Riverside High School science and engineering teacher Sergio Estrada is the only educator from El Paso to be selected for the prestigious LiftOff Summer Institute, NASA’s Texas Space Grant Consortium announced Thursday.
“I feel fortunate to be selected for the NASA LiftOff Summer Institute, and look forward to interacting with other teachers who also have a passion for science and education,” said Estrada. “I plan to take what I learn during my experience and apply it into engaging and valuable lessons for my students at Riverside.”
Estrada will join the cohort of teachers June 23- 28 at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston to conduct experiments, tour facilities, and network with other educators while sharing innovative lesson plans and ideas.
LiftOff is a collaborative effort of Texas Space Grant Consortium members and affiliates, NASA, and industry.
The week-long institute features a series of workshops, hands-on activities, field investigations, and presentations by NASA scientists and engineers working on various missions.
This nationally competitive program selects teachers who will increase their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math through space education.
The month of April has been good to Riverside High School, as a team of students and a Ranger program each earned regional awards in the fields of environmental engineering and applied mathematics, one of which resulted in a $3,000 cash prize from the Prudential Foundation.
s a team of students and a Ranger program each earned regional awards in the fields of environmental engineering and applied mathematics
The most recent recognition took place Saturday, April 20, during the City of El Paso Environmental Services Department’s annual Earth Day celebration in downtown El Paso.
During this event, officials hosted the first-ever Environment Excellence Recognition Program (EERP) awards ceremony, a legacy program initiated by state Sen. Jose Rodriguez’s Senate District 29 Environment Advisory Committee.
Among the winners was Riverside High School’s Solar Technology program, which won the EERP award in the category of Education.
“The goal of the EERP is to identify, articulate and strengthen a regional culture of conservation, preservation and best practices for the environment,” said state Sen. Rodríguez. “The program will create an archive of leading projects, practices, and actors in the field, hopefully inspiring us all to do more in our areas of influence.”
The Riverside Solar Technology program, which began in 2017, is the first public high school in the nation to offer the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) associate photovoltaic certification.
With the NABCEP certification, students are able to enter the workforce anywhere in North America in the solar energy industry upon graduating from high school.
Earlier this month, a team of five Riverside High School students won first place at the Prudential Math Challenge, where high-school teams from the regions of Brewster, Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, and Presidio counties competed to solve a real-world problem using applied mathematics.
The Prudential Math Challenge forms part of the 2019 STEAMx competitions hosted by STTE (Success Through Technology Education) Foundation, Workforce Solutions Borderplex, and The Prudential Foundation.
During the competition, participating teams were sequestered for 12 hours and challenged to research and solve a real-world scenario, then present their findings in a research paper.
In order to win, the Riverside students excelled in two separate 12-hour rounds of competition, then addressed an additional problem with findings and another research paper.
By winning the challenge, the Riverside team comprised of Francisco Ontiveros, Ashley De La Rosa, Raul Ramos, Edna Rodriguez, and Karemy Cruz won a $3,000 prize from the Prudential Foundation.
The Career Center at Riverside High School’s SkillsUSA team, made up of members from across the district, returned home from a Statewide competition in Corpus Christi with several hard-earned awards.
After four days of competition, battling the best in the state of Texas, the team came back to El Paso with some outstanding awards
Silver medals in Audio Radio Production went to Paola Nava (Bel Air HS) and Evan Rueda (Eastwood HS).
In addition, the Career Pathways Arts and Audio Video Communications team – including Damien Trejo (Riverside HS), Antonia Villegas (Parkland HS) and Vianelli Maturino (Parkland HS)- took home the silver medal.
Finally, Jorge Saldana (Parkland HS) earned a Silver medal in Auto CAD Civil Design.
The Land Survey team consisting of Jose Avila (Riverside HS), Noah Silva (Riverside HS), and Analys Negron (Eastwood HS) earned a Bronze medal.
The champions and their fellow teammates who helped represent SkillsUSA District 1 and the Ysleta Independent School District along with the Career Center at Riverside with class and had such excellent results.
Riverside High School principal Daniel Gurany has been selected to receive the designation of Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Distinguished Administrator.
The TMEA Executive Board created this designation to honor upper-level school administrators who have been instrumental in preserving quality music education programs on their campuses and in their districts.
TMEA officials add, “Especially given the ever-present fiscal demands and focus on standardized test results, they have an even greater appreciation for the daily commitment to providing a high quality, well-rounded educational experience for all students.”
Since 1920, Texas Music Educators Association has been committed to promoting excellence in music education. They wholeheartedly believe that Texas is home to the best music educators and best music programs in the nation, and are well aware that their successes would not be possible without the strong support of administrators.
The announcement was made on behalf of the TMEA Executive Board and the more than 11,000 TMEA members statewide.
The Ysleta ISD Board of Trustees honored a group of service-oriented students who took time out of their summer break to provide much-needed assistance at Pebble Hills Elementary School.
Pebble Hills Principal Stacy Vasquez put out a call this summer to high schools, asking for volunteers to help paint classrooms at her campus.
The call was heeded by 19 members of Riverside High School’s National Honor Society (NHS), who showed up in force to help school officials paint more than 60 classrooms in only three days.
Ms. Vasquez said,”Had it not been for the dedicated volunteer work provided by these exceptional Riverside Rangers, her classrooms would not have been ready for the new furniture provided for students this year. These students are a shining example of the hard work, dedication, and service excellence that we are emphasizing throughout our district, and we applaud them on a job well done!”
Receiving the President’s Award at the board meeting was NHS President Victoria Rodriguez, who accepted the award on behalf of the Riverside High School National Honor Society.
The President’s Award is given by the President of the Board of Trustees to a YISD student who has demonstrated exceptional and/or innovative, out-of-the-ordinary service to others, particularly those within the YISD community.
As part of its continuing efforts to support the wellness, health, and development of students, the Ysleta Independent School District (YISD) will expand its after-school “supper program” to eight campuses in the 2018-19 school year, beginning Monday, September 10.
Via a news release, YISD officials say, “Given the numerous high-school students who stay on campus after school for sports, theater, band, or other clubs, the supper program gives students access to a nutritional meal in the cafeteria before rehearsal or practice.”
The supper program, which provides free and nutritious meals to active students who remain on campus after school for extracurricular activities, will be offered at the following campuses:
Bel Air High School
Del Valle High School
Hanks High School
Parkland High School
Riverside High School
Ysleta High School
Eastwood Middle School
Young Women’s Leadership Academy
The supper meals are being offered at various times depending on the campus, but generally begin about 4 p.m. The meals are free of charge to children 18 years and younger, and are available for purchase by adults.
The supper program was first piloted in January 2017 at Ysleta High School, and expanded to include four schools by September 2017.
This program is part of YISD’s overall efforts to increase student access to healthy meals – this includes free breakfast for all students at all YISD campuses throughout the year.
The supper program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Child and Adult Care Food Program.
While Saturday was filled with graduations in the Sun City, at Riverside High School one proud Alumnus returned to speak with the next generation.
Former Riverside Ranger Corinna Latorre is making headlines in Nebraska, as she has just been chosen to be the next Head Coach for the Women’s Basketball Program at York College.
Before her promotion, she was part of the coaching staff; Corinna also previously played for York College and in her two years as a Panther, Latorre scored over 1,000 points and was selected to the MCAC All-Conference teams for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 season.
Graduating this year with her Master’s degree as well, 2018 has proven to me a momentous year.
In the world of athletics, at only 25-years-old, Latorre becomes one of the youngest to hold the distinct honor of being named ‘Head Coach’ for a college program.
Latorre – whose maiden name is Minjarez – graduated from Riverside in 2011 and played both volleyball and basketball for the Rangers. ]
Photos courtesy Coach Stephen Solis
Earlier this week, I stopped by Riverside High School to check out their Theater Department’s production of Nelly E. Cuellar-Garcia’s Las Soldaderas.
This is a subject matter of herstory near and dear to my heart. The lights dimmed and I wasn’t sure what to expect but then the images on the back screen appeared of actual ‘soldaderas’ and we heard one of the characters recite the iconic Emiliano Zapata quote: “mejor morir de pie que vivir toda una vida arrodillado” (translation: it is better to die on your feet than to live life on your knees).
With that first line, I could already feel the lump in my throat holding back the emotion that was bubbling up.
See, it wasn’t that long ago that in high school, we NEVER studied Mexican-American anything, nothing really Latino content related, I can’t recall a celebration of any sort that was incorporated into the school program aside from maybe a Ballet Folklorico recital here and there.
And that is how it has been for decades in Texas, sure we study the Alamo, but it is always through the lense of Anglo settlers, and the whole “manifest destiny” teaching but that isn’t really our culture, our story as Mexican-Americans.
As Texans, we have a varied, quilted fabric, and here in El Paso we have multiple layers to our own story, so until our text books actually reflect accurate history, we will continue to be a community which doesn’t really know our whole, complete story.
I, myself, discovered my own roots much later in life, when I was able to select “special topics” courses at the university level. Of course there is always cultural oral history that is shared in our homes, but actual text knowledge is not really available as a standard, it is always a “special topic” or month, or day…but hey at least now we have Google.
So for me to be sitting here, watching an ALL-FEMALE cast acting in a play based on the women of the Mexican Revolution, this itself is revolutionary, my emotions were already getting the best of me.
The ensemble began to sing a beautiful rendition of “La Adelita” and out came all the cast will authentic soldadera clothing and weapons, there was no downplaying. They may be young girls but the mission was to express the lives and hardship of the women of war.
The next hour takes us through the experience of a couple of days within their camp and what life must have been like, complete with talks of love, singing, fights, strategy sessions etc.
They take us through some of their backstory and we find that the lead soldadera grew up a wealthy aristocrat, whose parents were kidnapped by Huerta and after denying him and her parents held hostage, he then violates her and executes her parents.
This is accurate of something that would most definitely have happened during that time.
Another one of the central characters, Adelita, has never known life outside the revolution so through her we see hope for future. One of the important supporting characters was the wife of the governor, Angustias, a spy who infiltrates the camp by allowing herself to be taken prisoner and befriending poor innocent Adelita.
This character (Angustias) is really important in that she represents the long standing divide in our culture. There is this poignant moment where a fight breaks out amongst the women, wondering who the spy among them is, and she rises in the background watching the two women tear each other apart and she says:
“Since the time of the Azteca, low-born women have been birthed simply to be drones at the feet of those like me: rich, ennobled and entitled. This filthy Revolution dares to suggest that these animals can be more than that. What idiocy! To give them any say in the destiny of this great land is ludicrous. God is always on the side of the victors, and soon, very soon, these soldaderas will know the feel of true ownership“
Given our current political climate, it is hard for anyone to miss these words. If you ever find yourself in a conversation today in 2018 where some of our own Mexican-American community can turn against our own culture and say atrocious things; we have all met those friends or cousins that deny being Mexican heritage and instead claim “Spanish” when they have no actually tie to Spain, aside from the one we all have, which is the colonization.
It is because of this ideal, expressed in this speech, that some folks think that way still to this day. Our culture has long been divided by colorism, skin tone, rank, class of birth, that is ALSO part of our history. This play touch on so many relevant points, about our intersectionality of feminism, Latina-ism, Mestizaje, colorism, gender roles, politics, love, life, etc.
The tears I had been holding back finally were unleashed in the final moment, I did not expect the ending to turn the way it did, which is a testament to the playwright and the cast, they did a phenomenal job of keeping us all in our seats.
Afterwards I sat down with the girls to get their take on this experience, I was very pleased to find almost all the girls were familiar with the soldaderas prior to the play.
When I asked how many were already Spanish speakers prior to the play, again I was pleased to see almost all the hands go up.
I asked several different ways what this play has meant to them, and several different ways the same answered appeared. Strength. “We feel strong, walking out on stage all their strength comes with us. They lived very hard lives, a lot of the women were raped, had parents/children killed, so we wanted to make sure we got it right, we had their strength.”
Another actress said “they did everything the men did, they weren’t afraid they were out there too.” Two of the cast members mentioned how they had family members linked to Pancho Villa and his participation in the Revolution.
I asked the “spy” among us, the young girl you played Angustias, how she felt playing the traitor, she said she loved it…and with that, we all had a good laugh.
The girls definitely understand that what they are contributing is something very special, but as a Mexican-American Latina myself, who has traveled across the nation, and has had to fight some battles in the world, I know they can’t fully appreciate what this moment means until years down the road when they look back.
I am excited for them, thinking of when that day will come, the moment when “life” is happening and they will be able to reflect back to this moment in time, where they were a part of their own revolutionary moment, and draw from it. What a gift.
A huge congratulations to directors, Stephen Solis and Jasmine Estrada, who brought this play to the campus. Their costume designer, Nancy Nava and crew, and especially the first ALL-FEMALE cast of Riverside High School, these young women that honored and reminded us of the the women of the Mexican Revolution, Las Soldaderas.
*UPDATE due to popular demand, the theater department has announced an added a date open to the public, if you wish to see the play you can catch it this Wednesday February 21st 2018 — 7pm at Riverside High School $5 (cash)
*Riverside High School will be presenting Las Soldaderas later this month for their UIL competition piece.
Nine Riverside High School students took home several awards in the annual Sun Country Regional Science Fair in February. Each student will advance to the state competition in San Antonio.
In a first for Riverside High School, Joe Candelaria took home 1st place in Chemistry Energy and 1st place overall Sweepstakes and will advance to the international competition.
Other Rangers that placed are: Yanira Rocha – 1st place Environmental; Vanessa Valles – 2nd place overall Sweepstakes and 1st place Biomedical; Guillermo Avitia – 1st place Biomedical; Xena Tame – 2nd place Biomedical; Miah Ornelas – 2nd place Materials: Alejandro Medina – 3rd place Molecular; Itzel Reyes – 4th place Mathematics; and Michael Nava – Special Engineering Award Materials.
The annual El Paso Sun Country Regional Science Fair provides an exceptional experience for students through exposure to professional level judges, provides public recognition of talented students for their independent research efforts, and increases public awareness of the importance of science education in our society.
The Riverside Rangers announced their new head football coach and athletic coordinator during a Thursday afternoon pep rally.
Tony Pallanez was introduced to students, faculty, and staff during an energetic pep rally at the school’s main gym. Pallanez previously worked as a defensive coordinator/outside linebackers coach at Clint High School.
“I am very humbled and excited to be a part of such a storied program,” Pallanez said. “I look forward to working with the Riverside community.”
Pallanez, a native of Alpine, Texas, earned his bachelor’s degree from Sul Ross State University. He began working as a coach and teacher in 2000 at Clint High School, which has been to the football playoffs nine times in the past decade and won two district titles.
His new job duties at YISD take effect January 19.
Author: Ysleta ISD