Orenda Superintendent Newsletter

September 2023



Safe Gun Storage

Texas law now requires school districts to distribute information to parents and guardians

about the safe storage of firearms. The attached information will help you learn about options

for, as well as how to talk to your child and others about, the safe storage of firearms.

In 2021, 4,613 Texans experienced gun-related deaths. The Texas Department of State Health Services (SHS) reports that 55% of Texas firearms deaths in 2020 were suicides and that 59% of all suicides in Texas were by firearms. Suicide attempts involving firearms have a 90% fatality rate. Restricting access to guns is critical in reducing acts of violence, whether as self-harm or towards others. Acts of mass violence and interpersonal violence often end in suicide.

It is unlawful to store, transport, or abandon an unsecured firearm in a place where children

are likely to be and can obtain access to the firearm. Under Texas Penal Code 46.13, a person

commits the offense of making a firearm accessible to a child if the child gains access to a

readily dischargeable firearm, and the person with criminal negligence:

  • Failed to secure the firearm; or
  • Left the firearm in a place to which the person knew or should have known the child would gain access

The penalty for allowing a child access to a firearm can range from a Class C misdemeanor

(punishable by a $500 fine) to a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by a $4000 fine, a year in jail, or a combination of the two).

Texas exempts the purchase of firearm safety equipment from Texas Sales and Use Tax.

Remember, a gun should be stored unloaded in a safe or locked container, with ammunition

stored elsewhere. You can learn more and find additional resources from the Texas

Department of Public Safety at https://safegunstoragetexas.com.

Safe gun storage is critical to preventing suicide, unintentional shootings, and other tragedies.

October is Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Month

House Bill (HB) 3144 (88th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2023) establishes the month of October as Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Month to increase awareness of the dangers of fentanyl and potential overdoses.

There is a growing threat to the health and safety of our youth that we want to bring to your attention. Fentanyl is a man-made, Schedule II narcotic that has reached a growing number of communities of all sizes across Texas and has impacted so many lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), within the last two years, teen overdose deaths related to Fentanyl have tripled. Over half of all overdose deaths are related to Fentanyl use. Death from Fentanyl overdose happens when the respiratory system slows, or not enough oxygen gets to the brain.

Fentanyl is a manufactured opiate drug that is generally used in the medical field to treat severe pain. It is often used in emergency situations and given by paramedics and in emergency rooms. Sadly, an underground market has developed for this drug, and it is often marketed to youth. Fentanyl can come in many forms and even the smallest amount can be lethal. It is often mixed with other drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Prescription medications can also be laced with it. There have been some cases where the Fentanyl pills were made to look like candy. Oftentimes, the teen has no idea that what they are taking has Fentanyl in it.

What can you do as a parent to prevent your teen from falling prey to this deadly trend?

  1. Talk to your teen. Talk about the dangers that they may face at parties and social events. Let them know that they can talk to you about things that are concerning them.
  2. Monitor their social media and app usage. This is a common way that teens get access to this drug.
  3. Encourage your teen to get involved with extra-curricular activities, church, service projects, community, and school organizations. Keeping your teen involved can help battle loneliness, isolation, and hopelessness.
  4. Know how to access the district’s anonymous reporting tool. It can be found on the district’s website. Report any suspicion that Fentanyl use may be occurring in the schools or that someone may be abusing it. Encourage your child to do the same. You could save a life.
  5. Monitor your child’s behavior. Has their behavior changed lately? Do they have a new set of “friends”? Are they keeping to themselves more often than usual?
  6. Seek help if your child is facing a mental health challenge or if you suspect they are using any substance.

Below are several additional resources for staff and parents.

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Orenda Charter School recognizes and appreciates our excellent campus leaders.

  • Missy Dean, Principal, Kingsland School
  • Dr. Wendy Gamble, Principal, Nolan Creek School
  • Donna LeJeune, Head of School, Gateway College Preparatory School
  • Beth Henrichs, Head of Elementary, Gateway College Preparatory School
  • Kawana McCloud, Head of Middle School, Gateway College Preparatory School
  • Colby Blackwell, Head of High School, Gateway College Preparatory School

Take time during the month of October to thank your principal and assistant principals!

Celebrate Freedom Week

Each year, during the week that includes September 17, Texas schools honor Celebrate Freedom Week (TEC § 29.907) to highlight the values and ideals on which the United States was founded as well as the sacrifices made for freedom at the founding of the country. Students learn about the intent, meaning, and importance of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights. Students also examine the relationship between the ideas in these documents and subsequent American history.

Last week, Orenda Charter School students participated in Celebrate Freedom Week activities. Ask your child about something they learned during Celebrate Freedom Week.

English as a Second Language Family Resources

Click here for parent and family resources for supporting your English as a Second Language Learner.

AVID at Home - Organization

What is AVID? AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a college readiness system for K-12 that is designed to increase school-wide learning and build skills needed for post-secondary success.

This month our AVID focus is Organization.

  • Why is organization important?

    • It develops effective self-management practices

    • It is a lifelong endeavor

    • It is integral to success

    • It is a skill that can be learned and developed over time

  • AVID focuses on three areas of organization - TIME, THOUGHTS, MATERIALS

How can parents support organization at home?

  • Have your child explain their backpack organization
  • Help your child organize loose papers in their backpack into the correct location and remove any papers that can stay at home
  • Review your child's agenda with them each night. Add outside activities and homework time for assignments due each week

Attendance is Important!

Good attendance is important for both students and schools. Students receives the maximum educational benefit by being in school every day. Studies show a strong link between academic performance and consistent daily attendance. In addition, public schools receive state funding based on daily attendance, which is essential to providing high quality instruction, support services, and extracurricular programs.

Texas Public Charter Schools 101 Video

Are you new to charter schools or want an easy way to share with your friends and family about Texas charter schools? This short video explains what Texas charter schools are, why they exist, and how they help students in a way that's easy to understand.

Video: Texas Public Charter Schools 101 - YouTube

Video: Texas Public Charter Schools 101 - Google Drive

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Orenda Milestones

At the beginning of this school year, several Orenda employees were recognized for milestone service awards. Congrats and thank you to our dedicated staff!

5 years

Jessica Williams - Prep; Sarah Anderson - Prep; Patricia Rivera - Prep; Megan Luck - Prep; Megan Ferrell - Prep; Kimberley Beshansky - Nolan Creek; Kathy Brackett - Nolan Creek; Crystal Serda - Kingsland

10 years

Andrea Mulvogue - Prep; Cathy Struble - Prep

15 years

Misty Granderson - District

Upcoming District Events

October 11 - PSAT 8/9 (Grades 8-9) and PSAT/NMSQT (Grades 10 and 11)

October 30 - Orenda Charter School Board Meeting, 5:30 pm at Gateway College Prep