School Times Now!
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Public Forum
Weather or Not - Snow
Make-Up Day is Tomorrow
Spring Break
February Food Frenzy
Transition Luncheon
Weekend Explorers
Summer Program
Security Plan
PTA Reflections
Berkner Boys Basketball
Communication Awards
Graduation Date
Wal-Mart's 11th Annual
Teacher of the Year Program
Last Week was Texas Public Schools Week, with most schools hosting Open Houses to showcase their student’s progress and work. Schools were brightly decorated with science projects or artwork. At some schools, dinner was served to families before they visited the classrooms. Open House at Northrich Elementary, pictured here, included a program about healthy living habits.
All staff and students must make up the day on Friday, March 10, the Friday before Spring Break. >Top
Spring break begins Monday, March 13 until Friday March 17. Schools resume at normal times on Monday, March 20. >Top
First Grade Winners
  • Jalan Veasley - Stults Road Elem. - 2nd Place
  • Kaylee Harris - Mohawk Elem. - 3rd Place

Second Grade Winners

  • Maggie Pitney - Springridge Elem. - 1st Place (Shown top right)
  • Andy Boler - MST - 2nd Place
  • Zoe Long - Wallace Elem. - Honorable Mention

Third Grade Winners

  • Emma & Matthew Zamutt - Prairie Creek Elem. - 2nd Place (Shown bottom right)
  • Mia Goldstein - Merriman Park Elem. - Honorable Mention
  • Makenzie Shaw - Big Springs Elem. - Honorable Mention

Fourth Grade Winners

  • Monica Lisot - Northrich Elem. - 3rd Place
  • Ashley Seaman - Greenwood Hills Elem. - Honorable Mention

Fifth Grade Winners

  • Olivia & Beverly Red - Prairie Creek Elem. - 2nd Place
  • Keaton Rees & Michael Ketchmark - Moss Haven
    Elem. - Honorable Mention
  • Blake Tarlton - MST - Honorable Mention

Sixth Grade Winners

  • Katie McGowan - Prairie Creek Elem. - 1st Place
    (Shown middle right)
  • Rhett Bruck - Moss Haven Elem. - 2nd Place
  • Mesha Muse - Forest Lane Acad. - 2nd Place
  • Houston Brewer - Terrace Elem. - 3rd Place
  • Drew Johnson-Scott - MST - Honorable Mention
  • Jordan Mears & Dillon Dingwell - Merriman Park
    Elem. - Honorable Mention
  • Hannah Moss - Arapaho Classical - Honorable Mention
  • Jon Speck - Wallace Elem. - Honorable Mention >Top
With family and friends applauding, Richardson High School AP Physics students in Dr. George Hademenos' class completed their second successful "Mission To Mars" this semester, as students simulated, from scratch, landings and exploration on the surface of Mars.

"This project brings together a number of scientific disciplines," said Hademenos, whose class last year conducted the inaugural mission.  "Students are divided into teams, and each team is responsible for every aspect of a landing operation."

Students constructed a large, circular "arena" to simulate the surface using a clay compound and even hematite, one of the substances found on Mars.  Dry Ice and heating pads were placed alternately under the mock surface to emulate changing conditions.
The landing vehicles were custom-made robots designed and created by the students in their vision of what would best navigate and perform the tasks needed on the surface.

Members of each team's "Mission Control" monitored progress and made decisions through a bank of computers with no view of the mock surface.  Instead, they had to rely on temperature readings from the probes on their landing crafts, and the view through four stationary cameras suspended from the ceiling and sending signals of what was happening on the surface of Mars.

"Just like NASA, our students learned a lot from last year's landing and made adjustments accordingly for this year's project," Hademenos explained.  "These students worked incredibly hard and really thought outside the box and came up with some great ideas grounded in solid scientific principles." >Top
RISD Area Spelling Bee winners headed to the Dallas County competition in late February. All district winners are shown below “thinking” the last word they spelled. From left: RHS area spelling bee winner, Emily Nichols from Northwood Hills Elementary; LHHS area spelling bee winner, Katie Rose Schaffenburg from Moss Haven Elementary; BHS area spelling bee winner, Trinity Dawson from Richland Elementary and PHS area spelling bee winner, Alec Arceneaux, from MST Magnet. >Top
Prairie Creek Elementary (PCE) sixth-grader Shelby Sullivan had an interesting weekend in January.  She flew to Indianapolis and, during halftime of the nationally-televised Colts-Steelers National Football League playoff game, she won the 2005 Pepsi/NFL National Punt, Pass & Kick competition for her division.

"It was really cool," Shelby explained.  "Although all of the cameras made me a little nervous."

What began in 4th grade as an activity in Coach McCall's physical education class at PCE turned into a memory of a lifetime.
Along the way, she won the Texas/Oklahoma regional competition during halftime of the Cowboys December 5 game vs. Kansas City, advancing to the national competition as the Cowboys' representative.  After she won, she received a congratulatory letter from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Amazingly, Shelby didn't begin to take the competition seriously until the regional event.  Prior to that, she "didn't practice very much, other than playing regular sports."

In addition to gridiron prowess, Shelby plays on a select soccer team and also enjoys basketball, volleyball, tennis, track and cross country.

Along with her athletics, "Shelby is a fine student with a rare work ethic for an elementary student," said PCE Principal Mary Ann Schwab.
"She's a determined person," said her mom, Holly.  "We are just so proud of her."

And was winning Shelby's favorite part of her Indianapolis experience?

"Actually, it was getting (Colts quarterback) Peyton Manning's autograph." >Top
Friends of Texas Public Schools organized a Public Forum: A State at Risk last week with Superintendent Jim Nelson as one of four panelists. The meeting, attended by close to 100 educators and interested patrons from across North Texas, was “to increase the public’s awareness of public school successes, challenges, and needed reforms; to hear what the public believes, without influence from our political representatives, what is important to them; and to help the public better understand the challenges of public school finance.”

Other panelists included Mike Moses, former Texas commissioner of education and former DISD superintendent, Keith Sockwell, retired educator and vice president, SHW Group; and David Thompson, attorney and state finance guru with a Houston law firm.

Bill McKenzie, editorial editor with The Dallas Morning News served as the moderator.

Host organizations included Friends of Texas Public Schools, Baptist Christian Life Commission, Citizens Commission on Education Excellence, League of Women Voters, Texas Business & Education Coalition, Texas Education Crisis Coalition, Texas Impact, Richardson Council of PTAs and Texas PTA.

Sponsors included Coca-Cola and SHW Group, Inc., Architects. >Top
Congratulations to Richardson High School students who defended their February Food Frenzy title by collecting the most canned goods during a districtwide high school contest. Lake Highlands High School came in a close second, but students from all schools, including Berkner and Pearce high schools, participated to provide approximately 7,000 non-perishable items to the Network of Community Ministries. Thanks to Super SAC students for organizing the Food Frenzy. Super SAC members are seniors who meet once a month with RISD Superintendent Jim Nelson and his senior staff to discuss issues important to students. RHS student organizers are pictured surrounded by the donations. >Top
Transition Services hosted their annual Business Appreciation Luncheon with keynote speaker Army Sgt. First Class Dana Bowman. Bowman is a one-man mission of mercy, visiting and encouraging wounded soldiers around the world. A few years ago his legs were sheared off in a skydiving collision that killed his best friend. After rehabilitating himself in less than five months, he became the military's first-ever double amputee on active duty and a veritable ambassador of inspiration. Wherever he goes he conveys a singular message: "What I've done, you can do.''
"Dana Bowman embodies the kind of spirit that just won't quit,'' says Lt. Col. Danny Greene, commander of Bowman's former unit, the Army's Golden Knights parachute team. "He is truly a remarkable person.'' His inspirational message was encouragement for business owners who hire RISD special education students as they make the transition from school to the world of work. >Top
For the second year, the Dartmouth PTA sponsored the Weekend Science Explorers Program.  For eight weeks, science experiments were distributed to students on Fridays for completion over the weekend with their parents' assistance.  Subjects covered in the experiments included: why leaves change color in the Fall, Newton's 3rd Law of Motion (which states for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction), how sound travels, the water cycle, the simulation of a crater caused by a meteor, buoyancy and chemical reactions.

Students completing at least six of the eight weekly experiments were recognized at an all-school assembly.  A total of 77 students from all grade levels were presented with certificates by the principal, Mrs. Clayton, and the students received front row seats during a special presentation by a terrific "mad scientist" from Mad Science.

Students and parents that participated in the program enjoyed the experiments and learned something new each time.  The PTA encourages parents to incorporate science into everyday discussions and activities with their children.
  • Make every day experiences a science experience whenever possible. Science is around us everywhere, from the moment a light bulb turns on, to a car driving down the road to the buds about to bloom on trees and shrubs.
  • Take the time to do science. Encourage your children to observe what goes on around them. Science is exploring, observing, handling materials, testing ideas and talking about what our explorations tell us. Encourage children to repeat experiences and skills that will deepen their understanding.
  • Be ready for science moments. Sometimes science opportunities happen when you least expect them. A rainy day washing away the soil, a rainbow, the way animals act when a storm is approaching or even a full moon shining all present good times to interact with your children about science. >Top
The Richardson Independent School District Summer Program offers students a unique opportunity for:
  1. Students to focus on academic goals without distractions from the regular school schedule.
  2. Students to develop and enhance academic tools for success (such as study skills and time
    management) in a more relaxed setting.
Junior High Summer Program Registration
Date: June 6 - 7, 2006
Time: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Location: Apollo Junior High School, 1600 Apollo Rd.,
Richardson, 75081
A student's report card should be brought to registration, it will facilitate the enrollment process. Out-of-district students will need their Social Security number and the address and phone number of their home school.
High School Summer Program Registration
Richardson West Jr. High Registration
Date: May 31 - June 1, 2006
Time: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Location: Richardson West Jr. High, 1309 Holly Dr.,
Richardson, 75080
Lake Highlands Freshman Center Registration
Date: May 31 - June 1, 2006
Time: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Location: Lake Highlands Freshman Center, 10200 White Rock Trail, Dallas, 75238
A student's report card should be brought to registration, it will facilitate the enrollment process. Out-of-district students will need their Social Security number and the address and phone number of their home school.
In response to two recent safety incidents at RISD schools, administrators are looking seriously at the use of portable metal detectors as a deterrent in secondary schools. Superintendent Jim Nelson said, “Up until recently, metal detectors have not been portable enough nor affordable enough for us to consider – other than the hand-held wands we currently use. New technology has made full-sized metal detectors more of an option. We are considering using them strictly as a deterrent. If students know that at any time they may have to go through the device, they are more likely to not consider bringing weapons to school. And that is our goal.”

A portable metal detector has been demonstrated to Superintendent’s Advisory Council, (senior staff), the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, (students who meet monthly with the senior staff), the Council of PTAs Executive Board, (parents from each RISD school), and the RISD Board of Trustees.

Portable metal detectors will be piloted at secondary schools this spring with possible use at random times during the next full school year. Board president Luke Davis is pictured above going through the portable metal detector.

District Safety Coordinator Luther Robertson said, “We have researched and found that random use can serve as a significant deterrent. It is a device that can be assembled within five minutes and will be used with discretion.” >Top

The annual PTA Reflections arts competition was displayed in the Berkner High School library last week. Council of PTA Executive Board met to conduct business that included a slate of officers for next year, and then adjourned to visit with the proud students and their families at the exhibit. Winning entries will be forwarded on to state competition.

Pictured are students showing off their painting, drawings and writings. One preschool student was enjoying the PTA-provided refreshments. >Top


As the Berkner Ram's boys basketball team travels to Austin tomorrow to compete in the State Final Four, here is an interesting feature article about the team from The Dallas Morning News.

Click here to view a PDF of the article. >Top
Richardson ISD is pleased to announce the graduation date and location for 2006. Garland's new Multi-Use Center on Naaman Forest Blvd. has been reserved for Saturday, May 27, 2006. RISD's four high schools will graduate as follows:

Berkner - 9:00 a.m.
Richardson - 12:30 p.m.
Pearce - 3:30 p.m.
Lake Highlands 7:00 p.m.
After careful study, the change from the traditional location was made for several reasons. They include:

Capacity 7,000 vs. previous 5,400
Parking up close, plentiful
Graduates lining up in air-conditioned area vs. hot hallways 30 minutes prior
Handicap access is better
Seating is “closer to the floor” (better visibility)
Oversized video screen (Jumbotron) availability
Flexibility on dates, times for all four graduations
High school principals, administrators, and Board approval
Look for directions, maps and more information closer to May 27 >Top

RISD's School Times Now! was named Best Electronic Newsletter in the State of Texas by the Texas School Public Relations Association. This honor accompanies other awards for the district including a Crystal Commendation for multi-faceted promotional programs in staff or student recognition. The Art Beyond the Classroom program of honoring district art teachers for their own professional work earned this award. In addition, other awards for Excellence in Communications included:

Gold Stars for Tuesday Notes; School Times; School Times Now!; School Times Now! Advertising; State of the District Annual Report; REA Banquet Design of tickets, poster, logo and program.

Silver Stars for Students on the Move flier; Thurgood Marshall Dedication Program; Student/Parent Guidebook/Code of Conduct; Photo of Stults Road Cola Explosion; School Times Now! Logo; Web site Redesign. >Top
State Representative Fred Hill sent a letter to Superintendent Jim Nelson that read:
Just a note to let you know that I recently received a letter from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., informing me of their "11th Annual Teacher of the Year" program. A copy of the letter is enclosed for your convenience.

This program is designed to recognize outstanding teachers and reward them with financial and other incentives for their school where they teach as well as for the teacher.

I would appreciate very much if you would encourage participation in this worthwhile endeavor. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best regards,
Fred Hill
Click here to view a PDF of the Wal-Mart letter. >Top
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