District in Pictures

April 1, 2022

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Eight Rider and Wichita Falls High School Students Qualify for Region 9 Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE)

Eight WFISD students' art pieces were state qualifiers for the Region 9 Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE). Wichita Falls High School’s Amy Sanchez's and Ainsley Gardner's pieces qualified; so did the entries of Rider High School’s Regan Deason, Jolie Felix, Ciera George, Hayden Nguyen, Rubey Spear and Emma Wonder. VASE is the biggest event of the year for high school art students. Sponsored by the Texas Art Education Association, the event honors exemplary student art work. The event began in 1994 with 400 entries; now there are 35,000 high school VASE entries annually. The WFHS students work under the direction of art teacher Chris Mayfield; Rider students work under the direction of art teacher Vicki Harding. Pictured left to right: Wichita Falls High School VASE state qualifier Amy Sanchez with her acrylic painting of a photograph of her violin, and Ainsley Gardner with her wood-burning piece made of two smaller images set up in an actual tree branch.

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Rider High School Senior Wins UT-Austin IMPACT Scholar Award

Rider senior Tina Majdinasab won a $48,000 scholarship from the University of Texas at Austin as one of its IMPACT Scholar Award winners. She plans to attend UT and major in government, then continue on to law school. This $48,000 scholarship pays all tuition and fees for four years. "She is the only student in the North Texas area to win this scholarship and is one of 100 in the state of Texas," said Rider College and Career advisor Julie Johnson. "She has certainly made a great impact on Rider and the city of Wichita Falls, and she will continue to impact our world in a positive way." Tina was also a National Merit Commended scholar in the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program, placing her among the top 3 to 4 percent of students taking its qualifying test.
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Rider High School Esports Team Wins Scrimmage with MSU-Texas Team in MSU’s New Esports Lounge

The Rider Rocket League esports team held its first in-person scrimmage with the Midwestern State University esports team at MSU-Texas’ new esports lounge, located in the Legacy Residence Hall. The match was live-streamed while groups of 20 were escorted through a tour of the lounge. “The new esports lounge along with esports scholarships will be a big draw for MSU and our community,” said Rider esports coach Heather Preston. “Several of our players are considering their post-high school options. We have enjoyed the benefits of a partnership with MSU as esports increases in popularity in our area.” The Rider Varsity Rocket League team won the scrimmage 4-2.

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Cunningham Elementary Book Fair Raises $6,000

Cunningham aide Alec Riding-In (pictured) was surprised at how much joy a book fair can bring to a school. He organized Cunningham's Spring Book Fair that raised $6,000, which will channel about $105 into “All for Books” donations. “I absolutely love seeing the kiddos come in and make their wish lists and shop!” said Mr. Riding-In, who works in the school's library. “They get so excited, and it brings me so much joy to see them be so excited to get the books they were wanting.” He said the Fair's most popular book was Miles Morales: Shock Waves (a Spider Man graphic novel by Justin A. Reynolds).

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McNiel Middle School Students Master Art of Paper Mache

Most of the students in McNiel art teacher Jennifer McLarty’s Art 2 class told her they’d never done a paper mache project, which was a great reason to get them busy using newspaper, cardboard, tape and wire to build a sculpture of an object or animal. “They applied at least three layers of starch to make it strong enough to hold up to the paint and later Mod Podge,” said Ms. McLarty. “Students find they need to problem-solve to get the animal to stand or have good form. The students did beautiful work and learned a lot about sculpture.” They like the project so much that, by the time they come to her Art 3 class, “students beg to do it again,” said Ms. McLarty. (Hint: Art teachers like Ms. McLarty love to receive donations of newspapers and wire hangers, which are increasingly hard to find, for paper mache projects.)

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Audio-Visual Students Advance in Better Business Bureau Contest

One group of Career Education Center Audio-Visual students competing in the Better Business Bureau contest has advanced to the second round of judging. AV teacher Cortney Wood announced that students in this advancing group (pictured below) include Rider students Alex Elder and Eli Coker and Wichita Falls High School students Derek Tolbert-Jones, Ana Zamarripa, Gbve Epps, and Joel Munoz. The group still covets community interaction with their entry here, said Ms. Wood.

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Wichita Falls High School Names Two Teachers 'Most Likely to Be a Superhero'

A new Positivity Committee at Wichita Falls High School recognized two WFHS staff members as those "Most Likely to Be a Superhero." The committee selected Nurse Pansy King and Special Education teacher Seth Hughes. Ms. King was honored for her willingness to battle the illnesses and germs at the school. "She helps both kids and teachers when they are mentally struggling by offering a warm smile, listening ear and safe place." Her three children graduated from Old High, and she considers all students and staff as her family, too. Special Education teacher Seth Hughes, who teaches the LEAP class, was recognized for the calm he brings to chaos. "Spend two minutes in his room, and you'll see why he deserves this award. There are so many sounds and movements which seem like chaos to us but through it all he has a calm, reassuring smile." Pictured left to right: Pansy King; Seth Hughes.
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Fain Elementary Teachers Tap into Substitute Teacher’s Passion for Bees

When a Fain Elementary teacher learned that substitute teacher Mark McGuffin was also a beekeeper, she asked him to take a few minutes to educate students on the topic of bees. When Brittany Hughes heard about it, she hunted him down when he was subbing and asked him if he had time to visit her pre-K class, since they were learning about flying insects. “We were very lucky he did, and it fit perfectly,” she said. “Mr. McGuffin was very knowledgeable and brought everything he used so students had a visual of the items he was explaining.” Fain pre-K teacher Traci Fowler was also impressed. “Students loved getting hands-on experience with the hive frames that had real bees still on them,” she said. “They tried on an authentic bee keeper suit and felt actual bee’s wax that still has bees stuck in it. Their favorite part was finding out that bees truly don’t want to sting. It was a great presentation!”

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Administrators Select Paint, Brick, Floor Colors for Two New High Schools

Now that the school colors and mascots have been confirmed for both new high schools, administrators met March 31 at the Carrigan "Garage" for an all-day meeting to hash out the details. They viewed options for paint colors, brick types, floor tiles, carpet colors, and more. The District is slightly behind in making such selections because of the delay caused by mascot selections. However, the key details are now in place: Memorial High School Mavericks will have a building anchored in navy and red; Legacy High School Leopards will have a building anchored in royal blue and gold.
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Hirschi High School Student Codes His Own Functioning Calculators

Hirschi science teacher Jaclyn Burkett has been impressed by a new student who joined her class in January. Freshman Giorgio Toffoli, who moved to Wichita Falls from Italy, began coding when he was 11 and now is experimenting with software development. He applied his skill to the probability problems Ms. Burkett introduced in class. He coded his own functioning calculators – just for the fun of it. “This student is incredible and innovative,” said Ms. Burkett. “He worked very hard to build these sites and ensure they work every time. It has been so awesome to watch him apply his skills for something he already loves (programming) to a subject (biology) he is just beginning to love.” He created a Punnett Square Calculator (which allows a person to estimate the possibility that certain genes will be inherited). Next up: “I’m also going to try making one for Dihybrid Cross for an extra challenge,” he said.

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Maintenance Man Visiting Franklin Class is Asked to Sign Social Contract

You know a program has become ubiquitous at a school when a maintenance man can’t enter the classroom to change an air filter without being asked to participate. Recently when WFISD Maintenance worker Arron Ritchie entered Stephanie Musquiz’ first-grade classroom, air filter in hand, a student greeted him and asked him to sign the classroom’s Social Contract. Both the greeting and the signature request are key components of a Capturing Kids’ Hearts classroom. Mr. Ritchie happily complied. “It’s always good to hear that the guys will participate in the classroom’s activities,” said Maintenance Director Chris Fain.

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Wichita Falls High School Student Support Counselor Proves Invaluable

When WFHS Student Support Counselor Cooper McClung walks down the Old High corridors, kids approach him, give him fist-bumps and high-fives, and ask, “When is our next session?” Their openness and enthusiasm has amazed him. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with students on social skills and anxiety techniques,” he said. “This is all because of the (pandemic) world they’re trying to learn to navigate.” Mr. McClung is one of the student support counselors who serves at each of the WFISD secondary campuses. He focuses on non-academic student needs, primarily goal-setting, interventions and solution-focused counseling. “WFHS students are absolutely amazing, and I’m blessed to help them through anything they’re dealing with,” said Mr. McClung. WFHS Fine Arts teacher Leisha Thornton has appreciated his hard work. “If he is needed to help a student, he is there within moments,” she said. “He goes above and beyond for each and every kid he works with.”

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Talented and Gifted (TAG) Students Fly Drones on Practice Rescue Projects

Fourth-graders in Allen Glenn’s Talented and Gifted classes have watched videos of dangerous rescues, where police officers or fire fighters risk their lives to pluck stranded people out of floods or other precarious positions. They wondered whether drones could be used to do such dangerous rescues. Mr. Glenn simulated practice rescues for students by letting them practice flying drones equipped with a hook to the top of a tall, sky-scraper-like box plastered with a picture of Big Blue, Wichita Falls’ tallest downtown blue building. Atop the “building” was a cluster of “people” who could be “rescued” with the drone’s hook. TAG students learn to use cell phones to control their drones, telling them to fly and land. The TAG classroom has five drones. The TAG program, located at Carrigan, serves about 215 students. TAG teachers are Allen Glenn (pictured top left) and Jamie Morgan.

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Wichita Falls High School Theatre Students Refinish Old School Furniture

A group of WFHS theatre students came up with a project of their own. They are refinishing old school furniture that was scratched, stained and graffittied. They are updating the furniture with bright, uplifting patterns, said WFHS theatre teacher Leisha Thornton. They focused their attention and talent on outdoor benches and picnic tables that could be useful to the class.

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McNiel Middle School Celebrates ‘World Down Syndrome Day’

Everyone at McNiel knew about World Down Syndrome Day, which was March 21, because McNiel staff wore T-shirts announcing it. For fun, they also paired the observance with a Crazy Sock Day for students and staff. “We also had this super fun balloon arch made by our amazing para educator, Mrs. Rivers,” said Special Education teacher Katie Flippin. Teachers asked Down Syndrome students to pose with them by it for pictures, which made the students feel special. An early-morning announcement educated McNiel students about Down Syndrome and what makes these students unique. “We did a great job of celebrating our students with Down Syndrome, while also bringing awareness to their specific disability,” said Ms. Flippin. Pictured top: McNiel staff wear their T-shirts; bottom: Three celebrated McNiel Down Syndrome students are Jackson Bosquet, Logan Gubernath, and Kiersten Morgan.

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Zundy Elementary Students Explore Renewable Energy at River Bend Nature Center

As the days warm up, it makes a perfect time to take a field trip to River Bend Nature Center. Two groups of Zundy students visited March 22 and 23 and learned about renewable energy. “While it was a great review for the upcoming science STAAR test, the best thing they learned was that River Bend was even there,” said teacher Lindsay Rogers. “They learned about the animals in the area and spent time in nature. So many of my students never go outside past their own neighborhood.” Students also like any activity that involves animals, she said. A trip like this is also fun for the teacher. “I helped them gain a new experience and spent time with them outside of the classroom environment,” said Ms. Rogers.

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McNiel Seventh Graders Act as Jurors Over Boston Massacre

The Boston Massacre was a bloody battle on March 5, 1770, when British soldiers fired upon a group of rowdy colonists, killing five. This event united colonists against Britain and sparked their desire for American independence. McNiel teacher Ashley Penney put her seventh-graders in the middle of this massacre by having them examine 10 testimonies and then vote to determine fault for the deaths. They acted as investigators and jurors as they analyzed witness testimonies. “I wanted to use more primary documents and sources,” said Ms. Penney. “The technology has really helped with the students gaining access and seeing the actual words of the people who were there.” The student jury found the soldiers not guilty (60.4 percent); guilty (39.6 percent).

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Milam Elementary Student Rewarded After Meeting Two-Month Goal

A Chick-fil-A lunch with Milam Assistant Principal Casandra Cook tasted mighty good to Kaylee, a Milam student who worked two months to accomplish a specific goal set for her by her teachers. “She has been trying new strategies in her classroom and earning her points,” said Ms. Cook. “Her task was to work for three days in a row with 13 out of 16 points. She finally hit her three days after two months.” She was rewarded with lunch with Ms. Cook in her choice of location. Ms. Cook took her picture and called her mom to announce her achievement.

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Jefferson Third-graders Learn by Playing Fraction Bingo

Gamification is a legitimate teaching strategy that adds game-like features into a teacher’s instruction. Jefferson teacher Shelby Emerson helped her third-grade students review vocabulary terms and math concepts on equivalencies by playing a game called Fraction Bingo. Students made their own Bingo cards, then used them as she called out each vocabulary term. “The most challenging part was they had to make sure they were listening to hear the question being asked,” said Ms. Emerson. “For example, I might call out, ‘This term is what we call the bottom number in a fraction,' and they would have to look over their Bingo card to find the word, denominator. Overall, the students did really well!”

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Huey Learning Center Pre-K Teacher Emphasizes STEM Learning

STEM projects that feature science, technology, engineering and math are important in the pre-K classroom, said pre-K teacher Dolores Zug. After a week’s focus on transportation by air, students learned about airplanes, helicopters and space travel. It was the first time she had ever set up a space-themed center, she said. Students dressed in spacesuits, helmets and gloves and were given materials to make or fix things in space, just like the Apollo 13 astronauts made an air scrubber out of various parts on the spaceship. “We had seen real footage of astronauts in space, floating, eating and working. We talked about conducting experiments such as growing plants in space.” By the end, one student told Ms. Zug, “I want to be a scientist.”

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Communities in Schools Students at Rider High School Praise Teachers

As part of the Communities in Schools (CIS) program at Rider, senior varsity players selected one teacher or staff member who has made a difference in their lives and recognized them on the field prior to a game. Honorees, along with the player who selected them, walked two-by-two to home plate while a student summary about the staff member’s impact in their lives was read over the loudspeaker. One student chose site coordinator Chasity Hurd and honored her at the Lady Raider Varsity Softball game against Wichita Falls High School. Her comment: “Ms. Hurd always takes the time to listen, no matter the mood she is in.”

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Milam Elementary Students Take Full Advantage of Recess

The warmer the day, the better the recess. Students at Milam Elementary took full advantage of a sunny afternoon to practice their favorite outdoor sports and P.E. moves.

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Sheppard Elementary Fourth Graders Dive into Poetry

Sheppard fourth-grade teacher Ashley Stubblefield admits it: Poetry can be a tricky unit. It can be difficult to capture and hold students’ attention, she said. So she created a room transformation that put her fourth-graders “under the sea,” diving deeper into poetry and catching context clues under the sea. “We will do these transformations between now and STAAR to keep students engaged,” she said. It turned out to be engaging and challenging. “Students are more successful on the less popular topics when it is gamified,” she said.

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Wichita Falls High School Student Council Donates Supplies to Tornado-Hit School

Wichita Falls High School Student Council members collaborated with the Burkburnett Student Council to donate school supplies to the Jacksboro school struck by a tornado on March 21. WFHS teacher and Student Council sponsor Wendy Presson contacted the Jacksboro sponsor to collect a list of needs and then got the two Student Councils involved. Students also collected money that will be used to buy Walmart gift cards for the Jacksboro teachers. Pictured: Students load supplies in Ms. Presson’s car for delivery to Jacksboro. The National Weather Service ranked the Jacksboro tornado an EF-3 on a scale that runs from EFO to EF5. Jacksboro had wind gusts between 136-165 mph.

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Lamar Elementary Students Present ‘The Golden Touch’

Fifth-graders at Lamar Elementary practiced for two weeks before presenting their play, “The Golden Touch.” They performed the play first for students at the lower grade levels. The class split into several groups, with each group performing for a different class. The play was directed by a student, who conducted auditions and selected cast members for any part where more than one student was interested in playing it.

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Zundy Elementary Fifth-Graders Flip for Dot Plot Graphs

How do you make math fun? Zundy math teacher Madison Blair knows how. She asked four student teams to have each team member spend 30 seconds flipping a water bottle and tracking how many times they landed it upright. Then they collected their group data and shared it with the class. Everyone combined the four teams’ data into one dot plot graph. “They so loved this game, and it was so fun to watch,” said Ms. Blair. Class members also answered several questions about the data, analyzing it and determining what fraction of students got the water bottle to stand up four or more times.

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Rider High School National Honor Society Launches 'Payday for Pets' Fundraiser

The largest classroom at Rider High School was packed with National Honor Society students Thursday. They gathered for the launch of their annual fundraiser, "Payday for Pets." Since 2004, the Rider National Honor Society has raised more than $209,067 for the P.ET.S. Clinic and the Humane Society of Wichita County. This year's campaign is a Sponsor-the-Date fundraiser that will accept online donations for the first time. "We are hoping to break last year's record of $19,353 donated," said Kristy Ciuba, National Honor Society sponsor. "Each member is trying to get someone to sponsor a date on the calendar. We will accept cash (no coins), check or online payments." The group will collect donations through Saturday April 9, when NHS members will stand at the front of Rider to accept drive-by donations. Donate here.
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Seven Days Left to Apply for a WFISD Foundation Scholarship

Senior high school students who are looking for college money have seven days left to apply for one or more of the WFISD Foundation's 46 scholarships. Applications are due April 8. Students will find a wide variety of scholarships that match their specific interests, talents and experiences. Apply here.
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COVID Cases Drop to Zero

COVID cases have plunged in Wichita Falls. The number of positive cases recorded on March 31 dropped to zero among students and staff members. Because of dwindling numbers, WFISD has reduced the operating hours of its COVID-19 Rapid Test Site located at Carrigan at 1609 Blonde. The COVID testing center now opens to students and staff only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

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WFISD Campuses Reopen to Parents and Visitors on Monday

Starting Monday, April 4, all WFISD campuses will reopen to parents and visitors. Schools will resume the protocols that were in place at each campus prior to COVID closures. Guidelines for visitors may vary at each school. Questions? Consult your child's campus.
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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 feature, 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.