School Matters

March 2021

Welcome to School Matters, your official source for award winning news coverage from the Lake Travis Independent School District Office of Communications, Media & Community Relations. Questions or concerns regarding any of the content in this publication should be addressed to

March 12 is Districtwide Early Release Day

As a reminder, Friday, March 12 is an Early Release Day. All schools will be releasing students at the following times:

Elementary - 12:05 p.m.

Secondary (middle school/high school) - 1:15 p.m.

Important information regarding spring STAAR, End of Course testing

The Texas Education Agency announced in January that students must be present at school in order to participate in STAAR testing this spring. The District is providing some clarity regarding this issue.

  1. There are a number of federal and state laws that require all 1,202 Texas school districts to administer STAAR. In fact, TEA has posted a listing of these laws on its website at:

  2. Logistical constraints prevent the State of Texas from administering these assessments in remote or at-home settings. Therefore, in order to participate, a student must be physically present at school.

  3. TEA has made a number of adjustments and options to help school districts provide a safe on-campus testing environment. These include expanding the testing window and providing remote instruction to those not testing in order to reduce the number of students on campus during assessment days.

The District is obligated to comply with federal and state laws relating to state assessments but is also committed to providing the safest environment possible for staff and students in LTISD schools. While assessment is the most meaningful way of gauging student knowledge, STAAR is only one indicator that can help teachers and administrators evaluate the impact of the pandemic on student learning.


District to host community summits on strategic planning

During the Superintendent’s Update on Facebook Live in December 2020, Paul Norton outlined some of the District’s major initiatives for 2021 and beyond—one of which is the development of a Strategic Improvement Plan. Working with consultant Education Elements and the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, the District is hosting several community summits designed to collect input for the development of a long-range plan. Parents, students, teachers, staff and taxpayers will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the current state of the District and their hope for the future. Each of the two-hour events will follow the same agenda, so the public is invited to attend the summit that works best with their schedule.

Community Summit #1 (virtual presentation)

Monday, March 22

11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Community Summit #2 (virtual presentation)

Monday, March 22
4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Community Summit #3 (virtual presentation)
Tuesday, March 23
8:00 to 10:00 a.m.

Community Summit #4 (presented in English and Spanish; may be held in person)
Thursday, April 8
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

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Friday Facebook Live from Serene Hills Elementary March 12

Hosted by Superintendent Paul Norton, Friday Facebook Live is a new monthly feature highlighting campus activities and district programs.

On Friday, March 12, Mr. Norton will be broadcasting live at 11:00 a.m. from Serene Hills Elementary School.

In December, Mr. Norton visited West Cypress Hills Elementary and in January he joined cast members on the stage of Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella at the Lake Travis High School Performing Arts Center. Recordings of the livestreams can be viewed on our Facebook page at

District will close for Spring Break

All LTISD schools and buildings will be closed for Spring Break March 15-19. Classes resume Monday, March 22.

Be sure to stay up to date with major districtwide events listed in our LTISD 2020-2021 Instructional Calendar available at

District celebrates National Educational Diagnosticians' Week 2021

National Educational Diagnosticians' Week

Educational diagnosticians are certified professionals who help identify many types of learning disorders. In recognition of the critical role these individuals play in providing students with a high-quality education, Lake Travis ISD joins the Texas Educational Diagnosticians Association to celebrate March 1-5, 2021 as Educational Diagnosticians’ Week. It is a time set aside to honor diagnosticians who consistently demonstrate professionalism, competence, and excellence in order to provide individuals with disabilities quality educational services.

The following educational diagnosticians serve students across LTISD:

  • Christy Brothers - Bee Cave Elementary School and Serene Hills Elementary School
  • Casey Brown - West Cypress Hills Elementary School
  • Jeff Dietzel - Lake Travis High School
  • Kristina Gonzalez - Rough Hollow Elementary School
  • Leena Gulati - Serene Hills Elementary School
  • Traci Jackson - Bee Cave Middle School and Lake Travis Middle School
  • Lari Rogge - Lake Pointe Elementary School and Lake Travis Elementary School
  • Thelene Scarborough - Lakeway Elementary School
  • Jennifer Scoggins - Hudson Bend Middle School

Registration for summer camp is open

Summer is fast approaching, and Lake Travis ISD is offering fun and engaging summer camps. Choose from a variety of camps featuring STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), sports, games, fine arts, and special interest.

Registration is now open. Visit for more information.

District celebrates National School Breakfast Week March 8-12

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With the theme, "Blast Off with a Healthy School Breakfast," Lake Travis ISD joins the Texas Department of Agriculture in celebrating National School Breakfast Week March 8-12. Our school cafés offered fun, space-themed breakfast items throughout the week to encourage students to fuel up for learning. Students who built a complete "space cadet" meal also had the opportunity to have their photo featured on their school's Breakfast Astronaut wall.

LTHS student-athlete signs soccer letter of intent

On March 11, Lake Travis High School student-athlete Jessica Wade signed a letter of intent to play soccer at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.

Lake Travis High School students place in Austin Energy Regional Science Festival, advance to state

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Congratulations to the following Lake Travis High School students for their success at the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival:

  • Clara Ashley
  • Sheridan Dorsey
  • Taylor Eckel
  • Siena Fowler
  • Michal Gabrick
  • Luke Lovelace
  • Aniket Naravane
  • Arden Pellegrino
  • Sarah Tarrance
  • Hannah Ward

Taylor, Luke, Aniket, and Arden will next compete at the state level.

(Photos courtesy of Austin Energy Regional Science Festival.)

Aniket Naravane earned Best of Fair with his project "Refinement of SNP Mutations of Atopic Dermatitis-related Filaggrin Through Existing R-Packages." Also pictured is Kallie Nichols, Instructional Coach.

Lake Travis DECA to compete in international Virtual Business Challenge

Twelve Lake Travis High School students will compete in the international Virtual Business Challenge at the DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC) April 19-23.

The DECA competitive event is a fast-paced, online simulation that challenges students to manage tasks in the career areas of accounting, entrepreneurship, fashion, hotel management, personal finance, restaurant, retail or sports. Throughout the year, students competed in entrepreneurship, fashion, hotel, restaurant, retailing, and sports virtual

simulations. Examples of tasks in the virtual simulation include implementing new business strategies, developing marketing strategies, optimizing profitability, and making strategic financial decisions.

Lake Travis DECA ICDC qualifiers include:

Nihanth Attaluri, 12th grade - Hotel 4th Place out of 328 teams

Souptik De, 12th grade - Hotel 4th Place out of 328 teams

Ayesha Haider, 10th grade - Sports 2nd Place out of 90 teams

Zahra Haider, 12th grade - Fashion 2nd Place out of 273 teams

Sreenidhi Kadiyala, 12th grade - Fashion 2nd Place out of 273 teams

Hanna Ngo, 10th grade - Entrepreneurship 2nd Place out of 301 teams

Robert Paine, 10th grade - Retailing 6th Place out of 879 teams

Aman Reddy, 10th grade - Hotel 5th Place out of 192 teams

Manoj Singireddy, 12th grade - Hotel 4th Place out of 328 teams

Meghana Singireddy, 10th grade - Sports 2nd Place out of 90 teams

Aleksander Vaca, 9th grade - Restaurant 3rd Place out of 176 teams

Samantha Vaca, 10th grade - Restaurant 3rd Place out of 176 teams

Sponsors of the event include Knowledge Matters and The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation.

Formerly known as the Distributive Education Clubs of America, DECA prepares emerging leaders in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management with over 225,000 members around the globe. Led by LTHS marketing teachers Tracey Griffith and Jill Oates, DECA is one the largest student organizations on the Lake Travis campus.

Students to compete at Destination Imagination state tournament

The Krafty Koalas and Biblbo Research will represent Lake Travis ISD at the 2021 Destination Imagination Texas Affiliate Tournament to be held virtually March 26-27.

According to its website, Destination Imagination (DI) is a non-profit, volunteer-led, cause-driven organization whose purpose is to inspire and equip students to become the next generation of innovators and leaders. The DI program is a fun, hands-on system of learning that fosters students’ creativity, courage and curiosity through open-ended academic challenges in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), fine arts, and service learning. Participants learn patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas, and the collaborative problem solving process. DI teams showcase their solutions at local, area, and state tournaments.

The teams from Lake Travis took first place in their respective categories as listed below during the virtual Capital Region Tournament held March 3:

Biblbo Research (Lake Travis High School)

Challenge A: Technical

Pictured left to right are Emily Gurasich, Michelle Antony, Ishaan Mishra, Satvik Kumar, Prakul Sherikar, Dinesh Nathaniel, Hudson Atchley (low center); team managers are Teresa Joy and Molly Gurasich. The team also received the coveted Renaissance Award for Outstanding Design, Engineering, Execution, and Performance.

Krafty Koalas (Lake Pointe and Lakeway elementary schools)

Challenge Project Outreach: Service Learning

Pictured left to right are (top) Avery Roberts, Nico Vugrincic and Jake Royal; (bottom) Chloe Scheider, Caitlin Montgomery, and Connor Vashaw; team managers: Jennifer Montgomery and Kellie Vugrincic.

Additionally, Vanessa Malone, 5th grade teacher at Lakeway Elementary School, received DI's "The Washington Award" for her long-standing dedicated service to the region.

Serene Hills Elementary students making a difference with "Full Tummies, Full Hearts" project

When the historic winter storm paralyzed Austin and surrounding communities, a group of philanthropic-minded Sailors were moved into action. After meeting with their school principal, six students in Courtney Cooksey's 4th grade homeroom at Serene Hills Elementary School began to rally for a great cause.

"These young ladies made a commercial for our KCREW News school broadcast, created posters to advertise their project, and reached out to local food banks and animal shelters, seeking food for those still affected by storm, for both their fellow human beings as well as animals alike," said Ms. Cooksey. "So far, the girls have collected around 500 items for their 'Full Tummies, Full Hearts' campaign. We are so proud of these amazing little activists!"

LTISD board elections set for May 1, 2021

In Texas, local school board members are elected by the registered voters within specific school district boundaries. The Lake Travis Independent School District is one of approximately 1,040 public school systems in Texas and its board members are elected at-large. This means each board member, or trustee, represents the entire school district rather than single-member positions that represent a sub-portion of the district. Each trustee is elected to serve without compensation for overlapping terms of three years each.

Current terms for Place 1 and Place 2 on the Lake Travis ISD Board of Trustees will expire in May 2021. For more information including candidacy requirements and timeline, visit our Board of Trustees webpage.

COVID protocols to remain in place for Lake Travis Schools

Gov. Greg Abbott recently announced a new executive order which rescinds restrictions on business occupancy and the statewide mask order effective Wednesday, March 10. The Governor’s order also indicates that “public schools may operate as provided by, and under the minimum standard health protocols found in, guidance issued by the Texas Education Agency.” Updated guidance issued by TEA on March 3 stipulates that a mask shall be worn while inside the school building, school facility, or in an outdoor space on school property.

"Given this guidance, and as part of our efforts to keep staff and students safe and our schools open, Lake Travis ISD will continue to follow our Return to School Protocols for COVID-19," said LTISD Superintendent of Schools Paul Norton. "Furthermore, given the President’s recent directive that all states prioritize teachers, school staff, and childcare workers for the vaccine, our teachers and staff are now eligible to obtain a vaccination. I want to thank our parents for supporting our efforts to prioritize the health and safety of our staff, students and Lake Travis community."

LTEF accepting applications for senior scholarships

The Lake Travis Education Foundation is currently accepting scholarship applications from Lake Travis High School seniors.

Last year, LTEF awarded scholarships to 19 LTHS seniors. There are several new scholarship opportunities this year, and the process is completely virtual.

For more information, and to apply, please visit the Scholarships page of the LTEF website.

Lake Travis Independent School District

The Lake Travis Independent School District is a 6A district located about 25 minutes west of Austin, Texas. Established in 1981, Lake Travis ISD is a fast growth district comprised of 11 campuses serving more than 11,000 students.