DEPARTMENTS TAX OFFICE
Photo by Carrie Pryor-Newman
Photos by Susan Passmore
Photo by Carrie Pryor-Newman
Photo by Susan Passmore
IMPACT Hosts Spartan Market
By: Susan Passmore
IMPACT Early College High School launched its first Spartan Market recently, with 97 clients taking home a variety of meat, fresh produce, beans, rice and even cleaning supplies. The market is held in coordination with the Houston Food Bank (HFB), and it will be open from 9-11 a.m. the second and fourth Friday of each month throughout the school year, excluding school holidays. The next Spartan Market will be December 7, 2018.
Laura Reyes, principal of IMPACT ECHS, heard about the program with the Houston Food Bank from a district coordinator and decided it would not only provide a helpful service for the community, but also an opportunity for students to volunteer. Approximately 75 IMPACT students worked on intake with clients, carried items from the HFB truck to the cafeteria, gave out merchandise and helped clients carry their bags to the car. For the first market, information was sent out to students’ families at IMPACT and the Peter E. Hyland Center as well as to Lee College students and a neighboring church. Mayra White, IMPACT nurse, serves as the liaison with the HFB, and she was pleased with the event, especially since they had to overcome a few obstacles.
“I think it went amazingly well, despite everything. The Houston Food Bank truck was about an hour and ½ late due to the rainy weather, and we had to set up in the cafeteria instead of outside. The HFB intake system was down, so we had to interview clients and write everything down. Our students had no experience with this type of volunteer work, but they did everything we needed,” White said.
Jacob Benitez, a senior at IMPACT, was more than willing to lend a hand.
“I wanted to volunteer to help out families who need this. We want to make an impact on the community, and there’s a lot of need in this area. We need to spread the word,” said Jacob Benitez, a senior at IMPACT.
Michelle Preston, a student at Lee College, received an email about the program and was happy to have a little help. She and her son Jamaska Marion anxiously awaited the distribution of the goods.
“I was really happy and surprised to find out about this. It’s just like the Lord came through,” Preston said.
Analisa Castillo heard about the Spartan Market from her daughter, an IMPACT student.
“I feel very blessed and thankful,” Castillo said.
Clients must go through an intake process, which takes about 10 minutes, before receiving items for their families. The process includes providing basic information, such as name, address, total number of family members with names and birthdates, monthly income, and social services, if any, the family receives. There are no official requirements for qualification except that clients should bring their own bags for this shopping experience. The goal of the Spartan Market is to provide healthy and fresh foods to the Baytown area community. Please contact the school at 281-420-4802 with any questions.
Andrew Jackson (second from left) from Goose Creek Memorial and parents Mirna Jackson (left) and Greg Jackson talk to Tulrah Pantallion from the University of Texas at Goose Creek CISD’s annual College Night for all district students at GCM.
View 2018 Annual College Night Photo Gallery
View tree planting photo gallery here.
View pep rally gallery here.
View the game photo gallery here.
REL teachers and football players enjoy the 90th Anniversary pep rally.
Tim Finn (left), REL campus athletic coordinator and head football coach, meets Eddie Gray (middle), Class of 1953 and Councilman Bob Hoskins, Class of 1976.
Photo by Lisa Haymon
The Bañuelos Elementary office staff showed up as Skittles Halloween Day, much to the delight of the students.
Photo by Margaret Ehlig
Siblings from the Lemus family dress up for the Character Parade at San Jacinto Elementary during Red Ribbon Week. Pictured are (from left) Jesse, kindergarten; Dominic, second grade; Sebastian, first grade and London, pre-kindergarten.
Two Goose Creek CISD Students Named Commended Students
By Susan Passmore
Soham Datar from Creek Memorial High School and Jia Lin from Ross S. Sterling High School have been named Commended Students in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program. A Letter of Commendation from the school and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), which conducts the program, will be presented by their respective principals to these scholastically talented seniors.
Soham is ranked first in his class at GCM and serves as president of the Student Council and the Math Honor Society. He is Key Club secretary and is in the Art Honor Society. Soham plays varsity tennis and is active with the Keep Baytown Beautiful Committee. He hopes to attend Stanford University to pursue medicine. He is the son of Sandeep and Shilpa Datar.
Jia is ranked 13th in her class at RSS. She is active in UIL Math and is a member of the National Honor Society. Jia plays soccer and works at the Kroger Sushi Bar and at Kumon Learning Center teaching students advanced math. Her interests are economics and English Composition, and she hopes to go to Harvard University. She is the daughter of Cindy Li and Ricky Lin.
About 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise. Although they will not continue in the 2019 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards, Commended Students placed among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.6 million students who entered the 2019 competition by taking the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).
“The young men and women being named Commended Students have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success,” commented a spokesperson for NMSC. “These students represent a valuable national resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation. We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them.”
View the Parent Resource Fair photo gallery.
Harlem Elementary kicks off Red Ribbon Week with the theme, “Emojin Your Life Without Drugs.” Pictured are (front from left) Leah Perez, Saniyah Vialva, Ana Victoria Quezada, Diana Piedra, (middle, from left)
Tripp Isas, Juliet Cruz, Viviana Bañuelos, Felipe Hernandez, Angelica Sandoval, (back, from left) Brian Stephens, Jacobi Bradford, Adrian Martinez and Emma Lozoya.
View Harlem Elementary's Red Ribbon photo gallery.
View Stephen F. Austin's photo gallery.
Goose Creek CISD choir students at All-Region auditions.
GCCISD Choir programs take top honors at recent All-Region audition
Goose Creek CISD high school choir programs have qualified a combined 89 students to the TMEA All-Region Choirs. GCCISD, which is aligned to the Texas Music Educators Association’s Region 19, travelled students to Pasadena ISD’s Frank Dobie High School recently for the initial audition round of competition.
Goose Creek Memorial led the qualifications with 44 students, followed by Ross S. Sterling with 42 and Robert E. Lee with 3. Students in the region contest competed against students from all other schools in their unique TMEA geographic alignment, memorizing and performing highly rigorous vocal musical selections for judges, as assigned by the state. Students will compete on Monday, October 29 at Goose Creek Memorial High School for a chance to qualify for the Pre-Area TMEA round of competition, in route to an Area birth and ultimately, placement into one of the coveted TMEA All-State choirs in February 2019.
At the contest, GCCISD led all districts with 89 All-Region qualifiers, followed by Deer Park ISD (85), Pasadena ISD (71), Pearland (61), Barber’s Hill (36), Channelview (7) and La Porte (5). Directors, students and choral support staff have worked tireless to teach and master the required music and are highly pleased with their superior results in the region contest. Ross S. Sterling directors are Levi Duncan and Michelle White. Goose Creek Memorial directors are Holly Lewallen and Mireya Mejia. Robert E. Lee director is Michael Grauvogl.
Makiyla McKenzie (RSS) – 3rd chair
Jennifer Sanchez (RSS) – 4th chair
Taylor Prickett (RSS) – 5th chair
Brooke Coffey (RSS) – 6th chair
Jazmine Huarachi (RSS) – 7th chair
Kristen Barnett (GCM) - 8th chair (tie)
Brooklyn Barnes (GCM) – 8th chair (tie)
Jennifer Tijerina (RSS) – 10th chair
Kennedy Jacquet (GCM) - 12th chair
Mariah Guerrero (GCM) – 14th chair
Loriann Raliff (RSS) – 18th chair
Kaylee Laird (RSS) – 19th chair
Jazmine Mendez (RSS) – 20th chair (tie)
Isabella Sandoval (RSS) – 20th chair (tie)
Aly Sanchez (REL) – 21st chair
Gessell Enciso (RSS) – 24th chair (tie)
Asiah Henderson (GCM) – 24th chair (tie)
McKenzie Comeaux (RSS) – 1st chair
Zoe Johnson (GCM) – 3rd chair
Christina Mendoza (GCM) – 4th chair
Kayla Bannis (RSS) – 5th chair
Brianna Martinez (GCM) – 6th chair
Julia Lovett (RSS) – 7th chair
Yvonne Perez (GCM) – 8th chair
Inaara Ali (RSS) – 11th chair
Sarah Scott (RSS) – 14th chair (tie)
Britney Martinez (RSS) – 14th chair (tie)
Alexa DeLa Garza (GCM) – 14th chair (tie)
Abby Ponder (GCM) – 16th chair (tie)
Vanessa Ponce (GCM) – 16th chair (tie)
Adrianna Torres (GCM) – 17th chair
Skylar Newton (GCM) – 3rd chair
Ashlee Meyer (RSS) 8th chair
Kailey Flores (RSS) – 18th chair
Lindsey Cortez (RSS) – 24th chair
Olivia Cottar (GCM) – 2nd chair
Jaida Mooring (GCM) – 8th chair (tie)
Brooklyn Poor (GCM) – 8th chair (tie)
Ashley Widow (GCM) – 9th chair (tie)
Autumn Jeria (RSS) – 9th chair (tie)
Christel Vallagomesa (RSS) – 13th chair
Ximena Reyes (RSS) – 14th chair
Madison Miller (RSS) – 16th chair
Tasha Griffith (GCM) – 17th chair
Faith Coates (GCM) – 18th chair
Jackie Ponder (GCM) – 19th chair
Anna Keyes (GCM) – 20th chair
Johanna Gonzalez (RSS) – 21st chair (tie)
Samantha Delgado (RSS) – 21st chair (tie)
Alexis Lengl (GCM) – 22nd chair
Perla Perez (GCM) – 24th chair
Luca Lux (GCM) – 2nd chair
Bryce Comeaux (RSS) – 3rd chair
Abigail Brookreson (RSS) – 4th chair
Robert Bailey (GCM) – 9th chair
Jacob Benitez (REL) – 12th chair
Joel Lopez (RSS) – 25th chair
Tryntan Crump (GCM) – 25th chair
Cristian Tellez (GCM) – 28th chair
Travis Cain (GCM) – 33rd chair
Edgar Landa (GCM) – 1st chair
Kevyn Salazar (GCM) – 5th chair
Justin Molina (GCM) – 9th chair
Michah Lofton (GCM) - 14th chair
Xavier Collins-Flores (GCM) – 15th chair
Richie Rodney (GCM) – 17th chair
Seth Dickens (RSS) – 18th chair
Javier Flores (GCM) – 19th chair
Jason Drude (RSS) – 20th chair
Abraham Mendez (GCM) – 30th chair
Shane Thompson (RSS) – 2nd chair
Colton Howard (RSS) – 9th chair
Jaydon Wright (RSS) – 11th chair
Justo Rodriguez (REL) – 14th chair
Andrew Martinez (RSS) – 19th chair
Eddie Cortez (GCM) – 20th chair
Seth Baal (GCM) – 2nd chair
Stefan Abmayr (RSS) – 4th chair
Tommy Guillory (GCM) – 7th chair
Michael Fuege (GCM) – 10th chair
Gabriel Brock (GCM) – 11th chair
Aaron Garvia (RSS) – 15th chair
Yahir Martinez (RSS) – 17th chair
DeMarco Villegas (RSS) – 18th chair
Jackson Dobbs (RSS) – 20th chair
Billy Haynes Gets the Job Done on Defense Despite Hearing Impairment
By: Susan Passmore
Cheering from the crowd doesn’t distract Billy Haynes when he’s on the football field. In fact, he doesn’t even hear it, but the junior defensive lineman for the Robert E. Lee High School Ganders, hearing impaired since birth, gets the job done. Using signals his coaches created and a little help from his interpreter, Billy gets the information that allows him to be an integral part of the REL defense.
“Instead of communicating verbally, we do a few things like pat his shoulder pad if he has to change his normal alignment. He knows to make adjustments,” said Tim Finn, athletic coordinator and head football coach. “He’s a super kid, hard-working, dependable – what I refer to as a maintenance-free student athlete. He takes care of academics, has no behavior issues, is here on time every time, works out hard and he’s a good teammate.”
Billy loves football and doesn’t consider his hearing to be a limitation. He started playing when he was in seventh grade at Horace Mann Junior School and earned a spot on the REL varsity team last year as a sophomore.
“I like football because you get to hit people and not get in trouble, but also because we treat each other like we’re family. The coaches communicate and talk to me like I’m one of their sons,” Billy said.
Last year, when Billy realized that he might need a little help getting information about the plays, since he doesn’t wear his hearing aid during games or practice, a deaf education interpreter was asked to sign for him during the games. Since August, Leticia Arredondo has interpreted for him at practices as well as at games.
“The job was available, so I decided to take it. I’ve worked with Billy since he was in elementary school, so we have a good relationship. He has a passion for the game,” Arredondo said.
Billy has no problem with relying on an interpreter when he needs clarification.
“I like it when she’s out there. I can get all the information and find out what I need to do better,” Billy said. “She has learned a lot more about football. Some of the other players take ASL classes and some just find it interesting, but I’m not the only player watching her when she signs.”
Billy, who is friendly and exudes self-confidence, is grateful for the support he has always received from his family – Yvette and Quinn Haynes and brother Blake. He also credits the Tri-County East Regional Day School Program for the Deaf for helping him gain the confidence he needs to do whatever he chooses in life. Goose Creek CISD is the fiscal agent for the Tri-County East RDSPD, which provides services for deaf or hard of hearing students in 15 school districts. He attended Ashbel Smith Elementary before going to Horace Mann Junior and Lee High School, all schools housing the Deaf Education program, so he is proficient at sign language and communicates well verbally.
In his free time, Billy enjoys hanging out with his family and playing video games or games on the phone. He loves Patty Melts from Whataburger and hopes to go to the University of Texas after graduating from high school.
“If I can’t go to UT, I’ll go to any college in Texas. I really want to be a coach,” Haynes said.
His prediction for the rest of Lee’s football season?
“As long as we work together, big things can happen,” Haynes said.
Photo by Pricila Garza
SJE Hosts First CATCH Night
By: Priscila Garza
San Jacinto Elementary (SJE) hosted their first CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) Family Fun Night on Thursday, September 27, 2018. CATCH is an evidence-based K-8 program that incorporates multiple aspects of the school environment including the classroom, school food services, physical education, families, and the broader school community.
SJE staff made the Family Fun Night possible with their overwhelming support of 26 volunteers plus hours of preparation. San Jacinto’s American Ninja Warrior-themed CATCH Night engaged students in a giant obstacle course in the gym and had nutrition games in the cafeteria.
Aramark, the district’s food service provider, showed students and their families how to make healthy eating fun for the whole family. Overall, the family-friendly event was a big success with over 100 families in attendance. The CATCH Program in GCCISD is supported by Be Well™ Baytown, an initiative of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center sponsored by ExxonMobil.
Beginning October 15th, nominations will be accepted for the Goose Creek CISD Gifted and Talented (GATE) Program. With the exception of kindergarten, nominations are open to students who are currently enrolled in Goose Creek CISD schools. Nominations for kindergarten students are not necessary as all kindergarten students are being screened for the gifted/talented program. If you would like to nominate your child to be assessed for the program, please ask your child’s teacher for a nomination form. Completed nomination forms are due no later than December 13, 2018.
A partir del 15 de octubre, se aceptarán las nominaciones para el programa dotados/talentosos (GATE) de Goose Creek CISD. Con la excepción de kínder, las nominaciones están abiertas para los estudiantes que actualmente están inscritos en las escuelas de Goose Creek CISD. Las nominaciones para los estudiantes de kínder no son necesarias ya que todos los estudiantes de kindergarten están siendo evaluados para el programa de dotados/talentosos. Si desea nominar a su estudiante para que sea evaluado para el programa, pídale al maestro de su estudiante un formulario de nominación. Los formularios de nominación completos deben entregarse a más tardar el 13 de diciembre del 2018.
Will Miller (left) former AVID coordinator at Robert E. Lee High School, takes time to check on his former student Adrian Pantoja. Pantoja graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and is the dining room manager at Charlie Palmer Steak in New York City.
Miller, now an advisor to first-year students at Yale University and a private college admissions consultant, lives in Princeton, NJ.
Adrian Pantoja, a Robert E. Lee High School graduate and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, greets a customer at Charlie Palmer Steak in New York City, where he is now the dining room manager.
A New York State of Mind
By: Susan Passmore
Adrian Pantoja’s head told him to earn a degree leading to a financially profitable career after high school graduation, but his heart told him to take a chance and pursue his dream. Without looking back, he headed off to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY. After earning a BBA in culinary management, he is now the dining room manager at Charlie Palmer Steak in the Archer Hotel in New York City, and he’s loving the experience.
A product of Goose Creek CISD schools, Pantoja attended Carver Elementary and Baytown Junior, graduating 16th in the Class of 2014 from Robert E. Lee High School. As an elementary student, Pantoja enjoyed watching his parents and grandparents cook, and he eventually started helping out. In high school, he bused tables at Texas Roadhouse on Garth and was promoted to expediter in the kitchen.
“A friend recommended the Achievement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program to me, thinking the program would help me reach my expectations of leaving home to go across the country to a prestigious school,” Pantoja said.
He was accepted into AVID as a sophomore. Through the program, he kept up with his academics, stayed organized, interacted with others and learned to take effective notes. With the help of AVID tutors, usually former AVID students attending college, he learned to solve problems and to find answers to questions as well as to make sure he understood why those were the answers.
“When I step back from this, I realize that my AVID skills helped me in college. From a management perspective, I use those skills to resolve problems and to help people clearly understand the answers to their questions. As I became a leader in AVID, we went to the junior schools to interview students to decide which candidates had the qualities needed for AVID. Now, I interview people and look for those same qualities,” Pantoja said.
Pantoja exceled as a high school student, serving as president of the Interact Club and as vice president of the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society. He was caught up in the school spirit at Lee, has fond memories of their lip dub, and believes, “Once a Gander, always a Gander.” While he had many post-secondary education opportunities, he disregarded suggestions from others that he go into engineering or the medical field, never losing his passion for culinary arts.
“For me, it’s not only the cooking, it’s the whole aspect of the restaurant and hospitality industry that fascinates me. It starts with the service side and how great the food quality is and goes to the overall experience we offer. That’s why I love what I do,” Pantoja said.
Several obstacles stood in the way of attending CIA. Pantoja had never lived in a big city, and he was scared that he might not be successful at the school. He also knew he would have to supplement his scholarships with hefty loans to realize his dream. Fortunately, the support he received from the faculty at CIA and his cohort group helped him achieve his educational goal. Now he’s living in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York City, working, paying back his loans and riding the train to work like a local.
Will Miller, former AVID coordinator at Lee and now advisor to first-year students at Yale University and private college admissions consultant, encouraged Pantoja as he “went against the grain,” choosing to attend CIA instead of pursuing an academic track at a university. Now residing in Princeton, NJ, he had the opportunity to have dinner with Pantoja recently at Charlie Palmer Steak, and he was pleased to see his former student thriving in his position as dining room manager and handling the rooftop bar and room service.
“Adrian took what many considered a risk to attend CIA instead of UT or TAMU to pursue something that better aligned with the academic profile he built for himself at Lee,” Miller said. “His success story reinforces the fact that everyone gets to decide for themselves what’s best for them. And what was clearly best for Adrian was to follow his passion and allow it to be his compass that provided direction for not only how to make a living, but how to live.”
Pantoja has a few jobs on his resume, including his time at Texas Roadhouse, a few months as a banquet cook at the Marriott Marquis in Downtown Houston shortly after graduating from CIA as well as a short stint at Buc-ee’s, but at age 22, this Baytown native is still garnering experience. He spends his free time exploring the city.
“I hope to stay where I am for a few years, but my goal is to move to other states and to travel around the world to get a feel for other cultures and environments. This restaurant group has other properties, so Vegas might be my next stop,” Pantoja said.
As for settling down, Pantoja thinks there’s time for that later.
“My 20s are for adventure, travel, gaining experience, making connections and working with people. Family planning I’ll leave for my 30s. That’s my goal!”
Juniors Jacob Hotchkiss (left) helps Brittany Topete out of the homecoming display, “Rangers Are Out of This World,” as the Ross S. Sterling High School Rangers celebrate Decades Day in honor of the homecoming game against Channelview High School Friday at Stallworth Stadium.
Sterling students and staff created the fantastic display, including a spaceship, an astronaut, planets and stars, in the RSS Commons.
Students dress up for Decades Day during homecoming week at Ross S. Sterling High School as the Rangers prepared to take on the Channelview Falcons Friday night at Stallworth Stadium. RSS students and staff created a detailed display, depicting the theme, “Rangers Are Out of This World.”
Pictured are (from left) Gabriela Cardenas, ninth grade; Sunay Bhakta, 11th grade; Brittany Topete, 11th grade; Jacob Hotchkiss, 11th grade and Brittany Lewis, 12th grade.
Photo by Carrie Pryor-Newman
View Agriscience Center photo gallery.
Linda LeDay’s fifth-grade GATE class at Dr. Antonio Bañuelos Elementary School shows off the recent backpack project students completed. Pictured are (front, from left) Nayely Trejo, Valeria Reyna, Daniela chapa, Brooklyn Nichols, Alyssa Brown, (back, from left) Sydni Godfrey, Krystal Murillo, Olivia Galvan, Ciara Briggs, Autymn Alfred, Madison Clark and Savannah Prickett. The backpacks were given out at the school’s Bilingual/AR Night.
Gabriel Butler (second from right), now at Goose Creek Memorial High School, and his family enjoy the POINT Open House.
POINT Holds Open House
By: Malikka Williams and Dr. Tricia Times
Three weeks into the 2018-2019 school year, POINT Alternative Center held its first Open House. Teachers and students had settled into the beginning of a promising year, and a fresh evening breeze touched the trees as parents parked their vehicles and walked into the doors at POINT.
Excitement filled the air and refreshments lined the beautifully adorned table as parents walked in and greeted teachers and administrators. It’s that special time when parents and teachers can build a strong community between home and school.
The general session provided parents with an overview of goals, school information and available supports for each student. Each family was able to select books for daily reading at home. Our focus this school year is literacy for all scholars.
The instructional committee introduced, “Reading enhances all discoveries and opens gateways to possibilities.” Research has accredited improved literacy with economic growth, reduced poverty, reduction in crime rates, increased civic engagement, increased participation in the democratic process and enhanced cultural diversity. Two out of three children living in poverty have no books at home to read. The basic ability to read and write is intertwined in every facet of life and is essential to the growth of the whole child. Therefore, literacy is so very important for the success of our city, town, state, and nation.
Parents were able to visit with each teacher to get acquainted with the academic and behavior expectations in every class. Everyone stayed focused on building positive relational capacity with parents and students. Warm salutations were heard as the parents exited the building for the evening. The POINT staff is grateful for the opportunity to have authentic connections and impart the importance of literacy to our scholars.
POINT also is honored to give a special thanks to Literacy for Texas CEO J’amie Garcia and Donna Mohlman of Academic Beginnings for Children for making the free book giveaway possible. Literacy for Texas and Academic Beginnings for Children donated 300 new bound library books published by Capstone and ABDO. Both agencies, together with POINT Alternative Center, are trying to make a positive impact on childhood literacy. Together we can and will make a difference!
View and Download Safety & Security Letter
All kindergarten students will be screened for the gifted/talented (GT) program during the month of October.
Based on the screening process, students who meet the established score criteria will proceed forward to the post-screening process with parental permission.
Parents of these students will be notified towards the end of October and given the opportunity to grant permission for their child to participate in the GT post-screening assessment process.
The post-screening assessment process will conclude in December.
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
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 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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