students earned study abroad scholarships after delivering inspiring speeches
during the district’s inaugural virtual HISD Global Issues Summit and speech competition.
Ritika Gupta, an eighth-grader at Lanier Middle School gave a passionate speech about gender equality, and Nusaibah Arif, a junior at Sharpstown International High School, showcased Houston’s diversity by delivering her speech in Bengali about the Bengali Language Movement. These two students will receive a full scholarship to study abroad – when global travel safely resumes – from HISD Abroad partners, The Puranik Foundation and Amigos de las Américas.
The two HISD students had their voices
amplified by UNICEF USA, who announced the winners and included their speeches
in an article
published on the UNICEF USA website.
Construction at Bellaire High School is now more than 50
percent complete, with the new school expected to be ready for students this
time next year.
Crews have installed the roof structure for the new building,
which includes wings for academics, fine arts, and physical education. The
academic wing is now closed in and air-conditioned, with construction crews currently
working on the finishing touches, including tiling and flooring.
Crews also are working on overhead construction in the
auditorium high ceilings, digging out the pool and diving well, and
construction of the interior walls in the athletics area. Air conditioning is
expected to be flowing through the entire building by the end of July.
Although the Houston
Independent School District is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
construction work has continued on several 2012 Bond realignment projects
across the district.
Realignment projects are new,
board-approved projects that were not part of the original scope of work but
are funded by surplus bond funds. The projects include natatoriums at Milby,
Washington, and Yates high schools, Westbury High School’s fine arts wing, and
Sharpstown International School’s dining canopy.
Milby’s natatorium is 98
percent complete. Construction Services is coordinating with HISD Technology
and HISD Security Maintenance for remaining minor work. The pool will be ready for
the 2020-2021 school year.
Following a statewide call on Tuesday between school district superintendents and Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, I wanted to provide an update on plans for the 2020-2021 school year – which remain to be finalized.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise,
the situation remains fluid as we try to determine next steps on what the
school year will look like. During his presentation, the commissioner
emphasized that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is working with Gov. Greg
Abbott’s medical advisors to establish public health guidance for school
districts. While preliminary information has been provided by TEA, final
guidance will not be available until mid-July.
In response to the unique challenges presented by COVID-19, the Houston Independent School District hired nearly 100 interns to tutor students remotely this summer.
HISD quickly pivoted its traditional Summer Student
Leadership Program, in which students are hired for in-person internships in a
variety of departments, to providing high-quality academic instruction
The district is committed to ensuring that students have
access to competitive summer employment opportunities. This comes at a
time when companies across the country are rescinding previously slated student
job and internship offers. Despite the circumstances, HISD students can gain paid
real-world work experience, develop their soft skills, and become more
competitive applicants for colleges, scholarships, and jobs.
district and school-based employees gathered online for HISD’s first-ever all
virtual Professional Learning Series (PLS), three days of professional
development, team building, and preparation for the upcoming 2020-21 school
The theme of
this year’s event, which took place June 15-17, was “Virtual Learning and
Beyond: Bridging Gaps with Strong Systems.” A major focus of the series
included preparing for a virtual school system, as well as management best practices
and guidance for schools and teachers on how to support students engaged in
“We are embracing the virtual learning space across HISD,
and PLS this summer is no exception,” Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan
said during the recorded general session. “It is our goal that our leaders
rejuvenate, renew and reimagine the possibilities for the upcoming school
When Bellaire High School Senior Madison Olds thinks back on
the past three months, she does so with a sense of bittersweet nostalgia.
She thinks about the missed basketball, baseball, and soccer
games where, as a cheerleader, she didn’t get to cheer her teams on to victory.
She thinks about the missed trips to Chick-Fil-A for lunch with her friends.
She thinks about missing her senior luncheon, joining with
her cap-and-gown-clad classmates for their senior class picture, and graduation
practice — all part of an annual Senior Week that she had been looking forward
to since she was a freshman.
Before Mykayla Clark-Jolivet could begin her high school
career at Middle College High School at HCC Fraga, her home was destroyed by
Hurricane Harvey. This was the first of many challenges she would face on her
way to graduating.
Clark-Jolivet and her family left their mold-ruined house to
live in a hotel for three months.
“I left a lot of memories behind,” Clark-Jolivet said. “I
was constantly late to school because the hotel was across town.”
As Jack Yates High School senior Ernest Russell sat on the
school’s football field for the citywide senior celebration recently, it was far
more than an event honoring his graduation from the historic school.
The celebration — marked by colorful Yates High School
masks and chairs spaced at a proper social distance — represented the
culmination of a trying journey that was marked by the loss of his father and homelessness.
“I don’t really have a word to describe it. But, if I had to
come up with one, I’d say it was challenging,” Russell said.
The Houston Independent School held virtual graduation ceremonies on
Sunday to celebrate the district’s 11,000-plus graduating seniors.
The virtual commencements
were broadcast in partnership with Herff Jones and in collaboration with graduation
technology partners StageClip and MarchingOrder. Each virtual ceremony included
recorded messages from the superintendent and other district officials, as well
as audio of each student’s name as their personalized slide was displayed.