April 18, 2014

  • Trustees Expecting a Crowd Monday?

    The Highland Park ISD Board of Trustees has scheduled another workshop regarding the district’s master facilities plan, i.e. “where the heck are we gonna put all these kids?” Usually, such meetings happen in the board room at the Administration Building, which comfortably holds the trustees and only a few other people. But this one, which is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Monday, will happen in the 5/6 Assembly Room at McCulloch Intermediate School.

    By Dan Koller Apr. 18, 2014 | 8:36 am | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • April 17, 2014

  • Destination Imagination Team Bound For Globals

    Back row: Max Law, Jack Perdue, and Mark Van Kirk; front row: Sarah Ho, Maddy Helton, and Allison Brown

    Back row: Max Law, Jack Perdue, and Mark Van Kirk; front row: Sarah Ho, Maddy Helton, and Allison Brown

    “Creativity to the Power of 6,” a Destination Imagination comprised of five fifth-graders from McCulloch Intermediate School and a sixth from Cistercian, competed at the state tournament last week in Austin, and they did well enough to advance to the Destination Imagination Global Finals. In late May, the team will travel to Knoxville, Tenn., where more than 1,300 teams from 45 states, seven Canadian provinces, and 13 other countries will gather to showcase their creative solutions.

    The team members, who have been together since third grade at University Park Elementary, have been working on their challenge solution for most of the school year. They chose the scientific challenge — “Going to Extremes” — in which teams were asked to create an extreme environment and present a story about characters attempting to adapt to conditions in order to survive there. They were also asked to design and create a prototype of “extreme gear” and to explain the technical methods, research, and science they used to create it. In addition, the team also had to solve an unknown challenge on the spot.

    Competitors are required to do all aspects of the challenges by themselves with a tight budget and without interference from adults and non-team members.

    By Dan Koller Apr. 17, 2014 | 8:32 am | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • McCulloch Sixth-Grader Earns Twirling Trophies

    Heather Skidmore and her hardware

    Heather Skidmore and her hardware

    The May edition of Park Cities People, which should be landing in your mailbox any day now, includes a story about sisters Mela and Mallory McMinn, who began twirling batons for the Highlander Band last year because, really, no one else was ready to step into the role after Amber Appel graduated.

    Well, we now know of another twirler who’s waiting in the wings.

    Heather Skidmore, a sixth-grader at McCulloch Intermediate School, recently competed at the NBTA Southwest Regional Baton Twirling Championships in Canyon, Texas. She brought home honors as the Solo and Fancy X-Strut winner in the 10-12 Advanced Division. Heather, who twirls under the direction of Dory O’Neal, is also the 10-12 Beginner 3-Baton champion.

    By Dan Koller Apr. 17, 2014 | 7:30 am | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • April 16, 2014

  • Lit Fest Provides Prizes For Prose

    HPHS alumnus Eddie Coker, shown with HP Lit Fest committee members Andrea Hamilton and Cari Meggyesy, was a workshop presenter at this year's festival.

    Highland Park High School alumnus Eddie Coker, shown with HP Lit Fest committee members Andrea Hamilton and Cari Meggyesy, was a workshop presenter at this year’s festival.

    The Highland Park Literary Festival wrapped up with an awards breakfast on April 10 that honored winners of the festival’s “Write Your World” student writing contest. Top prizes went to:

    • Fiction — Sarah Grace Forbes (first place), Keely Brown (second place), Hannah Kubik (honorable mention)
    • Creative nonfiction — George Abuhamad (first place), Kimberly Sun (second place), Yingfan Du (honorable mention)
    • Poetry — Chloe Sarfatis (first place), Christine Ramjee (second place), Lindsey Elliott (honorable mention)

    The bulk of the festival took place in late February, including an appearance by keynote speaker Mark Salzman and more than 20 other poets, playwrights, journalists, and songwriters. More than 50 HPHS students participated in an “open mic night” by performing poetry and music.

    By Todd Jorgenson Apr. 16, 2014 | 11:26 am | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • April 11, 2014

  • University Park to Host ‘Urban Campout’

    I sincerely hope I’m not breaking this news to anyone who lives near Curtis Park and University Park Elementary School, but those two civic treasures will host an “urban campout” on Saturday called UP All Night. University Park Preschool Association families are going to set up tents on the school grounds starting at 3 in the afternoon, have all sorts of fun at the park, then sleep under the stars after a bedtime story. The City Council signed off on all this last September.

    By Dan Koller Apr. 11, 2014 | 1:52 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • Highland Park ISD Selling Books at Brisk Pace

    Highland Park ISD trustee Cynthia Beecherl reported at Tuesday’s meeting that more than 400 copies of the district’s centennial coffee-table cook have already been sold. If you’d like a copy, you can get one for just 50 bucks, thanks to underwriting from Allie Beth and Pierce Allman.

    Beecherl also revealed a couple of details about October’s centennial celebration. Two food trucks — Ruthie’s and Easy Slider — are on board, and Rhonda Sargent Chambers is advising the district on how to throw an ab-fab event.

    “We’re not making any money,” Beecherl said of the various centennial initiatives. “We’re just trying to cover our costs.”

    By Dan Koller Apr. 11, 2014 | 11:09 am | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • April 10, 2014

  • Trustees OK Hyer Gymnasium’s Renovation

    As you can see in the background of this photo of Zoe Stone, Jose Calderon, and Zach Stone, the Hyer gym's walls aren't completely padded.

    As you can see in the background of this photo of Zoe Stone, Jose Calderon, and Zach Stone, the Hyer gym’s walls aren’t completely padded.

    The Hyer Elementary School gymnasium will be getting a makeover this summer. The facility’s renovation was officially approved by the Highland Park ISD Board of Trustees on Tuesday night, and the documents presented at that meeting detail the following upgrades:

    — Installing a projector and new sound system
    — Installing “drops” for tablet and computer connections
    — Installing acoustical panels to help manage noise
    — Adding more wall mats so all four walls are padded
    — Painting the entire gym
    — Removing cages from the windows
    — Tinting the windows
    — Building three cabinets to store equipment
    — Replacing basket adjustments

    The price tag for the project is about $109,000. Luckily, the Hyer PTA earmarked $115,000 for the gym’s renovation as part of a $655,707 gift that the trustees approved Tuesday.

    The gifts approved across the district Tuesday added up to $1.7 million. (For perspective, last month’s total was $62,450.) That led trustee Paul Rowsey to suggest that he and his colleagues give the PTA leaders in attendance a standing ovation, which they did. That was the first time I’d seen one of those at a school board meeting.

    All of the gifts approved Tuesday are detailed after the jump.

    Read More…

    By Dan Koller Apr. 10, 2014 | 2:52 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • April 8, 2014

  • ‘Wizard of Oz’ Production Takes Flight at HPMS

    Toluwani Taiwo, Adrian Gerrese, Gracie Nunneley, Morgan Gerlach, and Sydney Favors

    The cast includes Toluwani Taiwo, Adrian Gerrese, Gracie Nunneley, Morgan Gerlach, and Sydney Favors.

    Students at Highland Park Middle School will be over the rainbow this week as they stage four performances of The Wizard of Oz, and your child could be too.

    With the help of the special effects wizards at ZFX, many of the actors will fly above the stage. As part of the fun, the Jesters and Players Booster Club will raffle off two flights. Here are the rules:

    • Students in third through eighth grades are eligible to win.
    • Winners must weigh less than 175 pounds and be in good physical condition.
    • Winners must sign insurance indemnification before flying.
    • Flights may be videotaped or photographed, but equipment operation and design may not.
    • Winners’ names will be drawn after Friday’s 4 p.m. performance.
    • Flights will take place after Sunday’s 2 p.m. performance.

    Raffle tickets are $5, but you can get five of them for $20. Admission tickets are $5. Both types of tickets can be purchased in the HPMS cafeteria from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Admission tickets can also be purchased 30 minutes in advance of each performance: 7 p.m. on Thursday, 4 p.m. on Friday, 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

    The cast includes 120 students led by Susan McCormick, HPMS drama director; Heath Farr and Laurie Tirmenstein, HPMS music directors; and Megan Kelly Bates, choreographer/artistic director of the Preston Center Dance Conservatory for the Arts.

    “We are very excited for the journey ahead for all of us,” McCormick said. “I know we will come out of Oz with a bigger ‘heart,’ a little bit ‘smarter,’ and with a lot more ‘courage’ to find our ‘home’ in the theater.”

    By Dan Koller Apr. 8, 2014 | 3:07 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • April 7, 2014

  • Trustees to Discuss Hyer Gym, UP Portables

    The Highland Park ISD Board of Trustees will discuss a renovation of the Hyer Elementary School gymnasium, according to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. The trustees will also talk about buying portables for University Park Elementary, according to an addendum to said agenda.

    If this is the first you’ve heard about portables returning to UP Elementary, then read this.

    By Dan Koller Apr. 7, 2014 | 12:55 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS
  • April 4, 2014

  • Highland Park ISD to Require Proof of Residency

    To ensure that nobody who lives outside Highland Park ISD is using the district’s schools, each student’s parents will now be required to submit a water or electric bill to prove their residency.

    A Q&A about this new requirement is posted on the district’s website. But one question that goes unanswered is “Why now?” Fortunately, that answer can be found in the packet for last month’s Board of Trustees meeting.

    In previous years, District mailings that were returned to sender often signaled a residency concern, but mailings have diminished with Skyward Family Access. That has left the District with a missing tool that may be offset by adding this process.

    Makes sense. When the district is having so much trouble accommodating the students who actually live in HPISD, administrators can’t afford to let outsiders slip in.

    By Dan Koller Apr. 4, 2014 | 9:09 am | 3 Comments | Comments RSS
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