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Home | Tag Archives: SISD

Tag Archives: SISD

Socorro ISD campuses named to 2018-2019 Honor Roll by ERP

Eight schools in the Socorro Independent School District were named to the 2018-2019 Honor Roll for high achievement in student success by the Educational Results Partnership (ERP).

“It is an honor to have our schools recognized for high student performance,” said SISD Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D. “This is another notable achievement that confirms our commitment and success in ensuring all our students are prepared for college, careers, and life. I congratulate our teachers, students, support staff, and administrators at these campuses for their tireless efforts to achieve academic excellence.”

The SISD schools named to the honor roll are Col. John O Ensor Middle, Dr. Sue A. Shook Elementary, Elfida P. Chavez Elementary, James P. Butler Elementary, John Drugan School, Loma Verde Elementary, Mission Early College High and Myrtle Cooper Elementary.

The 2018 – 2019 Honor Roll is developed by ERP, a nonprofit organization that applies data science to help improve student outcomes and career readiness. ERP maintains the nation’s largest database on student achievement and utilizes this data to identify higher-performing schools and districts.

Schools that receive the Honor Roll distinction have demonstrated consistent high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in achievement levels over time, and a reduction in achievement gaps among student populations.

“The Honor Roll is the only school and district recognition program in Texas based solely on objective achievement data,” said Marilyn Reznick, ERP board chair. “Our goal is to guide other educators to data-informed best practices for raising student achievement.”

Through national research, the ERP has identified a common set of success factors in higher-performing Honor Roll schools and districts. These include clear, specific learning objectives aligned to college and career readiness, along with:

  • Evidence-based instructional practices
  • A defined system-wide mission of college and career readiness for all students
  • An investment in human capital
  • Maintenance of data and assessment systems to monitor school and student performance
  • Resources and guidance to support schools’ efforts in preparing all students for college and career

“ERP is all about improving educational equity and promoting career readiness for all students, regardless of their family income, background or ZIP code,” said James Lanich, Ph.D., ERP president and CEO.

“These Honor Roll schools and districts are living proof that our students can succeed when schools are committed to removing educational obstacles and accelerating student success. By focusing attention on these bright spots among our schools, we hope to change the conversation from ‘what’s wrong’ to ‘what’s working,’ and encourage others to replicate their success.”

For high schools, the Honor Roll recognition also includes measures of college readiness.  The ERP is part of a national effort to identify higher-performing schools and districts that are improving student outcomes.

Socorro ISD transportation drivers win regional Road-eo safety contest

Socorro Independent School District transportation employees earned top honors in the 2019 Region 19 School Bus Road-eo, a safety competition which tests school bus drivers on their transportation knowledge and driving abilities.

The Region 19 Road-eo winners are competed against 35 school bus drivers in the transit and conventional divisions.

The drivers who won in the transit division are: Alejandro Garcia, first place; Laura Bustillos, second place; Cesar Garcia, third place; and Lydia Valenzuela, fourth place. The winners in the conventional division are: Rosario Muñoz, first place; and David Rios, third place.

“Placing in the Road-eo contest is a huge accomplishment,” said Rito A. Meza, director of SISD transportation. “I’m so proud of these drivers because it takes a lot of courage and dedication to go out and compete.”

Drivers must have a perfect attendance record and a clean citation and accident report to compete in the Road-eo. This event allows school bus drivers to get behind the wheel, exhibit their skills and dedication to their work.

“I am so happy to have won because competing in the Road-eo is a very challenging task,” Garcia said. “The judges are looking at every one of our moves but it makes us better drivers. We observe everything and take every precaution for the safety of the students.”

Garcia, who has advanced to the state contest three times before, won first place in the transit division for his ability to maneuver the flat front bus through a timed obstacle course that was tight in space.

The SISD driver has been a member of the transportation team for 11 years.

Muñoz had the highest score in the conventional school bus division. Muñoz also said participating in the Road-eo made her a better driver.

“This is the first time I win the award and I’m so proud of myself,” she said. “We spend about 15 hours on the bus and our priority is always making sure students are safe. We have to think fast and be ready for any situation like students crossing streets, cars who drive fast and don’t use their signal lights, and measuring the distance of objects near the bus.”

The SISD drivers who finished first through third place will go on to compete against the best school bus drivers in Texas June 28-29 at the state contest.

“I know they will do great,” Meza said. “They are an elite group of employees who are always looking to improve their work skill and be a motivation for others.”

Socorro ISD’s Young writers’ talent featured in annual literary anthology

The Socorro Independent School District recently recognized 68 students in grades K-12 whose work was published at the 2019 SISD Literary Anthology celebration.

The event, featured first-place winners, their families, district administrators, staff, and special guest authors Elizabeth Zamarripa-Lopez and Eleanor Coldwell.

“The Literary Anthology luncheon is a wonderful event because we honor the amazing writers in our school district,” said Yvonne Dominguez, instructional officer for English Language Arts.

“The event is now in its 32nd year and we look forward to continuing this tradition because it a great way for students to express themselves.”

More than 1,000 pieces of writing were submitted for judging. Some 100 adjudicators then reviewed the essays, stories, and poems, and selected first, second and third place entries.

Each SISD school was represented in the anthology.

“I feel so accomplished and proud to have been published in the anthology,” said Madalyn Carbajal, a fourth grader at Loma Verde. “Writing this was a lot of fun. I wrote about my experience in Cancun and how they have really cool resorts and pools. When I’m older I may decide to write and illustrate my own book.”

Coldwell, author of Pan Dulce and a former SISD administrator, encouraged the young writers to harness their creative talents and jot down their thoughts in a journal every day.

“Writing keeps us connected to our past,” she said. “Get a three-ring binder or a journal and write something in it every day. Fill it with memories because you will cherish that for the rest of your lives.”

Nicole Reyes, a student at Chester E. Jordan Elementary, plans to do as Coldwell said and document special moments and her thoughts. The 11-year-old writer said her next piece will be published on the internet.

“I want to be a blogger and write about self-love and confidence,” Reyes said.

“For my anthology, I wrote about the benefits of wearing school uniforms. Students don’t have to think about what they are going to wear, or not having expensive clothes because uniforms make us equal. They help us academically and emotionally.”

Each of the 2019 winners were presented an award and a copy of the anthology. The next SISD anthology will be published in May 2020.

El Dorado art teacher wins Texas Senate District 29 Environmental Excellence Award

El Dorado High School art teacher Candace Printz, well-known for promoting environmental awareness and proactive recycling efforts through her It’s Your World & Green Hope nonprofits, won an Environmental Excellence Award at the first-ever Texas Senate District 29 Environmental Excellence Recognition.

“I feel great that the years we have put into this program are now gaining attention at the local and state level because it’s going to improve the world we live in,” Printz said. “I’m also pleased that more organizations are creating programs that acknowledge and praise groups that are trying to make positive environmental change.”

The Environmental Excellence awards program was initiated by Senator José Rodríguez’ Environment Advisory Committee, in conjunction with the City of El Paso Environmental Services Department.

The program helps identify, articulate and strengthen a regional culture of conservation, preservation and best practices for the environment.

Printz launched the It’s Your World project in 2015 by organizing desert clean ups and making artwork from the debris that was collected. The former school club of 60 students has evolved into Green Hope Project, a non-profit organization that furthers education, the arts and environmentalism through work with scientists and engineers.

“We want to work with engineers and scientists to create solutions to the overabundance of plastic that is clogging our oceans and landfills,” she said. “We also want to re-purpose materials for housings, playgrounds, and artwork to decrease the amount of items that are discarded.”

Karl Rimkus, chairman of the EAC and Operations Manager for the El Paso Environmental Services Department said they were happy to recognize worthy endeavors in the advancement of environmental issues in our community.

“For the first time we will be able to not only highlight environmental projects worthy of recognition, but will maintain an archive of these projects for future reference and inspiration,” Rimkus said.

The EAC suggests legislation and engages in discussions that empower the community to have a role in policy change in regard to environmental affairs.

“This local, regional, and state attention is important to us because we want to continue this momentum and propel this project to higher levels,” Printz said.

The honor was awarded in April.

Socorro ISD opens doors to students from across El Paso region

Thanks to a vote by the Socorro ISD Board of Trustees, the region’s second-largest school district has opened their doors to students from around the Borderland.

The new open enrollment policy was approved by the SISD Board of Trustees at a special board meeting on June 4 and will take effect immediately so that students may begin enrolling for the 2019-2020 school year.

“In order to provide more students with endless opportunities for success, the Socorro Independent School District now will accept out-of-district transfer students in its schools,’ SISD officials shared via a news release.

With the vote, students who live outside of SISD boundaries now may enroll at SISD elementary, PK-8, middle, and high schools where space is available, among the district’s 49 schools.

“SISD welcomes parents and students from across El Paso County to find out why Team SISD is the right choice for endless opportunities! Students in the entire region can now experience the outstanding education provided in Team SISD, including free college classes available at every high school, free Pre-K for all four-year-olds, advanced academic academies, outstanding Career and Technical Education, championship athletics, award-winning fine arts, innovative WIN Academy, state-of-the-art technology, and world-class facilities,” district officials added.

For more information, visit the SISD website; for online application form, click here.

Socorro ISD celebrates families, reading in Latino Family Literacy Program

The Socorro Independent School District honored parents who participated in the sixth annual Latino Family Literacy program at an end-of-year celebration.

The event featured Ernest Mejia, a son of Mexican immigrants who talked about his life and obstacles he had to overcome to be successful.

Guests also enjoyed refreshments and entertainment by Socorro High School’s mariachi and folklorico dancers from Mission Ridge Elementary.

“We had a great time at the end-of-year celebration,” said Terry Saldaña, bilingual instructional specialist and event coordinator. “Our parents love this program because it benefits their child as well as themselves.”

More than 200 parents in 22 schools participated in the Latino Family Literacy program during the 2018-19 school year.

The program helps SISD families of English Language Learners bond and build routines at home that improve literacy and vocabulary.

Through the literacy program, families learn about Latino social and cultural customs and embrace English and Spanish literacy. Parents say reading in two languages has increased their children’s proficiency in speech and reading.

“My child could understand Spanish but did not speak it or read it very well,” said Gabriela Tarango, a parent at Bill Sybert School.

“Now that we joined this program she’s gotten a lot better. I like that we get to build a lot of memories with our children, and the books are so interesting. Our children learn about two cultures, our history, and they learn a lot of new words.”

At the celebration, parents were given a free book to continue reading and engaging with their children at home.

“The books are very interesting because they teach students about traditions and legends,” said Leticia Torres, a teacher at Loma Verde Elementary. If we don’t teach them to our children, they may be forgotten.”

Sgt. Roberto Ituarte, Dr. Sue A. Shook, Hueco, and Escontrias elementary schools had many families participate in the program this school year.

“The word about Latino Family Literacy is getting out,” Saldaña said. “We had a lot more participation this year and we are still growing.”

Socorro ISD announces Summer Camps for kids

On Monday, officials with Socorro ISD released their roster of summer camp opportunities for students of all ages during the summer.

The SISD summer camp opportunities range from sports to learning camps, and robotics to police services.  For a detailed description of each and sign up information, select the camp and its link below.

Fine Arts Summer Camp
SISD’s Department of Fine Arts will have a Visual Arts Camp from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 3-7 and June 10-14. The camp is free for students ages 8 through 10. The camp will be offered at three sites: Eastlake High School, Pebble Hills High School, and Socorro High School. Each location is limited to 40 students. Lunch will be provided. To register, scan the QR code in the flyer link below. For more information, contact the Fine Arts Department by phone at 915-937-0435 or by email at
Fine Arts Summer Camp Flyer

Century Texas ACE Afterschool Program summer learning camps
The 21st Century Texas ACE Afterschool Program will host its first ever summer learning camps June 3 -28 at nine SISD campuses. The camps are for students enrolled at Campestre, H.D. Hilley, Hueco, Robert R. Rojas, Escontrias Elementary and the Early childhood Center, Desert Wind and Ernesto Serna K-8 schools, and Salvador H. Sanchez and Socorro middle schools.

Camps will be from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Campers will participate in fun and academically engaging activities, such as RoboLab, Xtreme gamers, little chefs, puppet masters, top chefs, Be-YOU-tiful fashion design, and more. Space is limited. To register, contact the campus ACE Site Coordinator.

Pebble Hills Softball Camp
Pebble Hills High School will have a softball camp from 8:30 to 11 a.m. June 4-6 for students ages 5-13. The cost for early registration is $30. Early registration is open now through May 24. The camp cost will be $35 the day of camp. Price includes a camp T-shirt. Players should bring their own glove, cleats, gear and water bottle.

Tennis Camp at Americas High School
A United States National Junior Tennis League tennis camp will be June 3-28 at Americas High School. The cost of the camp is $20 and includes a T-shirt. Registration is every Monday at Americas High School. Camp times are from 8 to 9 a.m. for students ages 5-9; from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. for students ages 10-13; and from 10:20  to 11:30 a.m. for high school students. For more information, contact Armando Gallego at 915-238-8939 or by email at

SISD Police Services Super School
SISD Police Services will host Super School from 9 to 11 a.m. June 10-14. Students from all school districts, ages 5 to 11, are welcome. The school will be at four locations: Benito Martinez Elementary, Mission Ridge Elementary, Hueco Elementary, and Puentes Middle School. Students will engage in fun activities and learn important safety tips. For more information, call SISD Police Services at 937-4357.
Super School Summer Program Flyer

Socorro High School Girls Basketball Camp
Socorro High School will have a basketball camp from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 10-12 for girls in grades fifth through eighth. The camp cost is $25. For more information, contact Coach Gonzalez at 915-328-4699 or Coach Vela at 915-843-9660.  Socorro High School Girls Basketball Camp Flyer

Socorro High School Football Camp
Socorro High School will have a football camp from 9 to 11 a.m. June 12-14 for girls and boys in kindergarten through eighth grade. The camp fee is $25 and includes a t-shirt, snacks for the first two days, and lunch on the last day. To register, contact Coach Gilbert Mena at  Socorro High School Football Camp Flyer

Americas High School Baseball Camp
The Americas High School Baseball Camp will be from 9 – 11:30 a.m. June 12 and 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 13 at the school. The camp cost is $25 for one day and $50 for two days and will include a camp T-shirt and a player evaluation. Team and family rates are available. Registration will be at 8 a.m. on June 12. Lunch will be provided both days from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call 920-5148 or email  Americas High School Baseball Camp

Montwood High School Basketball Camp
Montwood High School will have a basketball camp from 8:30–12: 30 p.m. June 17-20 for students ages 7-15. The camp cost is $65 and includes a t-shirt, awards, prizes and a camp picture. Cash or check accepted, made payable to Montwood High School. For more information, contact Coach Tucker by phone at 927-921-6271 or by email at

Socorro High School Basketball Camp
Socorro High School will have a basketball camp from 5 to 7 p.m. June 18-20 for boys and girls in third through eighth grade. The cost of the camp is $25 and includes a t-shirt, and pizza on the last night of the camp. Cash or checks only, made payable to Socorro Boys Basketball. For more information, contact Tim McNally at 915-726-2901, Robert Facio at 915-422-4206, or Edward Martinez at 915-204-9716. Socorro High School Basketball Camp Flyer

Pebble Hills Basketball Camp
Pebble Hills High School will have a basketball camp from 9 to 11 a.m. July 9-12 for students in grades 3-9. The camp cost is $50. Pre-registration will take place on June 25 and 27.

El Dorado Volleyball Camps
El Dorado High School will have two co-ed volleyball camps June 17-20. A camp for intermediate players in grades 6-8 will be from 9 to 11 a.m. The Lil Aztec camp for grades 2-5 will be from 11:20 a.m. to 1 p.m. The camp cost is $50.

The Great Khalid Foundation honors SISD seniors with scholarships

Three Socorro Independent School District seniors were recently surprised with a $10,000 scholarship from The Great Khalid Foundation.

The foundation is the SISD alumnus’ non-profit organization created to give back to the families in the El Paso community.

Steven Phan from Montwood High School, Celeste Barron from El Dorado, and Halie Chavira from Eastlake were the first recipients of the foundation’s Performing Arts Scholarships.

The students were presented the awards by Linda Wolfe, the foundation’s executive director and Khalid’s mother.

“We are excited that our first initiative as a formal organization is providing educational support for talented students in our community that dream of sharing their gifts with the world,” Wolfe said. “Our goal is to alleviate some of the financial burden on students and their families so they can go out and do great things with their creative gifts. It’s an honor to be a part of their journey as artists.”

The three surprise announcements were made at school assemblies in the presence of family and friends. The winners graciously accepted the awards and thanked the foundation, parents, and teachers for their support.

“My parents always told me, ‘if you want something, do it,’ and I really wanted this,” Chavira said. “I was not a good guitar player in the beginning but I practiced a lot. I play my guitar before school, during lunch, and after I do my homework. I’m always trying to learn new songs, chords and strum patterns to improve myself.”

Winning the scholarship was the first of two surprises. The aspiring artists also received a personal shout-out video from Khalid himself.

“I started crying when I saw the video,” Barron said. “I am really appreciative of them because this was such an amazing thing to do … tohelp the arts and support young musicians by helping us pay for college so we can fulfill our dreams.”

The Great Khalid Foundation’s Performing Arts Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship awarded to high school seniors pursuing higher education in a performing arts program, according to the foundation’s press release.

Applicants submitted transcripts to show their academic achievements, wrote essays explaining what they hope to become, and a performance video showcasing their artistic talents.

“I submitted a piece by Pyotr Tchaikovsky that had a sentimental approach,” Phan said. “The composer found refuge in the music, and that really spoke to me. My goal is to take my music for people in dark corners who need light and need hope.”

Phan was the first student surprised with the award. The French horn player plans to study music at the University of North Texas in Denton.

Barron, a viola player, will study music education at the University of Texas at El Paso and play in the UTEP Symphony Orchestra. Chavira will attend McMurry University and hopes to join the music production industry and compose her own music.

SISD’s Hurshel Antwine counselor named 2019 Texas School Counselor of the Year

Amanda Bustamante, counselor at Hurshel Antwine Elementary, was recently named the 2019 Texas School Counselor of the Year by the Lone Star State School Counselor Association (LSSSCA).

The School Counselor of the Year Award honors professionals who devote their careers to advocate for students, address their academic and social/emotional development, and college and career readiness.

“I am humbled and grateful for this incredible honor,” Bustamante said. “My calling in life is to be a school counselor, and it is the absolute best profession in the world. I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do every single day.”

Bustamante was selected from four finalists who have created systemic change within the profession through significant leadership, collaboration and advocacy, according to LSSSCA.

To earn the award, Bustamante completed an extensive application process, and was judged by a panel of counseling professionals on multiple criteria, including school counseling innovations, effective school counseling programs, leadership skills, and contributions to student achievement.

Before joining the SISD counseling team in 2014, Bustamante was a math and science teacher at Lujan-Chavez and Sun Ridge Middle School. The longtime educator says she has worked hard to develop an American School Counselor Association (ASCA) based, comprehensive counseling program since becoming a school counselor.

“The most important part of being a school counselor is acting in the best interest of students,” she said. “I strive to make decisions based on what is best for students and advocate for them in all that I do. I am passionate about my profession. I love the kids, faculty, and community that I serve.”

Bustamante will be recognized at the LSSSCA conference in November. She will go on to represent Texas in the American School Counselor Association’s National School Counselor of the Year Awards program. The National School Counselor of the Year will be announced in November and recognized in the spring of 2020.

“We are so proud of Amanda,” said Tammi Mackeben, director of guidance and counseling. “She is a fabulous school counselor and she will represent Team SISD and Texas at the highest level.”

Hernando Middle School student wins national literacy award

Hugo Hernandez, a student at SPC. Rafael Hernando III Middle School, is one of only 16 students in the nation to win a prestigious 2019 180 Student Award from learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The 180 program recognizes children across the United States who have overcome significant obstacles to become thriving, successful learners.

“I’m very happy to have won,” Hernandez said. “I wasn’t good at reading but the Read 180 program helped me a lot, and now I can read very well.”

According to SISD officials,  medical condition hindered Hernandez’s ability to read at an early age. By the time he entered sixth-grade he had a reading score of zero. Despite his challenges, Hernandez was determined to thrive.

“I never doubted myself,” he said. “I knew that if I kept trying I would be able to read.”

Hernando Middle School reading teacher Brenda Rios said it was his perseverance that helped him succeed and win a System 44 award, one of the awards in the national Read 180 program.

“He came to my class basically a non-reader but doubled his score points in one year … that is remarkable!” Rios said. “He had a strong desire and drive in him that defied his challenges. He knew that where there is a will, there is a way.”

To celebrate his success, the school and Read 180 organization honored Hernandez with a surprise ceremony and breakfast with family and friends.

“I’m so happy about the progress Hugo has made from August to now,” said Laura Marrufo, Hernandez’s mother. “He has come a long way and this has helped him build his self-esteem. I’m grateful because I know this program and his teacher have played a big role in his success.”

Hernandez, who now has a reading score of 167, is passionate about helping others be effective readers.

“Hugo is sharing what he’s learned with struggling readers who are facing obstacles,” Rios said. “He is always seeking out books in the library, and in his free time, he reads to students with special needs.”

On the list of Hernandez’s favorite reads are the “Goosebumps” series.

“I’ve read three ‘Goosebumps’ books so far,” he said. “I need to read a lot because when I grow up I want to be a doctor, like my dad, and help a lot of people.”

Hernandez is the fourth student at his school to earn a national Read 180 award.

“Read 180 is a strong program that has done amazing things for our kids,” Rios said. “We also have a learning community of parents, our librarian, administrators and district staff who work together to help our students.”

Socorro ISD reaches out to students, parents via 2nd annual Stand and Deliver

Over the weekend, scores of employees in the Socorro Independent School District participated in the 2nd annual Stand and Deliver Walk to visit with SISD families and talk to them about the programs, resources, and opportunities available for their children in the district’s schools.

“It was awesome to talk with the parents of our amazing students and let them know about the extraordinary education they are earning in Team SISD,” said SISD Superintendent Dr. José Espinoza.

“As a destination district, it is important for our community to hear from us directly about the high-quality education we provide in our outstanding school district. Our teachers, principals, and staff had another great experience telling families why Team SISD is the right choice for endless opportunities.”

SISD’s Stand and Deliver event embraces Dr. Espinoza’s philosophy to treat and educate all students as if they are their own children, which was inspired by legendary educator Jaime Escalante’s commitment to equality in education.

The district follows Escalante’s footsteps by having the ganas or desire to do more for students, demonstrating high expectations of all students, and putting effective systems in place to ensure students’ success.

The walk is an opportunity for SISD educators to be in the community and meet parents face to face.

“Teachers are able to expand beyond the four walls of the classroom and make the learning community real and relevant by establishing connections and building personal relationships with all Team SISD students,” said Diana Mooy, assistant principal at Horizon Heights Elementary School.

During the Stand and Deliver Walk, thousands of SISD teachers, administrators, and support staff personally visited students’ homes and talked to parents about opportunities such as free college classes available at every high school, free Pre-K for all four-year-olds in the district, championship athletics, award-winning fine arts, advanced academic academies, world-class facilities, state-of-the-art technology, and outstanding Career and Technical Education as well as SISD’s efforts to meet the needs of all students.

Vanessa De La Peña, a Pre-K teacher at SGT. Jose F. Carrasco Elementary School, was eager to talk to parents to tell them about the great teachers, leadership team, and college readiness initiatives that are provided for students at her school.

“Stand and Deliver is important because it is an opportunity for all of us to go out and promote our district, talk about the great things that are happening here, clarify any questions that parents may have and show them what we offer,” De La Peña said. “We have a lot of neat stuff at our school and this is a nice way to let parents know what is going on.”

The inaugural Stand and Deliver walk, which launched last year, resulted in tremendous success with employees strengthening personal relationships with families in the SISD community. Employees were eager to continue the outreach efforts again this year.

“This is my second time doing Stand and Deliver and I can say the same thing from my initial experience. It has been a great, positive experience to actually talk to the parents and to have that face-to-face connection,” said Marianne Torales, a State Compensatory Education Intervention (SCEI) coach at Montwood High School. “I feel like this is just an extension of the daily work that we do, but it is also a celebration of the connection that we have with the parents and the community.”

The SISD educators returned from their Stand and Deliver visits with inspiring stories and enthusiasm about the programs and resources that are helping students succeed.

“We met a parent that was very happy with the school district because her son is in the special education program at Hurshel Antwine. She said that her son wasn’t talking at all and within two months in the program at Antwine, they helped him to speak,” said Angelica Hernandez, a third-grade teacher at Purple Heart Elementary School. “It was really nice as a teacher to hear that story, it made me really happy. I know that we are making a difference in a child’s life as part of Team SISD.”

Since SISD’s inaugural Stand and Deliver event last year, the district has continued to grow. SISD celebrated a major milestone in March 2019 when the 47,000th student enrolled at Robert R. Rojas Elementary School.

Socorro ISD is the second largest school district in El Paso, serving students in East El Paso, Horizon City and the City of Socorro.

SISD’s Horizon Heights raises autism awareness with annual event

Horizon Heights Elementary had its annual autism awareness rally to celebrate National Autism Awareness Month with students, teachers, and the entire school community.

“We have been doing this for four years,” said Edith Carrillo, Horizon Heights assistant principal. “We start educating our students on the awareness of autism as early as possible. We believe creating awareness creates acceptance.”

Carrillo said it was so important for all students to become aware because often children with autism feel lonely.

“By creating awareness, our students understand some students are different,” Carrillo said. “Our students seek them out to become friends. It instills kindness and acceptance.”

The event featured encouraging words from a high school student, the reading of a poem by an elementary student and an explosion of party poppers that emitted blue smoke to symbolize the widely recognized blue in honor of autism awareness.

The celebration atmosphere inspired the cheering students, invited guests and parents.

Laura Tena, who has two sons with autism, appreciates the school’s efforts.

“I love that the school is doing this because it brings knowledge to other kids about autism,” Tena said. “I feel more comfortable about bringing my kids here because everyone is a little more kind and a little more aware. It’s a wonderful school.”

Montwood High students excel in video production, compete in local contests

Montwood High School audio/video production students put their talents in the spotlight with winning submissions in two recent local video production contests.

Students David Hernandez and Isaiah Anthony Chavez won the Better Business Bureau Paso del Norte Student Video Contest, and Carlos Olivares and Angelica Valdez placed second in the City of El Paso Environmental Services “Recycle Right, El Paso” video PSA contest.

“I’m very proud of my students for winning these contests and using their creativity to educate the community,” said Marvin J. Hanley, audio and video production teacher at Montwood High School. “It’s good for them to showcase their work outside of school, and share what they are learning with the rest of El Paso.”

Hernandez and Chavez won the BBB contest for their video production, Online Scams. The video demonstrates how to create a safe online environment, and teaches individuals how to report online fraud.

“We put a lot of effort into this video to show people how to watch out for hackers and scammers,” Hernandez said. “Everything is about technology now, so people need to be aware of everything they search the web for. Don’t trust private sellers, and if you are going to buy something online do your research, and look at reviews before listing personal information.”

Marybeth Stevens, president and CEO of BBB Paso del Norte said judging was extremely competitive. This year, 111 videos were submitted by schools in Juárez and El Paso. The combined student marketing efforts generated more than 51,000 online votes.

“We hope to continue to grow this contest as a positive educational opportunity that challenges students, promotes collaboration, and serves to reinforce the importance of being cautious and educated consumers who use the resources like the BBB to avoid being scammed,” Stevens said.

The students were recognized at the 2019 BBB Awards for Excellence luncheon on May 15, where they received a $150 gift card and up to $1,000 for their school.

Olivares and Valdez placed second in the “Recycling Write, El Paso” PSA contest. The students crafted a 30-second informative video that educates the community on what items can and cannot be recycled.

“Recycling is super important, especially in today’s age because of global warming,” Valdez said. “My partner and I hope that our video inspires a lot of people to take care of our planet by making sure they recycle items that have the recycling label, turning-off the lights when there is sunlight, not letting the water run while washing dishes, and by taking shorter showers.”

The PSA winners were recognized at the annual El Paso Earth Day celebration in April.

Socorro ISD military families have fun, connect at Spring Splash event

Socorro Independent School District students and their parents who serve in the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard gathered for the SISD Military Family Spring Splash event, recently.

The Spring Splash was a unique way to recognize SISD military-connected students and thank their families for their service to our country, said SISD Director of Administrative Services Dr. Carmen Olivas-Graham.

“Our military families really enjoyed coming together to develop friendships and gain support,” Olivas-Graham said. “A lot of them don’t have family here and we know that can be a difficult thing. By gathering at events like the Spring Splash they can form friendships, connect and have a blast!”

The event, now in its second year, was held at the SISD Aquatic Center. Students and their parents spent the day by the pool, enjoyed hot dogs, refreshments, and the company of other military families in the district.

“I loved it,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, a military parent at Hurshel Antwine Elementary. “It was great to be outside of base with military families, especially through the school. This is the first time my kids are outside of a military school and this event helped them get in touch with other classmates.”

SISD serves more than 3,500 military students. The district offers various means of support for the students and their families, such as special events like the Spring Splash, informational meetings for military parents, and an assigned military experienced counselor who works exclusively with military students.

To provide another avenue of support, the district will present a proclamation to establish a network of active military spouses at the May 21 board meeting. The district will help military spouses to connect with each other or with district resources they may need.

“We are proposing this proclamation to provide our active military spouses more opportunities to come together,” Olivas-Graham said.

“We get to educate them on the Texas accountability requirements, the expectations of our school district, and provide them information about the different programs we offer, and functions we organize throughout the year.”

Rodriguez said she finds comfort in knowing the district is working to assist military families.

“This would be very beneficial because it’s great to find a community that you can talk to, especially when family is so far away,” she said. “It makes the transition easier.”

The district will organize other military family events in the fall. These include an ice cream social on Aug. 24 at Sgt. Jose F. Carrasco Elementary School, 14900 Tierra Mirage; a Relationship Building event Oct. 26 at the District Service Center, 12440 Rojas Dr.; and a Pajama and Movie event Dec. 7 at Pebble Hills High School, 14400 Pebble Hills Blvd.

SISD students recycle to create wearable art, Pieces featured in student art show

Two Socorro Independent School District schools brought fashion and trash together by creating wearable art.

Students from William D. Slider Middle School and Pebble Hills High School used coffee filters, magazines, newspapers, clothing or whatever they could find in their classroom or home for their projects.

Several pieces of their collections were included in the 32 annual SISD Student Art Show, which was on display at the District Service Office.

“I wanted the students to think outside the box,” said Sonja Kern, theater teacher at Slider. “I wanted it to coincide with Earth Day, too. I wanted them to learn how to be creative and how to use everyday items, such as newspapers, duct tape, coffee filters, hula hoops, plastic tablecloths and other items, to create something special.”

Kern has been encouraging her classes to get involved in the “Trash ‘n’ Fashion” project for several years. She provides the supplies, or the students bring recyclables from home.

Students do research first on how to recycle materials and have two weeks in class to create the wearable art.

This year was the first time Slider entered art pieces in the SISD Student Art Show. Two of their projects, a yellow prom dress and a white summer dress, received first and second place respectively.

“We are so excited,” Kern said. “I am really impressed with my students. They went all out and did so well.”

Lorena Evans created the winning yellow mermaid-style dress and wore it to Destination Imagination contest. She is proud of her creation.

“I like making stuff from scratch,” Evans said. “I used coffee filters to create the bodice and added tulle that I had to the bottom of it. But I never thought I would win.”

At Pebble Hills, Rossy Sanchez has included a trash to fashion project for the past two years. Students take recycled clothing they own or fabric that has been donated to the class and recreate outfits, purses and other wearable items.

“It really is a collaborative effort,” said Sanchez, who teaches technical theater and fashion design. “The students work together in teams to create their item within two weeks. I want them to see the beauty in everything they use.”

One creation used recycled Vogue magazines to create a beautiful gown. Gwenevere Vasquez was one of the makers of the dress.

She has been making clothes for her dolls since she was little but never thought about doing it for herself.

“This experience has been fantastic,” Vasquez said. “Using recycled objects to create something unique is amazing. I never thought it was possible.”

For Danae Morales, creating a dress from recyclable materials was a great experience. She has learned a lot about helping the environment just by reusing old clothes.

“You can bring it back to life,” Morales said. “My goal now is to be more thrifty and modernize my old clothes.”

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