Weslaco ISD would like to thank United Way and Plains Capital Bank in Weslaco for their recent donation of school supplies to A. N. (Tony) Rico Elementary School. During the two-week ‘Fill a Backpack’ collection drive, bank employees and customers brought in much needed school items. WISD would like to thank the community for supporting our students!
Pictured from left are: Plains Capital Bank Branch Manager Thelma Losoya, WISD Parent & Family Engagement Director Erica Garcia, Rico Principal Jennifer Luna, United Way representative, Eloise Alvizo and Vice President Regional Retail Manager Adan Ortiz.
Weslaco ISD has implemented a multifaceted approach for students who may be experiencing mental health issues stemming from the COVID-19 global pandemic. The district’s social emotional learning plan addresses students’ mental well-being now that they have returned to school.
According to WISD Counseling Director Dr. Cynthia Cid, last year’s shutdown significantly impacted the students’ school and home life routines.
“National screenings indicate that children and adolescents are the ones who emotionally struggled the most during the pandemic,” she said. “Our students have experienced so much- stress, worry and grief. These are stressors that may lead to mental health challenges.”
With schools closed, many students struggled with online learning and social isolation; and if a parent lost employment because of the shutdown, the difficulties compounded, she said. The district-wide social emotional learning plan begins in the classroom.
“Our teachers have received or in the process of receiving training on social emotional learning to be able to teach students the skills and knowledge needed to set their goals, manage emotions, empathize with others, maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with others, and make constructive and responsible decisions,” Dr. Cid said.
Teachers and other staff members should be able to identify signs of mental health issues and make the necessary referral to counselors. Counselors also provide lessons every week to all students across grade levels to encourage students to seek help if they are having anxiety and other mental health issues.
“The weekly guidance lessons are purposeful and the counselors try their best to make it relevant and fun,” she said. “As a result, the lessons have been well received by the students.”
Currently, the district will expand personnel to provide additional resources for students.
“We are in the process of hiring six licensed professional counselors to help address the mental health challenges students are experiencing, especially at this time,” she said. “Resources for social emotional learning and mental health are also available on the district website.”
Weslaco ISD is saddened by the news of Valley legendary, multisport star Bobby Lackey’s passing. Lackey’s legacy with the Weslaco Panthers and Texas Longhorns is well-established. He excelled in football, basketball and baseball.
Lackey is best known for taking the 1955 football team to the Class 2A state semifinals, earning him First Team All-State honors. Lackey won multiple championships and numerous honors in baseball and basketball where he was named First Team All-State.
In honor of his numerous athletic accomplishments, Weslaco High School named the gymnasium after Lackey in the mid 1970s. In September 2002, Weslaco ISD renamed the football facility after Bobby Lackey. The WHS athletic program also honors the top male athlete with the Bobby Lackey Award every year.
Lackey went on to excel as a star quarterback for the Texas Longhorns. He was the first Longhorn to be on the cover of the Sports Illustrated magazine.
Weslaco’s favorite son also contributed to the community as a member of the city council from 1964-69 and the Weslaco ISD School Board from 1968-1974.
He was inducted to UT Hall of Honor in 1977, the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and to the Texas High School Sports Hall of Fame 2011.
Weslaco High School 2021 graduate Emma L. Arndt recently completed Cadet Basic Training (CBT) at the U.S. Military Academy. Arndt entered West Point on June 28 and has successfully completed six weeks of CBT. CBT is one of the most challenging events a cadet will encounter over the course of their four years at the academy.
“I am super proud of her,” WHS Track Coach Pablo Almaguer said. “She has always been a warrior.” Arndt ran track for four years and was instrumental in securing consecutive district championships, maintaining the nine-year winning streak at WHS.
“I knew she could do it,” he said. “She has always been an overachiever and I am so proud to have her represent our school, our community and our country.”
The initial military program provides cadets with basic skills to instill discipline, pride, cohesion, confidence and a high sense of duty to prepare them for entry into the Corps of Cadets. Areas of summer instruction included first aid, mountaineering, hand grenades, rifle marksmanship and nuclear, biological and chemical training.
Arndt began classes Aug. 16. The West Point curriculum offers 36 majors balancing physical sciences and engineering with humanities and social sciences leading to a Bachelor of Science degree. Arndt plans to graduate from West Point in 2025 and be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Although she hasn’t declared a major, Arndt is interested in military intelligence and foreign affairs.
Arndt joins another WISD graduate at the U.S. Military Academy. Weslaco East High School 2020 graduate Mario Treviño is beginning his second year at West Point. He is interested in chemical engineering and hopes to go into aviation. He will graduate in 2024.
Arndt is the daughter of Eric and Kara Arndt and Treviño is the son of Jesse and Dr. Edith Treviño.
Weslaco ISD students received the red-carpet treatment at Sam Houston Elementary as they made their way to class on the first day of school this Monday morning. Weslaco city streets were busy once again with school buses and parents taking their children to school as thousands of WISD students began the 2021-22 school year. At Sam Houston Elementary, cheerleaders and a DJ helped celebrate the first day.
The Weslaco ISD School Board recognized several students for their exceptional performance on the AP exams during the August Regular School Board Meeting held Aug. 9.
Only a small percentage of the millions of students worldwide who took the AP exams performed at a sufficiently high level to earn an AP Scholar award. Our students enrolled in college-level courses while still in high school to earn college credit, advanced placement, or both.
From Weslaco High School, Joseph D. Cardona and Mia R. Cavazos
received the AP Scholar with Distinction award.They had an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken and scored a 3 or higher on five or more exams.
Caleb L. King and Aaron Puentealso from WHS earned the AP Scholar with Honor award. These students averaged a score of at least 3.25 on all AP exams taken and scored a 3 or higher on four or more exams.
From Weslaco East High School,receiving recognition as AP Scholarsare: Victoria E. Cruz, Alexa Lujan, Roxana Morales Sobrevilla, Rene Tamez. From WHS, AP Scholars are:Joaquin S. Barron, Antonia Borjas, Miguel A. Cepeda, Marina L. Garcia, Romie N. Garza, David Gutierrez, Eileen D. Irisson, Clarissa Jasso, Sasha N. Mendoza, Matthew R. Moore, Brian R. Peña, Yamileth Rivera, Ashley Rodriguez, Luis Salazar, Henry Sander and Emily A. Van Tilburg.
These students completed three or more AP exams with scores of 3 or higher in subjects that include Biology, Chemistry, World History and English Literature.
Weslaco ISD recently named Dr. Criselda Valdez as Interim Superintendent during a special board meeting held Thursday, August 5. The former WISD principal previously served as assistant superintendent in Garland ISD and interim superintendent in Mission CISD. She is replacing Superintendent Dr. Priscilla Canales who announced her retirement.
Valdez began her teaching career in WISD as an ESL teacher at Weslaco High School in 1992. She went on to earn the Region One Secondary Teacher of the Year Award in 2001. Valdez then took on several administrative positions at WISD as assistant principal, bilingual/ESL coordinator before being named principal at Rodolfo “Rudy” Silva Elementary. During her seven-year tenure at Silva, her campus earned several TEA distinctions.
“Born and raised in Weslaco, this is not just a job for me, but my life’s work,” Valdez said. “I am honored to serve in this capacity. Educators here played a big role in the kind of educator I am today.”
Valdez said she is looking forward to kicking off the year.
“I am looking forward to launching a successful start to the school year,” she said. “Our students are coming back for the first time. The children are my priority.”
Weslaco ISD students returned home with 17 gold medals, nine silver and six bronze after competing in the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Regional Track Meet recently. A total of 25 student-athletes advanced to the TAAF State Track and Field Meet to be held in Corpus Christi beginning July 29.
“Our students did great job coming to practice every day and putting in the work,” Coach Juan Nava said. “Although it was a short season, they did extremely well at regionals.”
Only the top four in each event at regionals advance to state and the top three state finishers advance to nationals. Students competed in different age divisions.
“Many of our athletes have a great chance of qualifying for nationals,” Nava said.
Gold medalists are Sienna Perez, 50, 100 meters; Juan Valdez, 4x100 relay; Maverick Muñiz, 4x100 meter relay, high jump and bronze in long jump; Jace Cavazos, 4x100 meter relay, Caleb Marines, 4x100 relay and silver in 400 meters; Olivia Hoskins, long jump and silver in 100 meters; Seth Moya, high jump and silver in long jump, Alexander Nava, 800, 1600 meters and bronze in 400 meters; Aaron Nava, 1600 meter, and silver in 800, 3200 meters; Josiah Estrada, 800 meters, and bronze in the 1600 meters; Jon Garcia, 100 meters; Michael Vela, high jump; and Sebastian Flores, triple jump, 4x400 relay and silver 400 meters.
Silver medalists are Camile Perez, long jump and bronze in 200 meters; and Justus Padilla, long jump and 400 meters. Bronze medalists are Finn Perez, 400 meters; and Carlissa Cuellar, high jump.
Other state qualifiers include: Jacob Becerra, 400 meters; Annisa Hernandez, 400 meters; Joshia Rodriguez, 3200 meters; Madison Zuniga, 4x100 relay; Cateleya Salazar, 4x100 relay; Aliyana Garcia, 4x100 relay; Kiana Cantu, 4x100 relay; Julianna Sanchez, 100 meters; Michael Medrano, 1600 meters; and Brandon Marines, long jump.
The state track meet will be held at Cabaniss Stadium in Corpus Christi.
IN PHOTO -
Pictured in front, from left, Olivia Hoskins, Camile Perez, Finn Perez, Sienna Perez, Juan Valdez, Maverick Muniz, Jace Cavazos, Caleb Marines, Brandon Marines and Carlissa Cuellar.
Back, coaches Abram Maldonado and Jenna Martinez, Seth Moya, Aaron Nava, Michael Medrano, Josiah Estrada, Anissa Hernandez, Alexander Nava, coaches Destinee Longoria and Amity Ebarb. Not pictured: Jon Garcia, Michael Vela, Sebastian Flores, Joshia Rodriguez, Jacob Becerra, Madison Zuniga, Cataleya Salazar, Aliyana Garcia, Kiana Cantu and Julianna Sanchez.
Weslaco High School junior Lily Ford led fellow Future Farmers of America members in the first in-person leadership camp as president of the Citrus Valley FFA District.
“It was exciting to welcome everyone back,” Ford said. “This was the first time we all came together in-person.”
The Citrus Valley District encompasses FFA charters from high schools in PSJA, Mission and Weslaco.
“We wanted to have fun so the theme for our first meeting was ‘aloha’ a Hawaiian theme,” she said.
During camp, students attended breakout sessions dealing with communication, teamwork and etiquette. The sessions included activities to help develop students' confidence and leadership skills.
As the FFA charters prepare for the upcoming school year, recruitment is a priority.
“We lost a lot of student participation during COVID,” Ford said. “We will continue to work to increase membership.”
Weslaco East High School sophomore Angela Torres who serves treasurer was a team leader during the camp.
FFA leadership camps provide members the opportunity to focus on their leadership skills and personal growth. The Citrus Valley Leadership Camp was held in Mission High School.
The recipient of the WISD A+ Award for the month of May is someone who stepped up to help those in need while helping students understand what community service is all about.
This individual has contributed to the growth, success and improvement of the Weslaco East High School Ag and FFA programs. Through his work, WEHS obtained grant monies from the National FFA organization to fund the cultivation of four acres of vegetables. Students learned how to grow and harvest vegetables during the pandemic and were able to donate the produce to locate food banks, churches and restaurants.
This teacher also helped raise awareness on hunger and nutrition through collaborative work with the city, teaching his FFA students valuable lessons about serving people in need.
From the Weslaco East High School, the A+ Employee of the Month is John Romo.
The Weslaco ISD Migrant Department recently recognized all high school migrant students graduating this year. Parents and school district officials gathered to celebrate this remarkable accomplishment at the USDA Building recently.
“They have earned this moment,” Title One Migrant Director George Lopez said. “These students will now forge forward and earn a degree.”
Former migrant students and now alumni from Michigan State University and St. Edward’s University spoke to the students during the ceremony. MSU graduates Carla Castillo and Melissa Morales, along with Jennifer Trevino from St. Edward’s described their journey to academic success.
“Students can see that others who shared in the same circumstances can achieve their academic goals and be successful,” Lopez said. “All our migrant students can earn college degrees if that is what they want.”
Over 60 migrant students received a certificate of achievement.
From CTE Early College High School students are: Natalie Herrera, Alejandro Moreno and Jose Olivarez.
Representing South Palm Gardens High School are Marlea Aguirre, Adelynn Castillo, Angel M. Charles, Jose M. Delgado, Vanessa Escorza, Victoria Figueroa, Karen Gomez, Emily Gonzalez, Jonathan Guerra, Jesus F. Hernandez, Citali Jimenez, Gladis Jimenez, Mark A. Moreno, Alexia A. Olvera, Lucio Ramos, Jose Rodriguez, Lucio Ruiz, Juan P. Sanchez, Raul Torres and Zaida Zamora.
From Weslaco East High School, students are Jorge Acevedo, Javier Alcala, Andres Garcia, Juany Gomez, Fabian Hernandez, Janelly Hernandez, Saul Hernandez, Ashley Herrera, Brittany Lara, Jesse Macias, Arturo Velasquez, Jose Perez, Joel Ramos, Jose W. S. Campos, Andre Villela, Martin Zamarripa and Jazlyn Zertuche.
From Weslaco High School, students are: Isabella Aldava, Melanie Becerra, Myrka Blanco, Justin Calderon, Daisy Cisneros, Luis De La Mora, Sergio Loera, Jocelyn Lopez, Yarely Marroquin, Luis A. Martinez, Isaiah Ramos, Shelby Ramos, Jaelynn Rocha, Audrey Rodriguez, Jose A. Rojas, Perla Rubio, Sydney Ruiz, Luis Salazar, Manuel Salazar, Javier A. Vasquez and Marcus Gonzalez.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.”