School News

by 78209 Magazine | February 8, 2021 | School News

Pride of Country on Campus

By Georgia Valles, Hoof Print News Editor

The JROTC Program, led by COL (R) Victor Diaz and First Sargent (R) Jasper Miller, has been one of the most successful programs on the Alamo Heights High School campus. Every year, students enter the program to learn leadership skills and lessons they will remember for the rest of their lives. Freshmen to juniors have the potential to inherit a leadership position during their senior year. Many of these students work hard year-round to be the best cadets they can be by participating in school events and becoming a family with other members.

“JROTC is the best activity,” senior Riley Duprey said. “It molded me into the person I am today and gave me the values I will carry with me for the rest of my life. JROTC, to me, is more than just an extracurricular: it’s a family that builds each other up as we grow.”

The JROTC Program has won many competitions because of devoted leaders and cadets. Teams from JROTC are Rifle, PT (Physical Training), Academics, Leadership, Drill, and Colorguard. Each team works hard year-round to prepare for frequent competitions throughout the year. Some teams are national champions and have won many titles because of their dedication and their leadership. However, because of COVID-19, members of JROTC have not been able to showcase their skills as much this year.

“We recently finished our promotion board for the end of the first semester, and cadets did far better than we could have hoped for,” senior Yago McMunn said. “We have had fewer competitions this year, but we still get up at 5 am every morning to practice at the high school, no matter what.”

To maintain the program’s values and quality, student leadership performs inspections multiple times throughout the year. Along with personal inspections, JROTC also has program inspections. These inspections include uniform inspections and reciting JROTC values. The JROTC Program for Accreditation (JPA) is used to evaluate high school JROTC Programs and their instructors, as defined by public laws, contracts, Army Regulations, and United States Army Cadet Command (USACC) policies to ensure compliance with program criteria. School districts and instructors will receive a JPA visit at least once every three years. The criteria consist of battalion staff officers presenting a detailed briefing on an area the program needs to improve. It’s commonly called a Continuous Improvement Plan briefing. The remaining criteria consist of a Service Learning briefing–10 cadets presenting their cadet portfolios and presenting instructor portfolios.

“Because of the COVID-19 situation, we did not have an In Ranks Inspection which requires all 101 cadets to participate, the Drill Sequence and the Color Guard presentation,” Colonel Diaz said. “These three areas were waived because of social distancing; we did not want to place cadets at risk of being infected with the Coronavirus.”

This year the battalion staff’s presentation was outstanding as they earned 34 points of a possible 35. Their service-learning briefing received 19.5 points of a possible 20, and both cadet and instructor portfolios received full credit, 80 points. As a JROTC Program, they earned a 99.25 percent on a 100 percent scale. JROTC will continue to be recognized as an Honor Unit with Distinction, the highest honor bestowed on a JROTC Program.

“Being a senior in JROTC is wonderful because I finally have my chance to give back to the program that helped support me throughout high school,” senior Charlie McCormick said. “It is wonderful looking back at freshman year and seeing how much this program has helped me and others grow.”

Though the JROTC Program has not had a typical year, members of the program are committed to their positions. JROTC has been focused on what is to come in the new year. Seniors have taken it upon themselves to help recruit incoming students for the school year. The program also provides excellent opportunities for seniors who plan to attend college.

JROTC this year is focused on enrolling and recruiting new cadets,” senior Madilyn Echiverri said. “We are working with the junior school to send our recruiting information for students and parents. We are also focused on college readiness for our seniors this year, especially when preparing for the national JROTC scholarships.”

Working Out on Campus

CrossFit Provides Alternate Athletic Activity

By Lee Smith, Hoof Print Sports Staff

Cross Fit
(Lee and Teel #15 CrossFit)

The CrossFit Program at the high school has made some tremendous strides as Coach Billy Craft has taken over the program. Craft is in his second year as a coach at the high school. Prior to coaching, he played baseball for UTSA. He was also a stellar athlete at O’Connor High School, excelling in baseball and football, making him a perfect candidate for the role.

“This is my second year doing CrossFit, and Coach Craft has made it a lot more engaging and fun to work out,” junior Morgan Smith said. “I used to hate doing the physical activity, but now I’m in the best shape of my life.”

Smith is one of the most promising young cross-fitters in this year’s program and has experienced CrossFit with two different coaches. Craft coach’s baseball and football, adding in CrossFit, working with students’ specific needs, and everyone seems to love his plans for them.

“Even though Coach Craft isn’t my specific position coach, he is my favorite coach,” junior Quarterback and Pitcher James Sobey said. “He is the only coach who can challenge me in a throwing competition and would probably beat me out for starting quarterback if he wasn’t so old and fragile.”

Sobey has an absolute cannon of an arm, and the fact that Craft can even challenge him is very impressive. Craft puts himself in his athletes’ position as he participates in CrossFit competitions across the city and does every lift with his students, even running laps with them. During some football practices, Craft even runs the 40-yard dashes with his players challenging them to do better and once even went as far as suiting up in full pads, going through the tackling drills to “show us how it’s done.”

“I went from being a decent junior varsity football player my sophomore year when coach arrived to one of the strongest defensive backs on the team,” junior Safety Connor McGrath said. “Craft has helped me develop my skills, and he believed in me even when I wasn’t that great.”

Ready for Kindergarten?


Ready for Kindergarten? Register for the Howard Kinder Preview!

The Kinder Preview provides valuable information about AHISD’s kindergarten programs and all that our littlest Mules will enjoy during their first year as a student.

Attendees will:

  • – Meet the Principal, Susan Peery
  • – Learn about the Kindergarten Program
  • – Take a peek at a “Day in the Life” video
  • – Virtually Tour a LIVE Kindergarten classroom for your child (Your child will jump on the Google Preview with you at this time.)
  • – Share in an opportunity for Q & A

Dates for Kinder Preview (Google Meet):

Google Kinder Preview, February 2, 9 am to 10 am

Campus Tour, February 2 & 3, 3:30-4:00 pm

(Additional dates for Google Kinder Preview will be available in February. Dates noted on AHISD website,

Google Kinder Previews are limited to 40 children and their families, so register early. At the close of the Google Kinder Preview, you will receive the link to register for the Campus Tour. Campus Tours are open to all who are interested but not required. Registration for the Campus Tours is limited to 5-7 families per tour group.

BONUS: Incoming Howard students who have completed registration for the 2021-22 school year by February 12, 2021, and provided the supporting documents will receive a fun Howard child’s t-shirt provided courtesy of our AH-mazing Howard PTO.

Pandemic Support: Fans Keep Cheering Despite COVID

By Mark Sechler, Hoof Print Co-Editor in Chief

Not only has COVID changed the lives of the athletes who play in the games but also the fans who cheer at the games. This year has been especially tough for Mules’ sports fans. With COVID-19 separating everyone and not allowing everyone at games, athletes also have to deal with no home facilities because of construction with the only exceptions being softball and baseball.

“It’s been tough to not have our own stadium during our senior year to  watch our friends play in their football, volleyball and basketball seasons,” senior James Schnoebelen said. “Luckily, our teams have been pretty good and I’m thankful that we can still go and support them.”

Though the stadium construction has been going on for what seems like forever, the new facilities should be ready by the start of the next school year.    

“Even though we won’t have the stadium this year, I am happy for the school and future students who to be able to enjoy a new stadium for sports and other activities. The will be able to fit more people into the events and have more attendance for the sports programs,” senior Michael Valdez said. “Even with COVID, it’s been a ton of fun to go to the games and watch our sports teams succeed.”        

With the COVID-19 pandemic, came new rules and protocols for fans and students attending and cheering for their respective teams.

“Even though we were less crowded and couldn’t be together like we used to,  I still think that Comalander and the HS Athletic Department did a great job enforcing the rules to keep out COVID-19 while still letting us celebrate and cheer on our friends and classmates,” senior Andrew Seay said. “It was very tough at first to get used to, but when we started going to more and more events, it got a lot easier for us.”

With the fall sports season complete, it  is on to the winter and spring sports to finish off the year strong and safe.

SMH Teacher Creates Collaborative Lab with Grant


Saint Mary Hall (SMH) Upper School Science Teacher Dr. Jamie Holbrook, who received the 2019 Educator Award (and grant) from the Texas Biomedical Forum, is putting the grant to enriching use for SMH students. Because of the award, she was able to conduct a hybrid collaborative lab between in-person and virtual students. 

Dr. Holbrook’s AP Biology class performed a collaborative lab on the development of zebrafish from the embryo stage to newly hatched fry. The imaging technology purchased with this grant allowed in-person students to perform the lab, work with imaging equipment, and share their microscope view with virtual students, who made observations, captured images, and collected data.

“I am so excited that one of my most loved innovative labs can still be done even with hybrid learning,” said Dr. Holbrook.

In January, the Texas Biomedical Research Institute hosted a virtual tour and speaking event for SMH’s Science National Honor Society students. Students received an overview of the operations at Texas Biomed and the Southwest National Primate Research Center. They also heard from two of the researchers currently working at the center, who covered various topics on infectious disease, from the COVID-19 vaccine to treatment for tuberculosis.

Dr. Holbrook also received a 2020 grant award for honeybee research, which she used to purchase more equipment for the two beehives on campus. The hives are still thriving and ready for winter. Honeybee larvae research will resume this spring.

SMH faculty are experts and often work in their respective fields, creating unique, one-of-a-kind opportunities for their students.

2021 Peace Laureate


The Circle School is proud to share that our community of learning has been nominated to serve as the 2021 San Antonio Peace Laureate! The Circle School has been teaching peace with San Antonio students and families for over 55 years and we are honored to be included in the ranks of our city’s Peace Laureates. The very first laureate, Dr. Ruth Lofgren, believed in the healing power of the natural world for children and their families and we look forward to continuing her legacy. We will use this position to amplify our community’s voice about the importance of nature-based learning in San Antonio.

The Peace Laureate recognizes a local voice of wisdom and experience to speak for peace and justice in San Antonio. Since 2006, the PEACECENTER has named a new Peace Laureate at The Blessing of the Peacemakers, a joyous interfaith ceremony featuring music, prayer, inclusive and innovative rituals and inspirational speakers on the last Sunday in January. The Blessing of the Peacemakers is the city’s first event for the Season for Nonviolence. The International Season for Nonviolence, launched at the United Nations in 1998, marks the annual 64 calendar days between the memorial anniversary of the assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi on January 30 and the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Season serves as an educational, media, and grassroots campaign to demonstrate that nonviolence is a powerful way to heal, transform, and empower our lives and our communities.

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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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