Don’t be a bully, be a buddy. That is the message that Weslaco ISD wants to emphasize this week during Bullying Prevention and Awareness Week, November 13 – 17. WISD student representatives from each campus along with district and city officials attended the proclamation-signing event at city hall and helped ‘make noise about bullying.’
“This bullying prevention week, let us come together to have discussions about what bullying means to us, how teasing can turn into something more hurtful and what we can do to stop bullying” Student Support Services Director Dr. Cindy Cid said.
Mayor Pro-Temp J.P. Rodriguez read the anti-bullying proclamation.
“It doesn’t cost anything to be kind,” he said. “Be the one who is going to be kind and spread the kindness.”
City of Weslaco Police Chief Dr. Joel Rivera also spoke to students about the different emotional, cognitive, physical and behavioral responses to stress caused by bullying.
“Some people turn to drug use for stress management,” he said. As part of his presentation, Rivera introduced K-9 officer Shayne, a standard poodle which can detect the stress hormone cortisol in individuals and offers hugs to help reduce anxiety.
Throughout this week, students across the district will participate in activities to promote this ‘Kindness Spirit Week.’
“Together, we can make a difference and take a stand against bullying,” Dr. Cid said.
Three T 45 Goshawk military jets will depart from the Naval Air Station in Kingsville to join in the Veterans Day celebration scheduled for Wednesday, November 8 at the Weslaco ISD Bobby Lackey Stadium. Squadron 2 led by U.S. Marine Major William Frantz will fly over the stadium at approximately 11 a.m. as 300 area veterans and Gold Star families gather for a special WISD student performance which kicks off at 10 a.m.
The is the second year, the Rotary Club of Weslaco service organization and the school district collaborate to bring this event to the community.
“This is to promote patriotism among our students, because our veterans fought for our freedoms,” Rotary member Lillian Cisneros-Ochoa said. “I learned so much about veterans. We live in the best country and we need to learn to be proud to be Americans.”
Two-Star Major General David Garza of the U.S. Marine Corps will serve as the keynote speaker. Students from the Cleckler-Heald Elementary Choir, Beatriz G. Garza and Central middle school bands, as well as, A.N. (Tony) Rico and Dr. R. E. Margo cheerleaders will perform.
U.S. Navy Veteran Robert Cisneros helped coordinate the event bringing in fellow service men and women from World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
“The students need to know why we enjoy the freedoms and liberties of this country,” he said.
Middle school students and high school freshmen spent a terribly good time at the Spooktacular Career and Technical Education Program Showcase. Students were treated to free hotdogs, raspas, candy and door prizes as they toured the Joe Calvillo Career and Technology Complex. “I think the young students were able to see what CTE has to offer while having a great time,” CTE Director Lisa Gomez said. Dual credit courses, certifications and license opportunities are also available throughout the CTE programs.
From automotive technology, cosmetology and welding, parents and students were able to review the 16 different CTE programs available and even visit with members of the many extracurricular organizations. Students dressed in Halloween costumes were able to commemorate the occasion in the photo booth manned by media students. Students interested in signing up for any CTE program, may contact their school counselor and
Tiny footballs, helmets and megaphones are essential trinkets when decorating the ever-popular mums in time for the homecoming celebration this week for the Weslaco East High School. Armed with hot-glue guns and strands of beads, Weslaco ISD parent specialists gathered for this “make and take” workshop hosted by the Parent & Family Engagement Department. Through a partnership with South Texas College, instructor Sally Salinas demonstrated the steps to building the perfect mum.
“We are teaching the teachers,” PFE Coordinator Erica Garcia said. “We want our parent specialists to take this project back to their campus and train their parents.”
Campus parents will now have the opportunity to take part in this district-wide tradition.
Lattes, frappes and homemade pastries straight from the Weslaco ISD culinary kitchens are on the menu at the Young Chef’s Café now open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. WISD culinary arts students are serving these made-from-scratch goodies as part of the CTE WISD Culinary Arts curriculum. Along with the pastries and drinks, the café also serves chicken and tuna salad sandwiches and a variety of snacks including hot Cheetos with cheese, pickles and strawberry sundaes.
Working three-hour shifts, students are completing their practicum hours while receiving key insight to the food industry.
“The café is an extension of the culinary arts program,” Culinary Arts Instructor Melba Tijerina said. “Students are learning about the hospitality, front of the house; and the back of the house, the kitchen.”
Senior and four-year culinary arts student Melissa Martinez is using her experience at the café as a springboard for a career in the restaurant business.
“As a freshman I knew nothing, I was getting introduced to culinary itself,” she said. “I really liked it. I’m going to go to college and get a master’s degree in culinary arts and I want to have my own café.”
All drink and pastry recipes are tested in the kitchens before they make it on the menu. The cherry almond cookies, banana bread and brownies are made fresh for the café.
From classmates to coworkers, seniors Samantha Mendez and Lauren Perez have worked in the café since it opened in February.
“This is the hard work and dedication from the culinary arts students,” Samantha said. “Working at the café is a great opportunity for us to work with customers.”
Lauren worked in the café during the summer and finds her work rewarding.
“I love the café,” she said. “This was my first job and I loved it. Last year we helped make the apple pie frappe and we tried that drink so many times and so when people order it’s so fulfilling.”
All students working at the café have obtained certifications in food handling and management and have completed Introduction to Culinary Arts, Advanced Culinary Arts and Practicum in Culinary Arts.
The café is a joint effort by City of Weslaco and WISD which began in 2017. The Café is closed for a lunch hour break from 12:30- 1:30 p.m. The Joe V. Sanchez Public Library is located on 525 South Kansas Avenue in Weslaco.
Powerful testimony from parents of fentanyl victims helped deliver the message to stay away from drugs during the Red Ribbon Week proclamation signing at Weslaco’s city hall. Weslaco ISD students representing all campuses attended the hour-long ceremony which also included city commissioners, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and the Weslaco Police Chief.
Motivational speaker Sandra Bagwell told the students how her son unknowingly overdosed on fentanyl.
“He had goals and dreams just like you do boys and girls,” Bagwell said. Another parent also described the sudden death of her son after he ingested seven grams of fentanyl during a family cookout.
“It took him two to three minutes to die,” parent Belinda Vega said.
DPS Sergeant Guadalupe Casarez explained how lethal fentanyl can be and warned students of the consequences.
“Don’t gamble with your life,” Casarez said. “We care about you. Your lives matter.”
City Commissioner Letty Lopez led the students as they recited a pledge to live a drug free life.
WISD students will take part in district-wide activities to promote a drug-free lifestyle during the National Red Ribbon Week campaign Oct. 23 -27, following the theme: ‘Be Kind to Your Mind. Live Drug Free.’ Middle school and high school students will also take part in the curriculum during advisory periods which addresses the consequences of drugs and dangerous trends like vaping.
WISD continues a comprehensive plan to combat drug use across the district. Random drug testing for athletes, students in extracurricular activities and student drivers is policy.
Section leaders representing the Central Middle School Honors Band attended the October Regular School Board Meeting for awards and recognition.
The Band was unanimously selected to perform at the 2024 Texas Music Educators Association convention in February after a rigorous area, region and state competition process. The students will premiere state-level music that has been arranged and composed specifically to celebrate this once in a lifetime opportunity.
The Band also received the Mark of Excellence award designating Central’s music program as the “ideal” band program in the State of Texas. The Central Band program has implemented transformative elements of teamwork, student leadership, relationship building, and accountability to reach success and national recognition.
We congratulate the CMS Honors Band students, Head Band Director Moises Garza and assistants Michael Perez, Alfredo Noriega and Mario Vallejo.
Weslaco ISD celebrated National School Lunch Week last week with perfect scores for all 18 school cafeterias. The City of Weslaco recently conducted health inspections and awarded each cafeteria with a perfect score of 100.
Food and Nutrition Services Director Becky Gracia credits the vigilant cafeteria managers at each campus for this accomplishment.
“It is a proud moment,” Food & Nutrition Service Director Becky Gracia said. “It’s nice that their hard work is acknowledged.”
Temperature control, sanitation, cleanliness and product rotation procedures were reviewed at each school cafeteria.
“Our cafeteria managers are very strict,” Gracia said. “Our district is always in compliance.”
The city inspections take place twice a year in an effort to ensure food safety.
One missed beat and the entire show can collapse. That is the awesome responsibility of our high school drum majors who will take the lead during the annual Battle of the Bands better known as the Pigskin Jubilee to be held Saturday, October 14 at the Bobby Morrow Stadium in San Benito. Giving down beats, keeping tempo and tracking hundreds of band students on the football field is the job of six very dedicated high school students.
Leading the Weslaco East High School Wildcat Regiment are Head Drum Major Aysla Treviño with Omar Garcia and Andrea Garcia as Assistant Drum Majors.
At the head of the Weslaco High School Panther Corps are Head Drum Major Lilee Garza and Carolina Salas and Reynaldo Cavazos as Assistant Drum majors.
These band leaders have adapted well to their roles.
“Being in charge, everything falls on you,” Aysla said. “We are here to support each other.”
The 110-member Regiment will perform “By Any Other Name.” This four-movement show is based on the Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet play and features music from Seal and Libertango.
The Panther Corps’ show is “After Dark” featuring the Beatles’ song, “Eleanor Rigby.” The 276-member Corps will perform three movements for a total of eight minutes.
“It’s a very mysterious show,” Lilee said.
The Regiment and Corps have fine-tuned the music and visuals in preparation for Pigskin and everyone is gunning for a Division I rating.
Recent changes now allow bands to compete for State every year. Only the top 40 marching bands qualify to compete at State with three spots designated for Valley schools.
“It is physically and mentally demanding,” Aysla said. “But I’m really excited to show them our show.”
Everyone is looking forward for the opportunity to go to State
“We’ve been practicing so hard,” Lilee said. “I know we got this.”
Over 1,200 Weslaco ISD middle school and high school students are currently working toward college credit this semester with advanced placement courses through the Advanced Academics program. WISD encourages students to enroll in pre-AP and AP courses at no cost.
“Our district shows its commitment to our students by offering these courses free of charge,” AA Coordinator Melissa Rodriguez said. “The AP exams, tuition and textbooks are paid for by the district.”
Advanced Placement courses prepare students for the national exam and can earn college credit depending on the score. A student enrolled in a chemistry AP class will take the exam in May and receive college credit before graduation. Most universities accept a score of three or higher, allowing the student to accumulate several college credits before they step foot on the campus.
Beginning in middle school, all students are eligible to take on these advanced courses.
“A common misconception is that advanced academics is exclusive,” Rodriguez said. “Pre-AP, AP classes and UT OnRamps are open enrollment.”
OnRamps offers courses from the University of Texas at Austin.
Over 100 teachers across the district in grades K-12 serve the Advanced Academics program to highlight the Gift and Talented, Advanced Placement, OnRamps, Dual and Concurrent enrollment opportunities for students.
The faculty kicked off the semester with a workshop to enhance all advanced academics services.
“They were present for a meet and greet, collaborative discussions over fidelity of services, alignment of content curriculum and instruction, program platform use, best practices, and support systems in place,” Rodriguez said. “We met to create awareness of the mission, vision, and goals of the Advanced Academics Department and to recognize the hard work of our advanced academics teachers.”
Two Weslaco high school students have great “What I did this summer” accounts after
returning from the 2023 National Council for Community and Education Partnerships/GEAR UP
Annual Conference held in San Francisco earlier this month.
Seniors Kleber Coronado from Weslaco East High School and Weslaco High School senior Sophia
Garza joined over 150 students during the three-day Youth Leadership Summit sponsored by
the ACT Center for Equity in Learning.
The Summit focused on learning innovative ways to create a college-going culture targeting a
student population that may not be attending college. The students discussed race, mental
health, gun violence, post-secondary issues that were identified as obstacles to a college career.
The conference concluded with a student performance. “I was excited to meet new people and learn new things,” Sophia said. “The highlight of the
event was when we performed on the stage in front of over 2000 people on the last day of the
conference. The most challenging part was coming up with the skit because it was about mental
health and that is a topic that is not talked about enough.”
Parents joined the students during the summit. “We discussed how we can help our students be more involved, help them prepare for college,”
Sophia’s mom, Laura Garza said.
Parents reviewed how a student’s grade point average (GPA) is calculated and the significance
of the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Test.
Overall, Garza is thankful for the opportunity to attend this conference. “I never thought that this was possible, it was beyond my dreams. I hope she realizes that she
can overcome any obstacles,” she said.
Kleber’s mom Lizette Esparza found the financial aid information very helpful. “I didn’t know he can graduate with zero debt in tuition,” she said. “I feel happy, excited. We
appreciate the opportunity to attend this conference.”
Kleber recently left IDEA academy during the second semester and enrolled at WEHS. “They found the right path for him, he was so stressed out. His attitude changed and he feels at
Student Support Services Director Dr. Cindy Cid spearheaded the conference. “This was an eye-opening experience for our students,” Dr. Cid said. “They joined students
from all over the nation and didn’t know what to expect. They were surrounded by kids just like
them. The main thing our students need to realize is your background doesn’t matter. They can
be successful in college.”
Members of the Class of 2027 will have an opportunity to tour the high schools, meet administrators and get to know upperclassmen during freshmen orientation.
Weslaco High School will host the Fish Camp, tomorrow, August 11. Students with last names from A – Lopez are scheduled for 8:30 – 10:15 a.m. and students with last names from Lozano – Z are scheduled from 1 – 2:45 p.m. Weslaco East High School will conduct its Wildcat Welcome, 8 a.m. to 12 noon, Friday, August 18.
“For our incoming Wildcats, we want to, first of all welcome them to our great school and showcase the amazing campus they are now part of,” WEHS Principal Dr. David Gamboa said. “During this time, we want students to meet fellow Wildcats who have been part of our school for the past couple of years.”
During the event, students will get the opportunity to know where their classes will be taking place, participate in a scavenger hunt, review student handbook, identify which clubs and organizations they can be part of but most importantly, establish relationships that will help them become successful at the high school level, Gamboa said.
Weslaco ISD recently welcomed about 60 new teachers and other professionals during the annual New Employee Luncheon as a culmination of a two-day orientation for new employees. With the first day of school fast approaching, this orientation provides essential training to prepare staff for the new school year.
“We are projecting an increase in enrollment,” Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Janie D. Rodriguez said. “We are making every effort to hire certified, high quality teachers so that our students are ready from the first day of school.”
During the orientation, new staff received Title IV training, signed up for benefits and reviewed the different processes in place at the district. New teachers also reviewed the overall curriculum structure of WISD.
A $10 million grant will help Weslaco ISD ensure that students have a successful new school year with the return of the Afterschool Centers in Education (ACE) program. This after-school program will provide additional tutoring for elementary students.
“We will be servicing those students that are in need of academic assistance,” ESSER Program Coordinator Katie Reyes said. “We are continuing to address the learning loss that we’ve experienced due to COVID.”
One of the objectives for the ACE program is to increase reading and math scores.
“We want to target these areas and service the families in need of after school programs,” Reyes said.
All elementary schools will offer the ACE program with high-impact tutoring and enrichment activities, Monday – Friday after each school day with meals included.
In addition to academic assistance, the program will also target attendance and increase student and family engagement.
ACE is funded by the recently acquired Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant which provides $2 million over five years.
Students have already been enrolled for the upcoming school year, but parents can expect registration information for the ACE program closer to the beginning of the 2023-24 school year.
The ACE program was part of the WISD curriculum from 2016 to 2021 and served over 1,000 students each year.
Mentoring, helping, and inspiring students and colleagues to continue their education and pursue their dreams is a passion project for one Weslaco ISD assistant principal. As a recent recipient of a doctorate in Educational Administration and Leadership from Walden University, Dr. Araceli Chavarín hopes to not only impact females at Weslaco East High School but across the state.
Dr. Chavarín recently led a session at the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals Summer Workshop this week. She presented “Women Superintendents’ Mentoring Experiences and Attainment of the Superintendency” during the 100th anniversary conference making a mark in history for Weslaco ISD and TASSP.
“Presenting to educators at a state conference was a dream come true for me,” she said. “The purpose of my session was to motivate women educators to continue their education, to better navigate their leadership journey, and to take an active role in creating social change.”
As an immigrant, Dr. Chavarín understands the unique challenges that minorities and females face.
“If I could earn a doctoral degree, you could do it, too,” she said. “I hope to inspire others through my lived experiences, my practice, and my research. It is important to be aware of the obstacles that women face, to learn from the women who have trailblazed before us, and to pay it forward by mentoring, helping, and celebrating young women who aspire to lead.”
It’s graduation season across Weslaco ISD and while many parents cheer on their students, some parents are wearing caps and gowns themselves.
The Parent and Family Engagement Department held a graduation ceremony for WISD parents who recently completed the U.S. citizenship course.
“I am so proud of our parents,” Parent and Family Engagement Coordinator Erica Garcia said. “There are so many obstacles that our parents had to overcome, from child care to work and family responsibilities. They made a lot of sacrifices and they are now eligible to take the exam.”
During the course, parents met twice a week and reviewed history, civics and English with instructor Ludivina Hernandez. To complete the naturalization process and become U.S. citizens, the graduates must pass the exam, a criminal background check and be interviewed by an officer of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Special guest speakers during the ceremony included Cynthia Escamilla, Texas A & M Director and Laura Matamoros, Office of Congressman Vicente Gonzalez.
Several Weslaco ISD seniors recently earned their associate degrees from South Texas College before receiving their high school graduation. By taking part in dual enrollment courses, WISD students save in tuition and fees and can join the workforce or continue their education towards a bachelor’s degree at a university.
“By providing this opportunity, Weslaco ISD is able to be on the cutting-edge of the competitive workforce and college readiness,” CTE Early College High School counselor Martha Guerrero said. “Not only do our students and their families benefit by saving them time and tuition but it transforms communities.”
Seniors from the CTE Early College High School who earned Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice are: Mayrin Alvizo, Yamileth Gallegos Gaytan, Marieanna Jinae Garzez, Fabiola Gonzalez, Fatima Gonzalez, Jaime Javier Hernandez, Alexandra Renee Lopez and Rebekah Rae Matias. Earning an Associate Degree in Advanced Manufacturing Technology are: Joseph Efrain Bautista, Christian Manuel De La Cruz, Carlos Jaimes, Fabian Angel Montez, Julian Andre Ortiz, Marcos Antonio Serna and Vianey Vasquez. Jose Lorenzo Martinez completed an Associate Degree in Welding Technology.
From Weslaco East High School, earning an Associate of arts degree in Criminal Justice are Diana Sophia Villagomez Barajas and Tailyn Marie Lara. Briana Zuniga and Giselle Anahi Cerda received their Associate of Arts in Business Administration. Students earning an Associate of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies are: Adrian David Alejandro, Briana Lynn Brockington, Jorge Castillo, Marcus Andre Castro, Jesus Omar De Hoyos, Andrea Marie Garcia, Carlos Esiquel Garcia, Leonel Jorge Cano, Catherine Karol Lopez, Aleksander Daniel Marquez, Hector Montemayor, Raven Star Ozuna, Brianna Dalay Padron, Gael Romo, Miguel Nahum and Anthony Eloy Villanueva.
Weslaco High School seniors earning an Associate of Science in Biology are Adali Longoria and Dominica Ramirez. Xavier Morales and Divany Pruneda earned Associate of Arts in Business Administration; Eloy Rodriguez and Melany Villarreal earned an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice. Earning Associate of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies are: Jonathan Maher Almansur, Jorge Antonio Benitez, Judah Isaiah Castillo, Litzy Cedillo, Georgina Nereida Chavez, Sophia Anahi Cisneros, Claudette Marie Cruz, Antonio De Anda, Dariana Garza, Brian Anthony Gift, Jacob Gutierrez Salas, Joshua Andrew Handy, Cristina Jazmin Hernandez, Salah Hernandez, Serina Nicole Hernandez, Javier Horta, Emma Sky Jackson, Alberto Jara, Samantha Olivia Jimenez, Kassandra Rae Loera, Petter Magallon, Cynthia Alicia Marin, Kassidy Marie Martinez, Edson Medina Mireles, Jaelyn Ariel Nevarez, Alicia Ofelia Nino, Camille Alexa Ornelas, Emilio Ornelas, Bryan Padilla, Kaitlyn Nicole Peña, Francisco Javier Riojas, Kennedy Candence Rivera, Jessell Nicolle Rodriguez, Jocelyn Saucedo-Rodriguez, Audrey Loren Silva, Stephanie Micelle Silva, Tristen Joseph Solis, Ediberto Uvalle, Oscar Emilio Valenzuela-Lopez and Salma Alejandra Velasquez.
The sky is the limit for Weslaco High School Valedictorian Alan Garcia and Eliza Gonzalez who were recently awarded with the Gates Millennium Scholarship.
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this scholarship program provides recipients with full tuition to any university of their choice. To qualify for this Gates Scholarship, students must have a 3.5 GPA and complete a months-long process of applications, resumes and interviews. This year, 51,000 students applied and only 750 students from across the country are selected as Gates Scholars.
“I’m excited that I am not limited to what I can do,” Alan said. “If I want to study abroad it will be covered.”
Alan will attend the University of Texas – Austin this fall and plans to major in biomedical engineering.
“I am very interested in 3-D organ printing,” Alan said. “I will be combining two fields that I am interested in: biology and engineering.”
Eliza will also be attending UT-Austin in hopes of becoming a neonatal nurse.
“I am excited to start my career path,” she said. “I can focus on my studies and not think about tuition.”
Aside from graduating at the top of his class, Alan was active in tennis, the Panther Corps drumline, and was an officer in Business Professionals of America and the National Honor Society. He also competed in DECA and UIL. Eliza was Head Drum Major of the Panther Corps and was active in BPA, NHS, HOSA and DECA.
The regional champion is focused on the top prize.
“I want to win the gold medal,” she said.
Weslaco High School senior Lily Ford will have that opportunity when she heads to the National Family Career and Community Leaders of America Conference in Colorado July 3 – 6. Lily will compete in the Job Interview Event Level III.
Through this competition, Lily has learned skills that serve her beyond the classroom.
“It’s teaching me very employable skills,” she said. “I feel less nervous for interviews.”
For her event, Lily prepared an electronic portfolio including a cover letter, application, resume, and references which she presented as a 32-page PowerPoint. The competition also included a 15-minute interview with the panel of judges.
Lily won first place at the FCCLA Regional Conference held in Corpus Christi and placed second at State, qualifying for the national conference.
Although Lily has only competed in FCCLA for two years, her FCCLA sponsor Mary Martin has seen a lot growth.
“She has to do a lot for the competition,” Martin said. “To see her gain her confidence, has been great. She is so good.”
Lily has been recently accepted to Cornell University in New York State where she will major in Agrieconomics.
The Weslaco ISD fine arts program is being honored with national recognition as it observes ‘Celebrate the Arts’ Month with a fiesta this Friday.
WISD recently received the Best Communities for Music Education designation from the NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.
“It’s a great honor to continue the tradition of excellent music teaching,” Fine Arts Director Christopher Fernandez said. “The district has a robust music program through K – 12 which is diverse, rich in culture and heritage.”
The distinction comes as the WISD fine arts program prepares for the Flor Y Canto event to be held from 5 – 10 p.m. Friday, May 5 at La Plazita Park in Weslaco.
“It’s perfect timing,” Fernandez said. “What a way to demonstrate what this award is all about than with student live performances.”
To qualify for the Best Communities designation, WISD answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs.
Today, the Weslaco ISD School Board approved Dr. Richard Rivera as Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Rivera was named Interim Superintendent in December of 2022. An employment contract was approved today during a special called board meeting. Congratulations Dr. Rivera!!!
The sounds of song and dance will once again fill the La Plazita Park where Weslaco ISD will be center stage for the inaugural Flor Y Canto Cinco de Mayo celebration, Friday, May 5, from 5 – 10 p.m. Elementary, middle school and high school fine arts students will lead the event with live performances. The Weslaco East High School student Tejano band “Conjunto Salvage” will headline the festivities.
“With this celebration, we hope to be able to show the community what fine arts and the performing arts are about at Weslaco ISD,” WISD Fine Arts Director Christopher Fernandez said. “By joining forces with the city, we will not only showcase our student talent but engage the community as well.”
The event will help showcase La Plazita Park which recently underwent a renovation.
“The City of Weslaco is proud to partner with WISD Fine Arts Department to celebrate Cinco de Mayo during the “Flor y Canto” event with the best performers Weslaco ISD has to offer,” Mayor David Suarez said. “We hope the citizens of Weslaco will come out and enjoy the beautiful performances during the inaugural event of Weslaco’s renewed La Plazita Park.”
This event may kick off a new era for the park.
“This is an underserved neighborhood,” Fernandez said. “We hope this brings the celebration of community back to La Plazita for years to come.”
Flor Y Canto also highlights the district’s Celebrate the Arts Month underway throughout the district in May.
“The Arts transcend our demographics and unites us in our humanity,” Fernandez said. “Our cultural heritage is so rich.”
The event will also serve as a fundraiser with food booths, games and arts and crafts. Three-time world boxing champion Brandon “Heartbreaker” Figueroa is scheduled for a special appearance and a fireworks display will conclude the festivities.
La Plazita Park is located on 310 Kansas Street in Weslaco.
The Weslaco ISD School Board announced Dr. Richard Rivera as the lone finalist for Superintendent of the Weslaco Independent School District during a special board meeting held today at noon. Dr. Rivera had been serving as the Interim Superintendent of Schools since December 2022.
Dr. Rivera is reprising his role as WISD Superintendent after a 12-year absence.
Rivera first joined WISD in 1967 as a classroom teacher and coach. In 1974, Rivera became principal Mary Hoge Junior High School, serving for five years. In 1979, he became principal at Weslaco High School and held that position for 17 years before becoming Superintendent in 1996.
In 2008, Rivera completed his doctoral in Educational Leadership indicating once again, his dedication to education. His message was clear: “Education is the great equalizer.”
Rivera retired as superintendent in 2011 and returned to serve on the WISD School Board in 2012 where he helped set policy for the district. After an eight-year stint on the board, Rivera stepped down and did not seek reelection in 2020. Rivera went on to serve as superintendent for Edcouch-Elsa, Mercedes and Monte Alto school districts.
With over 55 years of experience in education, Dr. Rivera will continue to serve the community of Weslaco ISD. Many of his former students have returned to Weslaco to become teachers, principals, administrators, coaches and city leaders, some serving on the school board alongside him.
Bean the Cat is at it again. Beatriz G. Garza Middle School teacher Rey Banda recently won another award for his children’s book “Bean Saves the Day.” This time, the 7th grade special education teacher won second place at the 2023 Spring BookFest Awards in the Fiction-Children’s-Animal category.
“Being selected as a winner of The BookFest Awards in an incredible honor,” Banda said. “I am grateful to be recognized for the hard work and dedication that went into creating “Bean Saves the Day.” I hope this award will inspire others to pursue their own literary passions.”
Bean is a special needs cat who is afraid of thunderstorms yet overcomes this fear when he finds himself in danger during a storm.
Banda said the book encourages readers to conquer their fears and overcome obstacles. This courage can come from anywhere, even a cat.
“I also wanted to let readers know that special needs animals can live a normal life and deserve to be in a loving home,” he said.
In 2021, Banda and ‘Bean’ won the Distinguished Favorite award in the animals-pets category at the New York City Big Book Award. Bean also won the 2021 annual Best Book award from the American Book Fest for the categories of Animals/Pets: General and Children’s Picture Book: Softcover Fiction. He also won the 2021 Latino Book Bronze award for Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book, the International Press Award and Purple Dragon Book award among others.
Banda’s other published works include: “Bean’s New Home,” and “Northopolis: Ryan’s Christmas Dream.” These books have also received literary recognition.
The BookFest is the leader in virtual literary events and produces vital conversations on the world’s stage for those who love to read and those who love to write. It launched May 2020 at a time when lockdown forced many live events to be cancelled. The BookFest features an array of literary speakers, experts and authors.
The Weslaco ISD Parent and Family Engagement Office is hosting a series of Parent Academy Workshops to address mental health issues that are impacting many district students and families.
“After COVID, parents needed a lot of support,” Parent and Family Engagement Coordinator Erica Garcia said. “A lot of families lost someone to COVID and many also lost their jobs and with the kids at home there was a lot of anxiety.”
The workshops address social emotional issues that can impact academic performance. After a hiatus, the district began to offer these workshops last year online and parents quickly turned to each other for support.
“Parents needed an outlet and support from each other,” Garcia said. “Last year, parents began to bounce ideas off each other and so we decided to encourage that interaction this year now that our workshops are in person.”
Parent specialists from different campuses will lead the workshops.
“Our parent specialists are trained in practical parenting education,” Garcia said.
Parent Workshops scheduled are:
· Wednesday, April 5 – Creating Family Memories, Traditions, Rituals and Routines
· Tuesday, April 18 – Understanding the Family System as a Whole
· Tuesday, May 2 – Dealing with Stress in the Family
· Tuesday, May 9 – Building a Powerful Parenting Role to Prevent Youth Substance Abuse
“Each class has its own flavor,” Garcia said. “Each workshop is individually tailored to the subject matter, some include a ‘make and take’ activity.”
Parents are encouraged to attend the entire series of workshops, however; they may attend any of their choosing. Each parent workshop is held at the WISD Advocacy Center located next to the Susan M. Peterson Performing Arts Center located on 609 East 6th St. All workshops begin at 10:00 a.m.