DEPARTMENTS TAX OFFICE
Photo by Carrie Pryor-Newman
Photo by Carrie Pryor-Newman
REL Students Take Challenge Inspired by Columbine Victim
By Beth Dombrowa
More than 20 years ago, a young, 13-year-old girl in Colorado traced her hand on her bedroom wall and wrote a prophetic message inside her drawing: “These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of peoples’ hearts.” Just a few years later, Rachel was the first student killed in the Columbine massacre, but her vision for spreading kindness has been shared with more than 24 million people worldwide, including students at Robert E. Lee High School.
Rachel’s Challenge programs transform school climates, leading to more positive interactions, a greater awareness of what it means to bully and be bullied and stronger interpersonal relationships between student peer groups, as well as between students and teachers – all of which lead to a safer school environment.
Rachel Scott was a prolific writer, frequently adding her thoughts to her personal diary. A diary was in her backpack the day she was killed; a bullet penetrated the book, leaving a hole that almost resembles an exclamation mark under the words Rachel had printed on the back cover: “I won’t be labeled as average.” Other journal entries included thoughts such as “Look for the good in others” and “I’m going to have an imprint on the world.” In an essay she wrote two months before her death for a class assignment entitled, “My Ethics: My Codes of Life” Rachel twice challenged the reader to start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion that could have a lasting, positive effect. Using her own words, the Scott family launched “Rachel’s Challenge” and more than 19 years after her death, Rachel’s words continue to inspire young people.
The Rachel’s Challenge program actually consists of five separate challenges that were outlined in the presentation to Lee students by Crista Carnes, a volunteer with the organization who travels throughout the country to deliver Rachel’s message.
Look For The Best In People
“Get rid of any prejudice you have of people who are different than you,” Carnes advised, before showing a video of Rachel’s younger brother, Craig, who was also at Columbine High School that day. Craig hid from the gunmen in the library, but was miraculously unharmed. However, he was crouched under a table with Isaiah Shoels and Matthew Kechter, both of whom were shot and killed. Shoels was one of the few black students at the school and before shooting him, the gunmen taunted him with racial slurs.
“Think about that,” Carnes told REL students. “The last words he heard in his life were hate-filled insults.”
Record Your Journey
Carnes encouraged students to keep diaries, like Rachel Scott.
“It keeps you focused and gives you a safe place to get stuff out. Dream big and write your goals down. And don’t you dare let anyone label you and don’t label yourself,” she said.
Choose Positive Influences
Rachel Scott wrote in her diaries about her desire to be friends with kids with special needs, new kids at school and students who were bullied. Carnes gave several examples of Rachel’s dedication to being a positive force in the lives of others, including sharing lunch with a brand-new student at school whose mother had recently passed away, and befriending – and encouraging others to befriend –a lonely fellow student with special needs.
Speak With Kindness
“There are people in this room right now who are going through things they will never talk about,” Carnes said. “If you’re not willing to speak to others with kindness, can you just agree to keep your mouth shut? Because words can hurt and words can heal.” She also emphasized the power of saying, “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you.”
Start Your Own Chain Reaction
Carnes asked the students to, within three days, approach the people they care most about and tell them how meaningful they are.
Later in the day, after all students had learned about Rachel’s Challenge, a group of student leaders representing several clubs and organizations, were trained to start a school chapter of a Friends of Rachel Club, receiving specialized instructions on how to keep the momentum – and Rachel Joy Scott’s life purpose – alive and well at Robert E. Lee High School.
Adult volunteers are needed for Goose Creek CISD’s annual Reach Out Walk which will be held on Saturday, September 22nd. The event is from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., beginning and ending at Ross S. Sterling High School.
The Reach Out Walk is an effort to get students to come back to school and to encourage others to become successful graduates. When a student fails to show up for class at the beginning of the school year or needs some guidance with respect to school work, volunteers go to the homes of these students and offer the encouragement and resources that they need in order to complete their high school education.
If you are interested in volunteering, please register here.
From Custodian to Classroom Aide
By: Susan Passmore
Silvia Miranda-Villegas knew she could help students in the classroom at Carver Elementary, where she worked as a custodian, but she also knew she had to prove herself first.
“She came to me last fall and wanted to know if she got her No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Certificate (required of instructional aides) if I would consider letting her work with students in a classroom. I think it took a lot for her to get the courage to say something to me about it. She’s super nice and hardworking, so I told her to get it first and then come back,” said Bart Cobb, Carver principal.
Miranda-Villegas, who had stayed home with her children, Kimberly, a 2011 Goose Creek Memorial High School graduate and an Army veteran, and Christopher, a 2015 GCM graduate, both students at the University of St. Thomas, had just started working at Carver the year before. With support from her children and her husband Fredy, she decided to take the NCLB class at San Jacinto College, and she passed with flying colors.
“It had been so long since I’d been in high school, I wanted to take the class to refresh my brain before taking the test. My family was so proud of me,” Miranda-Villegas said.
Cobb offered Miranda-Villegas a substitute position in a classroom, which meant she would have to give up her custodial position, but he told her it wasn’t guaranteed to be a permanent position. She chose to take the opportunity, and by the last two weeks of the school year, she had worked herself into a position in the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) class.
“We asked for her,” said Jennifer Owens, PPCD teacher. “She’s amazing! She’s very patient, even with the most challenging students, and she’s able to keep that calm, low tone of voice with them.”
Miranda-Villegas could not be happier in her new role.
“At Carver, everyone is so nice. It’s a great place to work, and we’re like a family. I knew when I got here that this was ‘my place,’” she said.
Miranda-Villegas still likes to keep things clean in the classroom, but she’s pleased that she is now able to make a difference as an instructional aide.
“I see the needs of the little ones, and I love them and want to be someone they can trust. I want them to feel secure around me. There’s so much to teach them – colors, numbers, shapes, and even to use scissors,” she said.
Cobb feels that the positive classroom climate in the PPCD class helps the students succeed.
“They have the happiest team, and the three of them – Miranda Villegas, Owens and Sharon Robinson, another instructional aide – work like a well-oiled machine. They are three of the most caring individuals,” Cobb said.
Miranda-Villegas still plans to go back to school to improve her English skills, but for now, she is thankful to have fulfilled her goal of finding a way to further contribute to the success of her students at “her place.”
Austin Elementary Student Qualifies for TCDA Elementary Honor Choir
Stephen F. Austin Elementary music student Jaylee Anderson qualified as a member of the 2018 Texas Choral Director’s Association’s Elementary Honor Choir last month. The Texas Choral Directors Association selects the top 150 elementary voices in the state to comprise the choir, which consists of 4th-6th graders. To qualify for the state choir, elementary vocalists were chosen via online audition from over 800 entries.
Jaylee’s music teacher, Mrs. Carol Colvin, insists that her work ethic and musicality have a great deal to do with her success in this year’s state audition.
“Of all the students that I work with, Jaylee’s work ethic and preparedness coming into the audition, coupled with her vocal talent, made it a strong opportunity for her success. She has such a unique quality in her voice and was very self-motivated to make the choir. The bar for performance groups at TCDA continues to get higher each year, with this year being no exception.”
This year’s TCDA state convention was held in San Antonio and consisted of two days of rehearsing under the direction of Ruth Dwyer, director of education with the Indianapolis Children's Choir and artistic director of the Columbus Indiana Children's Choir. Congratulations to Jaylee, her supportive parents and her GCCISD Music Teacher, Mrs. Colvin, who all made the trip to San Antonio to hear the state performance. Jaylee and Mrs. Colvin will be recognized by the GCCISD board of trustees on Tuesday evening, September 4, 2018, at 6:30pm.
Photo by Susan Passmore
Photo by Mima Trujillo
Photo by Carrie Passmore
Goose Creek CISD will honor Jim Finley by naming the press box at Stallworth Stadium after the iconic local journalist at a dedication ceremony at the stadium on Friday, Sept. 7 at 5 p.m.
During his career, Finley has earned numerous writing awards for his work in contests sponsored by The Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Texas Press Association. In his Baytown career, Jim has witnessed hundreds of games from the Stallworth Stadium press box and has worked more games there than any other reporter. In fact, he covered the very first game played at Stallworth Stadium on Friday Sept. 11, 1970, when Robert E. Lee beat Spring Branch, 27-3. Finley remains a fixture in the press box at Goose Creek CISD football games to this day.
The public is invited to attend the dedication of the Jim Finley Press Box at Stallworth Stadium. Please enter through Gate 1.
High school students iPad distribution will begin soon!
If you owe an
iPad related charge from a previous school year, your
parent/guardian selected NO on the iPad Loan Agreement
in online registration, OR your online registration has not
been completed, you WILL NOT receive an iPad on your
campus distribution day.
In order to receive an iPad on your campus distribution
day, you must complete the following by 3:30 p.m. Friday,
September 7th :
Consolidated Independent School District
4544 Interstate 10 East | Baytown, Texas 77521 | 281.420.4800
P.O. Box 30 | Baytown, Texas 77522 | 281.420.4800
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