Guest Columnist January 19, 2019NewsComments Off on El Paso ISD High Schools Earn Cash for Athletics
Three EPISD high schools will get a boost in their athletic facilities thanks to their participation in a video contest by Powerade.
Franklin and Austin high schools each won regional grand prizes in the “Power Your School” contest from Powerade, earning them $10,000 toward improvements to the athletic equipment at their campuses.
Additionally, Bowie High School earned $2,000 for their participation. A total of $100,000 were awarded throughout the region.
“We wanted to show some the need for new weight room equipment and we also wanted to the wide range of diversity in our school and how so many athletes use the weight room,” Franklin’s student activities manager Angel Santa Cruz said. “We also wanted to be creative with our transitions, making sure we included every type of sport.”
Three students worked collaboratively with Santa Cruz, teacher Jose Bueno and football coach Frank Martinez to create the concept for the video, direct it, film it and edit the final product.
Senior Georgett Hernandez spent her time behind the video camera documenting footage of each sport captured in the video.
“It’s so cool to take part of something that will benefit the school for years to come,” she said.
Author: Reneé de Santos | Photo courtesy of Franklin HS – EPISD
Staff Report July 11, 2018NewsComments Off on Veterans, Volunteers Set to Help Improve Bowie Jardin this Saturday
An army of volunteers — including more than 50 U.S. military veterans from throughout the United States — will help bring new life to the thriving Jardín Bowie plan to bring new life to the Bowie Jardin this Saturday.
Mission Continues, a national organization that recruits veterans to volunteer in communities in an effort to help them readjust to civilian live, is organizing a clean up and other upgrades to the growing garden at Bowie.
The event will help ensure that the 5-year-old garden continues to flourish. The garden is an outdoor learning space where students plant, grow, nurture, harvest and sell produce.
“The El Paso 1st Platoon will be joining forces with the Bowie Jardin Community Garden to focus on food security in the bi-national Chamizal neighborhood,” said Simon Chandler, EPISD Community Schools Coordinator. “What better way to celebrate than with veteran volunteers serving alongside local partners and the community.”
Representatives from the organization visited El Paso in April to identify what neighborhood could benefit the most from the help of a service platoon.
“We find neighborhoods with challenging issues, and we deploy service platoons to help make a difference in the community,” said Kay Glaze, Mission Continues city impact manager. “This provides veterans an opportunity to make a big impact in El Paso.”
More than 50 veterans will fly into El Paso this weekend to plant and harvest produce, upgrade the irrigation system and improve the outdoor learning spaces.
The students receive class credit to cultivate the crops that sit along the southside of the campus. The learning experience also introduces them to the tastes and growing needs required to propagate herbs and veggies such as Swiss chard, basil, oregano, figs, eggplant, chile, nopales and pomegranates.
“More tasks will be added as the project develops,” Chandler said. “We are seeking volunteers to complete this project so please invite your friends, family and any large groups to enjoy this day of service in El Paso.”
The service day will take place this Saturday, starting at 9 a.m.
For more information on how to join the El Paso 1st Service Platoon, click here.
Yolitzma Aguirre May 2, 2018NewsComments Off on Segundo Barrio, Chamizal Residents Share Reasons Behind EPISD Bus Hub Protest
Tuesday afternoon, the parents and community of Bowie High School gathered to send a message to El Paso Independent School District (EPISD): “Education Yes, Contamination No.”
I spoke with Hilda Villegas and Maria Luisa Amaya, both women are part of ‘Familias Unidas de Chamizal’ and are also concerned parents. Hilda explained to me that the parents and the community are outraged.
For the last 3 years they have been fighting the El Paso Independent School District as they continue to move forward with their plans to tear down the Bowie baseball field and build a transportation hub that would house 124 school buses.
Along with the buses, comes contamination to the quality of air and water for the surrounding area. Segundo Barrio has already been struggling for years to get help from the city in regards to traffic from the international bridge just next door, which has elevated smog and toxins in the air.
“Our kids are the ones suffering, we have seen asthma and other conditions associated to bad air quality, on the rise in the area. Bringing 124 buses, 300 employees and their vehicles, would destroy the breathing air we have left. They are not interested in the betterment of our kids or investing in their education, they are here for their own profit,” Villegas told me.
The community has even had a specialist out to the area that did indeed find cause for concern with the air quality. (see report here)
The women explained to me that no one consulted families in the area prior to this passing within EPISD, they caught wind of what was happening sometime around 2015 and began to organize in the neighborhood, they have submitted signed petitions and are working with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid to fight for their community.
“They tax us for everything, they tax us for being part of the Chamizal, they tell us we have to pay for this and that because these are historic lands, yet the people are constantly being ignored” Amaya stated.
As Hilda Villegas spoke to the crowd, they reminded us that this issue goes deeper than the surface.
This is a a piece of Texas history, yet it is often ignored and not given the importance it deserves.
In 1949 the Bowie Bears and their legendary coach William Carson (Nemo) Herrera, made sports history as the first Champions, of the first Texas State High School Baseball Tournament ever held. They won against all the odds.
Racism in 1940’s meant that the team made up of Mexican Americans, could not eat at restaurants like other teams, if they found an establishment to serve them they set up chairs in the kitchen for the team, they were not allowed in the main dining area. As they continued winning games across Texas, their road to victory was not paved with support like other teams.
Often the young men were turned away from hotels, like in Austin during their quarter finals the boys slept in Army cots underneath Memorial Stadium.
In the final game it would be the no.1 seed, Stephen F. Austin High School who had been undefeated all season and had left all other teams in the dust scoring 10 or more runs to nothing in previous games, but they proved no match to El Paso’s own Bowie High School. The game would go down as one of the greats, with the Bowie Bears pulling the lead of 3 runs to an empty Austin scorecard and eventually winning the Championship Bowie 3 – Austin 2.
‘La Bowie’ has been historic in more ways than one. Coach Nemo Herrera was coach (and Bowie was home) to future NCAA legendary coach himself, Nolan Richardson. Herrera is the only Texas high school coach to have won multiple state titles in two sports, baseball and basketball yet there are only 3 things in Texas that honor his name, Bowie baseball field is one of them.
One of the ’49 Bowie baseball team members, Andy Morales, would go on to also become a coach and pass on Nemo’s teachings to a whole new generation. One young man that Morales coached was Chris Forbes, who would grow up to coach and lead the 2009 Socorro Bulldogs Baseball team to a State Championship, the second title for El Paso area, 60 years after the Bowie Bears.
In a ceremony, a long overdue moment was finally granted when the 2009 Socorro team presented the surviving members of the 1949 Bowie Baseball team with their own championship rings as well.
I agree with Villegas when she says this is deeper than the surface. This is also about not desecrating the memory of those young men and Coach Nemo and recognizing Mexican American history, how they beat the segregated times of the 40’s and brought pride to the South Side.
It is about how this same area is now living through segregation again. For the last decade or so they have been segregated from the rest of the city and the people discarded.
As “projects” like the Bus Hub, continue to spring up in downtown, the smog and smoke continue to be blown in the faces of the people that live here and corporations continue to sit on the chest of the community, squeezing out the last gasp of air; yet no one seems to be concerned with the families that are living here and their quality of life, not to mention that there eventually will be nothing left of this beautiful historic land, that is part of the Chamizal.
Would this ever even be a suggestion at a school in let’s say the Westside of El Paso, to demolish their historic state championship team’s field, an open natural space, in order to house 124 buses?
I saw a couple of students at the protest as well, Katherine Villegas was the one who heard the news first and quickly shared with her friends David Gallardo and Emmanuel Marquez. As David said, they are highly concerned about what this will mean to future generations.
Katherine told me that one of the corporations that has starting construction on the field had actually hit a oil pipeline that runs next to the water pipeline that goes directly into the school. They have attempted to get answers from officials about looking into the water, only to be ignored.
Emmanuel began to notice the change in his health when he moved to Bowie, almost immediately asthma began, more doctors appointments, etc… I asked them how this has motivated them, they said they care about their future and what to help make Bowie Better, not bulldoze it.
They have created a group for students ‘Bowie Community Awareness Association’ they meet every Friday at lunch to discuss what is happening and what they can do. They are undeterred, they are ready to continue to organize and rally the student body in order to protect Bowie.
If we have learned anything from the next generation – as they organize for gun reform across the nation – is that they will not be silenced by the status quo, so we should heed their rising voices.
Guest Columnist February 9, 2018NewsComments Off on Video+Story: Bowie Band Hosting Zumba-thon to Fundraise for Disneyland Workshop
To make it to a Disneyland-based music conference, the Bowie High School band will have to do more than just play excellent music. They’ll also have to dance to it.
The music program at Bowie, under the direction of band director Jasmine Torres, has seen a resurgence over the past few years. They capstoned a successful marching season by earning a top Division 1 rating at the regional University Interscholastic League contest.
Now the band wants to further their music education attending the Disney Performing Arts Workshops in California. The workshops give students an opportunity to work with Disney teaching artists on skills like intonation, balance, expressiveness and musicality.
In order to get the funding, however, the band is hosting a Dance Cardio Masterclass – a Zumba-like fundraiser that gets people moving and exercising.
“I used to teach Zumba and dance cardio, and I thought it would be cool to take an old skill and put it to use here,” Torres said. “It’s minimum of a five-dollar donation for two hours to get a really great work out and support a really great cause.”
The event is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday at the Bowie High School gym, 801 South San Marcial.
Torres said the band is getting a lot of support from current and former band members, and the Bowie community as a whole. The Bowie band has a long tradition of excellence, and people are interested in the development of the music program there.
“The past three and a half years, the Bowie Band has put in countless hours of work and energy into improving our program,” she said. “The students work extremely hard, so we wanted to present them with an amazing educational and creative opportunity to be able to perform at Disneyland and experience a trip most of our students have never had.”
For many at Bowie, the trip to Anaheim will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand their musical interests and also scratch one item off their bucket list: to visit Mickey Mouse’s home.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to expose them to a music educator that is far more experienced than I am. The educator will guide them through Disney music pieces,” Torres said. “Everyone needs to go to Disney once in their lives and most of these kids have never been to Disney, so for us to be able to give that to them it’s very special to us.”
Junior Katelynn Ontiveros is looking forward to the trip with her bandmates.
“To have the opportunity to go to Disneyland is something we have definitely earned through all our hard work,” she said. “Ms. Torres has pushed me really hard to get to a level of playing I never expected to be. I am thankful to all the people who have donated so far. It means a lot to us that the community wants to help us achieve this dream.”
Senior Eduardo Martinez has benefited from his four years in band, not only in his musicality but his person as a whole.
“The biggest thing you learn in band is how to identify rhythms, but most importantly you learn to be a better person and to contribute to the community,” he said.
Torres was out for maternity leave this past year, but Martinez credits her instruction for their continued success on the field.
“This past season of our marching band was tough since Ms. Torres wasn’t with us, but we managed to score ones,” he said. “It’s going to be great to go to Disney because it’s Disney after all, but I am looking forward to going with my friends and learning from a professional musician.”
Story by Alicia Chumley | Photos by Leonel Monroy | Video by Angel Dominguez/EPISD
Staff Report September 24, 2017High School, NewsComments Off on Bowie High Calling All Alumni to Help Break Guinness World Record in November
The Bowie High School alumni associations are looking for a few Proud Bears. Actually, they’re looking for about 3,800 of them.
A group of Bowie former students is organizing what they hope will be the largest class reunion ever certified by the Guinness World Records, and to do so they need to officially register more than 3,638 former students or employees of the South Side school.
The Guinness World Record attempt is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, November 11, at the Sun Bowl Stadium of the University of Texas at El Paso. The festivities will occur during the annual homecoming game between the Bowie Bears and their rivals the Jefferson/Silva Foxes; a game that H-P Radio will cover live.
“We know our alumni have pride,” said organizer Mary Romero. “We just need them to register, come out to the Sun Bowl, and show everyone else what Bowie Bear Pride is all about.”
Registration fee is $15 in person during one of many registration centers that will be set up between now and the event.
People may register online at www.bowieguinnessrecord.org. The cost there also is $15 plus a processing fee. The fees will go toward paying the Guinness organization. Any outstanding balance will be donated back to Bowie.
All registered people will receive a T-shirt and a registration bib that will help Guinness officials certify the number of attendees on the day of the event.
To register as an alumnus or a former employee, people must produce the following documents:
A Bowie High School diploma or a yearbook showing a picture of the person being registered.
If your name has changed since high school, the legal document showing the name change.
A copy of a current identification card.
Organizers said registrations are going well, and that already people from throughout the country and even Europe have reached out to them to ask about the reunion.
“We want every decade of graduates to be represented,” said organizer Linda Murray. “We have someone from the 1930s already signed up. If she can make it, so can everybody else.”
Bowie Interim Principal Frank Ordaz said the world record attempt will be one of the most exciting ways to celebrate a special milestone in the school’s history: the 90thgraduating class at the school.
“There’s a lot of history and a lot of community pride around this class,” Ordaz said. “I am confident that we will have more than enough people at the Sun Bowl to break the world record. That excitement will carry us over to graduation ceremonies in June.”
For more information, and to register online click this link.
Staff Report July 29, 2017NewsComments Off on Freedom Writer delivers Powerful Message to EPISD Administrators
Original Freedom Writer Manny Scott inspired administrators last Thursday at Bowie High School by painting a picture of how he emerged from a teenager living on the streets involved in gangs and drugs to his life now as a motivational speaker and doctoral student.
Scott wrapped up the last day of the Champion By Design Conference by sharing his message of hope. He began his presentation singing Mahalia Jackson’s “If I can Help Somebody,” a gospel song to illustrate his life mission now and encouraged others to follow suit.
“If I can help somebody, as I travel along. If I can help somebody, with a word or song. If I can help somebody, from doing wrong. No, my living shall not be in vain.”
He used the song to tell how his story changed because of dedicated and caring educators who encouraged him and didn’t give up on him – despite knowing his disturbing past and the challenges he continued to face.
“I am convinced you got into education and you are still here despite its challenges because you believe that life at its best isn’t about how much money you have or how many degrees you’ve earned or how many things you’ve accumulated in life,” he told principals and other administrators. “Life at its best is about helping people, loving people, serving people and positioning other people to flourish.”
Violence and despair plagued his childhood: sexually abused, father in prison, skipped nearly half the school year from 4th to 9th grade, dropped out by 14, homeless and hungry, lived in 26 places by 16, and lost friends to gunshots. It took a caring stranger to break the cycle, offering advice to turn his life around and return to school.
He landed in English teacher Erin Gruwell’s class, her work made famous by the 2007 motion picture movie “Freedom Writers.” One of the original students of Gruwell’s first class, Scott recalls Gruwell reaching him and other students by using the rap music of Tupak Shakur and Snoop Dog as teaching tools for Shakespeare, metaphors and iambic pentameter. Math and science teachers also tutored him, ensuring he’d understand and continue. The Fs and Ds he earned before dropping out were soon replaced by As and Bs once surrounded by caring educators.
“I had the help of people just like you,” he said. “People committed to making a difference.”
Even the lunch lady made an impression. Her words gave him inspiration at a time he felt like giving up.
“You are going to be great one day,” she told him. “I can see it in your eyes. Now go to class and keep trying.”
Gruwell asked the students to start writing about their lives – the violence, the unimaginable struggles they faced growing up. She told them not to worry about grammar and punctuation. To her, what mattered most was getting their words onto paper, allowing them free expression.
“Humble yourself and become a student of your students,” he said. “Study their cultural patterns. Try to understand what they have to go through to get to your classroom. What you say can either create distance or alignment.”
He uses the example of the elementary teacher who called him out for wearing dirty clothes and failing to do his homework.
“Why do your clothes look like you don’t have a washing machine?” a teacher asked him. “Your clothes stink and the kids are complaining. If you don’t get your act together, you’re going to end up like your daddy. Isn’t he in prison or something?”
“I don’t have words to describe how much that hurt me.”
He lagged behind his peers in English grammar and skills so much so his elementary school counselor switched him to ESOL – mainly because his given name was Manuel Valentin Sarmiento. But Scott didn’t speak Spanish.
“I like English and I would like to know why I’m in your class,” he told his teacher during a class activity for students to express in English what they liked. Despite this revelation, the school kept him in the class for a year.
Scott gave up on education – his schools and educators failing him. The tone and uncaring voices he heard from teachers left him unmotivated and uncared for seeking a sense of belonging on the streets.
But Scott reinforced how the tone of a caring, loving teacher can turn it around for a child. He credits Gruwell for encouraging him to apply to college at University of California at Berkley even though he’d never heard of the prestigious university.
“It’s where Jason Kidd plays basketball,” she told him. “I didn’t know who Jason Kidd was but it was the way she said it that reached me.”
“Your hope can become contagious,” he told administrators.
He got accepted and graduated at the top of his class and went on to pursue a graduate degree.
“I’m not the exception, the exception was Ms. G,” he said. “With teachers like mine (every child) can literally overcome every obstacle they are facing. You can be the exception.”
Staff Report March 23, 2017Local NewsComments Off on RISE to Host Volunteer Project at Bowie Gardens for Millenials
RISE will host its second event of the year, “Hope Grows,” at the Bowie Jardines – Spanish for gardens – at Bowie High School. The group will roll up their sleeves to plant and prepare the garden for the spring crop.
Officials with the group say the purpose of RISE is to empower and build a community of next generation professionals who want to volunteer and discover their role in helping to tackle El Paso’s complexities and major issues.
Their Saturday event is being held “to encourage healthy lifestyles by way of nutritious eating and reduction of stress via gardening.”
The Bowie Jardines were created in 2014, with help from local leaders, school staff, students and nonprofit leaders as a way to beautify the campus and bring agricultural education to the school.
Following the service project, RISE members can hang out at Love Buzz (3011 Pershing Drive) and enjoy some drinks and tacos from Valentine’s Kitchen.
RISE is geared toward Millenials between the ages of 21 and 30 who are working professionals or students interested in immersing themselves in hands-on volunteer projects that are followed by fun-filled happy hours and hangouts.
Staff Report March 2, 2017NewsComments Off on Bowie Students help Families file Income Tax Forms
Parents and student workers who need help completing their federal income tax return now have one extra resource: the students from Bowie High School’s business magnet program.
Bowie is the first school in the District to partner with IRS to provide free tax return services to the community.
Bowie Business Academy students have certified to prepare basic income tax forms, thanks to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program administered by the IRS Stakeholder Partnerships Education and Communication (SPEC) department. The program partners with local non-profit entities to provide free income tax preparation and filing services for low- and moderate-income households.
“This program brings project-based learning and community service together for our students,” teacher Jose Ornelas said. “They are learning something that is not going to only benefit others, but themselves as well. It’s a win-win.”
After seeing the success at Del Valle High School, SPEC representative Valeria Medina approached Bowie High School to launch the program with the school’s business magnet students.
“I spoke to Mr. Ornelas, and he was all for it. He said, ‘this would be perfect for my academy students,’” Medina said. “The students have picked up on it really well. They have great questions, and they aren’t afraid to work with the software.”
Students certified online through the Link & Learn Taxes, learning about the return process and tax law covered in the VITA program. They must pass with 80 percent or higher to receive certification.
The partnership allows students to not only help the community but also obtain experience for their future.
“We help them out, in case they need a letter of recommendation. This looks good on their college applications,” Medina said. “It’s a great life experience for them. It can encourage them to go into that type of career, as an accountant or working for the government.”
Ornelas grouped students by their individual strengths, with each group being responsible for a different task to make sure the process goes smoothly.
“We have a group of students that greets people and escorts them to the classroom, and another group helps with intake forms,” Ornelas said. “We also have interpreters and of course our group of tax preparers. Once forms are completed, I review before sending them to the IRS.”
Senior Veronica Rodriguez has enjoyed being part of the program and helping her community.
“We’ve seen that people are really thankful for this program. We’ve had a really great response from the community,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez hopes to continue cultivating the knowledge and skills she has acquired through the academy when she attends the McCombs School of Business in the fall.
“We have learned a lot about filing taxes and how to run a business,” Rodriguez said.
Student Jonathan Gonzalez feels proud of his certification, which was helpful when it came time do his own taxes as well.
“I learned to do my own taxes. It felt good to do them myself without anyone’s help,” Gonzalez said. “I also liked the opportunity to learn more about business.”
Gonzalez says some people are hesitant about having a student prepare their taxes.
“At first they don’t trust students to do their taxes, but after they see everything came out right at the end they are satisfied,” Rodriguez said. “This program is good for people who can’t afford to go somewhere else and do their taxes. If we can do it for free, it’s a big benefit for them.”
Rodriguez wants to test for the advanced certification.
“I want to do it as soon as possible so I can start helping people,” Rodriguez said.
The VITA program is free for qualifying families earning up to $54,000 annually. Students are available to help Tuesdays through Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. To make an appointment, call 915-236-7078.
Staff Report September 13, 2016NewsComments Off on Donations can help Bowie turn School Bus into Food Truck
Students at Bowie High School’s International Business Academy want to launch a food truck business on a retired EPISD school bus in hopes of profiting enough money to feed a scholarship fund.
About $30,000 are needed to retrofit the bus – including burners, prep space and a vertical refrigerator – and student shave already made sales pitches to several local business people and potential donors.
So far, they have raised about $3,000 toward the project, called the “Oso Good Food Truck.”
The students have developed a business plan and a sales pitch for donors. The plan includes the creation of a proposed menu and a schematic rendering of the food truck. The menu includes tacos, quesadillas and several stews.
Students also are promoting healthy eating habits and their plans will help promote and grow Bowie’s community garden by selling produce and using the garden as a source of fresh ingredients.
All the proceeds from the proposed food truck will go toward a scholarship fund for current and future Bowie High School students.
For more information or find out how you can donate to the Oso Good food truck, call 230- 7000.