'll always
be proud of who I am and where I came from, and I'll never
apologize for it. You, too, should always be proud of what's
inside of each and every one of you."
Along with more than 300 of his peers and with tears in his
eyes, eighth grader Erik Aguirre said Kickbusch's speech
made him realize anything is possible as long as you work
hard. He said her words will inspire him to attend college
and pursue engineering.
"What she had to say inspired me a lot because she tells you
her true life story about how she came from nothing," said
Aguirre. "My family and I relate to her story in many ways.
I will be the first person in my family to go to college,
and I really want to succeed."
As she distributed hugs to individual students moved by her
speech, Kickbusch encouraged them to believe in themselves
and to work hard at any task in front of them for the sake
of their country.
"You need to feel the importance of education because life
is going to give you some tough times," she said. "But you
need to think and make good choices because America needs
Along her journey, Kickbusch has earned numerous awards
including the Legion of Merit, the National Defense Service
Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (four times), the Army
Achievement Medal (twice), the 2005 National Mujer Award by
the National Hispana Leadership Institute, the 2005 Society
of Our Wise Women Award from Bennett College, the 2006
Hispanic Heritage Foundation Leadership Award and the
National Image's Uniformed Services Award for significant
contributions in the areas of civil/human rights, race
relations, equal opportunity, human resources and public
While she said she is proud of them all, Kickbusch said
there is more to being a leader than being decorated with
As her personal mission, Kickbusch said, "Leadership is not
about you. It is about the legacy we leave behind. We must
plant the seed of tomorrow's leadership in our children
today. We need to feed our youth positive nourishment such
as mentoring, quality education, self-esteem, discipline and
values. Only then will we be able to harvest a great next
For more information about Kickbusch and EAS, please visit
**Kickbusch wrote her collection of
experiences in a book titled Journey to the Future: A
Roadmap for Success for Youth. The school purchased 300 of
the books for its eighth graders but still needs an
additional 80 books, which are $15 each. Please contact the
school's GEAR UP coordinator Pileirol Retta or the principal
Paula Sword at 713-740-0440 to help the school achieve its
goal of making sure each student receives a book.
||Young Elementary students present The Shoemaker and Elvis
In the news:
present "The Shoemaker and Elvis"
and Talented students and the choir at Young Elementary
presented the "The Shoemaker and Elvis" as part of their
Christmas events in December.
||Bailey Elementary students earn Kuk Sool Won scholarships
In the news:
Bailey students earn
Kuk Sool Won scholarhships
students earned Kuk Sool Won scholarships Bailey Elementary.
Fourth graders Estefania Zarazua and second grade student Javier
Elizondo wrote winning essays on How Discipline, Respect, and
Honor Can Impact Life. The scholarships will provide each
student with a complete calendar year of training, testing and
uniforms at no cost.
||Tina Knowles is special guest at Summit event
In the news:
Tina Knowles is
special guest at Summit event
Knowles, the mother of Grammy Award-winning musician Beyonce',
was the special guest at a Self-Esteem Forum held at The Summit
recently. She shared with our girls her ups and downs and
encouraged them to pursue their dreams. She will also be
presenting 5 girls who have improved behaviorally over a period
of time with 2-3 outfits from the clothing company, House of
Dereon, The school also hosted a Fashion Show, that was the
culminating event of several pre-event self esteem forum. The
purpose of the forum was to empower the female students to
believe in who they are and encourage them to move beyond
mistakes they have made and accomplish great things in their
||Park View program helps students dodge the dangers of the Internet
In the news:
Program helps Park
dodge the dangers of the Internet
at Park View Intermediate are learning to surf safely on the
Internet in the school's Cooperative for After-School Enrichment
The "Keep Kids Safe" Internet safety project is targeting middle
school students enrolled in after-school programs. Students attend a
teen summit where they discuss Internet safety issues. Through a
compelling, interactive software program called "Missing" by Web
Wise Kids, teens learn about Internet safety.
The program is being initiated by CASE and U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson
and $240,000 in federal appropriations funding. Lampson recently
visited Park View Intermediate to speak to students and promote the
Internet safety initiative.
"While computers are wonderful tools to explore the world and learn,
there may also be dangers associated with Internet usage," Park View
Principal Rob Hasson said. "This has become an increasingly pressing
issue, and I appreciate the efforts of CASE and Congressman Lampson
and their commitment to student safety."
During Lampson's visit to Park View, students demonstrated how the
Web Wise Kids program teaches them how to avoid Internet dangers.
"We hope that these students will use that knowledge as a source of
empowerment to help create Internet safety training materials for
younger children to use in their school districts and communities,"
said CASE Director Shannon Bishop.
Lampson said parents and teachers form the front line when it comes
to keeping children safe, but keeping children safe is a shared
responsibility. "The Web Wise Kids Program provides parents,
teachers and children with information to combat child exploitation
and will help make the Internet a safer place," he added.
The efforts at Park View are just one of many Internet safety
initiatives taking place districtwide. Pasadena ISD offers parent
Internet safety training as part of its usual safety sessions
offered through the Pasadena ISD Police Department and Safe and Drug
In May 2007, the Educational Technology Network, a group of school
district instructional technology professionals, held its first-ever
Internet Safety Week and provided age-appropriate curriculum
throughout the week to teach students what they need to look for and
how they can become better and safer Internet users. The topics
included cyber bullying, e-mail, social networking, and personal
information. The topics were taught with a positive tone that
encouraged computer and Internet usage while taking proper
precautionary measures. Plans are in the works for this year's
Internet Safety Week this May.
||Former Dobie football standout to play in East-West Shrine All-Star Game
In the news:
Former Dobie football
to play in East-West Shrine Game
Dobie High School standout and University of Arizona senior
defensive tackle Lionel Dotson is heading back to Houston on Jan. 18
to play in the East-West Shrine All-Star Game at Robertson Stadium
on the University of Houston campus.
graduated from Dobie in 2003, was one of the defensive leaders for
Arizona this year. He was a three-year starter and earned honorable
mention All-PAC 10 honors in 2006.
record-setting career at Dobie as a defensive end, Dotson was touted
as a top defensive recruit by the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas
Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. He also received high
praise by numerous regional football publications including Texas
Football. During his senior year at Dobie, Dotson was nominated for
the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and received the U.S. Marine Corps
Award for distinguished athletes.
Off of the football
field, Dotson is majoring in sociology at Arizona. He is the son of
Sheryl Dotson of Houston and Lionel Dotson, Sr. of Austin.
The East-West Shrine
Game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Tickets for the game may
still be purchased at the University of Houston ticket office.
||Memorial football player Bo Snelson receives national honor
In the news:
Memorial running back
receives national honor
one of the leading rushers in the Houston area, Pasadena Memorial
High School running back Bo Snelson turned the heads of many
onlookers. Now, he's doing it on a national level.
Snelson was recently named the Old Spice "Red Zone" Player of the
Year. He was one of 50 winners nationwide and was among 2,000
players nominated for the honor. His name will be listed among the
winners in the Feb. 7 edition of USA Today.
The junior tailback was the fifth leading rusher in the Houston area
this year, running for 2,134 yards and averaging 7.9 yards per
carry. He was also second in the area in rushing touchdowns with 31
successful trips to the end zone.
His father, John, is Memorial's head football coach. Upon hearing
the announcement of his son's honor, he said, "Needless to say, I am
one proud dad today."
Snelson was not only selected for the award because of his
performance on the field, but for his commitment in the classroom as
well. The criteria for the award included on-field performance,
along with exhibiting strong academic and leadership qualities. He
is enrolled in all advanced-level courses and currently ranks in the
top 20 of his class.
According to his father, Snelson would like to attend the Naval
Academy after graduation in May 2009.
"He's a great kid and gives 110 percent in everything he does
whether it's athletically or academically," said Memorial principal
Billye Smith. "We are very proud of him."
||Rayburn student named semifinalist in Coca-Cola Scholars Program
In the news:
Sam Rayburn student
in Coca-Cola Scholars Program
Sam Rayburn High School student Kimberly Palmer was recently
selected as a semifinalist in the Coca-Cola Scholars Program.
Palmer was among 43 high school students in the Greater Houston and
Southeast Texas area that were chosen as semifinalists. She is the
daughter of Keith and Susan Palmer.
The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is one of the largest
corporate-sponsored, achievement-based scholarship programs of its
kind in the United States. The students rank with approximately
2,000 seniors who are in the running for $3 million in college
scholarships that the foundation will award in spring 2008.
Students are selected as semifinalists based on their level of
academic excellence, leadership and achievement demonstrated in
school and community activities. As semifinalists, students must
submit additional information that will be reviewed in February by a
committee comprised of 30 educators from high schools and
universities throughout the United States. If they advance, the
students will be among a total of 250 finalists who will travel to
Atlanta April 24-27 to attend the Coca-Cola Scholars Weekend.
The students will then attend a final interview process that will
determine whether they are designated as either a National or
Regional Scholar. The 50 National Scholars will each receive a
$20,000 scholarship award, while the 200 Regional Scholars will
receive a $10,000 scholarship.
||Gig 'em Eagles: Pasadena High students tour Texas A&M
In the news:
Gig 'em Eagles:
Pasadena High students
take tour of Texas A&M campus
High School students recently received a taste of Aggie tradition as
the top 10 percent of the junior class visited the Texas A&M campus
for a field trip.
Junior class counselor Connie Clark said she took the students on
the field trip because many haven't visited a college campus before
and she wanted the trip to serve as motivation for the students to
keep their grades up.
"I want these students to walk on a university campus so they know
what it feels like," Clark said. "It was such a wonderful
experience, and the top 10 percent of the class are guaranteed
admission if they remain in the top 10 percent."
After receiving the university's 2006 VIC (Very Important Counselor)
award, Clark said she wanted the students to experience the academic
excellence, tradition and courtesy that was demonstrated to her when
she visited the campus.
"This was a good experience for these kids because they could see
how extremely rewarding the college experience is," Clark said.
"Students will never really have a clear perception of college until
they tour a campus."
Among the college perks that could be seen just by walking around
the campus, Clark said her students noticed there aren't any bells
in college, kids were riding bikes, there isn't a dress code,
students were campaigning for political and civil rights causes and
students were studying intensely.
"This experience enhanced the desire for those who want to go to
college because they are ready to begin the quest for goals," Clark
said. "They could see there is so much more to college than what
they hear about it. Many students feel as though a junior college is
their only choice, but walking on a college campus helps inspire
them to look at other possibilities. Students also realize that even
if they do attend a two-year college, they have broader choices
beyond the Houston area after they complete their basic studies."
The students were able to tour the Kyle Field Sports Museum and eat
lunch at the Sbisa Dining Hall. After lunch, they walked the campus
and asked their tour guide questions. They learned traditional Aggie
chants and toured the Corps of Cadets hall and museum. The students
also attended an admissions session in which they learned about
submitting an application, degree plans, financial aid and housing.
While A&M is an excellent choice for a university, Clark said it may
not be the perfect one for each individual and that each student
must choose a college that will best help them achieve their goals.
"While in high school, students are greatly influenced by the
opinions of others," Clark said. "They may see a brochure and
immediately like a campus or listen to friends and choose a campus.
But the bottom line is that a student must feel comfortable with the
choice. I strongly suggest students tour as many campuses as
possible and select the one that fits with their needs and/or
Clark said it's important for students to start preparing for
college at the start of their high school career. She said the
biggest mistake most students make is taking it easy their senior
year in high school. Taking Advanced Placement courses all four
years, and including a math class every year are ways to help better
prepare for college, Clark said.
"Students must take the highest level classes, and they must take
math each year in high school," said Clark. "Many students are
beginning college in remedial math because they want to have an easy
senior year. One year without math is a huge deficit when beginning
college, and many students get discouraged and fail or drop out
because they weren't prepared for their first year of college."
Taking the PSAT and the SAT and ACT before the end of their junior
is also an important way for students to be prepared for their
senior year and for college. Clark said doing well on the exit TAKS
exams will also help students earn exemptions on the Texas THEA or
During their trip to A&M, the students also had the opportunity to
speak with a couple of recent Pasadena High graduates who are now
attending the university. Clark said she hopes this experience and
speaking with PHS graduates will help the students realize anything
"My goal for these students was for them to see that attending a
major university is very possible for them, especially since they
have excelled while in high school and have achieved the
requirements for admission," Clark said. "I believe any student can
go to college if he/she chooses to do so. Through this experience, I
hope my kids realized that higher education is the stepping stone
for achieving goals."
||San Jacinto Intermediate students raise $1,000 for Officer Santa program
In the news:
raise $1,000 for Officer Santa program
Jacinto Intermediate School Teen Leadership classes helped hundreds
of local children through the holidays as they raised $1,000 and
collected 50 toys recently for the Pasadena Police Department's
"Officer Santa" program.
Officer Santa helps needy children and families in the Pasadena area
by providing toys, clothes and food needed or wanted for the
The school's teen leadership sponsor Tonia Reed said the classes
discussed the different programs in Pasadena that reach out to
people. After Pasadena Police Officer Bo Powers spoke with the
students about what they could do to help the Officer Santa program,
the students wrote a proposal to school administrators to allow them
to hold a dance where students could pay $5 or bring a new toy to
"I am completely overwhelmed at the hard work and generosity our
students showed in a time of need," said Reed. "These are kids that
saw a program in need and decided they wanted to be a part of it.
They are selfless givers."
Some Teen Leadership concepts taught in class include how to become
a better person and a societal contributor as well as how to develop
"Learning to lead helps the students with their goals in life," Reed
said. "This project gave them an opportunity to grow as individuals
and build their confidence through helping others. They need to
understand the difference they can make early in life so they can
see the bigger impact later on."
Teen Leadership student Aleyda Salazar said it's important for young
people to be active in the community by helping others.
"If we help in this way, people will see that we truly care about
our community and the people around us," Salazar said.
Reed said the students' participation in this project will also help
them build meaningful relationships and the value of helping others.
"Contributing to their community helps these kids understand that
school is not just for core subjects and that there is a lot more in
life they have to achieve," she said. "Some people feel as though
what they have or what they look like makes them the best when
really the greatness comes from within. They have to learn now they
can make a difference, and through their efforts, I hope my students
understand the impact they have had on others."