Contents 28 Inside HCISD 06
The Power of the Arts Lee Means Fine Arts Academy sees great success in its first year
Dishman in National Spotlight Dishman Elementary recognized as National Blue Ribbon School
Tech Savvy Zavala Elementary applauded for its use of technology to inspire learning and critical thinking
Alumni Spotlight 16 Harlingen High 2003
18 Harlingen South 1996
20 ECHS 2016
University of Texas student begins quest for multicultural experience
Vernon Middle School to add World Languages Academy to develop multilingual, culturally competent students
Community Making Waves
Spreading Kindness Harlingen CISD infused interpersonal skills through new programs at middle and high schools
Developing Partnerships The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the city of Harlingen, and Harlingen CISD prepare to launch new educational opportunity
Robotics Champs Early College High School robotics teams experience world championship
TRE Update Approved by Harlingen CISD voters in 2015, the tax ratification has brought about improvements throughout campuses
HCISD Awards A year in review of awards by Harlingen CISD students continuing the tradition of excellence
Governor Appoints Dr. Perez Governor Greg Abbott appoints Harlingen CISD board trustee Dr. Nolan Perez to the UT System Board of Regents
Harlingen CISD selected to take part in rigorous leadership program
HCISD engineering students score big bucks to further oceanic project
Austin and Houston elementaries celebrate International Baccalaureate program candidacy
Viola Voyage Harlingen School of Health Professions graduate Matthew Garcia uses his viola-playing talent to travel through South America, Asia and Europe
Read to Succeed
College Showcase The top two students from all four of Harlingen CISD high schools detail their future plans
Former public school teacher embarks on international teaching excursion
STEM2 Preparatory Academy makes debut
Google Fiber community impact manager reflects on what sparked his interest in community organizing
Harlingen CISDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s early literacy program is transforming early childhood education
On the Cover Vernon Middle School student Dante Sandoval holds flag in front of the historic campus. Photo by Roland Anzaldua
THE MAGAZINE | Volume 7 PUBLISHER
HCISD Public Relations and Community Engagement Department DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS/ COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
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Brianna Vela-Garcia PHOTOGRAPHY
Roland Anzaldua, George Banda, Nathaniel Bauer, and Edgar Navarro CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Adriana Dominguez, Arlette McClain, and Julie Wise PRODUCTION & PRINT SERVICES
Jessica Martinez and Lizzette Sandoval
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A letter to our
community Harlingen CISD’s commitment to our academic mission lies within the personal ethos of our educators, whose tireless and lifelong callings are dedicated to laying the groundwork for our students today while pushing the boundaries of innovation for tomorrow.
engineering, math, and medical fields on a global stage. We also launched the Lee Means Fine Arts Academy this past school year as part of our commitment to provide authentic learning experiences and opportunities for our students to embrace their passions for the arts.
As we transform our district to ensure every student departs our schools with tools to deal with adversity and the ability to think critically, we remain grounded and persistent in our mission to provide a high-quality education grounded on strong character and individualized learning.
While have many successes to reflect on, it’s our ability to adapt to the educational demands of the future that keeps us innovative. Our district must continue to build partnerships to create more opportunities for our students.
Through an alliance of teachers, administrators, school board trustees, community members as well as faculty and staff, we continue to modernize our school district to provide choices and pathways to success for our students. In this issue of Experience HCISD, we proudly illustrate how our commitment to early literacy is preparing our students for the future, and we delve into how we continue transforming learning for global achievement. This school year, we opened the doors to our STEM2 Preparatory Academy, which is equipping middle school students with knowledge and skills they need to meet the demands of the science, technology,
Harlingen CISD, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and the city of Harlingen recently forged a partnership, which is further detailed in this issue of Experience HCISD. I am super proud to be part of an exceptional school district, and I am honored to work alongside a community that continues to support our mission to educate all students. There is an opportunity for every child to flourish at HCISD, and we welcome our friends and neighbors to Experience HCISD!
Dr. Art Cavazos Superintendent of Schools
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Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, religion, sex, disability, or any other legally protected status in employment or provision of services, programs, or activities.
Lee Means Fine Arts Academy sees great success in its first year
ee Means Fine Arts Elementary students began leading the way to transform the arts in Harlingen at the start of the 2018-19 school year.
Catching the attention of the Rio Grande Valley community, the Lee Means Fine Arts Academy opened its doors in Fall 2018. Welcoming additional students from across the region, the Lee Means family grew stronger, while remaining one of five dual language academies within Harlingen CISD. The Lee Means Fine Arts academy now offers additional concentrations in theater, visual art, music, and dance, creating a platform of artistic expression for students.
“There is no better place to be than Lee Means Fine Arts Academy,” said Principal Mindy Sanchez. “Seeing student’s responses to the program and having the trust of their parents in our new endeavor reassures me that we are creating meaningful and impactful experiences for our students through the addition of arts.” Opening a fine arts academy within Harlingen CISD was the start of a new
venture for many young students. The application of colorful makeup, the preparation of a stage set, and the action of being lifted 20 feet into the air by a harness during a theater performance set the tone for years to come. Along with being cast as actresses, actors and dance performers in Harlingen High School South’s fall production of Mary Poppins, Lee Means students also captured the attention of the community through their performances in the Little Mermaid, Jr. Leading the charge in the Little Mermaid, Jr. was Fine Arts Facilitator Sally Navarro. Spending countless hours in the Harlingen CISD Performing Arts Center with the students, Navarro watched them embrace their roles, blossom in their talents, and improve their self-confidence. “When I look back at everything we have accomplished, I am amazed,” Navarro said. “These elementary students were able to put on an hour-long complex production with such style and talent.” The Little Mermaid Jr. was Harlingen CISD’s first full-fledged elementary theater performance. In addition to theater, the fine arts designation has opened up opportunities for free after-school enrichment programs to all students. From hip-hop to music classes, our students can pursue pathways that
capture their interests and walk away with talents they can take into their secondary educational experience. “The arts are powerful,” Navarro said. “I can’t wait to see how this all transpires in the future for our students and our school district.” ó
national Dishman in spotlight
Dishman Elementary recognized as National Blue Ribbon School
he color blue inundated the halls of Dishman Elementary in September 2018 as the entire school eagerly awaited the news they’d been longing to hear for eight months.
Students, teachers, staff, and Harlingen CISD administrators alike erupted in celebration as Dishman’s name came up on a video announcement from the U.S. Department of Education, proclaiming the elementary a National Blue Ribbon School. The school, situated in Combes, Texas, is one of 349 schools across the country to receive the coveted award and the first at HCISD to ever receive the honor. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps.
“We are super proud,” said Dishman Principal Irma Davis. “This is a testament to the work we have put in for the past seven years and the hard work and dedication of our students, teachers, faculty, and our parents.”
This recognition acknowledges and validates the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in striving for and attaining exemplary achievement. In November 2018, the Department of Education celebrated with recent public and private school honorees at an awards ceremony held in Washington, D.C. Over the years, Dishman has accumulated many accolades such as being named a Texas Honor Roll School in 2016 and 2017 as well as earning all six distinctions in the 2017 and 2018 Accountability Ratings. “This has been a long journey, but it’s a journey we knew we could accomplish if we stayed focused on our work. And along the way, we changed, we modified, we’ve been strategic, but we never lost sight of our goal,” Principal Davis said. “Today is just proof of that, and here we are – a National Blue Ribbon School.”ó
they show documented results of academic accomplishment. “We are thrilled to be recognized as an Apple Distinguished School,” said principal Tanya Garza. “This recognition reflects the hard work, planning, professional learning and innovation that is used to personalize instruction for every student. Zavala Elementary is a campus that nurtures creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.” Teachers at Zavala Elementary customize learning environments to improve collaboration and communication among students.
“In turn, this fosters students to become critical thinkers within their classrooms, across grade levels, and within our community,” Garza said. pple Inc, a multinational technology company, recognized Zavala Elementary as an Apple Distinguished School during the start of the 2018-19 school year.
Apple Distinguished Schools are centers of innovation, leadership, and educational excellence while using technology to inspire creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. They showcase innovative uses of technology in learning, teaching, and the school environment. Plus,
In 2014, Zavala Elementary received an Apple grant as part of the ConnectEd program, and in 2017, Principal Garza and instructional coach Erika Galvan were named to the Apple Distinguished Educators Class for their leadership and ability to think outside of the box using technology. “Technology is embedded throughout the school environment which empowers students and teachers to use different modalities to inspire an innovative mindset,” Garza said. ó
owie Elementary 1st grade student Sebastian Sanchez beams as he speaks about his ability to read books.
“I know how to read now,” Sebastian excitedly said. “Sometimes I make some mistakes, but I try my best. That’s how I do it.” Sebastian and his classmates gathered around a classroom table near their teacher Ms. Laura Lemarr for one of their daily early literacy lessons during the 2018-19 school year. Harlingen CISD continues to enrich its reading programs by implementing initiatives and curriculum to increase literacy at an early age, part of the school district’s strategic plan established in 2014. During the 2018-19 school year, Harlingen CISD partnered with the Neuhaus Education Center and Scholastic, a publishing company, to create stepping stones toward elementary, secondary and high school educational success. “Ninety percent of learning happens before the age of five,” said Carmen Alvarez, the district’s director of primary literacy. “We want to seize the opportunity when children are little because they are picking up everything they are learning.” The early literacy program at the elementary school level encourages students to grow their vocabulary, thus increasing their ability to read more complex words and books. By the time students reach the age of 6, their vocabulary includes about 24,000 words.
“We have worked extremely hard,” Alvarez said. “Our teachers have worked diligently to perfect their practice and master reading. We are using the most advanced procedures and scientifically based theories with our students and our teachers.” The Neuhaus Education Center's curriculum gradually improves literacy beginning when students enter pre-kinder. In kinder, students break up into groups of about eight students for their letter recognition, phonological awareness, oral language, multi-sensory letter introduction, and handwriting lessons. The Neuhaus program also uses a scientific spelling method to improve spelling in grades kinder through third. “The goal is to have very differentiated instruction,” Alvarez said. “No classroom should look the same anymore because we are meeting the needs of a particular group of students.” Along with the Neuhaus program, Harlingen CISD also added Scholastic’s Leveled Literacy Libraries, which are used by elementary school teachers to assess and measure each student’s reading abilities to ensure they reach the proper level. In literacy libraries throughout all elementary campuses, books are coded from A through Z, progressing from easy reading to more challenging text. The popular books are written to captivate readers of all ages. “With this program, we are hoping to build confidence in the learner,” said Rebecca
Rodriguez, Austin Elementary assistant principal. “We are going to use guided reading to lead students to that independence and comprehension.” Everyone from teachers to principals to library media specialists received training before the start of the school year, which detailed the guided reading and small-group instruction curriculum. “Ms. Lemarr will hear us (read). So, if we read correctly, if we read good, she will put ‘okay’ next to our name, and that’s how you do good, and that’s nice,” Sebastian said as he sat at a table for small-group instruction. As students move through the programs, their ability to comprehend and speak fluently will increase. Since the district began tackling literacy as part of its strategic plan, it has already seen gratifying results. Harlingen CISD reached 84% in kinder readiness — 34% above the state average. “Our children here in Harlingen are getting a fabulous start,” Alvarez said. “I really believe that greatness starts in early childhood education.” For Sebastian, the first grade student being taught lessons as part of the district’s literacy programs, his ability to read makes him smile and shine. “Every time I’m done reading a book, I just (say), ‘Woooo!’” he eagerly said. “And I read it again.” ó
STEM2 Preparatory Academy debuted this school year
hey are the innovators, movers, and shakers of the future. Harlingen CISD commemorated the start of hundreds of careers in science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine with a ribbon cutting ceremony at STEM2 Preparatory Academy held in November 2018. HCISD Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos, board of trustees President Greg Powers, and members of the community were on hand to celebrate the journey leading to the launch of STEM2 Prep.
“We want to equip our students with the knowledge they need to compete on a global stage. We at HCISD have been on a mission, guided by our strategic plan, to change course and offer choices and opportunities throughout our district,” Dr. Cavazos said. “I want to thank our board of trustees because they had the vision to create a preparatory academy to allow kids to be creative and innovative. It takes moments like this to change the course of where we are, and it takes brave individuals like Principal Sonya Brandenburg and her entire staff to pave the way, break glass ceilings, and make the impossible, possible.”
STEM2 Prep features a small learning environment with a STEM and medical rich curriculum, which incorporates technology. In class, students are challenged to tackle complex, global issues, all while cultivating the 4C’s — communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. “The partnerships that we have established thus far, allow our students to experience real-world, problem-solving activities that focus not only on the curriculum but soft skills as well to prepare them for future academic and workforce endeavors,” said Principal Brandenburg. “STEM2 Preparatory Academy has some exciting times ahead as we develop and flourish to a full campus that will service approximately 280 middle school students next year.”
"BECAUSE OF STEM², I HAVE MADE NEW FRIENDS AND HAVE HAD BRAND NEW EXPERIENCES. IT HAS OPENED MY EYES AND BROADENED MY HORIZONS AS TO WHAT I CAN BECOME AND WHO I CAN BE.” CHRISTOPHER HEISKELL 7TH GRADE STEM2 STUDENT
Every Wednesday, students create their own schedules and work on projects in their areas of interests, such as automation, robotics, medical detectives, computer science as well as design and modeling — all to provide authentic, real-world experiences for students. “It has helped students like me who may not know what they want to do when we grow up,” said Christopher Heiskell, a 7th grader at the school. “Because of STEM2, I have made new friends and have had brand new experiences. It has opened my eyes and broadened my horizons as to what I can become and who I can be.” STEM2 Prep accepts applications from parents whose children desire to attend the school. “I wanted to come here because I’m in the robotics team, and I love to build with Legos and do a lot of scientific (activities),” said Jaylen Rangel, a current Lee Means Elementary Fine Arts Academy 5th grader, who was accepted into the preparatory academy in January. Jaylen and her mom visited STEM2 Prep in March as part of a STEMtastic Saturday event held for parents of current and future students. “I’m looking forward to a new future,” Jaylen said after participating in the robotic hand activity, which introduced her to mechanical engineering principles. Students accepted to STEM2 Prep will remain enrolled until completing 8th grade and do not need to re-apply. ó
Lucio Harlingen HS '03
arlingen High School alumnus Daniel Lucio attributes his opportunity to travel internationally to his current position with Google Fiber, a high-speed internet service provider. As Google Fiber’s Community Impact Manager, Lucio has visited the Netherlands, London, Scotland, Lebanon, Australia, Africa, and Colombia.
But before the 34-year-old became a world traveler, he attended Zavala Elementary School. Due to his parent's careers, Lucio temporarily moved to El Paso but returned to Harlingen in time to graduate from Harlingen High School in 2003. He then became the first in his family to attend college.
Lucio worked on city projects including community, environmental, neighborhood and economic development issues. One of his proudest accomplishments is being a part of the committee that initiated a recycling program in Corpus Christi. “That is what really gave me a feel for community organizing and community advocacy, and that was something that I carried with me into the rest of my career,” Lucio said. Instead of computer science, Lucio ultimately graduated with his master’s in public administration. Lucio stayed in the community organizing field until 2015 when he embarked on a new opportunity as a fellow with Google Fiber.
“Both of my parents would go to college later in life, but at the time, it was a big deal for my family because I was the oldest of my five brothers and the first to do so,” Lucio said.
“When Google Fiber was launched as a Google project, part of the mission of Google Fiber was connecting more people and getting them online,” Lucio said.
“I went to a few different colleges,” Lucio said. “I went to the University of North Texas for a bit but ended up at the University of Texas at Brownsville – back in the Valley.”
Lucio works on creating partnerships with public housing authorities to connect residents to free internet access. Lucio recalled drawing inspiration from his home, which led him to the work he does today.
While completing his undergrad in Brownsville, Lucio worked with other students, professors, and administration to prevent the border wall from being built through a portion of what's now known as the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Halting its construction was Lucio's first taste of advocacy's power to influence change. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UTB, Lucio decided to enter into the computer science graduate program at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. It was there where he realized that community advocacy was really what fulfilled him professionally, rather than computer science. Former Austin City Manager Toby Futrell, Lucio's mentor at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, encouraged the Harlingen native to get involved on a local scale. During his time as a graduate student,
“Issues that would affect the Valley’s community such as colonias, infrastructure issues, social service issues, educational challenges, were the types of issues that I’d try to stick my teeth into,” Lucio said. He believes international travel helps build empathy, an attribute of a well-rounded individual. Lucio credits HCISD teachers, such as Ms. Boggs, Mr. Gerleman, Mr. Hill, Col. Kellum, and his uncle Coach Bobby Lucio for pushing him to become a better human being and contribute to society. Reflecting on his journey so far, Lucio encourages students to keep an open mind upon graduating from high school. “Don’t think that what you choose to study in college is going to be the thing that you end up doing,” Lucio said. ó
“Don't think that what you choose to study in college is going to be the thing that you end up doing.”
t an elevation of more than 7,000 feet, Rift Valley Academy sits on a rural hillside in Kenya, an African country situated on the continent’s east coast bordering the Indian Ocean.
It’s where Harlingen High School South alumnus Matt Hansen finds himself teaching — on a hillside frequented by monkeys, baboons, and exotic wildlife. Rift Valley Academy, referred to by Hansen as “the school in the clouds,” is a Christian boarding school with a population of about 500 students. Hansen and his wife Eva relocated
Harlingen HS South '96 18
from Harlingen to Kenya in August 2013 to quench their desires to work overseas. Before the move, Hansen worked as a teacher at Harlingen CISD’s Treasure Hills Elementary shortly after returning from China where he met his wife Eva in the early 2000s. “Since we got married, Eva and I had wanted to work as cross-cultural missionaries,” the 41-year-old father of four said. “We didn’t expect that desire would land us at an international school where we primarily teach the children of missionaries in Africa, and yet, here we are.” The Hansens are headed into their sixth year of living in Kenya, where their daughter was born during their second year of teaching at the academy, one of his favorite memories in Africa. Hansen and his family accompany Rift Valley students while they spend time on safari. Hansen particularly enjoys playing with students on the academy's sports field overlooking the Great Rift Valley and Mount Longonot — a nearby stratovolcano. Although the campus is modeled after an American educational system and all instruction is in English, the school offers courses in Spanish, French, and Swahili — the most common language spoken in East Africa.
Hansen’s love for the educational field began when he was a student. He attended Treasure Hills Elementary, Coakley Junior High, Alamo Junior High School, and Harlingen High School South. The 1996 Harlingen High School South alumnus then left Harlingen for Illinois where he attended Wheaton College. He also took Mandarin courses at a community college, part of his inspiration to eventually move to China. After attaining a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies and philosophy, Hansen journeyed to China and enrolled in a university program for students wanting to grow fluent in the language. Thinking back to the years spent as both a student and teacher in Harlingen, Hansen is exceptionally grateful for his mentors who inspired him to pursue a career in education. While there are countless teachers and colleagues whom he believes have contributed to his professional growth, there are two individuals of noteworthy significance to his life. Linda Krabill served as an administrator while he was a student and during his time as a teacher at Treasure Hills Elementary, a leader he is grateful for due to her professionalism and "love and care for both staff and students." He also considers Stacey Snavely a long-time friend and appreciates her mentorship during his first year as a public school teacher. “Stacey ran a very successful classroom, and I learned a lot about classroom management and instruction from her,” he said. He also worked as a substitute teacher for a year, prior to obtaining his teacher certification. “That experience was one more stepping stone to my future teaching career,” Hansen said. “I also believe that year helped contribute to my versatility as a teacher and comfort level in a variety of different types of classrooms. Upon learning about the opening of the Vernon Middle School World Languages Academy, Hansen praised Harlingen CISD for providing its students with an opportunity to learn languages other than English, a skill he believes gives students “an edge” in the job market. “Probably one of the best things about knowing a different language, besides just the fruit of knowing it, is the confidence that it gives you,” Hansen said. “It means that you are actively pursuing opportunities that you would have otherwise shieded away from.” He encourages others to seize opportunities to learn about other cultures and languages, just as he was able to during his life. Hansen plans on continuing his work at Rift Valley, where his four children attend school among students from 30 different nationalities. "In large measure, it was the confidence and experience that I gained as a teacher during those four years at HCISD that opened doors for me to teach in Africa," Hansen said. ó
“Probably one of the best things about knowing a different language, besides just the fruit of knowing it, is the confidence that it gives you.” www.HCISD.org
hen Elia Law graduated from Harlingen Early College High School in 2016, she set her sights on exploring boundless opportunities across the globe through a study abroad program.
The 20-year-old anticipates graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019. Focusing her sights on a career in international business, she decided to undertake semesters abroad and has traveled to Italy, Brazil, Spain, Russia, France, Portugal and Greece.
“I want to be able to make my family proud and provide an example for future generations,” Law said while on Spring Break vacation in France, where she traveled to for a week before returning to the university's McCombs School of Business. Law’s voice beamed with happiness as she spoke about her wanderlust. At the age of 16, Law was the first Early College High School student to participate in a study abroad program. She spent part of the school year
Early College HS '16 20
overseas as an exchange student in Sardinia, Italy, where she was housed with a host family.
Law then moved to St. Petersburg, Russia for the fall 2017 semester, where she interned at a local museum while completing college courses.
“It was amazing seeing it in person, and while I saw it I was standing around snow,” she said. “It was a beautiful night, and you could hear the river nearby.”
“I lived my life as if I was on my own,” Law said. “I had my family, and it was really, really nice. I didn’t know any of the languages, but by being “In Russia, people aren’t exactly as warm and Law spent spring 2019 back in Austin and friendly as in Brazil or Italy, so it definitely despite her travels, she finds time to visit home. immersed, I picked up on it.” was something I needed to experience,” Law In Harlingen, she spends her free time with Law still keeps in touch with the family she said. “It opens your eyes to other people out family and her former educators, including met while she was in high school. there, and you need to be able to work with her English teacher Mrs. Dena Poppe. “It was such a huge ordeal because not a lot of that.” “I really did appreciate the things that she people would do it,” Law said. “It’s opened a Though a different experience than she had would talk to me about, and even today she lot of opportunities for me.” in Italy and Brazil, Law remains grateful for gives me advice here and there that’s really Her international experience in Italy set in the experience and real-world knowledge she resonated with me,” Law said. motion her desire to learn other languages. attained in Russia. Law plans on using the skills she’s learned She was accepted into a Portuguese language through her study abroad programs for a “It’s beneficial knowing that you aren’t always program in Brazil, where she lived from May going to get along with people, or sometimes career in client services and marketing. 2017 until July of that year. Law found the way they act aren’t what you’re used to. “I just love it,” Law said of her intended career herself quickly adapting to Brazilian You need to learn how to work with them,” path. “I love interacting with people, so client culture, which she said shares Law said. “It’s a really good lesson.” services are something I’m looking into, and similarities with parts of While not studying, Law took occasional right now the industries I’m really focusing in her Mexican culture. breaks to enjoy the scenery around her in on are food, beverage, and consumer products.” the countries she visited. One of her favorite Upon graduating this year, Law will be the moments in nature was in Russia, where third from her immediate family to graduate she saw the Northern Lights, a from the University of Texas at Austin. Her memory she appreciated two siblings and her father graduated from the due to the magnitude same university. of its beauty. “I firmly believe that my experience as an exchange student in high school was one of the first reasons I was able to get into UT,” Law said. ó
“I lived my life as if I was on my own. I had my family, and it was really, really nice. I didn’t know any of the languages, but by being immersed, I picked up on it.”
HARLINGEN HIGH SCHOOL - VALEDICTORIAN
As Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District students prepared to graduate, the valedictorians and salutatorians from each high school shared their future plans.
“I plan on majoring in nursing in the honors college at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. I received the UTRGV orange scholarship, which is $8,000 each year. Since I plan on working in the Valley, I decided to attend the local university. I’ve always wanted to do something health-related, and over time I learned that nursing is the backbone of hospitals. They do a lot of patient care and that’s really what I want to focus on. My mom has always emphasized how important education is in life. She always encouraged reading, and my siblings and I were all reading by kinder.”
HARLINGEN SOUTH - VALEDICTORIAN
“I’m going to attend Texas A&M, where both of my parents went. I’ve received about $3,000 a year in scholarships, and as valedictorian, I get my first year tuition-free. I plan on majoring in university studies. I want to go to medical school and become a family physician or an orthopedic surgeon. My mom and dad have put me in a position to succeed. I’m also grateful for my classmates – a bunch of them were super helpful to me. Although we are all working against each other, we all work together as a community because at the end of the day, we are all in it together. I couldn’t be more grateful for my teachers and HCISD.”
EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL VALEDICTORIAN
“I’ll likely be attending the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley or Texas A&M and majoring in computer information systems. From A&M, I’ve received the president's achievement and Aggie merit scholarships, which are about $2,200 each year. From UTRGV, I received the orange scholar, which awards $20,000 for four years. I’ve always been around computers, and I enjoy playing video games. I figured doing something around computers would help me stay around that, and I hope to find a career that’s enjoyable. The people I find most influential are my parents and my sister. My parents both went to college and my sister because she’s always positive, and she goes after what she wants.”
Brittney Lynne Garza
HARLINGEN SCHOOL OF HEALTH PROFESSIONS VALEDICTORIAN
“I’m planning on attending the University of Texas at Austin, and I’m going to be in the honors program with a specialization in psychology. I wanted a school that I knew would challenge me and give me experiences that would cultivate my love for medicine. I hope to eventually become an obstetrician-gynecologist. In my practicum through high school, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Lena Hopkins, and I fell in love with her clinic. I’m grateful for my family because they have always been a support team. I’m also extremely grateful for my classmates because we always build each other up, and the positive environment has built us to the people we are today.”
Laura Macmanus Christine Vega
HARLINGEN SOUTH - SALUTATORIAN
“I’m either going to the University of Texas or the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. I’m going to major in biology and plan to attend medical school to become a radiologist. I chose radiology because I don’t want to look at one organ the rest of my life, and it’s really a challenge. I’m pretty interested in the function of all living things. I really like science and the study of life. I’m a UTRGV scholar, so I have a full ride. I am also a finalist for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. My parents moved here from Puerto Rico. They did everything for me to succeed, and they really are the ones I can count on for everything.”
HARLINGEN HIGH SCHOOL - SALUTATORIAN
“I’m planning on majoring in civil engineering at Texas A&M University. I like the problem-solving aspect of it, and I like implementing design. I want to look into rural development because infrastructure there needs a lot more help. Civil engineers allow civilization to move around because they construct roads and bridges. I’ve received a $15,000 Magic Valley Electric Scholarship. I got a $12,000 scholarship from A&M as well as $2,500 from the college of engineering. My parents have always helped me and had my back no matter what. I also drew encouragement from my older brothers; they were at the top of their classes as well, so they pushed me to work hard and be the best I can be.”
HARLINGEN SCHOOL OF HEALTH PROFESSIONS SALUTATORIAN
“I will be attending Harvard University to concentrate on human developmental and regenerative biology with secondary studies in ethnicity, migration and minority rights. After college, I hope to attend New York University’s school of medicine to pursue a career in traumatic emergency surgery. I did my high school clinical practicum at Valley Baptist Medical Center’s Emergency Room. There, I learned how emergency surgery benefits patients. I’m most motivated by my family and also the school teachers and counselors at our campus. The thing that I love most about Harlingen School of Health Professions is the close connections with administration, counselors, custodians and teachers. They’ve helped me on my journey to medical school.”
Taylor Ann Garcia EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL SALUTATORIAN
“I’m going to go to Texas A&M in College Station. I decided to go there because they gave me the most money – around $23,000 for all four years. I’m excited because I like the change of environment and being on my own. I plan on majoring in mathematics and becoming a professor or going into computer science, but I’m also maybe thinking of majoring or minoring in chemical engineering. I really love that mathematics is universal. I’m grateful for the community for being really open and supportive of everything that we do.”
ecent Harlingen School of Health Professions graduate Matthew Garcia spent his elementary years with his nose in a book, imagining himself in the midst of where the novel was set — from Scotland to England.
University of Texas at Brownsville music professor Dr. Martha Placeres, the creator of the university’s orchestra.
“She heard me play, and she said, ‘This kid has to come and play with our orchestra,” Garcia said, excitedly recalling some of his Since Garcia read of beautiful and exotic lo- most memorable times as a Harlingen CISD cales, travel began emerging in the front of student. “I was like, ‘Of course!’” his mind with a want to visit historical monHe traveled to Brownsville every Wednesday uments detailed in books. Garcia discovered to rehearse with “the college kids,” and Garcia a love of music while entering middle school. “fell in love” with performing and rehearsing His mother suggested he take up marching with the symphony orchestra. band and envisioned him as a star under the When Mrs. De Leon, his director, received a Friday night lights, but Garcia had a different packet about the Carnegie Hall program, she idea in mind: high school orchestra. encouraged Garcia to try out for the highly He was captivated and mesmerized by the competitive and renowned music program string instruments that filled up the perfor- attended by students from exclusive private mance rooms at Gutierrez Middle School. It schools around the country. was then he made the decision to join the orAs a sophomore, he was accepted to the prochestra. Initially wanting to play the cello, he gram and even earned a spot as second chair. was disappointed to hear the only instrument available for him to play was the viola – a four- His junior year, Garcia sat in the first chair position and traveled to Carnegie Hall to perstring instrument similar to the violin, but form in New York City among some of larger thus producing a deeper sound. the best student viola players. It was Garcia, however, didn’t know picking up the there where he read about the Nationviola would lead him to a bright, adventure- al Youth Orchestra, described by Carnfilled future much like the books he read while egie Hall musicians as being composed a student at Rodriguez Elementary School. of the “brightest young players” from across the United States. It’s a highly “I picked it up, and I was so excited,” Garcia competitive audition, and Garcia was said, noting that during his first week of selected to take part in it, allowing him orchestra class, he asked his teacher if he to embark on a new adventure. could borrow a viola to practice at home. “I remember that I was the worst one in the class for a few weeks,” Garcia said while smiling and reminiscing about first picking up the instrument.
He was exposed to a new level of playing and people from cultures and backgrounds not commonly found in the Rio Grande Valley.
Garcia dedicated hours each day to practicing, improving his skill and performance at a fast pace. Within about two months, the orchestra director noticed his keen ability to play and read music and moved him into the varsity orchestra at his middle school where he sat among 8th graders. From there, he continued to prove himself as a viola player and eventually earned first chair, which denotes his ability to most accurately and exquisitely make music with the viola.
He began to attract the attention of national news outlets such as the National Public Radio. Garcia was asked, “How could this kid from South Texas be able to play at this level?” This motivated him to continue to break boundaries.
“I’m like that in a lot of things in life,” Garcia said. “I’m very slow to learn things, but once I get it, I do pretty well from then on.” Others took note of his musical abilities, specifically after he attained first chair in regional competitions among students from districts across the lower Rio Grande Valley. His success caught the attention of former
musician's dream. He has visited many of the places he thought he would only be able to read about and learned about cultures in Asia, South America, and soon-to-be Europe. When he returns from Europe this summer, Garcia will meet his parents in Cambridge to settle into the residence halls of Harvard University, the school of his dreams. Being successful remains on his mind as he desires to continue making his family and the community proud of his accomplishments and global experience. Being accepted into the Ivy League school, he said, was “probably one of the best days of my life.” Garcia anticipates concentrating on human developmental and regenerative biology with secondary studies in ethnicity, migration and minority rights at Harvard. He plans on attending New York University to pursue a career as a physician focused on traumatic emergency surgery. ó
The National Youth Orchestra allowed Garcia to visit and perform in China, Korea, Ecuador, Colombia, Taiwan, and Mexico, where he spent part of his summers in between grade levels. The opportunity to play overseas led him to perform his viola in front of crowds in some of the most significant and most historic music halls in the world. This summer, Garcia will travel to London, Amsterdam, and Hamburg where he will play in the halls of every
Global A Wisdom
new opportunity is coming to immerse students in multiple languages and cultures beginning at the start of the 2019-20 school year. Harlingen CISD announced in December the opening of a new World Languages Academy at Vernon Middle School. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our students need to be prepared to compete in a global economy. The number one language of commerce is Mandarin Chinese and Spanish is the second. There
is a demand for individuals with command of two or more languages,” said Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “The World Languages Academy will broaden perspectives in the classroom and create global thinkers by teaching students new languages while exposing them to different cultures. It will also allow them to engage with students across the globe.” The program will feature small learning communities to develop multilingual and multicultural students. The World Languages Academy will be open to all incoming 6th graders and will be expanded to an additional grade level at Vernon each year. Elementary students in the dual language academies will find the World Language Academy will be a continuation of their curriculum and a natural progression of the languages they are learning.
“We started the Dual Language program back in 2013. Now, those students are getting ready to go into middle school,” said HCISD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Alicia Noyola. “We want to continue to give them that opportunity to develop their literacy skills and their writing skills in another language.” These students will continue their study of Spanish and English by taking courses in both languages. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to begin the study of a third or fourth language such as Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, French, or German. The world language academy will immerse students into a language and culture by allowing them to connect with students from other countries by video and offering international travel opportunities during 8th grade. ó
"THE WORLD LANGUAGES ACADEMY WILL BROADEN PERSPECTIVES IN THE CLASSROOM AND CREATE GLOBAL THINKERS BY TEACHING STUDENTS NEW LANGUAGES WHILE EXPOSING THEM TO DIFFERENT CULTURES." DR. ART CAVAZOS
Austin and Houston Elementary celebrate International Baccalaureate program candidacy
ustin and Sam Houston Elementary School students enthusiastically waved flags representing different countries in celebration of their International Baccalaureate World School candidacy.
The Brazilian, United Kingdom and Italian flags were among some of those lifted in the air by the students in October 2018, a few months after Harlingen CISD announced its schools qualified for the International Baccalaureate program. The IB program prepares elementary students to be thinkers, communicators, introspective, inquirers and open-minded of cultures. The program incorporates cultural knowledge, touching on real-world issues such as world hunger, as well as language development.
“All of it revolves around preparing our students for global achievement,” said Dr. Alicia Noyola, HCISD’s Chief Academic Officer. “The cross-curricular program builds respect and acceptance through knowledge while also helping students learn to really impact society as a whole.” After Harlingen CISD established its strategic plan and surveyed the community, leaders began looking to increase unique learning opportunities and established specialized schools. The IB campuses are the latest specialized, innovative programs added within the elementary level. Austin and Sam Houston elementary schools are in the candidacy phase of the ongoing authorization process conducted by IB, an international education foundation. A successful candidate school can take between two and three years to become a full-fledged IB World School. To ensure a responsible rollout and
to best meet the needs of the Austin and Sam Houston school communities, preparation for teachers remains ongoing. The schools will remain teaching current curriculum, while incorporating the IB program across all subjects and grade levels. The IB Primary Years Program offers a multilingual approach and rigorous curriculum that is focused on developing active, caring, and lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others. Upon completing the candidacy phase, Harlingen CISD will be the first school district in Cameron Country to establish IB schools. Marifer Quevedo, a former IB student from an out-of-town school district, and Noa Williot, a Harlingen High School exchange student from Belgium, spoke to the elementary students in October about the benefits of an education that promotes international knowledge. “I grew up speaking 100 percent Spanish at home. It’s something that I’ve always been very proud of, and with IB, I had the opportunity to be in an environment that embraced that,” Quevedo said. “The program helped me develop a global mindset. It focused on making sure that as a student, I knew how to work together with my peers no matter what their language or cultural background.
We all share this planet, so it’s important that we help students develop tolerance.” Williot left students with some advice for the future. “Now, I want to remind you that you are the leaders of tomorrow,” she said. “Do your best, be curious, and be interested in our world.” During the 2018-19 school year, students at the IB schools began their multicultural, multilingual lessons. A group of 5th graders at Austin Elementary have been using their lunch time to learn additional words in Mandarin, the most commonly spoken language in the world. To commemorate the journey their school is taking to become an IB school, two Dual Language students at Sam Houston recited a poem in English and Spanish about being bilingual. The two schools are strategically located on the southern and northern portions of Harlingen CISD boundaries to ensure all students have access to the IB programs. Parents desiring for their children to attend an IB school may apply for admission. ó
To learn more about International Baccalaureate, visit www.ibo.org.
Harlingen CISD selected to take part in Holdsworth leadership program
he Holdsworth Center selected Harlingen CISD to take part in its leadership institute dedicated to refining district-wide leadership to boost student success across all campuses, the center announced in April 2019. The Holdsworth Center, a non-profit organization founded by H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt, an advocate for public education, chose Harlingen CISD to participate in its institute intended to enhance and further empower educational leaders to strengthen academics. Butt named the Holdsworth Center after his mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt – an educational philanthropist who resided in Harlingen for some time. Butt, however, said the center is “not for my mom, but for the kids,” according to the Holdsworth Center’s website, noting exemplary education goes hand
in hand with top-notch leadership. Harlingen CISD will be among the Holdsworth Center’s second cohort of school districts participating and one of a few selected statewide based on its commitment and ability to implement strategies to grow and develop a comprehensive pipeline of school leaders. The leadership institute covers the cost of programming, support, and housing, including its rigorous learning sessions at The Holdsworth Center campus in Austin. “We are grateful for every district who applied. Selecting only six districts was extremely difficult, and through our visits, we were inspired by and optimistic about the excellent work being done in (public) schools across Texas,” said Dr. Lindsay Whorton, president of The Holdsworth Center. The program begins this summer with Harlingen CISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Art Cavazos scheduled to embark on a two-year leadership program alongside five administrators from Harlingen CISD’s central office. The leaders will hear from the nation’s top leadership experts as well as visit and study high-performing organiza-
tions to empower leadership. The program will be tailored to fit Harlingen CISD’s goals. “At Harlingen CISD, we continue to build partnerships to ensure our students are provided with a top-quality education across all of our campuses. We continually seek innovative tools and new strategies to utilize in our classrooms with the mindset of increasing performance and students’ abilities to thrive,” Dr. Cavazos said. “We are super proud and honored to have been selected by the Holdsworth Center, and we look forward to our five-year partnership with the educational leadership institute.” The second year of the five-year program includes addressing challenges to improve school culture and student outcomes. Principals, assistant principals, and teachers at selected campuses will be involved in the program. “We look forward to investing in and supporting district and campus leaders in these six systems (including Harlingen CISD) as they work to grow as leaders, strengthen schools and districts and drive excellent and equitable results for every student,” Whorton said. ó
HCISD and its students continued a tradition of excellence this school year by earning prestigious awards and working to make a difference in the lives of others.
CVELA MS SPELLING BEE CHAMPION ADVANCES TO NATIONALS Isabella Jackson, an 8th grader at Vela Middle School, is taking HCISD to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. following a win at the regional spelling bee. Her winning word was “vastitude.”
BDISHMAN PRINCIPAL ATTAINS TOP HONORS
H-E-B Excellence in Education named Dishman Elementary Principal Irma Davis the best elementary principal in the state. Davis attended H-EB's Excellence in Education Awards ceremony where she was recognized for her leadership. She has been principal of Dishman Elementary for eight years.
CHCISD, CITY TAKE FIRST PLACE IN IT’S TIME TEXAS CHALLENGE For the fourth year in a row, Harlingen CISD came in first among school districts its size in the It’s Time Texas Community Challenge. It’s Time Texas, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging healthy lifestyles, holds the challenge each year to encourage communities to get moving, eat healthy and consume water – all in an effort to combat obesity and obesity-related disease.
ADMINISTRATOR NAMED REGION ONE ELEMENTARY ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR
Lamar Elementary Assistant Principal Michelle Ayala was recognized as the 2018 Region One Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year. Ayala’s talent stood out among dozens of assistant principals from across the Rio Grande Valley. Ayala is serving her thirteenth year as an educator, including nine years in the classroom.
BECHS ROBOTICS TEAMS ADVANCE TO FIRST WORLD COMPETITION Following a successful victory at the Alamo West Regional Championship, both Early College High School's robotics teams took top prizes, landing them a spot at the FIRST Robotics World Championship in Houston.
BTHIRD-GRADER TAKES FIRST IN PROSE AT HIGH SCHOOL SPEECH TOURNAMENT Romina Martinez, a Lee Means Elementary Fine Arts Academy third grade student, took first place in the novice prose category at Harlingen High School South’s Speech Drama Debate Sombrero Classic Tournament. Romina surpassed 114 middle school and high school competitors in the category with her rendition of a dramatic piece entitled “Missing Natalie” by Nicole Blackman.
BMIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS EXCEL ON COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAMS Seven HCISD students earned state recognition and qualified for Duke University's prestigious 7th grade talent search. The following students earned ACT or SAT scores that fell at or above the national average of recent high-school graduates:
CHARLINGEN SOUTH STUDENT WINS ART COMPETITION Harlingen High School South junior Ryan Velasquez was announced the winner of the 2018 Cameron County District Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence Awareness Art Contest. His art work titled "Unmasking" is aimed at spreading awareness about domestic violence and abuse.
Madison Hushen – Coakley MS Emma Moreno – Coakley MS Eric Soto – Coakley MS Charlotte Hughes – Gutierrez MS Jonathan Garcia – Vela MS Isabella Jackson – Vela MS Jesren Treviño – Vela MS
DHCISD CLAIMS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP IN HIGH SCHOOL HUMOROUS INTERPRETATION, POETRY Harlingen CISD students earned two top spots at the Texas Forensic Association state competition. Faith George Ann Zepeda, a junior at Harlingen High School, took home the state championship for poetry. In addition to the state champion trophy in humorous interpretation, John Duncan, a senior at Harlingen High School South, also took home the Top Speaker award.
BHARLINGEN SOUTH SPEECH AND DEBATE TEAM TAKES SWEEPSTAKES Harlingen High School South Speech and Debate team brought home a first place sweepstakes award along with several state qualifications after competing at the Juarez-Lincoln High School tournament in November 2018.
ESADAT GUTIERREZ EARNS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP IN MASONRY Harlingen High School's Sadat Gutierrez achieved success in the Skills USA state competition and earned the state championship title in masonry for her quality production and construction of a brick and block project similar to what is used in residential construction. She also completed a written exam as part of the competition.
BHCISD NAMED ONE OF THE “BEST COMMUNITIES FOR MUSIC EDUCATION”
D HARLINGEN SOUTH SWEEPS TOURNAMENT
The National Association of Music Merchants named Harlingen CISD one of the “Best Communities for Music Education” for its ongoing commitment to music education. The designation is awarded to districts demonstrating exceptional achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.
Harlingen High School South’s Speech and Debate team shined at the Tuloso-Midway High School tournament. The team took first place sweepstakes and earned three additional Texas Forensic Association state qualifications.
CVERNON BEGINS FIRST HCISD MIDDLE SCHOOL MARIACHI Vernon Middle School unveiled their mariachi program in Fall 2018. This is the first middle school in HCISD history to create a mariachi group. Principal Arely Tamez was delighted with the creation and success of the group. With the opening of the World Language Academy, mariachi is adding to the school’s multicultural flavor.
BDECA STUDENT QUALIFIES FOR INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE Harlingen High School’s Maryclare Todd qualified for the International Career Development Conference after competing in the Texas DECA conference. Distributive Education Clubs of America prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.
BVELA MS STUDENTS NAMED STATE CHAMPIONS IN SPEECH AND DEBATE Vela Middle School speech and debate national qualifiers traveled to Houston to compete at the Texas Junior Speech and Debate Association State Tournament. In addition to numerous awards earned by team members, Sadie Jensen and Adrianna Rodriguez were named state champions. Jensen’s talents stood out above the rest in the humorous interpretation category, and Rodriguez received the top award in prose.
BTAFE COMPETITORS EARN HIGHEST HONORS
CSIX STUDENTS QUALIFY FOR NATIONAL SPEECH TOURNAMENT
Eighteen HCISD students competed in the Texas Association of Future Educators competition.
Harlingen High School South secured five spots for the NSDA National Tournament and earned sweepstakes in speech.
Maryclare Todd and Allie Guillen placed in the Top 10 in the state of Texas. Todd competed in the job interview category and Guillen competed in the educator’s rising moment category.
Anell McDaniel: Dramatic Interpretation John Duncan: Humorous Interpretation John was named the Gulf Coast District’s “Student of the Year.”
Teacher Created Materials - Individual Damon Cantu
Lucero Sauceda: Domestic Extemporaneous
Teacher Created Materials - Elementary Team Brianna Coronado and Victoria Guerrero
Joseph Decilos: Oral Interpretation Christian Villareal and RJ Gonzalez: Policy Debate team
Teacher Created Materials - Secondary Teams Emily Barrientos and Alexandra Moreno Madison Cannon and Yadira Ortega Interactive Bulletin Board - Elementary Team Chloe Louks and Leslye Gonzales Daniel Macie and Alexis Exinia Interactive Bulletin Board - Individual Theresa Anciso Project Visualize Service - Team Blanca Gonzalez and Yadira Ortega Break out Session Alejandra Llanas and Alexis Exinia
BHARLINGEN SOUTH ONE ACT PLAY ADVANCES TO REGIONALS Through the art of theater, Harlingen High School’s One-Act play told the inspiring story of composer Ludwig van Beethoven and musicologist Katherine Brandt in “33 variations." Their performance scored at the top in the district competition, which allowed them to advance to regionals in San Antonio.
ETWO-TIME STATE QUALIFYING TEAM AMONG BEST DEBATERS IN TEXAS Two students from Harlingen High School South, Ramiro Gonzalez and Christian Villarreal, advanced to UIL State in cross-examination debate. They competed among the best debaters in the state in March. They are a two-time state qualifying team and placed 5th at the state competition held in Austin.
BHOSA STUDENTS QUALIFY FOR INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION HCISD students competed and placed in the HOSA district conference held in San Antonio. Four of the 23 students qualified to compete at the HOSA International Competition in Orlando, Florida. Harlingen High School Allyson Puente Devanny Esparza Lauren Boykin Camryn Hale Harlingen School of Health Professions Maleni Arredondo Caleb Brinning Aaron Castillo - International Qualifier Aaron Castillo - Served as HOSA-Vice President, endorsed to become a National Executive Council Candidate Madison Constantine Matthew Garcia William Horn Morgan Johnson Lily Lerma Jacqueline Magno - International Qualifier Ana Ramos - International Qualifier Julieana Lucio Marco Martinez Briana McClain - International Qualifier Miranda Cano Therese Gumban Jose Herrera Katya Gonzales Ashley Galvan Sofia Canchola
EEIGHT HARLINGEN SOUTH STUDENTS ADVANCE TO NATIONAL LATIN COMPETITION Eight Harlingen High School South students advanced to the National Junior Classical League National Competition, which is composed of junior and senior high school competitors who participate in the understanding of ancient Greece and Rome.
EEIGHT FBLA COMPETITORS ADVANCE TO NATIONAL COMPETITION Following success at the state Future Business Leaders of America competition, eight students advanced to the national level. Harlingen High School: Marketing: Maryclare Todd Network Design: Julian Truillo Harlingen High School South: Parliamentary Procedures Team: William Bell, Matthew Cavazos, Valeria Montero, Christopher Rayner, Summer Wade â&#x20AC;&#x201D; state champions. Impromptu Speaking: Joseph Decilos
BSIX STUDENTS MAKE TMEA ALL STATE
Harlingen South HS: Freshman, Daniel Hernandez, trombone – 3rd Chair Harlingen HS: Freshman, Cadence Carpio, Alto 1, Mixed Choir - 1st Chair Junior, Sophia Lopez, Soprano 2, Treble Choir - 4th Chair Junior, Anthony Villarreal, Tenor 1, Tenor/Bass Choir - 5th Chair Junior, Gabriella Celine Garza, Alto 1, Mixed Choir - 3rd Chair Senior, Hannah Rosenbaum, Alto 2, Mixed Choir - 1st Chair
CBIG RED CARDINAL BAND ADVANCES TO UIL STATE MARCHING CONTEST The Harlingen High School Big Red Cardinal Band advanced to the State UIL Marching Contest. The Big Red Cardinal Band has qualified for the state marching contest at every opportunity since 1998.
EHCISD STUDENTS SELECTED TO PERFORM IN CARNEGIE HALL
Six students were selected to perform at Carnegie Hall for the 2019 Honors Junior Orchestra. Memorial Middle School’s Julianna Bryant, Coakley Middle School’s Nathan Mowers, Gutierrez Middle School’s Aizza Guerrero, and Vela Middle School’s Felix Vicente Rodriguez and Madison Soto. They will be performing alongside students from across the nation.
EORCHESTRAS CONTINUE TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE AT ALLREGION AUDITIONS
Harlingen CISD orchestras have become well-known for producing some of the most accomplished musicians in the area. In October 2018, the district’s middle school and high school ensembles continued their tradition of excellence with incredible success across the board at UIL All-Region auditions.
EHHSS CONCERT BANDS BREAK CAMPUS RECORD, SET SWEEPSTAKES
For the first time in the school’s history, Harlingen South sent four concert bands to the UIL Concert and Sight-Reading Evaluation. All four earned sweepstakes, the highest rating a band can attain from judges. Harlingen South sent close to 200 students to the competition.
ESPECIAL OLYMPICS ATHLETES KNOCK ‘EM DOWN AT BOWLING COMPETITION
Harlingen Stingray competitors from Harlingen High and Harlingen South did an outstanding job bringing home many accolades at the annual Special Olympics bowling competition. The final results are as follows: Harlingen High School South Sarah White – 3rd, PJ Lopez – 2nd, Isaiah Fuentes – 1st, Loren Cordero – 2nd, Danielle Green – 1st, Christian Suarez – 1st, Sabrina Cavazos – 3rd, Nathan Watkin – n/a Harlingen High School Emily Vega – 2nd, Britany Calderas – 1st, Laura Lee Noell – 1st, Camilo Olivarez – 2nd, Kyle Olivarez – 5th, Hector Salinas – 2nd, Aaron Rodriguez – 2nd
BHHSS GIRLS SOCCER LANDS SPOT IN ELITE 8 STATE QUARTER FINALS With only eight girls soccer teams left in the Class 6A playoffs, the Lady Hawks soccer team landed a spot in the Elite 8 state quarter finals, a first in Harlingen South history.
BCARDINALS WIN BI-DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIP The Harlingen High School Baseball team earned the bi-district championship title.
ELADY CARDS BASKETBALL AREA CHAMPIONS
Harlingen High School’s Lady Cardinals basketball team was the area champion following a win against Laredo Alexander High School.
CHHSS BOYS SOCCER AREA CHAMPIONS The Harlingen South Boys soccer team captured a bi-district championship and an area championship for the first time in the program’s history.
BLADY HAWK SOFTBALL RECEIVES AREA CHAMPS TITLE After receiving the bi-district championship title, Lady Hawks Softball advanced to the next round and were named area champions.
BHAWK TENNIS CHAMPIONS
Harlingen South dominated the 32-6A tennis tournament, winning all five divisions and qualifing seven out of 10 positions for the regional tournament. District champions include: Singles Adrian Munguia Valeria Montero Doubles Chris Rayner Billy Yeupell Autumn Turribiates Kennedy Kibler Mixed doubles Matt Cavazos/Kara LeMarr
EHHS BOYS TRACK CAPTURES AREA CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE
The Harlingen High School Boys Track team secured the area championship. Competing in a previous meet, both Harlingen High School and Harlingen High School South teams tied for the district championship title.
DMMS LADY RAIDERS NAMED DISTRICT VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONS
Memorial Middle School’s 8th Grade Lady Raiders Volleyball Team went undefeated this season earning the title of 2018 District Volleyball Champions.
ELADY RAVENS TITLED DISTRICT CHAMPIONS
Cano Freshman Academy’s Lady Raven Navy basketball team earned the district championship title. After a win against Brownsville Rivera High School, the Lady Ravens received the honor.
Swimmers: Harlingen South Justin Diaz (2nd year qualifier to State Meet, District Champion, Regional Champion, HHSS Records Set)
EGUTIERREZ MIDDLE SCHOOL AND VERNON MIDDLE SCHOOL DISTRICT CHAMPIONS
Gutierrez Middle School 8th grade team was crowned the district champion, and the Vernon Middle School 7th-grade team went undefeated the entire season also bringing home a district championship.
Lola Garza (2nd year qualifier to State Meet, District Champion) Harlingen High School Girls McKenna Stock (District champion 200 Freestyle, District Silver Medalist 100 Freestyle, Regional Championship Finalist, RGVSCA All Valley Award) Melanie Compian (RGVSCA All-Valley Award)
CHCISD SWIM PROGRAM EARNS
SEVERAL DISTRICT AWARDS, COMPETES AT STATE
Harlingen High School and Harlingen High School South swim and dive teams took home several recognitions throughout the season.
Divers Harlingen High School Amber Warner (2nd year qualifier to State Meet, Regional Champion, District Champion, Regional Diver of the Meet, District Diver of the Meet, All-State Honorable Mention, HHS Record Set)
BCANO GOLD FOOTBALL DISTRICT CHAMPIONS
Both Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy teams earned district championships. The Gold Light Team was the district champion, and the Gold Dark Team was the undefeated district champion.
Harlingen High School South Cassie Vela (State Qualifier, HHSS Record Set, All-State Honorable Mention) Mae Kennedy (State Qualifier, All-State Honorable Mention) Seth Garza (District Champ and District Diver of Meet, RGVSCA All Valley Award) Jason Luckey (HHSS Record set in both 6 & 11 dives, RGVSCA All Valley Award)
Girls 200 Freestyle Relay (Mckenna Stock, Melanie Cumpian, Ana Ramos, Sierra Smith) District Silver Medal Regional Championship Finals Girls 400 Freestyle Relay (Mckenna Stock, Melanie Cumpian, Ana Ramos, Sierra Smith) Regional Championship Finals Harlingen High School Boys Noah Smith (Regional Championship Finalist, RGVSCA All Valley Award) 1st team All Region: Girls 200 Medley Relay (Camille Conlu Lizada, Lola Garza, Catherine Duncan, Victoria Saenz) Justin Diaz 100 Backstroke & IM Camille Lizada 100 Fly Lola Garza 100 Breaststroke Boys 400 Free Relay (Justin Diaz, Brock Tait, Erick Velarde, Patrick Davila) All Valley Team: Camille Lizada 200 Free, 100 Back, 100 Fly Lola Garza 100 Breaststroke Justin Diaz 100 Back, 200 IM
arlingen High School engineering groups earned big money along with first and third place in the Ford Next Generation Learning high school community challenge. During what was supposed to be a project presentation, members of Harlingen CISD’s Robotics Community Service Team watched a surprise video announcement this past spring. Students on the team were surprised to learn that Ford NGL, a philanthropic branch of Ford Motor Company, had awarded them $20,000 to expand their latest engineering venture. Representing Harlingen High School, Harlingen High School South, and Early College High School engineering and science clubs, the team is building a vessel, known as Project Wave, to gather data from our oceans, including water temperature and the concentration of salt within the water. Students plan on launching their vessel into the Gulf of Mexico to receive live data about oceanic conditions. The Harlingen High School South Engineering Club was just as excited to hear they won third place in the national contest. Earning
$5,000, they will use this money to also expand and develop their community-focused project. “Through their innovation, these students are putting Harlingen on the map,” said Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “As we continue to expand STEM opportunities in our district, these teams are paving the way for students who are coming after them. They are truly doing remarkable work for our community.” The Ford STEAM High School Community Challenge focuses on students enrolled in career academies affiliated with Ford Next Generation Learning, a signature program of Ford Motor Company Fund. The organization focuses on recognizing student-led teams that involve community organizations and school resources to address real-life local needs. In their grant proposals, students were encouraged to use their creativity and explore high-impact solutions in fields such as alternative energy, technology, design, and mobility. ó
ROBOTICS-SPHERE ADVENTURE Early College High School robotics teams experience world championship
ollowing a successful state competition, both Early College High School robotics teams advanced to the Robotics World Championship held in Houston this spring.
It’s the first time a Harlingen CISD high school robotics team has advanced to the world championship, where they competed against teams from around the globe, including students visiting from Japan, China, Brazil, Mexico, and Canada. “It was really neat. The best way to sum it up is there was a lot of diversity. We met a lot of people from different countries,” said Early College High School junior Alexia Lowery after returning from the world competition held at the George Brown Convention Center. “It was an experience I would not have been able to have if we hadn’t made it to world.”
Robotics teams throughout Harlingen CISD compete at the local, regional and state championships before advancing to world. STEM2 Preparatory Academy advanced to the state level in the 2018-19 school year.
Elementary, middle, and high schools with a robotics program create and build robots to complete a task. The teams are judged on their robot’s performance, their engineering notebook, and an interview. Team 13108 from Early College High School was a finalist for the Motivate Award at the World Championship, which recognizes the community service aspect of their project. Lowery, who was part of team 13108, said her group mentored seven teams at the STEM2 Preparatory Academy as well as elementary students, part of what led them to qualify for the Motivate Award. “It shows that even though we’re children, we can still make an impact,” she said. The ECHS robotics students were in awe while competing among some of the best robotics students from countries outside of North America. ECHS robotics teams are among the best robotics organizations as only a small percentage of competitors qualify for the world championship. “It’s really nice to have a common ground with everyone there because even though
they come from different countries, we all have one goal – to show what the STEM field is and how it impacts our lives,” Lowery said. ECHS junior Daniel Garcia appreciated the opportunity to be around so many others who were also passionate about engineering. “It was an opportunity of a lifetime,” he said. “We were seeing how other teams were doing, and we picked up on their strategies.” He hopes to return to the world championship again in the 2019-20 school year. “Looking at all the robots, we began to develop ideas for the following year, and we hope to give it another shot,” Garcia said. While robotics utilizes engineering principles and mathematics, ECHS robotics sponsor and Biology teacher Alias Ortega said it also teaches students comradery, collaboration, and real-world problem solving skills. “I’m so proud of their work ethic,” Ortega said of the robotics students. “I’m impressed by the time and commitment they invest in the robotics program and all of their accomplishments leading up to the world championship.”ó
exas Governor Greg Abbott appointed Harlingen CISD Board of Trustee Dr. Nolan E. Perez, M.D., to the University of Texas System Board of Regents, the governor’s office announced in March 2019.
The board of regents, the governing body for The University of Texas System, is composed of nine members who are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Texas Senate. The board is made up of dedicated and distinguished Texans who have been strong advocates of excellence in academic programs, scientific inquiry, and responsible public service, such as Dr. Perez. “I’m deeply honored that Governor Abbott appointed me to the UT System Board of Regents,” said Dr. Perez. “If confirmed by the Senate, I can’t wait to begin serving with Chancellor Milliken and the amazing board. With eight academic and six health institutions, there is so much to learn and so much to do to continue to expand UT’s impact across Texas. I’m proud to be from the Rio Grande Valley and excited to continue my service for this great state on the UT System Board of Regents!” In 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott appointed Dr. Perez to the Texas Women’s University Board of Regents. Dr. Perez is the CEO of Gastroenterology Consultants of South Texas in Harlingen. He is board certified in gastroenterology; a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Gastroenterology; a clinical associate professor and education coordinator for gastroenterology at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; and the founder of RGV Mentors, a mentorship initiative for high school students. Dr. Perez has served as a Harlingen CISD board trustee since 2010 and a past-president of the school board. “I am super proud of Dr. Perez and grateful for his service to HCISD,” said Harlingen CISD Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “As a champion for children, he has and will continue to leave a legacy on education in this great state."
Texas Governor Greg Abbott appoints Harlingen CISD board trustee Dr. Nolan Perez to the University of Texas System Board of Regents
Additionally, Dr. Perez serves on the University of Texas Foundation Board, Holdsworth Center Governing Board, UT System Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee, the University of Texas at Austin Development Board, Humanities of Texas Board, Educate Texas Advisory Board, Texas Lyceum and the Lone Star National Bank Board of Directors. He is also the medical director for Platinum Surgery Center in Harlingen and an expert panelist for the Texas Medical Board. ó
Track/Turf Upgrades PA Upgrades
Elementary Library Upgrades
CATE Testing Center
HHS South Entry Re-Lighting
HSHP Freezer Slab Canal Fields
Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District is making progress in upgrading its facilities with funds available through the voter approved tax ratification election held in September 2015.
Projects Completed 2018-2019 Track/Turf (Harlingen High & Harlingen South) $2,760,000 for construction Completed: August 2018
Elementary Library Upgrades $200,000 for construction Completed: March 2019
PA Upgrades (Dishman, Stuart, and Wilson elementaries) $100,000 for construction Completed: August 2018
Harlingen South Entry Lighting $50,000 for construction Completed: March 2019
Multi-Purpose Upgrades (Bonham, Lamar, Long, and Wilson elementaries) $370,543 for construction Completed: August 2018 Parking Upgrades (Bonham, Milam, & Travis) $318,000 for construction Completed:Aug/Sept 2018 Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning upgrades (Harlingen South) $1,123,500 for construction Completed: August 2018
CATE Testing Center $300,000 for construction Completed: April 2019 HSHP Freezer Slab $123,000 for construction Completed: April 2019 Canal Fields $150,000 for construction Completed: April 2019 Playgrounds $194,374 for construction Completed: May 2019
Playgrounds Safety Fencing Gym Floors
Lamar and District Ops Roofing
Treasure Hills Classroom Wing
Parking Lot Improvements
Multi Purpose Building Upgrades
Mini Golf Driving Range
Tennis Court Repairs
Modernization of Elementary Classroom
Projects Under Construction Safety Fencing (Harlingen High, Harlingen South, and Cano Freshman Academy) $365,476 for construction Estimated completion: August 2019 Wooden Gym Floors (Harlingen South and Gutierrez MS) $535,000 for construction Estimated completion: August 2019 Treasure Hills Elementary Classroom Wing - Phase 1 $8,195,000 for construction Estimated completion: August - October 2019 HVAC Upgrades (Harlingen South) $750,000 for construction Estimated completion: September 2019
Summer Projects to Commence in 2019 Lamar and District Operations Roofing $600,000 for construction Civil Parking Lot Improvements (Cano Freshman Academy, Harlingen High, STEM2, and Boggus Stadium Sewer Line Relocation) $350,000 for construction Mini Golf Driving Range $140,000 for construction Tennis Court Repairs (Harlingen High, Harlingen South, and Gutierrez MS) $125,000 for construction Modernization of Elementary Classroom (Kinder-2nd) $400,000 for construction Multi-Purpose Wall Panels & Painting Upgrades (Austin, Bowie, Jefferson, Milam, Travis and Zavala elementaries) $468,912 for construction Water Fountains (Austin, Bowie, Crockett, Houston, Jefferson, Lamar, Long, and Travis elementaries) $300,000 for construction Vernon WLA Sprinkler and Landscaping Courtyard $150,000 for construction www.HCISD.org
CHARACTER PROGRAMS SPREAD
n idea that sparked a movement in Harlingen CISD high schools last school year has taken root and is spreading to middle schools in a significant push toward kindness.
The school district implemented the Character Strong and Rachel’s Challenge programs at the start of the 2018-19 school year to build a positive school communities. Character Strong helps educators infuse social-emotional learning into the daily fabric of classrooms to encourage character development. Meanwhile, Rachel’s Challenge — named after Rachel Scott, one of the students killed at Columbine High School in 1999 — provides a sustainable, evidence-based framework for positive school climate and classroom culture focused on empathy and understanding. The two programs produce moments of kindness and compassion among students. “There’s been a shift in a lot of our kids. I can see that they’re starting to hold each other accountable for their actions,” said David Cavazos, an 8th grade math teacher at Memorial Middle School. “They’re showing a lot of maturity and responsibility, but more importantly, care for one another. Just the other day, a student dropped something, papers flew everywhere, and everybody just rushed in to help.” During a kickoff event at Coakley Middle School, students reflected on how Rachel’s example will make them think twice about how they react to confrontations or disagreements with others. In an essay, Rachel wrote that the first, second, and third impression of a person could be deceiving because they don’t paint the full picture of an individual’s complete
and true personality. “She (Rachel) gave people at least three chances, and I barely give people one,” said Isaac Aparicio, a 6th grader at Coakley Middle School, noting he is keeping in mind the lessons behind Rachel’s Challenge. Each school tailors the program to fit the campus needs and conducts lessons and activities each week. “We call it Motivational Mondays,” said Cavazos. “We run something similar to a pep-rally schedule. We go to first, second, and third period. After that, we have 30 minutes of Character Strong.” As social media continues as the preferred method of communication for younger generations, programs like these bring students back to basics by encouraging face-toface interactions among students. “This week we had the webby handshake, which focused on how to give a proper handshake,” said Cavazos. “This activity challenged students to put away their electronic devices.” Other lessons challenge students to dig deep and reflect. During the Daily Dares activity, students receive a dare to give authentic compliments throughout the day and analyze their character growth. Ultimately, educators hope to start a chain reaction of kindness to create an even more positive school culture. “I want to be the catalyst for their change,” Cavazos said. “I want my students to do well academically, but I also want to develop them as human beings, so that they can become productive members of society.” ó
ith a focus on expanding partnerships and educational opportunities for students, Harlingen CISD collaborated with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and the city of Harlingen to construct an exciting new venture.
The three partners announced in February the opening of a new UTRGV Early College High School campus, which will span thousands of square feet near Camelot Drive and Hale Avenue. Through the partnership, hundreds of early college high school students will attend the new campus where they will earn their high school diplomas as well as university credit hours.
“I’m excited because our freshman class is going to be the first class to graduate from the new campus, and I feel like it’s going to attract more students,” said Ximena Benitez, a freshman at the current ECHS campus. ECHS provides students an authentic college learning experience. Under the guidance of UTRGV professors, ECHS students will earn up to 60 hours of college credit by the
time they graduate high school. “In Harlingen, we are committed to putting students at the front of the line of opportunities,” said HCISD Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “This project defines the goals we have set for not only our district but for our community and generations of college-bound students to come. I could not think of a better time or a better place for this to happen.” This marks Phase 1 for UTRGV’s baccalaureate programming presence in Harlingen. Through a partnership with an accredited university, ECHS students graduate high school with their academic core or are on a fast track towards careers in engineering, computer science, and education. By selecting collegiate pathways they are passionate about, students save time and money while developing successful study habits. “We want UTRGV to be a university for the entire valley, and our partnership with Harlingen CISD is a great example of that,” said UTRGV President Guy Bailey. “We are excited about expanding our partnership with the Early College High School, and we look forward to other collaborations that will benefit Harlingen students and their families.” UTRGV is working with the city of Harlingen
"WE WANT UTRGV TO BE A UNIVERSITY FOR THE ENTIRE VALLEY, AND OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH HARLINGEN CISD IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF THAT." UTRGV PRESIDENT GUY BAILEY to secure the building site of the campus, featuring classroom space and teaching labs. “That’s a lot of help for us because a lot of students like to have a head start, and I think it’s really nice,” Benitez said of the contributions. UTRGV and Harlingen CISD will each contribute for its construction, and the city committed to donating the land. “A prosperous community is one that works together,” said Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell. “In Harlingen, we unite to support the youth of our community and equip them with the skills they need to be successful, which is in keeping with HCISD’s commitment to graduate students college, career, and community ready.” ó