CFISD SCHOOLS HELP ONE ANOTHER DURING HOLIDAYS
Students throughout CFISD experienced the power of giving and the joy of receiving as schools partnered with one another to make the holiday season brighter for less fortunate families in the community.
The “schools helping schools” initiative set the stage for the third consecutive year at Swenke and Lieder elementary schools, as Swenke families donated enough gifts to support 41 families and 90 students at Lieder.
Swenke staff members delivered the items, which included 18 bicycles, to the school on Dec. 16 and they were distributed to families throughout the remainder of the week.
“It helps our students understand that not everyone is in the same boat as they are,” said Liz Miller, Swenke principal. “The counselors did a fabulous job of organizing the donation efforts. It makes Christmas extra special for the kids.”
Dr. Karen Stockton, Lieder principal, said this year’s donation recipients included many families that were displaced due to the Loch Katrine apartment fire in October.
“The families are so thankful. They don’t know what to say,” Dr. Stockton said. “They come up to the school to pick up the gifts, and there are always tears.”
- Robison Elementary School streamlined its 2015 holiday giving efforts by sponsoring children in need at four other schools through local nonprofit Cy-Hope. Each homeroom class was paired with one student, and A. Robison students donated enough funds to provide gifts for 32 students at M. Robinson, five students at Kirk, six students at Metcalf and five students at McFee elementary schools.
- Robison staff loaded up all the gifts into five vehicles to deliver to the schools. “It was amazing how much they gave,” Robison Principal Kelly Gerletti said. “One little girl brought $40 and said ‘This is my birthday money.’ We asked her if she was sure she wanted to give away her birthday money but she said, ‘This is what I want to do with it.’ It was neat because it was giving to other Cy-Fair students. They really felt like they knew these kids.”
- Robinson Principal Irene Ruiz said it warmed her heart to see the multitude of bags filled with gifts being delivered to her campus.
At Black Elementary School, the PTO hosted a free family holiday event on Dec. 4 where families were invited to donate gifts to be shared with children at Horne Elementary School.
Black Elementary collected 176 gifts in one night and coordinated with CFISD’s community engagement office to deliver them to Horne last week.
“Throughout this week we have been able to provide additional Christmas assistance to families in need with a variety of toys for students of all ages,” said Stephanie Thomas, Horne principal. “We are very blessed to work in a district where schools work so closely as a team to meet the needs of all our students!”
CY RANCH ATHLETE BRINGS SHOE DONATION PROGRAM BACK TO CY-HOOPS
After noticing a plethora of unwanted athletic shoes, Cypress Ranch High School senior basketball player Miles Simms sparked the idea of putting his shoes to a better use.
Simms created a nonprofit called Kicks 4 Kidz. The organization provides needy families with shoes that are donated by members of the community. Partnering with another community-based nonprofit, Cy-Hope, Simms has been able to serve his community for the past two years.
“I first got the idea two summers ago when I walked into my room and saw an abundance of shoes that I wasn’t using anymore,” Simms said. “I just decided that there was something that could be done with these extra shoes, and that’s when Kicks 4 Kidz was born.”
Being a full-time student athlete, Simms said he faced struggles creating Kicks 4 Kidz, but with the help of his parents and coach, he was able to bring his ideas to life. Now. Kicks 4 Kidz has expanded beyond a traditional shoe drive, as Simms partnered with the Houston Methodist Cy-Hoops Invitational to create a unique opportunity for those in the community.
“At first it was hard to get in contact with people but with help, I was able to get in contact with the supervisor over the Cy-Hoops Invitational who helped me get this started with the tournament,” he said.
Simms’ partnership with the Houston Methodist Cy-Hoops Invitational has expanded the scope of his service. He placed shoe donation stations at each of the gyms hosting the games, which were held on Dec.10-12. There, community members couyld drop off new or lightly used shoes at the entrance for any tournament game, and teams that donated shoes received free admission into the tournament.
As a junior, Simms earned recognition from the board of trustees for his effort that resulted in more than 20 pair of shoes being distributed in Cy-Hope’s “Hope Centers.”
Simms says the most rewarding thing about working with Kicks 4 Kidz is knowing that the community is helping economically disadvantaged families. People from all across the Cypress area have recognized and worked with Simms and his project.
“One time I was at LA Fitness working out and a person who recently graduated from Cy Ranch came up to me and let me know that what I was doing was special and wanted to donate a pair of shoes,” Simms said. “That really just hit my heart and made me know I was making a difference.”
For more information, visit cfisd.net/en/news-media/district/houston-methodist-cy-hoops-invitational-bracket-released/. Text by Kamryn Kobal, Cypress Ranch HS.
CY RIDGE STUDENT WINS $1,250 FOR PROJECT ON PLASTIC POLLUTION
Pooja Agrawal, a senior at Cypress Ridge High School, won a silver award and a $1,000 cash prize for her film, “Enough,” in the 2015 International Ocean Awareness Student Contest.
Agrawal received an additional $250 for winning the Advocacy Award for the entire high school division. As one of the selected winners from more than 1,100 high-caliber submissions from 35 countries, her film will also be featured in galleries and merchandise sent around the world. The contest will make a matching donation to an organization of her choice.
This year, the contest prompted students to consider Our Oceans, Our Plastic to direct attention to the growing international problem of ocean plastic pollution and challenged students to combine art, science and environmental advocacy to give the world’s oceans “a voice.”
Submissions ranged from essays and stories exploring the cause of plastic pollution to sculptures and dresses crafted completely out of discarded beach plastics. The artists and their work will be featured in real-world exhibition and distribution projects that will be coordinated with Bow Seat’s international partners over the coming year.
Each project aims to spread awareness of plastic pollution and ocean conservation to the public by engaging the public with the teen’s art, poetry, writing and films.
“The ocean is so vast that I cannot even wrap my mind around its size. I hope my film will convey that it is our duty to preserve it,” Agrawal said. “I created this work for the sole purpose of telling others that it is not too late to change our actions so that we can limit the impact our plastics usage is having on the ocean. I can only hope to play my small role and inspire others to spread awareness about ocean stewardship and take a stand against the degradation of the ocean to preserve the world’s most beautiful gift.”
All winning entries, including Agrawal’s, can be found at fromthebowseat.org/winners-2015-hs.php.
ELEMENTARY STUDENTS BAKE FOR GOOD, DONATING TO LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS
Students at six CFISD elementary schools blended math, science and reading skills with a generous act of giving through the King Arthur Flour Bake for Good: Kids partnership.
The free program uses the slogan “Learn – Bake – Share” to drive the interactive lesson: students learn the skills they need to make delicious bread from scratch using math, science, baking technique tips, reading and following directions, problem solving, time management and creativity; students bake at home after the King Arthur Flour representatives provide the ingredients and instructions; and students share with their community by donating a loaf of bread or some rolls to a local organization to experience the joy that comes from helping others.
Bake for Good: Kids instructor Pam Jensen visited each of the schools, utilizing student assistants in a live demonstration at the school before sending students home with their baking materials.
“This Bake for Good program was a great opportunity for parents to connect Farney’s December theme of ‘compassion’ to a real-life experience of sharing our baked bread with families in need,” said Tricia Reilly, Farney principal.
Students baked one serving of bread to keep and one to give away. Farney fourth- and fifth-grade students baked 514 loaves altogether, 257 of which were donated to Cypress Assistance Ministries (CAM).
The other participating schools’ donation efforts are as follows: Danish Elementary School students donated 184 loaves of bread to the Northwest Assistance Ministries’ Joanne Watford Nutrition Center; Pope Elementary School students donated 126 loaves of bread to CAM; Kirk Elementary School students donated 82 loaves of bread to Cy-Hope; Bane Elementary School students baked rolls at the school, donating approximately 500 to the Mission of Yahweh, a nearby homeless shelter for women; and Keith Elementary School students donated 153 loaves of bread to CAM.
CYPRESS RIDGE DANCE TEAM PERFORMS AT 2016 VALERO ALAMO BOWL
The Cypress Ridge High School Dazzlers dance team was invited to perform at the 2016 Valero Alamo Bowl, held Jan. 2 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Fifteen members of the team, as well as directors Jillian Cates and Talia Dudley, traveled to San Antonio in preparation for the event. Leading up to the featured bowl game, students attended rehearsals and team pep rallies on the River Walk.
The Valero Alamo Bowl featured the 11th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs (11-2) and the 15th-ranked Oregon Ducks (9-4). The Dazzlers performed at halftime with more than 100 featured performers to an estimated crowd of 65,000 in attendance for the game.
“It was an amazing feeling to watch our dancers perform on such a prominent stage,” said Dudley. “The pride that we feel for them during that moment makes all of the early mornings and late practices worth it. It’s an honor to see their hard work come to fruition.”
The Valero Alamo Bowl is an NCAA Division I football game played annually since 1993. The bowl has produced eight of the top-20 most-watched bowl games in ESPN history. The 2016 game ended in dramatic fashion as the Horned Frogs defeated the Ducks, 47-41, in the third overtime.
CY-FAIR PERCUSSIONIST WINS DISTINGUISHED AWARDS
Cy-Fair High School sophomore Amar Moturu was selected as a winner of the 31st Annual VSA International Young Soloists Competition last spring.
Chosen by a distinguished panel of professional musicians and educators, Moturu received a $2,500 award and traveled to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., May 21-22.
Moturu, a percussionist, participated in master classes, rehearsals and roundtable discussions with music professionals, and gave a performance on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage.
Moturu’s performance can be viewed at kennedycenter.org/video/index/M6315 and advancing to the 44:19 mark:
Moturu also won first runner-up at the 40th Annual Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) Nov. 12 at the San Antonio Convention Center.
His performance is online at youtube.com/watch?v=T0dHCJUnWP4.
“Amar is an amazingly talented young man. As a percussionist in the Cy-Fair High School band, he performs at all football games and at concerts and competitions throughout Texas,” said Mark Veenstra, Cy-Fair band director. “He has distinguished himself as a soloist not only by winning the VSA and PASIC honors, but within the Texas Music Educators Association all-state auditions, having won the right to audition for all-state in January. Amar’s natural ability and work ethic are a winning combination, and as a sophomore he has already distinguished himself in competition with mostly older students.”
ARAGON MS THEATRE DIRECTOR NAMED TETA EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR
Aragon Middle School theatre arts director Laura Alexander-Wilson has been selected by the Texas Educational Theatre Association (TETA) as the 2015 K-8 Educator of the Year. Each year, the organization selects one individual to receive this recognition.
“I am happy, humbled and honored to accept the K-8 Educator of the Year award from the Texas Educational Theatre Association and to stand with its past recipients,” Alexander-Wilson said. “I feel fortunate to teach in a district that supports fine arts and its teachers as they strive for success. I could not have achieved such success without the resources TETA and Cypress-Fairbanks ISD have provided. I hope to continue to grow and evolve into the teacher I know I can be.”
Since its founding in 1951, TETA, Inc. has sought to constantly improve the status of theatre [drama] and its teaching in Texas public schools and colleges. Membership in the TETA is open to all who work or teach in the non-commercial theatre of Texas. This year’s convention was held in Dallas in January.
She was previously named Spotlight Teacher of the Year for Aragon Middle School in 2014.
CY RIDGE’S MOSES NAMED OUTSTANDING TROUPE DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Bryan Moses, the theatre arts director at Cypress Ridge High School, was selected by the Texas Chapter of the International Thespian Society for the Eric Bailey Outstanding Troupe Director Award.
Each year, the organization selects one individual to receive this recognition. Moses received his award at the annual convention held in Dallas Dec. 3-5.
“It is an unbelievable honor to be chosen as this year’s recipient,” Moses said. “Texas Thespians is one of the largest chapters of the Educational Theatre Association in the nation, and to be recognized with such a prestigious award is both humbling and exhilarating. I consider myself extremely lucky to live in a state that proudly supports theatre arts in our schools and I am so privileged to be able to work in an educational community such as Cypress-Fairbanks ISD that embraces the arts wholeheartedly.”
Texas Thespians, a chapter of the Educational Theatre Association, is one of the largest chapters in the nation, chartering more than 500 troupes throughout the state.
Thespian troupes are eligible to be adopted in public, private and charter schools. The Texas chapter of the Thespian Society has member troupes across the state, representing excellence in theatre education. As an educational honor society, Texas Thespians is dedicated to encouraging and improving the theatre education for students across the state. More information is at texasthespians.org.
Category: Schools, Sports, Students