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EPISD: Burges, EPHS, Franklin get Upgrades; Work Kicks Off District-Wide Improvements

Burges, El Paso and Franklin high school football teams tackle a smoother, softer and even cooler field this season under the Friday night lights.

And when the student athletes call their field cool, they mean it literally. The cushier and cooler field is made with coconut fibers which is 40 percent cooler than previous turfs and an extra layer included within softens it for reduced knee and head injuries.

“Your feet are not burning up and don’t have to wear two pairs of socks anymore,” said Burges junior Michael Amezaga. “There’s no heat at all. You used to be able to see the heat rise when you looked across the field and you don’t see that anymore.”

Amezaga also likes the fact that the new field brings back the traditional mustang design, putting to bed forever the Denver Bronco-like design that existed for a decade.

“Now we have a real running mustang not a bronco anymore,” he said. “The field has been restored to how it should look.”

The newly rolled out turfs at the three high schools represent the first of 10 fields to be redone through the Bond 2016. All high schools will have their fields replaced under the bond program.

Beyond the safety upgrades, the new fields replaces patchy and pockets of torn up turf.

“They were in terrible shape,” Kennedy said. “We’re excited to be able to make these improvements for our kids.”

The cooler fields keep players better hydrated, and even impact other aspects of practice.

“The temperature factor is very important,” said Burges head football coach Neil Routledge. “We’re able to do things that involve tackling to the ground and we feel a lot safer about it because it isn’t as scorching hot as the old turf.”

The new football field and track upgrades inspired the alumni to add a fresh coat of paint to the trailers and ticket box.

Emblazoned on the the track are mustangs, and a tribute to the 2012 4×4 state championship boys track team, led by rookie Green Bay Packer Aaron Jones.

“No one had done it before and after a lot of years coaching track, I can see how special that the situations was,” Burges head track coach Manny Herrera said. “So when we had the track redone, we wanted to make a statement to show it was a meaningful time in our heritage not only for us but for the City of El Paso, too.”

Across town at El Paso High, coach Robert Morales sees his players inspired by their new field – the perfect compliment to the century-old school’s legacy and beauty.

“The color coordination and layout just puts a giant exclamation mark on the most beautiful high school football stadium in the country,” Morales said. “Our old turf was very dirty, ugly, and all patched up. We called it the ‘Field of Patches’ instead of the ‘Field of Dreams.’ Now our athletes play on it feeling they will have an edge on the competition because of all the pride they have in our facility.”

Athletic projects make up $32 million of the overall $668 million bond. Projects include: includes replacement and installation of turf at all high schools, renovations of track and tennis courts at eight high schools, court and field lighting and shading and court renovations at various playgrounds.

“Athletics is part of class,” Kennedy said. “A lot of kids come to school because of athletics and because of athletics they have to their pass their classes. Athletics keeps them motivated.”

The renovations make a difference throughout the District and give student athletes a chance to play on a level playing field no matter where their game is in EPISD.

“It’s big for our District keep up with the other districts,” Routledge said. “Other districts have newer facilities so now we can retain the kids have and maybe attract some kids from other districts

Gallery+Story: EPISD Celebrates 2017 Summer Commencement Exercises

A sea of gold, purple, teal, maroon and blue caps and gowns filled the front of the Bowie High School auditorium Thursday morning as summer grads prepared to make their way across the stage.

The first of two summer graduation ceremonies at Bowie on Thursday featured nearly 100 seniors from Andress, Austin, Bowie, Burges and Chapin high schools and College, Career & Technology Academy.

The program led off with keynote speaker Laura DuVernois, an assistant principal at Silva Health Magnet, who congratulated the graduates and wished them continued success.

“Be humble, be kind,” she told them. “Most importantly don’t forget where you came from and always follow your dreams. Congratulations class of 2017.”

A similar sea of colors representing Coronado, El Paso, Franklin, Irvin and Jefferson high schools lined the first few rows of the Bowie auditorium for the afternoon commencement ceremony. Just more than 50 students walked the stage to collect their diploma.

Keynote speaker Elizabeth Saenz, deputy superintendent of academic leadership, spoke before the graduates received their diplomas.

“As you go into the world, look back often and remember the friends you made in here in high school,” Saenz said. “Take with you the many things you learned from your teachers, parents and your community and make this world a better place – after all the challenges of the world are yours to conquer.”

Receiving diplomas were seniors who completed their graduation requirements during the summer.

Photos courtesy EPISD

Video+Story: Irvin Joins Burges, Franklin as Publishing National Winners

Three EPISD schools joined the ranks of the top performing high-school publishing programs in the nation after bringing home an impressive number of prizes from the National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle last week.

Burges, a student journalism powerhouse, surprised few by winning the Pacemaker Award for its Hoofbeats yearbook and other awards. Franklin’s yearbook, which also has a history of winning awards nationally, also received prizes in Seattle this year.

But it was Irvin High School’s broadcasting program that perhaps surprised the most in the convention, when the program won its first national award for ‘Rocket Vision’ news show.

The school placed third Best of Show in the Broadcast Program category at the a semi-annual gathering of high school journalists and advisers sponsored by National Scholastic Press Association and the Journalism Education Association.

Irvin broadcast teacher Mariel Torres-Tobias couldn’t hold back tears when she saw her students had placed third.

“I was super excited. I feel very proud of the students,” Torres-Tobias said. “It’s shown how far we’ve come. I want to put Irvin on top for broadcasting, and this really shows we are moving in the right direction.”

The students were excited to attend the convention, which provides the opportunity to network with industry professionals and journalism students from all over the country.

Irvin submitted an episode of ‘Rocket Vision’ focusing on life in a border city. The episode highlighted current event issues and featured an interview from Representative Beto O’Rourke.

“I thought this was a strong episode for the students to submit,” Torres-Tobias said. “Especially with everything that’s happening recently with the proposal to build a wall. A lot of people don’t know we already have a wall here and what life is really like as a border town.”

For senior Josh Roman, the Best of Show award gave him a confidence boost to pursue a career in cinematography when he graduates. He feels invested in the

“It’s a good feeling to receive this kind of recognition,” Roman said. “Irvin is a great school, and it has the potential to exceed any limits. I am beyond proud to be part of this program and this school.”

The Rockets weren’t the only ones celebrating a national win. Burges continued its impressive tradition in journalism by earning both a Pacemaker and a first-place Best in Show award for the school’s yearbook ‘Hoofbeats.’ The Mustangs also received distinction for their work on the ‘Stampede,’ winning a sixth-place Best in Show award in the Newspaper Tabloid 16 or fewer pages category.

“Receiving the Pacemaker is such an honor. It’s always exciting, and then to win ‘Best in Show’ was like the cherry on the top,” Burges journalism teacher Pat Monroe said. “It means a lot to the staff members because they work incredibly hard to create a yearbook their peers will always treasure. To receive the highest national honor means everything.”

Franklin High School also brought home in award for its yearbook ‘Pride,’ winning second place Best in Show in the 337 or more pages category.

Burges Basketball Player wins Online 3-Point Vote; Will Compete at NCAA Final Four

The basketball season ended for Burges point guard Natalie Sanchez, but her senior year as a Mustang player will not be done until she reaches the NCAA Final Four in Phoenix this weekend.

Sanchez won the #Dreamfearlessly Fan Vote competition, an online voting contest that guaranteed her a spot to compete at the American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk and 3-Point Championships this weekend.

She beat Bethany Wolph, from Valley Christian in Arizona, with a 56 percent vote in the final bracket.

“I was actually coming back from spring break when my mom sent out a message that I had won,” Sanchez said. “I felt good. I am a little nervous for what’s coming up, but it feels good to represent El Paso.”

Sanchez is thankful to the Burges community and especially her family for voting for her during the competition.

“They constantly texted me reminding me to vote, so I would go vote and check,” Sanchez said.

The senior will compete against five other competitors in the nationally televised event, which will air on CBS during the Final Four weekend on April 2.

“I am looking forward to competing against other great shooters. It’s going to be a great experience,” Sanchez said. “I’ve been practicing since last Thursday. Just trying to find my shot since my last game.”

Coach Cynthia Hernandez has been working with Sanchez, setting up basketball racks to practice for the competition. She is excited to cheer her on from the stands.

“I’m going to be there so I get to see her compete in person,” Sanchez said. “It’s awesome. It’s a great opportunity for her and for Burges. It’s a good way to promote to our students, school and EPISD.”

To view Natalie’s video log on to www.highschoolslam.com and click on the Women’s 3-Point tab.

El Paso ISD Destination Imagination Teams Headed to State

Creative thinkers at Burges and Coronado high schools earned top honors in their respective categories in the regional Destination Imagination competition, earning them a spot at state April 7-8 in Lubbock.

Burges and Coronado were among a dozen EPISD schools competing at the regional Destination Imagination competition last week at Eastlake High School. Burnet, Cielo Vista, Coldwell, Cooley, Douglass, Mesita, Polk, Whitaker, Zavala elementary schools and Magoffin Middle School also competed.

For Burges, going to state has become a tradition. They have been at least 13 times. The Mustang team won for Challenge B: Scientific Challenge Top Secret.

“Destination Imagination is a creative problem solving competition,” said coach James Towle. “Students act, sing, and dance, design and create costumes, design and build sets, write scripts, practice improve skills, learn and incorporate mechanical, technological, and chemical engineering, learn how to budget, and build their teamwork skills.”

A student of Towle’s once described the competition as “all of the elective classes on your campus built into one.”

Coronado’s Nadine Rivas calls DI an “international creative thinking group.”

“We do a lot of creative problem solving in DI,” Rivas said. “Our team had to write and act out a short skit which showed the repercussions of the color ‘pink’ disappearing.”

This is Coronado’s first venture to state, where they are competing in the fine arts challenge “Vanished.”

Finishing second in their respective challenges were teams from Cielo Vista and Douglas elementary schools. Mesita’s engineering team took third place in their challenge.

Coldwell received the Spirit of Discovery and Imagination Award for outstanding spirit, teamwork, volunteerism and sportsmanship.

“The recipients of this award are the ones who go out of their way to help others, making sacrifices not for themselves, but to give something to someone else,” said Julie Witte, a Guillen Middle School teacher who coordinates DI.

Burges High School also received the Renaissance Award for outstanding design, engineering, execution and performance.

According to DI organizers, “the Renaissance Award recognizes those who demonstrate extraordinary amounts of effort and preparation in their solutions or outstanding skill in engineering, design or performance. While the destination is creativity, these fellow travelers make the journey itself memorable.”

Video+Story: Burges High Point Guard Vying for Grand Prize in 3-Point Competition

Burges basketball player Natalie Sanchez is competing against the top high school 3-point shooters in the nation for a chance to attend the Final Four in Phoenix and she needs your help to get there.

Sanchez is among 48 high school students selected to compete in the American Family Insurance #DreamFearlessly Fan Vote contest – a four week digital media competition matching up the top 16 high school dunkers, 16 men’s 3-point shooters and 16 women’s 3-point shooters.

“It feels good to be representing Burges High School in this competition,” Sanchez said. “It’s humbling as a kid from El Paso. Who would ever think of that?”

BasketaballThe player with the most votes in each bracket will be deemed a grand prize winner and receive an invitation for a roster spot at the 2017 American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships, held annually in the Final Four host city. The event will air on CBS during Final Four weekend in Phoenix on April 2.

Head coach Cynthia Hernandez believes Sanchez is a great asset to the basketball team and is proud of the point guard for competing in the national contest.

“It was a selection of the best 3-point shooters Right now, she’s 14th in the nation in 3-point baskets and 4th in the state,” Hernandez said. “Since her freshman year she’s won four district championships, four bi-district championships and four area championships. She’s been to two sweet sixteens. She’s accomplished a lot.”

Sanchez’ accomplishments are what helped her be selected for the national contest. A committee of judges selected the contestants based on their demonstrated skillset, high school stats, character and leadership qualities. Once selected, players had to submit a highlight reel to post on the competition website and garner votes.

“She’s the only student from El Paso selected, and I believe she’s the only one to ever be invited,” Hernandez said. “It’s going to be nationally televised event that can promote our kids, our school and EPISD.”

Sanchez is excited about the contest, which serves as another milestone in her love of the sport. Basketball has always played an important role in her life from a young age. She joined a youth basketball league at four-years-old, falling in love with the competitiveness of the game.

“My brother, cousin and I joined a basketball league, and that’s how I started.” Sanchez said. “I liked everything about it. I like scoring points. I like taking the ball from other players.”

She has continued cultivating her passion at Burges High School, playing on the team since her freshman year.

“From my first year until now I have seen how much basketball means here in El Paso,” Sanchez said. “Making it to playoffs makes you grow as a person and as an athlete. It makes you care more for the sport and work harder on your game because there are people out there that are better than you and ready to beat you. The biggest thing I have learned is to have confidence in team, my coaches and myself.”

To vote for Natalie Sanchez, visit www.highschoolslam.com and select her name in the Women’s 3-Point category.

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