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Home | Tag Archives: SISD

Tag Archives: SISD

One week in, Socorro ISD officials discuss impact of their Remote Learning Academy

With the school closures due to COVID19 bearing down on them, Socorro Independent School District educators and leaders worked quickly and proactively to provide online instruction and educational resources for students in all grade levels to use for the duration of the crisis.

Now, SISD officials are pulling the curtain back on the Remote Learning Academy and talking about the program.

The district launched the Team SISD Remote Learning Academy on March 24 so that teachers and students may continue teaching and learning from the safety of their homes during the unprecedented pandemic situation.

“Thank you again to our AMAZING teachers & instructional leadership team for developing #TeamSISD Remote Learning Academy in mere days! Your resilience/commitment to continue serving our children during this unprecedented time is remarkable,” said SISD Superintendent Jose Espinoza, Ed.D. in posts on Twitter and Facebook. “Parents, thank you for helping us keep students engaged!”

As part of the Remote Learning Academy, school principals and teachers worked to develop both online and offline learning assignments and activities so students can continue learning at home.

“I’m so proud of every single one of our teachers because I know that this is brand new to a lot of them,” said Jennifer Marquez, interim principal at Robert R. Rojas Elementary. “They are just going to get better because they have a good attitude.”

Cactus Trails Elementary Pre-K teacher Kristina Younger has been using a variety of online tools to keep in touch and work with her students and peers like Microsoft Teams, Zoom Video Communications, and ClassDojo.

“It’s important for students to continue their education despite all of this because for our little ones their minds are just developing. For all students, we don’t want them to lose what they’ve already retained and want them to keep building their knowledge,” she said.

Seventh-grade student Sophia Galindo of Capt. Walter E. Clarke Middle School said she’s enjoying online learning for the most part because she can do it at her own pace, but she misses the interaction with her teachers.

“It’s important to keep learning because if we go on to the next grade level not knowing the rest of the content that we were supposed to learn in our current grade, then we are going to be confused,” Galindo said.

Schools also have put together packets for students who may not have internet access at home, which can be picked up at schools during the breakfast/lunch pickup time. Parents also can arrange with schools for packets to be delivered to their homes.

“We are just keeping our students in mind and making sure that they are presented with the information the way that best fits their needs,” Marquez said.

Socorro ISD students receive $676,000 in UTEP scholarships

Officials with the Socorro Independent School District announced that high school students in their district have earned a combined total of $169,000 in annual scholarships from the University of Texas at El Paso so far this school year.

The UTEP Scholars Excellence Program has selected 52 scholarship recipients in Team SISD, with the four-year award totaling $676,000.

Montwood High School has had 27 recipients earning a collective $74,000 in scholarships, the most in SISD so far and one of the top schools in the region.

Eastlake High School has 11 recipients earning $40,000 in scholarships. Americas High School has five recipients earning $14,000 in scholarship funds. Socorro High School has four recipients earning $11,000. Mission Early College High School has two recipients receiving $13,000. Pebble Hills High School also has two recipients receiving $9,000. El Dorado High School has one recipient who received an $8,000 scholarship.

“This shows all the effort on behalf of the teachers, the students, the families and our counseling team,” said Annette Monsivais, lead counselor at Montwood High School. “This embodies and definitely signifies endless opportunities.”

Montwood senior Brian Gonzalez, who received the Presidential Scholarship, was grateful for the scholarship, assistance that will relieve him from depending on student loans.

“I’m so grateful to be given the opportunity to further educate myself and better myself for the future,” said Gonzalez, who intends on studying electrical engineering.

It’s a motivator for students to see each other succeed and looking for those opportunities, like applying for scholarships, said Wendy Dorado, counselor at Mission Early College High School.

“They’ve worked hard for it and when you see their faces glow like that it makes you happy to see their hard work pay off,” Dorado said.

Montwood High School parent Valeria Lara also expressed gratitude to UTEP and the district for the endless opportunities offered to her son, saying it is a huge financial relief.

“I love that we made the choice to get educated here,” said Lara. “We feel grateful and blessed to be a part of the family of Montwood High School.”

Potential El Dorado High School valedictorian Allie Perez said she is excited about what receiving the scholarship signifies for the next chapter of her life.

“Getting this scholarship shows all the hard work that I’ve been putting in has paid off,” said Perez, who plans to study kinesiology. “I am ready for college.”

Another round of scholarships from UTEP will be awarded later this spring semester. Incoming freshmen or transfer students who have been accepted into UTEP are eligible to apply for scholarships from the university. To qualify students must have scored well on the SAT/ACT exams and maintain a high-grade point average.

For more information, visit the UTEP Scholarship webpage

Photo courtesy SISD

Sierra Vista recognizes volunteer grandparent for 24 years of service

Sierra Vista Elementary honored one of its volunteers, lovingly known as “Grandma” among students and staff, with a special celebration on for her longtime service at the school.

Juanita Segoviano, 92, was recognized for assisting teachers and students in kindergarten through third grade, special education, bilingual classes and more. After 24 years of volunteering, Segoviano is retiring from her service.

“She is truly a part of our family,” said Christine De La Cruz, Sierra Vista Elementary principal. “We are going to miss her.”

Segoviano served in the volunteer foster grandparent program at the school, in which she assisted with a variety of programs and daily activities, especially providing guidance and nurturing students at the school.

She was surprised by the special celebration in her honor, which included SISD Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D., and Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools Alisa Zapata, her family members and school faculty and staff. She was presented a cake and a plaque signed by the Sierra Vista Elementary School teachers.

“I didn’t expect this,” Segoviano said. “To see everyone here today makes me feel proud and with the will to shout for joy if I could.”

Segoviano’s daughter, Flor Fernandez, said her mother loved dedicating her time and energy for the students at the school.

“My mother was so happy here,” Fernandez said. “She loved working with the children.”

Segoviano said she chose this as her life for the last 24 years because growing up she was unable to afford an education. As a school volunteer, she wanted to be there for children who needed help.

“I was so happy being here,” she said. “It is an honor for me to have been a part of this school for so many years.”

She’ll miss being around the children, she said, and her advice to educators is for them to care for the students and in turn they will listen and show respect.

The celebration was held February 3, 2020.  Click here to view a gallery of the celebration at Sierra Vista

Photos courtesy SISD

Superior Health surprises students at Rojas Elementary with special reading event

Students at Robert E. Rojas Elementary were treated to a special reading event by Superior Health Plan, in partnership with El Paso’s Public Broadcasting System station KCOS.

The special day was filled with story time for the students, free books, goodie bags, and a surprise visit from Superior Health Plan’s mascot.

“We want to instill in these students to be lifelong readers and show them the importance of reading every day,” said Emily Torres, community relations coordinator for Superior Health Plan.

PBS representative Natalie Eckberg read a “Curious George” book to the students to get them excited about reading. She said PBS’ mission is to help children learn literacy concepts at a young age.

“Kids don’t realize that they are learning when they are watching Daniel Tiger, Arthur, Curious George because they are having fun, but we are also incorporating reading concepts into those scripts,” said Eckberg, chief development officer for PBS El Paso.

Superior Health Plan organized the reading event in celebration of National Reading Day on March 2.

“It was really cool that they came out to give us books because I like to read,” said Alan Castro, a fifth grader, who enjoys reading the series of “Goosebumps” books. “You can learn a lot from reading.”

The visit from Superior Health Plan and PBS made an impression on the students, who are already learning the importance and enjoyment of reading.

“It is really good that they came because I love reading,” said 5th grader, Lilly Thornton, who is currently reading “Heidi.” “It was a really big moment for me because I never thought I’d get to meet people who work at PBS Kids.”

Rojas Elementary coach Abraham McMillian was happy Superior Health Plan chose Rojas Elementary as part of their reading celebration visits. He said the organization often is involved with the school with health and fitness fairs and events, and it was great to have them involved in a literacy affair, as well.

“I like to have the absolute best for our kids, especially an opportunity like this to get a free book and learn more about literacy,” McMillian said.

Photo courtesy SISD

Superior Health Plan surprises students at Rojas Elementary event photos

Eastlake hosts International Educators via International Visitor Leadership Program

Educators from various countries in Africa visited Eastlake High School last month to learn about the innovative career and technical education programs provided in the Socorro Independent School District.

The International Visitor Leadership Program of the U.S. Department of State invited the individuals to visit cities across the country and learn how vocational education provides Americans with training and skills tailored to fit targeted employment needs.

“As far as I know, we’re the only school district in El Paso that they had come to see,” said Career and Technical Education Director George Thomas. “I believe it shows we stand out as a school district, and I do know we are the best CTE program in the region if not the state.”

The African delegates who visited Team SISD are from Benin, South Sudan, Morocco, Cameroon, and Senegal. They also visited Washington D.C., San Diego, San Antonio, and Atlanta.

“They wanted to come to Texas because it is among the largest states in the U.S. and, specifically, because of the minority population here in El Paso,” said Araceli McCoy, executive director of the El Paso Council for International Visitors. “Since we are bilingual, they wanted to learn about the opportunities for the Hispanic population.”

Representatives from Region 19, El Paso Community College, UTEP and Workforce Solutions also participated in the visit at the Eastlake library.

“We have learned the importance of dialogue with the young people, said State Minister of Education in South Sudan Pia Yangu. “Young people may have ideas about the jobs they want to do, so it’s good to have those conversations with them to create more jobs.”

The SISD CTE department offers students opportunities in more than 40 career programs, 60 career clusters, and more than 6,000 industry certifications. Some 300 teachers at the middle school and high school levels teach CTE courses across the district.

International educators visit Eastlake High School event gallery

Montwood students win third place in 2020 Census video contest

Montwood High School audio/visual production students created a winning video for the 2020 Census Make Your Voice Count High School Competition.

Ruby Reza, Vanesa Martinez and Kaylee Reyes earn third place in the contest by developing a short Instagram video that garnered them 101 points out of 120.

“It was a really fun experience and we learned a lot about time management and organization,” said Ruby Reza, a Montwood sophomore. “It was really just about having a good time.”

The students had half an hour to develop a social media message to promote the 2020 Census and were judged on creativity, audience reach and messaging.

The competition was open to all high school students within Region 19, in teams of three, and challenged them to promote the 2020 Census using a social media platform of choice.

The students presented their video to three judges.

Montwood High School audio/visual teacher Marvin Hanley encouraged his students to join the competition.

“I’m very proud of the students and what they were able to accomplish,” Hanley said. “They did a great job.”

Hanley said he hopes the experience showed the students how things they learn in class, such as problem solving, teamwork and writing, can be applied in the real world.

The 2020 Census will begin March 12, and this will be the first year residents can fill out the Census survey online and over the phone. For more information, visit

SISD to hold Informational nights on Dual Language Academy open to Pre-K, kindergarten parents

The Socorro Independent School District invites parents of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students for the 2020-2021 school year to information nights about the district’s Dual Language Academy.

The first of two meetings will be held at 5:30 p.m. on March 5 and 23 at Dr. Sue A. Shook Elementary School, as well as March 25 at Myrtle Cooper Elementary School.

“The program allows students to become bilingual and biliterate in English and Spanish through rigorous instruction and multicultural experiences,” SISD officials share. “Dual language students are provided the resources necessary to be academically, socially and linguistically successful in both English and Spanish to become globally competitive citizens.”

The enrollment process for the academy is based on various criteria and a lottery system.

“Benefits of being a dual language learner include proficiency and literacy in both languages, high levels of academic achievement, greater creativity, attention to detail, problem solving skills, and confidence,” district officials added.

The Dual Language Academy, offered at Myrtle Cooper and Dr. Sue A. Shook elementary schools, is now in its second year.

For more information, visit

Father of organ donor tells son’s story to seniors at Montwood High School

A special guest speaker spoke with groups of seniors at Montwood High School about the importance of being an organ donor on National Donor Day, which is celebrated annually on February 14.

The school, in partnership with the Southwest Transplant Alliance, invited guest speaker Rene Moreno Sr. to discuss his late son’s legacy of saving lives through organ and tissue donation.

“I’m here to keep my son’s memory alive for what he did,” said Rene Moreno Sr. “My son became an organ donor at the age of 16. He was just an amazing kid.”

Rene Moreno Jr., who died of a brain tumor, saved six lives through organ donation and helped save and enhance 50 more lives through tissue donation.

“We just want everyone here at Montwood to be a lifesaver,” said student body secretary Jinelis DeJesus. “As we go out into the world, I feel like we need to be educated about being an organ donor and how it can save many lives.”

The Southwest Transplant Alliance worked with Montwood High School to bring awareness of organ donation to seniors and honor those who have saved lives by being an organ donor. The organization serves as a bridge between those who make the decision to donate their organs and tissues to those awaiting a lifesaving transplant.

“Currently, there is more than 10,000 people in the state of Texas waiting for a transplant,” said Karla Martinez, community relations specialist for the Southwest Transplant Alliance. “Registering your decision to be an organ donor is very important, even if you’re under the age of 18. We want these students to have that conversation with their parents so they can be educated about it.”

According to the STA, every 10 minutes another person is added to the national transplant waiting list, 8,000 deaths per year are recorded because organs are not donated on time, 82 percent of patients are in need of a kidney and every one out of three deceased donors is over the age of 50.

“I wish to meet the gentleman who has my son’s heart, because I want to hear his heart one last time,” said Moreno Sr. “It was a sacrifice my son made at the age of 16, he gave them a second chance at life. He gave the gift of life to others.”

Photo courtesy SISD

Father of organ donor tells son’s story event photos

Libertas Academy at Americas High receives $60k grant for fourth year in row

The Libertas Academy at Americas High School has received the Hatton Sumners Foundation grant for the fourth year in a row totaling $60,000, which the academy uses toward funding instruction and materials.

The Libertas Academy, an advanced academic academy in the Socorro Independent School District that focuses on law, government and public administration, is one of a few high school programs that the Hatton Sumners Foundation currently funds as part of its youth development branch.

“We are truly grateful to the Hatton Sumners Foundation for helping us provide endless opportunities for our students,” said Eduardo Hinojos, Libertas Academy coordinator.

The grant also will continue to help fund the civics camps, where incoming eighth-grade students learn about the constitution, voting, census and more.

Madison Vidales is a junior at Americas High School, the Libertas Academy secretary and a camp counselor. She joined the program to set herself up for a career in law and hopes to leave with a better understanding of the field of law, while being a step ahead once she reaches college.

“With that grant we are able to provide the civics camps for the incoming freshman and make sure they know what is going to be offered in this academy,” Vidales said. “It allows us to create a foundation for the academy and prepare students to enter into high school.”

The civics camps provide academic readiness and build the culture within the program. Students get to interact with the other eighth graders coming in from different high schools and get to know the current Libertas Academy students, who are the camp counselors.

“While I was an eighth grader in civics camp, it was an awesome way for me to get to know people, but at the same time learn about my community and everything that was going on within it,” said Kayla Saucedo, an Americas High School junior and the vice president of law for the Libertas Academy.

Saucedo said the civics camps are an amazing experience because they give students exposure to a variety of different career fields before they go to college. The camps also teach students about democracy and the roles citizens take in government.

“We want to teach students that the government does not begin in Austin or in Washington D.C., rather it begins in their own backyard,” Hinojos said.

This year’s civics camp theme is voting rights, where students will be looking into the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 19th amendments.

“In looking at these amendments we really want students to learn the history and importance of voting,” Hinojos said. “To know that it is not something that should be taken lightly as it is something that can change our country for the better and that it is our civic duty.”

During the civics camps, students participate in several sessions, lectures, and activities, and finish on the last day by showcasing a project they worked on throughout the camp.

A group of representatives from the Hatton Sumners Foundation will attend this year’s civics camps to observe how the Libertas Academy works and its success, as they contemplate funding a new entity.

“It is a real honor for us to be able to be a model for another entity,” Hinojos said.

Video+Story: SISD Campus Teachers of the Year honored, 2020 Elite 8 announced

The Socorro Independent School District announced its Elite 8 finalists at a special ceremony that also recognized all 2020 Campus Teachers of the Year.

The Elite 8 finalists include four elementary teachers and four secondary teachers who will now contend for top honors at the SISD Teacher of the Year Gala May 9 at the El Paso Convention Center.

The elementary finalists are Illissa Marie Alvillar from Sgt. Roberto Ituarte Elementary; Chris Concepcion from Helen Ball Elementary; Pedro Gurrola from Vista Del Sol Elementary; and Angelina Escobar from John Drugan School.

The secondary finalists are Vanessa Marie Martinez from El Dorado High School; Dawn Brooks from Bill Sybert School; Michael J. Ramos from KEYS Academy; and Crystal Avila from Socorro High School.

The ceremony honored all 48 Campus Teachers of the Year, who were congratulated by Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D. and board trustees. School principals and the teachers’ family members attended the celebration, as well.

“I would not be here today if it weren’t for teachers, they have a huge impact on us,” Dr. Espinoza said. “I thank you all for being educators, specifically here in Socorro ISD.”

The campus Teachers of the Year were nominated by their schools though a democratic process. The nominees are exceptional educators who inspire students, are respected by their peers and have the ability and willingness to make meaningful contributions to education.

The Elite 8 finalists were interviewed and selected by a committee of students, parents, administrators and the SISD Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year from last year.

The Elite 8 teachers now will go on to the next round where a selection committee will decide on the 2020 SISD Elementary Teacher of the Year and the 2020 SISD Secondary Teacher of the Year.

These top two winners will be announced at the 2020 Teacher of Year Gala on May 9.

Tickets for the gala are now on sale for $30 per ticket. They can be ordered from campus secretaries through April 1. The Teacher of the Year Gala is an adults-only event. No one under 18 years of age will be permitted.

SISD expands Pre-K: Free full-day for all 4-year-olds, New 3-year-old student program

Wednesday afternoon, Socorro Independent School District officials announced expansion of their Pre-K programs with a free full-day pre-kindergarten program for all 4-year-olds and a new program for 3-year-old students.

“We are eager to welcome new students to our outstanding school district, especially 3- and 4-year-olds who will benefit greatly from the endless opportunities in Team SISD,” said SISD Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D. “They will have a great start with highly qualified and effective educators who are dedicated to ensuring our youngest students have the instruction and guidance that will lead them to a successful future.”

SISD’s early childhood programs provide engaging, hands-on learning to build a solid foundation for students to succeed in their academic journey.

The curriculum includes social and emotional development, language development, technology, social studies, math, science and physical development. In addition, new Pre-K and kindergarten students may apply for the Dual Language Academy.

SISD will have a pre-kindergarten, new kindergarten, and 3-year-old student registration day for the 2020-2021 school year from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 4 at elementary schools across the district.


SISD will offer FREE, FULL DAY PRE-K for all four-year-old students in the 2020-2021 school year, regardless of their eligibility. A child must be 4 years old by September 1, 2020 to qualify.

New Kindergarten:

Registration on April 4 is for students not currently enrolled in SISD Pre-K.  A child must be 5 years old by September 1, 2020 to qualify.

3-Year-Old Program:

SISD will implement a free districtwide half-day program in 2020-2021 for 3-year-olds who qualify based on economic, language, homeless or (active) military requirements as established by the state. A child must be 3 years old by September 1, 2020 to qualify. The 3-year-old student program will be housed at O’Shea Keleher Elementary and Escontrias Early Childhood Center.

Pre-K/Kindergarten Dual Language:

New Pre-K/Kindergarten students (not currently enrolled in SISD Pre-K) will have the opportunity to apply for SISD’S Dual Language Academy.  The academy will be available for students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten for the 2020-2021 school year at Dr. Sue Shook and Myrtle Cooper elementary schools.

Schedule Your Appointment:

To expedite the process, registration will be conducted on an appointment basis and will begin with an online form. Parents or legal guardians are asked to submit basic information via a secure online form on the SISD website, which will be available March 4, 2020 on

They can schedule their registration time online; appointments are on a first come, first served basis. Parents will complete registration at their scheduled time or on a walk-in basis on April 4, those that did not secure an appointment will be able to register on a first come, first served walk-in basis.

The following documents will be required during registration: student birth certificate, immunization record, social security card (optional), a current utility bill, and an identification for the parent or legal guardian registering the child.

For information on registration, click here.  Registration locations from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 4:

Benito Martínez Elementary

2640 Robert Wynn St., 79936


Bill Sybert School

11530 Edgemere Blvd., 79936


Cactus Trails Elementary

14701 Ralph Seitsinger Dr., 79938


Campestre Elementary

11399 Socorro Rd., 79927


Chester E. Jordan Elementary

13995 Jason Crandall Dr., 79938


Desert Wind School

1100 Colina de Paz Dr., 79928


Dr. Sue A. Shook Elementary

13777 Paseo del Este Blvd., 79928


Élfida P. Chávez Elementary

11720 Pebble Hills Blvd., 79936


Ernesto Serna School

11471 Alameda Ave., 79927


Escontrias ECC

10400 Alameda Ave., 79927


H.D. Hilley Elementary

693 N. Rio Vista Rd., 79927


Helen Ball Elementary

1950 Firehouse Dr., 79936


Horizon Heights Elementary

13601 Ryderwood Ave., 79928


Hueco Elementary

300 Old HuecoTanks Rd., 79927


James P. Butler Elementary

14251 Ralph Seitsinger Dr., 79938

Jane A. Hambric School

3535 Nolan Richardson Dr., 79936


John Drugan School

12451 Pellicano Dr., 79928


Loma Verde Elementary

12150 Ted Houghton Dr., 79936


Lujan-Chávez Elementary

2200 Sun Country Dr., 79938


Mission Ridge Elementary

150 Nonap Rd., 79928


Myrtle Cooper Elementary

1515 Rebecca Ann Dr., 79936


O’Shea Keleher Elementary

1800 Leroy Bonse Dr., 79936


Paso del Norte Elementary

12300 Tierra Este Rd., 79938


Purple Heart Elementary

14400 GR Campuzano Dr., 79938


Robert R. Rojas Elementary

500 Bauman Rd., 79927


Sgt. Roberto Ituarte Elementary

12860 Tierra Sonora Dr., 79938


Sierra Vista Elementary

1501 Bob Hope Dr., 79936


Vista del Sol Elementary

11851 Vista del Sol Dr., 79936


SGT. Jose F. Carrasco Elementary

14900 Tierra Mirage St., 79938

13 SISD fine arts students named TMEA All-State musicians

Thirteen Socorro Independent School District band and choir students were named 2020 Texas Music Educators Association All-State musicians.

Being named to the TMEA state groups is a highly competitive process that begins with more than 60,000 students statewide who audition at their regional level.

The top five percent advance to the area round. Then, students are selected to advance to the state level, representing the top two percent of the musicians who began at the initial audition.

Pebble Hills High School band director Maximo Sierra said the auditions are challenging opportunities that help his students grow and become successful. The five band members and one choir member from Pebble Hills are sophomores and juniors, which is a notable accomplishment for these students to earn the honor before their senior year.

“This is very important for the future and culture of Pebble Hills High School,” Sierra said.

At the TMEA convention, the highest-ranking musicians will perform in one of 15 Texas All-State band, orchestra or choir ensembles.

The students will work with nationally recognized music conductors and perform before thousands of attendees at the end of the convention.

“I am definitely going to cherish this moment,” said junior choir student Ariah Labrado from Eastlake High School. “I’ve been trying to make it to state since my freshmen year, and last year I missed it by one chair.”

This year’s SISD All-State musicians are Ivan Sanchez, band, and Regina Hernandez, choir, from Americas High School; Raul Romero, choir, and Juan Ramon-Lara, Diego Antonio Sanchez, Osvaldo Rubio, Santana Angel Rojas and Angel Santiago Miramontes, all in band, from Pebble Hills High School; Abigail Talavera and Ariah Labrado, both in choir, from Eastlake High School; Robert John Harris, band, from El Dorado High School; Andrew Steven Arciniega and Jesse Hernandez, both in band, from Socorro High School.

They will have the opportunity to perform with the state band and choir ensembles Feb. 12-15 in San Antonio as part of the 2020 TMEA Centennial Celebration Clinic/Convention.

SISD’s Horizon Heights gets special visit from author with El Paso roots

Students at Horizon Heights Elementary were surprised when a special guest, author Liza Capprelli, came to read to them in the school’s library.

Students have been reading Caprelli’s Unicorn Jazz series, which focuses on friendship, acceptance and being kind. The author gave students an engaging presentation featuring her colorful children’s book and shared a lesson on diversity and belonging.

“(Unicorn Jazz) encourages students to be who they are,” Caprelli said. “The book is unique because it celebrates being different because we are all different, we are supposed to be, and we should celebrate that.”

Horizon Heights librarian Shannon Ortega said the message of the Unicorn Jazz series ties into the social and emotional learning that they are focusing on at the school, which includes learning to have empathy, showing respect and managing emotions.

“Unicorn Jazz is all about kindness, celebrating what’s unique and accepting others even though they are different,” Ortega said. “We practice kindness every day at Horizon Heights.”

Allie Rodriguez, a second grader at Horizon Heights, said it is important to be kind because you never know what someone else is going through.

“We should always try to be friends with everyone, even people who seem different from us,” Rodriguez said.

Ortega said she hopes the author’s visit special visit will motivate her students to read and write. During Caprelli’s talk with the students, she shared her journey about what inspired her and how she became successful in writing.

Caprelli is a native El Pasoan who grew up in the Lower Valley.  She loves opportunities to read to children and give back to the community, she said.

Her passion for reading started in the first grade, so as she created her first book it was important for her to find something that would resonate with children. “Unicorn Jazz,” which earned a prestigious The Mom’s Choice Awards medal, is a result of her meaningful work.

The author still has close ties to home with her cousin, David Villalobos, who is the illustrator of her books. She also references many of her own childhood memories, like visiting the El Paso Zoo, in her stories.

Capprelli’s visit took place January 22nd.


Horizon Heights gets special visit from author event photos

Campestre Elementary wins ROBOCOM 6.0 Inspire Award

The Campestre Elementary School robotics team, the Urban Cobras, were the big winners at ROBOCOM 6.0, the district’s sixth annual robotics competition held at Pebble Hills High School.

The Urban Cobras won the ROBOCOM 6.0 Inspire Award, the top award of the event. Fifty-four SISD robotics teams showed their computer programming and critical thinking skills at the two-day, challenging competition.

ROBOCOM is part of the First Lego League and conducted in conjunction with the University of Texas at El Paso. Winners from ROBOCOM advance to and compete at the West Texas First Lego League Regional Championship at UTEP.

Campestre, along with twenty-three other SISD teams, competed at the West Texas FLL championship at the end of January bringing home numerous awards.

At this year’s ROBOCOM, the theme was “City Shaper,” which challenged students to provide a solution on how to improve city infrastructure in their community.

The Urban Cobras created a Trash Trap, which is a long-wired netting to capture and collect the trash on highways. The students’ technology savvy and dedication earned them the ROBOCOM award for the second year in row, along with the third-place overall award at the West Texas FLL championship.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” said Elias Rangel Jr., a third-grade WIN Academy teacher and Urban Cobras coach, about his team’s triumph. “I’m so proud of our students and our school.”

The Clarkitects from Capt. Walter E. Clarke Middle School won the first-place overall award at the West Texas FLL championship and the RoboScholars from Spc. Rafael Hernando III Middle School won the second-place overall award at the regional championship.

“This has given students the opportunity to practice what they’ve been learning in the classroom and then apply it in the program itself,” said Stephanie Carrasco, advanced academics coordinator. “We are so happy to see the kids pumped and the parents so excited to finally see what their kids have been working on throughout the school year.”

At ROBOCOM 6.0, the students presented their work to judges and then they competed in an interactive robotics competition. At the West Texas FLL competition, the students competed in various challenges showcasing their exceptional skills with technology and in teamwork, presentations, and professionalism.

“I was nervous to present in front of the judges, but it went great,” said Fabian Trejo, an eighth-grade student from Hernando Middle School. “Robocom was a great experience for me.”

The competition was held  January 10 and 11.

Innovation Project Presentation
1s Place – Clarkitects – Capt. Walter E. Clarke Middle
2nd Place – EVAs – SPC. Rafael Hernando III Middle
3rd Place – BLOCKBusters – Lujan-Chavez Elementary

Robot Design Presentation
1st Place – Clarkitects – Capt. Walter E. Clarke Middle
2nd Place – Robotic Knights – Sgt. Roberto Ituarte Elementary
3rd Place – BLOCKBusters – Lujan-Chavez Elementary

Core Values Presentation
1st Place – RoboScholars – SPC. Rafael Hernando III Middle
2nd Place – ROBOBlox – Chester E. Jordan Elementary
3rd Place – RoboDragons Demolition – John Drugan School

Robot Challenge

1st Place – Urban Cobras – Campestre Elementary
2nd Place – Clarkitects – Capt. Walter E. Clarke Middle
3rd Place – Myrtle Cooper – Myrtle Copper Elementary

Inspire Award
Urban Cobras – Campestre Elementary

West Texas FLL Regional Championship
Mechanical Design
1st Place – RoboDragons Alphas – John Drugan School
2nd Place – Wranglerbots – Sierra Vista Elementary

1st Place – RoboDragons Demolition – John Drugan School
3rd Place – Traffic Avengers – Helen Ball Elementary

Strategy & Innovation
1st Place – EVAs – SPC. Rafael Hernando III Middle
2nd Place – ROBOBlox – Chester E. Jordan Elementary

Robot Performance
1st Place – Tree Masters – Myrtle Cooper Elementary
2nd Place – Urban Cobras – Campestre Elementary
3rd Place – MonoStars – Myrtle Cooper Elementary

2nd Place – Purple People Eaters – Purple Heart Elementary
3rd Place – Sanchez Robotics Team – Salvador H. Sanchez Middle

Innovative Solution
1st Place – RoboDragons Limitless Ladies – John Drugan School
3rd Place – Mighty Moose – Montwood Middle

1st Place – Tree Masters – Myrtle Cooper Elementary

1st place – Constructive Kiddisism – Bill Sybert School

1st Place – RoboWolves – Ernesto Serna School
2nd Place – Robotic Knights – Sgt. Roberto Ituarte Elementary

Gracious Professionalism®
1st Place – MonoStars – Myrtle Cooper Elementary

Champion’s Award
1st Place Overall – Clarkitects – Capt. Walter E. Clarke Middle
2nd Place Overall – RoboScholars – SPC. Rafael Hernando III Middle
3rd Place Overall – Urban Cobras – Campestre Elementary

ROBOCOM event photos

Pebble Hills students make edible water bottles in environmental conservation project

Pebble Hills High School students in an aquatic science class recently delved into exploring ways to conserve the planet, including an engaging lesson on creating edible water bottles as an alternative method for water consumption.

Aquatic science teacher Michelle Gomez said she hopes the project will help inspire students to reduce waste and find resourceful ways to use recycled materials.

“I just want to plant the seed to really help the students grow and think about how they can make this better or at the very least stop using single-use plastics,” Gomez said.

The project is part of their larger studies on plastics and their long-term effect on the environment. The students made the edible water bottles by combining two ingredients, calcium lactate, which works as a binding solution, and sodium alginate, which is what gives water in bottles its crisp taste.

Sodium alginate is safe to eat and is generally used in foods like cakes and cheeses, Gomez said. The sodium alginate coats the calcium lactate to cause spherification, which forms a bubble containing water that will dissolve once you put it into your mouth.

Some of the students sampled their edible water bottles and described the bubble’s texture as rubbery and jelly-like, but without taste.

Photo courtesy SISD

While they had fun with the interactive project, they also embraced the larger lesson of finding ways to help the environment.

“This project is very important and a big step towards us conserving the earth,” said senior, Hiram Zacarias. “We need to start right now, since we have problems like global warming.”

Gomez said part of their studies was learning about how trash from the inland, even from a desert city like El Paso, will find its way to the ocean.

It can take 20 years for one piece of plastic to end up in the water, but it never breaks down or decomposes, it just becomes smaller, she said.

“We need to target our youth to be able to make the changes that we want in the future,” Gomez said.

For their next environmental project, students will work on creating reusable tote bags using plastic shopping bags.

“I think this is amazing and we should share this class with more students so they can see the effects of waste and learn how we can work towards changing the world together,” said senior Audrey Hernandez.

Photo courtesy SISD

Pebble Hills students make edible water bottles event photos

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