School Times Now!
RISD Weekend Events
RISD on the Court, on
the Mat, and in the Pool
Board Adopts 2008-09 Academic Calendar
New Truancy Reporting
System - "SAMS"
Enterprise City
Oncor Partners with RISD
to Save Energy
MST Paper Drive
Japanese Speech Contest
Oui! Berkner STEM Students Celebrate, Learn About European Culture
Lake Highlands Heroes
Richardson High School AVID Students Selected as Dell Scholars Finalist
Bukhair Elementary
Reading Night
Northrich Elementary
Open House
Pearce High School
History Lesson
Bowie Elementary
Jump Rope Team
RHS's Open Mike Night Update
Ta-dahh! LHHS student actors share a triumphant moment in a recent rehearsal for The Three Billy Goats Gruff.
Lake Highlands High School’s annual kindergarten production will provide the community with more family friendly entertainment this spring when Theatre II classes present an adaptation of The Three Billy Goats Gruff, written and directed by LHHS theatre teacher Beauen Bogner. Besides the school-day shows for district kindergarteners, Theatre II actors will stage two public performances for all ages on Saturday, March 8, at the Lake Highlands Freshman Center, 10200 White Rock Trail in Dallas.

Saturday curtain times are at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The show runs approximately 40 minutes. Seating is general admission, and tickets, available at the door, are $5 each. Children age 3 and younger get in free.
  Also this weekend...
J.J. Pearce
Theatre presents 'Miss Saigon.' RISD employees will receive one complimentary admission with their district ID at the box office. 'Miss Saigon' is showing February 22 and 24. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. >Top
Pearce High School Boys Basketball team plays in their first playoff game at Wills Point Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22 against Lindale.

Lake Highlands High School
Wrestling team is in Austin this weekend for the state competition.

Richardson High School and Pearce High School swimming teams are in Austin for state competition. >Top

After considering available options and evaluating input from students, parents and staff, the RISD Board of Trustees adopted the 2008-2009 academic calendar during Monday night's board meeting.

Highlights of the adopted calendar include strategically-placed professional development days, nearly an equal the number of days for the fall and spring semester (87 days in the fall & 89 days in the spring), and holidays at approximately the same time of year as the current calendar. Finals, and the end of the fall semester, will again occur after the winter break. The first day of classes will again be the fourth Monday in August (August 25, 2008), the earliest districts may now begin classes per the Texas legislature, and the driving force behind the difficult decisions faced in adopting this year’s calendar.

To view the complete 2008-09 calendar, please click here.

During their discussion, trustees recounted feedback received from parents and staff, including the issue of whether to keep first semester finals after winter break.

“We are sensitive to the concerns we have heard,” said trustee Carol Kent. “While we work hard to balance preferences with the realities of our situation, in the final analysis, we are charged with doing what is best for students, and we feel this academic calendar does that. The legislature has tied our hands and taken away our local control of this issue."

“This calendar is the best academic option for students, said RISD Superintendent Dr. David Simmons. “The equal number of semester days and our ability to retain strategically-placed professional development days are key to our ongoing academic success. As a parent, the idea of wrapping up final exams before Winter Break is appealing, but as an educator, I know we’d be shortchanging our students.”

Discussion prior to adoption of the 2008-09 Academic Calendar addressed some specific issues:

  • While an unbalanced calendar option was discussed that would have allowed first semester finals to be completed prior to winter break, the disparity in semester days was simply too great from a curriculum standpoint. Even accounting for mandated testing days, students would still have lost almost two weeks of instructional days from the first semester.

  • It’s difficult to overstate the value of the professional development days placed near the end of each six-weeks grading period. While these are student holidays, they are essential to data analysis specific to individual student performance, and teachers and administrators use them to plan interventions that directly benefit students.

  • It was noted that administering finals before or after winter break has a nominal impact on the college admissions process. For example, the University of Texas system application deadlines for admission are steadily being moved up each year to ultimately be December 1 by 2010, when no districts in Texas will likely have completed finals. Most RISD seniors planning to attend college the fall semester after graduation submit their applications to colleges or universities during the fall semester of their senior year. The GPA and class rank, based on classes taken through the junior year, as well as the class schedule for the senior year, are typically submitted in the application process.

  • Scholarship deadlines for colleges vary, but are typically due earlier in the fall semester of the senior year. Thus, pre- or post-break finals will typically have no impact on this process. >Top
This semester, RISD has implemented a new attendance and truancy monitoring and reporting system called SAMS (Student Attendance Monitoring System).

This system uses existing daily attendance data from each campus to automatically generate and send warning letters to parents after three unexcused absences, and file charges for truancy in the Dallas County Truancy Court after ten unexcused absences in a six-month period. These steps are reflective of Texas law.
Students charged with truancy are required to appear in court, typically with their parent(s)/guardian(s).

It's now more important than ever for parents to be actively interested in their child's school attendance, and a parent note needs to be provided to school if their child is absent from any class.

As awareness is raised about this system, parents may have questions about their child's attendance history. >Top
Students from Richardson, Lake Highlands, Pearce and Berkner high schools recently spent a day at Enterprise City, running the town completely in Spanish!   They were fined by police if they were caught speaking anything other than Spanish so they had to know how to handle all business related situations in Spanish.

Enterprise City, a mock "town" on the Canyon Creek campus, is usually reserved for elementary students learning about economics.  >Top
Richardson High School students manage Enterprise City's Bank while only speaking Spanish.
Superintendent Simmons accepts a check from two Oncor representatives.
At the regular meeting of the RISD School Board this month, the district received an incentive check for $29,025 from Oncor Electric Delivery for energy efficiency improvements completed in 2007 at five campuses: Bowie Elementary, Dobie Elementary, Mohawk Elementary, Lake Highlands High School, and Richardson High School.

The Texas Schools Conserving Resources (SCORE) Program is a pilot effort being sponsored by Oncor for select school districts to help improve energy efficiency and reduce energy operating costs.

"We are very appreciative to Oncor for sponsoring this program," said RISD Superintendent Dr. David Simmons. “While the incentives are valuable, the comfort of our schools and the money we will be saving on future utility bills every year were our primary motivation.”
The SCORE Program helped by facilitating a focused look at what upgrades would be most effective. Through this process, Richardson ISD identified opportunities to reduce the district’s energy use in many schools and administration areas. The program worked with the school district to involve administrators at all levels to participate in the decision-making process so that everyone understood the financial benefits of investing in the projects.

RISD has already begun identifying additional energy efficiency improvements for 2008, including upgrading the gymnasium lighting in elementary schools to newer fluorescent lights that are brighter and use half as much energy.

“Oncor Electric Delivery is proud to offer a unique program that serves the vital needs of Texas public schools. We are committed to the future of our local communities and our children,” said Bill Harper, Area Manager for Oncor Electric Delivery. “The SCORE Program provides comprehensive tools and incentive dollars to help districts manage their energy use so that more of their budget dollars end up in the classroom for students.”

The SCORE Program is being administered by CLEAResult Consulting. For more information about the SCORE Program, please visit

Oncor Electric Delivery operates the largest distribution and transmission system in Texas, providing power to three million homes and businesses, and operates more than 115,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines in Texas. Information about Oncor Electric Delivery can be obtained by visiting >Top
Recently, the Math, Science and Technology Magnet elementary school held a paper drive contest in which they collected 1,294 reams of paper. That's 647,000 pieces of paper!

The winning class was Mrs. Terry's sixth-grade class with a total of 288 reams of paper donated to the paper drive. Mrs. Terry's class won an instructional technology package complete with interactive white board, document camera and projector. >Top
Mrs. Terry's sixth-grade class poses in front of the paper donated in the MST paper drive.
Pictured is RHS student Jai Walker after taking first place in the Free Speech competition.
Two Richardson High School students recently won first place in their categories in the Dall as Japanese Speech Contest.

Abigail Diamond won the Poetry Recitation for level 1 students.

Jai Walker won the category of Free Speech for high school students.

Both students will advance to the state competition. >Top
Last week, Berkner High School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Academy students took time away from formulas and calculations to focus on the humanities portion of the curriculum by holding a day-long European Culture Fair.

Students reported on the history, culture, economy and geography of European countries through presentations, speeches "by" famous European figures, a cultural fashion show to demonstrate traditional attire from each country, and even food samples from around Europe.

The highlight was the viewing of the award-winning and acclaimed documentary Paper Clips (which regards the Holocaust), followed by a question and answer session with the film's producer, Mr. Elie Landau.

"The students worked so hard to prepare for this day, we're proud of all of them," said STEM Academy Principal Susan Henderson. "I especially want to recognize the efforts of their teacher, Kelli Armstrong, an exceptional educator without whom this would not have happened." >Top
Berkner STEM students celebrate European culture at the BHS European Culture Fair.
Dr. Simmons accepts a copy of the Lake Highlands Heroes poster from an Exchange Club member.
The Exchange Club of Lake Highlands made a very special presentation to Dr. Simmons at the February Board of Trustees meeting: a beautifully framed poster containing a collage of photos of all the Lake Highlands-area men and women serving in our armed forces, titled "Lake Highlands Heroes."

Many of the individuals featured on the poster were educated in RISD in the Lake Highlands attendance area.

"What a wonderful tribute to these men and women who are serving their country in the truest sense," said Dr. Simmons. "They certainly are hometown heroes, and we are thankful to the Exchange Club of Lake Highlands for making this project happen." >Top
Congratulations to Morma Morales, Abel Lopez, Norman Wang, and Diana Valerio from Richardson High School, for being selected as finalists for The Dell Scholars Program. The Dell Scholars Program is offered to high school students participating in an approved AVID program. The funding for each Dell Scholar is substantial at $20,000.

Candidates are evaluated based on their individual determination to succeed, their stated goals and their demonstrated ability to overcome obstacles and challenges. Students were not just evaluated on academic record or test scores, but also on their desire to push themselves in terms of curriculum completion and their ability to communicate their determination to overcome the hardships they have faced. Funding is provided by the Dell Foundation, which believes that higher education is a key component to achieving one's potential as an adult. >Top
This month Carolyn Bukhair Elementary held their 3rd annual Reading Night with more a thousand attendees! Every child that came to the event was given a free book, and more than 500 books were given away to young readers.

Dr. Simmons was joined by former RISD superintendent Dr. Carolyn Bukhair to read to children along with special guests, the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

The sixth-grade students dressed up as their favorite book characters, and teachers invited parents and students to their classrooms to model a guided reading lesson. RISD partner Heights Baptist Church provided popcorn and lemonade for all. What a fabulous evening that focused on the love of reading! >Top
Dr. Simmons reads to a packed house at the Bukhair Elementary Reading Night.
Community volunteer Art Middlebrook and RISD Board Member Kim Quirk at the NRE Open House.
The Northrich Elementary annual Spaghetti Dinner, Science Fair and Open House was a huge success earlier this month. Students, parents and community members were there to support their school, enjoy dinner, see the science exhibits and visit with teachers in their classrooms. >Top
J.J. Pearce High School 11th grade American History classes heard firsthand about the horrors of the Holocaust by survivors Rosalee and William Schiff during a special assembly on February 14.

Mr. and Mrs. Schiff survived the brutality of the Nazis and share their experiences each year with Pearce history students. This year the Schiffs were also signing copies of their book, William and Rosalee, A Holocaust Testimony. The presentation was supported in part by the Pearce Excellence in Education program.
Pearce American History students visit with Rosalee and William Schiff.
The 2008 Bowie Elementary Jump Rope team.
The 2008 Bowie Elementary Jump Rope team has been traveling to private schools, hospitals, and many district schools to spread the word on how to stay healthy and physically fit. >Top
Open Mike Night, the RHS Production that was one of the first feature-length movies to be produced entirely by a high school program, has been picked up for distribution by Indieflix! After receiving an honorable mention in the Twin Cities Media Festival in North Carolina and previewed in the Texas Filmmaker Series at the Addison Studio Movie Grill, the movie is now available from Indieflix-- For more information about the movie, you can go to If you haven't seen the film, this is an excellent opportunity. >Top
Cameraman David Van Vranken checks the car mounted camera for a driving scene in Open Mike Night.
Did you miss an issue of School Times Now!? Click here to view the archives. >Top
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