Category Archives: Irving Scholars

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.


Destination Imagination goes global

Dest Imagination - Travis (bottom) editedSix Destination Imagination teams represented Irving ISD at the state tournament in Lubbock. Students from Singley Academy, Johnston Elementary, and Travis, Houston and Johnson middle schools competed, showcasing their unique solutions to academic challenges in the areas of STEM, fine arts, improv and project outreach.

Travis’ “In it Together” team placed fifth in the engineering category, while Johnston’s “We Fell Up the Stairs” team placed fifth in the improvisational category. Both teams will head to Global Finals in Knoxville, Tenn., May 24-27. The international event will feature the tournament, interactive exhibits and skills workshops for approximately 1,400 student teams from nearly 15 countries. Pictured at top are (from left) Tristyn Hobbs-White, Tyler Littleton, Landry Childress, Haylee Sanchez, faculty co-manager Mary Surber, Moises Ramirez, Rylee Williams, Laniya Bell and faculty team manager Erin O’Connor from Johnston. Below are Andrea Viehweg and Elle Caldon from Travis; not pictured are faculty team mangers Julia Clowacki and Pia Pulido. SOURCE Irving ISD

MacArthur students win at NASA competition

Students in AP physics classes at MacArthur High School competed in the NASA Space Settlement Design Contest at the Johnson Space Center in Houston March 24 and 26.

On the first night of the competition, 200 students from Texas and Iowa were divided into four companies. The next day, the groups received a request for proposal outlining a task. This year, students were asked to design a space settlement for Mercury. Students worked all day Saturday and through the night to complete their task by 7:30 a.m. Sunday. They presented their projects to a panel of engineers, scientists and retired astronauts.

MacArthur High School students Burhanuddin Biviji and Ahmedtaha Awad were on the winning team. They are pictured with lead engineer for the Apollo missions Norman Chaffee, who designed the maneuver rockets on the Saturn V.


Irving ISD celebrates Career and Technical Education program

Irving ISD students shared their educational successes at the ISD Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department Celebration of Excellence presented at the Jack E. Singley Academy on Wednesday, March 22.

CTE, also known as “Signature Studies” in Irving ISD, provides high school students with a unique curriculum based around their chosen career. Students can take courses in a number of fields, from law enforcement and business to culinary arts and video game design, while receiving real-world experience and certifications to aid them in their career and/or college pursuits.

“Signature Studies provides each student with an opportunity to focus on a career pathway of their choice,” said Shawn Blessing, director of the CTE department. “Each program is designed by students with the academic, technical and soft skills necessary for success in a globally competitive workforce. Each Signature Studies program promotes personal challenge through engaging real-world projects, which integrate academics with technical skill attainment. The focus of every program is to prepare students for high demand careers by providing an opportunity to be part of a small learning community with students who also share similar goals.”

The Celebration of Excellence was held to not only showcase the program, but also to thank the local businesses and organizations that are involved and help support it. Several awards were handed out in recognition of the roles these organizations play. Supporter Awards were given to Citi Foundation, Credit Union of Texas, Fluor, Goldman Sachs, Irving Schools Foundation, JourneyEd, North Lake College and TEXO. Exploring, the youth career counseling service, received the Business Partner of the Year award. The Hotel Association received Non-Profit Partner of the Year. El Centro College received the Post-Secondary Partner of the Year.

David Meierotto, campus director of the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, accepted the Signature Award on the Aviation Institute’s behalf.

“A lot of folks are not looking at hands-on industry as a career path,” Meierotto said. “It’s always known that you go to college, and college is automatically thought of as being four-year. It’s not necessarily the case. Individuals that love and want to work with their hands can find a career path that will pay them very well. It’s a great way for us as a school, and in the community, if we can reinvest in tomorrow’s youth and tomorrow’s future leaders and let them know that working with your hands is a good opportunity.”

However, the main focus of the celebration was the Signature Studies students themselves. Many students came forward during the event to speak about their experiences with Signature Studies and how it made an impact on their lives. Haley Stripling has been in the Fire Technology program at Singley Academy for three years. Thanks to her experiences in the Signature Studies program, she feels confident in pursuing her dream of being a firefighter.

“We learned so much when we went to Tarrant County College to be a part of the search and rescue they did,” Stripling said. “We brought what we learned back, and we actually practice it all the time. That’s going to get us ready when we go into the service. This is going to get me one step closer to college and what I really want to do. When I go into college, I’m ready for whatever comes at me. I’m ready to go into the buildings, and I’m ready to save people and animals and whatever else may be in there.”

Hamza Abdallah is a student in the Homeland Security program at Singley. Being part of the Signature Studies program provided him with valuable skills for not only his future career, but for his daily life as well.

“We are taught to be confident in every decision we make,” Abdallah said. “A quick and swift decision in this line of work can potentially save my life and save the lives of others.

“We are taught analytic skills, taking the minute details of everything and making a larger picture, which can be implemented in crime scene investigation. We’re taught management skills, working under pressure in the heat of the moment, maintaining a heated situation and gaining control of a situation is imperative to controlling everything that we do. All of these characteristics that I’ve learned here will help me and place me at an advantage in the future.”

MacArthur freshman selected for Under 16 National Team Trials

MacArthur High School freshman Sarah Andrews has been selected by USA Basketball and the Developmental National Team Committee to participate in the 2017 Under 16 National Team Trials in May at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. If selected to the 12-member team, she will participate in the 2017 FIBA Americas Under 16 Championship in Argentina in June. 

Andrews is pictured with MacArthur principal Dan Cummings and MacArthur girls’ head basketball coach Suzie Oelschlegel.


Irving ISD Athletic Hall of Fame names inductees

The Irving ISD Athletic Hall of Fame Committee recently announced the Class of 2017, which includes a standout wrestler, triple threat athlete and two beloved coaches. The inductees are (in alphabetical order): Brad Knouse; Hobert Lytal; Duane Miller; and Thomas Uhr.

Now in its sixth year, the Irving ISD Hall of Fame is designed to honor those who have contributed to athletic excellence throughout the history of Irving ISD.

Brad Knouse

As standout wrestler and football player at MacArthur High School from 1984 to 1988, Brad Knousegarnered a plethora of accolades. He was a three-time undefeated state wrestling champion, winning the title in 1986, 1987 and 1988. He also earned Texas Wrestler of the Year titles each of those years.

Knouse placed fifth in the Under 18 World Championships in 1986 and 1988. At the national level, he won the Greco Roman National Championship title in the under 18 age division in 1987 and was runner up for the same title in 1988. He won National Championships in the under 16 age division in both freestyle and Greco Roman in 1985 and 1986. He was the 1985 Pan Am Games Champion in the under 16 age division in freestyle and was featured as a Sports Illustrated Face in the Crowd that same year.

Knouse was named the Irving Daily News Male Athlete of the Year in 1987 and 1988 and was the Asics Team USA Wrestler of the Year in the 177-pound class in 1987 and the 189-pound class in 1988. Throughout high school, he also earned honors in football as a fullback, being named to the first team all-district in 1987 and first team all-offense in 1988.

Graduating as valedictorian of the MacArthur class of 1988, Knouse attended Iowa State University on a full scholarship for wrestling. During his collegiate years, he competed in the U.S. Open Wrestling Tournament, taking 5th in 1989 and 4th in 1990. That same year, he won the championship in the 20 and under age division in Greco Roman and freestyle wrestling in the United States Olympic Sports Festival. He also placed third in the 20 and under World Championships. 

He earned a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from Iowa State and has worked as an aerospace engineer for 22 years, most notably working on the GPS satellite system and the space shuttle program for the last 12 years that it flew. He is currently working on NASA’s crew exploration vehicle.

He and his wife of 22 years, Trish, reside in Pearland with their three dogs and two cats.

Hobert Lytal

Hobert Lytal worked in Irving ISD for 22 years, 13 of those years as athletic director. He started with the district as an assistant coach and taught world history at MacArthur High School for eight years before serving as the school’s head coach for one year. He was then named athletic director for Irving ISD in 1980, serving in that capacity until his retirement in 1993.

Coach Lytal was instrumental in implementing the athletic program at all of the district’s middle schools and each high school. He’s credited with having the vision to bring baseball fields to each high school campus. He also worked diligently to ensure the district complied with Title IX, a law passed in 1972 that requires that equal opportunities in education programs and activities be made available among boys and girls.

“I enjoyed being able to teach young people, be it football or in the classroom,” Coach Lytal said. “I feel like I had the opportunity to make young people better.”

Coach Lytal and his wife of 31 years, Peggy, live in Irving. They have a daughter, Lori; four sons – James, Matt, Todd and Grant; 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A native of Quinlan, Texas, Coach Lytal studied at Austin College in Sherman. He coached in Celeste, Archer City, Leonard, Greenville and Tarleton State College before his stint in Irving.

Duane Miller

Duane Miller was a triple threat athletic standout during his years at Irving High School, 1982 to 1986. The Irving native competed in football, basketball and track and field. He earned seven varsity letters and was named Outstanding Athlete of the Year his senior year. Miller was named to the All-District football team his junior and senior years and to the second team All-Metroplex his senior year. In track, he was a regional qualifier in the shotput.

Miller attended the University of Texas at Austin on a football scholarship. He was a starter and letterman for the team from 1987 to 1990 and served as the co-captain of the 1990 Southwest Conference Championship team. He appeared in 42 games, starting in 34 of those including the Bluebonnet Bowl and Cotton Bowl. He was named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll four semesters and to the Texas Football preseason second team All Southwest Conference in 1990.

He was a Dallas Cowboys free agent signee in 1991. Miller attended Texas Wesleyan School of Lawin 2003. He is a defense attorney based in Belton. He and his wife, Lori, have been married 24 years. They reside in Salado.

Thomas Uhr

Thomas Uhr began his coaching career in Irving ISD in 1958, coaching track, football and basketball at Bowie Middle School until 1964, winning many city championships in all three sports. He then moved to Irving High School, where he served for four years as the head track coach, assistant B team football coach and freshman basketball coach. He had regional qualifiers in the 800 and 440 relays and discus in his first year at Irving High School. He coached football alongside Jack Rucker and Don McDonald, and the trio were known as the “B Bombers.”

Among the notable athletes he coached during his tenure at Irving are national discus champion Kelvin Korver (a member of the Irving ISD Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2016).

Prior to his time at Irving, Uhr coached track at San Marcos Baptist Academy in San Marcos, where his team won state in 1958.

Uhr also spent more than two decades in the classroom teaching science and vocational courses.

As an athlete himself, Uhr set the record in the high jump at the Border Olympics and won the pole vault at the Fort Worth Rec Meet. He made the All-District teams in football, basketball, baseball and track, attending Edison and Northeast (now MacArthur) high schools in San Antonio.

Uhr and his wife, Anne (a member of the Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2013) have a daughter, Laura.

The 2017 Hall of Fame inductees will be honored at a banquet on Saturday, June 17, at the Sheraton DFW Airport Hotel. Tickets are $20. For information, please contact the Irving ISD Athletic Department at 972-600-5215.


Nimitz bowling competes at state

The Boys bowling team competed at the state tournament this past weekend.

Freshmen Tommy Snipes and Lane Thompson bowled high scores of 235 and 224 respectively. The boys bowled well and ended placing 23rd in state.

Lane Thompson bowled in single completion and placed 58th.  The coaches are very proud of these young men look forward to more accomplishments next season.

Pictured are seniors Gerardo Herrera and Travis Snipes, junior Stephen Torres, and freshmen Billy Snipes. Tommy Snipes and Lane Thompson.  


de Zavala students sweep winners circle in IPD poster contest

The Irving City Council recognized three de Zavala Middle School students for winning the police department’s poster design contest at its meeting March 23.

Each student received a gift card, shook the mayor’s hand and gave a short speech.

Pictured are (front row from left) de Zavala Middle School art teacher Lora Smith, third-place winner Dayanara Limon, second-place winner Bianca Hernandez, first-place winner Sebastian Marrero, (back row from left) Irving ISD Assistant Director of Fine Arts Gayla Lawrence, de Zavala Principal Anika Horgan and representatives of Irving Police Department.



Great Hearts student competes on “Chopped Junior”

Great Hearts Irving’s 7th grade student, Yashica Nabar, was a contestant on the nationally syndicated show “Chopped Junior”. The episode aired on the Food Network on Wednesday, March 1. During the show, four young contestants are given a surprise basket of ingredients to prepare an appetizer, entree and dessert for celebrity judges. The judges critique every plate, and one chef is eliminated after each round.

Yashica’s love of cooking began at just six years old when she started helping out in her family’s kitchen. She enjoyed everything from mixing to stirring and eventually started grilling and baking up delicious dishes for her family. She loves to make a variety of fusion dishes that combine her favorite Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Italian and traditional American foods. But her all-time favorite dish is making crunchy and flavorful Hawaiian tacos.

Her time and talent in the kitchen inspired her to apply and audition to be on “Chopped Junior”. Every year, thousands of hopefuls apply to be on this show, so they must have been pretty impressed when they saw Yashica’s audition tape. During the nearly five-month audition process, Yashica was interviewed by a casting producer, culinary specialists and production marketing managers, and tested on her verbal and culinary communication skills. Her portion of the show was taped in two different studios in Manhattan, NY.

The outcome of Yashica’s episode revealed that she was “chopped” that is, eliminated after the appetizer round, but considering she beat out hundreds of young culinary masterminds who applied to compete, in our opinion she’s already a winner.


SOURCE Great Hearts