School Times Now!
RISD Weighs in on
Uniform GPA Rules

Former LHHS Seniors
Work with NASA, Mars
Lander Mission

Nortel, West JH Partner
to Help Students LearniT
National Achievement Scholarship Semifinalists Announced
High School Volleyball

Flag Football Champions Visit Bukhair Elementary

Prestonwood Goes Bananas
Northrich Students
Learn Bus Safety
BHS Rams Named
Team of the Week
Bowie Elementary Celebrates 40th Anniversary
LHE Gets Creative
BHS Football Homecoming
BHS vs Melina High School
Wildcat/Ram Stadium - 7:30 p.m
LHHS Football
LHHS vs Skyline High School
Forester Field - 7:30 p.m.
RHS Football
RHS vs Sunset High School
Kincaide Stadium - 7:00 p.m.
PHS Football
PHS vs R. L. Turner High School
Eagle/Mustange Stadium - 7 p.m.
Click here for volleyball and other sports schedules.
Fine Arts Schedules
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2008 Academic Calendar
Proposed uniform GPA rules wipe out extra weight given to PreAP courses;
Rules also exclude career and technical courses, economics, fine arts, health, and physical education courses from GPA calculation

During the 2007 legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed HB 3851 requiring the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to develop a uniform grade point system that would “ensure a uniform standard for admissions” (top 10%) and help higher education institutions to more easily make comparisons when determining scholarships and financial aid for incoming students.  But as educators and parents learn about the recently proposed rules, they are very concerned. 

A primary concern is that PreAP courses are not given extra weight in calculating the uniform GPA.  Educators and parents know that without the extra weight, students’ interest in taking the more rigorous PreAP courses will be greatly diminished and subsequent enrollment in college-prep AP classes will suffer.   Another concern is that the proposed uniform GPA does not include courses that are required under the state’s recommended graduation plan.

In his letter to the THECB, RISD Superintendent Dr. David Simmons, requests that changes be made to their proposed rules.  “Preparing students for college level academics is a primary goal of public education, and not allowing a weight for PreAP courses is contrary to the college readiness standards supported by the THECB and the Texas Education Agency.  Additionally, the rules for a uniform GPA must include courses other than just those in the core content areas.  Courses like Economics, Fine Arts, Health, and Physical Education, as well as other electives including Career and Technical courses are important to students’ overall education.  The exclusion of these courses would result in a GPA which is not reflective of the entire scope of the high school program.”

Other districts from across the state are also weighing in on the issue.  “This is terrible," said Sarah Winkler, president of the Alief school board.   "PreAP is designed to get kids interested in AP and to let them understand what the demands are.  If you tell them it's the same weight as a regular class, kids are not going to risk their GPA."

Parent, student, and educator input is due by October 5.
The uniform GPA is scheduled to become effective with the 2009-2010 freshman class (seniors in 2013).  The THECB is taking public comments until October 5, and the full board will vote on the rules on October 23.  Please send comments on the proposed rules to Natalie Coffey, Senior Program Director, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, P.O. Box 12788, Austin, Texas, 78711

For more detailed information:

Lake Highlands High School graduates Matthew Gaba and Tony Xie take part in the NASA Phoenix Student Interns Program.
Take two graduating seniors, throw in an AP Physics Teacher, send them to Arizona for a week to work with scientists from NASA and others from around the country studying Martian soil, and you've got an excellent summer adventure.

That's exactly what Lake Highlands High School’s Matthew Gaba, Tony Xie and Dr. Ken Taylor did this past July. Thanks to Dr. Taylor's efforts, the young men were selected to take part in NASA's Phoenix Student Interns Program (PSIP). All three traveled to the University of Arizona’s Operations Center in Tucson, along with just 24 other high school students from the U.S., to monitor the Mars Lander project.
Matt and Tony were up to the task. As the first part of the PSIP program, the three studied with UTD space scientist Dr. John Hoffman throughout the 2007-08 school year. Dr. Hoffman would serve as scientist mentor for the LHHS team once in Tucson. To prepare the students for the mission, Dr. Hoffman taught them how to assemble and take data with a device very similar to the one on the Lander - a mass spectrometer. The mass spectrometer, commonly used for identifying elements and compounds in gaseous form, was integral to the work of Dr. Hoffman's team and was fundamental and powerful training to prepare them for the mission ahead, taking the boys far beyond the typical high school laboratory experience.

The Mars Lander is a stationary piece of equipment sent to Mars and, true to its name, stays where it lands. Its job is to sample Martian soil and investigate, in great detail, the nature of the soil, composition and atmosphere. The retrieved data is sent back to earth, downloaded, documented and studied by Science Teams. During the week, Matt, Tony and Dr. Taylor were part of a team whose work included simulations and experiments, often having to work late hours to accommodate the longer Martian day.

Some of the tasks they took part in included compiling images from various sols (a Martian day) into a coherent folder for later use by scientists, and assisting a geologist with spectral data interpretations reflected from the surface of Mars. Not bad for their first internship out of high school.

Tony remembers one of his favorite aspects of the mission, "There was never only one way to do or learn something. It's like the 'Three Blind Mice' where the elephant is a big red rock millions of miles away."

Along with helping disseminate data, the three were included in the evening meetings with the primary mission scientists, many at the top of their fields making history with this mission. They would swap suggestions, address problems, and discuss various aspects of the day’s data received from the Lander.

One of the most prevalent discussions centered around the apparent finding of water ice just beneath the surface of Mars, news widely reported around the world.

According to Dr. Taylor, "Whenever good things would happen, applause would break out just like in the movie 'Apollo 13'. As a former working scientist, it has been a double pleasure for me to see my young students experience the advanced side of the scientific enterprise. Matt and Tony are both brilliant young men and quality representatives of our community and school system."

While Matt, Tony and Dr. Taylor were participating in the program, the television show NOVA was producing a feature about the mission. It's tentatively scheduled to air December 30, 2008.

Matt is now attending Yale University, while Tony is at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Taylor is back at Lake Highlands High School with a whole new group of young scientists in his classroom.

Thanks to the efforts and knowledge of Dr. Taylor, Matt and Tony won't forget their summer adventure spent on Mars. >Top
Long time RISD supporter Nortel has teamed up with West Junior High to help students learn about technology through the LearniT program.

LearniT offers a host of tools for teachers and students to better understand today’s technology, including Internet safety & ethics, video production, web content creation, digital imaging and more. Instruction is achieved through streaming video tutorials, project-based lessons, best practices and examples, and interactive lesson planning. Nortel provides resources for both students and teachers, and best of all, it’s completely free to anyone.
West technology teacher Jennifer McCauley has embraced LearniT as a valuable resource. “My students are part of the millennial generation, which typically means they’re very comfortable with web-based technology. They learn best when they can interact with a lesson, and LearniT allows them to understand material in a way that lets them move at their own pace, yet also interact with their peers. We are very appreciative to Nortel for this program and their ongoing support.”

To find out more about LearniT, please visit >Top
RISD today announced that Richardson High School seniors Christopher Hull and Jonathan Valz have been named National Achievement Scholarship Program semifinalists for 2009.

Students advancing to the semifinalist level are among the top African-American academic performers in the United States.

“We are extremely proud of these outstanding students,” said RISD Superintendent Dr. David Simmons. “This national recognition is richly deserved, and they are representing their school and district extremely well.”

To become a National Achievement Scholarship Program finalist, students must demonstrate superior performance in a number of categories, including school grades, recommendations, SAT-I scores, academic courses, leadership abilities, and educational goals.

National Achievement Scholarship Program winners for the 2009 school year will be announced in February of 2009.

For additional information about the National Achievement Scholarship Program, please visit >Top
Congratulations to Lake Highlands High School and JJ Pearce High School volleyball teams on their area #1 rankings. Lake Highlands has been ranked number one for the past three weeks and Pearce has taken over the top spot in the 4-A poll this week. Both teams have played very well, and this is the first time in memory that two RISD teams enjoyed a top ranking simultaneously in the same sport. >Top
This month, Bukhair Elementary welcomed a visit from Mexico’s Team “Diablitos de Magdalena Contreras” - the Flag Football National and World Champions.

This group of accomplished boys and one girl came to CBE to inspire students and demonstrate their workout routine. Despite their difficult circumstances in Mexico City, they have learned to work hard to accomplish goals. They traveled to Berlin, New Orleans, and Tokyo where they won first place in the World Championship and were featured at halftime on NFL Monday Night Football.

Students at CBE had a great time training with their newfound role models during their TAKE 15 time. Way to go “Diablitos” and CBE! >Top
Over the summer, Prestonwood Elementary students were encouraged to "Go Bananas for Books." Each student recorded the number of minutes they read and the books they chose to read. As a reward for their reading, 40 students participated in the Summer Reading Celebration where they enjoyed make-your-own banana splits and received books and prizes. >Top
Michael Davies, Assistant Principal at Northrich Elementary, spoke to the students about bus evacuation this week. This training is mandatory for all Texas public schools. The students were attentive and received compliments from the bus drivers. >Top
Dave Campbell's Texas Football named the Berkner Rams the "Army Strong's Texas Football 5A Team of the Week" for the victory over Desoto this past Friday night. This honor is given to one 5A team each week.

Congratulations to BHS Coach Ledford and his staff on a job well done. >Top
Bowie Elementary choir students perform for their 40th anniversary celebration. Several former Bowie staff members including Bowie's first principal, Dennis Johnson, were in attendance.

Happy birthday Bowie! >Top
Lake Highlands Elementary music teachers had to get creative the first weeks of school as scheduling issues were worked out.

Students didn't seem to mind the temporary accommodations, as the break in the hot weather cam at a perfect time. >Top
Did you miss an issue of School Times Now!? Click here to view the archives. >Top
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