Friday , March 23 2018
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Tag Archives: SISD

14 Socorro ISD Destination Imagination Teams Headed to State Tournament

Fourteen Destination Imagination teams from the Socorro Independent School District qualified for the Texas Destination Imagination Tournament set for April 7 in Mansfield, Texas.

More than 75 Socorro ISD groups participated in the 2018 SaYes to Creativity (West Texas) Regional Destination Imagination (DI) Tournament last month at Eastlake High School.

SISD had the most groups at the regional competition and the most advancing to state among the participating school districts.

“This has been very rewarding,” said Stephanie Carrasco, coordinator for the district’s Advanced Academics and director of the district’s DI groups. “I was so excited to see the creativity and tenacity of our students as they worked to showcase their hard work for Destination Imagination. I am a product of a version of this kind of competition while I was growing up, so I know the work you have to put in. But getting to see it from a different angle has been great.”

The regional DI competition featured more than 145 teams from about 28 districts from El Paso County. It was one of the biggest number of groups the organization has ever had.

“That is more than 1,000 students,” said Leslie Akins, West Texas Regional Director of Destination Imagination. “It’s awesome to see the teamwork, the amazing parental support and the student’s code of conduct.”

DI is a global creative problem-solving organization that prepares kindergarten to high school students for college, career and life through 21st century thinking and learning principles.

Students in DI compete in academic challenges in the fields of technology, science, fine arts, improvisation, engineering and service learning.

Participants solve challenges by generating ideas with team members through research, exploration and presentation of solutions. Students take part in two challenges: a central challenge, which they have been working on months prior to competition, and an instant challenge, which is spontaneous, and they learn about on day of the contest.

Mary Joe Chacon, was happy her 8-year-old, Daniela Chacon, was given a chance to be involved. She likes the premise of DI.

“They are using the arts, their creativity, storytelling, problem solving and teamwork,” Chacon said. “It is so exciting. She has really enjoyed it and talks about it all the time.”

Bryson Burnett, a fourth grader at Purple Heart Elementary, and his team finished in first place. It was the first time the 9-year-old had participated in DI.

“I really like the idea of working together, having one goal,” Bryson said. “The best thing, though, is this has been so much fun.”

Americas High School senior Angelina Ramirez and her group, The Screaming Cupcakes, are DI veterans. The 17-year-old loves the bond created by her team while getting their skit “Area 915” together.

“We have become so close because we have spent so much time together,” Ramirez said. “We build each other up and help one another out. We tell silly jokes and laugh a lot, but we learn so much, too. This is out-of-the-box learning at its best.”

To view the SISD Gallery, click here.

Socorro ISD Farmers and Artisan Market Set for Sunday

As Spring has arrived in the Borderland, the Socorro Independent School District is again hosting its free Farmers and Artisan Market.

The event will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, March 25 at the Student Activities Complex located at 1300 Joe Battle.)

The event is part of the Healthier Team SISD commitment to promote health and wellness among students and the community.

The free event will include products from local merchants and artisans, food and live music. Children’s entertainment, student art work, organic produce and crafts also will be available.

A free beginner’s yoga class will take place from 9 to 10 a.m. and a walk in honor of SISD student worker Mariana Chavez will be from 10-11 a.m.

Guests also can take photos with the Easter Bunny and participate in a fun Easter egg hunt.

For more information, contact SISD marketing and sales coordinator Erika Lucero by email at .

Socorro ISD Awarded National Honor for Excellence in Financial Reporting

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada has awarded the Socorro Independent School District a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for its 2017 annual financial report.

“It is with great honor and pride that the Socorro Independent School District accepts the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting,” said Tony Reza, chief financial officer. “A lot of work went into receiving this certificate. We are grateful to the GFOA and we will endeavor to continue receiving this prestigious award in the future.”

The certificate of achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, according to the GFOA. An Award of Financial Reporting Achievement also has been presented to SISD’s Financial Services Department as part of the prestigious recognition.

The award recognizes SISD’s outstanding governance and responsible, transparent financial management.

The district’s comprehensive financial report was judged by a panel of experts using high standards to determine if the district clearly communicates its financial standings with a “spirit of full disclosure.”

SISD’s comprehensive report reinforces its commitment to ensuring accountability for all in every aspect of operation, including financial reporting. It ensures open and transparent communication and efficient and effective budget management to serve the needs of students, families, and community members.

“We hope that SISD’s example will encourage other government officials in their efforts to achieve and maintain an appropriate standard of excellence in financial reporting,” said Michele Mark Levine, Technical Services Center director for GFOA, in a letter to SISD.

The GFOA established the award program to encourage state and local governments to report financial statements beyond the requirements of generally accepted accounting principles and to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports.

Three-Peat! Escontrias Elementary Wins Battle of the Bluebonnets Once Again

Escontrias Elementary School won first place at the Socorro Independent School District’s third annual Battle of the Bluebonnets competition at the SISD District Service Center.

“They worked really hard and they wanted to win. You could see it in their faces,” said Marcy Sparks, Battle of the Bluebonnets coordinator and director of SISD’s library services. “Overall, I think the contest was a huge success. With the Battle of the Bluebonnets, we are now having a different conversation about reading for fun. This competition has made a difference. Kids are enjoying the books very much. Then they come here and feel like superstars.”

More than 140 students from each SISD elementary campus took part in the reading contest, the first of its kind in El Paso. The student teams — five children from third, fourth and fifth grades chosen by the school librarian — participated in a trivia-style contest with rounds of questions coming from the 20 Texas Bluebonnet Award books.

Team members prepared by spending much of the school year reading the books from the award list. Each campus librarian was the coach of their school’s Bluebonnet team.

At the contest, Escontrias won the traveling trophy to display in the school library and each member received a medal. Medals also were awarded to the second-place team, Dr. Sue Shook Elementary, and the third-place team Elfida Chavez Elementary.

Certificates were given to every participating student.

“We feel an incredible sense of accomplishment,” said Mercedes Jasso, Escontrias librarian and coach of the Bluebonnet team. “The kids worked hard. They were willing to listen to one another. They were willing to learn from one another. I feel we were as prepared as the other two previous years.”

The five Escontrias team members read an average of 15 of the 20 Texas Bluebonnet books. Eleven-year-old Samirah Avila read the most, 19 books. She has participated in the competition since its inception. This was her last year.

“I am so proud of my team,” Avila said. “We aren’t even the same team as the other two years. We had two new members. I think that shows a lot of effort. I am surprised we won, but I am glad to be going out a winner.”

Montwood High School’s Noelle Serna, a sophomore, won the sketch off that was judged by all the Bluebonnet students. Librarian Melva Gonzalez from Myrtle Cooper was the winner of the #SISD_Reads award. She submitted the most tweets of the Battle of the Bluebonnets Contest library displays and activities. The best themed centerpiece went to Horizon Heights Elementary.

New awards were added to this year’s competition. The first one was the spirit award. It was given to one school from each feeder pattern and recognizes the campus teams that overcame obstacles and learned to work together during the competition.

In the Socorro High School feeder pattern, H. D. Hilley Elementary was given the spirit award. Montwood High School feeder campus, Helen Ball Elementary, also earned the recognition. John Drugan, from Americas High School feeder, was another winner.

El Dorado High School’s Chester E. Jordan Elementary won the spirit winner along with Mission Ridge Elementary from the Eastlake High School feeder pattern. And finally, James P. Butler Elementary from the Pebble Hills High School area was recognized for its determination.

In addition, two educators were presented the Distinguished Library Administrators award for their support of libraries and librarians and for the integral part they play in building a culture of literacy, Sparks said. They are Jenifer Hansen, principal at Horizon Heights, and Enrique Herrera, principal at William D. Slider Middle.

The Texas Bluebonnet Award was created in 1979 to encourage children to read more books, explore a variety of current books and identify their favorite books. Children read books from the Texas Bluebonnet Award reading list and in January vote on their favorite. The author of the book with the most votes across Texas wins the Texas Bluebonnet Award, which is given by the Texas Library Association in April.

“The best part of the Bluebonnet battle was getting to read all the books,” said Vista del Sol fifth-grader Allison Gonzalez, who finished 13 books. “Then I got to use the information from the books in a contest. It’s magnificent.”

The annual competition was held February 23rd.  To view more photos of the event, click here.

Op-Ed: Why Public Schools Need Marketing Firms

A few months back on a local blog, the blog author and guests wrote and responded with some indignation about a local school district hiring a “marketing firm.” “Why would a school district need a marketing firm?” they asked with annoyance.

“Surely this money should be spent in the classroom! This is an outrage!” Grumble. Grumble. “Oh, and by the way the superintendent makes too much money and all administrators need to be fired.” Grumble. Grumble.

Being a blog that mostly caters to angry-at-local-politics folks, or people that are just angry in general for having to pay any taxes at all for anything, the echo-chamber cacophony of agreement crescendoed into a roar of annoyance and outrage. Soon, every response was based on agreeing the blog entry itself, with little or no reflection or critical thinking. Anyone trying to counter the argument was immediately branded a suck up, a traitor, or insulted as being “out of touch.”

Rational discourse was not welcome there. No need to respond if you disagreed or had an alternative point of view. The collective minds of the blog mass was already made up. The responses to the blog post went something like this:

“If those schools would just do their jobs, they wouldn’t need a marketing firm!”

“If the schools are losing students, so be it. If they were any good, they
wouldn’t be losing anyone!”

“They didn’t need marketing firms in my day! And look how well I turned

“Get off my lawn! And fire the superintendent!”

“Yeah, I agree with everything he just said. Ditto!

As EdChoice put it in an article about education marketing: “Shame on schools for trying to get students in their classrooms! Everyone knows those students should just show up, sit down and learn regardless of whether the learning environment is right for them.”

The original kernel of the blog post was actually a good question: “Why would a public school district would want to hire a marketing or “branding” firm?”

Actually, if you dive just a little bit deeper into the topic, “marketing” is not such a bad idea especially in these days of school districts that are under attack from a variety of forces: private schools, home schoolers, angry politicians, but mostly privately owned charter schools. For a public school district to hire a marketing firm to make sense however, you have to think critically about WHY a district would want to market it’s services. It comes down to the reason ANY business or organization would want to market itself: Getting more customers.

In many school districts across the nation, educators are faced with a multitude of forces aligning up in ways that school districts in the past 60 or so post WWII years probably would never have had to think about. Those include:

Loss of students:

In public schools, the students in the seats are the way that the schools make their money. More students mean more money. Less students mean less money.(link)

Think of students like a business thinks of customers. One district in the city has been losing students at the rate of about 1000 per year due to several reasons including major demographic changes in the city. As the oldest school district in the area, the base population is getting older and moving away from the city center towards the outskirts of town where the newer houses, stores, entertainment, and parks are.

Those “outskirts” also are home to other schools districts. Families moving to newer neighborhoods are moving away from the district. Older folks just don’t have babies plain and simple. The post WWII baby boom which fueled the rise of large urban school districts has given way to suburban sprawl and the relocation of younger families to less expensive outlying communities.

Legislative processes fighting against public education:

In the past, there was a strong bipartisan legislative ethic that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, to give it a Star Trek spin. Recently in Texas, along with quite a few mainly Republican, Tea Party controlled states like Kansas and Wisconsin, the legislature has decidedly become anti-public education. The needs of the well heeled few and corporations are becoming more important than the many.

A recent Texas Tribune article sums up the ed funding battle this way:

“The funding challenge facing districts like Kelton, as well as the unique pot of money they are set to lose in three months, stems from decisions by state officials made over a decade ago. In 2006, the Legislature compressed tax rates by a third, after the Texas Supreme Court ordered them to alleviate the high property tax rates in local school districts. They also created a state aid program to make up the extra revenue districts lost by lowering tax rates.”

In their Tea Party fueled fervor, the Texas legislature (along with MANY other GOP controlled state legislatures) has cut funding for students, cut taxes that paid for education, added funding for charter schools, made raising taxes much more difficult than in the past, and generally have decided that public education is not the investment in the future as they once viewed it, although the vast majority of them are products of the exact public school system they say is “broken.”

The idea of the collective good in education has gone on life support and with it, equitable funding. Districts are left with trying to pull funds from an ever increasingly smaller pot. Rich districts in rich suburbs of Houston and Dallas thrive, while those in the Valley, along the Rio Grande and rural areas have to try to succeed using an increasingly smaller pot of funds to draw from.

Charter schools:
Charter schools, no matter what anyone might say otherwise, take funds from public schools by taking students from public schools. (Books have been written about whether charter schools are academically better or not, but in terms of simply sucking money from traditional public school districts, they are poison.) A student that goes to a charter school takes their funding with them.

In El Paso, not only brick and mortar but online charter schools will dig into the “butts-in-seats” funding that is the life blood of public education. The math is simple: If a student is attending an online school, or another school outside your district, you don’t get money for that student.

Charter schools, many backed with not only public funds as well as private funds, can afford to market themselves and have done so aggressively using professional marketing firms, also know as “branding firms.”

How does a school district fight back against demographic changes, a hostile legislature, and a new opponent that does not have to play by the same rules that you have to?

One way would be to just sit back and think that the issue will correct itself over time and go away. This is a poor strategy, much like allowing your opponent to run up the score in the first three quarters thinking you will be able to outscore them in the fourth.

That strategy rarely works. As poor a strategy as it may seem, it is one that many school districts seem to think is viable. Do nothing. Just teach. It will all be fine.

The problem is that while you sit back and do nothing, your competition is advertising about how good they are, with slickly produced ads that beckon parents to give that shiny new charter school a chance.

Consider this ad for Odyssey Charter Schools:

Slick, modern, and tempting. Ads like that are done, for Charter schools, by marketing companies, or branding companies. One should ask, why is it okay for charters, who use public funds, to create marketing, but not for public school districts?

One study in Pennsylvania found that charter schools spend on average, $48 per student per year on advertising.
IDEA Public Charter Schools are in the El Paso area.

They are not shy about advertising:

Another way is to create a series of strategic moves that by themselves seem disparate, but when put together make a cohesive plan to bring students back into the district.

The first step is, of course, to have a strong academic program, and to provide services to students that might not be found elsewhere. In El Paso for instance, the EPISD is addressing that issue by bringing in several programs that are unique to the area: International Baccalaureate schools at the middle school level, as well as becoming the largest New Tech High district in the US. The district is also becoming a 1:1 in all secondary campuses, among other things, like having a dual language program at all 54 elementary campuses across the city.

Open Enrollment:
Another step is to allow students from anywhere to come to your district. This is called “open enrollment” and it allows students from anywhere to enroll. Surprisingly enough, in Texas, public schools default to a “closed enrollment” model where students only living in the boundaries of the school district are allowed to attend.

A district has to declare itself “Open Enrollment” to allow other students to attend. Once you have good academic programs in place (that is the most difficult and takes the most time by the way), and you have declared yourself an “open enrollment” district, the students will just start piling into your schools right?


Like any business, you need to advertise. You can have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it, no one will buy it.

You no doubt have been in a business that has great “word of mouth;” that mystical advertising method where people tell their friends who tell their friends who tell their friends about it. That is a great strategy at first, but after a few months, that business, if it relied solely on people telling their friends how wonderful it is, probably is on financial ropes and is headed for disaster.

They have to advertise some other way, otherwise they will fail. The “build it and they will come” mentality for business and now public schools only works in the movies with ghost baseball players and Kevin Costner.

An article in Forbes Magazine stated exactly why school districts need to market themselves:

“For generations, the thought of a school district hiring outreach help was anathema. Especially during the Baby Boom, educators had one constituency to court: parents. With half the homes in many communities having school age children, the need to fund public schools was obvious. Now, however, it’s not unusual for many districts to have fewer than 30% of households with children in the public schools. Losing their core parental constituency has forced school boards and administrators to embrace social media and move beyond traditional newsletters to explain their value to the broader community.”

That is exactly why school districts need to market themselves. What is the point of creating modern learning spaces, having great academic programs, and not telling your larger community or people looking to move into your area about it?

And telling your community is more than just sending out tweets and posting on Facebook. It is an entire broad based strategy that encompasses every type of media available; something marketing firms do.

The educational landscape has changed. And with it, the need to tell the community about their services has changed as well. School districts can no longer afford to be in a passive role when it comes to marketing their wares.

The idea of marketing education is not a new one. Public universities have been marketing their programs for years and no-one bats an eye.

Here is an example of my local university marketing it’s athletic programs:


Even publicly funded community colleges, market themselves because they know that they are in competition with tech and trade schools as well as with universities:

As an article in Public School Review stated last year:

“Ultimately, the trend towards public school marketing signals an important recognition on the part of schools that students and their families have choices, and they are increasingly able to have a say in their own educations. In a prescient 1999 report on privatization in education, the MacKinac Center for Public Policy noted that “in an era of expanded educational freedom, families must now be treated as customers with choices and not as captive audiences.”

Families must be treated as customers with choices and not as captive audiences.

Public schools, if they plan on growing, or even just staying where they are, must advertise and market themselves, like any business. Advertising requires marketing, and good marketing requires hiring people or companies with those exact set of skills. School district are mostly made up of educators, not marketers.

Large scale marketing is a separate set of skills that most educators or school districts, simply do not have.

The irony of all this, especially on the blog that I mentioned earlier, is that those same angry anti-everything commenters will be the first to say something to the effect that “school districts need to be run like businesses.” When a school district does EXACTLY that, the same angry readers get even angrier.

Marketing is no longer a “nice to have.” It is a “need to have” for public school districts. To think otherwise would be a fool’s errand.


Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback. Feel free to leave a comment.  Read his previous columns here.

Socorro ISD Holds ‘Stand and Deliver’ Walk; 3k Staffers Visit 10k Homes

Some 3,000 Socorro Independent School District teachers, administrators and staff spent the morning visiting 10,000 student homes within the district’s borders in the first-ever Stand and Deliver Walk on held on Saturday, March 3.

The Stand and Deliver event allowed Team SISD teachers to personally visit parents to talk with them about the opportunities the district offers to ensure students are ready for success in college, careers and life.

“Today is the day that we let our entire SISD community know that we stand united in our efforts to support all of our 46,000-plus students in our district,” said SISD Superintendent Dr. José Espinoza as he kicked-off the walk event.

“We are about to embark on an unprecedented event — something that NO school district has ever attempted in the region, state or, I believe, even in the nation! We reaffirm our unrelenting commitment to educate and treat all of our students as if they are our own children!”

Via a news release, SISD officials said, “The event captures the spirit of legendary Los Angeles educator Jaime Escalante’s commitment to provide all students a high-quality, rigorous education no matter their socioeconomic status or ethnicity…Team SISD is committed to the same ideology and 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 help students succeed.”

As SISD staff walked the neighborhoods, they talked one-on-one with parents and grandparents across the school district. They explained the innovative programs provided in the district and highlighted the benefits for students who start and remain in SISD schools until they graduate.

“I had a wonderful experience,” said Sarah Carrasco, an English language teacher at Socorro Middle School. “One mom in particular kept raving about the district. She was so grateful for what the district has done for her son, who is in special education. I am so glad I did this. This experience just reinforced what I feel about this district. I love working here. I have been here for 13 years and I know this is the right place. This is the right district.”

The team members returned from their walks talking about the great experiences and conversations they had with Team SISD.

“One parent we talked to has an 11-month-old. He is excited for his baby to come and see us,” said Melissa Arellano, art teacher at Col. John O. Ensor Middle School. “When we spoke to that gentleman, he was so nice and so excited about his own baby coming to us. That was great to see and great to hear. I am so proud of the wonderful things SISD offers.”

Prior to walking in the neighborhoods, the teachers and staff met at each high school in the area and at Sanchez Middle School in the Socorro area, where they started with a rally and heard inspiring words from Dr. Espinoza.

To view a photo gallery, thanks to Socorro ISD, click here.

Socorro ISD Students Garner Top Honors at Sun Country Regional Science Fair

Socorro Independent School District students won top honors in their research projects at the Sun Country Regional Science and Engineering Fair at Pebble Hills High School.

The annual contest had some 650 participants presenting more than 500 projects in categories such as microbiology, behavioral and social sciences, mathematics, systems software and more.

SISD students in 58 teams garnered top honors earning first, second and third place in their projects. The students are now headed to the Texas Science and Engineering Fair where they will present their findings and work on March 23-24.

SISD also won nine sweepstakes awards (seven individual and two teams) which automatically qualified the students to compete at the 2018 International Science and Engineering Fair May 13 –18 in Pittsburgh.

In addition, students took home 18 special awards such as Broadcom, the Naval Science Award Sr. and the Stockholm Junior Water Prize.

“I am very proud of our students,” said Stephanie Carrasco, advanced academics coordinator. “The quality of their work is outstanding and I hear from other districts that they are impressed with our students and they want to know how we get there.”

This year, SISD had the highest number of students and projects (152) in the event overall. The regional contest was the culmination of long hours of research, group work and independent study that began since September.

Ilana Romero and Yanet Meshirer, sophomores at Mission Early College High School, researched statin drugs and the effect they have on people’s memory.

“I’m so happy to be here because we worked really hard to prepare for this event,” Meshirer said. “We came prepared and we know all the information. We’re excited for people to approach us.”

Team SISD consistently promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the classroom for future readiness, Carrasco said.

“Our learners need problem solving skills, they need tenacity and they need to learn how to research” Carrasco said. “We practice these skills in science but we know that these are abilities they will use throughout their life.”

Sweepstakes Awards
Annai Cuvelier
Alexa Hernandez
Jenny Cha
El Dorado High School 1st place Engineering Robotics and intelligent machines
Samuel Fierro Col. John O. Ensor MS 2nd place Physical Sciences Materials science
Sarahi Bracamontes Mission Early College HS 2nd place Physical Sciences Energy: chemical
Derek Hernandez Mission Early College HS 2nd place Engineering Mathematics
John Legaspi John Drugan School 3rd place Life Sciences Cellular and molecular biology
Demetreal Green John Drugan School 3rd place Physical Sciences Chemistry
Alyssa Soto John Drugan School 1st place Engineering Systems software
Ilana Romero
Yanet Meshirer
Mission Early College HS 2nd place Life Sciences Translational medical science
Hannah Romero Mission Early College HS 2nd place Engineering Environmental engineering


Special Awards
Caitlyn Pena John Drugan School Broadcom Behavioral and Social Sciences The Power of Braille that the Sighted Will Never Know
Mylene Salazar John Drugan School Broadcom Biochemistry A Better Substitute Refreshment for People with Chronic Kidney Disease
John Legaspi John Drugan School Broadcom Cellular and Molecular Biology keeping yeast cells under uv light, alive
Demetreal Green John Drugan School Broadcom Chemistry Alkaline….A New Way to Dine
Celine Orozco John Drugan School Broadcom Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Oil Spill Remedies
Jayden Arellano John Drugan School Broadcom Embedded Systems Parabola on the Wall, Who’s the Strongest of Them All?
Samuel Fierro Col. John O. Ensor MS Broadcom Materials Science ECOnest
Riddhi Patel John Drugan School Broadcom Mathematics Tennis Ball Extravaganza
Alyssa Soto John Drugan School Broadcom Systems Software Phishing Has The Bait to Reel You In
Ariana Hernandez John Drugan School Broadcom Translational Medical Science Growing With “Care”: Can Beta-Carotene be a Preventative Treatment?
Madison Poppe
Vanessa Pacheco
El Dorado High School Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Get Diffracted
Trinity Erales
Iliana Sapien
El Dorado High School National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Biochemistry Survival of Bioluminescent Algae in a Challenged Environment
John Legaspi John Drugan School Naval Science Award Jr Cellular and Molecular Biology keeping yeast cells under uv light, alive
Isaiah Mitchell Montwood High School Naval Science Award Sr Embedded Systems deLIGHTed
Abraham Martinez Americas High School Naval Science Award Sr Energy: Physical Facing the uncertain; Solutions confronting natural disasters
Christopher Nunez Montwood High School Naval Science Award Sr Systems Software Blind Trust = Real Threat
Sarahi Bracamontes Mission Early College HS Ricoh Energy: Chemical Comparing Energy Storing in Organic Material
Hector Olave Americas High School Stockholm Junior Water Prize Chemistry Water to Fuel to Water
Sun Country Winners
Megan Mack Americas High School 2 Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Abraham Martinez Americas High School 2 Energy: Physical
Gustavo Ramirez Americas High School 1 Biomedical Engineering
Alondra Sanchez
Alexia Vazquez
Americas High School 1 Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Ryan Olivas Col. John O. Ensor MS 3 Materials Science
Samuel Fierro Col. John O. Ensor MS 1 Materials Science
Gabriela Fernandez Desert Wind School MS 2 Biomedical and Health Sciences
Daisy Villalobos Eastlake High School 3 Animal Sciences
Darien Booth Eastlake High School 2 Physics And Astronomy
Trinity Erales
Iliana Sapien
El Dorado High School 2 Biochemistry
Mariana Ortega
Dina Orozco
El Dorado High School 2 Environmental Engineering
Riley Miner El Dorado High School 2 Materials Science
Madison Poppe
Vanessa Pacheco
El Dorado High School 2 Mathematics
Annai Cuvelier
Alexa Hernandez
Jenny Cha
El Dorado High School 1 Robotics and Intelligent Machines
Aiden Berrios John Drugan School 3 Animal Sciences
Juliana Boone John Drugan School 3 Biomedical Engineering
Jayla Kaminski John Drugan School 3 Cellular and Molecular Biology
Aaron Saucedo John Drugan School 3 Energy: Physical
Zven Chavez John Drugan School 3 Mathematics
Felix Anoveros John Drugan School 3 Plant Sciences
William Jin John Drugan School 3 Robotics and Intelligent Machines
Alan Martinez John Drugan School 3 Systems Software
Sofia Navarro John Drugan School 2 Animal Sciences
Gabriel Ramirez John Drugan School 2 Biomedical Engineering
Margaret Muller John Drugan School 2 Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Matthew Hassoun John Drugan School 2 Embedded Systems
James McDonald John Drugan School 2 Energy: Physical
Noah Franco John Drugan School 2 Robotics and Intelligent Machines
Sophia Gomez John Drugan School 2 Systems Software
Caitlyn Pena John Drugan School 1 Behavioral and Social Sciences
Mylene Salazar John Drugan School 1 Biochemistry
John Legaspi John Drugan School 1 Cellular and Molecular Biology
Demetreal Green John Drugan School 1 Chemistry
Celine Orozco John Drugan School 1 Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Jayden Arellano John Drugan School 1 Embedded Systems
Riddhi Patel John Drugan School 1 Mathematics
Alyssa Soto John Drugan School 1 Systems Software
Ariana Hernandez John Drugan School 1 Translational Medical Science
Cryssanti Nwihim Mission Early College HS 3 Biomedical and Health Sciences
Jonathan Stoddart
Fabian Sanchez
Mission Early College HS 3 Chemistry
Emma Carrillo
Aimee Cuvelier
Mission Early College HS 3 Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Andres Carrillo Mission Early College HS 3 Mathematics
Wonderful Oyebami Mission Early College HS 3 Plant Sciences
Ruben Reyes Mission Early College HS 2 Biomedical Engineering
Sarahi Bracamontes Mission Early College HS 1 Energy: Chemical
Hannah Romero Mission Early College HS 1 Environmental Engineering
Derek Hernandez Mission Early College HS 1 Mathematics
Hector Mcdonald Mission Early College HS 1 Physics and Astronomy
Ilana Romero
Yanet Meshirer
Mission Early College HS 1 Translational Medical Science
Isaiah Mitchell Montwood High School 3 Embedded Systems
Wendy Sandoval
Rachel Salcido
Montwood High School 2 Robotics and Intelligent Machines
Eric Medina Montwood Middle School 2 Energy: Chemical
Matthew Mendoza
Michael Dominguez
Montwood Middle School 2 Engineering Mechanics
Graciela Gutierrez
Steven Ramirez
Jorge Alvidrez
Pebble Hills High School 3 Biochemistry
Juliahna Hayes
Brianna Contreras
Osman Guevara
Pebble Hills High School 2 Cellular and Molecular Biology
Juan Mata Socorro High School 1 Microbiology
Isaiah Villarreal SPC. Rafael Hernando III MS 2 Cellular and Molecular Biology
Loriann Kaudaissy SSG Manuel Puentes 3 Earth and Environmental Sciences

Socorro ISD Celebrates 2018 Teachers of the Year, Names Elite 8

Socorro ISD honored its 2018 Campus Teachers of the Year and announced the Elite 8 teachers at a reception at the District Service Center. Superintendent Dr. José Espinoza, Board Trustees and principals were part of the celebration to recognize the district’s outstanding teachers.

Campus Teachers of the Year were nominated by a democratic election process at each school. The nominees are exceptional teachers who inspire students, are respected by their peers and have the ability and willingness to make meaningful contributions to education.

“On behalf of every student at SISD, I want to thank you for your incredible work,” Dr. Espinoza said to the teachers at the reception. “Every single one of you is an elite winner. You are super stars. You are one of the reasons SISD is so successful. We couldn’t achieve anything without you.”

A committee representing a cross-section of the SISD community selected the Elite 8 teachers from the 46 Campus Teachers of the Year. Four elementary teachers and four secondary teachers were chosen.

Montwood Middle School coach Fabian Martinez was shocked when his name was called. He has been teaching for 19 years. He said he is humbled that his fellow teachers would consider him a teacher of the year and that he would be chosen as one of the Elite 8.

“I want to share this with every student I have ever had,” Martinez said. “I enjoy what I do. My belief is if you first commit to your students, they will commit to you.”

Hector Perez said he loves his job and he is honored to be chosen as an Elite 8 teacher.

“This is mind blowing,” Perez said. “I am so thankful.”

The Elite 8 teachers will go on to another round of the Teacher of the Year process, where a selection committee will select the 2018 SISD Elementary Teacher of the Year and the 2018 SISD Secondary Teacher of the Year.

The top two teachers will be named at the 2018 SISD Teacher of the Year Gala, which will be celebrated May 5 in the Judson F. Williams Hall at the El Paso Convention Center.

Tickets are on sale now and available through April 5. Tickets can be ordered through each campus secretary. Cost is $30.

Socorro ISD Robotics Teams Earn Multiple Awards at Regional Contest

Team SISD’s 11 robotic teams showed their strength at the West Texas FIRST Lego League Championship not only by bringing home nine awards, but three of the teams were named Regional Champions of the West Texas area.

Team Fancy Pants from Paso del Norte School, Robotic Knights from Sgt. Roberto Ituarte Elementary, and the RoboBears from Loma Verde Elementary now advance to national and international competitions.

“We are extremely excited about the progress that SISD has made in the FIRST Lego League through our collaboration with UTEP,” said Stephanie Carrasco, SISD coordinator for advanced academics/college readiness. “Our students had opportunities to fully embrace the STEM principles in exploring their projects and in developing solutions to real-world problems. Additionally, they honed their skills as problem-solvers and critical thinkers. Three of our student teams were greatly rewarded by taking the top spots.”

This year’s challenge was hydrodynamics. Students were asked to examine how people impact the human water cycle. Keeping with the water cycle theme, the students found ways to program their robot to deal with water issues, such as having a robot water a plant, letting a robot put out a fire with a firetruck or another activating rain clouds.

At the day-long contest, students presented their research projects, were judged on their robot design and participated in robot matches.

At the end, seven of the 11 SISD teams took home rewards.

“All the teams worked hard and displayed gracious professionalism,” Carrasco said. “We were so happy to see how they interacted with other teams. Their level of respect while still having fun made us all so proud.”

Here are the SISD winners:

  • Team Fancy Pants from Paso del Norte School took first place in the Robot Performance Award and were named the first place champion of the regional contest. They will be going to the World Festival April 18-21 in Houston.
  • Robotic Knights from Sgt. Roberto Ituarte Elementary earned second place and will advance to LEGOLAND California International Open May 18-20 in Carlsbad, Calif.
  • RoboBears from Loma Verde Elementary won first place for Innovative Solutions and were named the third place champion. They advance to the 2018 FIRST LEGO League Razorback Invitational May 17-20 on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville, Ark.
  • Campestre Elementary’s Texas Turbines team won second place in the Inspiration Award.
  • The RoboWolves from Ernesto Serna School earned second place in Mechanical Design.
  • James P. Butler Elementary’s team Robotic SUPERstars earned the second place Robotic Performance Award and the first place Research Award.
  • The Salvador H. Sanchez Middle team, Hydrobots, took first place in the Teamwork Award.
  • Socorro Middle School’s Athena won the first place Strategy & Innovation Award.
  • Soggy Waffles 2, from SSG Manuel R. Puentes Middle, won the first place Presentation Award.
Team Paso del Norte
Team Loma Verde
Team Ituarte








Forty-five teams competed in the contest held Jan. 27 at the University of Texas at El Paso. This is the second year SISD participates.

Annual Sun Country Regional Science Fair Set for Saturday at Pebble Hills High

The El Paso area’s best and brightest elementary through high school students will be showcasing their science and engineering projects at the annual Sun Country Regional Science & Engineering Fair at Pebble Hills High School.

SISD will host the event for the second year in a row. More than 630 students will exhibit 520 projects at the fair.

The projects are broken down into 22 categories, including Animal Science, Robotics and Intelligent Machines, Cellular & Molecular Biology, Materials Science, Embedded Systems, Biomedical Engineering, Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Mathematics.

Students will present their work, give formal explanations and answer questions from the volunteer judges. First, second and third place winners will advance to the 2018 ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair March 23-24 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio.

Sweepstakes winners from the Sun Country Regional Science & Engineering Fair advance to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair on May 13-18 in Pittsburgh, PA.

What:             2018 Sun Country Regional Science & Engineering Fair

Who:               Students, judges, parents and administrators

Where:           Pebble Hills High School in Grand Hallway, Rotunda  |  14400 Pebble Hills Blvd.

When:             Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018   Presentations/judging starts at 8:30 a.m. |  Awards program at 5 p.m.

Four Socorro ISD Mariachi Groups Advance to State Festival

Four mariachi groups in the Socorro Independent School District will once again represent their schools and district February 23 and 24 at the 2018 UIL State Mariachi Festival in Edinburg, Texas

Americas, Eastlake, El Dorado and Socorro high schools are four of the six mariachi groups in El Paso going to state after earning a Division One, Superior rating at the UIL Regional Mariachi Contest recently.

“Socorro ISD is extremely proud of the accomplishments of our mariachi programs,” said Ronald Pingor, assistant director of fine arts. “Over the past few years, the success level has continued to grow and we are very pleased that four of our high school mariachi ensembles will be representing our district at the state level.”

The mariachi groups will perform their best jaliciense, polka, boleros or other mariachi medleys in under ten minutes. Ensembles also will receive a 30-minute clinic with a nationally recognized mariachi educator at the end of their performance. Groups that receive an overall Division I rating will receive a group award as well as individual gold medals for each member.

EDHS Mariachi Azteca

Last year, El Dorado’s Mariachi Azteca was recognized as a top rated group at the festival. The group hopes to excel at the state contest once again.

“I’m glad we made it this far,” said Juan A. Contreras, the mariachi instructor at the school. “We’ve had a difficult year but despite the challenges my students have worked very hard during rehearsals. I am very proud of them and I know we will do well at the state mariachi festival again.”

Americas, Eastlake and Socorro also are working hard to prepare for the event. The young musicians say their great appreciation of music and culture, combined with a strong commitment to their skill and fellow musicians will make them shine when they take the center stage.

“This is our third time going to state and I am really looking forward to competing and showing all the other groups what we’ve got,” said

SHS Mariachi 2018

Priscilla Diaz-Rubio, a violin player and senior at Socorro High School. “I feel prepared and excited. Mariachi gives me the opportunity to be enthusiastic about my culture, something that is not common for someone my age.”

The SISD mariachi teams have been preparing for 18 weeks, during school, after school and on Saturdays.

“Their hard work and dedication speaks well for both the students and the directors,” Pingor said.

To live stream the 2018 UIL State Mariachi Festival, visit the Texas UIL website at, select the BOX5 Media site or click  here.

Socorro ISD’s Libertas Academy Awarded $15K Grant for Spring Civics Institute 2.0

Socorro Independent School District’s Libertas Academy at Americas High, received at $15,000 grant for their Spring Civics Institute.

The grant will allow instructors to teach Libertas students about the fourth amendment, via the Spring Civics Institute 2.0

“We are excited and proud to have received this grant because it will give us the opportunity to teach students how become active in the local, state and federal government,” said Eduardo Hinojos, coordinator of the Libertas Academy. “We want to express our deepest thanks to the Hatton Sumners Foundation for making this possible.”

Students will learn about unreasonable searches and seizures, arbitrary arrests, search warrants, safety inspections, and reasonable expectation of privacy.

“This camp will be of great benefit to our students seeking careers in law, government, and public administration upon high school and post-secondary graduation,” Hinojos said.

This is the second-year that Libertas earns the prestigious grant. The program first earned the grant in 2016 and educated students on water rights, air pollution policy negotiation between the U.S. and Mexico, the food waste policy and eminent domain.

“Our students must never forget that the power to choose their government and control its activities for the common good begins with them and their fellow citizens,” he said. “An informed citizen is one that becomes involved in the community and seeks to better their own life as well as the life of others.”

The event will run from March 12-16 and is open to new and current Libertas students.

SISD officials added, “It is designed to teach students that self-rule begins in their own community by identifying, researching, gathering data, analyzing, educating and empowering fellow citizens over issues and/or policies that impact their daily lives.”

For more information on the project, residents can contact Eduardo Hinojos at

Eight Socorro ISD Music Students Among Texas’ Best

Eight Socorro Independent School District fine arts students were named All-State musicians, and will represent their school and district on February 17 at the 2018 Texas Music Educators Association convention in San Antonio.

“Socorro ISD is proud of these students, their directors, and their campus administration,” said Ronald Pingor, assistant director of fine arts. “The countless hours of practice, musical study, and perseverance demonstrated by these young musicians speaks well of themselves and their families.”

SISD’s All-State musicians are: Victoria Torres (piccolo), Skylar Gallegos (bassoon) and Nicolas Hernandez (vocals) from Americas High School; Matthew Palacios (Eb clarinet), Julian Saucedo (tenor sax) and Guillermo Lopez (bass guitar) from Montwood High School; Robert Harris (oboe), from El Dorado High School; and Juan Lara (baritone saxophone) from Pebble Hills High School.

Many of the eight SISD students have been selected as All-state musicians before, including Montwood’s Lopez, who has earned the distinction all four years of high school. For some of the students, such as Lara, a freshman at Pebble Hills, attending the TMEA conference is a first.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to play with top musicians across the state who are as passionate about music as I am,” Lara said. “My directors tell me that this is a really big accomplishment and that I will understand what they mean when I get there. As of now, I don’t feel nervous because I am prepared. I have been practicing as much as I can.”

SISD instructors said their musicians will do well at the concert and praise their students for their strong work ethic, passion and commitment.

“Nicolas is a phenomenal musician and one of Texas’ best,” said Janet McFarling, choir instructor at Americas High School. “He is constantly singing and always striving to be better. He is one of the hardest working choir members I have.”

The All-State musicians will have the opportunity to rehearse with nationally recognized conductors for three days, and perform for the numerous convention participants Feb. 17 at the TMEA concert.

All-State is the highest honor a Texas music student can receive, according to the TMEA website.

More than 1,700 students are selected through a process that begins with some 64,000 Texas students striving to perform in one of 15 ensembles including band, orchestra, choir and jazz.

Socorro ISD Students to Provide Free Tax Services

Socorro Independent School District students, in collaboration with GECU and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, will offer free tax services for community members now through April 18.

SISD Career and Technical Education students taking courses in business and accounting underwent 25 hours of training to become IRS income tax certified.

“Students are excited to utilize their customer service skills, accounting and business knowledge to provide free tax preparation services to our community members,” said Dahlia Acosta, career and technical education facilitator. “What they learn through these courses they use to give back to the community.”

Students will assist taxpayers who earn a maximum annual income of $54,000 with their 1040 EZ, 1040A and 1040 forms.

Services will be offered from 4-7 p.m. on Tuesdays at Socorro High School, 10150 Alameda; from 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays at Pebble Hills High School, 14400 Pebble Hills Blvd; from 4-7 p.m. on  Thursdays at Americas High School, 12101 Pellicano Dr.; and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at all three high schools.

Those interested in receiving the service should take a photo identification card, an original social security card for everyone listed in the income tax return, all W-2 wage statements for the 2016 year, 1099-SSA, 1099-R and 1099-G, work expenses, 1095 health coverage, direct deposit information, the 1098 for student loans, proof of child dependent car expense, property tax statements and if filing joint, both individuals must be present.

SISD Announces ‘Extreme Day’, ‘Magical Day’ for Students with Perfect Attendance

Socorro Independent School District students have the opportunity to win a special award for their perfect attendance and their commitment to Make it Count.

The district will host two fun events, Magical Day and Xtreme Day, to reward students who attend school every day from February 5 through April 20.

Team SISD encourages all students to attend school every day to maximize every minute of learning time in the classroom. The district has the highest attendance record in the region with a 96.3 percent rate for the 2016-2017 school year, according to the Texas Academic Performance Report.

Via a news release, SISD officials said they offer “various incentives each year to reward students and parents for their commitment to Make it Count and have perfect attendance. Magical Day and Xtreme Day are two fun events offered this year to continue motivating students to be in school every day.”

Magical Day will allow students in Pre-K through fifth-grade to see a show featuring their favorite heroes and princesses on May 18 at the Student Activities Complex, 1300 Joe Battle Boulevard.

Students will have the opportunity to sing along, dance and take pictures with characters such as Coco, Beast and Moana. Games, coloring and face-painting activities also will be available one hour before the magical performances. Campuses will be designated a time to attend the event at 5:30 or 8:30 p.m. A parent/guardian must attend with their child.

Xtreme Day will reward students in sixth through eighth-grade with fun attractions from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 11 at the SAC. Student activities will include toxic meltdown, a multi-player game where participants jump and duck over obstacles to see who can last the longest, a rock climbing slide and more.

Parents may accompany their child to Xtreme Day, but only students will be allowed on the field.

Both events are free for students with perfect attendance and a parent or legal guardian.  Parents also will be responsible for transportation to and from the events.

For more information about Magical Day and Xtreme Day, visit the district website; for event updates, text @SISDMAGIC or @SISDXTREME to 81010.

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