School’s in Session

by 78209 Magazine | October 14, 2020 | School News
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Alamo Heights ISD launched the school year on August 17 with all hands and hearts on deck. The year started with three weeks of remote learning for all, then transitioned to  the options of Face-to-Face or Heights at Home instruction, based on a student’s individual preference. The district began a phase-in process, just after Labor Day, with students who selected the Face-to-Face option returning to school in small groups to allow for a responsible return to school.


Save the Date-Greater Heights Night

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Greater Heights Night is just around the corner! Set for November 11, 2020, the event provides an opportunity for community members to come together to support academic excellence in Alamo Heights ISD, raising funds to support teachers. This year the tradition of GHN continues in new and innovative ways, while honoring some traditional favorites to include both silent and live auctions, the Mules Up festivities and more! Visit the Alamo Heights School Foundation.


AHHS Student Named KENS 5 All-Star

Augustin Chincarini, a senior at Alamo Heights High School, was surprised with the KENS 5 and UPS Store All-Star Student Award. A Drum Major for the Mighty Mule Marching Band, active musician, choir and theater student, Chincarini thought the team from KENS 5 was covering a story on the band getting back on the field, when he was surprised to learn that he was actually the reason for the visit to the school. Surrounded by his peers in both band and theater, Chincarini learned that he had been nominated by his Band Director, David Stephenson, and Principal, Cory Smith, for the honor.

Stephenson shared, “Augustin Chincarini is a vital member and leader in the Alamo Heights HS Fine Arts Department.  Augustin has served the Mighty Mule Band as a clarinet section leader, drill instructor, and is currently one of the Drum Majors.  Each year of high school, Augustin has consistently auditioned for and earned a spot in the All-Region and All-Area Bands and Choirs.  He has also received a Superior rating on a solo and an ensemble at the UIL State Solo and Ensemble Contest.”  

Joining in the celebration, Bryan Stanton, AHHS Theater Teacher, shared Chincarini’s talents on stage. “In the AHHS Theatre, Augustin has performed in several roles in the program including acting or directing “She Kills Monsters”  and “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”  He has served as Chair of the Philanthropy Committee, coordinating food drives for the San Antonio Food Bank, street cleanups, and is currently advocating for teens to volunteer as poll workers to ensure the voting process goes off without a hitch while keeping our older citizens safe during the pandemic. He is working on a project with Habitat for Humanity to have our technical theatre students help build houses and will be competing in the UIL Theatrical Design competition this year,” shared Stanton.

Augustin is also an active member of the Choir program, a member of YOSA (Youth Orchestra of San Antonio, and served as President of our AHHS chapter of the Texas Future Music Educator’s.

Congratulations to Augustin!


AHHS Teacher Honored with ExCEL Award

Ben Keenan AHHS with Award 2
Ben Keenan

Ben Keenan is a phenomenal teacher and leader at Alamo Heights High School. He has been teaching Pre-AP and AP English for 15 years, 13 of which have been at AHHS. He currently serves as the English Department Lead, and does an outstanding job clearly and consistently communicating with colleagues, parents, and students.

Keenan is often praised by his peers for his leadership and dedication to his school. Most recently, in the school’s “Mule of the Month” shout-outs, Ben received accolades for his work: “Ben has gone above and beyond for our department. He communicates so effectively and clearly and always responds to questions and emails in a timely manner. He makes us feel heard and understood.”

The accolades of the staff were shared with the team at KENS 5 and Credit Human and they shared their enthusiasm for Keenan’s work by awarding him the ExCEL Award.

The ExCEL Award is presented annually by the station and credit union as a way to recognize and honor teachers for their outstanding work. The crew met and interviewed Keenan virtually, sharing their pride in his work and excitement around sharing his story.

 AHHS Principal, Cory Smith, shared, “Ben excels in creating a positive classroom culture. He understands that every student comes to school with their own unique strengths, challenges, background, and concerns. At the beginning of each year, Ben takes the time to build a strong classroom culture. The return is apparent as you watch his students positively connect with the content, their peers, and with Ben. He has built a compassionate classroom and places relationships at the center.”

Ben’s own passion for learning extends into his classroom. He is constantly implementing research-based practices needed to ensure success for all his students. He creates lessons that tap into student interests and connects the learning to the students’ world. Ben routinely integrates the use of technology with his students in such a way that it is transparent. These lessons support the curricular goals and build a deeper understanding of content.

As an integral member of our District Design Team, Campus Design Team, and Campus Leadership Team, Ben looks at systems we have in place and analyzes ways to improve, moving the campus toward a student-centered learning organization. He has helped spearhead our peer visits initiative, allowing teachers to observe best practices utilized by their colleagues to hone their own craft. Ben is a true change agent at AHHS and truly deserving of this honor.


Saint Mary’s Hall Announces National Merit® Semifinalists

On September 9, officials of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit® Scholarship Program. Three Saint Mary’s Hall (SMH) seniors are among those who have been chosen as National Merit Semifinalists, including Leah Gomez, Max Hart, and Rett Peña.

These academically talented SMH seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for National Merit® Scholarships worth more than $30 million being offered in the spring. Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition and to be considered for a Merit Scholarship award. More than 90% of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and more than half of the Finalists will win a National Merit® Scholarship, earning them the title of Merit Scholar.

Recognized throughout South Texas as an academic powerhouse, Saint Mary’s Hall offers students a rich curriculum and builds the essential knowledge and skills that prepare them for challenging, higher-level studies beyond the halls of SMH.

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.


Joy at The Circle School

Circle School

Although on-campus childcare started for our Pre-K and Kindergarten students on August 18, our older students continued distance learning until September 8. Some of our families have opted to continue distance learning, but most of our students are attending in person. The first week there were butterflies, new procedures, and routines to learn, but most of all, there was joy, and there was love. Our community members had the following things to say about returning:

“This has been such a tough decision, and we’re thrilled with how things are going. Our amazing little school is so focused on safety, and it shows. Going back to school in person is not the right choice for many, but it’s important for our family.”

Meredith, mother and co-op member

“I’m grateful for how thoughtful and helpful our school leaders have been. It’s great to have a safe place for the kids to interact and learn.”

Russ, father and co-op member

“We are ecstatic to be learning on campus. While I appreciate the option for distance learning, it’s not what I want for my child’s first school experience. As a mother to another small child, I didn’t feel confident I could give everyone what they need at this critical time in their education and development. For those reasons, I am so thankful for the option to send my daughter to in-person kindergarten. The precautions and safety measures The Circle School has in place allow my daughter to learn, have fun, and enjoy her peers while keeping her safe and protected to the best of their ability.”

Mallory, mother and co-op member

“Since Circle School is a Changemaker school, we love that masks are required in all grades. It has been a great way to have conversations about not only keeping ourselves safe but keeping our teachers and friends safe as well.”

Rebecca, mother and co-op member

“I love going to the fairy forest. My class and I are looking for a fairy that can stop the coronavirus.”

First-grade student

 “I love being back at school with my friends.”

Second-grade student

“I’m happy to be with my friends! I love math & science because my teacher, Miss Sarah, is so patient & REALLY FUN!”

Fifth-grade student

“I love Mr. Jason and The Circle School! I wish I could go to school every day!”

Kindergarten student

We’re grateful to our community for their support, their trust, and the gift of their children. 

We look forward to spending this year together. 

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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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