Tuesday , January 16 2018
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Tag Archives: EPISD

200 Dads, Father Figures Attend Bond Elementary’s ‘Take Your Dad to School’ Day

Nearly 200 fathers and father figures swapped their offices for the classroom to engage their children and participate in the Take Your Dad to School event at Bond Elementary School.

The event is part of the districtwide Strong Fathers Initiative to encourage more male role models to participate in their child’s education.

“Studies show that when fathers are involved their children are more apt to do better in math and to do better socially,” said Erica Martinez, parent engagement leader at Bond. “It’s really important that the father figures are part of the child’s life.”

Typically, moms are more apt to participate in school activities and get involved at their child’s campus so the Strong Fathers initiative actively seeks out fathers to make them feel more comfortable at the campus and offer information on they can help their child become more successful academically. The school will be offering other evening Strong Father-themed events to boost math and reading skills.

The morning started with a kid-and-dads breakfast and then fathers proceeded to their child’s classrooms before returning to the cafeteria for a Strong Fathers presentation.

“The fathers are going into the classrooms and observing what their child is learning and maybe what kind of things he could take back home and work on with the child,” Martinez said.

Teachers also gave the dads projects to work on with their children.

“This gives dads a sense of connection with their child because they know what they are doing in the classroom and at the same time they are engaged with them,” said kindergarten teacher Lisa Lee. “I set up different centers so the dads are interacting with their child and building stuff in the classroom. They’re really connecting with their kids.”

Kindergartener Alina Burciaga took her dad Noel Burciaga to school. The two bonded over making a “Packers Station” out of popsicle sticks and clothespins to honor their favorite NFL team.

“It’s a good opportunity to see what she’s doing in school,” said Burciaga, whose job takes him away from home for half the year. “These little things mean a lot to both of us.”

When asked her thoughts on bringing dad to school, little Alina’s face lit up, flashing bright smile. She turned to her dad, giving him a tight squeeze.

“I like it very much,” she said, still clinging to his arm.

Dad Roman Marquez split his time with daughters Paisley, a kindergartener, and first-grader Tinsley.

He and Paisley worked together to build a catapult with a spoon, rubber bands and pompoms. Once Paisley got it, the pink pompom flew across the desk.  Success!

“I love this,” Marquez said. “I like being involved in their education and letting them know I’m here for them.”

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

EPISD Community Schools Partners to Open Community Food Pantries

Families in El Paso’s South Side will get some help in putting healthful food on their tables thanks to a partnership among the EPISD Community Schools program and El Pasoans Fighting Hunger and Project Vida.

The three entities have come together to open the first two school-based food pantries in EPISD at Guillen Middle and Zavala Elementary. The two pantries will serve 150 families in three campuses starting later this month.

“El Pasoans Fighting Hunger has been working with our schools for a long time with the mobile food pantry, but this is the first school-based food pantry in EPISD,” said Simon Chandler, EPISD’s Director of Community Schools. “I was happy we are part of project that is responding to a need. It’s another way to support the families that we have here.”

To qualify, families had to register for the service.

“We sent flyers homes with the students, put up posters and made calls to get the word out,” Chandler said. “At the end of each month, the families that are registered will get a basket with food. Once you’re registered that’s good for 12 months.”

The schools will receive up 1,000 pounds of food to start, but for now students are doing their part to chip in with a food drive of their own.

Eighth-grader Mariana Chavez thinks the pantry is a great way to make sure more students have access to healthful food once they go home.

“It’s great to help out other people,” Chavez said. “I brought a couple things, and it feels good to be able to part of this project.”

Guillen and Hart will share a pantry due to their proximity to the Community Schools family resource center on the Guillen campus. The pantry will be run with the help of parents and students, who will keep the food organized and stored correctly until it is collected.

“This is another way we can engage parents,” Chandler said. “They can come volunteer and learn more about some of the other programs we have available, such as the ESL and computers classes.”

For more information on how make a food donation contact 230-2550.

 Story by Alicia Chumley /Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Young Women’s Academy, UTEP Collaborate to Increase Number of Minorities in STEM/STEAM

Thanks to a partnership with UTEP, EPISD’s Young Women’s STEAM Research & Preparatory Academy, will play a key role in implementing strategies aimed at improving hiring patterns for minorities in the fields of science and engineering.

The University of Texas at El Paso is one of only nine universities to be invited to participate in the National Science Foundation’s Dissemination Conference at the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program in Anchorage next week.

As a participant, UTEP will leave the four-day gathering with a blueprint to implement strategies that could help minorities become more involved in science and engineering. The University already has identified EPISD’s Young Women’s Academy as a key partner in these strategies.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about a very successful model and how we can adapt it to fit our needs,” Principal Dr. Cynthia Ontiveros said. “The Academy will be one of nine schools nationwide that will have the opportunity to collaborate with their partner university to learn more about broadening STEM participation, which in our case means increasing the number of women in STEM/STEAM careers.”

Ontiveros and EPISD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Carla Gonzalez will attend the conference to learn how the model can benefit El Paso students.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to expand options for our young ladies to get into the world of engineering, not only at the academy but also at Chapin High School, which has an engineering magnet program, as well as all other EPISD schools,” Gonzalez said. “I hope to learn from this very successful program and open that partnership with UTEP.”

Ontiveros hopes the partnership with UTEP will create meaningful experiences for her students, starting with a field trip to the engineering department in February.

“STEM careers have been male-dominated for so long so it’s hard for young women to find a place. It’s important to look at these kinds of learning models that help us create a place within the community so talent stays within the community,” she said.

“We are already talking about different ways to expose students to engineering and other STEM fields,” Ontiveros added. “These experiences are powerful for them as they move on and graduate and decide go to UTEP and pursue these careers.”

Author – Alicia Chumley

Herald-Post Best of 2017: Year in Pictures

It’s another year in the history books, as 2017 fades and 2018 dawns.

From the streets of downtown, to the football fields of the schools around town, to the houses of worship throughout the Borderland and locations in between, our photographers were busy documenting our story.

Below are the best shots from our team of photographers: Chief Photographer Andres Acosta, Steven Cottingham and Kevin Venegas.

Hornedo Middle School Choir Seeking Help to Get to Carnegie Hall

Hornedo Middle School choir knows exactly how to get to Carnegie Hall: get noticed on YouTube, practice … and fundraise, fundraise, fundraise.

The Distinguished Concerts Singers International (DCINY) selected the choir to perform among students from throughout the world on June 24 at Carnegie Hall to sing a newly commissioned work for Treble and Youth Voices. The 40 choir students are $80,000 shy of their $120,000 goal to sing at the prestigious concert hall.

“We are very excited to go perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City with choristers from around the world,” said director Jessica Barney. “I feel honored and so thankful that my students will get this once in a lifetime opportunity. I have never been to New York City, yet alone perform at Carnegie Hall. This is an amazing accomplishment, and I feel so blessed.”

Representatives from the DCINY contacted Barney after seeing on YouTube an a cappella performance from their last year’s concert and asked them to submit an audition tape.

“The Hornedo Middle School choir received this invitation because of the quality and high level of musicianship demonstrated by the singers as well as the exceptional quality of their audition recording,” said Dr. Johnathan Griffin, artistic director and principal conductor for DCINY. “It is quite an honor just to be invited to perform in New York. These wonderful musicians not only represent a high quality of music and education, but they also become ambassadors for the entire community. This is an event of extreme pride for everybody and deserving of the community’s recognition and support.”

Eighth-grader MacKenzie Block called the trip to New York an “amazing, one in a lifetime opportunity.”

“We’re preparing by doing lots of before school practices and fundraisers and lots and lots of hard work on our part and Ms. Barney’s,” she said.

The choir will spend five days in New York City, balancing their time between rehearsals and sightseeing.

“I’m really excited and happy we get to do this,” said eighth-grader Jose Escoto, an 8th grader. “Not every middle school gets to do something amazing like this, to go to New York to do what we all love – choir and singing. It’s a passion and a dream come true.”

The choir has been working with the El Paso Community Foundation to raise money for the trip. Anyone interested in making a contribution can donate online.

“We have raised about $40,000.00,” Barney said. “It’s a chunk but we still have a ways to go.”

Author – Reneé de Santos  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy

Wiggs Eighth Grade Student Honored with Valor Award for Anti-Smoking Advocacy

Eighth-grader Ashley Jerome may be the youngest person ever to receive the Smoke Free Paso Del Norte’s Chester L. Bryant Valor Award, but there’s nothing small about her contributions to a world where tobacco products are not in use.

The work of the Wiggs Middle School student over the past three years as a mentor and advocate for tobacco control policies has earned the attention of the Paso de Norte Foundation, which presents the award to an individual or organization for their contributions in reducing the negative impact of tobacco in the community.

“I have been in Teens Against Tobacco Use since I was in sixth grade,” Jerome said. “It felt really amazing to receive this award, especially since I am the first middle-school student to get it.”

To qualify for the award, an individual or organization must meet criteria in four areas: prevention, cessation, policy and special populations.

Tobacco use is something that has affected Jerome personally.

“My dad has been smoking since he was around my age. He had a heart attack when I was in second grade,” she said. “Seeing what can happen really made me want to join the program because it’s important to teach about the dangers of tobacco.

Jerome talks to students at Mesita and Lamar elementary about the dangers of tobacco, preparing special presentations for them throughout the year.

“We show them the dangers of tobacco and how to deal with peer pressure to smoke,” she said. “We show them the negative effects. Let’s say you want to be a football player, it affects you because you won’t be able to run as fast.”

She thinks it’s important to hear this message from a fellow student.

“It’s important for kids to learn about this when they are little,” Jerome said. “I think when young people hear that message from someone their age they really stop and listen to what you have to say and how it will affect them and those they love.”

 Author – Alicia Chumley | Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Video+Story: Albertsons Donates $44,000 to El Paso ISD Schools

Christmas came a little early for 17 EPISD campuses receiving $44,000 in grants  from the Albertsons Companies Foundation during the re-grand opening ceremonies of two of its stores.

Dignitaries and grant beneficiaries gathered at the Redd Road and Kenworthy Street stores for two separate ribbon cutting ceremonies and grant awards.

A large percentage of the grants went to 16 campuses for $32,000, which will be distributed through the EPISD Education Foundation. Albertsons also is donating school supplies to the schools.

“We are honored to donate $32,000 to the El Paso Independent School District through the Albertsons Foundation,” said spokeswoman Nancy Keane. “We know that schools are really stretched and when it comes to funding music programs and just general supplies teachers are buying products out of their own money. They are using their own resources to make sure their kids have the equipment and the tools they need to learn and to really excel in the classroom.”

At the Redd Road re-grand opening, the Franklin High School drum line greeted shoppers and guests eager to see the newly renovated store, which features more deli offerings, a sushi bar and a full-service Starbucks.

The Hornedo Middle School choir gathered around a fruit display in the front of the store to perform Christmas carols while the Putnam Elementary School’s Bucket Band kept the beat going for the closing of the ceremony.

Besides the $32,000 for the 16 EPISD campuses, Albertsons awarded a separate check for $2,000 to the Franklin High School band and a $10,000 check to the Hornedo choir. The choir was selected to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City this spring and needs nearly $70,000 to reach its fund-raising goal.

“We cannot express how grateful and privileged we feel to have Albertsons as one of our supporters and sponsors,” said Jessica Barney, Hornedo choir director. “We truly enjoyed being a part of the grand re-opening of the beautiful Albertsons on Redd Road. We will always remember this act of kindness.”

Across town at the Kenworthy store, principals from nine Northeast campuses gathered for their special celebration and re-grand opening.

“This came as a complete surprise,” said Crosby Elementary principal Yvette Hernandez. “There are things we can’t do with campus budgets especially with enrichment opportunities for our students. Albertsons is sending a message that it cares about our children and that we are working together for the common good.”

Christine Miles, principal at Nixon, said the extra cash will go a long way for students at her campus.

“By Albertsons supporting us, we’re able to provide resources to our students we wouldn’t ordinarily be able to provide,” she said.

During the ceremony, representatives from the selected campuses gathered for pictures holding up their big ceremonial checks for $2,000.

“We are very fortunate here at Albertsons and through the Albertsons Foundations to have the financial resources to pump back into school districts and to really honor these educators that do so much to help students,” Keane said. “By giving back to them, we hope to make their lives just a little bit easier in the classroom.”

Author: Reneé de Santos | Photo by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Masons Deliver New Bikes to Moye Elementary Students

Fifty Moye Elementary School students will ride into the holiday season on brand new bikes thanks to the generous donation of a local Masonic lodge.

The Wallace Hughston Masonic Lodge in Northeast El Paso delivered the bikes to the students on Monday as part of a holiday tradition to give gifts to a nearby school the lodge has had since 2006. This year, lodge members picked Moye to benefit.

“There’s one word to describe why we do this—satisfaction,” lodge president David Adams said. “You can’t put a dollar sign on joy.”

The Masonic lodge, centered in Northeast El Paso, has raised money to donate gifts to a school in their community for over 11 years now.

Adams let Moye administration know his group would donate the 50 brand-new bicycles. Administrators picked recipients based on positive behavior factors.

When looking through candidates to receive a bike, Counselor Belinda Ortega-Enriquez was looking for students with perfect attendance and that followed PAWS — Practice respect, Act responsible, Work hard and Stay safe.

The chosen Mountainlions were called to their cafeteria Monday afternoon where they sat in front a closed curtain. After an introduction by Ortega-Enriquez, Masons pulled the curtain back to reveal the new bikes.

Students squealed and hugged each other, with one student exclaiming “Vroom vroom!”

Jenna Cyl worked hard all year long, not in exchange of a reward, but for her own educational benefit. However, she didn’t mind her early Christmas gift.

“It feels so good to get a new bike,” she said enthusiastically.

Jenna’s mother, Monica Cyl, said her daughter made it a point not to miss a day of school, even when she was feeling a little bit sick.

“For her to be recognized for her hard work, it’s awesome,” she said.

The event also coincided perfectly with Moye’s core value of the month—generosity.

“This is a perfect example for the kids,” Ortega-Enriquez said. “They see how generosity plays a role in the community.”

Author: Andrea Cortez | Photo by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Video: Coronado, Franklin Set Aside Rivalry to Support ‘Holiday Blessings Drive’

Every year Coronado and Franklin high schools set aside their competitive spirit, coming together to collect toys, blankets and clothing items for an EPISD elementary school.

Student council members from both schools started the Holiday Blessings Drive four years ago at Zavala Elementary, picking a different school each year to visit. This year the students gathered items for the 310 students at Hawkins Elementary School.

“This is a great project because it brings the schools together for a big and challenging project. It’s a good growth experience,” said Coronado student activities manager Kelly Groves. “They are so giving of their time, and they are so happy to do it. I could not be more proud of the kind of young people that we are producing.”

Coronado junior and StuCo president Nicole Plesant has participated in the project the last three years. She greeted each student with gusto, making sure they each took a pledge not to open the gifts until the 25th.

“It is the best feeling seeing the kids’ reactions. It’s such a heartwarming feeling. It brings tears to my eyes,” she said. “We aware that we are a blessed group of kids and this is something we can do to give back to the community and make a difference.”

The high-schoolers welcomed each grade level into the library, where stacks of boxes awaited each student.

“It’s been a really positive experience getting to help these students and bring a smile to their face,” Franklin sophomore Michael Fallon said. “I think it’s a great way to show that we care. It’s a common misconception that teens are self-centered, but it’s nice to help people that are less fortunate.”

This is the first year the sophomore participates in the event. He was impressed by the amount of planning involved in the project but above all the camaraderie between the schools.

“Coronado and Franklin came together on Saturday, and we were at the school for over six hours wrapping gifts nonstop,” he said. “No one complained. We just kept going because we all had the same goal in mind.”

Students at Hawkins said they were happy and grateful to receive the gifts.

“I felt loved because we didn’t ask for anything and the high schools kids gave so much,” said fifth-grader Rene de la Llave. “Not all schools do this, but Coronado and Franklin really made us feel special. Some people got big boxes but it doesn’t matter because they took their time to make us feel loved.”

Student Council students pick an elementary at the beginning of the school year, meeting with the principal and counselor to coordinate the project. The elementary in turn is responsible for providing students’ clothing and shoe sizes, as well as what the students have asked for on their holiday wish list.

“I’m really humbled and beyond blessed that our school was chosen for this project because now we know our kids are going to have a really great Christmas,” principal Adriana Ruiz said. “I think it’s reflective of our District that we want to help our kids beyond academics and work on their social emotional wellbeing as well.”

Author: Alicia Chumley / Photos by Leonel Monroy / Video by Angel Dominguez – EPISD

Video+Story: Bowie Students Officially Welcome Principal Ordaz

Bowie High School celebrated the official naming of its new principal in grand Bear fashion with the famous Mariachi Orgullo, the cheerleaders, dance team and marching band.

Frank Ordaz, interim principal for the past 10 months, appeared through the smoke inside Bowie’s inflatable tunnel to a line of cheerleaders before greeting about 400 cheering students in the gym.

“I’m proud to be at Bowie,” Ordaz told the students during the early-morning pep rally. “I’ve seen the success and have seen the struggles here at Bowie and I want you to know I am committed. We are all committed to being here with you. We’re here because of you and we’re here to be with you.”

Ordaz has been part of the Bowie community for many years. He became an assistant principal at Bowie in 2013 and prior to that served as an assistant principal at Guillen Middle School, a feeder school to Bowie. He considers the promotion “one of the greatest opportunities” of his life.

“I have the responsibility to make sure students who graduate from Bowie have the same opportunities that I did and that they are able to attend a university, join the military or go to a technical school,” he said. “I want our students to walk with their head held high. They are ready to take on the world and to succeed.”

Student council co-President Kimberly Martinez thought Ordaz was a great choice to lead Bowie.

“He knows our traditions and he knows us and we know him,” she said. “He’s going to be really good as principal because he was already good as an interim and assistant principal.”

Ordaz told the students his first call after being named was to his parents.

“Like many students here, I’m the son of two immigrant parents who came to the United States and that pushed education on their children to make sure they are able to achieve the dream. Being here at Bowie is very close to my heart. I’ve been through what some of our students have been through. I’ve seen it.”

Ordaz, who has spent his entire 17-year educational career in EPISD, taught special education teacher at Hornedo Middle School and later became a home hospital teacher for students at the El Paso Psychiatric Center. He also has served as an assistant principal at Canyon Hills Middle School. He graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in rhetoric. His received a master’s degree in educational administration also from UTEP.

He looks to the future of Bowie with excitement and pride.

“The best is yet to come for Bowie,” he said. “We will be providing great programs that will ensure students learn at a high level and achieve at the highest level possible.”

Dr. Carla Gonzales, assistant superintendent of high schools, congratulated Ordaz and told the crowd he was an ideal fit for the campus.

“You deserve to have the very best and someone who understand what it is to be a Bowie Bear and the traditions that are here,” Gonzales told students. “Bowie High School is going nowhere and either is Mr. Ordaz. We’re here to stay and show the city what we can do. His heart is here and his belief in what you can do as students and staff is true and real. The next few years are going to be phenomenal in the history making for the bears.”

The welcome ceremony was held Friday, December 8th.

Four El Paso ISD Teachers Awarded Grants to Develop, Support Music Education

Four EPISD elementary-school teachers received grants from the Texas Music Educators Association to develop and support music education in innovative and impactful ways at 13 campuses throughout the District.

Elementary vocal specialists Mary Jane Maus, Katie Genevro and Sarah Mayne, as well as music teacher Alison Bocanegra were awarded the Elementary Music Instructional Support grants.

“EPISD Fine Arts commends these teachers and all of our Elementary Music Specialists for their hard work and opportunities they provide our EPISD students to develop their musical talent,” fine arts facilitator Gail Manago said.

TMEA approved funding for grants to benefit elementary music programs for active TMEA members who teach elementary music.

Campuses are eligible for funds not to exceed $800 to purchase music, music equipment, instruments, instructional software and other music educational materials.

“These teachers will receive resonator bells, Music-Go-Rounds manipulatives, bongos, hand bells, desk bells, pBuzz Kid’s Musical instruments, recorders, Orff instruments and instructional music books and CDs to complement the (state curriculum) for elementary music,” Manago said.

Maus was awarded an impressive total of 10 grants — one for each campus she visits as part of the District’s Mobile Melodies program. Having instruments and instructional materials at the campuses will allow her to focus on create fun, active music curriculum for the students.

“I was just thrilled to receive the grants. I teach at 13 schools, which is unusual in the state of Texas for elementary music teachers,” Maus said. “I did not think they would give me grants for 10 schools but applied anyway.”

She is looking forward to using the Music-Go-Rounds materials to spark students to be creative when making music

“They are wonderful rubber discs that can be used over and over on a whiteboard or smartboard without damage to the surfaces, Maus said. “They have music rhythms, emojis for feelings, pictures of various rhythm instruments and music vocabulary terms. There are so many ways for students to learn about music with these as well as create their own music.”

Tippin Elementary vocal specialist Katie Genevro is excited to start a recorder ensemble and use the sight-singing cards to help students build their aural skills.

“The ensemble will consist of soprano, alto, tenor and bass recorders. Playing in a recorder ensemble will immerse students in an environment that nurtures 21st century skills that are critical for our student’s success,” Genevro said. “Music provides an opportunity for students to participate and perform a living art.

Sarah Mayne at Guerrero Elementary, was able to purchase the new “pBuzz” instruments to help students learn how to play instruments with a mouthpiece like those in the brass family.

“I am very thankful for the generosity of TMEA,” she said. “Music connects all subjects and helps students be more successful across the board. I love being a music teacher. I want students to leave class feeling positive, confident and excited for their adventures of the day. A singing child is a happy child.”

 Author – Alicia Chumley | Photos by Leonel Monroy

Video+Gallery+Story: BBVA Compass’ Blue Elves Deliver Cheer to Putnam Elementary

The surprises kept coming at Putnam Elementary School Tuesday morning from the Blue Elves of BBVA Compass bank visiting the West Side campus.

Their crew – decked out in Santa hats in the company’s signature color – spent the morning with first- and second-graders reading a story and decorating gingerbread cookies. They then did what Christmas elves normally do: provided a toy to every single good boy and girl around.

“Sometimes we take for granted that every child receives many gifts during the holiday season but at Putnam there are many who aren’t as fortunate and don’t have the amenities other students in the district may have,” said Principal Cynthia Sanchez.

The students received more than toy, however.

The bank kicked off their holiday giving by announcing each first-and second-grader would go home with a $25 voucher to start a savings account. The bank gave a short lesson on the importance of saving for college before announcing the $25 gift.

“It’s important to plant the seed of saving early,” said Yolanda Davila, BBVA community relations executive for Texas. “It’s key to their success and future.”

BBVA employees broke into small groups to read an interactive story about the gingerbread man. Students listened intently to the holiday story, interjecting in all the right places.

“In addition to giving, which is always nice to do, we want to engage directly with the children and let them know that there are adults out there who care,” Davila said. “We like to bring holiday cheer by giving physical presents but also being present.”

The short story led up to a little sugar. Each student took the blank canvas of gingerbread cookie to design their own creation in, of course, BBVA blue.

“Mine looks like Cookie Monster,” one student called out, taking a dollop of frosting and saturating the gingerbread man with blue icing and a set of googly eyes.

Student Donovan MacKenzie held up his creation – a one-eyed gingerbread man outlined in blue.

“Yum,” he said, after taking a big bite – giving both his creation and the treat a big thumbs up.

Once the cookie project finished, then came a huge hand drumroll and the final surprise of the morning: toys for everybody. BBVA carefully had lined up rows and rows of Candylands, Mr. Potato Heads, Troll dolls and Play-Doh sets behind a curtain in the gym to give the students.

The students erupted into cheers when they saw their gifts.

“Seeing the students have a smile on their face brings me great joy,” Sanchez said. “We’re not only feeding them academically but helping them evolve socially.”

Student Christian Leos loved Tuesday’s activities even before the BBVA elves unveiled the final surprise.

“This the best day of my life,” he said. “I’m really excited.”

Author: Reneé de Santos / Photos by Leonel Monroy

El Paso ISD Art Students Display Their Works for Visiting Art Schools

EPISD art students clutched their portfolios Tuesday, holding them close to their chests with both excitement and nerves as they waited to meet with the people who could make their educational dreams come true.

The nearly 100 seniors were part of an innovative college fair, the first-ever EPISD Visual Arts Program Recruitment Fair designed specifically for students seeking post-secondary training in the arts.

“Every year we take the kids to the National Portfolio Day, but since it’s out of town we can only take so many students,” Visual Arts Facilitator Rosa Aguilar said. “I thought why not bring the schools to El Paso and give more students the opportunity to show up and benefit from this experience. I am so excited because this is a chance for them to show how talented they are, to sell themselves and get opportunities from the recruiters.”

Students were able to talk to recruiters from schools such as the Paris College of Art, Kansas City Art Institute, Laguna College of Art and Design and the Minneapolis College of Art.

Local and nearby art programs at UTEP, NMSU and the University of New Mexico also sent representatives.

“The schools were very receptive to the idea because El Paso is such a great city, and it’s very unique,” Aguilar said. “They are very interested in seeing what our kids have to offer.”

This is the first time Irvin senior Raven Jones has attended a recruiting fair.

“I was a little overwhelmed at first because I didn’t know what to expect. It’s nice to learn about the colleges individually,” Jones said.

She talked to people from Rocky Mountain College of Art Design and Sul Ross State University before waiting in line for the Paris school.

“It’s the most popular because it’s unique. It’s a chance to go overseas and learn about different cultures, which you can implement into your artwork,” she said. “I was nervous showing my work because they are like my babies, but it’s great seeing other people’s work.”

Austin senior John McBryde cradled a laptop in his arms, waiting for a chance to showcase his digital collage work.

“I think this is an excellent opportunity to expand our horizons and meet people from other places face-to-face,” McBryde said. “It’s a great way to give us students a feel for what school they’d like to attend.”

Irvin art teacher Karen Fortney made sure to coach the students before the event, giving them a confidence boost to show off not only their art but also their personalities.

“None of the students I brought today had ever had this opportunity so it was a little intimidating for them,” Fortney said. “I’m hoping they will have a chance to pursue their dreams and have a better idea what direction they need to go. I think they are going to be really inspired and excited after this.”

The Fine Arts Department hopes the recruiting fair will become an annual event.

“This is first year that we do it so I am really excited because this is something we can do every year,” Aguilar said. “This has the potential to get bigger and create more opportunities for our students.”

 Story and photos by Alicia Chumley – EPISD

Makerspaces Spark Innovation in EPISD Libraries

EPISD’s making the move to Makerspace – the latest in school library initiatives that provide students a collaborative space to learn, explore and create using high-tech tools like 3-D printers.

All 10 EPISD traditional high schools are carving out a makerspace inside their library to offer students a place for hands-on learning. Students can use the tools there to make music, videos, homemade plastic items and much more.

Each library is designing their makerspace based on what they felt would appeal to their students and work well at their campus. Elementary and middle schools also are getting into the makerspace trend, creating an area for innovative with tools for exploration.

“Makerspaces afford students of all ages in our districts schools the opportunity to learn and explore STEM-related activities,” said Armando Loera, library administrator. “Our students will gain hands-on experience in the creation of new things and have the opportunity to think critically and be successful with through trial and error, problem-solving, self-direction and exploration.”

The high school makerspaces feature a 3-D printer and scanner, robotic equipment and other campus-specific tools for creating.

“This set-up helps create a sense of pride and ownership for the space and empowers students to see themselves as builders, creators and inventors,” Loera said. “The makerspaces will be run by the librarian and volunteers will mentor and guide students so that these students become experts and they in turn can teach other students how to use various techniques and technologies.”

Chapin High School’s makerspace offers students a chance to explore music production, video production and drone recording.

“I hope they will follow the advice of Ms. Frizzle from the ‘Magic School Bus’: ‘take chances, make mistakes, get messy,’” said Chapin librarian Pete Biddle. “I want them to not be afraid to learn and make mistakes, to be creative, to have an idea and go with it, to learn new things, to to use professional qality equipment. And last, but not least, have fun learning.”

Biddle is already getting requests from Chapin’s fine arts groups to use the recording studio.

“I’m excited to see what the students will create, and I also can’t wait to learn side-by-side with them,” he said. “Exciting things are coming to the rockin’ Chapin library.”

Librarian Juli Porflit created a makerspace in the Moye Elementary library to give real-world connections to the curriculum.

“It boosts their self-esteem and gives them the confidence to know they are thinkers and can find success at their own pace,” Porflit said. “Since there are only problems presented with no set outcome or finished product, they guide their learning through trial and error.  Students who may not perform in a traditional classroom shine in the makerspace because there is such freedom given.”

Students first research and brainstorm before diving into their project.

“They are set free to explore and create at the end they write about their experience as well as present their final product,” Porflit said. “All kinds of learners can find a place to fit in with a makerspace.”

 Author – Reneé de Santos / Photos A. Chumley & L. Monroy

El Paso ISD Announces Holiday Card Winners

The EPISD Fine Arts Department has named the winners of the 2017-18 Holiday Card Award. More than 600 students submitted their entries for the annual competition.

“Congratulations to all our participants,” said fine arts facilitator Rosa Aguilar. “Our judges had a very difficult time deciding on our finalist.”

The winning card design will be on display at the District’s Education Center starting December 4.


High School Division 

1st Place –(pictured above) Sarah Villaronga,  09 Grade, Franklin HS. Art Teacher: Ms. Strain ($400 incentive in general/art supplies for the classroom)

2nd Place—Nichole Maldonado,  12 Grade, Chapin HS. Art Teacher: Ms. Valdez ($300 incentive in general/art supplies for the classroom)

3rd Place—Martin Marrufo, 11 Grade, Silva Magnet HS. Art Teacher: Mr. Marin ($200 incentive in general/art supplies for the classroom)

Honorable Mention—Reiley Gahan,  10 Grade, Transmountain Early College HS. Art Teacher: Ms. Valdez ($100 incentive in general/art supplies for the classroom)

Middle School Division

1st Place –Julianna Creme,  08 Grade Morehead MS. Art Teacher: Mr. Vasquez ($400 incentive in general/art supplies for the classroom)

2nd Place –Edwin Nava,  07 Grade Henderson MS. Art Teacher: Mr. Ramirez ($400 incentive in general/art supplies for the classroom)

3rd Place—Megan Soto,  08 Grade, Brown MS. Art Teacher: Ms. Pacheco ($300 incentive in general/art supplies for the classroom)

Honorable Mention—Nicole Nickerson, 08 Grade, H.E. Charles MS. Art Teacher: Mr. Pitton ($200 incentive in general/art supplies for the classroom)


Elementary School Division

1st Place –Delilah Medina,  04 Grade, Hart ES. Art Teacher: Ms. Marquez ($400 incentive in general/art supplies for the classroom)

2nd Place—Savannah Vela,  05 Grade, Bond ES. Art Teacher: Mr. Morales ($300 incentive in general/art supplies for the classroom)

3rd Place—Mia Alexandra Salas, 03 Grade, MacArthur ES. Art Teacher: Ms. Villagran ($200 incentive in general/art supplies for the classroom)

Honorable Mention—Noelly C. 05 Grade, Burnet ES. Art Teacher: Ms. Gutierrez ($100 incentive in general/art supplies for the classroom)