District in Pictures

November 8, 2019

Big picture

UPSTART Selected for the ‘Audacious Project’

WFISD is the only Texas school district that offers the UPSTART online school readiness program for 4-year-olds, and now the program has special significance. UPSTART was selected to be part of the Audacious Project, a collaborative, aggressive push to solving some of the world’s most persistent problems – in this case, the problem of getting all children academically prepared for school. Dr. Claudia Miner with Waterford’s UPSTART program presented a TED Talk to explain the magic of the current strategy: Complete pilot programs funded by philanthropists (such as WFISD’s program), gather data destined for state legislators, who will hopefully champion the home-based online program and fund it going forward. So far, 60,000 families nationally have used UPSTART with a 90 percent completion rate and gains for its preschool graduates that extend into third grade.

Big picture

McNiel 8th Grade Students – All 400 of Them -- Tour Career Education Center

It’s 8th Grade Tour Time, the time of year when 8th graders get a thorough introduction to the Career Education Center’s 26 programs. On Tuesday, McNiel students arrived at the CEC at 9:15 a.m. and left at 2 p.m., and during that time made 32 stops around the building to learn about each of the 26 career programs and several other high school programs, such as fine arts, athletics, ROTC and journalism. Even if the programs weren’t technically available at the CEC, staff wanted students to be knowledgeable about them, since freshmen can still choose them as electives. In 8th grade tours, all students view all programs and pathways, with no program labeled “just for boys” or “just for girls.” Barwise 8th graders will tour Nov. 13; Kirby 8th graders will tour Nov. 20.

Big picture

Lamar Elementary Kicks Off Drug-Free Week with Red Carpet

Lamar At-Risk Coordinator Kaycie Taylor literally rolled out the red carpet for Lamar students to make their grand entrance to school Monday. The students were dressed to kick off Drug-Free Week in style. “Staff and students loved the royal treatment,” said Principal Amanda Garcia.

Big picture

Zundy Elementary Teacher Puts Students in Bat Cave

Zundy first-grade teacher Whitney Wedel spent a week teaching her students about bats, stressing that they lived nocturnal lives. “I decided to surprise my class with our very own Bat Cave as a culmination to our Bat Week,” she said. “I told the kids to wear all black on Friday but didn’t tell them why. Friday morning, I greeted them at the opening of our Bat Cave wearing bat wings and ears. They were so excited to spend a day in the (mostly) dark, just like real bats.”

Big picture

Wichita Falls High School Football State Champion Win Marks 50-Year Anniversary

Fifty years ago, the Wichita Falls Coyote 1969 football team captured the state championship in class 4-A for the sixth time in the school’s history. The team won under the coaching of Head Coach Donnell Crosslin, winning bi-district against Grand Prairie 42-7, Regional against Garland 27-0, Quarterfinals against Abilene Cooper 0-0, Semi-finals against Dallas Wilson 14-3, and the State Championship against San Antonio Lee 28-20. The 50-year anniversary of the historic win was acknowledged Friday at the Coyote-Plainview game at Memorial Stadium. Marc Goodrich, an assistant coach for the 1969 team, attended Friday’s game to acknowledge the 50-year anniversary.

Big picture

Kirby Middle School Student Earns 1st Chair Soprano at TMEA

Elisa Dease, an 8th grade Advanced Choir student at Kirby Middle School, was named 1st Chair Soprano for the Texas Music Educators Association Region 7 All-Region Middle School Choir. She was also a featured soloist during the All-Region Choir Concert on Nov. 2 in Iowa Park High School Auditorium. Sharri Torrence, Kirby’s choir director and cheer coach, has been Elisa’s teacher for the past three years.

Big picture

West Foundation Students Write Names in Cement of New Gaga Pit

Fifth-grade students made their mark at West Foundation this week when they wrote their names in the wet cement that formed the concrete base of the school’s new Gaga pit. “Since this is our 5th grade students’ last year at West, we honored them by letting them write their names in the wet concrete,” said Principal Kim Smith. “They will be remembered at West Foundation forever!” Ms. Smith was especially appreciative of WFISD’s Maintenance Department and Falls Concrete for their help in installing the Gaga Pit. “They did an excellent job,” she said. Gaga ball is a game that is similar to Dodgeball.

Big picture

Warehouse Manager Sings in Two Bands for Fun

By day, WFISD Warehouse Manager Jason Reeder receives and sorts all campus shipments, often more than 100 boxes daily. But by night, he sings in two local bands. He shares the lead vocals in one band, Red Brick Trolley; he is the front man and lead vocalist in a second party band, Ninety to Nothing. Mr. Reeder grew up singing in church, began singing in bands at the age of 18 and has more recently sung in plays at the Wichita Theater and Backdoor Theater. “Just like a job, being in a band can be stressful, with long nights spent away from my family and constantly studying song lyrics,” he said. “But the finished product is always worth it. One thing I have learned as a warehouse supervisor and musician: When you have hard-working, talented people around you, you feel there is nothing you can’t do. I have been exceedingly lucky to work and play music alongside people like that! Like music, WFISD has always been a part of my life.” Mr. Reeder has worked for WFISD for 15 years. “I absolutely love the job I am in and have become very passionate about what I do,” he said. See him at Half Pint on Nov. 15 at 9 p.m. or as the headliner on New Year’s Eve at the Iron Horse Pub.

Big picture

McNiel Middle School Science Teacher Pulls Out the Bunsen Burners for CO2 Lab

Student in Nate Blanks’s science class at McNiel Middle School investigated two properties of carbon dioxide: its density and non-flammability. “They learned that carbon dioxide is one of the products in a chemical reaction between sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and dilute acetic acid (vinegar),” said Mr. Blank. Since carbon dioxide is colorless and odorless, students demonstrated its presence by pouring the dense gas out of the Erlenmeyer flask above a candle flame and watched as it suffocated the flame. The lab was an opportunity to bring out the Bunsen burners to light a wooden splint, then light a candle.

Big picture

Farris Head Start Class Carves Shapes into Pumpkins

Carving a pumpkin is a pretty gross project if you’ve never done it before. Students in Ashley Burross’ and Regina Wallace’s 3-year-old Head Start class helped pull out pumpkin guts of slime and seeds. Then, as a group, they decided what the pumpkin’s face should look like. “They decided one eye should be the shape of a square, the other eye the shape of a circle and the nose the shape of a triangle,” said Mrs. Burross. “They got to hold and smell the shapes that we cut out.” Students were proud of their creation that was later displayed in the classroom.

Big picture

Hirschi High School Students Participate in ‘Operation Fresh Start’

Hirschi students joined the Wichita County Juvenile Probation Department and Sheppard Air Force Base’s Navy Seabees to help New Jerusalem Baptist Church with their bi-annual community clean-up, Operation Fresh Start. Brisk weather didn’t stop the teams from lifting or dragging tree limbs, old furniture and debris from a burned-down shed. Texoma Community Credit Union rewarded the hard workers by providing hot dogs, hamburgers and Together We Make a Difference supplied pizzas. “Operation Fresh Start was a huge success,” said Tyrone Eugene, Hirschi At-Risk coordinator.

Big picture

Kirby Middle School Choir Performs at Christmas Magic

One way to get in the Christmas spirit is to perform at Christmas Magic. Kirby Middle School Advanced Choir students performed for Junior League of Wichita Falls members and their guests on Nov. 1 at the Christmas market. The Kirby choir is directed by Sharri Torrence.

Big picture

Rider High School Chem Club Decorates Stairway with ‘Giant Periodic Table of Victory’

Rider’s ACS Chem Club students decorated Rider’s south stairway with Rivalry Week Spirit posters that had a decidedly chemistry theme. The posters, assembled as The Giant Periodic Table of Victory, list the scores of every Raider-Coyote match-up from 1964 to 2018. “The squares are arranged in the same pattern that the Periodic Table is arranged,” said Stacie Martin, honors and Advanced Placement chemistry teacher. “The squares were marked R for a Rider win, T for a tie, W for an Old High win. Rider scores were listed on top, Old High scores on bottom.”

Big picture

Cunningham Elementary 4th Graders Complete ‘Escape Challenge’ for 8th Graders

Cunningham 4th grade teacher Katie Miller made an executive decision: She decided that her 4th graders should tackle the Halloween Escape Room Challenge, even though it was written for students in grades 5-8. It zeroed in on certain 4th grade TEKS, and its story was written like a graphic novel – something she felt her 4th graders could read and understand. Only one of its several math problems had to be modified for her 4th grade audience. “They surprised me by being able to do two of the three math problems,” said Ms. Miller. “Eight of the 12 groups were able to escape!”

Big picture

Milam Teacher Conjures Up a Way for Students to Practice Safe Trick-or-Treating

Trick-or-treating provides good lessons: Knocking, taking an appropriate amount of candy, saying thank you. But how to do it safely? Milam teacher Amanda Miller wanted to reinforce safety while teaching trick-or-treating skills, so when her students returned from a P.E. class, they found their stuffed animals set up around the room, each offering a bowl of various treats. “I also included a note card saying how many piece of candy they could take,” said Ms. Miller. “It helped the kids practice self-control and honesty.”

Big picture

Law Enforcement Students Simulate Drunk Driving

Advanced Law Enforcement students in Autumn Weber’s class completed one of the year’s most popular activities: They simulated drunk driving in a safe way. “Captain Hopper from the Vernon College Law Enforcement Academy brought a go-cart and Drunk Busters goggles for the students to use as they drove through an obstacle course,” she said. The goggles impair the vision of the go-cart drivers to simulate drunk driving. The experience helps the law enforcement students, who must learn to perform field sobriety tests and look for indicators of drunk driving.

Big picture

Wichita Falls High School Orchestra Continues ‘Halloween in the Halls’

Wichita Falls High School Orchestra Director Kevin Nguyen and his orchestra students continued the popular “Halloween in the Halls” serenade of Old High students during passing periods on Halloween – a multi-year tradition. “It’s always a blast, and the kids have fun performing music during passing periods,” said Mr. Nguyen. Their selections included Ghostbusters, Fright Night (a medley of Halloween songs) and Haunted Carousel.

Big picture

Kirby, McNiel and Barwise Middle School Students Perform in All-Region Choir

Choir students from Kirby, McNiel and Barwise performed Saturday in the All-Region Choir for TMEA Region VII, held at Iowa Park High School. Students rode buses to Iowa Park at 7:30 a.m. and “worked the entire day to bring their music together” before the 5 p.m. concert, said Jason Mincy, Barwise choir director.

Big picture

Zundy Elementary Technology Teacher Surprised During Drug Free Week

Oct. 30 was the day of two important events at Zundy: Drug Free Week Jersey Day and Principal for a Day. On this particular day, community member Craig M. Brown served as Zundy’s Principal for a Day. Just for fun, Mr. Brown – who is a friend of Technology K-5 teacher Richard Partridge – participated in Drug Free Week Jersey Day by coming to the school wearing Mr. Partridge’s son’s Rider High School jersey. Mr. Partridge’s son, Conner, plays left guard on the Rider football team. Pictured left to right: Mr. Partridge, Craig Brown.

Big picture

Rider High School Biology Lab Demonstrates Photosynthesis, Cellular Respiration

Let’s face it: Every teacher has his favorites – lessons, that is. The Rider Advanced Placement biology class and Honors Biology students worked this week on a lab that Rider teacher Joshua Nielsen says, “Hands down, my favorite biology lab of the year.” He likes it because of its simplicity but its many applications. “Students look at a color change to determine if carbon dioxide was absorbed or released by the small beads of algae,” he said. “As plants perform both photosynthesis (absorbing carbon dioxide) and cellular respiration (releasing carbon dioxide), this lab reinforces that our atmosphere has excess oxygen because photosynthesis is performed more often than cellular respiration. That’s also the reason plants are the base for most food webs.”

Big picture

Graphic Design Students Complete Project for Their Former Elementary School

Career Education Center Graphic Design students returned to their former elementary school – Fain Elementary – to help with a special project. They had been asked to design the graphics for the door leading into the Fain kindergarten Discovery Zone. Fain alumnus Dominic Milyiori designed the Discovery Zone graphics and, along with his classmates, helped apply the vinyl decal to the door.

Big picture

Kirby Middle School Receives Overflowing Donations from Sheppard Squadron

When Sheppard Air Force Base Training Squadron 363 said they would fill a candy donations box with candy, they weren’t kidding. They filled the box to overflowing so that Kirby’s Fall Fest, coordinated by the school’s PTO, would be successful. And it was, said Blaire Robinson. Kirby families enjoyed the haunted house, escape room, face painting, cotton candy, popcorn and a Candy Walk. “Students also enjoyed getting to ‘pie in the face’ their Assistant Principal John Lankford and School Improvement Specialist Tristan Browne. The event raised more than $1,500!”

Big picture

Franklin Elementary Bandit Escapes with First-Graders’ Treats

Jamie Monroe’s 1st grade class had a box of Ring Pops set aside in their classroom as a special treat awaiting them after their music class. But when they returned to their room, it was missing – stolen by the Candy Corn Bandit. However, he left clues for the students to follow to find their stolen treats. Students made predictions about where the treats might be; then they followed the riddles that led them around the school. “We solved each riddle to find new clues in the library, gym, on the playground and in the cafeteria,” said Ms. Monroe. One student’s prediction was correct: The treats were hidden in the classroom. “At the end of the lesson, they drew up wanted posters to help find the bandit, because we never did catch him,” said Ms. Monroe. Students explored the school and worked hard on reading, writing and critical thinking skills without even realizing they were working, she said.

Big picture

Kirby Middle School Students Dissect Chicken Wings to See Skeletal, Muscular Systems Work Together

This is one of those favorite labs that comes every year: Dissecting chicken wings. As an introduction to dissections, students in Ana Dougherty’s science class dissected the chicken wing and located the bicep. “Once they have located the bicep, they are able to contract and extend it to demonstrate the muscles moving the skeletal system,” said Ms. Dougherty.

Big picture

Chartwells’ Discovery Kitchen Takes Spooky Approach at Jefferson Elementary

The Chartwells’ Discovery Kitchen took a spooky approach to its food choices for the month of October. Students at Jefferson Elementary made Boo-Berry Parfaits and Monster Mouths (pictured here).

Big picture

McNiel Orchestra Performance Is Old-Home Event for Fain Students

When the McNiel Middle School orchestra played a Halloween-themed concert at Fain Elementary to introduce 5th grade students to the possibilities of orchestra involvement in middle school, two students felt right at home. They were Fain alumni, happy to return to their former school to encourage students to follow in their footsteps.

Big picture

Lamar Art Teacher Embraces Roy Lichtenstein’s Pop Art for Red Ribbon Week

When Lamar Elementary celebrated Red Ribbon Week, the drug and violence prevention program gave everyone an excuse to dress up, taking a theme from a favorite decade. Art teacher Megan Halford wanted to embrace a type of art from a particular decade and settled on Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art from the 1960’s “new art movement.”

Big picture

Fain Elementary Students Learn Two- and Three-Digit Addition, Subtraction

Fain students in Tammy Spray’s 2nd-grade math class got to work their two- and three-digit addition and subtraction problems on the classroom floor. “I put large number lines on the floor, and the kids use dry erase markers to work their problems,” said Ms. Spray. “They think it’s fun to write on the floor, and, for some reason, the learning seems to stick.” She uses several strategies including place value, pictorial models and number lines.

Big picture

Hirschi Student Athletic Trainers Share Game Day Kits with Tornado-Damaged School

The Hirschi High School student athletic trainers are helping out their fellow student athletic trainers at Dallas ISD’s Thomas Jefferson High School. The Thomas Jefferson High School campus was heavily damaged by a tornado on Oct. 20, and the school’s athletic trainer was unable to retrieve his supplies for the Oct. 26 game. So the Hirschi athletic training staff lent the Thomas Jefferson High School trainers their kits after Hirschi’s Oct. 25 football game, said Steven Offield, Hirschi head athletic trainer. Hirschi’s student athletic trainers are Citlali Hurtado, Estefany Urbieta, Niamani Dean, Alantis Winston, Isabella Petty, Alma Paz, Geneses Candia, Tatyana Espuibel, Damiona Robinson, and Jasmine Chavarria. Assistant Athletic Trainer is Elizabeth Velazquez.

Big picture

Lamar Elementary Receives Playground Fund, Resource Closet Donations

On Nov. 1, nurse Rosalind Alicea (right) donated money to Lamar Elementary’s Playground Fund. In another donation, Encounter Church donated socks and undergarments for Lamar’s Resource Closet. “Lamar Elementary is so thrilled to have Encounter Church help support our school and students,” said Kaycie Taylor. Pictured: Lamar Principal Amanda Garcia (left) and Rosalind Alicea (right).

Big picture

Career Education Center House is On the Move Tuesday

It’s the end of an era: The Career Education Center’s first student-built home, which was recently sold to Donna Adams, was hoisted onto a trailer Tuesday and moved to a new location. Construction teacher Scott Little and some of his construction students stood nearby and watched to see how the move was done.

Big picture

Hirschi High School Hosted Veterans Day Program and Pre-Deployment Ceremony

On Wednesday, Hirschi students conducted the school's Veterans Day Program and Pre-Deployment Ceremony. The program included 50 local National Guardsmen who have been activated and will serve a combat mission overseas for the next year. The Veterans Day Ceremony included members of the military community and local government.

Big picture

Career Education Center CrimeStoppers Thank Four CEC School Resource Officers

The four school resource officers assigned to the Career Education Center are helpful to students in many ways, prompting CEC CrimeStoppers students to make them Halloween gift bags as a thank-you for their many services. All of the school resource officers help out in the CEC's Criminal Justice class and give their perspectives on use of force, traffic stops, and other issues. “They are a wonderful resource and always answer students’ questions,” said Autumn Weber, law enforcement instructor.

Big picture

Rider High School Football Team Served Western Burgers

On Monday, The Rider Raider Booster Club requested a classic favorite meal to prepare its football team for Rivalry Week. Players were treated to a Western Burger feed. Western Burgers are hot rolls stuffed with a meaty, cheesy mixture that have been a cafeteria staple in WFISD cafeterias since a cafeteria cook invented the recipe decades ago.

Big picture

Rider High School Girls Track Team Donates Halloween costumes to First Step

Children who are living at First Step had the chance to dress up in fancy Halloween costumes this year, thanks to the Rider girls track team. They donated a variety of costumes to First Step to make the holiday a little more fun for the children.
Big picture

Haynes Northwest Academy Hosts ‘Books and Treats’ Night

How much fun can you have with good old fashioned books? Haynes staff members started with a Book Fair but found new ways to celebrate reading. Staff members dressed up for a Reader’s Theatre, portraying characters in a storybook entitled, “Frankencrayon,” by Michael Hall. They decorated their classroom doors to celebrate books. “Then the Performing Arts Club did a drumming performance, and all families were invited to go trick-or-treating throughout the school,” said Adrian Cargal. “Many families visited and purchased books. There was fun had by all!”

Big picture

Southern Hills Elementary P.E. Teacher Creates Relay Around Bones

Southern Hills P.E. teacher Jim Dooley and his paraprofessional, Maribel Arriaga, came up with a novel way to study bones. They gave students flashlights and scooters and sent them in search of bones to match the bones on their paper. Part of the challenge was to avoid the two Ghost-Busters patrolling the middle of the gym. If contestants were tagged by the Ghost Buster, they had to take the scooter back to the next person in their line. The team that matched all their bones first won the relay.

Big picture

Rider High School English Students Make Animated Whiteboard Videos for ‘Heart of Darkness’ Project

How do you challenge some of the District’s most senior students in a way that will create real-world applications? Rider AP Literature/Composition teacher Heather Preston asked her students to create animated whiteboard videos as the culminating assignment for their study of the novella, Heart of Darkness,” by Joseph Conrad. Students worked in groups, writing a script, creating a storyboard, filming the whiteboard animation, recording a voiceover, combining video and voiceover on WeVideo, then editing and publishing on YouTube and Wakelet digital portfolios. Each video was given a QR code, which was posted to the English hall as part of a special gallery. “We used a day in class to walk through, watch each other’s videos and provide peer feedback,” said Mrs. Preston. “Students will be required to use technology, work collaboratively, solve problems and create professional products in their post-secondary lives. This project gives them some experience navigating that process.”

Big picture

Guess Who Made the Wichita Falls High School/Rider Game Promo?

When Chad Johnson wanted a way to promote the ticket sales of the Rider/Old High game, he needed a short video to do it and decided to do it himself. Mr. Johnson became the audio visual instructor at the Career Education Center after many years of television work, so creating the short video was a throwback to the work he knew so well. He used Adobe After Effects, adding the music and sound effect using Adobe Premier. The 2019 Rider/Old High match-up begins tonight at Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m.

Big picture

#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.)