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Posts published in June 2008

North Forest Community Emergency Meeting

Date: Saturday, June 28, 2008
NOTE CHANGE OF LOCATION:
Location: Northeast Multi-Service Center
9720 Spaulding, Houston, Texas 77016
Time: 10am to 12 noon
SPONSORED BY NEEF
NORTHEAST EDUCATION FIRST

Guest Speaker: Mr. Ron Rowell
Texas Education Agency (TEA)

Children Welcome! For more info 713-635-2300

East Aldine District passes $13.3 million bond sale for improvement projects

NORTHEAST HOUSTON– The East Aldine Management board, at their regular meeting last Tuesday night, authorized the sale of sales tax backed bonds in the amount of $13.365 million dollars, to be sold as needed, according to Executive Director David Hawes. He explained that the money will be used to fund sewer and water projects, flood control, and mobility projects including road construction, sidewalks and landscaping and signage projects as outlined in the EAMD Service Plan approved previously by the board.
This work is in addition to the other activities of the District, which include public safety work in Sheriff’s patrols, nuisance abatement, street lighting, neighborhood clean-up and trash collection, and grants to community organizations.

Construction is set to start on new sewer and water lines in the North Houston Heights area, it was reported. Approximately $3,000,000 has been transferred from the district to the county to help pay for this work. The next project will be Inwood Place sewer and water. This construction should start by September.
The board also heard that Keith-Wiess Park will open to the public in August. It was reported that grafitti has been painted on some boulders in the park, but that the district would have it removed.
Deputy Viningre reported that there have been 5 ATM snatch and grab robberies in the area, and Chairman Bailey reported 12 break-ins to local stores recently. Viningre urged citizens who observe this activity to call the Sheriff at 911.
In other security matters, the Proactive unit reported a 33 per cent increase in arrests – 62 for the month of May. This makes a total for the year of 296. Deputies also arrested suspects on 40 open warrants. There was also a large increase in the amount of drugs seized in the month of May.
On nuisance abatement, contract deputies reported 39 abatements with 27 vehicles towed or moved, and 6 additional vehicles issued citations. Complaint forms are available at the storefront office, deputies reminded the public. Call the storefront at 281-449-6600, or the district office at 281-449-1800 for more information.
In other action, the board approved payment for 3 street lights on Bentley Street, along a dark stretch that has bus traffic, and is a walking route to Scarborough Elementary school.

Greenspoint Mall, KSBJ host free concert Saturday

By BOBBY HORN JR.
Greenspoint Mall and Contemporary Christian radio station KSBJ 89.3 FM will present a free concert featuring five acts on June 28.
The concert will be held in the parking lot infront of the Mall’s food court beginning at 5 p.m.
Scheduled to appear are purNRG, John Reuben, Mark Harris, Chris Sligh and Sanctus Real.

PurNRG is a trio of girls who perform in the style of the Disney Hit Machine that created Hannah Montana and The Cheetah Girls. They have been described as “pure sugarcoated pop with a faith-infused message.”
Reuben is touring the country in support of his “Word of Mouth” CD. He is known for blending Hip-Hop and Pop into an experimental style.
All of the proceeds from Harris’ current project “Windows & Walls” will benefit relief organization World Vision. When not performing solo, he is also a member of the band 4Him.
Sligh jumped into the national spotlight via American Idol. Competing in the sixth season, he made the top 10 before he was voted out. This son of Baptist missionaries, Sligh turned his appearance in AI, as well as the AI Finalists Tour into a debut album in 2007 “Take a Chance on Something Beautiful.” He has followed that up with this year’s release “Running Back to You.”
The Dove Award-winning Sanctus Real reached the top of the charts with their single “Beautiful Day,” a cover of the U2 hit.

HISD approves proposals for “repurposed” Sam Houston

NORTHEAST HOUSTON– Houston ISD board of trustees approved a plan at their regular meeting last Thursday, to “repurpose” the Sam Houston High School, which was closed in a dramatic move by the Texas Education Agency for failing 5 years in a row to meet state accountability standards.
Since the closing, the district has formulated a proposal that will be submitted to TEA. If they approve, then Sam Houston will change to two new schools: a 9th grade freshman school, separatge from the high school, which will become a school with emphasis on Math, Scince, and Technology.
Following TEA guidelines, the new schools will have to have 75% new teachers, 50% new students, new names, and a new principal.
At least temporarily, the schools have been named the North Region Ninth Grade Preparatory Academy, and Sam Houston Center for Math, Science, and Technology.

HISD is prepared to offer bonuses up to $5000 to new teachers that have a proven record of improving students test scores, superintendent Saavedra indicated. However, on the subject of 50% new students, he said that all passing current students would be eligible to return, although they could also opt for another school, since HISD is an open enrollment district. Saavedra indicated that TEA head Robert Scott had liberally interpreted the law to allow HISD to keep current student in the new school. This is also due to 9th grade and graduating seniors not counting in the new student body.
Saavedra and others also noted that this year’s Sam Houston had made considerable progress in improving student test scores, and he questioned why state accountability standards did not recognize so much improvement, instead of only using benchmarks that did not recognize this effort. He suggested that the state should reconsider their accountability program when the next legislature meets.
In a related discussion, Armando Walle, who is scheduled to be the next state legislator for the area, told the Northeast News that he would work for legislation to revise the accountability standards.
Part of the problem, as indicated by educators close to the situation, is that only a few students in one of the minority categories have not been able to meet the math standards in TAKS testing, in spite of extensive tutoring and special effort by the school. These few students have lowered the accountability results below the state standards.
PTA president Marina Mendoza indicated to the Northeast News that she has seen the proposals for the repurposed schools, and thinks they have a good chance to succeed in bringing up the quality of education and test results.
HISD has appointed Jane Crump as the new principal, replacing the current principal Aida Tello. Crump was previously at Stevenson 9th grade school, where she brought about a successful improvement.
Crump led the presentation last Tuesday night, to parents at Sam Houston auditorium. She emphasized that the new school would continue the successful programs, would offer more career paths, and would keep in daily contact with TEA’s Scott to insure that the school was on the path to acceptabile performance.
She specifically assured parents that programs such as Pre-AP/AP/dual credit, special ed, off-campus programs, arts, band, and others will continue.
She indicated that the school will emphasize keeping in touch with each individual student, knowing their needs and helping them to succeed. She encouraged parents to contact the school regularly, and use email and the school website often.
Some changes that will take affect when the schools open in August will include uniforms for all grades, and the 9th grade students will be required to take an extra hour of class instruction beyond what they now do.
Crump explained that the uniforms will aid the administrators in keeping the two schools and their students separate from each other, even though they will be on the same campus.
She said that for now the 9th grade will be housed in a combination of existing buildings and portable classrooms assembled in their own area, away from the 10-12 grades.
The plan for the new 10-12 school, will allow it to have a new name, state number, and to forgive the accountability failures of the previous Sam Houston – in other words, a fresh start.
The “repurposed” plan will cost HISD a reported $3.6 million additional dollars, to be spent in hiring bonuses, reconfiguring the buildings, and rewiring the high school to be a wireless WiFi campus.
The new school will offer combined high school and college credits, and to emphasize this, the president of Houston Community College – Northeast, Dr. Margaret Ford, was present for the presentation.
The high school will require that students declare a career path, in engineering, information technology, or the transportation industry.

Seeing America’s Beauty

Me and the Mrs. took a little R & R last couple weeks and went on the longest vacation ever for the two of us. It was the longest we have been away from home since we eloped 39 years ago.
Took off to South Dakota to look at the stone faces of Mount Rushmore, dodging tornadoes in Nebraska on the way. Managed to get to York, Nebraska on the first day of travel. The Data for Extreme Weather team (Storm Chasers) were there with their equipment and we got some good shots of their tornado vehicle.
Stayed up in Wall, South Dakota the next night and managed to visit Wall Drug if you know what that is.
Got to see and drive the Badlands Loop as they are named properly so and ever so great to see.
Next day we drove to Mount Rushmore and saw the stone faces on the side of the mountain.
On the way back to the main drag, we came upon a park called Bear Country and the girls (The Mrs. and my old sister) said they would like to see it. Dang near choked when the young girl said forty-five dollars but it was worth it after we finished looking at all of the bears, elk, puma, badgers, wolves and otters. Saw a Magpie for the first time as well.
On through Sturgis, South Dakota and stayed over in Spearfish, South Dakota for the night on our way to Billings, Montana.

Detoured the main road and went to the Devil’s Tower, which the girls wanted to see too and it was nice. Drove into rain, sleet, then it started snowing about the time we got up into the clouds thick as Goose Creek fog. Mercy day, I did not like driving in that but managed to come out on the other side of the mountain into a clearing and could see.
There is an Indian tale about Devil’s Tower and they enjoyed the visit in the wet weather.
At the tourist center @ Devil’s Tower, they had all sorts of junk and what knots. On in the back of the store they had a big old cured rattlesnake in a wooden glass box. Got old sister to come back there and look at it. She shuttered and grunted when she saw it.
Asked the store clerk where they got it and she said TEXAS. That made me smile.
On to old cousin’s house for a few days to visit and talk about all the relatives. Her momma and my momma were twins so she and old sister were tight growing up, like Mutt and Jeff if you savvy the drift.
Bird country in that part of Montana and they like the birds as much as we do with feeders and all. More nice shots of some winged friends.
One day we stopped to have lunch (this was preplanned) in a restaurant/casino and just enjoy each other’s company. As we were being seated, I went one server and asked if she will be our server and she was. I told her to bring us an order of Mountain Oysters and just sit them on the table and do not say anything about it. So she did.
Old cousin told me to order them ‘cause she was ‘fraid the girls would get mad at her. I was used to that so I placed the order and they all dug in when the fried morsels arrived.
They were served with a red horseradish sauce and were right tasty.
Hated to leave good company but our trip was ahead of us, so on to Yellowstone National Park from the Northeast entrance though Red Lodge, Montana.
We tried going through Beartooth Pass a couple of days before but it was closed due to an avalanche. After three days, Beartooth Pass reopened and through it, we went. 10,947 feet up and a site to see. Have heard talk of the little or lack of oxygen up that high and trust me, it is a fact. Just crossing the road for a photo opportunity and coming back wore me out. Tuff on a fat boy I tell ya.
They had over a hundred inches of snow up there this year and we rode through where it had been cut out. Talk about a big wow!
Yellow Stone National Park was pretty and populated with lots of grazing buffalo and Yankees.
One can usually tell a Yankee with his Bermuda shorts on with T-shirt and black socks with sandals or tennis shoes. Tacky, Tacky!
One of our twins said, “The old geezer goes to see the old geyser.”
Down through the Teton Mountains and into Jackson Hole, Wyoming where all the rich folk stay, we hung a westerly direction through Idaho just to say we been to Idaho.
Headed down country, we entered Utah and Idaho a couple of times on these side roads, just a looking and looking. Talk about a neck ache.
Drove the loop through the Flaming Gorge Recreational Area and it too was neck ache country.
Antelopes galore and many other animals through out the trip. How ever, the road kill caught my attention and especially the 30 dead skunks on the trip. Eight others were smelt but not seen.
Lots of coons but the three badgers caught my attention too, as did the cougar lying on the side of the road, two pheasants, fox, numerous deer and antelope.
Crossed the 44th parallel and the Continental Divide on occasion, seeing things we will never see again but always remember hopefully!
Highest gas was $4.29 and diesel was @ $5.19.
Bunch of rocks, mountains, snow, and beautiful country but when I saw that pheasant cock stand up in a grain field in Montana that made my day.

MacArthur band director receives Channel 2’s community service award

For the last 23 years, Jose Diaz has shared his love and knowledge of music with the students of MacArthur Senior High School.  His devotion to his students, and the MacArthur community, was richly rewarded when he was named the recipient of the Jefferson Award, presented by Channel 2.
Channel 2 news anchor Bill Balleza presented Diaz with the award in May when he visited the Aldine ISD school to interview Diaz for a segment that ran on June 5 on the NBC affiliate.
The award is presented to individuals in the Houston area for their achievements and the contributions they make in the community.
Diaz, who was nominated for the award by MacArthur parent Susan Robles, said winning the award was humbling.

“This award lets me know that the time I spend volunteering and working to help others is appreciated by people in our community. That means a lot to me,” he said.
Diaz’s boss, MacArthur High principal Nancy Blackwell, said Channel 2 could not have picked a more deserving person than Diaz to receive the honor.
“Mr. Diaz has impacted the campus of MacArthur and the members of the community in countless ways,” she said. “He has what I call, ‘stickability.’ He sticks with the school and the kids and motivates them in every way possible. It is fitting that the parents chose to nominate him for this award.”
In addition to teaching music and directing MacArthur High’s band and award-winning Jazz Ensemble, Diaz also runs the Diaz Music Institute, which was founded in 1999. The highlight of the yearlong Institute is the Summer Music Workshop, which is held in June.
Diaz said the Institute inspires young musicians to hone their skills and make them realize the talent they possess.
“The most celebrated aspect of the Institute is the Summer Music Workshop. This conservatory style program has a very aggressive curriculum to develop students to a high performance level,” he said.
Music has played an important role in Diaz’s life ever since he was a young man growing up in Chicago. It was music that helped to shape his life and allow him to focus on the future.
“Music has helped me develop the self-esteem and courage I needed to survive in our world,” he said. “Developing my music skills has helped me to become more disciplined, motivated and competitive. Performing with a group has taught me the social skills I need to get along with others and to work for a common goal.”
And for the last 23 years, the students of MacArthur High School have had the good fortune to benefit from Diaz’s vast knowledge and caring style as a teacher and mentor.
“I think it’s important for everyone to know that what we do does not go unnoticed,” Diaz said. “It is also imperative for our students to know that charity work is essential and it is part of what we do as citizens in this country.”
Indeed.

An historical perspective…

Several days ago I received a local historical society “Newsletter.” History is important to any town, city, county, state, etc. but unfortunately there are not enough of them around in most communities to really get all the information down in a timely manner and pass it on to the next generation, etc. But, people who put for the effort do a good job.
The editor has some items in this latest issue that may now be among sought after facts in history but they brought smiles to my face and I thought you might be interested as well.
Facts from the 1500s in Europe—Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide their body odor. Hence, the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all, the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs—thick straw—piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.”
In those days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”
After reading the above I was glad I didn’t live in Europe during the 1500s. Can you imagine one bath a year!! Such was life then I guess.
Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home!

SAM HOUSTON HIGH SCHOOL CLOSED

The Texas Commissioner of Education has ordered HISD’s Sam Houston High School closed because it failed to make enough academic progress, but Superintendent of Schools Abelardo Saavedra said he is working with the commissioner’s office and the Board of Education on ideas to repurpose the school with exciting new programs for students beginning in August.
Although Sam Houston High has made academic progress, the progress in math was not enough this year to earn a rating of Academically Acceptable from the state. Dr. Saavedra and board members met Wednesday with Commissioner Robert Scott, who said the school must close because this is the sixth straight year it has been rated Unacceptable.



“This is not the end of the story, though,” Dr. Saavedra said. “We will work with parents to develop a plan to take to the school board and then to the commissioner to repurpose Sam Houston High School and to start exciting new programs with many new teachers beginning in August. We will continue serving the community that has been proud of the progress at Sam Houston.”
Dr. Saavedra said the school district will first meet with parents of incoming ninth-graders and with parents of current Sam Houston students in a series of sessions June 10 and 11 designed to get the community’s thoughts. The superintendent wants to take a proposal for new school programs at the Sam Houston site to the school board for approval June 12 and submit it to Commissioner Scott on June 13 for review and approval.
The Texas school accountability system requires that all students and student groups (African-American, Hispanic, white, and economically disadvantaged) meet the academic standard in every subject before a school can be rated as Academically Acceptable. At Sam Houston High School, HISD officials were not able to help the school make enough progress in math.
“Sam Houston has made some good progress these last few years. We’re all proud of the hard work of the teachers, the students, the parents, and the community, and we are committed to many more great things in the future for that community.”
The programs opening next August at the repurposed school would be entirely new. The HISD administration wants to talk with, and get thoughts from, parents about an exciting new program with an emphasis on math, science, and technology.
Commissioner Scott said up to 75 percent of the teachers at the school must be replaced. The teachers reassigned from Sam Houston High will have a chance to be hired into positions elsewhere in the district.
Dr. Saavedra said he will ask the school board to approve special bonuses for new teachers who agree to take on the assignments at the new, repurposed Sam Houston.
A new principal has already been appointed. Jane Crump, the very successful principal of Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School, was named last month to lead the Sam Houston campus next year.
“We are all very proud of the hard work that has gone into improving Sam Houston, and of course we’re very disappointed that we were not able to get the kind of academic growth we needed. But there is extremely strong support in the community for the educational needs of the children in the area, and we are excited about working with the parents, the school board, and the commissioner to start great new academic traditions at the repurposed Sam Houston,” Dr. Saavedra said.
Sam Houston’s performance on the state TAKS test has improved over the past four years. This year, 81 percent of Sam Houston students passed the TAKS reading test, up seven points from last year, and 83 percent of students passed the social studies TAKS test. In fact, Sam Houston’s scores in reading and social studies are so good they are at the “Recognized” level, the state’s second-highest academic grade.
Overall, Sam Houston’s passing rate on both the math and science TAKS improved from 45 in 2007 to 50 percent in 2008.
Sam Houston’s progress across the board is better than the state-average progress in reading, math, and social studies from 2004 to 2007 during those four years.

North Forest’s Top 10

Recently the North Forest ISD Board of Trustees recognized the top 10 Graduates from Forest Brook and M.B. Smiley High School Classes of 2008.
Forest Brook Top Ten are JaRhon Calhoun, Tiffany Calhoun, David Castillo, Larnesia Caulfield, Joyclyn Dow, Iesha Francis, Britney Ivory, Jasmine Jones, Martha Manzanarez and Tatiana Price.
M.B. Smiley Top Ten are Raul Barba, Latrice Collins, Lai’Ana Gill, Cristina Gonzalez, Michael Mathis, Brittney Parnell, Jaime Pena, Christian Perez, Javieon Stewart and Victor Washington.

Health science teacher named NFISD Teacher of the Year

Dr. Emily Bartley was named North Forest ISD’s Teacher of the Year at the district’s annual Celebration of Excellence Gala held in May at the DoubleTree Hotel on John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
Each of the district’s campus Teachers of the Year was honored at the gala along with service pin recipients and retirees.
The event was sponsored by support from community and business partners, including Capital Bank, Josten’s and Houston Community College-Northeast.
Bartley, who teaches at M.B. Smiley High School, is certified in Career Technology Education and teaches health science technology. Also a practicing dentist, she has 16 years of teaching experience.
Bartley was also named NFISD Secondary Teacher of the Year and said she is ready to continue working hard to help students achieve their goals and promises to remain an ardent advocate and supporter of North Forest ISD and the community and children its serves.
Theresa I. Bernal of Lakewood Elementary School was named NFISD Elementary Teacher of the Year. She is a Kindergarten teacher. She is a certified ESL teacher, certified as an early childhood through fourth-grade generalist and is also TOP Rater certified. She has 15 years of teaching experience.
Both educators will represent North Forest ISD in the Texas Education Agency’s Teacher of the Year program.