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EPISD: Burges, EPHS, Franklin get Upgrades; Work Kicks Off District-Wide Improvements

Burges, El Paso and Franklin high school football teams tackle a smoother, softer and even cooler field this season under the Friday night lights.

And when the student athletes call their field cool, they mean it literally. The cushier and cooler field is made with coconut fibers which is 40 percent cooler than previous turfs and an extra layer included within softens it for reduced knee and head injuries.

“Your feet are not burning up and don’t have to wear two pairs of socks anymore,” said Burges junior Michael Amezaga. “There’s no heat at all. You used to be able to see the heat rise when you looked across the field and you don’t see that anymore.”

Amezaga also likes the fact that the new field brings back the traditional mustang design, putting to bed forever the Denver Bronco-like design that existed for a decade.

“Now we have a real running mustang not a bronco anymore,” he said. “The field has been restored to how it should look.”

The newly rolled out turfs at the three high schools represent the first of 10 fields to be redone through the Bond 2016. All high schools will have their fields replaced under the bond program.

Beyond the safety upgrades, the new fields replaces patchy and pockets of torn up turf.

“They were in terrible shape,” Kennedy said. “We’re excited to be able to make these improvements for our kids.”

The cooler fields keep players better hydrated, and even impact other aspects of practice.

“The temperature factor is very important,” said Burges head football coach Neil Routledge. “We’re able to do things that involve tackling to the ground and we feel a lot safer about it because it isn’t as scorching hot as the old turf.”

The new football field and track upgrades inspired the alumni to add a fresh coat of paint to the trailers and ticket box.

Emblazoned on the the track are mustangs, and a tribute to the 2012 4×4 state championship boys track team, led by rookie Green Bay Packer Aaron Jones.

“No one had done it before and after a lot of years coaching track, I can see how special that the situations was,” Burges head track coach Manny Herrera said. “So when we had the track redone, we wanted to make a statement to show it was a meaningful time in our heritage not only for us but for the City of El Paso, too.”

Across town at El Paso High, coach Robert Morales sees his players inspired by their new field – the perfect compliment to the century-old school’s legacy and beauty.

“The color coordination and layout just puts a giant exclamation mark on the most beautiful high school football stadium in the country,” Morales said. “Our old turf was very dirty, ugly, and all patched up. We called it the ‘Field of Patches’ instead of the ‘Field of Dreams.’ Now our athletes play on it feeling they will have an edge on the competition because of all the pride they have in our facility.”

Athletic projects make up $32 million of the overall $668 million bond. Projects include: includes replacement and installation of turf at all high schools, renovations of track and tennis courts at eight high schools, court and field lighting and shading and court renovations at various playgrounds.

“Athletics is part of class,” Kennedy said. “A lot of kids come to school because of athletics and because of athletics they have to their pass their classes. Athletics keeps them motivated.”

The renovations make a difference throughout the District and give student athletes a chance to play on a level playing field no matter where their game is in EPISD.

“It’s big for our District keep up with the other districts,” Routledge said. “Other districts have newer facilities so now we can retain the kids have and maybe attract some kids from other districts

Video+Story: Irvin Joins Burges, Franklin as Publishing National Winners

Three EPISD schools joined the ranks of the top performing high-school publishing programs in the nation after bringing home an impressive number of prizes from the National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle last week.

Burges, a student journalism powerhouse, surprised few by winning the Pacemaker Award for its Hoofbeats yearbook and other awards. Franklin’s yearbook, which also has a history of winning awards nationally, also received prizes in Seattle this year.

But it was Irvin High School’s broadcasting program that perhaps surprised the most in the convention, when the program won its first national award for ‘Rocket Vision’ news show.

The school placed third Best of Show in the Broadcast Program category at the a semi-annual gathering of high school journalists and advisers sponsored by National Scholastic Press Association and the Journalism Education Association.

Irvin broadcast teacher Mariel Torres-Tobias couldn’t hold back tears when she saw her students had placed third.

“I was super excited. I feel very proud of the students,” Torres-Tobias said. “It’s shown how far we’ve come. I want to put Irvin on top for broadcasting, and this really shows we are moving in the right direction.”

The students were excited to attend the convention, which provides the opportunity to network with industry professionals and journalism students from all over the country.

Irvin submitted an episode of ‘Rocket Vision’ focusing on life in a border city. The episode highlighted current event issues and featured an interview from Representative Beto O’Rourke.

“I thought this was a strong episode for the students to submit,” Torres-Tobias said. “Especially with everything that’s happening recently with the proposal to build a wall. A lot of people don’t know we already have a wall here and what life is really like as a border town.”

For senior Josh Roman, the Best of Show award gave him a confidence boost to pursue a career in cinematography when he graduates. He feels invested in the

“It’s a good feeling to receive this kind of recognition,” Roman said. “Irvin is a great school, and it has the potential to exceed any limits. I am beyond proud to be part of this program and this school.”

The Rockets weren’t the only ones celebrating a national win. Burges continued its impressive tradition in journalism by earning both a Pacemaker and a first-place Best in Show award for the school’s yearbook ‘Hoofbeats.’ The Mustangs also received distinction for their work on the ‘Stampede,’ winning a sixth-place Best in Show award in the Newspaper Tabloid 16 or fewer pages category.

“Receiving the Pacemaker is such an honor. It’s always exciting, and then to win ‘Best in Show’ was like the cherry on the top,” Burges journalism teacher Pat Monroe said. “It means a lot to the staff members because they work incredibly hard to create a yearbook their peers will always treasure. To receive the highest national honor means everything.”

Franklin High School also brought home in award for its yearbook ‘Pride,’ winning second place Best in Show in the 337 or more pages category.

El Paso ISD Announces new Principals for Andress, Franklin

On Thursday, El Paso Independent School District Superintendent Juan Cabrera announced the appointment of two experienced educators to lead Andress and Franklin high schools as new principals.

Joseph Manago will start his tenure as principal at Andress on March 23. Shawn Mena will take over as principal at Franklin on April 3.

“Mr. Manago and Ms. Mena come with a long list of accomplishments and we feel they’re the right fit for their respective campuses,” Cabrera said. “Our search for principals at these two campuses was extensive and thorough. I have the confidence that we have selected two educators who care deeply about the schools they’re about to lead and the communities they will serve.”

Manago has 23 years of experience as an educator and is currently the principal at Nolan Richardson Middle School in the Andress feeder pattern.

Before that he served as an English teacher in both the Ysleta and Socorro school districts, and as a high-school assistant principal and assistant fine arts director in Socorro. He has a bachelor’s of arts and master’s in education from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Mena is currently the Director of the Arts and Humanities Academy in the Austin school district, where she also served as a high-school assistant principal. She taught speech in the Ysleta school district and was a lecturer at both UTEP and El Paso Community College.

Mena has bachelor’s and master’s of arts degrees from UTEP and is completing her doctorate at Grand Canyon University.

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