Category Archives: Irving Scholars

Concealed carry now a reality at North Lake College

A state wide concealed carry policy for all Texas community colleges took effect on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

In June of 2015, the Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 11, which now permits License to Carry (LTC) holders to keep a concealed handgun on or about his or her person into any institution of higher education in Texas.

On Aug. 1, 2016, the legislation went into effect for all Texas four-year colleges and universities.

“We are prepared, and our students are prepared,” said Carole Gray, Dean of Disability Services, Veterans Affairs and Counseling Services at North Lake College. “We have information going out to student, facility, and staff. This is part of who we are now, and to predict the future wouldn’t do us any good. We can only wait and see.”

“The law does not allow ‘open carry’ on college campuses,” said Lauretta Hill, Dallas County Community College District’s (DCCCD) Commissioner of Public Safety and Security. “Open carry refers to the intentional display of a handgun, including the partially- or wholly-visible display of a handgun stored in a shoulder or belt holster. The law also does not allow the carry of rifles or shotguns on college campuses.

“In the future, students, facility, and staff can expect to see several changes regarding their security, including being required to wear identification name badges. This will also effect visitors who will be required to show identification at the front desk before walking campus grounds.”

Certain campus locations do not allow firearms such as child-care centers, polling places, sporting events, or any locations where grievance or disciplinary proceedings are conducted. The college prohibits the use, possession, or display of any illegal knife, club, or prohibited weapon that cannot be concealed.

Proponents of open carry believe arming the ‘good guys’ allows individuals to protect themselves and others in a world where bad guys carry guns.

“I feel that now it’s kind of better, because at least now we can protect ourselves if something happens, especially because of what happened recently,” said Ashley Gonzalez, a North Lake student, referencing a violent campus shooting in May which claimed two lives. “I believe as long as the students and facility are responsible and they know how to use it right and not play around with it, then they should be allowed to bring it here.”

Opponents of open carry are often quick to point out that statistically a gun owner is more likely to be shot by his own weapon than use it to defend himself or others.

“Our focus has been on compliance with the law and making sure that the college community understands what is allowed and what is not allowed,” said Dr. Christa Slejko, President of North Lake College. “Over the last year, we have held public forums to solicit feedback and questions from the community, the employees, and students. We’ve also had the opportunity to participate in the development of the DCCCD policy for implementation of the law.

“I think it means we will be adjusting to this new environment based upon our individual feelings about concealed carry. As you know, this is a controversial subject with proponents and opponents on both sides. In addition to complying with state law, it is also our role to be sure that our facility, staff, students and community understand the law and how concealed carry will look on a college campus. Above all, we don’t want this to be a distraction from our learning mission.

“The only part of the law that is open to local control is in the area of exclusionary, or gun free, zones. With input from the many constituents involved in our planning, the DCCCD Board approved as part of their policy, exclusionary zones. Exclusionary zones cannot be used to work around the intention of the law, but examples of approved gun-free zones including sporting events, the college Health Center, the Counseling Center and lab areas in which there are combustible materials.”

Irving ISD welcomes over 300 new teachers

Irving ISD welcomed nearly 330 new teachers to its ranks during the 62nd annual Back-To-School Luncheon presented in the Nimitz High School cafeteria on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

New teachers and professionals joined the staffs of every Irving elementary, middle and high school. They were welcomed to the district by members of the city council, school board, fellow teachers, and Superintendent, Dr. Jose Parra. 

“I can give all of you, as new staff members, the assurance that we will give you the support that you want, the feedback you deserve, and the students that you’re going to come to love,” Parra said. “Our kids will give you more than you could ever dream they could, if you give them that first. I think that’s the amazing thing about our students and our school district. They appreciate the smallest kindness and will always give you more than you think they can, if they think you care about them in the least.”

The event was sponsored by Michaels’. The company gave all the incoming teachers gift cards to help prepare their classrooms for the school year. The district also gave out its annual “Spirit Award” for the group with the most school spirit. This year’s recipients will be teaching at Britain Elementary School.

For many of these teachers, Irving ISD classrooms will be their first teaching positions. Emily Hartwig will be teaching 7th grade humanities at Ladybird Johnson Middle School. From a family of educators, Hartwig is looking forward to teaching in the same school district her father taught in years ago.

“Both of my parents are teachers and I’ve always been around education,” Hartwig said. “One day, I just started thinking about what I really wanted to do, and I liked helping kids, so that’s kind of where I landed. My dad actually taught for Irving ISD for 13 years. He loved it. He felt like they really backed new teachers and they make sure that they provide the resources to build teachers. Coming in as a new teacher, I wanted somewhere that would provide the resources and support me along the way. That’s why I chose Irving ISD.”

Hartwig enjoys teaching middle school students in particular, because she believes they are at an age where their teachers can really make a difference to their futures.

“I feel like they’re at a point where they’re starting to look towards the future and looking towards what they want to do as a career,” Hartwig said. “I feel like I can really help lead them down whatever path they choose and let them know that they can succeed however they want to with whatever path they choose.”

Incoming teacher, Jeremiah Fincher, has taught 6th through 8th grade for the last eight years. This year, he will be teaching Texas History, World History and PE at Ladybird Johnson Middle School.

“My whole family were pretty much educators: my grandparents, my mom, my sister, aunts, uncles,” Fincher said. “It’s basically what I’ve wanted to do my whole life.

“Irving is very unique. It’s in a big area and is a big town, but it’s really got a small city vibe to it.”

Jordan Schneider, another first-time teacher, will be teaching 8th grade English, language arts and reading at Crockett Middle School.

“I worked with youth in a really poor community and saw how teachers treated their students,” Schneider said. “It just wasn’t a really good environment, and I realized the students needed somebody who cared about them. It was too late for me to change my major, so I decided I was going to get my alternate certification, because I can’t complain about something if I don’t do something about it.”

Lit’s Alive program brings classic literature to life

Children and their parents spent a stormy afternoon at the South Irving Public Library enjoying the Lit’s Alive: Little Prince Tea on Saturday, June 24. The Lit’s Alive program brings classic literature to life.

“We pick classics that we celebrate,” teen services librarian Kristin Trevino said. “Those of us who grew up loving it, introduce it to the new generation. The program is designed to be multi-generational for all ages to enjoy.”

For this event, the librarians along with members of the Young Adult Action Council (YAAC) offered craft stations relating to Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s novel. The event included snacks and a screening of the film adaption.

“We decided to do Little Prince in the summer because it went with our teen summer theme which is, “Out of this World.” The Little Prince and the asteroid seemed like a perfect tie in,” Trevino said.

YAAC is a group of young adults who have a passion for reading and help create programs for the community.

“We like to organize book themed events for the community,” Erick Adame, a member of YAAC, said. “Everything is free. We always have snacks and a bunch of activities for everyone to do.

“We have little activities for people to do that correlate to the movie. We thought they would be fun for the whole family and easy for everyone to do.”

The stations included building an airplane magnet out of craft sticks, making a headband with fox ears, and creating a flower pen.

Irving resident and avid reader Kim Kirk brought two of her children, Ethan (11) and Katelyn (6), to the event.

“We like all of the programs, but we like the Lit’s Alive one because we really like classic literature,” Kirk said. “My older ones, although they enjoy the movie, they mostly come for the snacks. My little one especially likes the crafts, but it’s a great family event.”

Kirk is subscribed to the library’s newsletter in order to keep up with their events. She tries to make time for her family to routinely visit the library.

“I love books,” Kirk said. “From the time they were born, I’ve tried to share my love of books with them. My oldest son literally took his first steps at the library’s story time when he was a year old, so it’s just a part of our family.

“The library is really evolving, and the way that I see it, Irving is ahead. They’ve got their finger on the pulse when it comes to what the community wants and really meets those needs.

“I think probably 30 years ago when I was just a little girl, they had some neat things to do, but nothing like what my kids are getting to experience. Back then, the library was a place to go and check out books. It’s not just a place to come check out a book any more, it’s more of a community center.”

Scavenger hunt with author leads students to knowledge

Rummaging through aisles of books at the South Irving Library, students in grades 6 – 12 frantically searched for clues during the Space Runners Scavenger Hunt held on Tuesday afternoon, June 20.

Students were divided into two teams and had to work together to find clues hidden in different areas of the library.

“The scavenger hunt let them get familiar with places in the library,” said Mary Hinson, senior library assistant of teen services. “We also had a visiting author, Jeramey Kraatz, author of Space Runners: The Moon Platoon and The Cloak Society trilogy. It was a space themed scavenger hunt, and then we had a little meet and greet, Q and A session.”

This event is just one of many programs the library will host for teenagers this summer.

“During the summer we definitely hold more programs, because students have more time to be at the library,” Hinson said. “This summer we have more programs than ever, just about one a week.”

Grace Pipkins, a junior at MacArthur High School, decided to participate along with her two best friends.

“I asked both of my friends to come because I thought it looked like fun,” Pipkins said. “I love scavenger hunts. I’ve always loved scavenger hunts and I’m very competitive.”

Pipkins and her friends finished the scavenger hunt in about 20 minutes and won the grand prize, an iPod shuffle and a signed copy of Kraatz’s book Space Runners.

“It was like a rush of excitement trying to finish,” Pipkins said. “It was really fun, and we had a good time.”

Kraatz enjoys coming to events hosted by the Irving Library system, not only because they are his favorite libraries, but because he gets the opportunity to interact with teenagers.

“It’s my favorite thing to do as part of my job as an author for kids,” Kraatz said. “It’s great to be able to be here and talk to these students who are really interested in writing, to encourage them and maybe give them some advice. After this, I go back to my computer and keep working. Having just talked to these kids, I remember why I’m doing this, so it’s refreshing for me as well.”

Diego Alvarez, an incoming freshman at Jack E. Singley Academy, said even though his team lost, he still enjoyed the scavenger hunt.

“I learned how to work together in a team, got to improve on my social skills, and I learned a lot about the library because there are a lot of things that I didn’t know even though I’ve been here so many times,” he said.

Alvarez’s favorite part of the event was getting to talk to Kraatz in a one-on-one setting.

“The first time I met him, he came to my elementary school, but that was a long time ago,” he said. “I’m interested in becoming a writer when I grow up, so it’s cool to meet people like Jeramey Kraatz and other famous authors.”

Alvarez and his team did not leave empty handed. For their efforts in the scavenger hunt, they also received a signed copy of Space Runners.

“The scavenger hunt is a program that has actually been done almost every year,” Hinson said. “It’s a recurring program and everybody seems to have a really good time with it.”

Kraatz thinks the scavenger hunt is a fun way to keep teenagers engaged in the summer.

“The great thing about the scavenger hunt is that technically they’re here to win prizes, but they’re in the library in the summer exploring,” Kraatz said. “They get to find things they wouldn’t have found otherwise running through all these sections. They’re getting to explore the library and immerse themselves in books and remind themselves or learning for the first time. There’s such a world of literature and knowledge out there for them.”

Program celebrates good kids in middle school

A group of outstanding Irving ISD middle school students received recognition at the Celebrate Good Kids program held at the Irving Masonic Lodge on Tuesday, April 25.

Created by the Irving Masonic Lodge five years ago, the Celebrate Good Kids program honors both students and educators in Irving ISD with the lodge’s prestigious Lamar Award. The award is named after Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of Texas often referred to as “the Father of Public Education in Texas.” The program is one of many similar award ceremonies held all over Texas.

Past Master David Gisler said there are not many ceremonies that honor middle school students.

“The Masonic fraternity has long supported public schools,” Gisler said. “In the early days, most lodges were in two-story buildings. The lodge met on the second floor and encouraged churches or schools to meet on the first floor. In fact, in many cases, the Masons started the school and even paid the teachers’ salaries.”

Each year, one 8th grade student from each Irving ISD’s eight middle schools is selected by the faculty to receive this award. Faculty representatives came forward during the program to introduce their recipient and explain why the students were selected for the award, as well as sharing some of their teachers’ comments and praises with the crowd.

Mark Hinkson, 8th grade assistant principal of de Zavala Middle School, feels programs like Celebrate Good Kids help to acknowledge the often-overlooked students in Irving ISD.

“I’d like to thank the Masons for this opportunity that they give us every year,” Hinkson said. “Too many good students do everything right and are overlooked in this district. We’re trying to correct that and this [program] is one of those steps.”

Kathleen Dang from Houston Middle School received the award. Her principal, Jeffery Dorman, shared with the crowd a number of her academic and musical achievements. Dang herself was humble about her achievements, but also happy to receive the Lamar Award.

“I feel very privileged to receive this recognition,” Dang said. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support that my teacher, my previous teachers, my family and my friends have given me. I’m very happy for that. Maybe they overdid their descriptions of me, but I’m very grateful for them.”

Alondra Godoy Escobar from Bowie Middle School was another recipient of the Lamar Award.

“When they first told me [about the award] I was like, ‘Are you sure it’s me?’ because I‘m not in school much,” Escobar said. “But I feel incredible because even with all of my doctor’s appointments that I have, I still try to be in school. Bowie has been the greatest experience of my life, and I will never forget it, and I will really miss it.”

Additional students honored at the program were Eric Martinez Limon of Austin Middle School, Ashli Gafford of Lady Bird Johnson Middle School, Eduardo Serrano of de Zavala Middle School, Sakina Bivili of Travis Middle School, Samira Velaquez of Crockett Middle School and Thara Thekkedath of Lamar Middle School.

The program also recognized two Irving ISD teachers. Dennis Ramon, an algebra teacher at MacArthur High School, was awarded Secondary Teacher of the Year. Angela Snyder, a PE teacher at Townsell Elementary School, was awarded Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Breakfast with the Stars awards over $450,000 in scholarships

Irving ISD’s best and brightest high school seniors were celebrated at the 30th Annual Breakfast with the Stars presented at the Irving Convention Center on Tuesday, April 25.

Hosted by Nissan and the Irving Schools Foundation, this was one of the event’s biggest years ever with over 800 attendees and 150 scholarships awarded to seniors headed to college. The 150 scholarships totaled over $300,000, however the recipients were very surprised to learn that, in recognition of the 30th anniversary of Breakfast with the Stars, they would all receive an extra $1000 on top of the scholarships they were already receiving, bringing the total amount over $450,000.

Purwa Baseer of MacArthur High School, the recipient of the Nissan North America Scholarship, spoke to the crowd on behalf of the recipients and expressed how much the scholarship meant to her.

“I truly believe this scholarship represents more than just myself,” Baseer said. “When a local business gives a student financial support for college, it is an investment in the future of our community. It means the world to have this opportunity, because this contribution impacts the sustainability of my family and future educational plans.”

Baseer wants to continue the work of her benefactors and someday offer her own scholarships to other students.

“One day I hope to be in the same shoes of our great community leaders who are in this room. With the ability to financially support a promising young student, I would be completing a full circle of success,” Baseer said.

Sofia Rodriguez from Nimitz High School received the Nicholas’ Scholarship, an award for students planning to pursue degrees in journalism or the arts.

“It’s a big opportunity to be able to pursue what I love and enjoy and also what I want to do in life,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez plans to get her journalism degree at University of Texas in Austin.

Hope Cachay of Singley Academy received the Carol Wood Culinary Arts and Small Business Scholarship. She plans to attend Johnson and Wales University in the Applied Nutrition and Dietetics program.

“My financial burden will be lowered, which is a great burden that will be taken off my shoulders,” Cachay said. “That’s what really motivated me to get this scholarship.”

Katherine Maberry of Nimitz High School received the Judy Hammond Memorial Athletic Scholarship. She has not decided on a school yet, but plans to pursue a meteorology degree with a minor in environmental science.

“Getting this scholarship means so much to me, because it gives me motivation to pursue my career in meteorology and gives me the means to get there,” Maberry said.

Eileen Romero of Singley Academy received one of four Irving Las Colinas Rotary Scholarships. She plans to attend Abilene Christian University and pursue a degree in biology.

“I’m a part of the Rotary Club at my school, and because of my extra-curricular activities, I got the scholarship,” Romero said. “[Getting this scholarship] means that it’ll be a little less that I have to pay for when I go to school, and it means that my hard work paid off.”

The program featured keynote speakers Edward Lopez and Dr. Douglas Won, both successful former students of Irving ISD.

“I didn’t even know that such a thing as Irving Schools Foundation Scholarships existed when I was in high school,” Won said. “Just like I had more opportunity than my father, you already have more opportunity than I had when I was in high school.

“Stay focused, stay hungry, follow your passion. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t succeed. If they say you’re not worthy, push them aside and prove them wrong.”

Irving hosts JROTC National Drill Championship

In the middle of the first annual U.S. Marine Corps Junior ROTC (MCJROTC) National Drill Championships, cadet captain Carola Murguia had tapered expectations. Despite her unit winning their region a month earlier and advancing to the national stage, she was just happy to be competing against the best schools in the country.

“We’re expecting to not get last,” she joked. “I think we’ll do really well. We prepared, we put the hard work in, so now it’s just waiting for everybody else to see that we worked for it. We’re here to show everybody that we deserve to be here just as much as you.”

Murguia, who is from College Park High School just outside of Houston, and her team were one of 15 units from across the country that gathered at the inaugural championship, held on Saturday, April 22 at Irving High School.

256 competitive drill teams from across the nation competed in regional rounds, and the top three from five regions advanced to this past weekend’s championship. The championship round consisted of seven events, including inspection platoon, armed and unarmed regulation drill, armed and unarmed exhibition drill, color guard, and academics.

During the academics event, ten cadets per team took a 100 question multiple-choice test in 20 minutes with questions ranging from what they learned in their curriculum to current events. Regulation events are dictated, having to be done in a certain order at a certain time, but the exhibition events allow students to work together and create under the advisement of their unit instructor.

Schools were limited to 40 cadets, including a minimum of 13 cadets in the armed and unarmed exhibition and regulation drills.

Preparation for teams began back in January when a drill card was issued. Practice for the top-level teams routinely lasted for one to two hours a day including some weekends. All qualifying schools needed to submit a pre-registration entry form to Sgt. Major Willie Martin at Irving High School by April 10.

“It was a team effort,” Murguia said. “Everybody had different ideas. We figured out what worked best and who was best at explaining it. It was definitely a giant team effort.”

The JROTC program was set up by the United States Armed Forces in high schools and middle schools across the United States in 1916 as part of the National Defense Act. Most students who are part of the program, however, do not end up enlisting.

“It’s not about joining the military,” College Park High School Principal Mark Murrell said. “It’s not about a recruitment tactic by the armed services. It’s about taking young kids and teaching them the good values that they should have in their lives, so they can be productive citizens later on and be supportive.”

In the past, MCJROTC units have competed in drill competitions across the nation, but this event is the first time that all units have the opportunity to compete on the same stage.

The event culminated in a final awards ceremony and overall national championship. Each event presented an award to the top three schools or individuals. This year, Murguia won the best armed drill team commander with a perfect score and her school, College Park High School, took home the inaugural overall champion trophy.

“What a JROTC does to a school and a community is incredible,” Murrell said. “You see it totally turn a kid around; a kid that’s a high-potential drop out, failing all of their classes. They get part of ROTC and then all of a sudden they find their leadership skills, and they are taken to the top. It’s an incredible program. What they do for young men and women, it’s a great deal for them.”

University of Dallas looks back with retrospective alumni art exhibit

The University of Dallas aids scholars and artists to find meaning and fulfillment through higher education. After five decades of artistic excellence, the school organized a massive exhibit to showcase art from both present students and those who studied at the school at its inception.

Nancy Israel, guest curator for the exhibit, discussed how it represents the artistic accomplishments of UD Alumni since the Braniff Graduate School’s founding.

“Since this is the 15th anniversary of the Braniff Graduate School, we put together this incredible exhibition,” Israel said. “We asked quite a few alumni to participate, and we have 44 artists whose work represents from the first graduating class to the current graduating MFA class. It’s an entire span of the art department.”

Christina Haley, a curator who worked with Nancy on the exhibit, spoke about the logistics of bringing so many different artists together.

“That was a fantastic process Nancy started with one of the other graduate researchers here,” Haley said. “It was a matter of going through records and getting samples of current work, so Nancy could be able to have a look at it and select it. Then the process was finding people, we were on the Internet, calling up galleries, and all sorts of connections have been made. It’s been great, because a lot of the alumni haven’t connected with people in a long time, so it’s a big anniversary reunion element happening as well.”

Jeffrey Vaughn, a professional artist and University of Dallas alumni featured in the exhibit, mentioned why he chose to come to the show in person.

“To meet up with the professors, old friends, and other artists that might be in the show, and to just celebrate the 50th year anniversary of the graduate program,” Vaughn said. “The experience I had here as a student was incredibly rewarding. It was really the start of my professional career, studying with Dan Hammett, and many of the other teachers teaching here.

“I saw it mostly as an opportunity to reconnect and see old friends. I was also really curious about the other artists to see what the rest of the artwork looked like. I’m not familiar with most of the other artists. I was only here for the brief period of time when I was studying. This covers a fifty year span, so I thought it would be interesting.”

“My daughter also got her BFA here a couple years ago, and I have another older daughter who got a degree in education here, so we’re pretty well connected with the University of Dallas,” he said.

Vaughn also talked about his own work within the exhibit, and how it relates back to the style he has been exploring through his other pieces.

“It’s a painting based on a photograph,” he said. “I work from photographs, and I go through a selection process in choosing photographs I think will make a good painting, because there’s a certain amount of interpretation that takes place. I work within a photorealistic style to try and keep it painterly and imbue an interesting surface as well. I’ve been exhibiting ever since I was a student here. I started exhibiting in galleries in Dallas and continued to exhibit in St. Louis, New York, and Chicago. Fortunately, there’s been enough interest in my work to where I can keep busy with it.”

In a time when the National Endowment for the Arts is being threatened with a total loss of federal funding, many are being convinced that art is frivolous to society and should not be pursued professionally. Vaughn shared his thoughts on why he feels the visual arts are important for the spirit of a country.

“I think art is important, because it kind of defines the soul of a culture, and it’s kind of the underlying spirituality so to speak of the culture as expressed through the artist,” Vaughn said. “I think it’s important for art to be supported and pushed and made visible. There are so many ways to do it, but I think it’s important for art to be featured and made available for the culture.

Vaughn offered some advice to young artists who were hoping to pursue art through higher education.

“Be determined, don’t give up on it,” he said. “If you’re excited about it, if it’s your inspiration, then stay with it. There are so many ways you can find employment within the art world, so you can have the time to do your art work and have the means to continue working. I think studying in school is a good way to get a foothold, to get a response to your work, some appreciation and help with your work. It’s a place where you don’t have to worry about selling it so much, but a place where you can work with other artists and the professors to find your means of expression.”

Vaughn values his time at the University of Dallas.

“I think it was a valuable experience, and I’ll always revere it,” Vaughn said. “I think this was where I got the first really professional support for my work. The community here was so supportive and strong. Dallas at that time, 30 years ago, was growing, it was booming, and it’s continued to grow. I’m just very fortunate to be a part of it back then. It was fun to be here.”

The exhibit is open to the public in the Beatrice M. Haggerty Gallery at the University of Texas and runs until April 29.

Charlotte’s Web snares South Irving Library

Children were entangled in a number of arts and crafts activities at the South Irving Library on Friday, March 24, culminating in a viewing of Charlotte’s Web.

“We have crafts programs and a lot of fun,” librarian Amanda Hipp said. “People can check out books and come visit us. This event is celebrating Charlotte’s Web, so we’ve got a live pig.”

The event featured pink refreshments, books about pigs and a live pig named Hamlet.

“By the end of the night, we had roughly 200 to 250 people,” Hipp said. “It’s just a good way to introduce them to the library in a relaxed atmosphere, because we do a lot of programs for all ages and everybody’s welcome. It is good, free entertainment on a Friday night.”

Librarian Susan Cox, who a lot of the kids mistakenly thought was an actual pig because of her costume, put the event together with the help of Hipp.

“Well this month, actually March 1, was the first day of National Pig Month,” Cox said. “I happen to like pigs and pig lovers. We have our little friend Hamlet. He’s an adorable 10-week old pig. I knew our library did different programs once a month and I just asked if we could do something centered around pigs.”

Cox also shared that she was most surprised by the turnout that started with the story walk.

“We had our story walk at Centennial Park,” Cox said. “You walk one way and read a story, and on the way back, you read another story. The kids like to interact with the story. Some women were ninja-pigs, and they were showing the story time person their karate moves, which was really kind of cute.

“I think everybody’s having a lot of fun. I know I am. I had a lot of little girls who had their picture taken with me, which was cute,” she said.

Terry Rodgs attended the event with his kids and grandkids.

“My daughter is a big fan of the library,” Rodgs said. “My daughter is 20 years old. She is special needs and mentally challenged but she reads on the level of a first grader. She was real excited when she found out that they would have a live pig and all the other stuff. She wanted to get her nieces and nephews, my sons’ three children, and make sure that they would come, so it’s kind of her opportunity to be the cool one.”

Rodgs enjoys library programs centered on books that both he and his children and grandchildren have read because it helps bridge the gap between generations and gives them something they can all talk about.

“I liked the fact that it’s based on a book and the theme they have chosen,” Rodgs said. “It’s a good book. I don’t know how old that book is but I know I’m not as young as I used to be. I know it’s been around a while. I’ve read books like that and I try to steer my kids to books that I have read.”

MacAdemics teams win regional titles, state bids

MacArthur High School students recently won three regional championships and 13 state bids at regional competition at the University of Texas Arlington. In addition, students Obed De la Cruz and Ronaldo Carbone qualified for state in two events. The state qualifiers are as follows:

Current Issues and Events – REGIONAL CHAMPIONS


Sam Dennehy – Individual Fifth Place

Nikhil Arora

Ronaldo Carbone

Spelling and Vocabulary – REGIONAL CHAMPIONS

Obed De la Cruz – Individual Fifth Place

Kyle Ikpatt – Individual Sixth Place

Ronaldo Carbone

Katherine Parks


Miles Brownlee – Second Place Individual

Charles Salazar – Third Place Individual

Daniel Earley – Fourth Place Individual

Xavier Alvarez

Calculator Applications

Katherine Kim – Individual Third Place.