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melba Tijerina
 
melba Tijerina

With over 40 years of teaching experience, WISD Culinary Arts Instructor Melba Tijerina easily surpasses any requirement for a lifetime achievement award.  Tijerina joins top educators from across the state of Texas who were recently selected as finalists for the 2024 HEB Excellence in Education awards program.

“It’s part of our pillars,” HEB Public Affairs Specialist Audrey Treviño said.  “We’re ensuring that we continue to honor our public educators.”  

HEB representatives along with HEBuddy stopped by Tijerina’s classroom to present a $1000 check to her and her campus, Weslaco High School.

“I am overwhelmed,” Tijerina said.  “How can you grasp this, it’s impossible. It’s very important that my students are a part of this.”

Her students have been at the forefront since Tijerina first joined WISD.

Tijerina began her career 22 years ago as a Family and Consumer Science teacher at South Palm Gardens High School.  The class was absorbed by the fledgling Culinary Arts program that consisted of 30 students on half days.  This program now encompasses a four-year curriculum and 200 students thanks to Tijerina’s leadership and direction.

“I get a lot of my drive and passion from my students,” she said. 

 As a finalist for the Lifetime Achievement – Secondary Award, Tijerina may win a $25,000 cash award for herself and a $25,000 grant for her school.  Tijerina was part of 1,900 educators who were nominated for the HEB Education in Excellence Awards. The group was narrowed to 150 and after serval panel reviews, Tijerina was named one of five finalists.   

Tijerina has already put the $1000 grant to good use.

“We just purchased an expresso machine for the mobile café,” she said.

A mobile café is just the latest project Tijerina has added to the Culinary Arts program. The mobile café is an offshoot of the Young Chef’s Café which is operating from Weslaco’s city library.

As a finalist, Tijerina is set to travel to Houston in May for the awards presentation. One elementary and one secondary teacher will be selected from each of the three categories: The Rising Star Award, Leadership Award and Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tijerina is no stranger to teacher accolades.

Tijerina was named 2006-07 SPGHS Teacher of the Year and WISD Secondary Teacher of the Year. She was also selected as the Region I Secondary Teacher of the Year.

“This HEB award is special to me,” Tijerina said. “It happened with my students being present. That’s why I’m here.”     

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Austin's Bullock Texas State History Museum selects WEHS student artwork

The assignment was a bit unusual but Weslaco East High School senior Daphne Valero forged ahead. She used acrylic paint, water colors and colored pencils to create her own rendition of the art class assignment themed: Cats in Ramen.  Her unique creation then caught the eye of several art enthusiasts.

Daphne’s artwork will be on display February 26 – March 30 at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin as part of the 2024 Texas Art Education Association’s Youth Art Month Exhibit. 

“It was a surprise to me. It’s so shocking,” Daphne said.  “I’m really proud of it.”

The exhibit highlights pre-K through 12th grade works of art from across the state.

‘Cats in Ramen’ was part an Art II class assignment. Art teacher James Miller said he wanted to challenge his students to think out of the box.

“What can we do with something that doesn’t make any sense,” Miller said.  “The work was so well done that I decided to enter it to the state event.”  

Daphne’s artwork was also auctioned off as part of fund-raising event for the WEHS National Art Honor Society. East counselor Nancy Ortiz purchased the original artwork for $20.

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WISD parents work toward GED

The WISD GED program kicked off the new semester with a graduation of sorts.  Decked out in a cap and gown, Maria Guadalupe Alvarez showcased her newly acquired ceremonial cap and gown commemorating her successful completion of the GED exams.

“I came here to motivate them,” Alvarez said.  “At some point, I lost my motivation.”

Weslaco ISD parents are working towards their high school equivalency diplomas (GED) meeting 9 – 11 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, at the WISD Parent & Family Engagement Office. This 10-week program is free of charge and offered through South Texas College.

Alvarez is preparing for the next step toward her education.  She has enrolled for the account management certificate at STC and was recently awarded financial aid.

“I want to be an example to my kids,” she said.  

Another WISD parent is also continuing her education thanks to this GED program.  Maricarmen Cañas completed the WISD GED courses in 2021 and has enrolled at STC and the University of Phoenix to obtain a certificate as a Medical Office Specialist and Medical Office Records, respectively. Cañas said the district’s GED program facilitated her path towards higher education.

“I would have struggled if the Weslaco ISD hadn’t offered this,” she said.  “My end goal is to be an RN.”

Cañas encourages other WISD parents to work towards their GED.

“It’s free,” she said.  “There’s no reason anyone should hold themselves back.  Find your motivation and just go for it, make the decision to do it.”

Another parent recently completed the social studies exam for the GED.

“I feel prepared,” Yajaira Perez said.  “I have been trying to look for a course to take.” 

Perez was part of the 2023 cohort and says the classes have helped her in more ways than one.

“We became a support system for one another,” she said.  “We are like family, rooting for each other and cheering each other on.”  

Parent & Family Engagement Coordinator Erica Garcia said she is proud of all the parents who have committed to this program.

“Our superintendent Dr. Richard Rivera has always said ‘education is the great equalizer’ and these parents are an example that it is never too late to obtain your education,” she said.  

For more information contact the Parent & Family Engagement Office at 969-6600.

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Mariachi bands sweep area competition and head for state

It’s unanimous.  Both high school mariachi bands received the best score possible during the UIL Area contest held recently, easily qualifying for state competition.  The Weslaco East High School Mariachi Tecuani and the Weslaco High School Mariachi Pantera both won the coveted Sweepstakes award receiving Division I ratings from all three judges.

“South Texas is the place to be right now,” WISD Senior Mariachi Advisor Mario Ferrer said.  “Everyone is looking at us.”

Area encompasses schools from Brownsville to Roma and Raymondville. 

Now the mariachi bands will travel to Seguin, Texas for the UIL State contest February 23-24 where they will perform three songs before a panel of five judges.

Currently, the bands are fine tuning their state performance.  

Mariachi Tecuani will perform “Pajarillo de la Sierra,” “Lucerito,” and “Si mañana no me vez.”  Mariachi Pantera will perform “Toro coquito,” “Ya no insistas Corazon,” and “Maria Chuchena.”

“The area judges gave us constructive criticism,” Ferrer said. 

The judges scored the bands on musical components, intonation and interpretation. 

“We can get things better,” he said.  “I like our chances.”   

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Top District Science Fair winners prepare for regionals

 

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How does vinegar affect the properties of an eggshell?  What is the carrying capacity of a robot when torque and weight are altered?  These are some of the questions that middle school and high school students across the district are busy finalizing for the Region IV Science and Engineering Fair to be held February 16 at University of Texas – RGV in Brownsville.

“Students will continue to work on their science and engineering projects to improve them based on the feedback provided by their judges during the district's fair,” WISD Science Coordinator Maria Castillo said.

The top five projects per category advanced to regionals.

“The students were well prepared for the science and engineering fair. Their knowledge and understanding of each of their projects was quite evident and impressive. The students were very excited,” she said.

Students will fine-tune all areas of their projects including the hypothesis, question, procedure, materials and conclusion.  According to Castillo, 70 students will compete at the Region IV meet to qualify for state. 

While this year’s projects focused on engineering, computer science, physical science and life science, students also utilized skills from other subject areas.

“The science and engineering fair offers students a variety of educational opportunities. It helps expand students' content knowledge not only in science but also in mathematics, language arts, communication and computers (artificial intelligence),” she said.  “It helps students improve their skills in the areas of communication, research, problem solving and public speaking among other skills.

From Central Middle School, students winning first place at the District Science Fair are: Devin Escamilla, Joshua Hernandez, Earth and Environmental Science category; Mia Garcia, Environmental Engineering; Emma Cid, Animal Sciences; Rochelle Sanchez, Behavioral and Social Sciences; Dario Leija, Raul Sosa, Michael Villarreal, Biomedical Engineering; Ayleen Martinez, Alondra Flores, Valeria Barrera, Microbiology; Mateo Rodriguez, Chemistry; Rayjay Zepeda, Embedded Systems; and Elian Silva, Engineering Technology: Statistics.

From Dr. Armando Cuellar Middle School:  Katalina Campos, Cellular and Molecular Biology; and Sebastian Cuellar, Biochemistry.

Mary Hoge Middle School: Luis Gonzalez, Carlos Delgado, Physics and Astronomy; Esteban Rodriguez, Jaden Santana, Sustainable Materials; and Brittany George, Yvette Sanchez, Materials Science.

Beatriz G. Garza Middle School:  Victor Galvan, Plant Sciences; and Landon Rodriguez, Robotics and Intelligent Machines.

From Weslaco East High School, 1st place winners are: Amy Felix, Behavioral and Social Sciences; Britney Aguilera, Michelle Aldrete, Biochemistry; Haylee Hernandez, Ariana Sustaita, Biomedical and Health Sciences; Samantha Gonzales, Cellular and Molecular Biology; Andrew Barron, Noah Hall, Environmental Engineering.

 

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Registration for Early College High School now underway

Weslaco ISD 8th grade students wanting a head start on their post-secondary plans attended the Early College High School Jumpstart to College workshop with their parents earlier this week.  In partnership with South Texas College, this early college program offers students the opportunity to graduate high school with an associate’s degree and 60 college credit hours.

“This is a beautiful program,” parent Olga Garcia told the audience during the workshop held at Weslaco East High School.  Her daughter earned an associate’s degree as a 2020 graduate and is currently working toward her degree in Nursing at Sam Houston State University. 

“Take advantage of this program kids,” she said.  Her son is also interested in enrolling in the WEHS Early College program.  

The program offers an Associate of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, Criminal Justice and Education.  All tuition, fees, books and transportation are provided by the district.  

During the workshops, high school administrators and counselors were available to answer questions pertaining to dual class credit, GPA and the required Texas Success Initiative (TSI) test.  Also, several WEHS students currently enrolled in the early college program spoke to the 8th graders about the work involved when completing college courses.   

“It’s going to be tough and draining at times but in the end, it will be worth it,” WEHS junior Norma Navarro said. “It’s a matter of pacing yourself.”

Currently, there are 334 WHS students and 276 WEHS students working toward an associate’s degree through the Early College High School program.

Students interested in the Early College High School programs should contact their school counselor.

 

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WISD counselors win state award

Good old-fashion teamwork and hard work caught the attention of the Texas School Counselor Association which recently presented four Weslaco ISD campus counseling programs with the 2023-24 CREST Award. Counselors from Memorial and Sam Houston elementaries, as well as, Weslaco High School and Weslaco East High School will join this elite group during the TSCA annual conference to be held Feb. 4, 2024 in San Antonio.

“This is a state recognition,” Student Support Services Director Dr. Cynthia Cid said. “This is the first time our counselors get this type of recognition.”

TSCA presents the CREST (Counselors Reinforcing Excellence for Students in Texas) award to counseling programs which have demonstrated a successful implementation of the Texas Model devised by the Texas Education Agency.

“It is a rigorous application process,” Cid said.  “It’s a very selective process.”

Each campus team had to demonstrate a comprehensive counseling plan that addressed four major components.

For the individual planning component, counselors showcased graduation plans that could be tailored to help students meet their post-secondary goals regarding career and college plans.

The responsive services component demonstrated how well the team responds during a crisis when immediate intervention may be necessary, such as in cases of bullying or substance abuse. The ability to coordinate and offer resources to students was measured as part of the system support component. Finally, the guidance curriculum component delivered classroom lessons that focused on issues relevant to the campus as indicated through survey results.

All CREST winners were selected based on effective program design and implementation.  

“This is all our hard work that has been produced over the years,”

WEHS counselor Maria Flores said. “The passion is here as a team.”

 

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Secret Santas adopt angels

What started out as a typical office Christmas party turned into something pretty special.  Staff members from the Weslaco ISD Business Office organized a Secret Santa, but took the extra step to include a group of students in need.  Staff members took part in the district’s Adopt-An-Angel program and selected 14 WISD students currently in foster-care.

“They are the ones who need extra love this time of the year,” WISD Chief Financial Officer David Robledo said.  “We gave each other small Secret Santa gifts, but at the end of the week we presented a gift to our students.”

The Parent & Family Engagement Department helps coordinate all donations during the Christmas season.

“We thank our Business Office for sharing their Christmas cheer with those in most need, our foster-care students,” Parent & Family Engagement Coordinator Erica Garcia said.

Students in the Adopt-An-Angel program complete wish lists for items they need or want. Along with the gifts, Business Office staff members included activity workbooks and school supplies.

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City, school district officials proclaim anti-bullying week, Nov. 13 -17

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.

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Military flyover scheduled for Veterans Day celebration at Bobby Lackey Stadium

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. 

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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

register for the upcoming school year.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

 

 

Read More about Proclamation signing kicks off Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23-27
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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.

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All WISD cafeteria kitchen receive perfect scores

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.

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wildcat band nail

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.”

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Read More about Weslaco Panther Corps and Wildcat Regiment head off to Pigskin
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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.” 

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youth leadership students

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
home.”

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.”

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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.

 

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Read More about Freshmen orientation set for Class of 2027
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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.

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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.

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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.” 

 


 

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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.

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Special guest speakers during the ceremony included Cynthia Escamilla, Texas A & M Director and Laura Matamoros, Office of Congressman Vicente Gonzalez.

Read More about Weslaco ISD parents 'graduate' from citizenship course
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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.”   

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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.

 

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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.  

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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.

Read More about Weslaco ISD students earn associate degrees before high school graduation

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