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Sunday , January 19 2020
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Home | Tag Archives: EPISD

Tag Archives: EPISD

One Gas Foundation donation to fund EPISD teacher grants

The One Gas Foundation in partnership with Texas Gas Service awarded the EPISD Education Foundation a check for $10,000 for secondary teacher grants through Donors Choose

Teachers can apply for up to $2,500 in grant funding for innovative classroom initiatives through this project with the One Gas Foundation.

To view the descriptions and access the link to apply, visit the One Gas Foundation Public School Funding Program web page here. The deadline to apply is March 27, 2020.

The goal of the ONE Gas Public School Funding program is to improve the classroom experience in middle schools and high schools and provide opportunities to cultivate and enhance relationships with community leaders while improving workforce development. Priorities are given to classroom enrichment projects and instructional technology, and durable curriculum-based teaching materials and equipment. is an independent 501(c)(3) organization operating a nation-wide website that spotlights instructional needs in public school classrooms.

Through this partnership, Texas Gas Service can review the applications submitted by teachers and award funds for those they believe represent maximum classroom enrichment.

This competitive review process of STEM and STEAM proposals submitted by teachers involves internal evaluation of grant requests based on impact, innovation, socio-economic need and estimated duration of use.

Story and photos by Reneé de Santos – EPISD

Stanton Elementary gets visit from Cirque du Soleil dancers

Movement, acrobatics and dance were at the center of a special presentation the famed performers from Cirque du Soleil gave the students at Stanton on Tuesday.

Dancers in full costume from Cirque du Soleil’s OVO show talked to fourth graders and showed off a few acrobatic stunts from their upcoming show in El Paso.

The fourth graders, who are learning to dance through Kids Excel, impressed the two OVO cast members with a short but energetic performance.

“Meeting the kids was the highlight of my day,” said Svetlana Delous, in her spider costume.

For Delous and her dance partner Devin Debianchi (who wears a dragonfly costume), the visit was an opportunity to speak with young performers about the importance of following one’s dreams..

“We want to inspire them, motivate them to let them know things don’t always come easy on the first try,” Delous said. “For example, Devin can do a one-arm handstand but that’s not something you can jump in and decide that’s something you can do. The same thing translates to a math problem or you are having in life. If you don’t solve on the first try, try again and believe in yourself.”

The performers will return to El Paso on March 12-15 for their show at UTEP’s Don Haskins Center.

Story by Reneé de Santos  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

El Paso ISD to showcase school programs at annual Discover EPISD Expo Saturday

Students and teachers from throughout the El Paso Independent School District will gather on Saturday to for the third annual Discover EPISD Expo.

According to district officials, the event gives families from all over the region the chance to learn more about the academic and extracurricular options schools in the District offer its students.

Students and teachers will showcase programs unique to EPISD, including magnet schools, New Tech campuses, dual-language education, single-gender education, universal pre-kindergarten, International Baccalaureate and dual-credit academies.

Demonstrations also will feature award-winning programs in fine arts, fitness and career-and technology education. The expo also will feature hands-on demonstrations, informational booths, student performances and door prizes.

“As an open enrollment school district, EPISD opens its doors to any student who lives in the county,” EPISD official added. “Staff will be on hand to answer questions about registration and transfer requests.”

The Discover EPISD Expo is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 18, at Bassett Place, located at 6101 Gateway West Boulevard.

Putnam Principal selected to participate in state assessment advisory panel

A new Texas law requiring the state to look at new instruments to assess the progress of students will get valuable input and guidance from an experienced EPISD school administrator.

Putnam Elementary School Principal Cynthia Sanchez was nominated and appointed by Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath to serve on the Educator Advisory Committee for the implementation of House Bill 3906, which requires the Texas Education Agency to develop academically appropriate state assessment instruments.

According to the Texas Education Agency,  House Bill (HB) 3906 “addresses several components related to assessments and administration that expands input from educators, provides more flexibility at the campus level for test administration, and more.”

The TEA website goes on to outline the committee’s duty and makeup.

This educator advisory committee will advise the commissioner and the agency on the development of academically appropriate state assessment instruments. The committee will be comprised of experts in curriculum and instruction, higher education, school leadership, and individuals with experience supporting special populations. The committee will provide advice on the design and implementation of changes contemplated for the state’s assessment program.

Sanchez was selected to participate because of her vast knowledge of pedagogy and student assessment.  She will attend the first meeting of the advisory committee later this month.

For the 2019-20 school year, Sanchez is celebrating her 25th year as an educator with EPISD, as well as her 11th year as an administrator.


Sock drive donations delivered to agencies helping homeless El Pasoans

When Richardson sixth-grader Evan Lopez came calling, the community came calling.

Evan has helped gather socks for homeless El Pasoans for years, knowing full well that in order to stay warm people need to keep their feet covered.

His sock drive, which expanded from his old school at Nixon Elementary to his current one at Richardson, helped gather more than 750 pairs of socks.

During the holiday break, Evan and his family delivered the donated socks — plus a couple of other items — to three agencies in El Paso helping the homeless. One of them is the Rescue Mission of El Paso.

Evan said he is thankful to everyone who donated items and helped spread the word about the sock drive.

District officials commended Lopez’s actions, saying “His commitment to school and desire to help his community makes him a clear example of someone who has the EPISD Proud Spirit.”

Story by Gustavo Reveles  |  Photo by Evan Lopez  – EPISD

Soldiers, Batman greet Stanton Elementary students returning to classes

The students at Stanton Elementary School returned to classes Wednesday after the end of the winter break, and they got a special treat as they walked in.

Waiting for them were a group of American heroes: members of the U.S. Army who were there to give them books, orange juice and encouraging words to help them start the second half of the school year.

The soldiers, all wearing their fatigues, even brought another superhero friend.

Batman was there to high-five kids and wish them luck in the spring semester.

EPISD students returned to school on Wednesday after the winter break.

Story by Gustavo Reveles  |  Photos by Stanton ES  –  EPISD

El Paso ISD Community Schools celebrates its volunteers

EPISD Community School volunteers were thanked for constantly going above and beyond in their efforts to help students and their families during a holiday luncheon last week.

The luncheon was just one way to thank the volunteers who make up EPISD’s efforts to connect students and families to community services aimed at helping them reach their academic and economic goals.

The volunteers help with outreach like job fairs, food pantries and adult learning courses.

Community Schools is a program that currently serves six campuses in EPISD, as well as the neighborhoods surrounding them. The campuses are: Bowie High School, Guillen Middle School and Hart, Aoy, Douglass and Zavala elementary schools.

“This is a great program to get parents involved in their children’s school,” said Juan Adame, a VISTA volunteer with Community Schools program. “They do so much to help our kids and our parents … it’s our turn to thank, them.”

The luncheon included holiday treats like doughnuts and coffee, as well as steaming hot menudo. Participants also chatted and played games to celebrate a job well done.

But for many of the volunteers, the fun will be short-lived. They want to get back to serving their communities.

“I like to help,” said Amber Fernandez, who often helps the program with food pantry deliveries. “This program has helped a lot of people. And a lot of people come out.”

Story by Victoria Castillo  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy –  EPISD

Bowie students open Bear merch store

The Oso Good Food Truck students debut their latest business venture Thursday, selling Bowie swag and other merch for alumni, students and staff in their new store.

The Bowie Cave, located within the school’s cafeteria, formally dedicated the store Thursday evening – nearly selling out the shirts, hoodies, beanies, mugs and other spirit merchandise. The store also will have a print shop for students and staff can order copies, laminate and posters. It also has seating for a student hang out.

“It’s a great new project we’re doing,” said senior Emily Badillo, marketing manager. “We’re really excited. I think it’s going to bring more students together. They’ll want to come to the store and chill or to buy something new.

The store will mostly be managed by students in the culinary club, but StuCo, courtesies and other students will have the opportunity to work in the store for retail experience and community service.

Profits from the store go back to the school.

“It’s not just for our club,” said chef Christopher Puga, who runs the culinary program. “The culinary student wanted to go outside the box. They already do customer service and they’ve been successful at it but their thought was let’s think about doing something for the whole school and not just something that benefits our program and the food truck. ‘What’s our next step?’”

The store will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on school days.

Puga said he also will be bringing in retail managers from area businesses to interact with the students, showing them that they are doing real-world applications.

The students expect the store to also be a source of pride for their alma mater. The store opened with approximately 10 different types of merchandise but will grow to at least 20 in January after winter break include a variety of clothes and accessories with the oso mascot – some specifically for alumni.

“This is a good way to buy stuff and represent Bowie,” said senior Emmanuel Meneses, general manager. “It’s a great thing.”

Senior Jennifer Candia, the store manager, agrees.

“We have great alumni,” Candia said. “When alumni see us out in the community wearing a Bowie shirt, they’ll get excited and ask if we go to Bowie. It makes us feel proud.”

Story and photos by Reneé de Santos – EPISD

El Paso ISD Winter Break Reading Challenge starts Sunday

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house EPISD children were reading using their tablets and iPads.

Winter break is fast approaching for EPISD, and that means students will have time to rest and spend time with their families. But educators want them to know that break time does not mean books are off the table.

The EPISD myOn Winter Reading Challenge can help elementary- and middle-school students keep up with their literacy during the winter vacation time, but also win some prizes for doing reading the most books from Dec. 22 to Jan. 7.

“A child who reads at least 20 minutes a day read 1.8 million words in a year,” said EPISD Chief Academic Officer Tamekia Brown. “Our research is clear that over time a child who keeps up with his or her reading will outperform their peers.”

The winter reading challenge will help students keep up with their reading, even when school is not in session.

Winners for the most minutes read will be tracked using myOn, EPISD’s digital book access point that is available free of charge to all students in the District. Five top readers will be selected in three categories — kinder to second grade, third to fifth grade and sixth through eighth grade.

Winners in each category will receive fun prizes and a certificate. The top reader in each category will receive a Visa Gift Card.

To participate, students need to simply log in to the myOn account through the EPISD Plaza using their username (EPISD email) and password. Their teacher can provide a password to myOn.

Once logged in, students can click on the myOn link and began browsing books that spark their interest. The system will track reading time during the winter break and winners will be notified once school resumes in January.

Story by Gustavo Reveles  |  Graphic by Martín A. López – EPISD

Gallery+Story: Chapin engineering students create mechanical winter scenes

Students in Chapin’s pre-engineering program took all the training they’ve received so far this school year and used it to show off their skills and spread some holiday cheer.

The sophomores designed holiday and movie-themed displays for the Principles of Engineering Holiday Villages Competition that included lights, motion and sound — all on display in the rotunda last week. The end-of-the-semester event showcased the students’ growing knowledge, skills and spirit.

Some of the holiday movies represented included “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory,” and “Polar Express.”

“Throughout the year we’ve done worksheets on this material,” said Alicia Ruiz, whose team recreated The Polar Express. “This gave us hands-on experience with everything we’ve learned up to now. It also lets us use creativity to show the love that’s present this time of the year.”

Ruiz’s display brought to life the different scenes of the movie with lights and movement.

“When the topic of movies came up, we thought of the Polar Express because we had all watched it when we were younger,” she said. “Everyone knew it. It brought back so many memories.”

Their project won top honors for creativity, use of materials, presentation and engineering design. It also swept the Kid’s Choice Awards judged by students from Powell Elementary School in categories like cool moving parts, decorations, artwork and inventiveness and creativity. The Polar Express tied with the Grinch for its wow factor among Powell students.

Zachary Magdeleno, a Chapin student and aspiring biomedical engineer, teamed up with other students to construct a Rudolph display featuring the Island of Misfit Toys.

“I thought it was helpful because we’ve been talking about a multitude of simple machine designs,” he said. “Projects like these help me prepare for what I’ll be doing in college.”

Engineering teacher Juan Clague said the displays were true STEAM projects requiring students to use their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math, coupled with art and creativity.

“The level of detail is amazing,” he said. “They hid the mechanisms so that the figures move in a magical way. It’s both beautiful inside and out … like a Swiss clock.”

Story and photos by Reneé de Santos – EPISD

Video+Story: Irvin broadcasting wins national Best in Show award

Rocket Vision, Irvin’s broadcasting show, beat more than 100 high school journalism programs for a segment on the El Paso Strong movement to win top honors at the National Scholastic Press Association last month in Washington, D.C. 

The winning piece was on the El Paso Proud movement that evolved after the Aug. 3 attacks at the Cielo Vista Walmart.  

“I’m extremely proud,” said Rocket Vision advisor Mariel Bautista. “This was a show that took a lot of work outside of school, on weekends and a lot of research. It was a project that took a lot from them, but it paid off.”  

The 20-minute segment featured stories on the Cielo Vista Walmart reopening and an active shooter training. Students also interviewed a victim.  

“We didn’t want to focus on the negative but after the tragedy how El Paso Strong formed,” Bautista said. “It was cool for them because when we went to the Walmart reopening, they were standing next to the different channels with their tripods. They felt like they were in the real world out there with the professional reporters.” 

Junior Korina Garcia anchor said the award made her and classmates feel accomplished. 

“I think the most important thing is that we tried to do was show El Paso on a national scale,” she said. “I think we nailed it — spot on.” 

The national recognition and experience have motivated her to possibly minor in journalism in college. 

“I love writing stories and the accomplishment of people hearing my name and seeing my name rolling in the credits,” Garcia said. “It feels really great.” 

Junior Brandon Martinez enjoyed the broadcast team’s camaraderie and collaboration that grew as the team put the pieces of the segment together.  

“I’m glad to be on a team that everybody worked together,” Martinez said. “We gave it our best. It feels great to see the trophy in the classroom and know that I was part of it.”  

Martinez hopes to join the ranks of professional journalists after college.  

“I like to be behind the camera and that feeling of seeing on work on YouTube or a website,” he said. “It feels good. I plan to go to UTEP and study to be a journalist and after that apply somewhere I know I can make a difference and really get involved.” 

Story by Reneé de Santos   |    Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Regional Day School Program for the Deaf visits Signing Santa

A special signing Santa came down from the North Pole on Tuesday to visit the children in the Regional Day School Program for the Deaf at Hillside.

Every year, the Hillside students visit Bassett Place to take pictures with Santa and sign their wish lists. This Santa is extraordinary, however, as he is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), which the students are learning at school.

“This makes them feel included because they can see a Santa who knows their language,” said Carmen Castro-Toriano, the coordinator of the program. “They can express themselves and ask Santa for what they want without having to write it down or asking someone else to interpret.”

The students lined up and one by one sat on Santa’s lap asking for a variety of toys and goodies. Skateboards, bears, toy dogs, bikes and anything with unicorns were among the gifts the kids hoped to see under their tree this year.  

“I told him I want an iPhone 11,” said fourth-grader Dillion Ramirez, who both speaks and signs. “It costs, like, $1,000.” 

Genevieve Cordova’s request was much more modest but very specific: “I want a toy puppy that’s white with spots.”

When asked through an interpreter if they liked signing with Santa. The kids raised up their hands – giving the sign for applause.

“I liked it when he was signing,” fifth-grader Ayleen Rios said. “I told him I want a toy horse for Christmas… and a unicorn toy.”

After visiting Santa, the students are treated to a performance by their peers in the Hillside Singing Signing choir, which uses vocal and ASL talents. The students sang and signed holiday favorites including “Jingle Bells” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”

They wrapped up their performance with “Silent Night” – singing and signing the first verse and then ending the song only in ASL. The final verse gives the audience a glimpse of how they experience the song.   

“It’s an amazing event,” Castro-Torino said. “Our kids look forward to it every year.”

She hopes that it inspires the RDSPD students’ hearing peers to learn sign language. 

“If we can get those students who are hearing to learn another  language – because that’s what ASL is – it can open doors for everyone and provide more opportunities to communicate with others and be able to help others as they grow up.”

Story by Reneé de Santos   |   Photos by Leonel Monroy  – EPISD

El Paso ISD $201m Building bonds for 2020 earn ‘Aa2 underlying rating’ from Moody’s

On Monday, Moody’s Investors Service has assigned a Aa2 underlying rating to the El Paso Independent School District, TX’s $201 million Unlimited Tax School Building Bonds, Series 2020.

Moody’s maintains a Aa2 rating on the district’s outstanding general obligation unlimited tax (GOULT) bonds, the Aa2 rating on the general obligation limited tax (GOLT) notes, as well as a Aa3 rating on the district’s outstanding lease revenue bonds.

According to the ratings, the outlook is “stable.”

Via a news release, EPISD officials shared the following information on the rating and the reasons.


The Aa2 rating reflects a large tax base supported by a diverse and growing economy, and consistently healthy financial metrics despite persistent declining enrollment. The rating also reflects resident income indices that are lower than the nation consistent with border credits but incorporates the economic stability stemming from large institutions such as Fort Bliss and the University of Texas at El Paso (University of Texas System rated Aaa stable). Also considered is an above-median debt profile tempered by a below-median pension burden.


The stable outlook reflects our expectation that the tax base will continue to benefit from the diverse economy anchored by stabilizing institutions. The outlook also reflects the expectation that the conservative management team will continue to budget prudently to maintain favorable financial performance, despite challenges associated with decreasing enrollment.


  • Continued economic development supporting materially higher assessed values
  • Trend of financial performance that significantly exceeds peers


  • Weakened financial profile
  • Economic contraction that materially decreases assessed values
  • Continued or increased enrollment loss that leads to structurally imbalanced operating results
  • Increasing debt profile absent growth in the tax base


The district’s outstanding GOULT debt, including the Series 2020 bonds, are secured by a direct and continuing annual ad valorem tax, levied on all taxable property in the district without legal limitations as to rate or amount.


Proceeds of the Series 2020 bonds will be used to fund capital improvements at numerous school sites throughout the district.


El Paso ISD encompasses the majority of the City of El Paso, which is the county seat and the 6th largest city in the state. The local economy is largely driven by defense and logistics, with manufacturing, mining, education and health care also contributing to economic growth. Fiscal 2020 enrollment was estimated at 55,683.


The principal methodology used in this rating was U.S.Local Government General Obligation Debt published in September 2019. Please see the Rating Methodologies page on for a copy of this methodology.

Rainbow lanyards help LGBTQ students identify EPISD Allies

EPISD’s Counseling and Advising Department has a new colorful and vibrant way to show they are here to support all students in the District, including those who identify as members of the LGBTQ Community.

The department this week began distributing rainbow lanyards to counselors and other key personnel that have the words “EPISD ALLY” printed on them. The rainbow has long been a symbol of LGBTQ Pride.

“All students are at risk of being bullied, harassed or called names at school, but LGBTQ students can face particularly hostile and challenging school environments,” said Manuel Castruita, EPISD’s director of counseling and advising. “The rainbow lanyards show support for all of our students. It is one way to let students know that you are a safe person to talk to at any time.”

Castruita said national advising core beliefs for professional school counselors state that all students’ ethnic, cultural, racial, sexual orientation and special needs are valued and considered in planning and implementing the school counseling program.

EPISD’s policy also states that the District will not discriminate in its educational programs or employment practices on the basis of race, color, age, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, citizenship, military status, disability, genetic information, gender stereotyping and perceived sexuality, or on any other basis prohibited by law.

Castruita said he has seen a positive response to the EPISD Ally lanyards among staff members and students.

“The lanyards are beautiful and they let our students know that we are here for all of them,” he said.

Story by Gustavo Reveles  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Gallery+Story: Students at Lincoln use LEGO Power to learn about renewable energy

A hands-on lesson in renewable energy gave 200 Lincoln Middle School sixth graders a chance to build windmills with LEGOs to learn more about harnessing wind power.

The project, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater El Paso, featured 70,000 LEGOs and architectural guidance by New Jersey-based Building Blocks Workshop. It was one of their three LEGO events in the city this week.

“The Jewish Federation of Greater El Paso wants to bring great programs and projects to share with the community,” Federation president Janet Wechter said. “This program was about wind power and what it does in state of Texas. It taught kids about wind power as a reliable, sustainable source of energy.”

The Lincoln students gathered at the Franklin Magnet gym to construct dozens of windmills then placed them on the map of Texas to show a representation of the state’s vast production of wind power.

“I think it was really cool how they taught us how to build stuff and how builds energy,” said sixth grader Gabriel Carrasco. “It gets your creativeness going and makes you think about the design.”

His fellow sixth grader Zakeria Davis hoped to impress the organizers of the event.

“It’s super exciting because we’re the first school in El Paso to have this,” she said. “We have to make a good impression so they come back next year.”

Lincoln was the second stop on Building Blocks visit to El Paso. On Sunday, the organization and volunteers constructed the world’s largest LEGO menorah that stood 13 feet tall once complete. The next stop in El Paso will be Vino Nuevo, an Eastside church, where they will build the City of Jerusalem with LEGOS Tuesday.

The Jewish Federation of El Paso sponsored the Building Blocks Workshop trip to El Paso, however, the overall project united volunteers and participants from different faiths to work together to build the LEGO structures over the three-day LEGO marathon.

“I had seen the program in New York and wanted them to bring it to El Paso,” said Robert French, Jewish Federation of Greater El Paso executive director. “Hopefully, the students learned something about wind energy but programs like this also allow us to share about each other. It is about turning around the hatred going on in the world and teaching tolerance and understanding.”

Author:  Story by Reneé de Santos  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Amy’s Ambassadorship
Mountains 728
Rugby Coming Soon 728
EPCON_2020 728
High Desert 728
Utep Football Generic 728
Bordertown Undergroun Show 728
EP MediaFest 2020 728
Darrington Park 728
STEP 728
Rhinos 2019/2020 728
West Texas Test Drive 728