Earlier this semester, Jane A. Hambric School hosted its annual Family Fitness day, an initiative that promotes wellness and health among students and the community.
“This is such a great event,” said Joanne Anguiano, principal at Hambric. “We want to motivate students to be healthy. This is also is an amazing way to involve the community. There are so many parents and students having fun with all the games. I love it.”
As part of the district’s commitment to offer students a well-rounded education and strengthen home, school and community partnerships, the event encourages students to make healthy lifestyle choices.
The school also celebrated receiving two grants: $4,000 from Fuel to Play 60 and $2,000 from Action for Kids.
Students and parents participated in fun football games, such as tire run, kick off and football throw — all located on the football field. Heart rate monitors also tracked heart rates as part of the fitness day.
“This is an awesome turnout,” said Erica Armijo, physical education teacher at the school. “We try to change it up every year. Our goal is to encourage a lifelong healthy lifestyle for our students.”
Edward Saavedra and his daughter, Ashley, a kindergarten student, enjoyed all the different activities.
“It’s great because it gives me more time with her,” Saavedra said. “It’s fun and it gets everyone moving.”
In addition to a day of physical activity, Walgreens gave flu shots and Gymnastics Elite, Texas Dental, Cigna, Young Marines and the Girl Scouts provided information on their services.
An assembly at Ernesto Serna School turned into an exciting surprise for students and staff when world-famous artist and songwriter Khalid made an appearance at the school.
The Socorro ISD alum surprised more than 700 students with gifts and holiday cheer.
“Socorro ISD supports me a lot so I try and extend my gratitude in multiple ways,” Khalid said. “It’s super special for me to give back to El Paso. The fact that I get to come to school and get to hand out gifts to all these kids is special. Maybe today they woke up in a bad mood but they left in a better mood, as long as that purpose is accomplished that’s all that matters.”
The Ernesto Serna community thought the event was a reception to honor their charitable deeds. Earlier this year, the campus raised $2,000 to contribute to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and help a child’s dream become a reality. The school also participated in a toy and canned food drive to help others in need.
SISD Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D., Board Trustee Paul Guerra and Principal Alejandro Olvera thanked students for their generous donations and support. Moments later, Dr. Espinoza announced to students that they were in for a special treat from someone who wanted to give back to them.
Dr. Espinoza called up Khalid’s parents and his sister and thanked them for their generosity and kindness. He went on to introduce the highly acclaimed singer.
“He’s a proud Team SISD alum, MTV Video Music Award winner, Billboard Music Awards winner, Teen Choice Award winner, iheartRadio Music Award winner, American Music Award winner, an Americas High School graduate. He’s the talented musical artist, Khalid!” Espinoza said.
Students were thrilled when they saw Khalid make his grand entrance. The school bleachers were filled with tears of joy, looks of awe, wide eyes, and bright smiles full of excitement.
Brandon Valenzuela, a seventh-grader at the school, said meeting the Grammy-nominated artist has been a dream come true.
“I was crying when I saw him,” he said. “It was my dream to meet him, and I can’t believe he chose us. He is so nice. To me, he’s perfect.”
Khalid gave a countdown and all students, kindergarten through eighth-grade, unwrapped their Christmas presents. They received cosmetic playsets, drawing dashboards, LOL dolls, fire trucks, and more.
Another student, Diego Martinez, received a guitar.
“I love music and I love my guitar,” said the fifth-grader. “I was so happy that I hugged him and kept saying thank you. I will always remember this moment and this gift. I’m going to be even more excited when I hear his songs!”
Principal Olvera said his students were star-struck and thankful to have received a gift from Khalid.
“At Ernesto Serna we take pride in helping others and today we were blessed with this opportunity where Khalid came to our school to spend this time with our kids and invested in our children,” Olvera said. “This really meant a lot!”
For Khalid, giving back to his home town was a humbling experience and an opportunity to share an inspiring message.
“Persistency is the key to success,” Khalid said. “It’s about not giving up. I always say this, ‘the one day you could have given up, the next day could have been your blessing”, and a lot of people don’t get to see that, and some people don’t make it to that… You have to work for what you want. Be true to yourself, your goals, your dreams and everything will line up as you want it to be.”
Team SISD employees showed off their talents at the third annual SISD Employee Art Show earlier this season.
Dozens of creations were entered in the exhibit. The pieces included a variety of media that were displayed at the District Service Center from photography to oil paintings.
“I think it was a great opportunity to showcase the work of our employees,” said Macka Jones, SISD’s visual arts specialist. “We have a lot of employees that do this when they are off as a hobby. I really enjoy seeing what they turn in.”
Linda Martinez contributed a photograph she took of her daughter at a Fourth of July fireworks show in Dallas this year. The kindergarten teacher at Sgt. Jose Carrasco Elementary School was inspired by last year’s exhibit.
“It’s exciting because I saw the previous ones while at the DSC for training and I was like ‘I want to be a part of that,’” Martinez said. “I found out more information about it and that is what made me want to be a part of it. I am proud that it is on the wall.”
Martinez said having employees participate in events like an art exhibit helps boost morale and allows people to get to know their colleagues.
“It makes you happy to walk through these halls and see this amazing work,” she said. “Just like me, it makes you want to be a part of it. It makes you excited to be a part of such a great thing like the Socorro school district.”
Claudia Castaneda, art teacher at Eastlake High School, enters the exhibit every year. She likes when she sees others participating in the event.
“It allows people to show their talent and their passion,” Castaneda said. “I like it because it keeps you going as an artist.”
Socorro ISD fourth- through eighth-grade students spent a recent Saturday discovering college and profession possibilities at the fourth annual Career Awareness Showcase at Pebble Hills High School.
The event exposes students to different programs in the district so they can make an informed decision when selecting their endorsement for their high school career path. Students learned about Team SISD’s endless opportunities, including the Career and Technical Education program, advanced academics academies, dual credit courses and early college high schools.
“The Career Awareness Showcase is an opportunity for our students to learn about careers that they might not have considered,” said George Thomas, SISD’s Career and Technical Education director. “It really helps them and their parents when it comes time to choose their endorsement prior to high school.”
Students were able to hear about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), business and industry, public service, arts and humanities, and multidisciplinary studies.
More than 70 presenters, including current high school students in various SISD programs; and business and industry professionals, answered questions about the district’s programs or their line of work.
Mike and Danielle Fisher made sure, Justin Walters, 10, attended the showcase. The Bill Sybert School fifth grader wants to be a pilot in the United States Air Force. He wore a vest with all his stepdad’s military medals and honors he earned while in the military.
“I wanted to find out more about the career I want to have,” Walters said. “I like to travel and I like the military, so becoming a pilot would help me achieve that.”
The Fishers were impressed by the event and said it was beneficial for their son and other students.
“This is excellent exposure,” Mike Fisher said. “It makes sure students are prepared for what they want to do in the future. I have never seen anything like it before.”
Danielle Fisher said she applauds SISD’s effort to teach their young students about college and career readiness.
“This allows students to have bigger and better opportunities before entering college,” she said. “It makes them think and gives them a chance to achieve their dreams. It’s really an amazing event.”
Award-winning bilingual author and storyteller Joe Hayes brought his talent to Purple Heart Elementary School as part of the school’s Book-of-the-Month event.
The author of the Texas Bluebonnet Award book nominee, “Grandpa’s Hal-lo-yoo-ya Hambone,” which was the Heroes Book-of-the-Month, spent several hours in the school library telling entertaining stories that made children laugh, gasp and listen intently. He used his voice for different characters from an old Spanish-speaking abuela to a no-nonsense chicken.
Hayes, who will be the guest speaker at the fourth annual SISD Battle of the Bluebonnets reading contest on February 22 at the DSC, has been a nationally known teller of Southwestern tales from Hispanic, Native American and Anglo cultures for 38 years. He has written 25 children’s books, visited more than 3,000 schools and traveled throughout the country, to Spain and eight Latin American countries.
“He really is a treasure,” said Dawn Demings Rico, librarian at Purple Heart. “He has been an advocate for school and libraries and books. He is valued immensely throughout the district, throughout El Paso and the Southwest area.”
This was Hayes’ second visit to Purple Heart. Rico invited the Santa Fe resident so children could understand what authors do. Throughout the month, students read the book and teachers found ways to incorporate lessons from it. There were family recipe books and other projects.
“I wanted our kids to make a connection with our book of the month,” Rico said. “I think it’s sort of an abstract concept to students. They don’t realize who is behind writing the book and the process that’s behind it. For them to be able to see him in person, to see the person who created the ideas, I think it’s very powerful.”
For Hayes, there is nothing like telling a story to room full of kids. He gets so much satisfaction seeing their faces engaged.
“It recharges my battery,” Hayes said. “Just to receive the appreciation from the children and to see that they still enjoy listening to a story in the 21st century is very, very satisfying.”
He makes that point because he discovered early on that children really do enjoy listening to family stories. It’s important that people pass on their stories to their children or grandchildren, Hayes said.
“Children don’t have enough direct contact with adults anymore,” Hayes said. “They get stories in other ways like electronic ways. It doesn’t come right from a person to them. Storytelling gives them a sense of really getting the full attention of an adult, which is vital to a child.”
However, becoming a reader is probably the most important thing, he said. It’s the foundation for the whole educational experience, he added.
“It begins with reading and reading is what carries us through our entire life as learners,” he said. “So, it is absolutely essential. Anytime you can come up with something that is going to engage children and get them interested in reading then you feel like you are making a real contribution.”
The Health Professions Academy in the Socorro Independent School District had its 27th annual White Coat Induction Ceremony for more than 100 freshmen students entering the program at Socorro High School.
The event is the formal recognition of students chosen for HPA and as future healthcare providers. During the ceremony, the students are presented with a stethoscope and white coats. A parent or family member is invited to be on stage to help them put on their coat.
“This marks the transition,” said Fabiola Armendariz, HPA coordinator. “This acknowledges their beginning as a healthcare student and hopefully in a health profession.”
HPA is among the seven advanced academic academies available for SISD students.
The academy allows students to do clinical rotations at University Medical Center, Del Sol/Las Palmas Medical Centers, Adobe Animal Hospital, St. Giles Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Oasis Nursing Home, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies, Socorro Medical Clinic, Team SISD high schools medically fragile units, and assist school nurses across the district.
Fourteen-year-old Ariana Casillas was excited to receive a stethoscope and her white coat. She has dreamed of becoming a pediatrician since she was a little girl.
“This is my first step in achieving that dream,” Casillas said. “I hope to attend Texas Tech University. I’ve already learned how to take a pulse. It’s going to be hard, but it is worth it in the end.”
Her mother, Diana Casillas, is proud of her daughter’s goals.
“She is taking advantage of all Socorro (Independent School District) has to offer,” Casillas said. “That’s the big difference from other places. They prepare you at a young age. They prepare you with the foundation of a career. Where else are you going to get that, but here.”
Three Socorro ISD students will compete in the UIL Congress state contest January 7-9 in Austin.
The students advancing to state are Bryan Liston, Pebble Hills High School, who came in first place; Caitlyn Acevedo, Americas High School, who was second; and Ethan Lopez, another Trailblazer, earned third place.
“Congratulations to all of our coaches and students,” said Stephanie Carrasco, coordinator of advanced academics for the district.
“Our students were well prepared to present their affirmations and arguments for proposed legislation. The speeches were eloquent and the presenters were confident. Our students represented Team SISD proudly.”
The UIL Congress event is a competition that models the legislative process of democracy, specifically, the United States Congress.
According to the UIL website, during the tournament, students “caucus in committees, deliver formal discourse on the merits and disadvantages of each piece of legislation, and vote to pass or defeat the measures they have examined. Parliamentary procedure forms structure for the discourse, and students extemporaneously respond to others’ arguments over the course of a session.”
Team SISD swept the ESC Region 19 competition in November at Canutillo High School.
Staff Report November 29, 2018NewsComments Off on Socorro ISD Approves Boundary Adjustments, Campus Changes for 2019-2020 School Year
The Socorro Independent School District Board of Trustees approved boundary adjustments, which will go into effect January 2019 for new students and at the start of the 2019-2020 school year for current students.
“In planning for the boundary adjustments, Team SISD’s priorities are to be good stewards of all resources and to respect families in the existing school communities,” said Marivel Macias, assistant superintendent of administrative services.
“We focused on boundary adjustments that made best use of our existing campuses and adjusted for our new elementary school, while considering the needs of our students and families,” Macias said.
“Our commitment is to provide all students a high-quality education in a comfortable, safe learning environment.”
The boundary adjustments are being made in the El Dorado and Pebble Hills feeder patterns to maximize the use of existing facilities in those areas and to adjust for SISD’s newest elementary school, Cactus Trails Elementary School, which is set to open in the Pebble Hills area in July 2019.
Via a news release, Socorro ISD officials shared, “Team SISD is proactive in monitoring the growth in the district, demographics, and use of facilities in order to be poised to always provide students in all areas of the district safe and supportive learning environments.”
The boundary changes were carefully crafted taking into consideration many aspects, such as staffing, transition periods, student transportation, and potential facility renovations.
During October and early November, the district met with students, parents and community members at 10 community meetings to explain the proposed boundary adjustments and gain feedback from the stakeholders.
SISD also met with teachers, support staff, administrators, and district directors at 27 faculty and staff meetings to discuss the boundary changes.
The 2019-2020 boundary adjustments include the following changes:
Hurshel Antwine Elementary School will transition into a middle school for the El Dorado feeder pattern.
Paso del Norte K-8 School will become an elementary school for the El Dorado feeder pattern.
Sgt. Roberto Ituarte Elementary School will be the pre-k hub school in the El Dorado feeder pattern.
The new SISD elementary school, Cactus Trails Elementary School (PK-5), will serve students that currently go to James P. Butler and Chester E. Jordan elementary schools.
The changes were approved during SISD’s regular board meeting in mid- November; t learn more about the approved boundary adjustments, visit the district website.
Staff Report November 25, 2018LifestyleComments Off on Socorro ISD Host Annual ‘Fandom and Comic Expo Saturday
Students in Socorro ISD’s middle and high school schools are invited to the upcoming SISD Fandom and Comic Expo on December 1st.
SISD officials share that the unique event will allow students to engage in fun activities such as: cosplay contest, games, tournaments, interactive panels, and sessions.
Local vendors and artists will be at the event, including special guest speaker Carlos Anguiano. Anguiano is a technical art consultant from Mangosoft LLC who has worked on major projects, including Fortnite, Shadow of the Colossus, Avengers, and Transformers 2.
New to the comic expo this year is a steampunk design competition and the Harry Potter inspired Quidditch match.
SISD Reading Revel book clubs also will have a social where students can network with one another, and answer questions about the books they are reading.
To register for the SISD Fandom and Comic Expo, visit the district website. The Comic Expo will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Eastlake High School.
Staff Report November 21, 2018NewsComments Off on Socorro ISD Schools Expand ‘Little Free Libraries’ Program
Five more schools have opened Little Free Libraries outside their front doors to make books more accessible and boost students’ reading skills.
Robert R. Rojas Elementary, Ernesto Serna Elementary, Benito Martinez Elementary, Sgt. Jose F. Carrasco Elementary and Salvador H. Sanchez Middle schools have added the small doll-house-like structures, filled with books donated by non-profits, district police officers, librarians, teachers, staff and the community.
“Little Free Libraries are important for our schools because they help strengthen community bonds,” said Marcy Sparks, SISD’s library services coordinator. “It’s not just that students have more access to books, but it’s also taking responsibility to make sure it’s well cared for and anyone in the community can help lead in that effort. That’s why many of our leadership organizations, like the Boys and Girls Scouts, have sponsored a few of our libraries and help make sure they continue to provide reading material in a safe space.”
The district’s goal is to equip all elementary and K-8 schools with Little Free Libraries, Sparks said. There are currently about 20 of the small libraries at SISD schools.
“What I love about the Little Free Library movement is the visual reminder for our communities that reading is important,” Sparks said. “When our communities value literacy, then we all benefit.”
Drs. Steve and Georgia Lane, of Farmington, N.M., have been huge contributors to the literacy cause in SISD. Through the couple’s Three Rivers Education Foundation, they donated three Little Free Libraries that went to Rojas, Serna and Sanchez and thousands of books to those schools and others in the district.
“This is what the foundation is all about,” Georgia Lane said. “The SISD schools we work with had expressed a need, so we wanted to
fulfill it. We want to help increase literacy in schools. We love what we do. It’s heartwarming to see how happy the students are. We want to make a difference in a child’s life.”
Benito Martinez Principal Greg Hatch took it upon himself to build his school’s Little Free Library. It was a week’s worth of hard work, but it was a true success, he said.
“I wanted to make sure my scholars had each and every opportunity to learn and excel,” Hatch said. “This year, we are placing an even stronger emphasis on reading. I have purchased novels for each and every grade level. I am pushing using authentic literature to teach reading as opposed to using dittos and passages. If I truly believe that my scholars learn reading by being authentically engaged in reading, then I must ensure that regardless of the day or the hour they have access to books. The Little Library ensures exactly that.”
The small cabinet, sitting near the entrance, is a big hit with students, who are happy to have one more place to grab a book.
“I have seen students make sure they take a book with them as they leave the campus,” Hatch said. “While working nights and weekends, I have seen students drop by and get a book during non-school hours. I believe that it truly is sending the message that reading is important and that the only way you get better at reading is by reading.”
For Carrasco Elementary, the SISD Police Department donated a Little Free Library. The school, named after the district’s first police sergeant who ensured students’ safety for more than 34 years, has a student population hungry to read.
“Librarian Cori Stothart approached us with the idea of the Little Free Library at which point we decided it was a no brainer,” said SISD
Police Chief Joe Castorena. “The little library was not the only item donated. We also donated a large number of books that we had inherited previously when we took over the district’s former mobile library. Having all those items, we decided our kids should enjoy the benefits of reading. So, we did it.”
Stothart is so grateful for the incredible gift and continued support from Chief Castorena and the SISD police department.
“Our community’s heart is warmed knowing that they are taking care of us!” Stothart said. “Our scholars are amazed that they have 24-hour access to a completely free resource. I am especially grateful to be in a position to foster a greater understanding of what all libraries are truly about: equal access to information for everyone.”
Staff Report November 14, 2018Local NewsComments Off on New SISD School Named Cactus Trails Elementary School, Mascot will be Diamondbacks
The Socorro Independent School District Board of Trustees approved the name of the district’s newest elementary school: Cactus Trails Elementary School.
The district’s 49th campus is being built in the Pebble Hills area and will accommodate about 800 elementary students. The new campus will serve the rapidly expanding east side of Team SISD and alleviate James P. Butler Elementary School, which now overflows students to other schools in the area.
The $28.4 million facility is scheduled to be open for the 2019-2020 school year.
Leslie Thomas, formerly the principal of Jane A. Hambric School, will be the principal of Cactus Trails Elementary School.
Trustees and Superintendent Espinoza also approved the school mascot and colors. The mascot will be diamondbacks and the school colors will be gray, teal and white.
Trustees voted at the regular school board meeting on November 13, 2018.
Staff Report November 2, 2018Local NewsComments Off on Socorro ISD, Immunize El Paso Partner to Host Flu Shot Clinics
On Friday, Socorro Independent School District officials announced that their schools, in collaboration with Immunize El Paso, will host flu shot clinics now through the end of the school year at SISD campuses.
“We have been working with Immunize El Paso for the last five years to help parents, teachers and the community protect themselves against the flu,” said Rebecca Madrid, SISD nurse manager.
The clinics are open to all students, parents, employees and community members. Children receiving immunizations must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Medical insurances such as Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, and other private insurances are accepted. Participants who are unable to pay won’t be denied services.
Staff Report November 1, 2018NewsComments Off on Socorro ISD Counseling Teams Win State Honor
Socorro Independent School District counseling teams are being recognized by the Lone Star State School Counseling Association (LSSSCA) for running highly effective programs.
This year, Socorro ISD counseling programs earned nearly half of the 2018 Lone Star counseling awards.
“There were 30 award winners across the state of Texas, 14 being from SISD,” said Tammy Mackeben, director of guidance and counseling. “We are very proud of our Socorro ISD school counseling programs that received the Lone Star Award. Each program completed the application demonstrating the data driven, comprehensive school counseling program they employ.”
The comprehensive application is evaluated based on the program goals, mindset and behaviors for student success, core curriculum action plan, lesson plans, program and an evaluation reflection, among other things.
LSSSCA awards have three categories: gold, silver and bronze. Each level is met with increased levels of rigor designed to elevate school counseling programs to national recognition through the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) awards.
Gold Lone Star winners were Helen Ball and Sgt. Roberto Ituarte elementary schools, Paso del Norte School, and SPC Rafael Hernando III Middle School. Silver Lone Star recipients were Chester Jordan, Purple Heart, Lujan-Chavez, and Hurshel Antwine elementary schools, Bill Sybert and John Drugan schools. Bronze Lone Star winners were Hueco and Mission Ridge elementary school, Col. John O. Ensor and SSG Manuel R. Puentes middle schools.
“Receiving this award is quite an honor,” said Ruth Harris, counselor at Mission Ridge Elementary. “Mr. Mendoza and I work hard to do our very best for our students. We support their needs and encourage them to do their very best.”
SISD counseling programs were excited to be recognized and happy to follow the national ASCA model to its entirety.
Melissa Galvez and Raquel Fraga, counselors at Sgt. Roberto Ituarte Elementary School, are committed to continue to assess their program and ensure they advocate for students on a daily basis.
“It took three years of planning and a lot of preparation, but the experience has made us better counselors,” Galvez said.
Award winners will be recognized at the LSSSCA annual conference November 6 in Frisco, Texas.
Staff Report October 25, 2018NewsComments Off on SISD Student Builds Pantry to Aid Hungry Families in Purple Heart Community
Eighth-grader Manuel Santos, who knows what it is like to be hungry, built a Blessings Box for Purple Heart Elementary.
The food pantry, similar to a Little Free Library and located at the front of school, is filled with canned goods and non-perishable food for students and families in need.
“What inspired me to create the Blessings Box was the fact that I used to be a child who sometimes wouldn’t have food to eat,” said Santos, a student at Sun Ridge Middle School. “I know that there are a lot of kids out there that need food, but they might not say anything. I wanted it to provide an extra meal for those who are hungry.”
Building the purple and gold colored food pantry was a community project to help Santos become an Eagle Scout. The young man spent two weeks constructing it thanks to supply donations from Home Depot and Lowes. His uncle, Roman Payan, Troop 137 Scoutmaster, and an assistant scout master, also helped.
“Now it serves its purpose to give back to my community,” Santos said. “I feel really good because I know that this community is very humble and families may need an extra meal and I was able to provide for that.”
The Heroes’ Blessings Box is the only one located at a school in the El Paso area. Across the country, they can usually be found in churches and recreational centers, Payan said. The first one was built in 2016.
Payan is proud of his nephew, whom he adopted in 2014. The young boy quickly understood what it meant to be a Boy Scout even though he joined scouting only four years ago.
“This Blessings Box is special,” said Payan, a retired teacher. “Manny knows about feeling hungry. When he was little, he would go from home to home trying to find a meal every evening with his mom. This community project comes to the heart of the situation because Manny understands that ‘I was there one time and now I can give back.’”
That caring message is equally important to Purple Heart students, said Deborah Luevano, the Communities in Schools coordinator and family and parent engagement liaison. From Pre-K to fifth grade, youngsters are learning that there are people who may be hungry in their own classrooms and community.
“We have seen a significant need from families that may be experiencing some type of crisis or on occasion a need,” Luevano said. “Some families may be in need more frequently. A person from El Pasoans Fighting Hunger told me that one in four kids in our area is hungry. We want to help them any time they may need it whether we are in school, on intersession or during summer break. We want to make sure the Blessings Box is always here and available to them.”
Initially, first-grade students and teachers sponsored the small food pantry, Luevano said. Many families and students brought in food and other staples to fill up its shelves. El Pasoans Fighting Hunger, who recently began a partnership with Purple Heart, also contributed. Other grade levels and the school’s Kindness Club are stepping up to help as well.
“I hope this becomes an inspiration for other schools so they also can provide to families in need,” Luevano said.
As for her thoughts on Santos, who never attended Purple Heart, but decided to help the elementary school, Luevano’s voice breaks and is close to tears speaking about the young man.
“He is an awesome citizen, student,” she said. “I think it really shows his character. He has come full circle and is using his own hands to give back. It’s just fabulous.”
The Purple Heart Elementary Blessings Box is located at the front of the school and is available to any family in need whether they are a Purple Heart family or not. Donations for the food pantry also will be accepted from community members.