Guest Columnist August 8, 2018NewsComments Off on Miss Teen El Paso Delivers School Supplies to Ross Middle School
Miss El Paso Teen Raelynne George carried more than her crown and sash to Ross Middle School during a visit on Wednesday.
The beauty queen brought 30 backpacks filled with school supplies for students at the school. George, a Burges Early College graduate, who chose education as her platform, was honored to help out fellow EPISD students.
“It feels absolutely amazing because EPISD has given me everything and made me the person I am today — whether it was through a teacher, a counselor and even principal,” she said. “They encouraged me to continue my education and get to the point I am now.”
George will study public relations and marketing at Texas A&M, but for now she is focusing on fulfilling her duties as Miss El Paso Teen.
She is fundraising to purchase uniforms for students in need and planning on visiting the El Paso Children’s Hospital.
“I come from a family of educators who always taught me that knowledge is power,” she said. “I want to instill that in our students and our community, starting at elementary and middle schools by making sure they have all the supplies they need.”
Eighth-grade teacher Yvonne Rivera knows the donation will make an impact on students.
“We didn’t know she would be coming by, but it was a pleasant surprise. It’s a needed resource for the students. I, along with many other teachers help out with supplies so this is really going to come in handy for the students,” Rivers said.
“I’m glad she’s taking the initiative to give back to her community. We are proud of her, and what she’s doing.”
Story by Alicia Chumley | Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD
Staff Report June 30, 2018NewsComments Off on Summer Band Camp lets Ross, Wiggs Students Practice Their Skills
For students Ross and Wiggs middle schools, the summer break meant much more than long naps and time in front of the television. For these students, most of whom are new to band, the first part of the long break was spent jamming on percussion, woodwind and brass instruments.
“The summer band camp helps students stay in shape over the summer. Our main goal is to keep them playing,” Wiggs band director Jaime Orpinel said. “We want them to keep those skills up and start the year strong.”
Although the final concert has a patriotic focus, students are allowed to cut loose and play music outside of their usual repertoire.
“We like to do pop selections that are fun for the kids to play,” Orpinel said. “These songs have little thing they aren’t even aware they are doing, such as chromatic scales. The camp also gives students an opportunity to expand on their playing and even learn different instruments.”
The camp is divided into beginning and advanced classes. New students can get a jump on playing their instruments before the start of the semester and returning band students can work on techniques they have learned throughout the previous school year.
Ross eighth-grader Michael Genera loves practicing his skills on the tuba. This is the second year he participates in summer band camp.
“I have been playing for two years, and it’s awesome because music really expands your mind,” he said. “This is a great program to get you out of the house and instead do something. I get to hang out with my band mates and play with students from other schools.”
Former summer band students volunteer every year to help serve as mentors and motivate students to continue playing at the high school level. El Paso High students welcomed Wiggs student Amber Carrillo into the fold.
“I already feel like I am part of the band. The band family has already said, ‘hey come play with us,’” Carrillo said. “Summer band shows your commitment to the band program and that you really want to do it.”
The three-week summer band camp ended with a combined concert, featuring music from the Beatles and the Marches of the Armed Forces.
Friends, family, students and players gathered at Ross Middle School Saturday to bestow an honor on a beloved educator and coach.
“He wasn’t a very big man in stature. But he was not afraid to get in your face and be in your face. He didn’t care how big you were. He got toe-to- toe. I don’t know how he did that, I don’t know what he did, but that was one of my favorite memories about him,” said Joe Zubia, remembering Coach Wally Hartley
We all have a teacher, someone that reached us as no other could. In every school there is that one person that makes it their goal to see that each one the encounter will succeed, will have what they need, will make it no matter what.
For me, that was Paul Strelzin. He was the principle of H. E. Charles.
Mr. Strelzin was bigger than life. Whenever he wanted to be heard, he could be heard over several hundred rowdy kids without a microphone. He also had a heart to match, a heart that was larger than anything I’ve known.
When you needed school supplies and had no way to get them, Mr. Strelzin was there. When you needed someone to talk to, he was there. If you just didn’t know what to do with your life, he was there to help you figure it out.
All these years I thought Paul Strelzin was a one of a kind; but on Saturday I learned about Coach Hartley. He and Mr. Strelzin come from the same stock.
Under his famous motto: “Pride Makes Champions,” Coach Hartley was the Head Coach at Ross Junior High from 1964-1984. During his tenure, Coach Hartley won over twenty District Championships in Football, Track, and Cross Country.
Some of those teams went undefeated during their respective seasons. He created a dynasty at the Junior High level that is unmated by few but desired by many.
On Saturday, many alums who either played under Coach Hartley, or were at Ross when he was there, gathered to dedicate the football field he built, to his memory. He is a man who touched the lives of many. I think he would be proud of his students and players today.
While sitting in the cafeteria, waiting to interview Edmundo Calderon, I discovered just how deep Coach Hartley’s commitment to the wellbeing of this players and students was.
As I was sitting there, listening to Mr. Calderon talk to many alums who passed by our table I heard him recount a bit of history.
“After I left, after I left Burges, I was at UTEP,” remembers Edmundo. “Coach would say ‘I want you back here by November 15th . Every six months I had to come back and check in with him.”
The coach would want to know when he was going to graduate, how he was doing, and if he needed anything. You don’t see this very often, an educator taking care of his students, current, and past.
In fact, hearing others talk about the Coach, before the dedication of the field, he had an impact spanning thirty-three years, and longer.
“I didn’t have a father figure in my life,” said Arturo. “He was that for me. He was there for me. If it were not for him, I don’t know what I would have become.”
Both Edmundo and Joe Zubia were classmates as well as team mates. After all these years they are still friends. In fact, Joe married his Middle School Sweetheart!
Somehow, in some ineffable way, Ross Middle seems to tie people together. Joe began by telling me about the man they came to honor, “Coach was a unique individual. He installed so much. But the biggest thing he did for us was instill pride.”“Pride is so important in respect,” says Joe.
Looking at the people that gathered for the dedication, and not just the alumni of Ross, but current students and their parents, I could see a level of pride not found anywhere else. Respect, and pride.
“What I remember most,” says Edmundo of Coach Hartley, “was the discipline he gave us. And, he had a rule that you didn’t have the be the smartest kid in class, but you had to be the best behaved. And you had to respect your teachers, your elders, your parents. If you didn’t, you suffered his discipline.”
That respect carried over to them. In Middle School, on Friday’s each member of Coach’s team had to wear a dress shirt, a tie, and have their shoes shined. When I was that age, the only time I ever dressed up for school was on Wednesdays when we had to wear our dress greens for JROTC.
“He wasn’t a very big man in stature. But he was not afraid to get in your face and be in your face. He didn’t care how big you were. He got toe-to- toe. I don’t know how he did that, I don’t know what he did, but that was one of my favorite memories of him,” said Joe Zubia, remembering Coach Wally Hartley
“My favorite memory,” says Edmundo, “I had already left school. I finished high school. I graduated from UTEP. I started refereeing football. One day I ran into him, and he gave me a little bit of hard discipline, I was an adult.”
Edmundo said, with tears beginning in his eyes, that he asked Coach Hartley why he always cared about his students. “He said, ‘When I looked into one of your guy’s eyes, and you looked back at me, you had something inside, you were worth it to me.’”
“It showed us how he really cared about us,” recalls Edmundo.
Coach Wally Hartley Field is the first Middle School field to be named after an individual, much less a former Coach. From what I learned, it is an honor he would have eschewed. He was not one to focus on himself, but on his students, his players, his
Just like Mr. Strelzin made an impact on my life, Coach Harley has made an impact on the lives of those who knew him. The values, the respect he instilled has been instilled in children, grandchildren, and a new generation of students at Ross. It’s a tradition that
As people were walking the halls, visiting the locker room to see if it was the same, visiting old classrooms, and filling into the cafeteria, I knew it was time to end my interview. People were stopping by the table to catch up with both Joe and Edmundo, and the voices were beginning to echo off the walls.
Before we parted, I asked them if they wanted to share one last thing, anything.
“I think our country; our community could use a man like Coach Harley,” said Joe. We know that deep down inside that he probably wouldn’t be accepted as well, our society has changed. Not that what he did any type of corporal punishment, or anything, but the
discipline and respect that I think is sometimes lacking in our youth today is sorely needed. It’s the one thing Coach Hartley believed in and knew that if you instilled that in any individual he knew he had done his job.”
If you would like to watch the interview with Joe and Edmundo, click on the play button above. (Author’s note: I do apologize for the volume of background voices, even with mics, I couldn’t do much to reduce it.)
Don’t let that stop you, watch the interview and you will see the love and respect these men still carry for their Coach.
To watch the dedication ceremony, click below.
Staff Report May 27, 2016NewsComments Off on ‘RossFit’ Program kicks off at El Paso ISD’s Ross Middle School
The were no suits and ties or high heels at a recent ribbon cutting ceremony at Ross Middle School.
Instead, dozens of students, staff members and parents donned shorts and a RossFit t-shirt to officially inaugurate the workout area that includes an outdoor training rig that will be used by students in the after school club.
Participants in the ribbon-cutting ceremony put the equipment to good use in the final RossFit workout of the day (WOD), which included a 400 meter run, 40 squats, 30 sit ups, 20 push ups and 10 pull ups.
“The most important thing is the inspiration Coach (Bobby) Macias gives the students here at Ross,” said principal Jason Yturralde. “These kids come out here everyday. They don’t complain, and they work out everyday. This isn’t just about the workout the kids get, which is great. It’s more about the self-esteem that it builds and more about the character building they get.”
The ceremony celebrated the success of RossFit, a CrossFit-inspired after school workout club funded through the Army Youth Program in Your Neighborhood. The new equipment included an outdoor training rig set in the grass in front of the campus â€” a red ribbon wrapped around it signified the growth of the program.
Macias started RossFit six years ago and has seen it grow every year. He recognized a need on his campus to help students with issues like childhood obesity, diabetes and lack of interest in healthful living.
“We have to start promoting a healthy body and mind starting at a young age,” Macias said. “I decided I wanted to do something about it.”
Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting included Burges feeder pattern principals, soldiers, UTEP cheerleaders, the Ross band and cheerleaders who came to get a glimpse of RossFit and help cut the ribbon. A group of CrossFit veterans and fitness experts judged the friendly competition, which was broken up into three categories: Ross boys, Ross girls and a third group made up of parents, teachers, EPISD staff and Yturralde.
“We decided to involve our community and invited in our own teachers, staff and members of our Armed Services who also are parents of our athletes,” Macias said. “My vision is to grow the program and foresee a day in the future where more schools will join together with their community to celebrate fitness and sweat together.”
A CrossFitter himself, Macias designed workouts based on exercises used in the popular fitness program including pull ups, ring rows, push ups, squats, wall ball shots, box jumps and running.
“Showing kids to train their entire body translates directly to their success in school,” Macias said. “I’ve seen it and I know it works. This program teaches self discipline, teaches respect for one’s self and for others and, more importantly, gets kids of the couch, away from staring at screens for hours at a time.”
The changes are noticeable too and not just in the students’ physical health but also their overall countenance.
“It has changed everything. First of all, it builds a community,” Macias said. “They don’t look at themselves as students anymore but as athletes. Everything from their STAAR scores to their self-respect and respect for others has been impacted in a positive way.”
Approximately 120 students participate in the popular outdoor workout throughout the year â€“ sometimes fighting wind and bitter cold to complete their workout of the day.
Student Aaron Jackman, who joined the club after cross-country season, took to the program instantly. His enthusiasm and commitment — not to mention his after workout dance — earned him the “Beast of the Year” award.
“It’s a really good workout. I like getting out here and getting my sweat on,” Jackman said. “It helped strengthen my legs so I can do a better sprint.”
The CrossFit-based workouts have helped Jackman improve not only in track, where he has surpassed his own personal records, but also in school.
“The program is so good you don’t even notice that it helps you,” Jackman said. “I was confident when I was doing the STAAR test. Coach tells us to never give up, so I didn’t give on the test.”