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Posts published in February 2005

Matchstick creations inspire awe, wonder

Last Wednesday the senior citizens at the North East Community Center recaptured the awe and wonder of childhood as they looked at a display of buildings and other objects built entirely of wooden matchsticks.

“I don’t think there is anyone else out there with this kind of exhibit,” said the models’ builder Felix Rodriguez.

The long tables held exact replicas of the Alamo and several old missions in Texas, some even with an altar inside. There was also an entire old western town, complete with a chair inside the barber’s shop, hitching posts, water towers with ladders, and a gallows.

However, the three foot tall replica of an old-style Coca-Cola bottle with even the words made of matchsticks received the most attention.

Rodriguez, a regular at the center, built the display over the last forty years. He brought his projects to the center to show his friends in the wood carving class, which put away their carvings for the day for Rodriguez to teach them how he makes his models.

“Not everybody can do that. You have to be gifted and creative. But he can teach us some techniques,” said Erasmo Vela.

Rodriguez began his hobby when his sister-in-law dared him to make something out of toothpicks. He responded by making her a toothpick bird in a birdcage. Rodriguez enjoyed the project but thought matches may do a better job. Rodriguez said most of his projects take about six months to complete. The large coke bottle took him a year.

“They may not be worth a lot but it leaves my family something to remember their grandpa by,” he said.

AISD names new school in honor of Richard, Kitty Spence

Richard and Kitty Spence devoted 63 years to students in the Aldine Independent School District and their years of dedicated service and loyalty was richly rewarded during the Board of Education meeting on Feb. 15.

On that night, AISD Trustees unanimously approved naming the district’s newest elementary school after the Spence’s. Richard and Kitty Spence Elementary School, located on Gears Road, will open at the start of the 2005-06 school year.

“It’s one of the best things that can happen to anyone,” Kitty said, referring to having a school named after she and her late husband, who passed away in March of 1999. “I think Richard would have been as touched as I am. I can’t thank the board and my Aldine family enough for this wonderful honor. I hope we are deserving.”

The Spences are definitely worthy of having a school named in their honor. At Tuesday night’s board meeting, the boardroom was full of long-time colleagues of the Spence’s, including former AISD Superintendent M.B. “Sonny” Donaldson, former Deputy Superintendent Kenneth Black, former Aldine High School head football coach Bill Smith, and other former co-workers and friends. The Spence’s three children, Doug, Gail and Susan also attended, along with Mr. Spence’s daughter Lockie Spence Goode, the Spence’s two grandchildren, Garrett and Jordy and other family members.

During her remarks after the board approved the naming of the school in her and her husband’s honor, Mrs. Spence said she always considered Aldine to be her second family.

Both were products of Aldine ISD as Richard graduated from Aldine High School in 1945 and Kitty graduated from the same school in 1949.

HISD wants to hand over control of Sam Houston High

HISD superintendent Abe Saavedra announced Tuesday that the disrict will seek outside help for its three lowest performing high schools: Sam Houston, Kashmere,and Jack Yates High Schools.

The schools are the district’s lowest performers in spite of a variety of attempts at change by district officials. Saavedra said he is open to takeover proposals from HISD employees, non-profit, and forprofit agencies. Officials from Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and YES College Preparatory Schools said that they would not submit proposals unless they could also control the feeder schools. That is a possibilty that Saavedra is open to as well. Project GRAD (Graduation Really Achieves Dreams), which already has a presence in Sam Houston and Yates, is interested in submitting a proposal.

Founded in 1878, Sam Houston is one of the oldest public high schools in Texas. The school began a few years after the Allen brothers landed on the Buffalo Bayou.Over the years, it has changed names six times and moved from Capitol Street to 9400 Irvington.

Sam Houston has Texas’ oldest high school newspaper, the Aegis, started in 1889. In addition, the world’s first girls’ Military Drill Squad, formerly known as the Black Battalion, but now called the Tigerettes, originated at the school.

Sam Houston High offers one of the most diverse course selections in the HISD. Over one hundred separate courses are offered, including SAT, Advanced Placement, CATE, Special Education, and English as a Second Language.

Aldine’s Gonzales confirmed as first Hispanic Attorney General

WASHINGTON, DC – The U. S. Senate has confirmed Alberto Gonzales of Houston as the new Attorney General of the United States, replacing John Ashcroft. Gonzales endured a difficult series of questions during Senate hearings on his confirmation. He is considered to be the author of several controversial rulings on treatment of prisoners held for terrorism acts in several prisons. But shortly after the Senate acted last Thursday, Gonzales was actually sworn into office by Vice President Dick Cheney in a ceremony held at the White House.

Gonzales becomes the first Hispanic Attorney General, and as Senator Mel Martinez said, “This is a breakthrough of incredible magnitude for Hispanic-American… Gonzales is a role model for the next generation.”

Aldine FFA auction brings top prices, total exceeds previous

ALDINE – The FFA from the district’s four high schools held their annual livestock show and sale last Friday evening, with a large turnout of exhibitors and buyers, and prices for the student projects were in general higher than previous years.

This is good news for the support of the FFA program, and for the hopes of the students because much of the money goes into scholarships for the students in the program, according to Superintendent Nadine Kujawa.

Improvement District sees opportunity for Urban Park on Lauder Road

The Aldine Improvement District unveiled at last Thursday’s North Houston Business Luncheon, the latest of two plans that are being developed for the flood retention site along Green’s Bayou where the West Fork joins.

As seen in the accompanying map to the left, the park would encompass about 100 acres, and would be termed a “wet bottom” retainage basin. Lauder Road is at the bottom of the map, and Greens Bayou across the top. At the right is JFK Boulevard, and on the left Aldine-Westfield. Crowley Park is farther east along the Bayou, and might eventually be linked to this park.

However, this would provide opportunities for recreation, with two small lakes shown, that might incorporate fishing docks and small boat usage. In addition, the wet areas shown in the map include something termed a “doggy pool,” an unusual exercise facility for thosedogs who naturally enjoy or require swimming in a body of water, something that can be difficult in the city.

At the bottom of the map are shown several types of ball fields, soccer, baseball/softball, and tennis courts. Adjacent to these is an extensive parking area. In addition, there would be picnic areas, walking and bike trails, and viewing areas.

AID chairman Clyde Bailey has suggested that a site might also be found for a community building in the vicinity of the park.

National Signing Day

National Signing Day was a happy occasion for these 10 Eisenhower Senior High School football players and their parents as they earned college scholarships to continue their education and playing careers. The 10 who earned scholarships were, front row, (l-r): linebacker Aubrey Smith, who signed with Langston College, offensive lineman Jack Crumes, who signed with the University of North Texas, linebacker Wyman Alexander, who signed with Navarro College, offensive lineman Alex Luna, who signed with Texas State University, running back Chris Daniels, who signed with Nicholls State and defensive lineman Paul Freeney, who signed with Texas A&M University. Standing (l-r): Offensive lineman Andrew Johnson, who signed with Texas Tech University, defensive lineman Donnell Williams, who signed with Truman State University, quarterback/defensive back Arthur Stubblefield, who signed with the University of North Texas, and defensive lineman Charles Ofili-Edwards, who signed with Waters College.

The head coaches at Aldine High, MacArthur High and Nimitz High said they did not have any players sign on Feb. 2, National Signing Day, but should have some players sign with various schools at a later date.