Weslaco East High School senior Teresa Velez recently won first place in the Young Entrepreneurs of the RGV Challenge hosted by RGVLEAD. Teresa wanted to help her community pursue healthier diets, and therefore developed a new app: Wize Eats. The app helps empower consumers to make healthier food choices. Teresa also won the $1500 grand prize.
FFA students win top awards in district competition
Several FFA students participated in the 2021 Texas FFA District/Area Career Development Events (CDEs) recently. CDEs allow students to put their classroom knowledge to practice through contests that highlight various career paths in the agricultural industry. The Weslaco ISD FFA programs compete in the FFA Citrus Valley District.
The Entomology Team from Weslaco East High School won first place. Members are: Ethan Alejandro, Jackson Galvan, Octavio Vallejo and Charles Christian Kromer. Also from Weslaco East, the Poultry Team won first place. Team members are: Evelyn Martinez, William Cameron Kromer and Angela Torres. Both teams advanced to the Area X competition and placed 10th.
Several FFA members from Weslaco High School also competed in the District CDE. In the Prepared Public Speaking events, Cooper Fordwon first place in the Agriculture Policy event, and Lily Ford won first place the Soil Stewardship and Plant Science events. Both students advanced to the Area X competition to be held May 17.
In the CDE Livestock Judging competition, the Weslaco FFA Team beat out 52 teams to win District. These students advanced to the Area X competition and won 10thplace. The Champions are: Kylie Sellman, Cooper Ford, Lily Ford and Justin Calderon
In the CDE Dairy Cattle Judging competition, the Weslaco FFA Team also won District. These students advanced to the Area X competition and won second place, qualifying for State.
The state qualifiers are: Kylie Sellman, Justin Calderon and Rowly Sandoval.
The WEHS instructors are John Romo, Rolando Gonzalez and Jody Lackey.
Weslaco ISD migrant families received vital academic strategies for their students, information for adult continuing education and donations from the RGV Food Bank during a Migrant Parent Advisory Council Meeting held recently.
“We want our migrant parents to know that we are here to serve them,” Migrant Program Director George Lopez said. “We, as a district, are here to help them with any challenges they are facing.”
Observing CDC guidelines, migrant parents wore masks and socially distanced during this face-to-face workshop.
Migrant Interventionist Mary Moreno led a reading and language strategies workshop for parents. The migrant program is utilizing the pre-K – 12 on-line tool, Imagine Learning to help students with language arts.
“With this workshop, we hope to empower parents to help students with their academic work. Parents are feeling overwhelmed with the students at home,” Moreno said. “We are recommending that students attend on-campus instruction.”
Representatives from the federal Motivation Education Training (MET) Program also spoke to parents about the different courses available to them. MET offers continuing education for migrant parents in programs such as welding and commercial driving. Parents are paid while enrolled in these courses. South Texas College representative Joe Martinez was also on hand to enroll parents in the GED program. The RGV Food Bank provided donations for all families in attendance.
WISD will continue to reach out to the migrant community.
“We have been conducting home visits throughout the school year and helping parents with technical issues during the transition to on-line learning,” Moreno said.
According to migrant specialist Mary Mendoza, the migrant program will host two additional meetings on April 27 and May 4 from 5:30 – 8 p.m. at the USDA Building.
Today culminates a month-long process of providing every WISD employee access to a COVID-19 vaccine as hundreds of employees received the Johnson & Johnson shot on campus at the Dr. Armando Cuellar Middle School Gym. WISD, in partnership with HEB, conducted the vaccine clinic. WISD employee Ruben Elizondo celebrates this major milestone as the last employee to receive the vaccine. "Together we can beat COVID," he said.
Weslaco ISD students can now self-screen for COVID-19
Weslaco ISD is now offering free COVID-19 Rapid Testing for all on-campus students. Middle school and high school students can administer the COVID tests themselves with parental consent. On-campuses elementary students must have a parent present during testing.
“Having testing available to all our students is a very important step toward the mitigation of COVID-19,” WISD Head Nurse Susan Coffman said. “This is the next phase in the WISD’s overall safety plan.”
Consent forms were sent home prior to spring break and students cannot be tested without consent. These tests require the swabbing of the nose.
The testing can be done every two weeks. If any student tests positive, the district will follow COVID-19 protocols in place. WISD parents may contact their school nurse for consent forms.
This month, Krystle Sanchez is the recipient of the WISD A+ Award for February 2021. Krystle is someone who goes above and beyond her job description at Mary Hoge Middle School.
Whether entering grades, running report cards or training teachers and students, this media aide is a key team member. She works tirelessly to ensure the campus computers, media and digital classrooms are running effectively. This dedicated multitasker has contributed to the overall success of this campus in many ways.
Weslaco ISD meal programs ranked in top ten in State
The Weslaco ISD Food & Nutrition Services Department was ranked among the top ten in Texas for their excellent job ensuring Texas’ students receive nutritious meals both throughout the normal school day and in times of crisis like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Kroger School Food Rankings, in partnership with Children at Risk, recognize school districts in Texas that go above and beyond to provide nutrition to students.
“I am very thankful and proud of all our Food & Nutrition Service employees,” FNS Director Dora Peña said. “It has been a team effort, including our cafeteria managers, employees, office staff, administration and our Board of Trustees. Everyone has taken a part in making this achievement possible, taking care of our community children and meeting the many pandemic challenges.”
The 2020 Kroger School Food Rankings evaluate how districts across Texas provide meals to low-income school children by focusing on meal preparation rates and after-school programs offered in each district. Children at Risk utilizes Texas Department of Agriculture data and Texas Education Agency data to generate the district scores and district rankings.
All Weslaco ISD 8th graders are invited to take part in the Career and Technical Education program tour from 4 – 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 9 at the CTE Joe Calvillo Jr. Complex located at 3601 N. Mile 51/2 West. Following CDC safety guidelines, students will participate in this event from their vehicles, driving through the designated area receiving valuable CTE course information and treats to ‘sweeten’ the ride!
“This is a great opportunity for our students to begin ‘visualizing’ their dream job or career by first learning about our CTE programs,” CTE Director Sandra Avila said. “With over 150 CTE courses in combinations for over 30 programs of study, students can create their paths toward their dream job destination! When these students complete these programs of study in four years, they will be college and career-ready.”
Students can also work toward earning national or international certifications, licensures and/or associate degrees in many of our CTE programs of study that will enable them to be employable while in high school, in college and ultimately in their careers.
All participating 8th graders with a WISD ID will receive free backpacks and treats.
Weslaco East High School senior Pedro Posada made history recently as the Rio Grande Valley’s sole recipient of All-State, 1st Team honors. Several Weslaco football players were also named on this prestigious All-State Team list compiled by the Texas Sports Writers Association.
Joining Pedro, from WEHS, are Wildcats Avery Bowen and Giovanni Barrera who both earned Honorable Mention distinctions. From Weslaco High School, Panthers Ethan Zamora and Jesse Hernandez also earned Honorable Mention distinctions.
“On behalf of the office of the Athletic Director, I congratulate our student-athletes Pedro, Avery, Giovonni, Ethan, and Jesse,” WISD Athletic Director Oscar Riojas said. “All-State recognition speaks volumes of the quality of programs WISD provides for our students. I want to congratulate our staff as well for their hard work, dedication and commitment to our students.”
Wildcats head coach is Michael Burget and Roy Stroman is head coach for the Panthers. WEHS is part of District 16-5A DI and WHS is in District 32-6A.
Nationally-acclaimed authors host virtual presentations at Margo Elementary
Readers will be rocking at Dr. R.E. Margo Elementary School this Friday, February 26 as two nationally acclaimed authors visit with students as part of the Texas Book Festival’s Reading Rock Stars program.
Author Michael Genhart who penned the picture books “Ouch! Moments: When Words Are Used in Hurtful Ways,” and “Peanut Butter and Jellyous” as well as, illustrator/author Raul The Third, will lead virtual presentations for the entire student body. These presentations are part of a hands-on literacy grant that sends nationally recognized authors into Title I schools in Texas to inspire young readers.
Margo is one of six schools in the Rio Grande Valley to receive this grant.
“It’s an honor to have been selected,” Margo Librarian Patty Avila said. “These are the things that kids remember. The students get to put a face to the books they read.”
As part of the grant, each student will receive free autographed books from the participating authors and illustrators.
“To promote reading and literacy, we encourage our students to have their own libraries at home,” Avila said. “This will help them build their libraries.”
Students are logging on and excelling in math at Memorial Elementary thanks to the online curriculum from Imagine Learning. Imagine Learning recently awarded Memorial with the 2019-2020 Imagine Nation Beacon School Award for this accomplishment.
“We are very happy for this recognition,” Perla Chavez math elementary strategist said.
Imagine Learning is a leading educational technology developer of supplemental adaptive curriculum for pre-K through 5thgrade students. Memorial is one of 97 schools from across the country to receive the Beacon School Award.
“This was a team effort,” Memorial Principal Rhonda Sellman said. “Teachers, parents and students all worked together. Parents made sure students logged on and teachers set goals and made it competitive.”
All Imagine math curriculum is aligned to the rigor of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) objectives and formatted like the STAAR test.
“The lessons create a pathway for each student,” Sellman said. “The curriculum is individualized and interactive. The lessons are engaging.”
It is the individualization of the Imagine online curriculum that is extremely helpful to students.
“The students are receiving support and remediation,” Chavez said. “This helps close the learning gaps of the students.”
Already renowned for its impeccable record, the Weslaco ISD Business Office earns yet another award. The Business Office was recently awarded with Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reportingfor detailing the district’s budget and explaining how the numbers add up.
The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) presented WISD with this certificate for its comprehensive annual financial report for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2019. This certification applauds the Business Office’s reporting of the school district’s financial dealings in an easy-to-follow format.
“We received this certification based on the preparation of the report,” Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Andres Sanchez said. “It’s an audit report. But there is additional statistical information for the past ten years.”
The report was judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive "spirit of full disclosure" to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report.
As the recipient of the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) award for 18 years, Sanchez is no stranger to reporting comprehensive budget reports. The Business Office has also received the Texas Education Agency’s highest honor “Superior Rating” for the past 18 years.
“We have good staff at the Business Office,” Sanchez said. “We need to be very careful with the taxpayer’s money and follow our procedures.”
This certificate of achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a governmental body and its management. GFOA advances excellence in government finance by providing best practices, professional development, resources, and practical research for more than 21,000 members and the communities they serve.
Weslaco ISD students make All-Area, All State band
Weslaco East High School sophomore Isabella Sanchez was recently selected to the Texas Musicians Educators Association 5A All-State Band. Sanchez was selected as first chair in trumpet to represent the entire South Texas area up to San Antonio. Sanchez submitted a live recording to the All-State panel of judges who then ranked all students.
Because of COVID restrictions, Sanchez will not be able to travel to San Antonio and perform with the All-State Band. However, because this talented young lady is only a sophomore, she will be eligible audition next year. Also, alternate to the All-State Band is Joseph Cardona from Weslaco High School who plays the euphonium.
Several high school students also earned a spot in the All-Area Band. All-Area also covers the entire South Texas area to San Antonio so the competition was intense.
From Weslaco High School, making the All-Area Band are: Antonio Sanchez, clarinet; Abraham Mireles, euphonium; and Fernando Perez, percussion. From Weslaco East High School, making All-Area Band is Julia Lopez, flute.
WEHS Band Director is Armando Cuellar and the WHS Band Director is Rodrigo Leal.
Three Weslaco ISD schools named on educational honor roll
Three Weslaco ISD schools were recently commended for their leadership in improving student
test scores. After an extensive analysis of student data for every public school in Texas,
Memorial Elementary, Cleckler-Heald Elementary and Central Middle School were named on
the 2019-2020 Educational Results Partnership (ERP) Honor Roll.
“We are super proud to be an honor roll school,” Memorial Principal Rhonda Sellman said. “We
are so excited.
ERP examined STAAR test results from the 2018-19 school year and compared performance
among disadvantaged student groups. Memorial, Cleckler-Heald and Central were among the
943 higher-performing school distinguished for closing achievement gaps for these populations.
Principals credit teamwork for this accomplishment.
“Our teachers and students worked very hard,” Cleckler-Heald Monica Vanderveer said. “The
resources available in our district attributed to the overall success of our school.”
“Our teachers strive to reach excellence in all aspects,” Central Middle School Principal Enrique
Ornelas said. “This is a reflection of that.”
“Our staff and faculty is committed to student success,” Sellman said.
Two WISD seniors win UT-Austin Impact Scholarships
It was their continuous service to their schools and community that caught the attention of the University of Texas - Austin scholarship committee. Weslaco East High School senior Mayrin Cuenca and Sasha Nicole Mendoza from Weslaco High are the recipients of the four-year $48,000 Impact Scholarship on behalf of the Longhorns.
“It’s really special that two students from Weslaco ISD were selected,” UT-Austin Valley Admissions Counselor Vanessa Garza said. “This scholarship is highly competitive. Everything the student is involved with is looked at.”
Cuenca and Mendoza are both very involved and active with several community projects.
Cuenca is part of Upward Bound Math & Science through the University of Texas-RGV. This program helps high school students prepare for college and serve the community. Over winter break, Cuenca helped make Christmas stockings for underprivileged children in Reynosa.
Cuenca is president of WEHS NHS and is also president of her senior class. She is also active in Business Professionals of America and HOSA.
As secretary of the WHS National Honor Society, Mendoza organized in a clothing drive to provide essential items for immigrants. Mendoza is also assistant chief of the Criminal Justice Club and secretary of the senior class.
Both students are thankful that this scholarship will allow them to attend UT-Austin.
“This was a big blessing,” Cuenca said. “I am really grateful.” Cuenca plans to major in accounting.
“It was very surprising for me and my family,” Mendoza said. “I was pretty stressed about the financing.” Mendoza plans to major in government and international relations.
Weslaco ISD and Hidalgo County install Free Public Wi-Fi towers
Weslaco ISD and Hidalgo County are coordinating efforts to ensure more students and citizens of Weslaco have access to free public Wi-Fi.
“It’s exciting to work together with the county on a project that can benefit our WISD students,” Executive Director of Technology Carlos Martinez said.
The WISD School Board and county officials entered into an interlocal agreement to install towers at Cleckler-Heald and Rodolfo “Rudy” Silva, Jr. elementaries and Mary Hoge Middle School. The towers will be fully operational by late February.
Wireless access points which communicate with the towers have been installed on street light poles in surrounding neighborhoods. Home devices will be able to connect to these neighborhood wireless access points to access the free public Wi-Fi.
The towers will transmit a Wi-Fi signal offering higher speed service, eliminating lag. Students would no longer need a hot spot and would be able to login any time of the day with no limit of internet bandwidth.
“Approximately 7,500 WISD students will benefit from this project,” Martinez said.
Members of the Weslaco East High School Wildcat Varsity Football Team were recently honored during the January Board Meeting for their outstanding season. The Wildcats have now been to the playoffs for 14 straight years, one shy of the Valley record. The team went undefeated and outscored their opponents 184 points to 37, to claim the district title. Weslaco East continued winning by beating Victoria East 26-23 in the Bi-District game, the Wildcats won back to back District and Bi-District titles for 2019 and 2020.
Team members are: #6 Adrian Juarez, #12 Saul Garcia, #13 Joncarlo Ortiz, #14 Roly Ramos, #16 Prospero Garcia, #22 Joseph Campos, #24 Isaiah Espinoza, # 29 Jarred Perez, #32 Zayden Montes, #34 Erik Tamez, #35 Jorge Guajardo, #36 Tristan Montes, #37 Pablo Gonzalez, #48 Sebastian Caballero, #53 Roman Gutierrez, #61 Devon Mata, #63 Joseph Perez,
#64 Isaac Gonzalez, #69 Steven Garza, #70 Jose Zavala, #80 Carlos Rodriguez, #81Beau Burget, #83 Nate Martinez
85 Kelvin Flores, #90 Aiden Zavala, #97 Gabriel Villarreal
Several players won distinctions, earning 16–5A Division I, All-District honors. From Defensive line, earning Honorable Mention are:
#55 Noe Castillo – Defensive Lineman #7 Joe Lugo – Outside Linebacker
#20 Carlos Roman – Secondary # Pedro Espinoza – Kicker
#60 Marcus Garza – Tackle #52 Ivan Ordonez – Tackle
#42 Diego Ruiz - Linebacker
These players were received All-District 2nd Team honors:
#45 Jesus Vargas – Fullback #44 Julius Gonzalez -- Fullback
These players were received All-District 2nd Team honors:
#62 Julian Gonzalez – Offensive Guard #43 David Treviño – Tight End
#84 Omari Bowen – Receiver #4 Jay Vasquez – Utility Player
These players received All-District 1st Team honors
#72 Zeke Negrete – Offensive Center #71 Marco Ochoa -- Offensive Guard
#75 Robert Torres – Offensive Tackle #3 Edward Villalobos -- Receiver
#8 John Valadez -- Fullback #23 Gio Guerra -- Tailback
The District 16-5A Division I, Offensive Lineman of the Year is #76 Pedro Posadas.
And the Offensive Most Valuable Player is #1 Avery Bowen.
Head Coach is Michael Burget was named Coach of the Year.
Coach Burget thanked his coaching staff for the great effort they put in this year. Coaches had to double up their efforts not only with coaching on the field but also with COVID-19 risk mitigation duties because the staff was short three varsity coaches. These men definitely did a great job picking up the slack. Thank you, coaches! Coach Burget would also like to thank the athletic training staff Xavier Banuelos, Tony Muñoz and Gladys Sosa for the hard work they did everyday taking care of the athletes and dealing with COVID-19 related issues.
WHS students clean up community with Love Your Neighbor project
Mosquitos and tall grass are no match for 2020 Miss Weslaco Danielle Silva and her crew of Weslaco High School student volunteers. Armed with lawn mowers, weed eaters and rakes, these students visit homes on Saturdays to help the elderly with their landscaping needs. This ‘Love Your Neighbor’ project was organized by Silva when she realized how COVID was affecting
the senior citizens in her community.
“It is especially crucial now because of this pandemic, to help our senior citizens any way we can,” Silva said. “This is also teaching my classmates about the importance of giving back and caring for those who have paved the way for us.”
Any elderly homeowner in the Weslaco area can contact Silva and make an appointment. Volunteers will mow the lawn, clear debris and pick up trash at no cost.
“Although this particular project was not mandatory as Miss Weslaco,” Silva said. “I wanted to serve my community and do something positive. The title has also helped me obtain resources for the Love Your Neighbor project. I am very thankful to Lowe’s and Home Depot of Weslaco. They donated lawnmowers and plants which were of great help.”
Although her reign as Miss Weslaco will end soon, Silva will continue to help clean yards as long as she can. All student volunteers wear masks and social distance while working on the yards.
To date, Silva and the Love Your Neighbor crew has completed eight homes. “As long as I get a call, we will be out there,” she said.
Silva can be reached through the Miss Weslaco page on Facebook or at (956) 246-9424.
Weslaco ISD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Sergio Garcia examines a shipment of masks that was recently donated by the Ford Motor Company.
WISD will distribute the 50,000 adult-sized masks to teachers and staff. Last summer, Ford Motor Company produced disposable masks to support
our nation’s manufacturing employees as they went back to work. In the process, a number of extra masks were made. Because of WISD’s affiliation with Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL), these personal protection masks were offered as a donation. The masks are valued at $.41 each.
Ford Next Generation Learning mobilizes educators, employers, and community leaders to create a new generation of young people who will
graduate from high school both college- and career-ready—an emerging workforce prepared to compete successfully in the 21st century economy.