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Home | Tag Archives: Mesita Elementary

Tag Archives: Mesita Elementary

Gallery+Story: Mesita Elementary fifth grader wins El Paso Regional Spelling Bee

D-E-T-E-R-M-I-N-A-T-I-O-N. Determination.

That’s the word that prevented Mesita Elementary fifth grader Sheneli De Silva from winning the regional spelling bee in 2019, and it is the concept that finally helped her become the area’s top speller this year.

Sheneli on Friday beat out more than 150 spellers from west Texas and southern New Mexico to win the EPISD Education Foundation’s El Paso Regional Spelling Bee at Bowie High School. She will represent El Paso at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

“I feel excited and happy and proud of myself because I practiced so hard and I get to go to Washington,” the 10-year-old said following her win.

Sheneli corrected spelled the word ‘montage’ to win on Friday after four rounds of spelling in the finals. Another EPISD student, Wiggs Middle School’s Isai Sanchez, was in a heated spell-off to earn third place in the contest.

The spelling champ, however, said she was happy with her performance and her parents credit her determination for her win.

“She reads a lot,” said her father Sohan De Silva. “We ask her to go to sleep ad she’s reading. She has her little light on … reading at night.”

Mesita Elementary reading teacher Monica Montes-Quiñonez coaches Sheneli and is hopeful that she will become the fifth El Pasoan to win the national spelling bee.

“She’s an amazing student who works really hard,” Montes-Quiñonez said. “I am so proud of her and happy for her family. They’re so kind and represent Mesita very well.”

Sheneli’s family immigrated from Sri Lanka to El Paso and speak Sinhalese at home. Sheneli also speaks English, Spanish and is studying Mandarin.

Getting to the finals of the regional spelling bee was no easy feat. She, along with about 60 other spellers qualified to the stage round of spelling by tackling a strenuous preliminary written test asking students to spell words like ‘paramecium,’ ‘maquillage’ and ‘lotophagi.’

During the finals, Sheneli kept calm and collected during the heated competition, correctly spelling ‘tabernacle,’ ‘joule,’ ‘ermine’ and ‘chrysalis’ before she spelled the championship word.

She will now begin preparation for the national spelling bee, and advises future local spellers approach their campus spelling bees with the same determination she did this year.

“Try your best. You can do it,” Sheneli said.

The judges for the 2020 spelling bee included El Paso Public Library Marketing and Customer Relations Coordinator Jack Galindo, El Paso Times Librarian Trish Long and El Paso County Human Resources Contract Administrator Michael Martinez.

The pronouncer for the competition was 2009 Spelling Bee winner Katie Stone, a grant writer for the non-profit organization Families and Youth, Inc.

The 76th edition El Paso Regional Spelling Bee was organized by the EPISD Education Foundation.

Story by Liliana Gonzalez  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Gallery+Story: El Paso ISD’s Mesita welcomes Chinese exchange teacher

Teachers and staff members from Mesita Elementary last week waited anxiously at the El Paso International Airport to welcome their newest co-worker: a Chinese exchange teacher who will provide Mandarin instruction to students in the Early Childhood Development Center throughout the 2019-20 school year.

After some unforeseen flight delays that moved her arrival for a day, teacher Yan Liang finally arrived in El Paso on Friday, Aug. 9. Mesita teachers greeted her with flowers, cheers and a big welcome sign.

“We are so excited to add Yan Liang to our staff for this year. With her help and guidance, our students are sure to have an invaluable experience learning, not just the Mandarin language, but also Chinese culture,” said Principal Laila Ferris. “We know that she will be a wonderful fit at Mesita and that she will help us meet the academic goals of our students.”

Mesita’s renown Connecting Worlds/Mundos Unidos dual-language program offers students instruction in both English and Spanish. But for several years, the school has added Mandarin Chinese to the curriculum to help students be ready for a 21st-century economy.

Yan is in El Paso as part of the Teachers of Critical Language Program, which placed 28 teachers in U.S. schools this academic year.

The program is designed to increase the study and acquisition of important world languages in U.S. schools. This program enables primary and secondary schools to strengthen their teaching of critical languages by bringing Chinese, Egyptian, and Moroccan teachers to the U.S. to teach their native Arabic and Chinese language for an academic year.

It is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, an international nonprofit organization that prepares individuals and institutions to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world.

Story by Gustavo Reveles  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy –  EPISD

Video+Gallery+Story: Space exploration summer camp blasts off at Mesita

The hallways and classroom at Mesita Elementary this summer have been blasted into outer space for a couple of weeks this month to celebrate the iconic 50th anniversary of the 1969 lunar landing by the United States.

Not literally, of course. The darkened instructional spaces are part of the Interstellar Summer Camp that for two weeks will invite students to learn more about space exploration and STEM concepts — in English, Spanish and even Mandarin Chinese.

“We are exposing our students to the technology and the newest research in outer space and giving them first-firsthand accounts of what real astronauts go through in order to train for space exploration,” said teacher Anaeva Rodriguez. “We’ve created activities for them that are very similar to what the astronauts go through at NASA.”

Black lights replaced the traditional fluorescent bulbs and black paper lined hallways in the camp area. Glow in the dark space creatures, planets and recordings from NASA kept the theme going throughout the hallways.

Coordinators of the program designed flexible and unique seating, glow-in-the-dark hallways, hands-on activities and other coursework with one goal in mind: to make the enrichment camp fun. In fact, in their effort to differ the camp from the traditional school day, the organizers decided not to assign homework.

“It’s summertime, and we know that kids want to stay home and relax or do other camps. So we wanted to bring them a whole different experience that starts with how they feel when they walk into the building and in the classroom,” said Mesita Assistant Principal Marcela Duran, the camp’s coordinator. “Every student gets to do some type of hands-on experience with different topics of space exploration in three languages – English, Spanish and Mandarin.”

Students from Mesita and eight other surrounding elementary schools were invited to the two-week camp.

Fifth-grader Arnav Tonde, already a NASA camp veteran, spent part of camp researching the Oort Cloud, a spherical shell of icy objects that exist in the outermost reaches of the solar system.

“I like to the projects Mr. (Pete) Delgado gives us because we get to work in teams and I get to interact with other people,” said Arnav, who plans to be either a computer engineer a doctor — or both. “It’s pretty fun, exciting and we’re learning a lot.”

Second-grader Evelyn Villanueva already enjoys observing the nights sky, the stars and planets. So, this year’s theme definitely caught her attention.

“I’ve been learning about space and new stuff I never knew,” she said. “I’m pretty excited because I think about space and it gives me ideas to be creative.”

Her fellow second-grader Grey Boyd from Bond Elementary enjoyed the chance to explore new languages, space and much more.

“I like that we get to do projects about space and learn about new things. I also like coming because there is free lunch.”

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

Gallery+Story: Battle of the Bluebonnets sparks friendly reading competition

EPISD’s very first Pat Arnold Battle of the Bluebonnets on Thursday helped kicked off what is sure to become an annual tradition among students who love reading.

The contest — which asks participating school teams to answer questions about the books named as finalists for the Texas Bluebonnet Award by the Texas Library Association — had its first edition in the EPISD Boardroom with several elementary schools participating.

EPISD librarians organized the contest and named it after Pat Arnold, a former EPISD librarian who passed away last year and had shown tremendous dedication to literacy in the District.

Round by round students answered questions about books like “Amina’s Voice” by Hena Khan and “Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics” by Margarita Engle in front of a crowd of book fans from throughout the District.

In the end the champions of the first edition of the EPISD Pat Arnold Battle of the Bluebonnets was Mesita Elementary.  Second place went to Fannin Elementary and third place was Bradley Elementary.

Story by Gustavo Reveles  |  Photo by Leonel Monroy  – EPISD

Video+Story: Albertsons Celebrates Store Renovations with Checks for EPISD Schools

Albertsons celebrated the re-grand opening of its Kern Place store in grand fashion Wednesday morning giving $9,000 back to El Paso High, Wiggs Middle and Mesita Elementary – their neighborhood stores and community partners.

The El Paso High cheer squad and drumline and Wiggs Middle cheerleaders kept the event festive as the store introduced its new look and contributed $2,000 for each campus, as well as $3,000 for the El Paso High band and $2,000 for the cheerleading squad.

Albertsons gave nearly $70,000 back to the El Paso community during Wednesday’s event.

“We believe partnering with our local schools is important for many reasons,” said Lori Raya, president of the Southwest Division for the Albertsons Companies. “One, the students are our current shoppers, our future shoppers and maybe future employees. We believe if we can donate back to our local schools, we are also donating back to students’ education and really helping people aspire to reach their dreams. If help we can do that, and help make better for one student at a time, that’s what we want to do as a company.”

El Paso High principal Mark Paz welcomed the partnership, acknowledging that the store is an easy trip from the campus for students and staff to shop, buy supplies and pick up sushi and Starbucks.

“We’ve had a fantastic partnership with Albertsons for many years,” Paz said. “We appreciate Albertson’s reaching out to us to be part of their re-grand opening event. We were able to bring our band, our cheerleaders and some key student representatives to receive this generous award from Albertsons.”

Wiggs principal Tim Luther joined with Paz and Mesita assistant principal Marcela Duran to accept their checks during a brief ceremony outside the store. The three joined with their students to pose with their oversized checks before they cut the ribbon.

“It’s another amazing event that Albertsons put on for our community,” Luther said. “They have been generous to us in the past and they continue to work with us and our El Paso High feeder pattern. We can’t say thank you enough for everything they’ve done for our community.”

The contribution to the three campuses also included two pallets of school supplies.

“We feel like every student should have everything they need to go to school and study and be successful and have all of the necessities and utensils to participate to be able to do their homework and turn in that paper that they are very proud to turn in,” Raya said.

In December, the Albertsons Foundation contributed $44,000 back to EPISD campuses and organizations during the re-grand opening celebrations at the Redd Road and Kenworthy stores.

Story by Reneé De Santos  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy  |  Video by Angel Dominguez/EPISD

Video+Story: Mesita ECDC Mandarin Students Welcome the Year of the Dog

Kindergarteners and first-grade students from Mesita Elementary School embraced Chinese culture Friday during their Year of the Dog celebration in the school’s multipurpose center.

The Mesita ECDC students showcased the Chinese culture by performing folk songs and traditional dances during the Chinese New Year celebration. The Year of the Dog is one of 12 Chinese zodiac. Those born in 2018 and every 12 years before are considered part of this animal sign.

“Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year – one of the most important holidays in China,” Mandarin teacher Sonia Chang said. “I wanted to start an annual celebration to commemorate the holiday and show parents what the students are learning in class and all the hard work they do every day.”

Drawings of dragons, pandas, paper lanterns and other images of the Chinese New Year covered the walls of the multipurpose, showcasing the students’ artwork and their knowledge of culture from their new language.

Parent Miriam Soto enjoyed watching her daughter Katelyn Romero perform and seeing her newfound love for the Chinese language.

“It’s very exciting. She likes to listen to Chinese music at home,” she said. “I like they are celebrating not only the language but also the culture. It’s great they are giving the students this opportunity. My daughter definitely loves it.”

Students performed class by class, kindergarten in the morning and first-graders in the afternoon. The Mandarin program soon will be extending to include the fourth-grade.

“We are very excited about extending the program,” assistant principal Julie Chavez said. “One of our goals is that our students are both academically and linguistically successful because these are skills that are need for our fast-growing global economy.”

Kindergarten student Karen Rivas wore traditional Chinese garb to celebrate the occasion.

“It’s great to celebrate the Chinese New Year,” she said. “I like to learn to speak Chinese, but my favorite part about is learning new songs. I like the song about the red envelope.”

Student Iker Herrera’s class wore dog hats for their performance to honor the year’s zodiac animal.

“I like dogs,” he said. “It’s good to celebrate because my family came, and we danced.”

Story by Alicia Chumley  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy  |  Video by Angel Dominguez/EPISD

Yes You Can: Paralympian Inspires Polk, Mesita Students

A 1996 Paralympic athlete transformed the Polk Elementary gym into a full-fledged Olympic arena, inspiring students to follow their own dreams in the process.

Earlier this week, former Paralympian Lloyd Bachrach, who played for the U.S. men’s volleyball team during the Atlanta Paralympic Games, spoke to students at Polk and Mesita elementary schools to share his story of perseverance and goal-setting. The presentations were organized by each campus’ PTA.

“We went to one of his presentations and we really liked what he had to say,” Polk PTA president Alejandra Ramirez said. “In the world we are living in it’s very important for the kids to know that they can overcome anything if they believe in themselves and work hard.”

Bachrach touched on the five key components of his “Yes You Can” message, that focuses on building self-esteem, having a positive attitude, setting goals, perseverance and taking care of your health.

“The only limitations that you and I have as people are the limitations we place on ourselves. You have the ability to be anything you choose, as long as you want it badly enough,” he told the students. “I believe in you. Your teachers and parents believe in you. When you believe in you, you are going to live your dreams, like I’m living mine.”

Bachrach was born with a congenital bone deficiency that doctors believed would prevent him from walking. Despite that diagnosis, he learned to walk and swim and was able to compete in sports like baseball, bowling and gymnastics.

During his local and state athletic career earned more than 70 medals, many of which were in competition with able-bodied athletes.

He started sharing his message of positivity with students when a friend asked him to come to her daughter’s school many years ago.

“Her daughter was born missing a portion of her arm, and she wanted me to give a sensitivity training to the kids,” Bachrach said. “They loved it, and after someone came up to me and asked me ‘can you come to my school?’ I realized there was a message that could be helpful to a lot of kids.”

On Thursday at Polk, Bachrach removed his prosthetic legs to show students how he moves around — demonstrating how he found a way to do all the things he wanted to do. He drove his point home by performing a pommel horse routine to oohs and aahs from students.

“I thought it was pretty cool. It was really amazing that he tried many different sports, learning how do it and never giving up,” fifth-grader Xavier Maese said. “It makes me feel like I should try new things. I hope one day to be a football player.”

Fourth-grader Ariana Ramirez was inches away from Bachrach as he pulled his body up into a perfect handstand. She was immediately inspired.

“It is really cool that he can do all that stuff,” Ariana said. “It’s a good message for me not to give up. I can accomplish all I want to do if I have dedication like him.”

No stranger to bullying as a child, Bachrach also talked to the students about empathy and the importance of helping others.

“Take five seconds to think if it was you and someone was making fun of you … would you like it?” he said. “When you can be a friend to someone, take a chance and be their friend. Help out other people when you can.”

Fourth-grader McKenna Schuler took that message to heart.

“Just because you are different doesn’t mean that people have to be mean to you,” McKenna said. “I thought his story was inspiring. I liked hearing about his past and what he did.”

Mesita Student to Introduce Award-Winning Author at Houston Conference

Mesita Elementary fifth grader Adam Romero can’t wait to meet and introduce one of his favorite authors at the annual Texas Library Association Conference April 21 in Houston.

Adam was picked to represent Mesita after an interview process that included a multimedia Animoto presentation on his favorite book “When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop” by Laban Carrick Hill.

The school was one of 10 randomly selected campuses statewide asked to choose a student to attend the conference and meet the 2016 Texas Bluebonnet Award-winning author.

The inspirational message in the book earned Adam’s vote.

“It’s a book about a boy who wanted to be a DJ really bad. He was born in Jamaica and started DJing in New York and his dream came true,” Adam said. “I want to ask the author what inspired him to write the book.”

Coincidentally, Adam’s favorite of the 20 different Bluebonnet books titles is the winner – something he didn’t know at the time of his presentation. Adam is thinking about possibly doing some kind of rap to tie in the book with his introduction but he is still working on his remarks.

This is the first year Mesita Elementary participated in the Texas Bluebonnet Program. Each year, a committee selects 20 books with a variety of interests, relevant content, reputable reviews and literary quality to compete for the Texas Bluebonnet Award. Students must read five of the 20 to qualify to vote for their favorite book.

“The biggest benefit was inspiring and motivating and encouraging to read,” Rhoades said. “I could hear students talking about the books, and kids who I had not really connected with wanted to talk to me about the books. It was awesome.”

Third through fifth grade teachers at Mesita helped promote the Bluebonnet books by reading at least two of them in class. “Instead of doing traditional book reports, I had them do Animotos and show the other kids and they would want to read it,” said Lisa Gailey, Adam’s teacher. “It helped bring home the program more.”

Like Rhoades, Gailey could see how the Bluebonnet program was turning more students into bookworms.

“As soon as they came in the library, they were swarming like bees going to get the books,” Gailey said. “It brought a sheer excitement about reading that I hadn’t seen in a while.”

On voting day, the students gathered to share their thoughts on their favorite books. After voting, they walked out proudly wearing “I voted” stickers.
Even though Adam voted for Hills book, he enjoyed reading other books in the collection.

“All of the books were pretty great,” he smiled.

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