A new tradition began at the storied campus of the Lady on the Hill last week when the incoming freshmen of the three magnet programs at El Paso High School were ceremoniously pinned into their new academic journey.
El Paso High is home to three innovative and competitive magnet programs: the Dual Language, T-STEM and AP Capstone Diploma programs.
“It’s not easy to start a new tradition at a school like this one,” said Cecilia Phillips, the magnet coordinator for the school. “But we have wonderful leadership that is flexible and wants to give our students an experience unlike any other.”
During the pinning ceremony, students were pinned according to the magnet program to which they belong. The ceremony served as a reminder of the commitment they are making to their academic advancement.
Students at El Paso High can pick one or more magnet programs to best suit their interests.
The T-STEM Academy provides a forward-thinking and rigorous, technology-based curriculum that fosters creative and critical thinking in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
Dual Language Magnet students complete at least 12 dual language courses and two or more advanced measures during their four years at El Paso High.
The AP Capstone is a diploma program from the College Board. It’s based on two yearlong AP courses: AP Seminar and AP Research.
Story by Gustavo Reveles | Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD
Scores of the area’s best football players ran drills under the watchful eyes of coaches and officials. Our very own Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta was there and we bring you his view of the event in this Story in Many Pics.
On a rainy Friday night, the borderland’s original rivalry game – The 87th Battle of the Claw – took place at historic R.R. Jones Stadium, overlooking the twinkling lights of El Paso.
As with previous editions, this one was a pitched battle between the two long-time rivals but as the scoreboard read ’00:00,’ it was the Austin Panthers who claimed the claw with a 14-0 win over the El Paso High Tigers.
Our very own Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta was there and brings you his view of the game in this ‘Story in Many Pics’
The Cowboy Nation invaded historic Jones Stadium at La High as players and coaches from America’s Team spent the day showing 300 EPISD athletes the successful techniques they use on the football field and in life.
The clinic gave 30 students from each of EPISD’s traditional high schools the chance to meet Cowboy coaching staff and defensive back Byron Jones while honing their skills and tackling new drills.
“Football is such a great game and opportunity and platform to teach the next generation about character development, discipline and teamwork,” said Hunter Harvin, Dallas Cowboys’ manager of corporate partnerships. “Byron wants to talk about his mentality and how he approached the game through high school, college and, then ultimately, now realizing a dream in the NFL.”
This is the second year the Cowboys make their way to EPISD for the camp, which is sponsored by the Texas Lottery.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to come out to Cowboys Country out here in El Paso and show a little bit of love to some of the students who are our fans and supporters,” Harvin said.
Last year, the clinic gave athletes a condensed training experience. This year, the clinic offered more comprehensive skill-building sessions that are specific to each player’s position.
“We got a lot of potential with kids that want to play football beyond the high school level,” said Maria Kennedy, EPISD athletic director. “They may not play D-1 (Division I) football, but you there’s somewhere, someplace for all of these kids to go if they really want to play football at the college level.”
Irvin High freshman and Cowboy fan Ivan Rosales stood on the sidelines watching his fellow teammates get some action on the field. The camp left him knowing how much faster and challenging the pros train.
“This is a great opportunity to get better and to learn new stuff,” he said. “I know I will get better. That’s for sure.”
El Paso High’s Santiago Candelaria already feels improvement in his game after only a short time on the field. He’s taken note about on keeping an eye on the hips and shoulders of opponents during plays instead of their eyes.
“Having the pros out here is really cool because they know everything about the game,” Candelaria said. “We get to learn from the pros and we get to learn from the managers and from everyone else that helps the team become a team.”
The Cowboy camp also has led Candelaria to start thinking about possibly playing college ball.
“It’s just been a great opportunity for everyone,” he said. “We get to make new friends and meet new and share ideas. I’ve learned a lot of things already.”
Story by Reneé de Santos | Photos by Leonel Monroy | Video by Angel Dominguez/EPISD
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
The El Paso High Tigers found themselves in an early deficit against the Hanks Knights falling short of a comeback, dropping their first home game of the season on Friday with a score of 36-28.
“We made way too many mistakes. Can’t point fingers, we all learn to correct those mistakes,” running back and defensive back, Shane Rodriguez said. We lost some guys to injury, but that can’t be an excuse, we have to bounce back.”
The visiting Knights got off to a fast start, scoring 16 unanswered points against the Tigers. Hanks quarterback Austin Guerrero, found Ever Chaves wide open for a 80-yard touchdown.
The Tigers answered with a score of their own, after Shane Rodriguez punched it in from 5-yards out. The Tigers added a 2-point conversion, cutting the Hanks lead by half.
It was then that the Knights went on to score 17 more points, extending their lead to a halftime score of 33-8.
“The first half I don’t think we were mentally ready, we had a lot of penalties in crucial situations and we’re turning the ball over,” head coach Robert Morales said. “We weren’t focused on defense and making tackles…second half, they played much better.”
The Tigers found the end zone once again late in the third quarter, when Shane Rodriguez scored on a 4-yard run to begin their comeback attempt.
After a Hanks field goal, the Tigers would again find the end zone early in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Anthony Escobedo ran it in from 23-yards out, cutting the Hanks lead to 14.
The Tigers failed to convert on a 4th down attempt late in the fourth quarter, giving the ball back to Hanks; but still managed to come within one possession of tying the game.
The Tigers dropped to 1-1 and will host San Eli next Friday in Jones Stadium.
“We didn’t capitalize on the opportunities, we had the ball like five times inside the red zone, that really kicked us in the butt,” Escobedo said. “We just have to have great practices and focus, no messing around, make sure everyone is on top of it and we’ll be fine.”
The new-look Hanks Knights took a trip to central to take on the grandaddy of all local high schools – El Paso High.
R.R. Jones Stadium played host to the week two contest between the Knights and the Tigers, and while the home team wasn’t victorious, the contest was yet another memorable one for the historic stadium.
Students at El Paso High will have one more tool at their disposal to be successful in college thanks to the addition of an innovative program that could help them focus on independent research, collaborative teamwork and communication skills.
La High next year will begin implementing the two-year AP Capstone program by offering the AP Seminar class for college-bound students. A second class, AP Research, will be added during the 2018-19 school year.
The creation of the AP Capstone program at El Paso High further emphasizes college readiness and preparedness. El Paso High will be the only high school in El Paso and one of only about 60 high schools in Texas to offer the competitive AP Capstone program.
“This shows the community that we are definitely innovative and that we are constantly looking ways to improve the opportunities for our students,” said Cyd Goldfarb, El Paso High college readiness coordinator.
AP Capstone is designed to complement and enhance the in-depth, discipline-specific study provided through other AP courses. The AP Capstone curriculum fosters inquiry, research, collaboration, and writing skills through the intensive investigation of topics from multiple perspectives.
Initially, El Paso High will offer the AP Seminar, which will strengthen students’ writing skills in preparation for college-level academic writing.
“It will give them a sense of rigor,” Goldfarb said. “They will hopefully be at a level that they understand what it takes to be an academic writer.”
Students typically take AP Seminar in the 10th or 11th grade, followed by AP Research, which will be offered beginning in fall 2018.
Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing will receive the AP Capstone Diploma. This signifies their outstanding academic achievement and attainment of college-level academic and research skills.
Students can research a topic of their choosing, but Goldfarb said the hope is that some will consider topics that emphasize the dual language component to complement El Paso High’s magnet program.
“We want our students to feel supported and we want to push them but not overwhelm them,” Goldfarb said. “This is our way gently pushing them in a place they can achieve.”
Among the qualifications for becoming part of the AP Capstone program, campuses must show strong support of AP courses and testing. Currently, El Paso High has about 500 students taking 1,000 AP tests this spring.
“Research has shown that if a student takes one AP test – regardless if they pass or fail – is much more likely to graduate from college,” Goldfarb said. “That’s one of the reason we push our students. It’s about the experience – not the end result. Having to sit for three-hour test, having to feel nervous, a little bit of anxiety is really important because that’s what they will be experiencing when they’re in college. We don’t want first time experience to be in college. We want them to experience it here with our support and their friends feeling the exact same way. We are giving them opportunity to see that college really is in their future.”
The centennial celebration continues at El Paso High with the fourth installment of the EPHS Alumni Legacy Series — 100 Years of Excellence in the Arts, highlighting the artistic contributions of alumni over the years.
“The celebration of the arts is another perfect example of the 100 years of excellence that the Lady on the Hill stands for,” alumni president Michael Montes said. “We have so many fabulous artists that call EPHS their alma mater, such as painter Tom Lea, actress Lupe Ontiveros, as well as humanitarian and folklorico dancer Rosa Guerrero to name a few.”
The event will feature an interactive multimedia production, and an art exhibit and sale with original works by El Paso High alumni. The event is Sept. 8 and begins with a reception at 6:15 p.m. in the school’s main hall. All proceeds from the art sale will benefit the EPHA Alumni Centennial Fund, which supports centennial projects.
Local celebrity and El Paso High alumna Felipa Solis will be the featured speaker of the evening.
The legacy series, created and directed by former El Paso High theater director Liz Gaidry and Class of 1962 alumna Lee Schwartz, integrates photos, a video footage, and interviews of alumni and friends to celebrate and share memories of El Paso High.
“The goal of ‘100 Years of Excellence in the Arts’ is the same as with all other Legacy Series: to honor the birthday of the building, as well as the people who attended school there,” Schwartz said. “The building, itself, is a work of art.”
Schwartz and Montes, along with many other generations of students that have walked the marble halls, feel the same about their alma mater.
“It’s fitting for such a special place of unique and exceptional architecture, the building is like a piece of art itself,” Montes said. “I strongly believe that plays a significant role in nurturing the minds of all the exceptional artists that have called EPHS home.”
The yearlong celebration will also include a 100th birthday celebration on Sept. 18 and an attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest high school reunion on Oct. 8.
Teamwork is not something you learn in a book — it is learned through experience, collaboration and the overcoming of obstacles.
For the nearly 140 incoming freshmen at this year’s El Paso High Cub Camp the word “obstacle” took on a very literal meaning.
Students scaled walls, bridged pools of water and even crawled through tunnels at the Fort Bliss Leadership Reaction Course as part of the two-day camp, which welcomes incoming freshmen to the Lady on Hill.
Assistant Principal Roseanna Lindley organized the camp as a way for students to get familiar with the school before classes start on Aug. 22
The first day of the camp students took a crash course on what being a Tiger is all about. They participated in a cheer rally, learning the school fight song and later breaking into different groups to create their own team chants.
“They start out quiet because they are not used to a pep rally on this scale, but at the end they are all cheering and really feeling that Tiger spirit,” Lindley said.
The Cub Camp incorporated engaging activities throughout the campus so students learn the campus while they are having fun. Activities included television show-inspired games like Wheel of Fortune, Survivor and an Amazing Race scavenger hunt.
“Over the course of the two days they get to feel what it’s like to be a high school student and be on campus. You have to break down some barriers,” said Cyd Goldfarb, El Paso High’s college readiness coordinator.. “That way on the first day of class they don’t feel completely lost.”
The second day of the camp, students learned some valuable lessons through real-life obstacles at water leadership course. The students worked together to brainstorm creative ways to perform specific tasks, like crossing a body of water with a crate of ammo or breaching a wall with limited resources and manpower.
For freshman David Ochoa it was tough battling his fear of heights when it came time to cross a narrow plank, but cheered on by his fellow classmates he made it across with no problem. Everyone cheered when the last of the group made it over the pool of water with less than a minute left.
“It was exciting,” Ochoa said. “I was scared at first, but it was a good experience and great feeling knowing that I accomplished that.”
El Paso High senior and volunteer Ana Moreno was impressed.
“I don’t think we completed this obstacle my freshman year,” Moreno said. “It was awesome seeing them work together as a team and how they communicated to complete the task.”
New friendships and bonds are forged by the end of the leadership course, but no one escapes the water.
“It is kind of like an initiation into El Paso High,” Lindley said. “Everyone goes through the water and comes out a Tiger.”