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Monday , February 18 2019
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Home | Tag Archives: EPISD

Tag Archives: EPISD

Video+Gallery: EPISD Student show celebrates African-American contributions to art

El Paso ISD, in cooperation with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Eta Pi Omega Chapter, recently held the opening to the K-12 Student Art show celebrating African-American artists and their contributions to Abstract and Modern Art.

Art students of every grade level in EPISD celebrated the contributions and cultural impact of African Americans in the United States during an annual exhibit that marks Black History Month.

“This year we are celebrating visual artists throughout time and how they shaped modern and contemporary art,” said Rosa Aguilar, EPISD’s visual arts facilitator.

Dozens of pieces are currently hanging at the El Paso International Museum of Art and will remain on exhibit through February 26.

Story by Gustavo Reveles  |  Photos/Video by EPISD Fine Arts


El Paso ISD Announces Early Release for Some Schools Due to Trump Visit, Crowds & Traffic

Several El Paso Independent School District campuses near the site of a planned rally by President Donald Trump will have early release on Monday in anticipation of large crowds and potential traffic issues.

The schools, all of which are near the El Paso County Coliseum, will release students at noon on Monday. Classes at all campuses will resume as normal on Tuesday.

The impacted schools are:

  • Aoy, Beall, Burleson, Clardy, Cooley, Douglass, Hart and Zavala elementary schools. The afternoon pre-kindergarten and Head Start sessions will be moved to the morning.
  • Guillen and Henderson middle schools.
  • Bowie, Jefferson and Silva Health Magnet high schools.

All after-school activities for the impacted campuses are cancelled on Monday.

EPISD officials worked with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to determine an appropriate plan of action for the presidential visit. EPISD Police said there are is indication of road closures that may have impacted the operation and release time of schools outside the vicinity of the Coliseum.

The rest of the district’s schools, including Central Office, will operate on a normal schedule on Monday.

El Paso ISD Names Principals for New Consolidated Schools

The El Paso Independent School District today announced the appointment of principals for the schools impacted by the ‘Rightsizing for the Future’ decisions to close three campuses and consolidate a fourth earlier than anticipated.

“We believe it is critical to make these changes now so that the overseeing principal can begin building a team connection between the two impacted campuses,” said Superintendent Juan Cabrera. “In the long run, this will offer more stability to students, the staff and the entire communities that are involved with our rightsizing efforts.”

The EPISD Board of Trustees in January voted to close Alta Vista Elementary and consolidate its student body with Coldwell Elementary;close Beall Elementary and consolidate its students into Douglass Elementary; close Burleson Elementary and consolidate its students into Zavala Elementary; and proceed with the already-approved consolidation of Schuster Elementary with Dowell Elementary.

The closures will happen at the end of the current academic year.

In an effort to facilitate the transition of students and employees into their campuses, the District made the announcement of new principals for the impacted schools. The assignments, which are effective immediately, are as follow:

  • Zavala Principal Alma Brockhoff is now the principal of Zavala and Burleson. Former Burleson Principal Jesus Medina is the new principal at Moye Elementary School, which had an interim principal.
  • Coldwell Principal Jose Gijon is now the principal of Coldwell and Alta Vista. Former Alta Vista Interim Principal Millie Williams will remain at Alta Vista through the end of the school year to oversee the operational aspects of the school closure.
  • Beall Principal Maria Guerra is now the principal of Beall and Douglass. Former Douglass Principal Alonzo Barraza is now the principal of Crosby Elementary, which had an interim principal.
  • Dowell Principal Yeni Ontiveros is now the principal of Dowell and Schuster. Former Schuster Principal Sharon Aziz is now an administrator in the Elementary Schools Division at Central Office.
Author: Gustavo Reveles – El Paso ISD

Gallery+Story: Powell Elementary’s ‘Living Wax Museum’ Honors Historical Figures

Scientists, artists, athletes and other historical figures were all featured in Powell’s Living Wax Museum, giving visitors a chance to learn more about the impact these famous Americans had on our society.

Students researched and gathered information on their preferred historical figure and then used what they learned to portray that person … down to the clothes they wore and the style of their hair.

Visitors pushed a make-believe button, and, on cue, the student proceeded to give a brief biography of the historical figure they represented.

Students in younger grades created puppets to represent their preferred historical figure and then read short bios to visitors.

Some of the historical figures included founding father Alexander Hamilton, talk show host Oprah Winfrey, singer Tina Turner, boxer Muhammad Ali and – of course – the school’s namesake, former four-star Army Gen. Colin Powell.

The living wax museum was ‘open’ last week.

Story by Gustavo Reveles  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Year of the Pig: Mesita ECDC students ring in Chinese New Year

With a tint of lucky red and a traditional tea ceremony, the students at Mesita ECDC on Friday rang in the Chinese New Year as part of their efforts to learn more about the Mandarin language and culture.

Students performed a Happy New Year song and a tune thanking their parents in Mandarin to showcase the Chinese language and culture curriculum that has been the hallmark of the school for several years now.

A sea of parents stood from their chair all with their cellphones extended and on video mode to capture their child’s cuteness.

“The Chinese New Year is the biggest celebration of the Chinese culture,” said teacher Sonia Chang. “Everyone celebrates for two weeks.”

First grader Julia Ma, clad in traditional Chinese outfit, was ready to start the celebrations of the new year, which in traditional Chinese culture is the Year of the Pig.

“This year we are celebrating the the pig, which is a lucky year,” she said. “ We’re going to do an umbrella dance,” she said.

Fortune cookies, oolong tea, Chinese candies and lanterns kept the theme going throughout the extended classroom.

“The big part of our dual language program is not only about the language but about the culture – having our students really understand and respect the differences in cultures,” said counselor Suzanne Moody. “Our Chinese teachers wanted to have the students participate in a great program and invite their parents to drink tea, which is very traditional in the Chinese culture, and also to do a song and dance that they learned speaking in Chinese.”

Kindergartener Ian Davila learned how to say Happy New Year in Mandarin and he knows exactly how he’ll be using his new language skills.

‘I’m learning Chinese so I can teach my cousins and my friends,” he said. “And so I can go to a Chinese restaurant and speak in Chinese.”









Video by Raymond Jackson/Photos courtesy EPISD

El Paso ISD’s Kohlberg Elementary Issues Kindness Challenge

Sometimes, a small act of kindness or even a word of encouragement can make a world of difference.

That’s the message that the students at Kohlberg Elementary and other schools in the El Paso Independent School District are learning this week during the Great Kindness Challenge.

The challenge is a proactive and positive bullying prevention initiative that improves school climate and increases student engagement by organizing ways for students to perform as many acts of kindness as possible on campus during a week-long period.

Kohlberg kicked off their week-long celebrations by having guests come out and form a human tunnel through which every student walked.  After that parade, the students lined up in the shape of a heart to signal their commitment to kindness.

The Great Kindness Challenge is presented by Kids for Peace, a global 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Kids for Peace was co-founded in 2006 by Danielle Gram, a high school honors student and Jill McManigal, a mother and former elementary school teacher. What started organically as a neighborhood group of kids wanting to make the world a better place, has grown into an interconnected network of young peace-builders worldwide.

In 2011, the elementary school that Jill’s children attended asked Kids for Peace to help create a more positive, unified and respectful school environment.

As a result, The Great Kindness Challenge was designed and piloted with three Carlsbad, California schools. According to their website, “Because of our innovative approach and wildly successful results, word spread, and a kindness movement was born.”

Officials add “At the heart of The Great Kindness Challenge is the simple belief that kindness is strength. We also believe that as an action is repeated, a habit is formed. With the Great Kindness Challenge checklist in hand, students have the opportunity to repeat kind act after kind act. As kindness becomes a habit, peace becomes possible.”

The week-long celebrations included dress up days and other events aimed at promoting positive learning behavior and overall kindness among students and adults.

Story by Gustavo Reveles  |  Photo by Leonel Monroy  – EPISD

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

Video+Story+Gallery: Deaf-Ed Students Visit ASL-Fluent Santa at Bassett Place

Santa’s visit to Bassett Place gave dozens of Hillside Elementary deaf-education students a sure sign that the jolly old man might fulfill their wish list this Christmas.

The elementary students lined up to meet this special Santa who understood them in their language. He looked over their wish lists as each signed Barbie dolls, cars, PS4s, dinosaurs and other popular toys.

He signed back acknowledging their wish, then posed for a picture signing ‘I love you.’

“This is special for me,” said the hearing Santa fluent in American Sign Language, or ASL. “My older son is deaf, so we know the families. I’m happy to do this for the kids.”

The visit to Santa left a permanent grin on the face of first grader Savanna Carrillo.

“I was happy,” she said through an ASL interpreter, explaining she requested a doll.

Another student asked for a fish … “a live one,” he signed to his teacher.  Meanwhile, Jesus Jasso signed and spoke to Santa asking for a Lego BB-8.

“I like to sign. I can only talk a little,” he said, using both his voice and signs.

Paraprofessional Sylvia Aguirre stood among the kinder and first-grade students, asking them what they asked of Santa.

“I love this. It’s amazing for our children,” she said. “It’s makes me happy to see them so happy.”

The event continued with a special performance by the Hillside Singing Signing Choir. The hearing students sang and signed traditional holiday selections before an audience of parents and their hearing impaired peers.

The performance ended with an emotional rendition of “Silent Night” where the students’ music and voices abruptly stopped mid song but continued signing to give the hearing audience a glimpse into the world of the deaf students.

“We do this at the end of ‘Silent Night’ to show how they experience it,” said choir teacher Diedre Minton. “It fosters communication between our hearing and non-hearing students so they sign to each other and our hearing students have a better understanding of their disability.”

Story by Reneé de Santos |  Photos by Leonel Monroy |  Video by Raymond Jackson/EPISD

EPISD’s Community Partners Provide Hawkins Students with Holiday Gifts

Not all heroes wear capes. Some of them wear red velvet suits and black patent-leather boots and belts.

“Our children were so thrilled to meet Santa and to welcome our community partners,” said Principal Adriana Ruiz.

“This is proof positive that we have amazing organizations who help us bring joy and education to the children of our community.”

All 300 students at Hawkins Elementary School on Tuesday received a gift and a hug from jolly Santa Claus thanks to a partnership between good ol’ Santa and several community-minded civic and professional organizations from throughout El Paso.

Joining Santa in helping to provide gifts to the students at Hawkins were the El Paso Women’s Lions Club, the American Legion Post 36 and the U.S. Marines 19 Rifle Unit.

Story and photos by Martín A. López – EPISD

El Paso ISD to Gather Input on School Closure Plans; Announces January Meetings

Parents and community members who wish to provide input on the proposed closure of schools being considered by the EPISD Board of Trustees can log on and have their voice heard.

Using EPISD’s Let’s Talk customer-service portal, the District has developed a site where participants can learn more about the District’s Rightsizing for the Future initiative and give their concerns and opinions. The website can be accessed by clicking here.

While on the website, participants can review presentations, read frequently asked questions and provide input that will be relayed to the EPISD Board of Trustees in anticipation of the discussion on school closures scheduled for January.

The Board is considering two options on the potential closure of three schools and early consolidation of Schuster Elementary School, which already had been slated for a merger with Dowell and Crosby elementary schools as part of the Bond 2016 program.

According to EPISD officials, “Rightsizing would create fiscal sustainability in EPISD and streamline the number of campuses the District operates.”

Option 1 of the plan calls for the closure of Alta Vista, Beall and Burleson elementary schools, and the early consolidation of Schuster. Option 2 would close Alta Vista, Douglass and Burleson, and also include the early consolidation of Schuster.

The District also has scheduled a series of in-person community meetings at potentially-impacted campuses to discuss the proposed rightsizing plans.

The meetings are scheduled from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

• Jan. 9: Alta Vista, 1000 N. Grama St.; and Beall, 320. S. Piedras St.

• Jan. 10: Burleson, 4400 Blanco Ave.; and Schuster, 5505 Will Ruth Ave.

• Jan. 11; Douglass, 101 S. Eucalyptus St.

Coronado High’s Robo-sleigh Delivers Presents to Pre-Schoolers

Dozens of pre-schoolers gathered at Coronado High School to receive a gift from a friendly character riding on a sleigh. No, it wasn’t jolly Santa Claus on top of that motorized magical vehicle.

Thanks to the hard work of Coronado robotics students, the fully-operational sleigh featured a cute penguin instead of the red-clad gift-giver.

The robot sleigh was a hit among the pre-schoolers, who are part of Coronado’s CDL program.

The students sang “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” before the same high-school students who helped build the robot sleigh delivered presents to each good boy and girl in attendance.

Teacher Andy Mendoza said his robotics students build the sleigh as part of their hands-on studies on science, technology, engineering and math.

Story by Gustavo Reveles | Photos by Reneé de Santos – EPISD

Story+Gallery: Teachers, Community Partners Unite to Give Rockets Gifts

Teachers, faculty and some very special community members gathered this week to play Santa Claus for nearly 200 Irvin Rockets.

For the second year in a row, the school organized its Irvin’s Angels event in which members of the faculty — with the help of partners in education from Fort Bliss, the Texas Department of Transportation and other entities vested in wellbeing of the school — came together to donate gifts to students right as they’re getting ready to head on out for the holiday break.

Students were served snacks and other goodies in a festive environment before being surprised by a visit from the real Santa, who brought with him sacks full of gifts.

“This is an opportunity for us to brighten the day of our students, some of whom may not get a gift this holiday season,” said Principal MaryAna Giba.

“This is just a small way in which we can tell our students that our faculty and staff, as well as our military and TxDOT partners, care about them and care about their future.”

This is the second year Irvin organizes this event, and already the number of gifts handed out has more than doubled.

Organizers say they expect even more students to benefit in upcoming years.

Author: Gustavo Reveles  | Photos courtesy of Irvin High – EPISD

Video+Story: EPISD Celebrates Torres Elementary Groundbreaking

Dozens of students wearing tiny yellow construction hats on Friday helped mark the start of construction of Dr. Joseph E. Torres Elementary School, EPISD Bond 2016’s first consolidation project.

District officials and representatives from Bradley and Fannin elementary schools – the two campuses that will merge to form the new Torres Elementary – celebrated the groundbreaking of the school in front of family and friends of the school’s namesake.

“This is such an important day. Our family is beyond happy,” said Bobby Ortiz, Joseph Torres’ nephew. “Joe Torres was a wonderful person. But most importantly, he was an advocate of education and proof that El Paso schools do a wonderful job.”

The new school, which will be built on the Bradley site and is slated to open with its combined student population for the 2020-21 academic year, is named after the late Joseph Torres – a World War II veteran, dentist and philanthropist with a long list of accomplishments in El Paso.

Torres is credited with the improvement of conditions and benefits for military veterans in the region and was known for providing dental services at low or no cost to low-income families. He was an El Paso High School graduate and U.S. Army veteran.

Friday’s ceremony celebrated the start of construction at the school, and the beginning of the school consolidations that are part of the Rightsizing for the Future campaign aimed at matching the number of schools the District operates with the number of students enrolled in EPISD.

The $19.2-million construction project will build 50,000 square feet of modern, 21st-century instructional facilities that include new classrooms, a library, a multipurpose room and administrative offices.  The funding also will pay for major renovation to existing facilities at the Bradley site.

The EPISD Board of Trustees awarded the construction project contract to Aztec Contractors. The new building was designed by ERO Architects.

Bradley Principal Kathleen Ese and Fannin Principal Peggy Gustafson announced during the ceremony that the colors for Torres will be royal blue, black and white – a combination of the current Bradley and Fannin colors.  The administrators also unveiled the name and logo for the new school mascot, the Raptors.

“We are looking forward to starting our new chapter as Torres Elementary,” Gustafson said. “Our new facilities are going to have a tremendous impact on our community.”

Bond 2016 was approved by voters to help modernize and right-size the District.  In total, the Bond will consolidate 18 existing schools into eight new campuses.

“This is an exciting time in EPISD,” said Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria, EPISD’s Deputy Superintendent for Finance and Operations. “The work we are doing here at Torres and throughout the District with the Bond 2016 funds will go a long way in making sure that our students have access to world-class facilities and top-notch educational services.”

For more information about Bond 2016 log on to District’s bond webpage.

Story by Gustavo Reveles |  Photos by Leonel Monroy  |  Video by Angel Dominguez/EPISD

Coronado Junior is Top Bass Trombonist in Texas

Smooth jazz sounds flow from Connor Wilson’s bass trombone effortlessly like a pro with more than just two years experience under his belt.

The humble musician took first chair bass trombone at the Texas Music Educators Association’s All-State competition this fall – earning a top spot on the state’s Jazz Ensemble 1 and making him the top student bass trombonist in Texas.

“I’m really proud of myself,” he said, his bass trombone comfortably at his side. “I got fourth chair last year and I was on the second ensemble, so I think it was really cool to get in the top ensemble this year.”

Coronado band director Mark Saenz calls Wilson’s accomplishment “a big deal.”

“It shows a lot of discipline to try to get those eight tubes to the level that they need to be and a lot of creativity,” Saenz said. “He had to create an improvised solo for this particularly audition process. It shows the skills that he’s developed and his talent.”

The junior credits his Coronado band peers for pushing him to practice and hone his craft.

“Being around all these other players that are so talented has made me a better player,” Wilson said. “I think had I not gone here, I wouldn’t be in a position that I am today.”

Wilson’s talent and accomplishments also inspire his band mates.

“When you have a student like Connor with the right mix of talent and attitude, it really impacts the other students around here,” Saenz said. “They hear how well he’s playing and it makes them better and inspires them to practice and make themselves work on improving their skills.”

Wilson began his band career in sixth grade playing the tuba, then moved on to trombone in seventh grade. He turned to bass trombone as a Coronado freshman – further developing and fueling his passion for jazz.

“I like the way that you can kind of just make your own melodies off of a melody that someone else created 30 years earlier,” he said. “I just think it’s really cool.”

Wilson also enjoys the mood-lifting effect playing the trombone gives him.

“It’s a real stress reliever,” he said. “If I’m sad or something, I’ll play my trombone and feel better. I really enjoy just making music – especially when it sounds really good. It’s a kind of a sense of accomplishment.”

His passion and love for brass instruments might be directly related to his genes. His parents, Steve and Elisa Wilson, are both UTEP fine arts professors. Dad Steve is an accomplished trombonist, while mom Elisa is a professor of choral music and voice.

“Connor has a particular strong family music background,” Saenz said. “They’re supported him from day one. They’ve given him the room to grow and have supported him in whatever direction that it takes him.”

His pure talent, dedication and a little DNA give the trombonist the elements necessary for success at the state level and among his peers.

“Connor is just such a great player as far as the jazz element is concerned. But on top of that, he’s also a wonderful classical tubist,” Saenz said. “He’s just a wonderful student and an inspiration for the kids around here.”

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

Superintendent Donates Penny Swap Stipend to Lee Elementary

He didn’t arrive in a sleigh nor was he wearing a red suit and leather boots, but EPISD Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera was playing the part of Santa on Wednesday.

Cabrera came to deliver a special gift to the students at Lee: his $750 holiday stipend from the successful Penny Swap election.

The gift will be used to buy more of the special computer coding robots students at the school have been using as part of the successful efforts to use EPISD’s Active Learning Framework in the classroom.

“I wanted to give back and thought the holiday bonus was a great way to do it,” Cabrera said. “It’s also my way to thank our employees and the community for supporting the Penny Swap.”

The $750 is a special grant presented to Lee Elementary in collaboration with the EPISD Education Foundation. All full-time EPISD employees will be receiving a $750 stipend as promised with the successful passage of the Tax Ratification Election, or Penny Swap, on Nov. 6.

“This extra $750 will be in our employees check this Friday,” Cabrera said. “I’m happy that we can make a small difference in lives of our dedicated employees this holiday season.”

Lee was selected because of its teachers’ support of EPISD Education Foundation’s Employee Giving Campaign.  The campus will be using the extra funds to expand their coding program using Dash Robots.

“It is a great honor to be able to receive Mr. Cabrera’s $750 stipend,” principal Terry Montes said. “The teachers can utilize these robots to integrate the mastery of TEKS and provide an engaging atmosphere for students to learn.  We appreciate the opportunity to enhance our students’ successes through this donation.”

A group of third graders, some with Dash Robots in hand, thanked the superintendent for his donation. They were all smiles as they talked to him about how the technology works and how much they enjoyed using it.

“Everybody has the chance to try the robots,” said third grader Daniel Meniola. “I think they’re going to like learning to coding them. I’m excited about getting more Dash.”

His classmate Esmeralda Grijalva is equally excited about the prospect of more Dash Robots at the school.

“I think it’s really cool we get more robots. They are really cool,” she said. “I like it when you program them and you have to test them to see if it works correctly.”

Lee Elementary showcased its Active Learning Framework model to leadership in EPISD and the community earlier this month.

The Dash Robots are among one of the many active learning strategies at the campus.

“I’m excited about active learning we are doing across the District and especially here at Lee Elementary,” Cabrera said. “We are really engaging kids in a different way. I’m excited to see what they’re doing with the extra money.”

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