The Cougars once again won the District Mock Trial Competition and represented the city in the Dallas Bar Association’s State Mock Trial tournament this weekend.
This is the third straight year Franklin has taken first place at the district tournament and participated in the state competition.
Mock Trial is a tournament for aspiring lawyers and legal fans where participants are given a ficticious case and must then develop and present both the prosecution/plaintiff and defense. The students then play the roles of the attorneys and witnesses.
Members work together to learn the facts of the case and create strategies for trial and then compete in local-area meets.
The 2019 Franklin Team is: Mia Beldner, Gabriel Agustin Del Campo, Michael Fallon, Luisa Garcia, Andres Hinojos, Derek Jones, Sam Magana, Jorge Pompa, Alec Tellez and Alec Trujillo. The Franklin sponsor is Alison Cundari.
Two members of the El Paso District Attorneys Office, Amanda Enriquez and Elizabth Howard, serve as the team’s lawyer coaches.
At the State Competition in Dallas this weekend there were 28 teams from around Texas competing for the honor to represent Texas at the National High School Mock Trial Competition, in Athens, Georgia, this May.
While the Franklin Team did not break the Top 10 this year at the State Competition, they know that their hard work paid off this year and look forward to competing again next spring.
The regional competition was organized by the regional coordinator, Claudia Duran, on Feb. 8-9 at the El Paso County Courthouse.
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
The Franklin High Cougars certainly have plenty to roar about this week as both their Twirlers Director and the Twirlers Team were honored during the Texas State Championship meet.
Dawn Menchaca, a Business Teacher and Director of Star Twirlers and the Feature Twirlers Director for Franklin High School, was given the Texan Award by the National Baton Twirling Association of Texas.
According to the association, “She is not only awarded for being an outstanding coach, but for her dedication to revitalize Baton Twirling in El Paso.”
“Thank you to Bethany Tolley the contest director and director of the Twirlers of Texas Tech University in Lubbock…[and] thank as well to Marlene Torres who was the catalyst to get Dawn involved in bringing El Paso students to contests across the state of Texas,” Menchaca shared.
In addition to Menchaca’s honor, the Twirlers of Franklin High School earned a first place title at the NBTA Texas State Championship in Lubbock, Texas. These twirlers are the only High School group in El Paso.
Members include Maddy Chapa, Sidney Vallejo, Eleanor Schoenbrun, and Emmy Chapa. In addition to the competitions, the young women perform with the Franklin Star of the West Band.
In the past 2 decades she has taught Twirlers – ages 3 to 73 – here in El Paso where they participate in events such as the Westside Rotary Club 4th of July Parade, the Celebration of Lights Parade, and various philanthropic events in the city. She even had two twirlers at UTEP where they have not had any in decades.
By way of her coaching and training, Menchaca has given Twirlers of El Paso in high school the opportunity to represent their school and compete in UIL Twirling. For the past four years, she has assisted the participants in achieving 16 UIL Division 1 medals all at the State Solo and Ensemble Contest held in Austin.
An EPISD student who has worked effortlessly to improve her school and bring camaraderie and safety to her campus was named the 2018 Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year by the National PTA.
Eleanor Schoenbrun, a freshman at Franklin High School, was given the award for being a powerful voice for change for children in education. She was selected from among hundreds of applicants from throughout the United States.
Schoenbrun was recognized for her efforts to improve a courtyard at Franklin in order to make it a safer and more welcoming place to gather during lunch. She secured the funding for the improvements by personally writing and earning grants from the Disney Foundation and generationOn, as well as the Franklin PTA.
“I am truly humbled and grateful to the community for coming through on this important project,” she said. Advocacy “has allowed me to be the voice for the voiceless.”
Thanks to her efforts, the Franklin courtyard is now a safe space for school events like pep rallies and band performances.
Schoenbrun received her award during the 2018 National PTA Legislative Conference in the Washington, D.C., area on March 13.
“Advocacy is critical to make a difference for education and the health, safety and wellbeing of our nation’s children,” said National PTA President Jim Accomando. “Eleanor exemplifies what it means to take action and be a voice for change for all children and schools.”
While in Washington for the National PTA Legislative Conference, Schoenbrun had the opportunity to meet with legislators and discuss her biggest concern in education: safety.
“I am working toward having a safe campus,” Schoenbrun said. “I want to make sure these legislators are backing up my work.”
Schoenbrun’s mother, Western Hills Elementary Teacher Lisa Schoenbrun, said her daughter does all the heavy lifting on her own.
“Eleanor has a gift for finding a niche in need and filling that void,” she said.
Eleanor Schoenbrun’s advocacy began at a young age. As a third-grade student, she founded Kans for Kids at Zavala Elementary. The program collects food for children who may not receive a meal outside of the school setting.
Story by Andrea Cortez | Photo courtesy of National PTA
Move over Lollapalooza and Coachella…Tuesday morning, Franklin High School was the home of one of the only music festivals to pay their hosts.
The High School Nation Tour stopped by Franklin to give students a two-hour music fest experience complete with musical stages, interactive booths and food vendors.
It was all part of a presentation by a national school arts program that picked Franklin as one of 25 schools nationwide to host the festival.
On top of top-notch music, art and fun, Franklin gets a $30,000 grant from High School Nation to create a music recording studio at the school.
The High School Nation tour is making its way across the United States to promote music, arts and sports at public high schools by giving students a positive musical experience on their own campus.
HSN Studios also provides campuses gear and software necessary to create a fully functional on-campus recording studio.
Students perfected their “nae nae” with singer Silento, as well as performances by up and coming artists Caroline Roman, Chocolate Punk and more. In addition to the main stage performances, students engaged in fun and educational activities, such as learning to play musical instruments or picking up information about the dangers of tobacco use from the Truth campaign.
El Paso ISD’s only twirling team is also a state-qualifier.
The Franklin High School Feature Twirlers – a team of four majorette-style baton handlers that are often associated with marching bands – will compete in the state tournament after earning a Division 1 rating in the Texas UIL Region 22 Solo and Ensemble.
The team is made up of senior Makenna Villanueva, sophomores Sidney Vallejo and Maddy Chapa and freshman Eleanor Schoenbrun. The four will compete in Austin over the Memorial Day weekend.
“The twirling team really puts a sparkle on the field,” twirling director Dawn Menchaca said. “It’s a matter of passion and dedication. It’s how much time you want to put in that passion that you have. They work a lot of hours preparing routines and actually compete across the state of Texas.”
Menchaca teaches business at Franklin and volunteers her time to coach the team. She has worked with some of the students since they were in elementary.
“I have a passion for twirling. I twirled here in El Paso for many years, and I was hoping to extend that passion to somebody else,” she said. “It’s neat these four students have taken that task and create that legacy here at Franklin.”
Villanueva, who has competed and placed at state before, can’t wait to share that experience with her teammates.
“Twirling means a lot to me because I have been doing a really long time,” she said. “I love my team so much. We have become such good friends. I love the bonding aspect of twirling, so I am looking forward to spending time with them.”
The team practices every day during marching season, performing at games with the band. Menchaca is thankful to the band directors for welcoming the team with open arms.
“Mr. Beach and Mr. Allen have been very accepting of twirling here at Franklin, letting us practice and choreograph alongside the band,” she said.
This semester, they are working on perfecting their routine, fine-tuning their moves and adding new elements to wow the judges at state.
“We have to have a routine five minutes or less. They like the teams to have a clean routine, minimizing the drops,” Menchaca said. “It must be showy because of course that’s why people come to watch twirlers.”
Chapa credits her team’s success with their ability to work well with each other.
“With twirling there is that danger factor, so you have to be able to trust others,” she said. “You have to spend a lot of time together. You have to get to know each other, which makes our team and friendships stronger.”
Story and photos by Alicia Chumley | Video by Angel Dominguez/EPISD
The FHS Cougar cheerleading team is starting the year on a high note, earning the title of “Best Cheerleading Team” by The City El Paso Magazine.
Every year the magazine puts out its “Best Of” issue, showcasing local talent and businesses in the El Paso community. The Cougar squad, which went head-to-head against the city’s high school teams, earned the most votes for its successful season.
“It’s a big honor to be chosen. It means a lot to us,” coach Angel Santa Cruz said. “They are a really great team and have proven themselves. They work hard.”
Santa Cruz was notified the team had been chosen, but he had to keep it a under wraps until the issue came out.
“Our coach actually kept it a secret so when we had to take a picture for the magazine, and he told us it was some sort of ad in the newspaper,” senior Alexa Hernandez said. “When he handed out the magazines, and we saw that we had won, we were very excited. It’s a really a great honor and accomplishment for us.”
Hernandez credits her team’s ability to work well together for the win.
“We can all work really well under pressure,” she said. “When we need to get something done we do it. We can fall apart in rehearsal but when it matters we come together and perform.”
For fellow senior Cassandra Gonzalez, the title is a great way to end her last year at Franklin.
“It’s been a fun learning experience. I have learned the meaning of teamwork, working with different types of personalities. I’ve built bonds since freshman year,” she said. “It’s a huge accomplishment to be recognized. I am really proud of our team to be able to win that title.”
The team will compete in two competitions in March, both locally and out of state.
“They are really talented girls. Some of the best talent Franklin cheer has seen. This will carry them in a positive direction,” Santa Cruz said. “It pushes them because now they have to continue to prove themselves and earn those top spots.”
You can read the City Magazine issue on the Best of El Paso by clicking here.
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