Socorro Independent School District hosted a Military Appreciation Day at the District Service Center this fall for Team SISD’s military families.
The event is part of the district’s commitment to ensuring every student succeeds, which includes the more than 3,100 military-dependent students.
“We wanted to make sure we engage with the families,” said Dr. Carmen Olivas Graham, SISD’s director of administrative services. “In the past, we have done other type of events but they were geared specifically for adults. What we heard from the military families is they want events where they can bring their children. They want opportunities to come together to these events as a family.”
Many military families don’t have relatives in the area. They only have other military families to form relationships with, Olivas Graham said.
“They wanted opportunities to come together and meet each other,” she said. “We want to provide these kinds of activities for our military families.”
At the military appreciation event, students and parents had the opportunity to connect with deployed family members online. They also participated in a pumpkin decorating contest, numerous children’s games, an art contest where children had to share what it meant to be a military child in El Paso, and information sessions that showcased numerous programs available to military families.
The most endearing endeavour was the Build-a-Bear room where military families created care packages for deployed loved ones. The toy manufacturer provided more than 80 bears for the care packages. The district included numerous snacks and products that could be added to the package. Each family also made special cards for their loved ones.
“It’s been wonderful to see the children creating these special packages for their moms and dads,” said Ann Darnell, an SISD grant writer, who was in charge of the deployment care packages. “It’s so tough on the family, but making these boxes have brought a lot of smiles.”
Sh’con Jefcoat and her son, Elijah Adams, enjoyed the half-day event. This is the family’s first deployment. But it hasn’t been as difficult as Jefcoat imagined.
“We have been treated really good,” Jefcoat said. “The district has helped with a lot of stuff. They are so supportive and really understanding about everything. This event is a good example. It’s so great for those who don’t know what to do or where to go. I have picked up so much information just being here. It’s great just to know there are people here to help.”
Socorro Independent School District Superintendent Dr. José Espinoza was honored with the 2017 Escalante-Gradillas Best in Education Award during a special presentation Friday, December 8 at the District Service Center.
The prestigious prize is named after East Los Angeles’ Garfield High School teacher the late Jaime Escalante, of the 1988 film “Stand and Deliver,” and his Principal Henry Gradillas, who now serves as an academic advisor for TheBestSchools.org, the independent educational website that awards the national prize. Established in 2014, the award goes to those who exemplify a commitment to learning, discipline, character-building and high expectations that Escalante embodied.
“This is a great award we have earned together as Team SISD,” Espinoza said. “As Helen Keller said, ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.’ We have accomplished so much together. That’s why I dedicate this award to our students, teachers, staff and all of Team SISD.”
Dan Edelen, director of marketing services for The BestSchools.org who bestowed the award to Espinoza, said he knew early on the SISD superintendent was the man to beat.
“I have to be frank,” Edelen said. “When Jose Espinoza’s nomination crossed my desk, I said to my team, ‘I think we can stop looking.’ But, of course, we didn’t. … Dr. Espinoza has done it all: teacher, school counselor, assistant principal, principal, school improvement officer, assistant superintendent and now, superintendent. What is at the heart of all this unbelievable work? Well, it’s the one quality we look for that I have yet to mention. … Ganas. Jose Espinoza has it. That’s why The Best Schools chose Dr. Espinoza. When you are accomplishing the unbelievable, it’s worth celebrating.
The superintendent, who was named the winner in October, earned the award for doing more with less, overcoming obstacles, boosting achievement levels and raising the standard of excellence for SISD schools and the district overall.
Under his leadership, TeamSISD has opened four early college high schools, more than any other district in the region, and the nationally-recognized Win Academy, which provides additional learning time and resources for students who struggle in a typical classroom setting. The program is offered at 19 schools in the district.
Besides the trophy and accolades, Dr. Espinoza was awarded $10,000 for SISD and $10,000 for himself. He plans to donate his part in the form of scholarships and the district winnings will go toward academic programs.
The ceremony included many special guests, including WIN Academy principals, teachers, students and parents; SISD Board Vice President Cynthia Ann Najera and Trustee Hector F. Gonzalez; community member; and district administrators.
WIN Academy student Damian Villalpando, 12, and his mother, Irma Villalpando were happy to attend to the ceremony. The Capt. Walter E. Clarke Middle sixth-grader said Dr. Espinoza is an amazing superintendent.
Being in the WIN Academy for two years has changed Damian’s academic life. Diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade while attending another school district, the youngster always struggled in class. The family decided to move to East El Paso so Damian could attend SISD.
“I had heard so many good things about SISD,” Villalpando said. “Now I am so glad we made the change. He has improved so much. His reading has drastically gone up. Academically, he is doing extremely well. Before, he didn’t want to go to school. It was a constant battle. Now he likes going. He is making As and Bs. You can really see the difference.”
For Damian, school is now a fun place to be. He likes math, science and hopes to be either a Major League Baseball player or an engineer someday.
“I like to learn now,” he said. “Plus, we get a lot of stuff in our school to help us learn that other districts don’t. This is where I want to be.”
Click here to read more about the 2017 Escalante-Gradillas Best in Education Award Winner Dr. José Espinoza
Nine students from the Socorro Independent School District won honors in the 16th annual El Paso Community College K-12 Art Exhibit. Three SISD students earned first place.
The students competed among 1,000 entries. Thirty-four awards were given in the annual contest that is coordinated by EPCC’s Salute to the Arts program.
“Socorro does very well,” said Janine Rudnick, special assistant to the president, who is in charge of the Salute to the Arts. “This is a big show. We get entries from more than 91 different teachers in the region. Students can enter any kind of art they want to bring.”
El Dorado High School and Desert Wind School placed two and three students in the contest, respectively.
Alyssa Sepulveda from El Dorado received a Division IV First Place in the sculpture category for her work “We Can Make a Difference,” which features all recycled items made to look like a colorful peacock. Her classmate, Miriam Calzada, took the Division IV EPCC Art Student Society award for “The Enchanted Rose” piece.
“This is an especially hard competition to place in since they only give out a handful of awards amongst hundreds of entries,” said Candace Printz, an art teacher at El Dorado High School. “I am so proud of them.”
Desert Wind teachers and administrators were delighted by the three students who placed at this year’s exhibit. First place in the Division III 3D category went to Alice Valdez for her “Grizzly Roar.” While Kevin Cadena took a Division III EPCC Art Student Society award for his “Mr. Octo” and Clara Pena earned a Division III Honorable Mention award for her “Memory Capturer” piece.
“Wow! I am so excited,” said Patricia Franco, Desert Wind principal. “My art teacher, Karen Perez, has done a phenomenal job at extracting the talent from her kids. She provides them those opportunities so they can show their talent and shine. They have learned to love art and to love using their imagination to create these amazing pieces. It’s great.”
Other Team SISD winners included Eastlake High School’s Alondra Gonzalez, who won a Division IV First Place in Technology-Assisted category for her “Maya and Christine,” a photography and computer-generated piece.
Haley Sifuentes from Socorro High School was given a Division IV Honorable Mention for “Golden Retriever” piece. Kate Hernandez, a student at John Drugan Elementary, was awarded the Division I EPCC Art Student Society award for “Pigs,” and Damian Macias, from Campestre Elementary, took home a Division I Honorable Mention for “Winter Freedom.”
“Huge congratulations to Alondra and all of the other winners,” said Claudia Castañeda, an art teacher at Eastlake. “The event had some amazing artwork.”
Team SISD students will have the opportunity to foster their creativity and love of reading and writing at Comic Con December 9 at Pebble Hills High School.
SISD middle and high school students are invited to the free event. The first 500 students will receive a lanyard and a badge.
The unique event will feature a day of fun presentations from more than 32 vendors, panelists and local indie comic artists. Other special guests will include the 501st Legion, a Star Wars fan-based organization of costume enthusiasts and the Cosplay girls.
Students will engage in cosplay activities, dress up, reenact scenes and mimic their favorite characters from various comic books and video games. Students also will have the opportunity to participate in fan-fiction poetry, tournaments, a comic sketch-off, an escape room and more.
To learn more about Comic Con, visit the district website, select ‘library services’ under departments and click on the Comic Con tab; or click here.
What: SISD Comic Con
Who: SISD students, panelists, local comic artists
Where: Pebble Hills High School, 14400 Pebble Hills Blvd.
The Socorro Independent School District’s Fine Arts Department invites the community to its 2017 Madrigal Dinner “The Midwinter’s Dream Knight” December 1-3.
The annual dinner and theatre presentation will feature performances by the Eastlake and Socorro High School choir groups. The show, which is set in medieval times, will immerse attendees in an exciting experience through an interactive performance.
Participants will be treated to a renaissance-inspired meal prepared by the culinary arts students at Pebble Hills and Socorro high schools. In addition, guests will enjoy a special performance by the Socorro High School dance team and Eastlake High School orchestra.
The cost to attend is $30 per person or $20 for student groups of 10 or more. Tickets can be purchased from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the SISD Education Center, 12300 Eastlake Dr. or at the door the day of the event.
For more information, contact the Fine Arts Department at 937-0435 or at 937-0438.
What: 2017 SISD Fine Arts Madrigal Dinner “Midwinter’s Dream Knight”
Who: Eastlake, Socorro, Pebble Hills culinary arts, choir, orchestra, dance students; SISD Fine Arts Department; parents; and community members
Where: Eastlake High School theatre, 13000 Emerald Pass
Staff Report November 28, 2017Local NewsComments Off on Montwood Senior Named ‘Top Jazz Bass Player in Texas’ 4 Years in Row243
A Montwood High School student has been named an All-State Musician by the Texas Music Educators Association for the fourth year in a row.
Guillermo Lopez, a senior at the school, was selected as first chair bass in the All-State Jazz Band. All-State is the highest honor a Texas music student can receive, according to the TMEA website.
“I’m astounded to have been recognized as an All-State Musician by TMEA,” Lopez said. “This really encourages me to continue my musical career at the University of North Texas where I will do my best to perform with their top ensembles.”
The young bass player has earned a spot in the All-State Jazz band every year since his freshman year at Montwood. In addition, he also qualified for the All-Region band on tuba this season.
“To make all state is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Janet Lynch, instrumental music specialist in the SISD fine arts department. “To earn this honor for four years in a row is a really big deal! We are all very proud of him!”
Lopez was selected through a rigorous process that began with him competing against five top musicians from the region who were contending for the honor. He was one of two students that advanced to the area competition where he competed against 25 other bass players from eight regions. Lopez was then judged at the TMEA area competitions where he placed as the highest-ranking jazz bass musician.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Guillermo’s achievements,” said Beto Perez, band director at Montwood High School. “His dedication to his instrument is a true inspiration to young musicians. He has a natural ability for music and is constantly refining his craft by diligently practicing. I am excited to see where music can take him if he decides to follow it as a career.”
Lopez will be recognized at the annual state TMEA convention on February 17, in San Antonio, where he will perform in front of thousands of event attendees.
Staff Report November 27, 2017Local NewsComments Off on Socorro ISD Recognized For Effective Budget Management, Transparency316
Socorro ISD received a perfect score in the Texas Education Agency’s School Financial Integrity Rating System, which ensures Texas public schools are held accountable for the quality of their financial management practices.
“Our A-Superior rating is testament to SISD’s commitment to accountability for all,” said Tony Reza, the district’s chief financial officer. “We want to ensure that Team SISD stakeholders know we are fiscally responsible and accountable for the public funds that are entrusted to us.”
Socorro ISD was the only district in the region to receive the perfect A-Superior rating.
The rating of 100 points was based on data collected during the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The district earned the most possible points in all indicators and letter grades. SISD has earned a superior rating for seven consecutive years.
In addition, the district once again earned the 2017 TASBO Award of Merit for Purchasing and Operations recertification with recognized status. The award honors school districts that are committed to following professional standards in the acquisition of goods and services.
“We will continue to work to sustain this high level of fiscal achievement while providing endless opportunities for the students of Socorro ISD,” Reza said.
Financial reports are available to the public via the SISD website, www.sisd.net, under District Accountability.
The district will be recognized at the annual TASBO conference February 27 in Fort Worth.
Staff Report November 15, 2017Local NewsComments Off on Community Invited to Submit Names for New Pebble Hills Area Elementary School297
The Socorro Independent School District is looking for input in naming the district’s newest elementary school, scheduled to open in July 2018.
As part of the savings from the 2011 SISD bond program, the new school will serve students in the rapidly expanding Pebble Hills High School feeder area.
A task force consisting of area parents, students and community members, and district staff will review all nominations. The group will recommend a name, school mascot and colors to Superintendent Dr. José Espinoza and the SISD Board of Trustees for consideration. The final decision in naming the school rests with the Board of Trustees.
“Input from parents, community members and SISD staff has been an integral part of our school naming process,” Dr. Espinoza said. “We are eager to hear from the community and look forward to receiving the committee’s recommendation on a name for our new school.”
Nominations for school names are being accepted by the Socorro ISD now through December 1.
Submissions may be emailed to email@example.com, faxed to 915-937-0194 or delivered by 4 p.m. December 1 to the Public Relations Department in the District Service Center at 12440 Rojas Drive
Board Policy CW (LOCAL) outlines the district process for naming facilities:
The administration shall ensure that interested persons are informed of and afforded an opportunity to submit proposed names. Each rationale for a proposed nomination shall be submitted in writing, not to exceed two pages in length and shall include specific reasons why the school/facility should be so named. If an individual’s name is submitted, a nomination shall include brief biographical data and an account of the individual’s significant contributions.
District schools may be named for local residential areas, geographic locations, or similarly site-specific identifiers such as roads, streets, subdivisions, or communities.
District high schools shall not be named after or in honor of any individual. An elementary, middle, or prekindergarten–grade 8 school may be named after an individual. The individual may be living or deceased; however, greater consideration shall be given to names of the deceased.
An individual, whether living or deceased, may be considered upon the following criteria:
1. The individual should have attained prominence locally, statewide, or nationally, based upon contributions to the public in recognized fields such as education, science, medicine, law, art, government, business, justice, civil rights, human rights, or military achievement.
2. The individual shall be a person of such integrity, stature, and demonstrated ability that the naming of a school after such an individual will reflect honor on the District and create a sense of pride among the staff, students, and community.
A school shall not be named after any sitting Board member or any individual who is related to a current Board member or member of the task force within the third degree (consanguinity), or by marriage within the second degree (affinity).
Staff Report November 13, 2017NewsComments Off on White Coat Ceremony Welcomes HPA Students to Advanced Academics Program304
About 100 Socorro High School students received their stethoscope and white coats as part of the Health Professions Academy (HPA) White Coat and Freshmen Induction ceremony.
“This is a great tradition,” said Fabiola Armendariz, the academy’s coordinator. “Students are so excited and the parents, too. This is their first step into the program.”
The event at the high school’s theater was a formal recognition of the students as chosen HPA members and as future health-care providers. During the ceremony, a parent, family member or special friend assisted the student with the stethoscope and donning the white coat on stage.
HPA, now in its 26th year, was the first of its kind in the district and the region. As part of the program, students do clinical rotations at University Medical Center, Highlands Rehab Hospital, Del Sol/Las Palmas Medical Centers, The Hospitals of Providence – East Campus, Adobe Animal Hospital, Americas HS medically fragile unit, Socorro HS fundamental skills unit and various SISD elementary schools with school nurses.
Amanda Canales, a freshman, wants to become an anesthesiologist. She feels proud to have been accepted into the four-year program.
“It’s such a big accomplishment,” Canales said. “This ceremony means I am a permanent part of the program. I am so happy and my parents are happy, too.”
Yvette Melendez, whose daughter Melanie Melendez also received her white coat, said the ceremony opens a new chapter in her daughter’s life.
“She is now learning about the medical field because she wants to be a pharmacist,” Melendez said. “This is going to be a new edition to her learning experience. We are all very excited for what the future holds.”
Staff Report November 5, 2017NewsComments Off on 15 Socorro ISD Counseling Programs Win State Awards1,204
Fifteen Socorro Independent School District counseling teams are being recognized by the Lone Star State School Counselor Association (LSSSCA) for winning the 2017-2018 Lone Star Award.
The 15 SISD campuses were among the 32 counseling programs statewide that received the distinction. The Lone Star Award recognizes counseling teams for their effective school counseling programs that advocate for students.
“We are very proud of the 15 school counseling programs that received the Lone Star Bronze and Silver Awards,” said Tammy Mackeben, director of guidance and counseling. “This is a true testament to the quality counseling programs we have in Socorro ISD focusing on academic, career and social emotional needs of all students.”
Seven counseling teams earned a Silver Award and eight teams received a Bronze Award. The silver award recipients are Helen Ball, James P. Butler, Sgt. Roberto Ituarte elementary schools, Desert Wind and Paso del Norte K-8 schools, SPC. Rafael Hernando III Middle School and Montwood High School.
Bronze Award recipients are Chester E. Jordan, Hurshel Antwine, Lujan-Chavez and Purple Heart elementary schools, Bill Sybert and John Drugan K-8 schools, and Socorro and Capt. Water E. Clarke middle schools.
Next year, the association will create criteria for a Gold level award. The Lone Star Award is designed to progressively prepare school counselors to be recognized by the American School Counselors Association as Recognized ASCA Model Program winners. RAMP honors school counselors who are running a top-notch, comprehensive school counseling program at either the elementary, middle or high school level.
“Although the awards are exciting, the most important part of the recognition are the excellent services provided to Team SISD students,” Mackeben said.
The teams will be recognized at the 2nd annual School Counselor Conference Nov. 5-7, 2017 in Frisco, TX.