While the COVID-19 pandemic definitely put its mark on local education during the past year, many students and schools made their mark in response. Here are some highlights from several local students, schools and districts that occurred during recent months …
AISD student becomes a published author
As the pandemic forced millions of Americans to stay indoors during the summer, many youths found the perfect excuse to lie around the house and be glued to their technological devices. Not Fred Threats Jr.
The seventh-grader at Nichols Junior High School penned “Loose Beat,” a colorful, glossy, 25-page book that confronts the issue of bullying in school.
Published by Xlibris, “Loose Beat” was released by major booksellers including Barnes and Noble and Amazon in October. The book features illustrations by Threat’s family friend Brandon Virgil through the company, 3B Pencilworks.
Threats, 12, has witnessed peers being picked on for being overweight or for simply having quiet personalities. He has also been bullied by individuals for not joining them in degrading other students. This compelled him to write the book, with hopes of uplifting children who have had similar experiences, he says. “I have seen how it affects other kids. I have seen where kids have bullied so bad that they made students cry.”
Nolan Theatre Department wins state
The Nolan Catholic High School Theatre Department recently competed in the TAPPS One-Act Play State Contest in Kerrville.
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The Nolan thespians not only competed, they were named TAPPS One-Act Play State Champs for 2020.
The following students received individual awards: All- Star Tech Award – Andrea Mendez; Honorable Mention All-Star Cast – Andrew Ireland; All-Star Cast – Sofia Dahm and Jocelyn Bui; Best Actor – Mathieu Reyes.
Student at The Oakridge School earns presidential honor
Justin Smith, a senior at The Oakridge School, recently received national recognition for his advocacy and action in the community. Smith earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award, which honors outstanding volunteers and the impact they make on society. Smith participates in the local nonprofit, Whatsoever Is Good, Inc., a part of the Zero Debt College Project, aimed at helping students learn strategies to access scholarships for college and avoid student loans. Smith was one of 12 students with Whatsoever is Good to earn recognition from the White House Presidential Service awards.
Smith also contributed many hours in service to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and developed “Justin Reads.” That project was featured on the KDFW/Fox4 segment, “Making a Difference During the Pandemic.” He created a YouTube channel and read stories for young children to enjoy and collected donated books.
St. Joseph Catholic School students help their neighbors
Members of the National Junior Honor Society at Arlington’s St. Joseph Catholic School took the lead in a Thanksgiving Food Drive last November.
The students collected goods and donations to benefit St. Vincent DePaul Society, a mission arm of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Parish. Every day, in nine counties across North Texas, Society volunteers provide financial, material and emotional support to those in crisis.
The school’s Thanksgiving benevolence project garnered food, personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies and practical household items that were distributed to needy people in the community.
ACA students aspire to become Griffin Goodfellows
Arlington Classic Academy’s vision statement speaks about the importance of developing moral leadership skills in its students. To that end, the school established the Griffin Goodfellows, a voluntary program designed to keep ACA students ever mindful of their responsibilities to their country, their community, and each other.
If a student performs the required number of community service hours by May 14, he/she will receive a certificate and be acknowledged for acts of service at grade level Awards ceremonies. Students eligible for a Griffin Goodfellow Award are expected to complete from 10 to 20 hours of community service, depending on grade level. Service can take place through school programs, at a house of worship, and via a social or non-profit group.
Saint Maria Goretti Catholic School’s Box of Joy project
In November, students at Saint Maria Goretti Catholic School held a Faith Families (virtual) Assembly that focused on the virtue of Courtesy, and students began participating in a service project to bring Christmas joy to fellow children thousands of miles away.
The Box of Joy project gave Saint Maria Goretti students the opportunity to create boxes of items that were sent overseas to children who are less fortunate, in time for Christmas.
Each class created one box for a girl and one for a boy, and the school’s collective efforts were shipped to various spots around the globe where Catholic charities take place.
AISD recognizes 11 outstanding students
The Arlington Independent School District last month honored 11 district seniors who were named National Merit Semifinalists, National Hispanic Scholars or National African American Scholars.
“This is one of my favorite events of the year,” Arlington ISD Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos says. “These students have set such a high bar and have been able to reach those goals. It’s an incredible accomplishment.”
Martin High School seniors Nicholas Kocurek, Nathan Truong, Nathan Reed and Logan Simon, as well as Arlington High senior Matthew Lewis, were the district’s five National Merit Semifinalists.
In addition to the five National Merit semifinalists, three Martin seniors are National Hispanic Scholars: Julia Garcia, Mar Piel and Emilia Stallins.
Sam Houston’s Oumarou Djibo and the Martin duo of Chijoke Mgbahurike and Earl Wright III were named National African American Scholars.