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Home | Tag Archives: SISD

Tag Archives: SISD

Montwood High valedictorian has perfect attendance throughout entire school career

Montwood High School valedictorian Brian Gonzalez achieved perfect attendance since kindergarten along with a 4.0 GPA in high school.

Gonzalez’s determination took him to the top of his class as valedictorian and allowed him to achieve the challenging goal of perfect attendance from kinder to senior year.

He also graduated with his associate’s degree from El Paso Community College, which he earned through Rams Early College in December 2019.

“Being recognized for this accomplishment really means a lot,” Gonzalez said. “It makes me feel very distinguished despite the circumstances we’ve been through this year.”

Gonzalez graduated with an overall 103.6 GPA and more than 60 college credit hours.

“Brian has made us very proud for what he has accomplished throughout his school years,” said his father Charlie Gonzalez. “We have very high expectations for both Brian and our younger daughter. We know the importance of attending school and we push them to be in school every day to bring us back not good, but great grades.”

Gonzalez received the Presidential Scholarship from UTEP for being ranked number one and plans to earn his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

Aside from academics, Gonzalez has been involved in extracurricular activities since his time at Sun Ridge Middle School, including being a band member, competing and placing in the robotics competitions and advancing to district for Destination Imagination.

Before entering high school, Gonzalez qualified to be part of the Rams Early College High School Program and was ranked as number one after he received his freshman year transcript.

“The last four years Brian has displayed great discipline, dedication, and leadership,” said Montwood High School Principal Carlos Guerra. “I am looking forward to the many great things he will accomplish in life.”

Gonzalez wishes to continue his perfect attendance streak throughout college as well as maintaining a perfect GPA. After college, he hopes to use his engineering skills to eventually work for TESLA.

“We couldn’t be prouder of Brian for his dedication to his education and seizing his opportunity every day he was enrolled in Socorro ISD,” said SISD Superintendent Jose Espinoza, Ed.D. “On behalf of all Team SISD, I congratulate both him and his parents for achieving this amazing feat! We look forward to hearing of his continued success in college, career and life!”

SISD students receive recognition in Bulb Digital Portfolios challenge

Five Socorro Independent School District students received prizes for being part of a digital portfolio challenge using a web-based tool called Bulb, which allows students to store and showcase their work for future endeavors.

Bulb Digital Portfolios is an online platform that helps students around the globe store their work, including multimedia content, animations, renderings, engineering projects, etc.

It is an easy to use resource for students to showcase resumes or any other relevant documents with educators or even prospective employers.

“Congratulations to our five winners,” said Niki Daniels, Bulb customer success manager. “It was so much fun going through each and every portfolio, so much awesome work and I hope to see you continue using Bulb at Socorro ISD.”

The winners were: first place – Matthew Dominguez, El Dorado High School; second place – Lesli Borjon, El Dorado High School; third place – Ashlyn Constans, Eastlake High School; fourth place – Samantha Debe, Pebble Hills High School; and fifth place – Max Isidoro Avila, Socorro Middle School.

Bulb Digital Portfolios have been in use at SISD campuses to help students excel in a society that is relying more and more on technology in education and daily life.

“Especially during the pandemic, this tool has helped our teachers monitor their students’ work from home,” said SISD Career and Technical Education director George Thomas. “This is our third year using it and each year it gets more useful.”

SISD students use Bulb to shape knowledge and ideas into practical, useable, and shareable work. It also allows educators to track student progress and growth and measure competency.

Every SISD middle school and high school has a Bulb Digital Portfolio expert on staff who has had training on the program so that they can assist the teachers and students.

“I think it’s an awesome opportunity for the students,” said Amanda Acosta, SISD Career and Technical Education facilitator. “They can store as much work as they want on there and use it for their future, which is an advantage we didn’t have in the past.”

The Bulb Digital Portfolio is available for middle school students to start their work portfolios.

The students can carry over their work through their high school years and have access to it for free one year after they graduate from high school.

This is the first year the SISD Career and Technical Education department incorporated the Bulb Digital Portfolio challenge at the annual SISD Academic Technology Showcase held in late February.

SISD incoming freshmen prepare for 2020-21 school year in Advanced Academic Academies

A new cohort of students participated in virtual summer bridge camps to get ready for their first year in the Advanced Academic Academies in the Socorro Independent School District.

The camps are conducted each summer to help incoming freshmen get familiar with the program they have been accepted to, meet students from other middle schools and feeder patterns joining the same academy and to get to know their teachers and the upperclassmen.

“Sometimes students are hesitant about entering high school and these summer camps alleviate some of that hesitation,” said SISD Career and Technical Education facilitator Veronica De Avila. “It’s an opportunity for students to feel welcomed into high school.”

Students in the week-long virtual camps gained vital information about the academies and participated in interactive activities and creative projects.

SSG. Manuel R. Puentes Middle School student Daniela Rubio will be attending Synergi4 at Montwood High School starting in the 2020-21 school year. She chose the camp because it will provide plenty of opportunities to move her ahead in a future career in science, she said.

Rubio participated in math and brain exercises, made homemade masks, built a robot, practiced communication skills and created a time capsule as part of a group activity in the Synergi4 bridge camp.

“Building the robot was my favorite because it was an opportunity to really be creative and was very specific, so it took a lot of thinking,” Rubio said. “The time capsule was really fun, too, because it was a good way to get to know the other students.”

Jarell Kearney, a student from Salvador H. Sanchez Middle School who attended the SATA bridge camp, said the camp was beneficial in giving him a head start for the next school year and meeting classmates with similar interests. He likes that the academy allows students to explore many career options.

Kearney said the students at the SATA bridge camp learned about computer science and coding, including HTML, games and animation, and cyber security.

“Now I’ve been researching cyber security because it seems very interesting and something I’d want to go into,” Kearney said.

Eastlake High School teacher Alexaundra Robles said the SATA academy helps students get a jump start into a technology career, acquire skills that could land them a job right out of high school and be well prepared in knowing what their focus will be when they advance to colleges or universities.

“I’m really glad that these academies are available for the students so this way they get a more enhanced education,” Robles said. “Hopefully, it is something they can take away for their future college and career experiences.”

At Montwood High School, senior Christopher Nunez gained a full appreciation for the camps, which helped him when he came into the Synergi4 program from outside of the Socorro school district.

“These camps are very important for incoming freshmen,” said Nunez, who was a teacher assistant at the Synergi camp.

Montwood High School CTE teacher Luis Ramirez said hosting the camps virtually for the first time allowed educators to meet and engage every student and enhanced the interaction.

“We could’ve been overwhelmed thinking it was going to be too much work to hold the camps virtually, but the great group of teachers who hosted the camps did not let COVID ruin this fun tradition that we have for all of our incoming freshmen,” Ramirez said. “In these situations, you just have to learn how to overcome and adapt to learn to do what’s best for the students.”

The Advanced Academic Academies in SISD are: Libertas Academy at Americas High School, School of Advanced Technology Applications (SATA) at Eastlake High School, Aztec Architectural Academy and International Baccalaureate program at El Dorado High School, Synergi4 at Montwood High School, Sparta Business Academy at Pebble Hills High School, and the Health Professions Academy at Socorro High School.

 

Art 6ft Apart gallery, awards showcase SISD community quarantine living

The Socorro Independent School District Fine Arts Department, in partnership with the Green Hope Project, launched the inaugural Art 6ft Apart Contest in the spring and celebrated a virtual awards ceremony that was livestreamed via YouTube.

The unique Art 6ft Apart photo contest and online gallery was created to serve as an outlet for the SISD community to express themselves during the time of quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are very aware of the healing power of art even if it’s just in order to release some of that anxiety,” said SISD Fine Arts assistant director Candace Printz. “Witnessing all the photos that were submitted and then seeing the gallery in its entirety open up to the public, people were able to see that they are not alone. Everybody is going through the same thing and there is some comfort in that.”

Students, staff, and parents submitted 246 photos into the contest. The Top 100 were selected to be printed, framed, and displayed at the District Service Center.

Twenty-one pieces won awards for first through third place and honorable mentions. The numerous photos represented a variety of moments throughout the pandemic, including death, birthdays and graduations, and, most frequently, family bonding.

First-place winner in the employee category, Deborah Messer from Vista Del Sol Elementary, entered a photo called “End of Life.” The photo shows a pair of holding hands, her hand holding her father’s before he passed on April 22 from health complications due to pneumonia.

“They say that when people leave you all you are going to have left are the memories and a lot of those memories come from pictures,” Messer said. “So, I felt that if I couldn’t hold my dad’s hand physically at least I’d have a picture.”

The first-place winner in the parent category was Jamie Labrado, a parent from Eastlake High School and an essential health care worker. He took a photo of himself in his personal protective equipment while conducting COVID-19 lab tests. It was titled “I Can’t Stay Home, I’m Essential.”

“There are a lot of essential workers out there who are behind the scenes and we are all going through the same feelings right now,” Labrado said. “These are trying times and we have to really be safe.”

Labrado said he originally took the photo to show his children why he couldn’t go home and explain why everyone needs to practice social distancing.

Another winner from Eastlake High School was a student and the first place winner in the high school category. Derek Gamez captured his little sister looking sadly outside a window in his black and white photo, which he titled “Window Pain.”

“I chose her because just like other kids I know she wants to go outside to play with her friends and unfortunately she can’t due to current events,” Gamez said.

A little sister also was the subject of the first-place winner in the middle school category. Andrea Moreno, a student at Col. John O. Ensor Middle, titled her piece “Life During a Pandemic.” Her photo featured her little sister wearing a mask, using a tape measure to measure her distance around her and surrounded by arms holding products like toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

“I enjoyed this because photography is a hobby,” Moreno said.

Vivian Esparza, a student from Horizon Heights Elementary, was the first-place winner of the elementary category for her photo, “Living in a Shell of Protection.” She captured herself wearing a face mask while lying on the grass beside her pet turtle ‘Butters.’

“Butters is a metaphor since his shell protects him and me staying at home protects me,” Esparza said.

Printz said she hopes the contest helped in some way to alleviate stress or act as a positive distraction for those who participated.

“They are documenting a moment in time that will forever be remembered and this gives us photo evidence of how people were dealing with this,” Printz said. “Whether it’s funny, hopeful or sad, we now have this digital record of it.”

To view the Top 100 pieces of the Art 6ft Apart contest click here

Art 6ft Apart Awards

Employee Category

1st Place: Deborah Messer “End of Life” (Vista Del Sol ES)
2nd Place: Andrea Chaparro “Reminders” (Pebble Hills HS)
3rd Place: Laura Herrera “A Sister’s Support” (Escontrias ES)
Honorable Mention: Olga Elbancol “Working Mom” (SISD Library Services)

Parent Category

1st Place: Jaime Labrado “I Can’t Stay Home, I’m Essential” (Eastlake HS)
2nd Place: Evanie Gamboa “Masks” (Eastlake HS)
3rd Place: Martha Walker “Waiting for the End of COVID-19” (Sgt. Roberto Ituarte ES)
Honorable Mention: Claudia Sustaita “Tito and Tita” (Purple Heart ES)

High School Category

1st Place: Derek Gamez “Window Pain” (Eastlake HS)
2nd Place: Paulina Loya “18th Birthday” (Pebble Hills HS)
3rd Place: Akina Furuichi “Quaranteen” (El Dorado HS)
Honorable Mention: Omar Ramirez Corchado “Stay Alive” (El Dorado HS)

Middle School Category

1st Place: Andrea Moreno “Life During a Pandemic” (Col. John O. Ensor MS)
2nd Place: Elizabeth Cruz “The Last COVID Supper” (Sun Ridge MS)
3rd Place: Marisol Esparza “United We Stand” (Sgt. Manuel R. Puentes MS)
Honorable Mention: Kya Romo De Vivar “What It’s Like for Me In Isolation” (Sun Ridge MS)
Honorable Mention: Krystal Macias “Nature Trade” (Capt. Walter E. Clarke MS)

Elementary School Category

1st Place: Vivian Esparza “Living in a Shell of Protection” (Horizon Heights ES)
2nd Place: Isabella Salas “Baking With Bella” (Loma Verde ES)
3rd Place: Daren Chavez “My Life in Times of COVID-19” (Mission Ridge ES)
Honorable Mention: Sophia Gutierrez “Times Like These” (Myrtle Cooper ES)

The virutal awards ceremony was held on May 30.

Socorro ISD’s Nunn wins Regional Athletic Administrator of the Year Award

Socorro Independent School District Assistant Athletic Director James Nunn won the 2020 Regional Athletic Administrator of the Year award from the Texas High School Athletic Director Association (THSADA).

“I was nominated by one of my peers and I had no idea,” Nunn said. “In fact, I was quite surprised when the announcement came in.”

THSADA is the professional and educational association for more than 1,200 athletic administrators in the state and has been around for 49 years. It promotes, facilitates, and recognizes all athletic administrators and is the largest state association of its type in the country.

“I am extremely humbled and honored to have been selected for this award,” he said. “This is a team award which was made possible by the hard work of other athletic administrators, coaches, community and student-athletes of SISD who have made athletics in our region successful. Most importantly, I am grateful for the support of my family.”

Nunn has served the SISD athletic community for many years, as well as serving as a district leader in roles as assistant principal and principal.

He served three years as the Principal of Jane A. Hambric School, five years as the assistant principal of Bill Sybert School, and seven years as a teacher and coach at William D. Slider Middle School, Sun Ridge Middle School, and El Dorado High School.

During his coaching career, he coached seventh and eighth grade baseball, boys’ basketball, track & field, and football at both middle and high school levels.

Nunn said his personal vision statement of, “compete with integrity,” is what drives him to ensure that the athletic programs, coaches and student-athletes at SISD are second-to-none.

The association has eight regions throughout the state and Region 4 extends from El Paso County to Crockett County.

SISD’s Community Education partners with Technology Services to assist adult students

The Socorro Independent School District Community Education program has been consistently successful in helping adult students improve their education and job skills to enter the workforce.

During the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the department has been continuing their support and collaboration within Team SISD and the community. With approval from the SISD Board of Trustees, they teamed up with the district’s Technology Services to provide laptops to students in the adult education program so that they could continue their studies remotely.

Director of SISD Community Education Anthony Fraga saw the need for students to have access to technology to continue and complete their education.

“The mission of programs like ours is to prepare students to enter into the workforce with middle skills that can help them start their careers,” Fraga said.

One student in the Youth Job Skills program, part of SISD Community Education’s partnership with Workforce Solutions Borderplex, was able to complete her classes in the University of Texas at El Paso Pharmacy Technician Program when she received a laptop from SISD.

Through the Youth Job Skills program, Elena Ruiz received assistance with tuition for the pharmacy classes, a gas card for travel expenses, and getting a job with the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank.

“Before joining this program, I hadn’t had a job for five years and I was really struggling,” Ruiz said.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, shutting down schools and universities, leaving Ruiz unable to attend her classes in person and struggling to find the technological equipment necessary to continue her classes online.

Ruiz was among the first round of students to receive a laptop to work on completing her program virtually from home. Help from Community Education staff also kept Ruiz on track in her studies.

“The transition for me from in person to virtual was honestly very difficult,” Ruiz said. “But I always felt like I had a good support system from my teachers, so that’s what encouraged me to keep on going.”

Ruiz’s teacher Wendy Arellano said providing support and equipment for students is vital for their success and always at the forefront in the SISD Community Education program.

“To see our director reach out to the district and to see the district’s response on providing students with laptops, just how everyone came together for our students, is what makes it exciting for us to work and help especially at this time,” Arellano said.

Ruiz recently completed the pharmacy technician program and is excited to enter the workforce.

“I always was interested in pharmacy tech because I wanted to help people,” she said. “This program has provided me with that opportunity and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. This was a life changing experience. I hope if there is anyone thinking of doing this program that my story will encourage them to take this opportunity.”

Fraga said that Ruiz’s success does not stem from the help of a single individual or department, but a community of educators and departments coming together.

“To me the accomplishments of our students, like Elena, shows that we are working together as Team SISD,” he said.

Socorro ISD announces hybrid back to school schedule for 2020-2021 year

On Thursday, Socorro ISD school officials released their schedule and plans for returning their students to the classroom for the 2020-2021 school year.

Via a public letter, SISD Superintendent José Espinoza released the details and the process by which the district and its stakeholders came up with the new guidelines. To view the schedule, click here.

Dr. Espinoza’s complete letter is below.

Dear Team SISD,

I am incredibly thankful for the awesome people in our school community – teachers, essential workers, parents, administrators, support staff, Board of Trustees, and community members – who have gone above and beyond to ensure we are meeting the needs of our students during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

As we move forward in planning for the 2020-2021 school year, I’d like to thank the thousands of parents and employees who have provided their valuable feedback via our district surveys and focus group sessions.  Your input is greatly appreciated as it helps us identify the concerns and topics that are important to you and how we can address those needs.

Rest assured that we have been working nonstop to consider every safety measure, teaching model, and scenario that will impact our students, families, and staff members.  We have been conducting research, analyzing the vital insights from the surveys, and continuing to closely follow and adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Texas Education Agency (TEA), and our local government and health officials.

We also have worked proactively to order much needed and valuable personal protection equipment and supplies to adequately prepare our schools and facilities and have face masks, soap/sanitizing solution, paper towels, and other necessary items to provide for students and employees.

At this time, we have two important announcements to make regarding our framework for reopening schools in the fall.

The first announcement is that our school calendar for the 2020-2021 school year has been revised to have students begin instruction on July 27, 2020.  Our new calendar includes additional flexibility that will allow us to close the district or particular schools due to positive COVID-19 cases or another widespread outbreak as necessary.  You can view our new calendar on our district website (www.sisd.net).

Our second announcement is that we will begin the new school year with three weeks of full-time remote learning in which teachers will be in their classrooms providing instruction via an online platform to students who are at home.

We remain committed to providing the rigorous education that all our students need and deserve.  All of these decisions are challenging to make, because there are so many individuals who have unique circumstances that we have to take into consideration.

However, after extensive collaboration with our Team SISD stakeholders as well as taking into consideration the recommendations from the CDC, TEA, and local health/government officials, I am confident that this is the right direction for our district.

After the first three weeks and, again, still following CDC/TEA guidelines, we will move towards a staggered schedule and teaching model that will allow 25 percent of students to go to school in their classrooms.  Then, we will progress to 50 percent and so forth until we have clearance to have 100 percent of students back in school on a daily schedule.

Understandably, many of you may have many questions right now.  I want to stress that we will update you as soon as we have information on our next phase of planning that includes how to specifically transition our students from remote learning to learning at school.

We will again have to collect extensive qualitative and quantitative data from our parents and employees, so we still have a lot of work to do.  What I want to stress right now is that we will be flexible in our reopening plans to accommodate all of the unique circumstances of many of our families and employees.

As with all COVID-19 plans, it is important to note that details may be subject to change pending the state of our local community health as we approach the first day of school.

Let me be very clear.

We are committed to supporting our students, parents, and employees throughout what will be another challenging school year.  We will be working with our families to help them adapt and adjust to the new routines.

We will also provide our staff members extra support and resources, so they are able to continue providing excellent instruction and customer service across our district.

I want to reiterate that we are leading with our hearts and our students’ best interest in mind.

We ask for your patience as our team continues to work through the many issues that must be addressed.  Rest assured that we will update you and communicate with you often as information becomes available.

I know that by working as a united team, we can get this new school year done right!  I urge all our stakeholders to continue to check our website (FAQ section) as well as our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts frequently for updates and answers to questions you may have.

Thank you all for exhibiting our Team SISD spirit of love and unity and for being patient, understanding, cooperative, and flexible as we navigate a new school year in an unknown future.

Our campus principals and staff will continue to be available to answer any questions or concerns our employees or parents may have.  I look forward to being back together with our outstanding students and staff hopefully in the near future.

Stay safe and healthy.  God bless all of our families!

Respectfully,

Signature

José Espinoza, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

2020-21 Calendar_6-11-20

SISD student-athletes commit to play college level sports in virtual signing events

Sixty-five total Socorro Independent School District student-athletes signed their letters of intent to play their sports at the collegiate level in signing ceremonies that were conducted virtually for the first time in the district.

The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop the SISD community from celebrating the 2019-2020 athletic signees. Each high school had a virtual event for their student-athletes via Microsoft Teams, Zoom and YouTube apps.

“I’m extremely proud of how our campuses were able to get this done,” said SISD Athletic Director JJ Calderon. “They went above and beyond to recognize these athletes under these unfortunate circumstances.”

The SISD graduates will go on to compete in soccer, basketball, cross country, track and field, football, volleyball, baseball, softball, golf and participate in athletic training.

The following student-athletes have signed and are ready to move on to play/perform at the collegiate level:

Americas High School

 

Jacob Ye signed with the University of Texas at Arlington for cross country, his highlights include: three-time All-District cross-country athlete from 2017-2019, a state qualifier in 2018 and 2019, and area champion in the 1600m run in 2019. He currently is the school record holder for the three-mile run (14:58.4), ranked seventh in the state for 1600m run (4:20.80), ranked third in school history for 1600m run (4:20:80) and second in school history for 800m run (1:54.94). Ye was on his way to breaking more school records and qualifying to the Texas 6A State Track and Field Championships before the season was cancelled due to COVID-19. “Through my four years of running at Americas, I accomplished most of my goals and made history as a team. I wouldn’t change anything about my experience and the friendships I made along the way,” Ye said.

Seth Andrade signed with the University of Texas at Tyler for cross-country. His highlights include: All-District performer and state qualifier in 2018-2019. He is the first Americas High School athlete to complete the triple in one meet at the Fred Loya Invite 2020. His times were: 3200m (10:00.77), 800m (2:01.85), and 1600m (4:38.43).

Hector Sanchez signed with the University of Texas at Permian Basin for cross-country. His highlights include earning 17th place at the Texas 6A State Cross Country Championships in 2019. He is an All-District performer and school record holder for 5K run (15:15.4), ranked fifth in school history for 3200m run (9:44.08), and ranked eighth in school history for 1600m run (4:28.18). “I feel super blessed to run with an amazing team for my four years in high school. Nobody can possibly be as great as these guys and girls I train with every day to push me and motivate me to do better. As sad as it is to let go of my team, this team and school will always have a place in my heart,” Sanchez said.

Daphne Duran signed with Texas State University for cross-country. Her highlights include: four-time All-District performer from 2016-2019. She is a three-time regional qualifier in track and field and holds the school record for 800m run (2:19.85) as well as freshmen school records in 5K, 400m, 800m, 1600m and 3200m runs. “It was a great run!” Duran said.

Arlette Yañez signed with the University of Southwest for soccer. Her highlights include being part of the Americas High School soccer program for the past four years and helping the Trailblazers clinch second place in the playoffs this year. Yañez had the opportunity to represent El Paso as a state champion in soccer and is part of the Spanish Honor Society and guitar club.

Alex Reyes signed with Sul Ross State University for soccer. Her highlights include defending and helping the Trailblazers make the playoffs for the first time in school history and being part of the Americas High School soccer program for the past four years. Reyes was the team’s go-to player for their penalty kicks because of her strong left foot.

Angelina Escobar signed with Sul Ross State University for soccer. Her highlights include being a midfielder for the Americas High School soccer program the past four years, serving as a leader both on and off the field, setting high expectations for her fellow teammates and helping the Trailblazers earn second place in district while being part of the yearbook club. “I am very thankful for everyone at Americas for making my high school experience great! I am very excited about my future at Sul Ross University,” Escobar said.

Miguel Felix signed with Shaw University for soccer. His highlights include being the team captain and a four-year varsity starter while being a member of the orchestra. Felix earned All-District in 2019 and 2020.

Arturo “Tury” Ordoñez signed with Benedictine University for soccer. His highlights include being a four-year varsity athlete and earning Skills USA Winner.

Alfredo De La Torre signed with the University of Texas at El Paso for football. His highlights include: All-District second team, a two-year starter as well as a two-sport athlete. De La Torre was a regional qualifier in track and field.

Chris Robles signed with Sul Ross State University for football. His highlights include: All-District first team, and defensive newcomer of the year and earned an All-Star selection. He is a three-sport athlete who plays football, runs track and field and is a wrestling regional qualifier. “My experience at Americas was extravagant. I got along with teachers, made friends, and enjoyed growing as a person in that community. I learned right from wrong and learned how to be selfless to think of others and to work with a team,” Robles said.

Alicia Barron signed with Ranger Junior College for golf. Her highlights include two-time All-District athlete and regional qualifier as a junior. “I would like to thank all of Americas for supporting me every step of the way. Thank you to all my coaches and teachers for believing in me. My experience at Americas will be one I will never forget and it was full of laughs and memories,” Barron said.

Eastlake High School

Cameron Jackson signed with Ottawa University for track and field. His highlights include one-year letterman who participated in the 100m run, 200m run, 400m run and 4 x 200m relay. “I would like to thank my parents so much for believing in me this entire time,” Jackson said

Jennea Ramirez signed with Ottawa University for track and field. Her highlights include two-year letterman who participated in the 400m run. “I am so excited to start the next chapter of my life at Ottawa University,” Ramirez said.

Matthew Morales signed with North American University for baseball. His highlights include three-year letterman who earned All-District in 2018 and 2019 and had a career .326 average, 36 hits, 3.08 ERA, he is the second player in school history to play all positions. “I am excited for this next chapter of my life, I can’t wait for the experiences that are to come,” Morales said.

Matthew Talavera signed with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley for baseball. His highlights include three-year letterman who was an All-District catcher in 2018 and 2019. Talavera hit a walk-off double vs. Lubbock-Coronado in the 2019 playoffs. He had a career .330 average, 44 RBI’s and 66 hits. “I am looking forward to the challenges up ahead at UTRGV,” Talavera said.

Bernie Valdez signed with the University of Texas Permian Basin for baseball. His highlights include three-year letterman who earned All-District first-team third baseman; 2018 and 2019 District 2-5A Offensive MVP and had a career .364 average, 5 homeruns, 85 RBIs, 91 hits and a 2.43 ERA. “I am excited to embrace this new chapter in my life, it’s only the beginning from here and I am ready to go to work,” Valdez said.

Melanie Garcia signed with Ranger Community College for soccer. Her highlights include three-year letterman who earned 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 Team MVP; first-team All-District 2019-2020; Dr. Pink’s Frisco Tournament MVP and Top Team Scorer. “I wouldn’t have gotten this scholarship without the amount of support I got from everyone. Thank you,” Garcia said.

Axel Armendariz signed with Gustavus Adolphus College for football. His highlights include two-year letterman who earned All-District Honorable Mention and is a two-sport athlete as a member of the track team. “Thank you to everyone who believed in me and I can’t wait for this next chapter of my life,” Armendariz said.

Pedro Ayala signed with Wayland Baptist University for football. His highlights include two-year letterman who earned second-team All-District and had 47 total tackles and 4 tackles for loss. “I’m extremely excited to perform at the next level,” Ayala said.

Rolando Beltran signed with New Mexico Highlands University for football. His highlights include earning 2-5A Defensive Player of the Year, second-team All-City Selection, Senior All-Star Game Selection and had 42 total tackles, and 8 tackles for loss. “Thank you to everyone who watched me sign today, I love all of your support,” Beltran said.

Zuleica Cruz signed with Western Texas College for volleyball. Her highlights include three-year letterman who earned District 2-5A Outstanding Setting, had a career 148 kills, a .168 hitting percentage, 33 aces, 14 blocks, 263 digs, and 420 assists. “Thank you to the Eastlake community for always being so supportive. Congratulations to all the athletes signing today, I wish you all the best,” Cruz said.

Cheyanne Bonilla signed with the University of Mary Hardin Baylor for basketball. Her highlights include being named 2020 El Paso Times Most Valuable Player, 2-5A District MVP; TABC first-team All-Region; TGCA All-State performer; Academic All-State Student Athlete with a 95.28 GPA, over 2,300 career points; 20.7 average points per game; All Tournament Team – Byron Johnson (Midland), Katy Classic (Houston) and Franklin High School (El Paso). “I am so grateful for the many blessings I’ve had here at Eastlake, I love you guys,” Bonilla said.

El Dorado High School

Jorden Clark signed with Cochise College for basketball. His highlights include being selected for the 2020 Second Team All-City El Paso Times, 2020 District 2-5A Offensive MVP, and the 2020 District 2-5A All Defensive Team. He averaged 20 points per game and 12 rebounds. “For the next two years I will be taking my talents to Cochise College. Thank you for letting me play at your school,” Clark said.

Darling Harris signed with Knox College for basketball. Her highlights include three-sport letterman (basketball, volleyball, track). She was the 2020 basketball team captain and earned 2020 District 2-5A Academic All-District (basketball), 2017-18 District 1-6A Academic All-District (basketball) and was selected for the 2019-20 Second Team All-District 2-5A volleyball team (middle blocker). “Thank you to everyone who motivated me to play college ball and I am excited to play for Knox College,” Harris said.

Madison Cuevas signed with Northland College for basketball. Her highlights include two-year letterman and was the 2020 team co-captain. She was selected for 2018-19 District 2-5A Academic All-District, 2019-20 District 2-5A Academic All-District, and 2019- Midland Oilman’s All-Tournament Team. “I could not have asked for better people in my life to support me in this next chapter of my life,” Cuevas said.

Arianna Aragon will attend Northland College for basketball. Her highlights include four-year letterman and was named as 2019-20- All City Honorable Mention El Paso Times, 2020 Mc Donald’s All-American Nominee, 2020- GEPGCA Basketball All-Star and named three times to the First-Team All-District. She scored 1,195 total career points. “As I start this next chapter of my life, I hope to make each and every one of you proud, thank you,” Aragon said.

Brittney Sierra signed with Western Texas College for softball. Her highlights include two-year letterman who earned 2019 District 2-5A first-team All-District Team and 2019 District 2-5A All-Academic Team. “I am truly grateful for my team, my coaches, my family and my community. I can’t wait to play my favorite sport at the next level,” Sierra said.

Iaan Rodriguez signed with The University of Southwest for baseball. His highlights include three-year letterman for the Aztecs who finished his senior year with a .346 hitting percentage. “It was unfortunate we couldn’t finish the year, but I will always remember my times at El Dorado. I love you guys,” Rodriguez said.

Leslie Gutierrez signed with Heartland College for soccer. Her highlights include District 2-5A First Team All-District in 2019, Honorable Mention All-District 2-5A in 2018, and Academic All-State in 2019. She is a midfielder, three-year letterman and in the National Honor Society. “This sport has made me grow not only as a player, but as an individual and I am so thankful for this journey,” Gutierrez said.

Apryl Alvarez signed with Heartland College for soccer. Her highlights include three-year letterman who made District 2-5A First Team All-District in 2019, District 2-5A Second Team All-District in 2018, and was a 2020 DECA state qualifier and 2020 Academic All-State. “Playing college ball is only my first step in making you all so proud and your support means so much to me,” Alvarez said.

Diego Diaz signed with Sul Ross State University for soccer. His highlights include three-year letterman who was named District 2-5A Most Valuable Goalie in 2019, District 1-6A Most Valuable Goalie in 2017 and ended his high school career with 255 total saves. “My goal is to make (my family) your dream come true because you helped me make mine come true. I love you guys,” Diaz said.

Kris Martin signed with Catholic University of Washington for football. His highlights include two sport letterman (football, basketball) who made First Team All-District 1-5A wide receiver in 2019, ranked third in the district with 71 total receptions for 1,067 yards and nine touchdowns. Martin carries a 3.8 GPA going into college. “This program has definitely helped me reach this level. Thank you El Dorado,” Martin said.

Chris Bustillos signed with McMurray University for football. His highlights include three-year letterman who made First Team All-District 1-5A Quarterback in 2019, passed for 1,800 yards, and rushed for over 600 yards. “Thank you to everyone at El Dorado for always supporting me,” Bustillos said.

E.J. Hinojosa signed with Lakeland University for football. His highlights include two-year letterman who made Second Team All-District 1-5A Offensive Linemen in 2019 and was selected into the 2020 Senior Showcase as an offensive lineman. “Thank you to everyone who contributed to my football career these past four years,” Hinojosa said.

Montwood High School

Karla Quintana signed with Texas Tech University for athletic training. Quintana was the head student athletic trainer at Montwood High School who will participate in Division 1 athletic training for the NCAA.

Roberto Canales signed with the University of Southwest for soccer. His highlights include first-team All-District and team captain. Canales is a defender for Montwood High School soccer and will participate in Division 3 level of competition for NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics).

Gabriel Neufeld signed with the University of Southwest for soccer. Neufeld is a midfielder and will participate in Division 3 level of competition for NAIA.

Luis Payan signed with the University of Southwest for soccer. Payan is a defender and the team captain for Montwood High School soccer. His level of competition will be Division 3 for NAIA.

Brianna Romo signed with Concordia University for softball. Romo is an outfielder for Montwood High School softball and her highlights include 2020-team captain, 2019 second-team All-District and 2019 Academic All-District.

Samantha Chavez signed with Sul Ross State University for softball. Chavez is a middle infielder and her highlights include 2020-team captain, 2019 first-team All-District, 2019 Academic All-District, 2019 Team Hustle Award and 2019 Team Unsung Hero Award.

Danielle Gomez signed with Sul Ross State University for softball and volleyball. Gomez is a pitcher, plays first base for softball, and is a setter for volleyball. Her highlights include 2020-team captain, 2019 first-team All-District, 2019 Academic All-District, 2019 Team Pitcher of the Year and 2019 Team MVP.

America Rubio signed with El Paso Community College for softball. Rubio plays middle infield and outfield. Her highlights include 2020-team captain, 2020 El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame Female Athlete of the Year, 2019 first-team All-District and 2019 Team Defensive Player of the Year.

Karen Chavez signed with Ranger College for soccer. Chavez plays outside defender and was first-team All-District Team Captain. Her level of competition will be Division 2 for NJCAA.

Arianna Rios signed with Ranger College for soccer. Rios plays central defender and was first-team All-District Team Captain. Her level of competition will be Division 2 for NJCAA.

Isaac Gonzalez signed with New Mexico State University for football. His highlights include first-team All-District and Senior All-Star selection. Gonzalez plays offensive line and will play Division 1 football as a preferred walk-on.

Pedro Escobar signed with the University of Texas at El Paso for football. His highlights include second-team All-District and Senior All-Star selection. Escobar plays linebacker and will play Division 1 football as a preferred walk-on.

Isaiah Peoples signed with Oklahoma Panhandle State University for football. His highlights include second-team All-District and Senior All-Star selection. Peoples plays cornerback and will play Division 2 for NAIA.

Westin Barberan signed with Lakeland University for football. Barberan plays wide receiver and will play Division 3 level football.

Max Ayala signed with the University of Southwest for track and field. Ayala ran the 400m relay and his highlights include team captain as well as Area and Regional qualifier for track and field.

Primitivo Vasquez signed with Saint Mary’s University for baseball. His highlights include first-team All-District, All-City Team, All-Academic, Bi-District Champion and Area Champion. Vasquez plays second base and will play Division 2 baseball.

Jesus Campa signed with El Paso Community College for baseball. His highlights include All-Academic Team, Bi-District Champion and Area Champion. Campa is a pitcher and plays third base.

Isaac Villanueva signed with the University of Southwest for baseball. His highlights include Bi-District Champion and Area Champion. Villanueva is a catcher and will play Division 2 for NAIA.

Pebble Hills High School

Anthony Romero signed with Western New Mexico University for football. His highlights include first-team All-District as well senior All-Star selection. Romero plays defensive end for the Spartans. “I am extremely proud to announce my commitment to Western New Mexico University,” Romero said.

Andrey Denson signed with Gustavus Adolphus College for football. His highlights include averaging 2.1 tackles per game, runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and has a 35-inch vertical jump. Denson plays defensive back for the Spartans. “Thank you to the entire Pebble Hills community for welcoming me with open arms when I came in from the northeast. I am truly grateful,” Denson said.

Payton Fields signed with Western Nebraska Community College for basketball. Her highlights include: four-year varsity starter, 2020 District/City MVP, 6A All-Region, 6A All-State, TGCA Academic All-State, TABC Academic All-State, 2018 first-team All-District and 2019 first-team All-District. Fields played guard for the Spartans and is the school’s All-Time leader in points, assists, and free throw attempts. “I am very excited to begin my journey at the next level,” Fields said.

Darla Portillo signed with Heartland Community College for soccer. Her highlights include first-team All-District in 2019 and 2020, second-team All-District in 2017 and honorable mention in 2019 Portillo is the team captain and a four-year varsity starter who plays center midfield for the Spartans. “I want to thank everyone who is here today and for supporting me,” Portillo said.

Socorro High School

Christian Parra signed with Ranger College for cross-country. His highlights include top 10 1600m and 3200m runner who placed second in the 1-6A District Track and Field Championships 3200m run. In 2019, Parra participated in the 1-6A Area Track and Field Championships and placed 10th in the 3200m 1-6A Region 1 Track and Field Championships. “I am truly excited for what lies ahead of me next,” Parra said.

Jeremiah Sanchez signed with Central Baptist College for basketball. His highlights include All-District 1-6A Honorable Mention, averaged 12 points, six rebounds and five steals per game. Sanchez is the team captain who not only shows his excellence on the court but in the classroom as well, earning Academic All-District 1-6A and being part of the Health Professions Academy and Socorro Early College. “Everyone I’ve mentioned today has influenced me to be the prestigious young man I am today,” Sanchez said.

Diego Torres signed with Our Lady of the Lake University for basketball. His highlights include 1-6A second-team All-District his junior and senior year, 1-6A All-Defensive first team his junior and senior year and averaged 17 points, five assists and six steals per game. “Every time I do something, I do it for everyone who supports me,” Torres said.

Alan Duran signed with the University of Southwest for soccer. His highlights include 2019-2020 District Boys Soccer 1-6A Most Valuable Player and earned First-Team All-District from 2017-2020. “I greatly appreciate everyone who is watching me sign today. Thank you all,” Duran said.

Armando Pando signed with the University of Southwest for soccer. His highlights include 2019-2020 District Boys Soccer 1-6A Goalkeeper of the Year; 2018-2019 Most Valuable Player; 2017-2018 Goalkeeper of the Year; 2016-2017 Freshman Newcomer of the Year and First-Team All-District 2017-2020. “I can’t wait to play soccer at the next level,” Pando said.

Yissel Olivares signed with Sul Ross State University for soccer. Her highlights include four-year varsity player who earned MVP in the 2016-2017 Lubbock Tournament and First-Team All-District 2018-2020. Olivares is also part of the Socorro Early College. “I am very excited to start this next chapter of my life,” Olivares said.

Sarayi Serrano signed with Sul Ross State University for soccer. Her highlights include team goal leader and a four-year varsity player who earned 2017-2018 first-team All-District and 2017-2018 first-team All-City. “It took a lot of hard work and dedication to get here after my injury. I am so grateful for everyone who was there for me,” Serrano said.

Clarissa Yamaguchi signed with Paul Quinn College for soccer. Her highlights include four-year varsity player who earned first-team All-District in 2019-2020, second-team All-District in 2018-2019 and was team captain her junior and senior year. “Thank you to everyone who believed in me to get here,” Yamaguchi said.

SISD graduates joining military receive diploma in personal commencement ceremonies

Socorro Independent School District graduating seniors who enlisted in military service or who are leaving El Paso with military parents who have been reassigned to new locations were celebrated in commencement ceremonies on June 4 at the District Service Center.

The graduates, who are leaving town before the planned SISD graduation ceremonies in July at the SISD Student Activities Complex, were presented their diplomas and congratulated by school, military, and district leaders.

“As you move on to assume roles in our U.S. military, I congratulate you and thank you for your admirable decision to serve and protect our country,” said SISD Superintendent Jose Espinoza, Ed.D. in a pre-recorded message to the graduates. “I am proud of your tenacity, determination, and commitment as you graduate in an unforgettable time in our history.”

Some 50 SISD graduates from Americas, Eastlake, El Dorado, Montwood, Pebble Hills, and Socorro high schools participated in the walk-through celebration with up to four family members joining them.

“Despite all the adversity we’ve faced with what’s going on right now, I think it’s wonderful that the district has put the time in to honor us,” said Montwood High School graduate Diego Ortiz, who is joining the U.S. Air Force. “It definitely shows that we matter as individuals rather than just as another graduating class. I am excited to be here with my family present. Go Class of 2020!”

The health, safety and wellbeing of all students and staff was of the utmost importance. A wellness check was conducted for the student and their family, then they entered the board room for a short ceremony which included a live welcome from their high school principal, a video presentation with comments from Dr. Espinoza and their student body/student council presidents.

The graduates picked up their diploma pre-set on a table for them and then they turned their tassel on their graduation cap as they were officially declared graduates of Team SISD. The individualized event for each graduate concluded with a photo with their family in a separate conference room.

“It was such a wonderful experience to see my son graduate,” said Hugo Ruiz, father of Americas High School graduate Hugo Ruiz Jr. who will be leaving for the U.S. Navy. “I am so proud of him and I know every decision he makes is going to take him far in his life.”

Graduate/family voices

The SISD Class of 2020 included graduates who are enlisting in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and National Guard. As they participated in the June 4 commencement ceremonies, the students and their family members expressed many emotions. Here is a sample of what they said:

“I really appreciate that they (SISD) considered doing something for us since we won’t be here for the regular graduation.”
–Americas High School graduate Kaitlyn Morales, Texas Army National Guard

“I think it was a great graduation. We practiced social distancing, we were in line and everything was done flawlessly.”
–Americas High School graduate Ethan Martinez, U.S. Navy

“It really makes me feel special considering the circumstances. It shows that there is someone out there looking out for us since we’ll be missing our graduation (in July).”
–Eastlake High School graduate Gabriel Trevizo, New Mexico Military Institute

“I am thankful for my law enforcement teachers especially. They taught me that nothing in life is given to you. You have to put in effort for the things you want in life.”
–Eastlake High School graduate Karen Alderette, U.S. Navy

“As a parent I feel so humbled that SISD was able to put this together. It gives me great joy, happiness and comfort that my son was able to have some type of celebration… it was personalized and its definitely something we will remember forever.”
–Veronica Booth, mother of Eastlake High School graduate Jarred Booth, who joined the U.S. Army

“I felt let down because I wanted to graduate with my entire class, but I am glad that they made a way for us to actually have a graduation ceremony.”
–El Dorado High School graduate Alexandira Matus, U.S. Army

“It felt good to have this graduation because not only myself, but many of my classmates who are also enlisting in the military were scared that we wouldn’t make it for graduation, so knowing that we are at least able to have something like this means a lot to us. I’m happy for today because we got our moment.”
–El Dorado High School graduate Ethan Orozco, U.S. Navy

“I feel pretty good to have graduated. It was a long wait and I feel like all the things that I’ve been through while in high school was all worth it. I didn’t know what to anticipate for the normal graduation, so this is fine.”
–El Dorado High School graduate Amil Smith, U.S. Air Force

“It was good to be able to be honored with my family here today. At first, I was bummed out thinking there’d be no graduations, but then they did this, and it brought me hope to just keep going.”
–Montwood High School graduate Humberto Galindo, U.S. Army

“To be here with my family today, while I get recognized, feels amazing. Since we were not able to have the original graduation and I won’t be able to be here for mine, it’s kind of cool to just have something small. It feels great to be here because now I get to start my life and serve my country.”
–Montwood High School graduate Marco Esparza, U.S. Army

“It feels amazing to be able to see my son graduate. He is my third child to graduate, so for me it is awesome to see that my kids are achieving the goal of graduating. For him to be going to the Army is a plus for me, so I feel amazing and very happy.”
–Judith Gonzalez, mother of Montwood High School graduate Ethan Esparza, U.S. Army

“I feel really excited. I didn’t expect this. I thought it was just going to be grab the diploma and out, but it was special because I got to experience a graduation that everyone should have. Even though I was just by myself, I was not surrounded by my peers, I still feel like I got the experience like most people do.”
–Montwood High School graduate Alberto Puentes, U.S. Army

“I am very excited for today, but I am also ready to leave and join the military. I am content with the ceremony today and to have my family present.”
–Pebble Hills High School graduate Gabriel Aguilera, U.S. Army

“(My son) was excited for us, so that we could have that special ceremony with him. I am really grateful that the district did come together and give him that because they recognized that they are leaving, and they are leaving for a good reason. “This will help push them in their life and towards their future.”
–Monica Aguilera, mother of Pebble Hills High School graduate Gabriel Aguilera

“Thinking about what the district has done here for us today makes me want to cry. I am so thankful and appreciative to be a part of this community … I want to thank them so much for everything that they have done for me.”
–Pebble Hills High School graduate Jocelyn Warren, U.S. Army

“I feel proud. It was nice to have a private military graduation. Finally, after four years of high school and after last semester was cancelled by the whole situation is strange, but I am happy. Having my diploma here makes me feel proud of myself.”
–Socorro High School graduate Kevin Alvidrez, U.S. Marines

“I feel really honored that they did this for me. I am leaving on the 16th, so I am not going to get to walk with my class, unfortunately. But it was really nice of them to do something like this for me.”
–Socorro High School graduate Irvin Martinez, U.S. Navy

“I feel really good that the district put on this special graduation just for military, especially because I leave July 14, so I would’ve missed the new graduation dates. I’m glad I at least got to experience getting my diploma and a small celebration. The ceremony was awesome. I really liked it. The videos were nice. I liked recognizing some of my peers on them.”
–Socorro High School graduate Alan Ramirez, U.S. Navy

SISD graduates joining military receive diploma event photos

Eastlake High School spearheads first virtual Texas Association of Student Councils conference

Eastlake High School hosted the first-ever virtual 2020 Texas Association of Student Councils annual conference in the event’s 84-year history.

The conference, conducted May 8 via a livestream on YouTube, included speeches by various keynote speakers and new officers for the 2020-2021 school year were elected.

About 5,000 students and their advisors took part in the event, while 1,700 guests viewed the virtual conference.

Eastlake High School, the first school in the Socorro Independent School District to host the TASC conference, was selected in 2018 to host the conference, long before the impact of COVID-19 hit school communities across Texas and the nation.

Despite the unusual circumstances, the school’s student activities director and student council coordinator Kelley Akins and the Eastlake student council members succeeded in planning and coordinating the inaugural virtual conference in less than a two-week period.

The Eastlake students worked fast and efficiently embracing this year’s conference theme of  “Level Up Your Leadership.”

“If there was ever a year to level up our leadership it was definitely this year as these students all dealt with a new level of adversity,” Akins said.

The group who planned and carried out the successful virtual conference consisted of seven students from the Eastlake student council, who dubbed themselves The Savvy Seven.

Among them was student body president Gilbert ‘Gibby’ Widner, a senior, who was also this year’s conference coordinator student representative.

“We put everything we had into this conference, even though we couldn’t host the conference in person,” Widner said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team, for better friends, and Ms. Akins has been an amazing advisor.”

Chairperson and conference coordinator team member Kya Lopez, a senior, was initially disheartened with the change in plans that she and her teammates had worked so hard on for over a year. However, she was more than happy with the results.

“Though the conference was different this year due to the whole coronavirus pandemic, it still felt like we were connected with everyone that we would’ve connected with if it had been done in person,” Lopez said. “The theme ‘Level Up Your Leadership’ was an instant idea that really stuck and saw us through.”

Students continue to have access via Zoom, YouTube and Vimeo to the table talks from the conference, which are presentations on projects from schools across Texas. They also have access to the breakout sessions with national speakers and programs endorsed by TASC, which originally would’ve been conducted at the conference over a series of three days.

“I cannot speak more highly of my students,” Akins said. “We weren’t going to give up, we just had to make adjustments to move forward virtually.”

The Texas Association of Student Councils includes just under 1,400 urban, rural, private and charter middle schools and high schools from across the state of Texas who host numerous trainings throughout the year for both students and advisors on learning and leadership.

“This was a dream of mine when I started at Eastlake,” Akins said. “The students and I knew it would be a lot of work and take up a lot of our time, but we were so honored for the opportunity to show off Eastlake, Socorro ISD and El Paso to the rest of Texas.”

SISD’s Career and Technical Education teachers make face shields for district employees

The Socorro Independent School District’s Career and Technical Education Department provided their time and resources toward supplying hundreds of the district’s essential employees with face shields during the COVID-19 district shutdown.

Six high school CTE teachers volunteered to make the shields at home, while the city’s stay-at-home order was in place and the schools were closed. The teachers used the district’s available 3D printers, which are normally used by students in engineering, animation, and biomedical sciences programs.

“The printers were originally for the use of students, but have become tools for creating devices that can help slow the spread of people getting sick,” said George Thomas, director of SISD Careers and Technical Education department. “It is awesome to see the innovations of these machines in helping save lives.”

The shields take about an hour and half to make using the 3D MakerBot Printers. Once printed, the front of the shield is covered with a clear disposable sheet, which can be sanitized for reuse. Six holes are punched on the top of the mask horizontally so it can be clipped onto a headband forming the protective face shield.

Americas High School architecture instructor Bill Schmidt is one of the six volunteers who has been making the masks for essential employees. He has produced more than 250 shields.

“It’s a good feeling to contribute my time toward this,” Schmidt said. “It not only keeps us busy during this time, but hopefully is helping out other people who are essential workers within the district.”

Some 900 shields have been distributed to employees across the district, including the Child and Nutrition Services department. The food services employees have been preparing and distributing meals to students and families across the district.

CNS Director Shelley Chenausky said she reached out to Thomas when she saw the masks on television and thought they would be helpful safety items to provide to employees who are directly in contact with the public on a regular basis.

“The health of our employees is critical to us in order to continue serving the families in the community. Without those meals, our children would be greatly impacted,” Chenausky said. “It is critical that we keep our team safe and healthy. Mr. Thomas and his CTE team need to know that they are making a huge impact in the lives of the children and our workers. We can’t thank them enough.”

Thomas said the CTE team anticipates being able to provide some 7,000 shields to SISD employees when they return to schools and offices.

“We hope to be able to continue to provide these face shields to people who need them,” Thomas said.

Socorro ISD educator earns prestigious Life-Changer of the Year award

A longtime Socorro Independent School District educator has been honored with the 2020 Life-Changer of the Year award from the National Life Group

Candace Printz, assistant director of fine arts for the Socorro Independent School District, was the fifth and final grand prize finalist for the prestigious award.

Printz was formerly an art teacher at El Dorado High School. As a recipient of the award she was noted as a leader in her field who is constantly finding ways to develop students’ artistic skills, while also incorporating ways to save the environment.

“I think people now, more than ever, are realizing how hard teachers work and the importance of the profession/calling,” Printz said. “To be knowledgeable of the content, while also being able to convey that in a clear and loving way is definitely a skill.”

A former student of Printz’s, who she taught seven years ago, pursued printmaking and earned a job with National Life Group. That student nominated Printz for the award.

In her Life-Changer of the Year award nomination video, Printz said she has always wanted to help animals and the environment, which eventually led her to forming a group of students, staff and community members that collected trash from deserts in El Paso, which they recycled into creative artwork while raising awareness for environmentalism.

This movement, which evolved into the Its Your World project, and a follow-up nonprofit known as the Green Hope Project, helped her earn the National Life Group recognition.

The Life-Changer of the Year award, an annual program funded and run by National Life Group and its Foundation, recognizes and rewards K-12 educators and school employees from around the country.

Each year, Life-Changer of the Year awards 16 educators and their schools with cash prizes.

“I think teaching is much more than just teaching,” Printz said. “I believe it’s a calling, every little thing you do with the kids and how you make them feel will impact them in their future, and that is the most rewarding part of my career.”

SISD to have Memorial Day weekend eSports Tournament

The Socorro Independent School District will have a four-team double elimination eSports tournament Saturday, May 23 and Monday May 25.

District officials share that the event will be streamed in spectator mode via SISD’s Twitch channel starting at 10 a.m. both days.

The tournament will include a winner bracket and a loser bracket. The first bracket is Eastlake High School Team 1 vs. Socorro High School Team 1. Bracket two is Eastlake High School Team 2 vs. Montwood High School Team 1.

The winners will go on to play each other in the next round. The losers will go on to play each other in their bracket.

The championship round will be at 1 p.m. May 25 and the winner from there will play against the winner of the coaches vs. technology department for fun.

Viewers can watch the competition on the SISD’s Twitch channel. Use the hashtag #SISDesports to interact with the event. Below is the schedule and attached is the tournament bracket.

Saturday May 23, 2020

10 a.m. – Bracket 1

11 a.m. – Bracket 2

Noon – coaches vs. technology department event

 

Monday May 25, 2020

10 a.m. – Bracket 3

11 a.m. – Bracket 4

Noon – Bracket 5

1 p.m. – Finals – Bracket 6

2 p.m – For fun! student champion team vs. winner of coaches vs. tech department

SISD Cares Fund established to help feed families impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

With concern for its neighbors and a desire to make a positive difference, the Socorro Independent School District recently established a SISD Cares Fund to support El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank (EPFH Food Bank) in their efforts to feed families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

All monetary donations to the SISD Cares Fund will go toward providing meals to El Paso families during this pandemic.  The EPFH Food Bank has distributed close to 80,000 boxes of food to nearly 23,000 families in El Paso since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and there is still great need to assist those who are food insecure.

“We are proud to team up with our community partners El Pasoans Fighting Hunger and Paso del Norte Community Foundation to help families during this challenging and unprecedented pandemic,” said SISD Superintendent Jose Espinoza, Ed.D.

“It is of utmost importance to provide support to those that need it most. We encourage those in Team SISD who can join in our efforts to ensure no child or family goes without the nutritious food they need to stay healthy.”

Donations also will support the challenge grant established by Hunt Family Foundation, Paul L. Foster Family Foundation and MountainStar Sports Group Foundation who have agreed to match all donations made to El Pasoans Fighting Hunger up to $1 million.

“Donations of any amount will help feed the SISD community and this is a great opportunity for Team SISD, including employees, parents and students, business associates, and supporters, to contribute to those in most need during this difficult and uncertain time,” district officials share. “Together, Team SISD can make a meaningful impact.”

Click here to donate to the SISD Cares Fund

Two Socorro ISD seniors earn Gates Scholarship

Two seniors in the Socorro Independent School District have earned the prestigious Gates Scholarship, which provides funding for the full cost of their postsecondary education.

Gustavo Ramirez from Americas High School and Eric Corona Jr. from Mission Early College High School are among the 300 students nationwide who earned the highly selective scholarship.

“I definitely wasn’t able to do this alone,” Corona said. “I am lucky enough to have had the support of my family, my friends, my school, the district of course. I just want to thank them again because this is something I could’ve never accomplished without them.”

The Gates Scholarship provides for the full cost of college/university attendance, including tuition, fees, room, books, transportation, and other personal costs. More than 36,500 applicants nationwide applied for the scholarship that is available for exceptional, minority students.

“I’ve always been very passionate about having a positive contribution to the community,” Ramirez said. “This scholarship opportunity has allowed me to pursue my dream of higher education because of the funding it provides, so I am very grateful for that.”

Since the Gates Scholarship was established in 2018, several SISD students have won the generous financial award. Gates scholars are students with outstanding academic records, strong leadership abilities and have exceptional personal success.

“This is a great opportunity because the Gates scholarship pays for everything,” said Director of Guidance and Counseling Tammi Mackeben. “These top-notch students take their education very seriously and meet their expectations every school year.”

Mission Early College High School principal Ben Ortega said all seniors are encouraged to apply for as many scholarships as they can. The Go Center specialist on campus helps students identify scholarships they qualify for and with the application process.

“I believe all of our students have the potential to bring in that money for themselves,” Ortega said. “Eric is a perfect example; this will definitely take him far in his education and I could not be prouder.”

The Americas High School counseling department posted a congratulatory message on Twitter for Ramirez.

“Gustavo, you allowed your dreams to become your wings, and now we see you fly,” the counselors said in the Tweet. “Congratulations on being selected as Gates Scholar and member of Gates Scholarship Class of 2020!”

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