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Home | Tag Archives: Wiggs Middle

Tag Archives: Wiggs Middle

Video+Story: Wiggs Middle Sixth Grader Wins EPISD Spanish Spelling Bee

Students from throughout the District went toe-to-toe earlier this week during the EPISD Spanish Spelling and Grammar Bee that ended after five nail-biting rounds with the correct spelling of the word inenarrable, or indescribable. 

Wiggs Middle School sixth-grader Iker Pérez withstood 59 other competitors from 30 elementary and middle school campuses to win this year’s competition and qualify for the National Spanish Spelling Bee this summer in San Antonio. EPISD’s competition was held at the Chapin High School auditorium.

Iker outlasted runner-up Miranda Lara, an eighth-grader at MacArthur, after she misspelled the word brahmanismo, the Spanish word for the Brahmanism religion. Iker successfully spelled both brahmanismo and inenarrable to win the competition.

“Really exhilarating,” Iker said, when asked how he felt about winning.

He began participating in the Spanish Spelling Bee as an elementary student, going over words with the coordinator and developing a knack for determining where and if a word needed an accent. Iker’s regularly asked the pronouncer for a definition and a sentence to ensure he knew the origin of the word. This strategy paid off for the final words.

“One of the latest words, I didn’t know how to spell until they gave me the definition because it was mostly a religion,” he said referring to brahmanismo.

The two competitors spent more than five minutes going back and forth. Both missed words during the final rounds but were unable to secure the win by spelling correctly two consecutive words until the word brahmanismo came up.

“It was exciting but I was so nervous because he is very good,” Miranda said.

Guadalupe Pineda, a Polk Elementary dual-language teacher and the Spelling Bee coordinator, stood on stage watching both students trade words until the end.

“Having a Spanish Spelling Bee is important for our District because we are a dual language district, and we want to promote the Spanish language among our students,” Pineda said. “The Spanish Spelling is a way to support and move dual language to the next step and show that it really works.”

Story by Reneé De Santos  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy  |  Video by Angel Dominguez/EPISD

Video+Story: Albertsons Celebrates Store Renovations with Checks for EPISD Schools

Albertsons celebrated the re-grand opening of its Kern Place store in grand fashion Wednesday morning giving $9,000 back to El Paso High, Wiggs Middle and Mesita Elementary – their neighborhood stores and community partners.

The El Paso High cheer squad and drumline and Wiggs Middle cheerleaders kept the event festive as the store introduced its new look and contributed $2,000 for each campus, as well as $3,000 for the El Paso High band and $2,000 for the cheerleading squad.

Albertsons gave nearly $70,000 back to the El Paso community during Wednesday’s event.

“We believe partnering with our local schools is important for many reasons,” said Lori Raya, president of the Southwest Division for the Albertsons Companies. “One, the students are our current shoppers, our future shoppers and maybe future employees. We believe if we can donate back to our local schools, we are also donating back to students’ education and really helping people aspire to reach their dreams. If help we can do that, and help make better for one student at a time, that’s what we want to do as a company.”

El Paso High principal Mark Paz welcomed the partnership, acknowledging that the store is an easy trip from the campus for students and staff to shop, buy supplies and pick up sushi and Starbucks.

“We’ve had a fantastic partnership with Albertsons for many years,” Paz said. “We appreciate Albertson’s reaching out to us to be part of their re-grand opening event. We were able to bring our band, our cheerleaders and some key student representatives to receive this generous award from Albertsons.”

Wiggs principal Tim Luther joined with Paz and Mesita assistant principal Marcela Duran to accept their checks during a brief ceremony outside the store. The three joined with their students to pose with their oversized checks before they cut the ribbon.

“It’s another amazing event that Albertsons put on for our community,” Luther said. “They have been generous to us in the past and they continue to work with us and our El Paso High feeder pattern. We can’t say thank you enough for everything they’ve done for our community.”

The contribution to the three campuses also included two pallets of school supplies.

“We feel like every student should have everything they need to go to school and study and be successful and have all of the necessities and utensils to participate to be able to do their homework and turn in that paper that they are very proud to turn in,” Raya said.

In December, the Albertsons Foundation contributed $44,000 back to EPISD campuses and organizations during the re-grand opening celebrations at the Redd Road and Kenworthy stores.

Story by Reneé De Santos  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy  |  Video by Angel Dominguez/EPISD

Video+Story: Wiggs Orchestra Director earns Texas Top Award

Wiggs Middle School’s Diana Gilliland earned the 2017 Texas Orchestra Director of the Year Award to honor her lifelong passion for sharing her love of music with the students of El Paso.

The news of her selection from among hundreds of nominees filled Gilliland with emotion.

“My mind was racing in so many different directions. I want the students to know that anything is possible,” she said. “Some people think that you have to be at a prestigious institution or a certain side of town or have many resources to have success. ‘You are the institution,’ is what I tell them. They can do anything they want to.”

Each year the Texas Orchestra Directors Association (TODA) selects an orchestra director or teacher who exemplifies outstanding achievement in lifetime service and leadership in Texas schools. Only four other El Pasoans have received the honor: Abraham Chavez Jr., George Webber, Milan Svambera and Ida Steadman.

Gilliland, who played in the first youth orchestra under Maestro Chavez, notes how humbled she is by the honor.

“I have big shoes to try and fill in the sense that I follow some very amazing music legends,” Gilliland said. “To be considered for this honor is just stunning. I am still wrapping my mind around it and trying to process it.”

unnamed (37)Gilliland, inspired by local musicians, remembers falling in love with classical music at a very young age. When she first heard the “The Moldau,” a set of symphonic poems by Czech composer Bedrich Smetana, she knew music would be her lifelong passion.

“When I heard the violins come in, that’s when it electrified me. I’ve never stopped loving music,” she said.

Gilliland began her teaching career 37 years ago at Johnson Elementary and has since been an orchestra teacher at El Paso High and most recently at Wiggs Middle School. Outside of EPISD, she’s spent more than 30 years performing with the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. She’s also lent her talent to El Paso Pro Musica, El Paso Opera, the Bruce Nehring Consort, the Las Cruces Symphony and the Angerstein String Quartet.

Wiggs principal Tim Luther admires Gilliland’s talent and dedication to students.

“Ms. Gilliland is more than deserving of this award. Her heart is always with the students and the community,” Luther said. “She is a very humble soul. She passes this trait on to her students. This award does not change the Wiggs students’ direction but shows others that if you work hard and have high values and ethics all good will come to you.”

Eighth-grader cellist Isabelle Padilla joined orchestra on the recommendation of her sister.

“My sister was always talking about her I have had this high level of respect for her. I just wanted to be in her orchestra,” Padilla said. “I feel unnamed (39)like she really, really deserves this award. There was a lot of emotion coming from that announcement. She’s been my teacher for all three years, and all I could think was she really does deserve it.”

Gilliland has grown a solid reputation throughout the community. Her orchestra goes beyond the traditional orchestra spring and winter concerts – performing at dozens of functions throughout the District and city every year.

One of her most prized possessions is a recent congratulations card from UTEP president Dr. Diana Natalicio. The orchestra has played at more than 50 UTEP graduations in the last 26 years.

Gilliland attributes the group’s success to this sense of community and citizenship.

“I try to teach them respect. Good citizenship first and then good musicianship. Always,” Gilliland said. “You can’t really share your music on the same level than when you are giving and consistent.”

Good citizenship goes hand-in-hand with the conservatory style of teaching she employs in her classroom.

unnamed (38)“It’s an honor basis. All down the hall and into the lobby everyone is working on their sectionals,” Gilliland said. “They are practicing independently, but they are also going to make sure that the ensemble and the blend is good at a very young age.”

The Texas Orchestra Director’s Association will present the award during a ceremony in San Antonio on July 22.

“I’m just really happy. Now I get a chance to talk about the campus and the area,” Gilliland said. “Our programs here are amazing.”

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