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Top WHS grad receives MASBA $5000 scholarship

Weslaco High School graduate Maia Flores is looking forward to making a difference in the world and she is starting with her community.

As the only Hidalgo County recipient of the Mexican-American School Boards Association scholarship, Maia will use the $5000 grant to attend the University of Texas – Austin and major in advertising.       

“I had applied to so many scholarships and my financial aid hadn’t kicked in so I was really stressing,” she said. “It was incredible to see my hard work pay off. I spent a lot of time writing.”

Maia completed a series of essays centered around Latino issues and is one of six students to receive the MASBA scholarship in the state.

“We are thrilled to support these remarkable students as they embark on their college journeys,” MASBA Director of Organizational Advancement Pedro Ortiz stated.  “Their dedication and hard work embody the values we strive to promote within our communities and exemplify the thriving talent found in our public schools.”  

Maia hopes her degree in advertising will help her elevate how Latinos are portrayed in the media.

“Advertising is so diverse,” she said “My goal is making sure that Latinos are represented in an accurate and positive way,” she said. “It’s important for young people to see someone who looks like them and be inspired to do great things.”

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WISD hosts student leadership camp

Weslaco High School junior, Diego Calderon led the Future Farmers of America Citrus Valley District Leadership Camp to help empower FFA students. CVD student officers from Mission, PSJA, Progreso, Mercedes and Weslaco FFA charters attended the day workshop hosted at the Joe Calvillo CTE Complex.

As the CDV President, Calderon understands first-hand how the FFA organization can help students develop into a better version of themselves as officers.

“I have gained confidence and learned many life lessons,” Calderon said.    

Following the theme: Levels of the Ocean, the workshop consisted of 30-minute break-out sessions like “The Shoreline,” “The Twilight Zone,” “The Midnight Zone,” “The Abyss,” and “The Trenches,” to help students understand the role of a good leader.

“The first session shows students that they have to go through barriers to be successful,” Diego said.  “They will also understand how supporting a leader is transforming. I know that first hand.” 

About 59 students attended the camp.

“This event starts the FFA year for our officers.  We wanted to make a lasting impact and I believe we did,” Calderon said.  “We started strong and we need to keep it going.”

Calderon attributes the success of the camp to his district officer team and advisor Joey Gutierrez.  He also encourages students to consider joining FFA once the school year begins.

“Everyone should dive in FFA to see if it can change you! Try out your FFA program because you’ll never know if it is your jam!”

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One more feather in their cap. Lady Panther Softball Team Day was officially declared during a special board meeting proclaiming June 1st as a day to always to be remembered in the school district. The Weslaco High School Lady Panther Softball Team were the guests of honor during the reading of this decree.

Certificates of team post season distinctions were presented to the team members and Texas State Senator Morgan LaMantia also presented the team with certificates of excellence.

“You did a fantastic job,” she said. “Know that you are the pride of this community.”

The team also presented the board members and superintendent with signed softballs and UIL medals commemorating the state championship.

“I am so proud to be a part of this team and we are all thankful you are a part of our district,” Lady Panther 2nd baseman Mia Rodriguez said.  “We know that you have cheered us on every step of the way. And so, we would like to present this token of our appreciation to our VIP fans.”

The board closed the meeting with words of encouragement.

“We are so excited for you,” Weslaco ISD School Board President Jaclyn Sustaita said. “I know you’ve heard a lot of inspirational words lately, but honestly you are the ones that inspire us.”

The City of Weslaco and Hidalgo County Precinct 1, in collaboration WISD, will host a parade for the Lady Panthers, Saturday, June 8 beginning at 9 a.m. to commence at Pike Boulevard on Texas Boulevard and conclude at 6th Street.   

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It’s no surprise that several members of the Weslaco High School Girls Softball State Championship Team have been named to the 2024 UIL Softball State All-Tournament Team.

“They always select one player per position and the fact that we have four players, it’s spectacular,” WHS Head Softball Coach Mario Rodriguez said.  “They beat out Division I committed players. We don’t nominate for the girls to be recognized by UIL, we have no influence so this is awesome.” 

Representing the 6A conference, state selections are: sophomore Dayla Hinojosa, Outfield; senior Mia Rodriguez, Second Base; sophomore Madelynn Cantu, Pitcher; and earning the Most Valuable Player distinction is sophomore Andrea Ortiz.

The State All-Tournament Team is selected by the Texas Girls Coaches Association.

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Members of graduating Class of 2024 will announce their post-graduation plans during the 3rd annual Weslaco ISD Decision Day celebration, tomorrow Wednesday, May 15.  Seniors from Weslaco East and Weslaco High will gather at the Susan Peterson Center for Visual and Performing Arts for a special ceremony to officially proclaim their college of choice, military enlistment or career choice.  The event begins at 9 – 10:30 a.m.

WEHS alumni and WBC Featherweight Champion ‘The Heartbreaker” Brandon Figueroa will serve guest speaker.

“We have prepared our students for the day they graduate for 12 years,” WISD Counseling Director Dr. Cynthia Cid said.  “We are so proud of them.  This is the most important step they will take and we are going to celebrate that.”

KWES will air the event live on YouTube: https://youtube.com/live/7WACoqMbv_I?feature=share

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Parents honked their horns, waved, received goodie bags and a box of pizza as part the 24th annual Autism Acceptance Curbside Celebration hosted by WISD Special Education Department.

“As a whole, we’ve come a long way in identifying autism,” WISD school psychologist Dr. Abbie Muñoz said. “Early identification and early intervention is key so a prognosis can be better.”

This neurological disorder affects the way the brain processes stimulus which can impact the way a student learns.

“It affects children differently,” Muñoz said. “There is a spectrum. It looks differently in every student based on where they fall on the spectrum.”

Once a student is evaluated and identified with autism, the district can provide support services based on the student’s needs such as referrals to speech therapy or occupational therapy.

Currently, there are 288 WISD students who have been identified with autism. The curbside celebration is an effort to help students, parents, families who are a part of the autism community to feel accepted and cared for.

“We put this event on for our parents,” Muñoz said. “We want them to know that they are not alone. It is not easy and we are here. We can work together.”

For more information contact the Special Education Department at 969-6822.

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Weslaco ISD recently received the 2024 Best Communities for Music Education designation from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education for the 7th consecutive year.

“The consistency over the years solidifies our district’s commitment to creating diverse musical opportunities for all students at every campus in our district,” Fine Arts Director Christopher Fernandez said.  “This achievement also highlights the talented faculty and staff we have in our classrooms and after school programs here at Weslaco ISD.  Our students are able to learn, grow and play at the highest level because of our faculty's commitment to excellence in music.”  

Now in its 25th year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement for providing music access and education to all students.

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First page of the PDF file: 2024MonthoftheMilitaryChild

Weslaco ISD kicked off the Month of the Military Child with a proclamation reading in celebration of students whose parents are active military personnel. 

Special guest U.S. Army Specialist Jorge A. Pedraza expressed his appreciation of the district’s efforts to support the students in military families.

“It’s hard for the military people to leave their kids behind, but what about the kids,” he said.  “We have orders, we know what to do, we know how to execute, but you kids are resilient you are able to adapt.”  

The district will also host Military Child Spirit Week, April 15 – 19 with different activities to honor military families.   

“It’s an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ and ‘we support you,’” Director of Student Support Services Dr. Cindy Cid said.  “Military children face obstacles that other students don’t and recognizing them helps to build a sense of pride with their parents’ service.”

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Former college football players used pushups and pullups to demonstrate how challenging achieving academic goals can be. Representing the Top School Speakers organization Josh Perez and Jonathan Medina, who once attended Louise Black Intermediate and Dr. R. E. Margo Elementary, now travel across the country to help inspire students.

Our main message is ‘focus on your dreams and choose a path based on your dreams,’” Medina said.

Selected elementary and secondary students gathered at the Professional Learning Center this morning to PUSH (Persevere Until Success Happens) and ‘Hang On.’

“There are going to be moments when you are going to have to believe that you belong,”Medina told the students.

Perez and Medina played college football at Abilene Christian University and Georgetown University, respectively, as offensive linemen and faced many challenges as they pursued their academic goals.

“This presentation was to motivate our students,” Parent and Family Engagement Coordinator Erica Garcia said. “We want them to know that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to and we are here to help.”

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South Texas high school wrestling under the lights in Weslaco, Texas

 

Tomas Garces was a Weslaco High School Alumni that graduated in 2003. During his time at Weslaco High School, he participated in the wrestling program where he was a 2X District Champion, 3X Regional Qualifier, and 2X State Qualifier and amassed an overall record of 95 - 17. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army to serve his country and help achieve his goal of graduating college and becoming a wrestling coach. Unfortunately, when he was deployed to Iraq, his company was ambushed and Tomas lost his life. Since his death, WISD has held a memorial tournament in his honor to commemorate the ultimate sacrifice he paid for our country.

This year’s event marked the 19th Anniversary of the Tomas Garces Invitational held by Weslaco High School. WISD wanted to think outside the box and attempt to do something that had never been done in the Rio Grande Valley; host an outdoor wrestling tournament. When the idea came up, we knew that it would be a daunting task, but we were up for the challenge. We were very ambitious with our vision to make this a once in a lifetime memory for all of our student athletes, community and the Garces Family. After meeting with our Athletic Director and Athletic Coordinator, approval was granted to move forward with the planning process to be able to conduct our outdoor tournament at our beloved Bobby Lackey Stadium under the Friday Night Lights.

In planning for this event, we realized that in order for us to pull this off, we would need to have a complete team effort to execute this vision. With the help of our Athletic Director, Freddy Rodriguez, Athletic Coordinator, Roy Stroman, Principal, Yvett Morales, and Head Wrestling Coach, Moises Chavez, Tomas Garces Invitational Wrestling Tournament we were able to develop a plan and carry it out with precision. This year, a total of 24 boys’ and girls’ teams from 11 different school districts participated in the Tomas Garces Invitational, equaling roughly about 300 wrestlers that competed in this Team Dual Tournament. There were also about 250 spectators, coaches, referees from all across the Rio Grande Valley in attendance that came out to support and witness this event. A total of 4 wrestling mats were used and extended from the 20-yard line to 20-yard line. High Schools in attendance included Weslaco HS, Weslaco East HS, PSJA HS, PSJA Memorial HS, Edinburg Vela HS, Sharyland HS, Sharyland Pioneer HS, McAllen Memorial HS, San Benito HS, Harlingen HS, and Los Fresnos HS.

When asked about this year’s tournament; Rafael Garces, older brother to Tomas Garces, stated “This Wrestling Invitational has truly been an unforgettable tribute to my brother’s memory. The overwhelming turnout of teams and the community coming together to honor his legacy through this demanding sport, which meant so much to him, has touched our family deeply.”

Garces also stated “Having the Invitational held at the Stadium feels like a fitting tribute, offering Tommy a front-row seat from Heaven to witness the love and respect poured out in his honor.”

"We extend our heartfelt gratitude to each and every individual who contributed to the success of the Tomas Garces Invitational. Your support and dedication have ensured that his memory will endure, etched into the making of this event for years to come” Garces stated.

This year’s Tomas Garces Invitational was a huge success. All of our hard work and dedication paid off and we indeed made history. Weslaco High School and Weslaco ISD will forever be remembered as being the first to host an outdoor wrestling tournament in the Rio Grande Valley. At Weslaco High School, we are very big on tradition and look forward to making this outdoor tournament a new Panther Wrestling Tradition. We look forward to only growing this tournament, and having teams from across the state come down and compete at the Tomas Garces Invitational. We are the standard that most will now try to replicate. “We Are Weslaco and We Are Built to Win!!

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KWES continues to win State awards

It was the poignant, personal story of one school principal that garnered the Weslaco ISD Communications Team the Best of Category Gold Medal during the 2023 Star Awards Celebration.  The team won this gold medal along with numerous gold and silver star awards during the Texas Schools Public Relations Association conference held recently in Sugar Land, Texas.

Judges look over 1000s of print and video entries from school districts across the state to award Bronze, Silver and Gold Stars.  A Best of Category Gold Medal winner is then selected from the Gold Star recipients of each category. 

Led by Executive Director Carlos Robledo, the WISD Podcast #3 featured Justice Raul A. Gonzalez Principal Rosa Garcia who recounted her journey from Mexico to the U.S.

In the Graphics categories, winning a Gold Star is the "Weslaco ISD Seal" for Logo, Trademark, Symbol.

In the Video/Cable TV categories, winning Gold Stars are "Let’s Talk" for Video Marketing; "Alex Solis, A Top Baseball Prospect" for Video Feature Story; "College Decision Day" for Video General Event; "WISD Young Chefs Café” for Video News Package; "Weslaco vs. Los Fresnos" for Video Live Sports Event; "Living Our Best Life" for Video Promotional; “Stop the Prop, Keep Doors Locked” for Video Training/Instructional.

Also, winning Silver Stars in the Video/Cable TV categories are “1976 Pantherettes Basketball Team” for Video Documentary and “WISD Convocation 2022” for Video Live Event Non-Sports        

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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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Read More about Students have 'spooktacular' time at CTE program showcase
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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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Read More about WISD Parent and Family Engagement Department hosts mum-making workshop
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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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Read More about Young Chef's Cafe serves up warm drinks and cool treats
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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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