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April 27, 2012

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April 28: School Choice Fair

April 29: March of Dimes March for Babies

April 30: Recipe for Success Garden Haiku contest deadline

May 1: Special Education Parent Prep Academy

May 4: GenTX Day

May 6: Lemonade Day

May 6–12: School Nurse Appreciation Week

May 7–11: Teacher Appreciation Week

May 10: Regular Board of Education meeting

May 12: 25th Annual Art Car Parade

May 19: Young Audiences' Artsploration

May 28: Memorial Day

May 31: Last day of school (students)

June 1–3: Graduation ceremonies

June 4–August 3: Four-Day Work Week

June 11–July 12: Summer School

June 14: Regular Board of Education meeting

June 16: TX Black Expo College Fair & Youth Summit

July 4: Independence Day Holiday

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It is the policy of the Houston Independent School District not to discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, sex, handicap or disability, marital status, religion, veteran status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression, in its educational or employment programs and activities.

Since the first day I came onboard here in September of 2009, my goal as superintendent has been to provide every student with a top-quality education, regardless of which campus they attend.

We received more evidence that we are on the right track when Children at Risk announced its annual school rankings on Monday. Every year since 2006, this advocacy group has assessed schools using a number of criteria to gauge their effectiveness—and 2012 marked our strongest showing yet.

The top three schools this year are all from HISD, and almost half of the region's top 10 elementary, middle and high schools for 2012 are all HISD campuses.

T.H. Rogers ranked first at both the elementary and middle school levels, while the DeBakey High School for Health Professions received the highest marks in its category. Lee High School also earned recognition as the "Most Improved Campus," and both Lyons Elementary and the Pilgrim Academy were named "Gold Ribbon Schools."

This is great news for HISD. It shows that our efforts to put an effective teacher in every classroom and an effective principal in every school are working—and we won't rest until we have accomplished that goal in all of our schools.

District News

Don't Miss Second Annual School Choice Fair TomorrowDon't Miss Second Annual School Choice Fair Tomorrow: Come learn more about your child's options this fall, including magnet, specialty, and neighborhood schools that still have space available. New for the 2012–2013 academic year will be the HILZ programs, which are designed to take vocational education to the next level in six areas of study.

HISD Schools Dominate Advocacy Group's School RankingsHISD Schools Dominate Advocacy Group's School Rankings: Houston ISD boasts the eight-county region's top elementary, middle, and high schools, according to the 2012 Texas Public School Rankings announced April 23 by Children at Risk. The rankings include schools from 58 school districts, plus charter schools.

Got a Great Story About an Inspiring Teacher? Tell Us! Got a Great Story About an Inspiring Teacher? Tell Us! HISD will be observing Teacher Appreciation Week May 7–11, and announcing its Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year at the Team HISD Celebration of Excellence on May 24. To help us say "thanks" to these dedicated professionals, we invite you to share your most inspiring or heartwarming story with us about a teacher who changed your (or your child's) life. Just send an e-mail to, using the subject line, "Inspiring Teachers," and we'll post as many as we can on the district's website.

Students Help Launch National College Planning WebsiteStudents Help Launch National College Planning Website: HISD was recently tapped as the first school district to work with the College Board in creating student videos for inclusion on the BigFuture college-planning website. The site will serve as a nationwide resource for students, counselors, teachers, and parents seeking information about preparing for, applying to, and paying for college.

Top JROTC Cadets Honored At Awards CeremonyTop JROTC Cadets Honored At Awards Ceremony: HISD's Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program honored its top six cadets from the Class of 2012 on April 21 at HISD's JROTC Final Review and Awards ceremony. The students were chosen earlier this semester from the ranks of all the graduating seniors in HISD's 25 JROTC programs.

Seven HISD Students Named National Merit Scholarship WinnersSeven HISD Students Named National Merit Scholarship Winners: Six students from Bellaire High School and one from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts have been named winners in the first round of National Merit Scholarships to be funded by private corporations this year.

Voter Registration Drive Launched at all HISD High SchoolsVoter Registration Drive Launched at all HISD High Schools: All district high school principals have been deputized to register eligible voters as a part of this effort to teach students the importance of participating in the democratic process.

District Seeks Refund from Hamburger Patty VendorDistrict Seeks Refund from Hamburger Patty Vendor: HISD has accused a California-based food supplier of breaching its contract with the district by using lean finely textured beef (LFTB) in hamburger patties sold to the district. HISD officials conducting an inventory of all food supplies in the wake of parents' concerns discovered that Don Lee Farms included the product in quarter-pound beef patties sold to HISD this year.

Participate in GenTX Day May 4 to Help Promote Higher EducationParticipate in GenTX Day May 4 to Help Promote Higher Education: GenTX Day will be returning to the Lone Star State for its second year on May 4, 2012, and Superintendent Terry Grier is encouraging all HISD students and employees to show their support by wearing their favorite college T-shirt that day.

HISD Taking Applications for Bond Oversight CommitteeHISD Taking Applications for Bond Oversight Committee: The Bond Oversight Committee was created by the HISD Board of Education to ensure the effective and efficient use of bond proceeds. The committee's charge is to monitor HISD bond-funded construction projects and help interested Houstonians stay informed about new construction and renovation projects in the district. The nine member committee has two vacant seats.

Mandarin Chinese Immersion School Now Accepting ApplicationsMandarin Chinese Immersion School Now Accepting Applications: Applications are currently being accepted for Pre-K, kindergarten, first, and second grades for the 2012–2013 academic year. The school will be located at 6300 Avenue B in Bellaire and will initially serve students in the grades noted above, with additional grades to be added in subsequent years.

School News

Berry Elementary School's Berry Elementary School's Birding Club sponsored an Urban Bird Celebration on April 21 under the direction of teacher Paula Wheeler. Members constructed bird feeders from reusable milk jugs (pictured) and participated in a Bird Hurdle Obstacle Course that emphasized the dangers urban birds face daily. Club members also collected data on local birds for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's National Urban Bird Study.

Carnegie Vanguard High School students heard from Nobel laureate David Baltimore and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) biologist Alice Huang on April 12 when the duo visited that campus as part of their work for the Civic Scientist Lecture Series. The distinguished guests discussed their work, career paths, and intriguing new developments in science, then fielded students' questions. Visit the Baker Institute's website to read the full story.

Grady Middle SchoolGrady Middle School sixth-grader Montgomery Angel's artwork (pictured) graced the cover of an invitation to the school's eleventh annual art gala. The spring fundraiser, which was held on March 30, highlights one community partner each year for its service to the school. This year's honoree was the Galleria Area Rotary Club.

Gregory Lincoln Education CenterGregory Lincoln Education Center hosted a youth summit sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority last month in which middle-school students met with representatives from various Texas universities. Participants could choose from a variety of workshops on topics such as: bullying, financial literacy, and conflict resolution. Approximately 200 middle school students from five different districts participated.

Hogg Middle School became the fourteenth HISD campus to have an active chapter of the National Junior Honor Society on April 3 when teachers and administrators there inducted the school's first class of members into that distinguished organization under a new charter.

Jones High School Jones High School sent a team of 24 students and seven staff members to the BP MS150 last weekend, and every single member crossed the finish line to complete the race. The annual two-day event is the signature fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which challenges bicyclists to ride from Houston to Austin—a distance of roughly 150 miles.

Lamar High School valedictorian Samuel Gonzales-LunaLamar High School valedictorian Samuel Gonzales-Luna has been selected by the Texas Association of Secondary Schools Principals to be a member of the All-State Academic Excellence Team. Seniors were nominated based on their SAT or ACT scores, GPA, pursuit of an advanced diploma, and other criteria. Samuel will be formally recognized in June with a $500 scholarship at the organization's summer workshop.

Lockhart Elementary School students learned important life lessons from some furry friends recently when they received a visit from five different "Dogs of Character" through a program of the same name. The canines visited the campus on April 19 to share stories of overcoming some of the same challenges that school-aged children sometimes face. Click here to read the full story or watch the video.

Sam Houston Math Science and Technology CenterSam Houston Math Science and Technology Center sophomores Jasmin Arredondo and Yessica Juarez Galvan, along with senior Kimberly DeLaTorre, recreated Leonardo daVinci's famous "Mona Lisa" painting with recycled paint cups as part of an art class that explored the use of "found objects" and recycled materials.

Westside High School Westside High School students helped stage a "Shattered Dreams" re-enactment on their campus recently to demonstrate the lasting effects that drunk driving can have on young people's lives and their communities. In addition to the students who "died" during the staged collision, 14 other students were pulled from their classes by the "grim reaper" throughout the day to emphasize the frequency of deaths caused by drunk driving. To bring Shattered Dreams to your campus, please contact Sheila Henderson at the HCHD via email or at 713-873-3269.

Writers in the SchoolsWriters in the Schools conducted its annual "A Light in the Forest" event on April 22 at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, and 30 students from HISD's Field, Garden Oaks, Helms, Herod and Travis elementary schools celebrated Mother Nature by showcasing their work in the Environmental Writing Project. More than 100 family members listened as the children read their nature-inspired poems, essays and stories aloud in celebration of Earth Day.

National News

Trial Regarding Overhaul of School Finance System Begins in October

STAAR Standards Set for Phase-In by Texas Education Agency

Could a Statewide Property Tax Resolve Education Funding Issue?

Department of Education Rescinds Offer to Cut Special Education Funding

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Houston Independent School District
Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center
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