February: School News

schoolMount Everest Comes To Woodridge Elementary
In mid-January, amidst gasps and high-fives, the students in Amy Soupiset’s fourth-grade class at Woodridge Elementary walked into their regular classroom, but into a completely different setting than the one they had known all year. Gone were the tables and desks, replaced instead with a full-size, six-man tent and campfires. A floor-to-ceiling Mount Everest dominated the back wall, colorful Tibetan pennants were strung across the room, and professional climbing ropes were strategically placed around the room.

The room had been transformed into a writing base camp, and Soupiset and student teacher Mike Ventresca had donned toques, winter coats, and climbing sunglasses. Each student received a spiral-bound expedition journal, and after the class calmed down, the reason for the room transformation was revealed to the kids.

Soupiset explained, “The whole idea for the room transformation was inspired by my desire to make writing an expository essay a less daunting task. Fourth grade is the first year that students have to take the STAAR test, and many of them are afraid of the unknown—it feels like an overwhelming task. I used the analogy of climbing Mount Everest and the preparation that climbers go through in order to successfully make the trip to the top.

“There are five base camps that climbers have to reach before the final ascent,” she continued. “In my classroom, I imagined the five steps of the writing process—brainstorming, mind-mapping, outlining, rough-drafting and revision—as base camps, with the final draft being similar to reaching the summit. I told them that I would be their Sherpa who would guide them safely to the top. I wanted them to slow down the process and realize that it isn’t a race but that good preparation and being intentional will take them a long way.”IMG_8767

Students Perform In Unifying Production
by Sarah Hawk
AHHS Hoof Print Co-Editor in Chief

Project Unify is a new club on the Alamo Heights High School campus. It is a club that encourages an environment of authentic inclusion throughout the school and the community as a whole. This past month, the group performed a rendition of Rapunzel Uncut–the story of Rapunzel as told by the “dramatic princess, two dueling narrators and an incredibly silly prince.” “I think that working on the set of the play was really fun,” senior Emilian Stetz said. “The play was really fun, and there wasn’t a day that we didn’t laugh.”

The class that performed is made up of both Theater 3 students and Special Olympic athletes. Each of the theater students is paired with an athlete to help with blocking, lines and other aspects of producing a show. “Working with the life class on the play was a fun experience,” senior Haden Delaney said. “I hope groups in the future have just as much success as we did.”

The play was co-directed by senior Alicia Fleming, the president of Project Unify, and Delaney. Fleming asked that Delaney assist with the play because she knew that he could bring his theater skills to the production. Theater teacher Charlcy Nichols and special education teacher Erika Guerrero also played a huge part in directing the play and merging the two classes. “It’s a beautiful play and process,” Guerrero said. “Seeing the bond and friendships that the students develop while working side by side is awesome.”

Students were allowed to attend the play during any classes that their teachers would allow them to leave. There were performances all day on Dec. 4, as well as an additional performance on Dec. 5. “I got to go see the play during my computer science class,” senior Ben Clark said. “It was really cool to see people of all abilities coming together.”

Project Unify did not originate in the high school, but is actually a national initiative. It promotes the idea of all students coming together, despite their differences, to work side by side as equals. “Project Unify is such a blessing,” Fleming said. “I’m so grateful to be part of an environment of acceptance and inclusion.”

Though the production has come to an end, the unified theater students are not done with their exploration in the theater. The group plans to take a trip to see Cinderella at the Majestic Theatre. This will provide students an opportunity to see another production. “I’m very excited to be able to take the unified theater students to see Cinderella at the Majestic Theatre in April,” Nichols said. “These kids have worked very hard to put on such a wonderful production, and they deserve a reward. Mrs. Guerrero and I came together and created a ‘GoFundMe’ to help raise the funds to provide such an opportunity for these kids.”

AHHS Senior Abby Gray Is Gatorade’s Texas Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year Texas
Alamo Heights senior Abby Gray has been named Gatorade’s Texas Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year Texas. This honor was announced by Gatorade in collaboration with USA Today. With this announcement, Gray is now a finalist for Gatorade’s National Girls Cross Country of the Year award. Gray, who is signed with Arkansas, is the second area runner in a row to earn this distinction. Paige Hofstad, now a senior at New Braunfels, won it last year. Other accolades won by Gray in recent months include the UIL Class 5A state championship, the San Antonio Express-News cross country girls runner of the year, and she placed 18th at the Foot Locker Cross Country nationals and 21st at the Nike Cross Nationals.

Alamo Heights Baseball in Full Swing
Alamo Heights High School is hosting its eigth Annual Baseball Derby on Saturday, Feb. 6, 10am-6pm, at the MuleYard. The derby supports the Alamo Heights High School baseball team. The event includes a player inters-quad, silent auction, barbecue station, home run contest, derby play and raffle drawings. Tickets are $10. Contact Thomas Tyng for details at 210-410-6277.

IMG_2730St. Pius X Catholic School PreK-3 students learn their Catholic Alphabet
St. Pius X Catholic School PreK-3 is now enrolling for 2016-2017 school year. At St. Pius X Catholic School, PreK-3 students learn about their Catholic faith through the ABC’s. Each hands-on lesson explains one letter of the alphabet along with an arts and crafts activity, saint of the week and a Bible verse.
The school’s ELC program features the Happily Ever After curriculum from the Rowland Reading foundation and Zaner-Blose. Daily small-group instruction provides multiple opportunities for children to be actively involved in learning, developing skills with teacher modeling, guidance, immediate feedback and support. Small-group lessons focus on the most predictive skills, phonological awareness, alphabet recognition and mathematics.
Contact Cathy Brown, Admissions, at 210-824-6431 for more information.

ST. LUKE’S DANCERS ACCEPTED BY PRESTIGIOUS NESA PROGRAM
Three St. Luke’s Episcopal School eighth-grade dancers have been accepted into North East School of the Arts’ prestigious high school dance program at Robert E. Lee High School. North East School of the Arts, also known as NESA, is ranked among the top 10 arts high schools in the nation. St. Luke ‘s dancers Kourtney Bowen, Iliana Cantu and Victoria Khoury have danced for several years at St. Luke’s and decided to take their passion for dance on to high school.

Prospective students at NESA must apply and audition for acceptance into the program of their choice. The extensive audition required dancers to present a one-minute piece of choreography in the style of their choice and learn both jazz and ballet combinations taught by the program’s directors. Applicants must also complete a written application, submit a résumé, and participate in an interview. Bowen, Cantu and Khoury were encouraged to audition by their longtime teacher, St. Luke’s director of dance, Paula Gorman Mosely.

Expressing great pride in the dancers’ accomplishments, Gorman Mosely said, “The girls have worked very hard to get to the level of training it takes to get into NESA.Many NESA graduates have moved on to appear in Broadway musicals and films and have been accepted into prestigious college dance programs. We are so proud of our St. Luke’s dancers!”

Does Your Child Want To Be Bat Boy?
Does your child want to serve as a bat boy for Alamo Heights baseball? If so, sign-up is going on now. Bat boys can be in the dugout for a varsity game, be introduced before the game, get a free T-shirt, and bat boy parents get in the game for free. Sign-ups are first come, first serve. Payment of $100 must be received to reserve a spot. Contact Barbara Iverson at 210-213-5129.

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