by 78209 Magazine | September 1, 2020 | School News

The first day of school marks a special time for students, parents, and teachers. While 2020 has presented its own set of challenges, nothing would stop the Alamo Heights educational community from finding new ways to celebrate the tradition, excitement, and hope a new school year presents. We’ve gathered a few first-day memories to share. We expect it to be an extraordinary year!

Big Gratitude

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Dr. Dana Bashara and Peter Hennessey, IV

A picture paints a thousand words. At Alamo Heights ISD, ours are all grounded in gratitude. Dr. Dana Bashara, Superintendent of Schools, accepts the $1 million check from Peter Hennessey, IV, Alamo Heights School Foundation Immediate Past President, on behalf of the AHSF and their donors, in support of the district’s teachers and educational efforts.


Students enrolled in the Heights Business Incubator program at Alamo Heights High School recently hosted their first-ever virtual “Pitch Night.”

Think “Shark Tank” in high school. The top five teams were pre-selected to present to a panel of professional investors during Pitch Night. Investors listened to the team presentations and awarded funding to the top three teams, and one team earned funding by audience choice. The year began with 135 students, two teachers, 45 coaches, who, along with the teachers, taught over 140 lessons, collaborating with 45 mentors who worked directly with the teams.

Over 250 guests tuned in virtually on July 30 to watch finalist teams Barley’s Brew Bones, Coupingo, Hice, Leaf Eco Pigeon, ParKing, and SleekFit, pitch their ideas. Audience members joining the Live Pitch Night Event Zoom Webinar were able to vote for the People’s Choice Award, awarding $1,000
to the team with the most votes from viewers.

Ed Howie served as the host of the event and opened the show with a rousing rap specific to the program that mirrored a fan favorite from the Broadway musical, “Hamilton.”

Meet the Judges
Distinguished judges for the event included: David Adelman, Founder, and Principal at Area Real Estate, Kim Ford, President of theKFORDgroup, Randy Harig, CEO of the Texas Research and Technology Foundation and VelocityTX, Elaine Hicks, Independent C-Suite Consultant, and Lanham Napier, Co-Founder, and CEO of BuildGroup Management, Inc.

Meet the Teams
Barley’s Brew Bones
: Blake Danner, Max Dickey, and Trevor Winton
Coupingo: Patrick Maloney, James Schnoebelen, Christopher Scott, and Lexi Ramirez
Hice: Jackson Escamilla, Jack Lopez, Wesley Mohr, Matthew Rendon, and Will Stetson
Leaf Eco Pigeon: Blake Burke, Brendan Hermann, Lauren Martinez, and Davien Mendiola
ParKing: Hudson Hanna, Parker Klumpp, and Andrew Seay
SleekFit: Olivia Bakke, Sofia Medrano, and Serandon Sheppard

And the Winners Are
Announced live during the Zoom Webinar, the winners included:

1st Prize-$10,000 underwritten by Luther King Capital Management
Barley’s Brew Bones for their craft dog bones

2nd Prize-$8,000 funded by the Mays Family Foundation
Leaf Eco Pigeon, an alfalfa-compressed, eco-friendly, biodegradable shooting pigeon.

3rd Prize-$5,000 presented by Frost
SleekFit, a creative fashion belt featuring embedded magnets.

People’s Choice Award-$1,000
ParKing, a pre-purchase parking system

HBI Team Invited to Pitch at National Level

The Alamo Heights High School Heights Business Incubator Teams, Leaf Eco Pigeon, was selected out of over 164 Incubator teams nationwide to compete in Uncharted Learning’s National Incubator Pitch Competition on July 22. The National Pitch Competition was virtual. The team earned $4,000 in funding at the national level.

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Woodridge Teacher Named Regional Teacher of the Year


Lisa Barry presented her Teacher of the Year speech during the district’s annual Convocation event. She exited the virtual podium as Region 20 Education Service Center Executive Director, Dr. Jeff Goldhorn delivered a welcome to the district via the Google Meet platform and quickly invited Barry back to the podium when he announced that Barry was the 2021 Region 20 Teacher of the Year. Barry was shocked, thrilled, and so proud!
She will represent Region 20 as the Elementary Teacher of the Year. She will move on to the state level competition, hoping to become a finalist for the Texas Teacher of the Year honor.

Barry was named the Alamo Heights ISD District Teacher of the Year earlier this Spring. She has been honored as a finalist for the Trinity Prize and a finalist for the Humanities Texas Outstanding Teacher Award.

Earlier in the summer, Barry was surprised by Principle Auto Group Partners, Abigail Kampmann, and Mark Smith, along with their team members, with her first set of keys to a “Car-4-All-Seasons.”

Barry, a veteran teacher at Woodridge Elementary, is best known for her teaching of tolerance through the lessons of the Holocaust. Barry was one of the four women and the only teacher who convinced Texas lawmakers to create Holocaust Remembrance Week, which was launched in January 2020.


One of the reasons Saint Mary’s Hall (SMH) is so special is the sense of family and community. Despite starting school on August 17 virtually, SMH is working hard to preserve that connection with families as we begin the 2020-2021 school year in the virtual phase.

In August, SMH welcomed faculty and staff back to campus to prepare for the 2020-2021 School Year (practicing physical distancing guidelines). Since the pandemic forced classes online, faculty and staff have participated in professional development, department/vertical team meetings, technology training, and preparing their classrooms for the initial virtual learning phase of the school year. Lower School hosted parent/teacher meet and greets, and Middle and Upper School held their student and parent orientations.

To officially kick off the school year, SMH held its first-ever Baron Bazaar Brigade, a safe and fun version of the annual Baron Bazaar back-to-school event. Families were treated to curbside service where they received their textbooks, school supplies, and even some surprises. Faculty and staff were on hand to cheer and welcome families back to campus with smiles, signs, and pompoms.

On August 17, Saint Mary’s Hall welcomed students back. The SMH community showed their excitement by sharing fun first day of school photos with SMH. Virtually or in person, the first day of school is always special, especially at Saint Mary’s Hall.


Being part of a small school with an adaptive co-operative community is a real value in this time of uncertainty. We have unique strengths to cope with this pandemic: a small scale community with small classes; maximized outdoor learning spaces; evidenced-based and flexible responses to the pandemic that prioritize the safety of our students; and a compassionate community that takes our responsibilities to protect each other seriously. We are uniquely positioned as a family-integrated co-op to creatively and constructively respond to contemporary challenges. As we teach our students, challenges are opportunities for innovative solutions.

Our curriculum is already oriented around nature, gardening, and outdoor play and we are currently making improvements to our campus to truly maximize outdoor time. Co-op members are building student benches to create an open-air classroom space. Coming inside will also be necessary and classroom spaces are being adapted to allow students to physically distance from one another. Custom-sized individual desks are being built by co-op volunteers to replace the traditional group tables in our Pre-K and kindergarten classrooms. These are just a few of the wonderful ways our community has thought outside of the educational box to create solutions for our students in the evolving reality of this pandemic.

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At 78209 Magazine, we have our finger on the pulse of these communities located in the heart of San Antonio. Our staff of talented writers and photographers is dedicated to bringing you quality content that spotlights the local residents, businesses, lifestyles, and culture of the neighborhoods that make up the ’09 area. From political issues to restaurant openings, if it’s happening in 78209, we want you to know.

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