GT Academy Newsletter

January / February / March 2019

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After months of intense studying and a very close competition, Sablatura Middle School came out on top, with the highest overall score at Pearland ISD's fourteenth annual Quiz Bowl. Middle school and junior high teams competed in the General Trivia and Super Quiz contests, held at Berry Miller Junior High on March 1st. This year's competition was based on the 2019 Academic Decathlon them "The Groovy 1960's." The purpose of this event is to build "capacity and interest in the high school Academic Decathlon program." We are very proud of our future PISD Academic Decathlon students.

A big thank you to our Sablatura Quiz Bowl sponsors, Mrs. VanderWoude and Ms. Maldonado, who worked with our teams each week!

1st Place Super Quiz 5th Grade: Ares, Roy, Jason, Geoffrey, Nicholas, Kara, Helina, and Sarang

2nd Place Super Quiz 6th Grade: Abigail, Chris,, J.P., Phillip, Kesler, Vincent, Tadewa, and Hilton

1st Place General Trivia 5th Grade: Derek, Tanishta, Zoe and Emma

1st Place General Trivia 6th Grade: Van, Kyle, Ethan and Daniel

2nd Place General Trivia 5th Grade: Mason, Jeremiah, Amy, and Bryan

Individual High Scores: Tanishta and Kyle

Mindfulness Matters

A growing body of research on social emotional learning suggests that teaching mindfulness has shown to have positive effects on the mental health of students. There are many potential benefits of practicing mindfulness such as promoting a relaxed, comfortable state of being, which is ideal for learning. When children are anxious, frustrated or stressed, it is difficult for them to learn. Mindfulness enhances focus, attention and concentration, and provides opportunities for reflection which can reduce behaviors such as bullying or impulsivity. It also encourages community and connectedness within the classroom and school.

This sense of community, connectedness and focus was evident as students in Ms. Maldonado's Psychology mini course were introduced to mindfulness and yoga. Students had the opportunity to learn from Mrs. Valerie Immore, owner/director of Sundance Yoga studios in Pearland and Friendswood, and Dr.Alejandro Chaoul, founding director of the Mind Body Spirit Institute of Houston. Dr. Chaoul is currently a faculty member in the Integrative Medicine Program of MD Anderson Cancer Center, where since 1999, he has been leading people with cancer and their family members through mind/body/spirit techniques aimed at reducing stress and facilitating healing.

Students had this to say about their experience:

"The relaxation really helped me to relax and clear my mind." - Mercedes

"I really felt relaxed and at peace while doing the yoga positions. Also, I learned the saying 'peace begins with me'. These techniques caused me to relax and let go of my stress. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on myself and who I am as a person." - Nuria

"We learned about 'om.' It means everything. You can hear it everywhere, in complete silence. You can hear it in the ground, nature, electricity, and your mind." - Bailey

"It was great timing after all of our testing. I felt very relaxed and calm." - Ruby

"I think meditation and yoga should be brought to schools across America." - Adrian

Lights, Camera, Action!

Look out Broadway, Sablatura's got talent! Students in the drama mini course gave an outstanding performance of Hamlet to GTA students and parents the Friday before Spring Break. Under the direction of Mrs. Sisk, students took the lead in all aspects of the performance including set design, props, costumes, and of course acting. They took the play from audition to showtime in just six weeks! During the field experience day, these students were treated to a visit from Eduardo and Shannon of Pitch Me This (PMT) Productions. Eduardo and Shannon led the students in lots of fun acting exercises that not only helped them to be ready for the stage, but also connected them as a group.We hope they will come back again soon!

Students Visit Texas A&M Galveston

GTA students are wild about animals, thanks to Mrs. Medley and Ms. Singleton! The Marine Biology and Zoology mini-courses took a field experience to TAMU in Galveston in February. We were introduced to many different marine-careers that are available in our area. We learned all about sharks and then had hands-on practice identifying their anatomy through a dissection! We were able to ask lots of questions and get one-on-one discussions from experts. We were fortunate to get a small tour of campus and were even able to observe some dolphins in the bay! We all had a great time and learned a lot.

Prior to the TAMU Galveston visit, students in the Marine Biology course enjoyed close observations and analysis of a variety of marine animals including a squid and sea anemone. The lab was a little stinky, but very interesting. Thank you, GTAB, for purchasing all the creatures for us to study!

6th Grade Students Begin Spring Break With TPSP Community Outreach

After studying injustices around the world for their Texas Performance Standards Projects (TPSP), several sixth grade students shared this new knowledge with their community. Sixth grade TPSP groups were able to choose to present their research through a "Ted-Ed Talk", scrapbook of their travels, or community outreach event. Kesler, Meena, Maddie and Meena E. stayed up late cooking delicious Indian food to share with the community and friends at the park, where they presented information about the ongoing prejudice following the caste system in India. Shreysi and Jayden planned and hosted a soccer game, and at half time, spoke briefly about the lasting effects of the Rwandan Genocide and the refugees who are still suffering. Students not only brought awareness to these issues, but encouraged people to take a stand and make a difference. One group is continuing to raise money to help refugees. If you would like to join them as they take action to impact the world, please follow this link to their Go Fund Me page. We are so proud of these difference makers!

TPSP Quilting Has Begun!

Fifth grade students returned to school after Spring Break with fabric in hand! They are ready to begin the exciting challenge of working as a team to sew a quilt based on their TPSP research. Remember, if you would like to volunteer, contact your child's teacher. We have enjoyed getting to know parents, grandparents and other community members through this creative project. After quilts are presented at the May 1st GTA Student Showcase, they are put up for auction through GTAB and all money raised goes back into the project to purchase machines, batting, fabric, pins, sewing needles and other supplies for the following year.

Mrs. Cybak: Sablatura's Teacher of the Year!

Congratulations to Mrs. Cybak, our Sablatura Middle School Teacher of the Year! This is Mrs. Cybak's fifth year teaching advanced math at the GT Academy. Using the blended learning approach with flipped lessons, her class is challenging and fun. Not only is she an awesome math teacher, but she has inspired future financial advisors in the Stock Market Game mini course. (By the way, the sixth grade "CIA" team is a lead contender in this contest, and was in 4th place during Spring Break!) She also teaches the Forensics course, and sponsors the Coding Club and Book Club. Other interesting things to know about Mrs. Cybak: Her favorite animal (besides her new pup) is a sloth, and she collects funny memes to post in her classroom. We are lucky to have you, Mrs. Cybak!

Third Annual Robotics Exhibition

Sablatura Middle School is a leader in the district when considering opportunities for students to get involved in many varieties of robotics. For the third year, we invited friends, family, and the community to come out and see what students are learning through robotics.

Friendswood Junior High robotics teams joined us for a few rounds of friendly TCEA arena competition, with our Pearadox friends as judges. Pearadox and the PJHW First Tech Challenge teams brought their robots and demonstrated some of the cool moves they've been programmed to do for their competitions. Our own First Lego League teams showed their robots' moves on the board and gave their presentation in the library. In addition, Mars Rover teams shared their rovers, the Coding Club taught visitors to code, and the Drone Club flew their drones in the foyer.

We were excited to have representatives from Code Ninja, Smart Core Tech, and Drone Parks Worldwide share opportunities for our students, and Houston Food Trucks to feed us. Dr. Kelly, Mrs. Gigee, and school board members Mrs. Decker and Mrs. Carbone stopped by too, and we truly appreciate their support of our growing robotics program.

Sablatura Robotics: We Plan. We Build. We Leave a Mark.

FLL, Seaperch, TMSCA, FPS, and Mars Rover Teams are Ready!

Future Problem Solvers are headed to state! This year's topic is "Coping With Stress." Congratulations to the following students who qualified to represent Sablatura:

  • Sixth Grade Team: J.P. , Amy , Meena , Maya
  • Fifth Grade Team: Kara, Emma , Aila , Sarina
  • Individual: Kesler
  • Alternates: Sophie and Richa

The Seaperch team is polishing their presentation & interview skills and have been getting some of their fastest times in the pool lately. Good luck at the Manvel High School competition!

  • Sparky Sparkfish: Aerik, Meena, J.P., Isabel, Ronie

Our First Lego League team will compete in Sugarland at the FLL Championship Competition. This group has put in many hours developing their presentation and perfecting their program. We are so proud of you!

  • Pearanauts: Abigail, Avery, Noah, Cameron, James, Elena, Daniela, Jerry, Andy

Nineteen students qualified in Number Sense, Calculator, General Math or General Science, for the TMSCA state competition to be held in San Antonio. This is a challenging competition, and the hours of dedicated practice have paid off for these awesome students. Keep up the good work!

  • Braydon, Kesler, Lydia, Isaac, Christopher, Marc, Madi, Mahesh, Mia, Aedan, Maya, Vaughn, Shreyasi, Daniel, Bowen, Iris, Jerry

Mars Rover teams will compete at the University of Houston among many other Houston area schools. These students have built rover prototypes, researched and written scripts to demonstrate their knowledge of NASA's Mars Rover missions.

  • Team Tatooine: Emma, Bowen, Phiilip, Isaac
  • Team Mars Rovers: Vaughn, Kennan, Brayden
  • Team CRAH: Aven, Ronie, Collin
  • Team RPM: Hongkai, Ethan, Caden, Ayush
  • Team Orbiters: Katherine, Daniela, Bryan, Jerry
  • Team Planet Pirates: Alex, Ethan, Zachary, Rasheed, Eduardo

GTAB Winterfest

This year's Winterfest was super fun! In the weeks leading up to the family skating event, the baskets began to fill up, and were soon ready for auction. Some of the favorites were Ms. Singleton's class car wash basket, the FPS movie night basket, and Mrs. Klein-Smith's gamer's basket. Thanks to the generous bidders, each classroom earned funds for classroom books and supplies. Mrs. MacPhail's homeroom even earned a popcorn bar because their basket earned the most. Thank you to GTAB for coordinating Winterfest. It was a great way to connect our GTA families!

GTA Partners With Smart Core Labs

Thanks to support from the GT Academy Booster Club (GTAB), our students have had the opportunity to learn from engineering instructors with Smart Core Labs. Mr. Faizan Askari, founder of Smart Core Labs says "Parents sometimes ask me: why is coding so important for my child when computing may or may not be his or her career choice? The answer is easy: Coding helps children build qualities like determination & organization. It also helps them develop academically and gain valuable 21st century skills! Programming & coding is well on it’s way to being a common language of our world and vital for success in ALL fields."

Thirty students participated in the Sablatura STEM Day Camp on February 18th.Students learned how to build and control an EV3 robot, read data from its sensors, and navigate an obstacle course.They learned about hardware programming and electronics using the Arduino R3, assembled a simple circut and programed it to blink.At the end of the day, they learned basic aeronautic terminology and flight phsyics as they practiced flying drones.

Eight robotics team members chose to further their advanced coding skills through a six week course with Smart Core Labs instructors. These kids are building valuable math and problem solving skills, and are on their way to possible careers in computer science, graphic design, software development, computer engineering, and more. Keep up the good work!

Mark Your Calendar:

  • March 19: FPS State Parent Meeting @ Sablatura Cafeteria 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • March 21: Mars Rover Parent Presentations @ Sablatura Library 5:00-6:00 p.m.
  • March 21: TMSCA Parent Meeting (for students going to state) 6:00 p.m.
  • March 23: Mars Rover Celebration @ University of Houston
  • March 23: FLL Championship Competition
  • March 23: Seaperch Regional Competition @ Manvel Hight School
  • March 26: Sablatura STEM Night 6:30 p.m.

  • April 4: Inventors' Showcase Parent Presentations 5:00-6:00 @ Sab Library
  • April 5: Sablatura Inventors' Showcase
  • April 8: TCU Mini Course #4 Begins
  • April 9: 5th STAAR Math
  • April 10: 5th STAAR Reading
  • April 12-14: FPS State Competition @ San Marcos
  • April 19: Good Friday Holiday
  • April 22-26: Mrs. Mueller visits elementary campuses
  • April 23: GTAB Meeting @ Sabaltura Library 6:30 p.m.
  • April 25: PJHW GTA Showcase @ PJHW
  • April 26-28: TMSCA State Competition @ San Antonio

  • May 1: Sablatura GTA Student Showcase @ ESC 6:00-7:30 p.m.
  • May 13: 6th STAAR Math
  • May 14: 6th STAAR Reading
  • May 15: 5th STAAR Science
  • May 16: Credit By Exam (CBE) registration deadline *Contact counselor for forms.
  • May 20: GTA Awards
  • May 24: Last Day of School
Gifted Education

Mrs. Meredith A Austin, Ed.D., and former Sablatura GT Academy teacher, shares her thoughts about HB3.