School Times Now!
National Merit Semifinalists
RISD Hosts State Fitness Testing Announcement
New RISD Tomorrow Foundation Head Named
RISD Receives Mentor Grant
RISD Academy Time Capsule
Parkhill's Amazing Race
RISD Announces Agreement with
RHS Mock Trial Team
Receives Proclamation

Richardson Independent School District has announced that 17 seniors have been named National Merit Semifinalists for the 2007-2008 academic year, making them eligible for consideration to receive a National Merit Scholarship.

The students represent some of the top academic performers in the United States.

More than 1.4 million juniors in nearly 21,000 high schools entered the 2008 National Merit Program by taking the 2005 PSAT which serves as the initial screen of program entrants. They represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and the highest scoring entrants in each state.

The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

“These outstanding students deserve congratulations for a job well done,” said RISD Superintendent Dr. David Simmons. “To be named among the best is a great boost for them in anticipation of their college years ahead. The district is proud of them.”

Students enter the National Merit competition by scoring well on PSAT tests, usually taken junior year, and advance in the program based on their skills, accomplishments and subsequent SAT scores. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition to receive one or more of 8,200 merit scholarships worth more than $30 million.
Richardson ISD’s 2007-2008 National Merit Semifinalists are:
David Arnold, Lake Highlands   Amy Leiser, Pearce
Matthew Banks, Pearce   Christine Lin, Berkner
Ian Campbell, Pearce   Joseph Lin, Pearce
Rachel Fox, Pearce   Harry Liu, Pearce
Ryan Fusella, Lake Highlands   Shannon O'Brien, Lake Highlands
Matthew Gaba, Lake Highlands   Parker Staats, Pearce
Andrew Kooiman, Pearce   Catherine Wilson, Lake Highlands
Lindsey Larson, Pearce   Wen-Cheng Yuan, Berkner >Top
Samuel Lee, Berkner    
Approximately 90 percent of semifinalists are expected to be named National Merit Finalists in February.

For more information, please visit
Students at Arapaho Classical Magnet School demonstrated the state's new fitness test yesterday for reporters and dignitaries in the ACM gym. The demonstration of "Fitnessgram" exercises was part of the Texas Education Agency's announcement that every Texas student in grades 3-12 will be measured against age & gender fitness standards once a year.

The new requirements stem from state legislation passed last session.

RISD Director of Physical Education & Health Rick Urbanczyk was joined by ACM Principal Susan Horowitz, TEA Associate Commissioner Jeff Kloster and Dr. Kenneth Cooper of The Cooper Institute in explaining why the tests are important and how they work.

ACM physical education teachers Pam Dawson and Lisa Jackson then conducted the Fitnessgram with students.

The Cooper Institute originally created the Fitnessgram test in 1982.

Arapaho Classical was selected for the announcement because even though it is now a requirement for all Texas schools, the assessment has been used in RISD for more than a decade. >Top
Ms. Elizabeth Hart has been named the new President and CEO of the RISD Tomorrow Foundation. Ms. Hart comes to RISD with an extensive background in non-profit development, most recently as President & CEO of Easter Seals of Greater Dallas. She has also served as Chairman & CEO of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and is a published author in several scientific journals.

Ms. Hart is a former registered nurse, and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from George Washington University.

Please help welcome Elizabeth to the RISD family! >Top
RISD has received a $400,000 grant from the Texas Education Agency to provide additional training and support for mentors to new teachers at 11 campuses. The two-year grant will allow 100 veteran teachers to more effectively serve as mentors to 200-300 RISD teachers who are new to the profession. The effort is designed to improve performance of beginning teachers through a structured support system, which will ultimately increase retention.

Participating campuses include Aikin, Lake Highlands and Northlake Elementary Schools; Forest Lane Academy; Apollo, Lake Highlands and Liberty Junior High Schools; Lake Highlands Freshman Center; and Berkner, Lake Highlands and Richardson High Schools. >Top

RISD Academy's (grades 2-6) entire student body, along with past and current school administrators, opened a time capsule that Northwood Junior High students buried when the school was re-purposed in 1987.

Mr. R. Barensprung's 9th grade honors Biology class placed several pieces of memorabilia from the junior high along with current publications in a tightly sealed cooler and buried it underneath a trap door in a bookroom between two classrooms. Until August of 2007, when Mr. Barensprung visited the school and told Academy staff members Yolanda Weyrick and Poppy Stokes about the capsule, no one knew about the buried treasure.

Current principal Hugo Guerra, past Northwood Junior High administrator Jack Noteware, former teacher Debbie Dutton, and school board trustee Kim Caston were with the student body when the capsule was opened. Students were interested in the headlines from the newspapers and magazines that had been included and also enjoyed looking at the photos of junior high students that had once walked the halls of their school. >Top
Parkhill Junior High School starts each school year with a two-day student orientation program, The Amazing Race, which acquaints students with their new school environment. Students organize binders, explore the cafeteria lines, tour the building, practice opening their lockers, and participate in team building activities all before they attend their first class. By alleviating students’ anxieties and providing organizational strategies, everyone starts off on an equal playing field.

The Race concludes with the first pep rally of the year. Groups of students representing various countries, compete against each other for the coveted Parkhill Spirit Stick. Shown at right are the winning students, representing Peru. >Top
RISD ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT WITH TUTOR.COM, an online provider of after-hours tutoring for secondary students, is working with RISD to provide each secondary student with 300 free minutes of online tutoring assistance.

The service offers additional assistance for secondary students during times when their teacher or other options to receive homework help may not be available.

"We're pleased to offer this opportunity to help our students be successful," said RISD Superintendent Dr. David Simmons. "Our curriculum personnel have examined this service, and we feel it may be beneficial to our students, especially when completing homework after traditional school hours."

A letter with full details and a unique passcode will be sent to the parents at the home address of every RISD secondary student. Students who use all 300 minutes (five hours) may purchase additional tutoring time from

For additional information, please see the media release here. >Top
The Richardson Mock Trial team received a Proclamation from the City of Richardson at the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year celebrating their success from the previous school year. The team placed First in State and eighth in the Nation at the Nationals Competition held in Dallas in May.

Click here to read the Proclamation.

From Left: Coach Sara Hofeditz; Senior Elise Miller; Junior Ilva Fezjulla; Junior Victoria Varner; Senior Danny Weiner; Junior Jessa DeGroote; and 2007 Graduate Will Harpham >Top
Cheese Heroin and Other Drugs: Let's Stop It Before It Begins!
Presentation by Jill Darling, RISD Student Assistance Programs Director

When: October 25, 2007 at 7 p.m.

Where: Administration Building Auditorium
400 S. Greenville Ave
Richardson, TX 75081

Description of the program: Participants will learn about "Cheese" Heroin and other drugs. Signs and symptoms as well as where students hide drugs will also be discussed. This is an adult only presentation.

This program is open to the public, and is co-sponsored by the RISD Student Assistance Programs and the RISD Council of PTAs.
Know someone who would love a part time job? The Dallas Police Department is still looking for individuals to work as crossing guards at several RISD schools within the City of Dallas. Applicants can apply in person at Dallas City Hall, Civil Service, 1st floor, 1500 Marilla, Dallas, Texas or online at the City of Dallas web site. >Top
Did you miss an issue of School Times Now!? Click here to view the archives. >Top
Subscription Information
Unsubscribe Contact Us