District in Pictures

May 22, 2020

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Class of 2020 Announces WFISD Valedictorians, Salutatorians

Six of WFISD’s top scholars claimed the titles of valedictorian and salutatorian for the Class of 2020 during one of the most unique senior years in history. They are (pictured from left to right) Rider High School valedictorian Carson Sager, son of Charlie and Tacy Sager; Rider salutatorian Nathan Carlston, son of Deborah and David Carlston; Wichita Falls High School valedictorian Kennedy Baker, daughter of Laura Scott and Kenneth Baker; WFHS salutatorian Kaitlin Baker, daughter of Dorene and Darrell Baker; Hirschi High School valedictorian Sonya Ganeshram, daughter of Deepika Bollini and Ved (Dr.) Ganeshram; Hirschi salutatorian Ila Kamath, daughter of Amitha Kadakol and Yogish Kamath.

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WFISD Foundation Grants 57 Scholarships to Graduating Seniors

The WFISD Foundation granted 57 scholarships to 27 graduating seniors this year. Although the high school campuses were unable to hold scholarship banquets this year, members of the WFISD Foundation Board made home visits this week to award students their scholarships. Pictured here is Michael Moser (center), who received three scholarships delivered Monday at 4 p.m. to his home. He received The Skip Riddle Athletic Scholarship, the Texas Roadhouse Scholarship and the Mitchell Scott Holmes Memorial Scholarship.

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‘Teacher of the Year’ Finalists Recognized for Teaching Skills

Many talented teachers are studied and evaluated in the process of choosing the Teacher of the Year. Last week, WFISD honored 2020 Elementary Teacher of the Year Courtney Kittrell, a 4th grade English/Language Arts teacher at Franklin Elementary, and 2020 Secondary Teacher of the Year Debby Ford, a math teacher at Wichita Falls High School. But several finalists for each title were also chosen. Finalists for the Elementary Teacher of the Year were Milam’s Angela Bullard, Brook Village’s Elise Fox, and Zundy’s Lindsay Rogers. Finalists for the Secondary Teacher of the Year were McNiel’s Mark Dudley and Career Education Center’s Sabrina Bradley. Pictured clockwise from top left: Angela Bullard, Sabrina Bradley, Lindsay Rogers, Elise Fox and Mark Dudley.

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Chartwells Concludes Year with 125,269 Meals Distributed

Just as WFISD had to flex to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, so did Chartwells K12, the District's food service. As of May 15, the Chartwells team distributed 125,269 meals to students and families throughout the District. “As the school district adjusted its approach to teaching and learning to meet the needs of students and families, so too did our Child Nutrition team,” said Emily Kincaid, Chartwells marketing director. “We are super proud of our team members for working through this time to ensure children in our community have the food they need to thrive.” Grab & Go meals in their current form at current locations will continue through June 30.

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Surprise Scholarships Reward Hard-Working Seniors

Diane Perry, an ESL teacher at Kirby Middle School, watched as her twin daughters, Wichita Falls High School seniors Shannon and Claire Perry, received three WFISD Foundation scholarships each in a surprise visit this week. The girls ranked 3rd and 4th in their class and both held officer positions in Student Council, A cappella Choir, and National Honor Society. “These scholarships ensured Claire a full ride to the University of North Texas, and Shannon received scholarships from both WFISD and the Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation, which we are incredibly grateful for,” said Mrs. Perry. Shannon will attend the University of Texas at Austin.

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Rider High School E-Sports Teams Qualify for State Playoff in First Year of Competition

Despite quarantines and school closures, two Rider eSports leagues have been practicing and competing remotely with other schools throughout the state. At the end of the regular season, both varsity teams -- the League of Legends and Rocket League -- qualified for the state playoffs. “The Rocket League, made up of freshman Captain Landon Adkins, sophomore Jonathan Penrose, junior Mason McWhirter, and sophomore alternate Thomas Foster, dominated in their playoff run to the state championship match,” said Chris Preston, Rider eSports coach. “The League of Legends team, made up of Captain Ashton Smith, Game Leader Brandon Beirne, Analyst Alex Ritter, Jonathan Masusoka and Brandon Huynh made a strong showing but were eliminated after the second round.” Now, the Rocket League will participate in the best of seven matches against Naaman Forest High School (Garland ISD) on May 28. The fast-paced games will be streamed live via Twitch.tv/Plavvs at 5 p.m. All are invited to tune in to watch them compete for the state championship under their gamer tags: Landon (CamoDC), Jonathan (mrgoodwrench340) and Mason (MasonTooCold). Pictured in action, left to right: Jonathan Penrose, Mason McWhirter, Landon Adkins.

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Partners in Education Delivers Annual Awards

Without a banquet this year to celebrate the many business partners and helpers who assist WFISD, Partners in Education board members made the rounds to businesses and volunteers to deliver thank-you honors in person. Pictured here, Zundy Elementary’s Abby Potts congratulates Mentor of the Year Award winner Phil Brooks, who has served as a Read 2 Learn mentor since the program began. “He has been such a present, dedicated and passionate mentor to every single 2nd grade student he has been assigned every single year,” said January Cadotte, PIE district coordinator. This was one of 12 awards delivered to 13 recipients in the last two weeks.

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Three Rider High School Students Win State Honors with The Optimist International Young Texan-Texanne Program

Three Rider seniors – Aaron Hawkins, Nathan Carlston and Zayana Uddin -- became state winners in The Optimist International Young Texan/Texanne Program. Each won a $750 scholarship. Pictured left to right: Aaron Hawkins, Nathan Carlston and Zayana Uddin. The program recognizes young people who are maintaining a high level of scholastic performance and who participate in civic, church, school and community activities.

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Booker T. Washington Teacher Celebrates Student’s Perfect Conduct

Booker T. Washington Elementary science teacher Janet Hughes couldn’t let Gabriella Gaut’s year of perfect conduct end without celebrating it in a special way. “She did not get a conduct cut the whole year. She joined every Google Meet during School@Home and just is an overall sweet young lady,” said Ms. Hughes. Since the star 5th grader liked chocolate, Ms. Hughes baked her a chocolate cake, covered it in Hershey’s chocolate, and delivered it to her home.

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Lamar Elementary Teachers Dress for End-of-Year Pick-Up

Parents and students scheduled in one final errand before the 2020 school year ended: They drove to the school at specific times to pick up their belongings. Teachers made the most of the drive-by “visit” and dressed to greet them. At Lamar, teachers were encouraged to dress as superheroes to greet them, “which means I will be in Captain America cosplay,” said teacher Robert Maxwell. Mr. Maxwell (pictured top right) can always be counted on to incorporate his favorite Captain America into some of his teaching and activities.

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Cunningham Teachers Use Old-School Postcards to Remind Students They are Missed

Cunningham Elementary second-grade teachers Daryl Trotta and Michelle Keller borrowed an old school technique – mailing postcards to their students – to express how much their teachers miss them. The teachers believed that the bright, fun postcards would work their old-fashioned magic just by showing up in the mailbox to brighten students’ days. It was also a subtle way to introduce the existence of postcards and demonstrate how they are used, said Mrs. Trotta.

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Sheppard Elementary Teacher Creates Bitmoji ‘Game’ to Keep Students Connected

Sheppard’s Teacher of the Year Brittany Owens asked all of the school’s staff members to send her their Bitmoji avatar so she could create a guessing game for students. She created a picture using each avatar and asked students to identify their teachers. She posted the picture Wednesday and revealed answers Friday. “We are working hard to stay connected to our students socially and emotionally, since (in the fall) they will have been out of school for five months,” said Sheppard Principal Cindy Waddell. “Our teachers will also host one grade level Google Meet in June and one in July to stay connected, since our families are not allowed to travel more than 60 miles from Sheppard Air Force Base and will most likely be restricted to home.”

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Rider High School Volleyball Coach Coordinates 'Sidewalk Chats'

When you’re a coach with a love for your athletes as well as the sport, what do you do when the sport vanishes into quarantine? You prioritize the relationships. Several weeks ago, Rider volleyball coach Alysha Humpert started hosting Sidewalk Chats. In a safe, socially-distanced way, she set up small group gatherings outdoors with her team members so they could just chat. “Out of a 30-minute conversation, we only mentioned volleyball maybe 2 to 3 minutes worth,” she said. “It was a fun way to just listen to the girls.” What she heard: Their top Netflix picks were “Outer Banks” and “Criminal Minds,” and more than half the girls have picked up some form of art project to fill their time. “Taking away the volleyball allowed me to just be with them. We didn’t have to rush to the weight room or hurry and set up the nets,” she said. Coach Humpert (pictured top right) will schedule as many more Sidewalk Chats as she can until she delivers her third baby, which is due June 2.

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Zundy Elementary Introduces the Drive-Thru Kinder Graduation

Talk about being creative and trying new things! Zundy Elementary honored its kindergarteners with a drive-thru graduation on Tuesday. The graduation included lots of honking and cheering as parents drove their students through the Zundy parking lot, which was lined with cheering teachers and staff.

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Dyslexia Therapist Makes Sticker Message for Students’ Yearbooks

After 18 years with WFISD, dyslexia therapist Amy Janjgava knows that on the last day of school, students pop into classrooms to ask for teacher signatures for their yearbooks, which makes staff members – like her! – feel like celebrities. But since that won’t happen this year, she made a sticker message titled, “I A-Door You,” for each student’s yearbook. It read in part, “You gave me 100 percent every day…You did 10 months of work when we only had 7 together! I’m sad we couldn’t come back because I miss your face BUT I am not worried because you killed it every day in my class. Never waste a day because you never know what will happen tomorrow. Keep being the incredible amazing human that you are! Unique and perfect for what this world needs!”

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Booker T. Washington Staff Attend Last PTA Meeting of the Year

COVID-19 rules and restrictions made everything look different, even PTA meetings. Here, the final PTA meeting of the year at Booker T. Washington Elementary wrapped up with everyone in attendance wearing masks. “Huge thank you to our amazing PTA who keep our students and staff needs as their No. 1 priority,” said Principal Angela Rooney (masked in the foreground).

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Zundy’s Community Healthcare Center Receives Outside Signage

It won’t be long and the Zundy Community Healthcare Center will be open and ready for patients. This week, the new clinic that sits on the Zundy property received its outside signage, which was created by The Burn Shop. The Clinic is expected to open later this year.

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Rider High School’s Valedictorian Emerges After Four-Way Tie

Four students were in the running for the valedictorian honor at Rider High School, with Carson Sager (pictured) earning the honor in a tiebreaker, according to a special report by Manasvi Reddy for The Rider Chronicle. Seniors Nathan Carlston, Aaron Hawkins, Carson Sager, and Zayana Uddin all had 5.0 grade point averages, which meant each had earned a 95 or above in every GPA-weighted class. Under a new GPA system implemented by WFISD in 2015 that began with the Class of 2020, each student has a set number of courses that counts toward their class rank GPA. To break ties, the District examines exact numerical grades for any classes the tied candidates both took. Ultimately, Carson Sager became valedictorian, Nathan Carlston became salutatorian, while Zayana Uddin and Aaron Hawkins ranked third and fourth, respectively. In Rider’s graduating class, there were also ties for 5th place, 7th place and 9th place.

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Zundy Second-Grade Teacher Helps Students Grow Radish Plants

Here’s a school project that will outlast the school year. Patricia Ramirez, a second-grade bilingual teacher at Zundy Elementary, created a care package for each of her 23 students that included all the materials they needed to sow radish seeds. “I provided soil, a biodegradable pot, a cup, and seeds, all in a bag that was delivered to their mailbox one day before our class Google Meet,” she said. “When Monday came, I walked them through the steps on how to sow the seeds. I asked them to do it outside to avoid making a mess indoors. I did a pot myself as we went through the steps.” In her Google classroom, she provided videos and articles in Spanish for them to read on how to care for their plant. Students have been excited to show her how their radish plants have grown since then.

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Lamar Elementary Hosts Kinder Graduation with Cupcake Treats

On May 19, the kindergarten classes at Lamar participated in a drive-thru graduation ceremony. Thanks to First National Bank’s Jan Waldmuller, the event featured special graduation cupcakes from Margie’s Sweet Shop. “These cupcakes were the icing on the top of a great day,” said Kaycie Taylor, Lamar At-Risk coordinator.

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McNiel Middle School Team Readies for Chromebook Collection

The school year of 2020 is ending on an unusual note at most schools. Staff are donning masks to stand outside the school and collect Chromebooks from students. Here, McNiel Middle School staff members Lisa Williams, Polly Birkhead and Jeri Helton mask up to greet students and collect Chromebooks in the school’s circle drive.

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Haynes Northwest Academy Conducts ‘Porch Graduations’

Who knew there could be so many different ways to conduct a graduation ceremony? At Haynes, kindergarten students celebrated the conclusion of the year with a Porch Graduation, complete with signage especially made for the occasion.

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Booker T. Washington Elementary Staff Prepare Special Greeting for Chromebook Drop-Off

When it came time for students to drop off their Chromebooks for the summer, Booker T. Washington’s staff was ready for them with a fun greeting. Students whose families drove them up to the school in a parade on Thursday saw this greeting spread out on the lawn.

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Kirby Middle School Closes Out School Year with Virtual Awards, Open Mic Night, Prizes

What does it take to close out a school year that was abruptly sidelined to virtual instruction after spring break because of COVID-19? At Kirby Middle School, the school year concluded with a virtual awards night featuring teachers’ recorded messages about their students. Staff hosted a second Open Mic Night, with participants voting for the winners and receiving prizes. “Best of all, we got yard signs for our 8th graders, along with an envelope of notes, awards and well wishes,” said Principal Shannon Cunningham. “Our PTO made a gift bag with Kona Ice coupon, candy and a drink for every kid. We started delivering them Wednesday, and the 8th graders are thrilled!”

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‘Goodnight Wichita Falls’ Continues with Celebrity Readers

The Wichita Falls ISD Facebook page continues to feature the 'Goodnight Wichita Falls' reading presentations, with books read by local celebrity readers. Recently, Wichita Falls High School graduating senior Brady Cotton read a book to students. Also, WFISD technology instructional specialist Lexi Law read a book with the help of her daughter, Lane. The two also performed a little bit of technology wizardry to prepare for their presentation.

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Cunningham Elementary Teachers Honor Parents with Certificate of Thanks

“We wanted our parents to know that their dedication and effort did not go unnoticed,” said Cunningham teacher Daryl Trotta. She and Michelle Keller made up special Parent Certificates that they handed out to parents. “By the looks on their faces, they appreciated their well-deserved certificates!” said Mrs. Trotta.

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#IAMWFISD

District in Pictures is a weekly publication developed by the WFISD Community Relations department. If you have events, recognitions or classroom activities taking place on your campus that you would like us to cover, please let us know by emailing Ashley Thomas at athomas@wfisd.net or Ann Work Goodrich at awork@wfisd.net. We would love to include you in our weekly district news. (Please know that we will do our best to cover every story idea submitted but it may not be possible to include everything every week due to time constraints.)