Parents flooded the Lantrip Elementary School cafeteria Thursday as they joined their children — clad in pilgrim hats, white bonnets, and colorful turkey headbands — for a nutritious Thanksgiving lunch.
The annual celebration hosted by HISD’s Nutrition Services has attracted thousands of families to school cafeterias for more than 50 years. This year’s menu included roasted turkey with gravy, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, a fresh fruit medley, and ice cream.
“We get a ton of volunteers, but it takes everyone,” Lantrip Principal Magdalena Strickland said, noting that about half of the school’s 700 families participate in the Thanksgiving lunch each year. “When parents know you care for their kids, they’ll go above and beyond.”
Transportation Services has eliminated more than two dozen routes as part of an ongoing comprehensive review of bus ridership at 15 select schools.
The review is focused on schools with low ridership, despite having a high volume of students who are eligible for transportation and have been assigned routes. Reviews have been completed at nine schools, with the remaining six to be finished before the end of the year.
The department has cut 25 routes since the start of the review, bringing the overall number of routes down to 775 — a five percent decrease.
As clouds of monarch butterflies migrate south for the winter, many of them pass through Houston, where a special program allows HISD students to provide nectar-rich flowers and milkweed to nourish them.
Twenty-one HISD schools are participating in the Monarch Heroes program this school year, allowing students to create monarch habitat gardens to reverse the decline of the species.
The two-year program is part of the National Wildlife Federation Eco-Schools USA Program, the nation’s largest comprehensive green school program.
While Sam Houston Math, Science, and Technology Center students made their way to classes Tuesday morning, the HISD Bond Oversight Committee strolled through the hallways to see the new school in action.
Led by Associate Principal Ryan Hutchings and HISD Construction Services Senior Manager Sizwe Lewis, the group made stops in the school’s dining commons, cosmetology, robotics and math labs, gymnasium, and auditorium.
The Bond Oversight Committee is an independent citizens’ committee tasked with monitoring the bond program, ensuring revenues are spent appropriately, and evaluating program risks and controls. The group meets quarterly.
The school spirit was palpable as the Sam Houston Math, Science, and Technology Center Mighty Tiger Marching Band played crowd-pumping music and the Tigerettes danced in fringed gold leotards with big bows fastened to their ponytails.
The performances were part of the school’s homecoming week festivities, which included a pep rally-style grand opening held to celebrate the new school and the impact it’s had on students, staff, and the community.
“Transitioning to this building has been a new beginning for everyone,” Sam Houston MSTC Senior Deann Mendoza said, noting that the new school changed her classmates’ attitudes. “The atmosphere here is different in a good way.”
When the air conditioning at Atherton Elementary School was running after hours, Direct Digital Control Field Technician Dustin Agnew headed to the campus to find out why.
Agnew first checked the master control panel and the variable-frequency drives, making sure everything was set to “auto.” He then went outside to inspect the chillers and quickly found the problem — both were running, but only one was supposed to be on.
“I enjoy figuring out what’s wrong, because it could be so many different elements,” he said.
Transportation Services is conducting a comprehensive review of bus ridership at schools with high transportation eligibility to identify opportunities for route consolidation and increased efficiency.
The review is focused on 15 schools with low ridership, despite having a high volume of students who are eligible for transportation and have been assigned routes.
Transportation Services General Manager John Wilcots IV explained that requests for transportation are often at their highest at the start of the school year. Once a request is made and the student is found to be eligible, the department is required to assign that student to a route and stop — even if they end up choosing not to ride the bus.
Two schools built under the 2012 Bond Program have been recognized as outstanding projects by Learning by Design magazine.
Madison and Westbury high schools were included in the Fall 2019 edition of the magazine, which is a premier source for education design innovation and excellence. The magazine assembled a panel of six architects and education administrators to review projects from across the nation.
“It’s an honor to have Madison and Westbury high schools selected as outstanding projects by Learning by Design,” General Manager of Facilities Design Dan Bankhead said. “The two projects have provided students with modern learning spaces to support their academic efforts and we’re pleased that the work that went into these schools has been recognized by such a distinguished panel and notable publication.”