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RISD Students Taking
Different Paths to
WWJH Students Give
to the Troops
HPPM Playground Dedication
Professional Internship
Program Reception
RISD Trustees’ 2009
Legislative Priorities
Board Notes
Mohawk Giving Tree
RHS Senior to be Featured on "The Real Winning Edge"
An Evening with the Mayor
The Season of Giving
FMJH Students Learn
the Value of Teamwork
UTD Students Extend a
Robotic Helping Hand
This Weekend in RISD -
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RISD students taking different paths to Inauguration
While most of the nation will be watching the upcoming historic Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States from their living rooms on January 20th, at least 49 RISD students will actually be there: three witnessing the taking of the Oath of Office up close and 46 performing for thousands the night before.

Lake Highlands Elementary 6th grader Andrew Kirsop, and Westwood Junior High 8th graders Joseph Stavinoha and Lucas Christiansen will be traveling to Washington, D.C. as part of the Congressional Youth Leadership Council programs that recognize and promote today’s young scholars in both academic performance and community leadership. All three young men were nominated by teachers who noted their strong leadership qualities. Joseph and Lucas are currently under the tutelage of Dr. Karen Karinja, who heads up the Leadership Magnet at Westwood.

As part of a five day course of study, the boys will hear guest speakers such as former Secretary of State General Colin Powell, former Vice President Al Gore, and seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. They will also enjoy visits with a host of Congressmen in between touring the National Mall monuments and museums. After attending the Inauguration in reserved seating, they will watch the Presidential Motorcade from the Capitol Building as it makes its way down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.
That evening, the boys will attend the Gala Inaugural Ball. According to Andrew, “Even though I took a Cotillion class, I’m not so sure about my dancing skills.”

The Lake Highlands High School Wranglers (dance team) will be performing for an estimated 8,000 attendees at the Black Tie and Boots Ball taking place at the historic Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center the night before the Inauguration. But only after they act as greeters to the host of dignitaries who will be attending. And once the Wranglers finish their three act performance, they’ll offer up line dancing instruction to all comers. While the juniors and seniors of the well-known Country & Western dance and stunt team are no strangers to high profile performances, they are heading to Washington with a great sense of anticipation. Wrangler senior Trent Gardner said, “This is such an historical event for our country. Even though I wasn’t old enough to vote, I understand how the youth vote impacted the outcome of the election. As a community working together, just think what the youth could do toward a common goal.” Additionally, four of the Wranglers - Kent McCoy, David Bott, Trent Gardner and Avery Atkin - will be representing their school, city, state and country with the high honor of placing a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. These four exemplary students were chosen thanks to patriotic essays they wrote.

Prior to heading to Washington, pre-travel events for the Wranglers include a send off by Congressman Jeb Hensarling at 9:25 am on Saturday, January 17th. The public is invited. >Top
Westwood junior high students give to the troops
The students at Westwood Junior High recently joined forces with the Give2theTroops organization. Students wrote letters of gratitude and encouragement to American soldiers overseas who were unable to come home for the holiday season. Students also brought donations of clothing, food, batteries, etc., to send to the troops. Give2theTroops is a nationwide, non-profit organization that has a base in Fort Worth. >Top
Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet Playground dedication
Just before Winter Break, the Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet PTA held a Playground Dedication ceremony for the two new playgrounds they gave to the school. Since 2002, the Hamilton Park PTA raised more than $65,000 for the playgrounds.

In attendance were PTA members, students, faculty and staff of HPPM, former HPPM Parents, RISD Executive Director of Elementary Instruction and Operations John Feekin, RISD's Associate Director of Grounds Phil Lozano, representatives of the equipment vendor Game time, and RISD Grounds personnel. >Top
Professional Internship Program Reception
Professional Internship Program interns.
The Professional Internship Program (PIP) Sponsor/Intern Reception was held in December at the RISD Professional Development Center in Richardson. The reception honored almost 50 students and their sponsors who participated in the RISD Professional Internship Program (PIP) during the 2008 Fall semester. PIP was established to allow high school seniors to acquire additional knowledge and experience in a professional career of their choosing. It connects the student with real life application of knowledge and skills to link their education to the future. Fields of interest included medicine, law, politics, teaching, architecture, journalism, communications, sports marketing, financial, engineering, fine arts and advertising.

Four interns were chosen by PIP Coordinator Elizabeth Crusius to speak at the reception The students were Mia Damommio of Pearce High School who interned with Richardson North Junior High and RISD Administration, Adam Johnson of Richardson High School who interned with The Loomis Agency, Reid McCann of Lake Highlands High School who interned with Smith Barney, and Elisa Sanchez of Berkner High School who interned with Children’s Hospital.
Mia DaMommio spoke of her desire to teach American History and work her way up to becoming a district superintendent. She shadowed Tracey Hurst, RISD Director for Advanced Placement in RISD, and interned as a seventh grade teacher at North Junior High alongside teacher Jarred Stewart.  “It was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I witnessed first hand the personal relationship that grows between teacher and student, and how that affects a child's learning process. I would hope that I have left the same mark on those kids as they have left on me,” Mia said. Mia also stated that, “through PIP I have a jump-start on my future career, and I couldn't be more grateful. I really want to thank not only Mrs. Crusius for having me in the program, and my sponsors, Jarred Stewart and Tracey Hurst, for being so generous of their time and energy, but also Mrs. Dale Ann Martell, my junior year Advanced Placement US History teacher, for guiding me down the path of history education. The Professional Internship Program is essentially for students to figure out if this is the field we really want to go in to, and this program solidified my chosen career path. I absolutely loved teaching, and I can't wait to get into the classroom!” >Top
RISD Trustees’ 2009 Legislative Priorities
January 13 marked the beginning of the 81st legislative session in Texas. The RISD Board of Trustees adopted their priorities for the session that focus on the most important issues currently facing our school district. Of primary importance is the need to modify the school finance system. The current system holds school districts to 2005-2006 funding levels without allowances for increasing teacher salaries or rising costs. Although taxpayers see a rise in their local school property taxes because of increasing property values, school districts do not benefit from those additional dollars. (In RISD, revenue collected from increasing property values is sent to the state in the form of recapture, also known as “Robin Hood”). This has placed most districts in Texas in a deficit position that dictates budget cuts or requires taxpayers to vote for an increase in property taxes. Regarding school finance, Trustees are asking the legislature to:
  • Allow school districts to retain revenue collected from increasing property values
  • Add an inflation index to current funding formulas
  • Give local school boards access of up to four cents taxing authority per biennium without calling for a rollback election
  • Provide funding necessary to implement and maintain state mandates
The state’s accountability system will also be the subject of much debate and discussion as it is unduly complex and unfairly penalizes districts with diverse learning student populations (to name just two of the major criticisms of the system). The Board of Trustees is asking the legislature to modify the current accountability system by:
  • Reducing the complexity of the system
  • Recognizing growth in student performance as part of the rating system
  • Aligning with the federal accountability system
Other Trustee priorities include supporting local control, additional compensation for employees, opposition to voucher programs, full-day pre-kindergarten funding, adding Career and Technology Education as part of the state’s Recommended High School Program, and funding for technology. Please see the complete 2009 Legislative Priorities document here.

RISD Board members, superintendent, and executive director for communications and public affairs, Liz Morse, will be working closely with our legislators in Austin to keep them informed about any potential impact the actions they take would have on the district. Please contact Mrs. Morse for additional information at 469-593-0300 or >Top
Board Notes
Kim Quirk
Lanet Greenhaw
Vice President
Karen Ellis
Kim Caston
David Tyson
TASB Delegate
Luke Davis

Thank You to RISD Trustees for Their Service
January is School Board Appreciation Month, and on behalf of RISD employees, we would like to take this opportunity to thank RISD school board members, Kim Caston, Luke Davis, Karen Ellis, Lanet Greenhaw, Kim Quirk and David Tyson for their dedication to our district. Service on the board is voluntary and board members must complete extensive orientation, as well as continued training, throughout their term. Some of the Board's general responsibilities include:

  • Setting district policies and supporting administrators and teachers in the execution of those policies
  • Employing and evaluating the superintendent
  • Adopting the annual budget
  • Authorizing tax rates and bond issuances
  • Performing specific duties imposed by the state

January Board Meetings
RISD Trustees have already been busy this year, meeting on January 5 and January 12. Board members heard a presentation by district administrators on the 2007-2008 Annual Performance Report and the Extracurricular Guidelines. They discussed the proposed 2009-2010 school calendar, filling the vacancy left on the Board by Carol Kent (who resigned the Board to serve as a Representative in the Texas House), and the 2009-2010 budget.

2009-2010 Budget
Tony Harkleroad, assistant superintendent for finance and support services, told the Board that because of the current school finance system in Texas the district is held to 2005-2006 funding levels. This will mean a budget deficit for 2009-2010 of approximately $1.6. To reduce the deficit, the following measures are being considered: expand the PACE after school program to increase revenue, further reduce Central Administration expenses, and eliminate the Junior High Pilot Reading Program. The Board will consider these, and other possible budget reductions or revenue enhancements over the next few months as they finalize the 2009-2010 budget. It was also noted that, given the current school finance system, additional budget reductions of over $4 million will be necessary in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. >Top

Mohawk giving tree
Mohawk Elementary just completed their annual, "Mohawk Giving Tree Project" to sponsor the RISD Clothes Closet. Students collected mittens, hats, gloves, scarves, socks, boots, and jackets for the winter. The project was tied to studies in Guidance about compassion, sharing & caring. Students did a wonderful job applying these life skill words to their community projects.

Thanks Mohawk! >Top
RHS Senior to be featured on "the real winning edge"
Para-Equestrian and Richardson High School senior Jonathan Wentz was featured in the television series, The Real Winning Edge, Saturday.

Jonathan was selected for the show after seeing an article in USEF’s Week in Review in June 2007, “TV Producer searching for Equestrians for new series,” and submitting his bio.

The 30-minute show profiles three young achievers who have overcome challenges and each are introduced by well-known celebrities. Jonathan’s segment deals with overcoming disabilities, and he is introduced by Belmont winning jockey, John Velazquez.
Jonathan is a Para-Equestrian with goals of riding for Team USA in dressage at the 2010 World Games in Lexington, KY, and the 2012 Paralymics in London. England. Jonathan has been riding since the age of two and has been competing in dressage at USEF recognized shows against able bodied riders since age fourteen and has earned many riding recognitions.

Since the filming of the show Jonathan has had a disappointing set back, having to retire his equine teammate due to an injury. He is determined to continue and is currently seeking an equine teammate, for lease that is a quality dressage horse that he can train with and take to the May 2009 Para-Equestrian Nationals and the 2010 World Games. To learn more about Jonathan’s riding career and goals, please visit his website; >Top
An Evening with the Mayor
Two RISD Academy sixth-graders recently spent an evening learning about local government while they attended the North Central Texas Regional Certification Agency banquet at the Frontiers of Flight Museum. Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert was a featured speaker and offered remarks on the economy and other issues affecting the City.

RISD Academy Student Council President Elia Calvillo and Peer Mediator Captain Janet Paredes were able to speak with the Mayor, who offered words of encouragement for the young leaders. >Top
The Season of Giving
Before the break, parents and students at White Rock Elementary collected and donated new books for students at Thurgood Marshall Elementary. TME teachers chose three deserving students from each class to participate in a book browsing event. The students were able to choose books to call their own, and were grateful to have books to read over the break.

Thanks to the White Rock Elementary community for helping a neighboring campus! >Top
Forest meadow junior high Students learn the value of teamwork
The Forest Meadow Junior High Future Business Leaders of America club traveled downtown to the American Airlines Center for a business overview that included the Dallas Mavericks vs. New York Knicks game last week.  Thirty-two students discovered the various tasks that are performed ‘behind the scenes’ within the Dallas Mavericks organization:  Marketing, Corporate Sales, Ticket Sales, Community Relations, Dancers and AAC Tours.

All students were given a tour of the facilities, witnessing first hand preparation for a Dallas Mavericks game.  Students were allowed access into exclusive areas such as the Platinum Club.  This club is reserved for patron’s whose tickets cost exceed $145.  Students were surprised to learn that even these people still had to pay for their refreshments and that the club was only a more relaxed place to view the game.  Students saw the full arena from the practice court to the box seats.
Following the tour the students were given the opportunity to ask upper level management members questions about the facility, their jobs, educational background and their work environment.  They were given advice such as “Over deliver in anything you do.” “Plan - it will always help you achieve more!”  “Teamwork is essential in any job."  "This job, on game days, means you work anywhere and do anything that needs to be done.”

Additionally, some students were given the opportunity to earn a place in the “fan tunnel” where they could high-five the players as they entered the arena.  There were other opportunities for students to earn Maverick t-shirts and other memorabilia, and lastly the students stayed for the game, which the Mavericks won.

It was a very exciting educational opportunity that will have a lasting impact on the students.   Gail O’Bannon, Coordinator for the DECA/FBLA Day event, said “it was the first time in her five years that any middle school has attended.”  Approximately 1300 students from around the metroplex attend this event annually.

Forest Meadow’s FBLA Club has Dallas City Council Member Jerry Allen to thank for their day.  Mr. Allen underwrote and co-sponsored the expense of the field trip so that no student would miss this amazing educational experience.>Top
UTD Students Extend a Robotic Helping Hand
Liberty Junior High students with an interest in robotics were hosted by UTD School of Engineering and Computer Science students before the break at the ECS “Robolab.” Please follow this link to the full story from UTD. >Top
This weekend in risd

"Even if you can't get to the theater on Broadway in New York City, you'll think you've been there after attending an RISD high school production. The student talent is outstanding, the sets are of Broadway quality, and the price is unbeatable. Don't miss a show!"

- RISD theater patron

Online tickets can be purchased now for these upcoming theater performances January 29-February 8:
LHHS presents “Little Shop of Horrors” –
RHS presents “Thoroughly Modern Millie” –
PHS presents “Footloose” –
LHHS Wranglers Two-Step to Washington!  Join the Lake Highlands Wildcat Wranglers at their send off to the Inauguration with Congressman Jeb Hensarling at LHHS, 9:20 a.m. on Saturday, January 17.

Basketball - Fri., Jan. 16

PHS Boys vs. Newman Smith @ Newman Smith High School, 6:00, 6:00, 7:30 (F, JV, V)

PHS Girls vs. Newman Smith @ Pearce High School, 6:00, 7:30 (JV, V)

LHHS Boys vs. W. T. White @ Loos Field, 8:00 p.m. (V)

LHHS Girls vs. W. T. White @ Lake Highlands High School, 6:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m. (JV, V)

LHHS Girls vs. Forney @ Lake Highlands Freshman Center, 6:00 p.m. (F)

RHS Boys vs. Molina @ Richardson High School, 5:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m. (FA, JV, V)

RHS Boys vs. Berkner @ Berkner High School, 7:00 p.m. (FB)

BHS Boys vs. Sunset @ Berkner High School, 5:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m. (F, JV, V)

Basketball - Sat., Jan. 17
RHS Girls vs. Molina @ Molina High School, 12:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m. (JV, V)

RHS Girls vs. Bishop Lynch @ Richardson High School, 9:00 a.m. (F)

Soccer - Thurs., Jan. 15, Fri., Jan. 16, Sat., Jan. 17
BHS, PHS & RHS Boys and Girls in RISD Ice Bowl Tournament  @ Eagle/Mustang Stadium, Wildcat/Ram Stadium, Berkner B Field and Pearce B Field, 3:30-9:30 p.m. Jan. 15, 1:30-9:30 p.m. Jan. 16, 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. Jan. 17 (V)

LHHS Girls to Duncanville Tournament vs. Richland @ Panther Stadium, Jan. 15-16-17, 6:00 p.m.

LHHS Boys to Soccer Tournament @ Duncanville/Garland, Jan. 15-16-17

RHS Boys vs. Sunnyvale @ Richardson HS, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 16 (JV)

Wrestling - Thurs., Jan. 15
RHS Boys vs. Trinity Christian Academy @ Trinity Christian Academy, 6:00 p.m. (JV, V)

Wrestling - Sat., Jan. 17
RHS Boys to Cougar Classic @ The Colony High School, 9:00 a.m. (JV, V)

Swimming - Thurs., Jan. 15
RHS Boys vs. Garland/S. Garland @ Pearce Natatorium, 6:00 p.m. (V)

LHHS Swim Meet at Berkner, 4:00 p.m.

Gymnastics - Fri., Jan. 16
LHHS @ South Garland, 6:00 p.m. >Top
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