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Posts published in May 2002

“Spirit” a soaring family film

The horse hero of “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” makes a new friend, Rain, a paint mare, in a scene from the new animated family movie.

“Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” is a visual feast for the whole family, but it will especially tickle little horse lovers.

The broad appeal of “Spirit” does not come from its humor like most of the recent, successful animated movies – “Shrek,” “Toy Story” and “Toy Story II” — but rather from its stunning panoramas of the old west and the use of a feisty horse as the hero.

Who among us did not go through a time in our lives when we were a little horse crazy? Even if you’ve always been a city dweller, there was probably a time when you longed to have a horse of your own.
The movie plays on the fascination that humans have with horses. A lot of movies have done this, but rarely is the story told from the point of view of the horse like it is in “Spirit.”

A couple of other factors make “Spirit” unique. For one thing, it’s drawn the old fashioned way, by hand. Computers generated images like those used to make the before mentioned animated movies were used in some scenes in “Spirit,” but most of the movie was made using the time-honored, labor-intensive method of drawing a picture for each frame of the film.

Another difference is that none of the animals in the movie speak. That’s one of the clues that this is not a Disney movie. Not that there’s anything wrong with talking animals or Disney animation, it’s just nice that other studios like DreamWorks are making animated movies. Variety is good. If this had been a Disney film, Spirit’s mother would surely not have survived to the end.

The horses may not talk, but their eyes and whinnies say a lot. Plus, there’s Matt Damon (“Saving Private Ryan”) providing narration. He starts by telling about the legend of the wild horses in the west and he explains what’s happening to our hero as he’s born, grows into the leader of his herd, is captured by Calvary, resists breaking, meets a young Indian and his pretty mare and tries to return home.

There aren’t any surprises here. The whole thing is done at a fairly brisk pace though there are some slow spots where the young ones this is geared to will get antsy. They’ll be rapt with attention during the suspenseful scenes however. The one with the waterfall is reminiscent of scenes in hundreds of other movies, but it’s still very exciting.

The most memorable part of the movie is when the Calvary men try to break Spirit. He outsmarts them all, even the tough Colonel voiced by James Cromwell who was the owner of “Babe” and next will be the president in “The Sum of All Fears.”

“Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” might not have the history or the hype of “Star Wars,” but the plot is a lot less complicated, the music is better and it sure is shorter. Almost all the songs are written and preformed by Bryan Adams. “Get Off My Back” sounds like it’s ready for lots of radio airplay. Rated-G

Housing workshops announced

Northside 2000, Inc. and the National L.U.L.A.C. announced the first in a series of four housing workshops they will sponsor in Houston. The housing workshop will be for families interested in purchasing their first home.

The workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, June 4 at St. Charles Catholic Church, 501 Tidwell, in Houston’s north side. The session will begin at 6:30 pm. and will be in Spanish and English.

At the workshop, individuals will receive information about a city program which assists prospective homebuyers with $3,500 to $9,000 grants to be used for down payment and closing costs on used or new homes. The workshop will also include information for new immigrants wanting to purchase a home.

The workshops are the result of Washington Mutual Bank’s continuing program to be directly involved with Hispanic projects in Houston.

Louis Adame, spokesperson for the National L.U.L.A.C. office said, “ Since moving to Texas, Washington Mutual has increased its support of community projects. Like L.U.L.A.C., it recognizes the need for first time homeownership, as being a priority.”

Patricia Rodriguez, of Northside 2000, a community based nonprofit, indicated there will be others participating in the program. “Some people may not even a have a vacant lot in mind, but we expect to have at least one developer present that has vacant lots available.”

The workshop is free and open to the public. For informatio about the housing workshop, call the Northside 2002 offices at 713-862-9686.

Forty-six Aldine ISD seniors receive ASF scholarships

The Aldine Scholarship Foundation (ASF) awarded 46 scholarships to graduating Aldine ISD seniors on Thursday, May 16, at North Harris College. Pictured are 29 of the 46 recipients who received a one-year scholarship to attend any college in the North Harris Montgomery Community College District.

Forty-six Aldine ISD seniors received Aldine Scholarship Foundation (ASF) scholarships during a ceremony held in their honor on Thursday, May 16, at North Harris College.

The 46 scholarships awarded this year were the most scholarships ASF has ever awarded in a year. Since its inception in 1992, ASF has awarded 340 scholarships to deserving Aldine ISD graduates. ASF is a non-profit organization made up of business people, educators and members of the Aldine ISD and North Harris College community. Donations collected are invested and placed in certificates of investment with the principal remaining perpetually untouched. All investment proceeds are awarded directly to pay college tuition for AISD graduates to any college in the North Harris Montgomery Community College District.

The 46 AISD seniors who received ASF scholarships this year were Jessie Arceneaux, who received an Aldine Independent School District Award, Ruth Armendarez, who received an Aldine Independent School District Award, Ada Avila, who received an Aldine Independent School District Award, Kishon Barbour, who received an Aldine Independent School District Award, Cynthia Barrera, who received an Aldine Independent School District Award, Christina Beers, who received an Aldine Independent School District Award, Claudia Benitez, who received the North Harris College Award, Mylynda Carmichael, who received the North Harris College Award and Martin Casper, who received the North Harris College Award.

Also receiving scholarships were Jillian Cerda, who received the North Harris College Award, Juan Chavez, who received the North Harris College Award, Paloma Contreras, who received the North Harris College Award, Juan Cordova, who received the Aldine ISD Faculty Award, Lasheena Durden, who received the Aldine ISD Faculty Award, Leo Guerrero, who received the Aldine ISD Faculty Award, Samantha Hennig, who received the Aldine ISD Faculty Award, Perla Hernandez, who received the Aldine ISD Faculty Award and Darviella Hickman, who received the Aldine ISD Faculty Award.

Others students receiving scholarships included Noi Huynh, who received the Greater Inwood Partnership Award, Melany Jones, who received the Deanie Merritt Award, Sarah Kennedy, who received the Donnie Drawhorn Award, Peter Lee, who received the Rigsdell Family Award, Iesha Ligon, who received the Adcock Family Award, Bani Lopez, who received the Shell Award and Veronica Manriquez, who received the Stan and Suzanne St. Pierre Award.

Also receiving scholarships were Jessica Martinez, who received the Stan and Suzanne St. Pierre Award, Catherine Matthew, who received the Stan and Suzanne St. Pierre Award, Tiffany McCray, who received the Ron and Mary Oruc Award, Octavio Miranda, who received the Aldine Optimist Club Award, Lupita Mota, who received the Aldine Optimist Club Award, Kristina Munger, who received the Steven Parker Award, Leticia Muniz, who received the Steven Parker Award, Jamaica Negrete, who received the Harvey and Yvonne Stotts Award and Martha Orozco, who received the Supertravel Award.

Other AISD seniors receiving scholarships where Deidre Owens, who received the Supertravel Award, Samantha Peralta, who received the Glen and Linda Huntley Award, Monica Quintana, who received the North Houston Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce Award, Perla Rodriguez, who received the Houston-Aldine Lions Club Award, Maria Ruiz, who received the Houston-Aldine Lions Club Award, Christopher
Sales, who received the Supertravel Aldine Teachers Award, Samuel Thornton, who received the Richard and Barbara Lee Memorial Award, Felecia Tillis, who received the North Houston Bank Award, Lizzeth Trevino, who received the North Houston Bank Award, Veronica Valdez, who received the MacArthur Senior High School Award, Yolanda Willis, who received the M.B. ”Sonny” Donaldson Award and Shavonda Young, who received the M.B. “Sonny” Donaldson Award.

Prior to receiving their scholarships, the students heard from former ASF recipient Yanira Barrera, who told them what ASF has meant to her and from Dr. David Sam, president of North Harris College, who delivered the keynote address

Hambrick students make a big statement at the Aldine Language Fair

Claiming more than 22 awards in nine different categories, Hambrick ESL (English as a Second Language) students are walking tall. The Language Fair is a competition among students whose native language is something other than English. Students compete in cultures and social studies, grammar, poetry, spelling and public speaking. Some put together skits. Others can let their art talents shine through posters.

Teacher sponsors, Vicki Duncan, Gloria Muti, Mimi Martinez and Pat Stanton all expressed a great deal of pride in this year’s student performances. The teachers have worked with the children all year long, sharpening English language skills that allowed them to compete.

Among the 22 awards, there were several first place finishers. These included Maria Alfonso who took first place in the Level 1 Cultural test. Aquillino Ramirez also took first place in the Level 3 Cultural test. Other big winners included Alma Hurtado and Isabel Olivas in the area of Grammar. Sandra Becerra took first place in Level 3 Sight Reading and Anna Orozco claimed the top honor in controlled speaking. Many of these students who competed will soon moving out of the ESL category as they head to 9th grade. Learning a new language is tough. Taking the new language and excelling in competition is a tremendous accomplishment.

Culture Test
Level 1
1st place, Maria Alfaro
Level 2
2nd place, Ana Rosa Ramirez
3rd place, Mario Pineda
Level 3
1st place, Aquilino Ramirez

Grammar Test
ELI
1st place, Alma Hurtado
2nd place, Ana Orozco
Level 3
1st place, Isabel Olivas
3rd place, Jose Cruces

Spelling
Level 3
4th place, Jose Cruces
Poetry

ELI
4th place, Lucero Garcia
Level 3
2nd place, Aracely Martinez

Skits
As a group, the following students placed 3rd in the Skit category: Ana Rosa Ramirez, Charityn Trejo, Rosa Velazquez, and Maria Guadalupe Velazquez

We also had a 4th place in the skit category: these students are: Anna Orozco, Jessica Gallegos, Jessica Trejo, and Carmen Villeda.

Controlled Speaking
ELI
1st place, Anna Orozco
3rd
place, Alma Hurtado

Extemporaneous Speaking
Level 1
1st place, Luis Gomez
4th place, Jessica Espinosa
Level 2
4th place, Maria Velasquez
Level 3
3rd place, Gustavo Quinteros

Sight Reading
Level 3
1st place, Sandra Becerra
3rd place, Mayra Garcia

Posters – The winners for the posters in the Cultural Category and Promotional Category will be announced at later time per ESL Coordinator’s decision. The results were submitted to us on Tuesday morning, May 14.

For Cultural Poster 4th place, Hugo Reyna

Families Under Urban & Social Attack works to increase Food Stamp participation through outreach effort

Only one of three Texans who qualifies for Food Stamps actually receives Food Stamps.

Texas’ low participation rate results in unnecessary hunger and deprives working Texans of needed financial help. Participation in the Food Stamp program allows Texans to receive other services, including free nutrition education classes. New eligibility criteria make it easier for working Texans to receive nutrition assistance through the Food Stamp program, for example:
Food Stamp participants can now own a vehicle worth up to $15,000.

Phone interviews are available to Texans who work or have other barriers that make it difficult to come to a DHS office.

The Texas Department of Human Services contracts with the Texas Association of Community Action Agencies (TAQAA) to conduct Food Stamp outreach across Texas.

One of those agencies is Families Under Urban & Social Attack, a non-profit corporation that works with potential food stamp recipients to complete applications and obtain necessary documentation.
FUUSA takes its outreach program to a variety of locations in Harris and Montgomery Counties including Nueva Casa de Amigos, West End Multi-Purpose Center, Eastside Clinic, Bayou City Clinic, Humble Area Assistance Ministries, Metropolitian Assistance Ministries, Ripley House and the YMCA on Navigation.

While FUUSA does not actually certify applicants to receive food stamps, they can help people meet the qualification requirements through coaching and other assistance.

For information about FUUSA and the food stamp assistance program, please call 713-651-1470.

High Meadows Library June Calendar

OPEN HOUSE! TUESDAY, JUNE 6TH, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
•“Books & Tennis For Life,” program sign-up throughout May. Ask Children’s Librarian/Reference Desk for details! Program includes: Free tennis instruction; brand new loaner racquets.
•Session one – June.
•Session two – July.
•Sign-up now for one or both. Limited to 150 applicants for each session.
Ongoing Weekly Programs
• Performances & Programs including Zoomobile, Space Center Houston, Bilingual stories, Kuumba House African Folk Tales and much more!
•Summer Reading Program
•Story and Crafts: Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m.
•Beginning Computer/Internet Classes (English and Spanish): Call library for information,
•Play/Learn Chess: Thursdays at 3:15 p.m.
•Community Exercise: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 12:00 noon – 3:00 p.m.
•ESL Classes: Tuesday and Thursday, 1 – 3 p.m.
•Citizenship Class: Wednesdays, 2:15 – 4 p.m.

Please contact High Meadows for further information about library activities: 4500 Aldine Mail Route Road 281-590-1456

Fifth Annual ASF Golf Tournament set

The Fifth Annual Aldine Scholarship Foundation Golf Tournament will be held on Tuesday, June 4, at Cypresswood Golf Club. All proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Aldine Scholarship Foundation (ASF), which provides scholarships to Aldine ISD graduates to schools in the North Harris Montgomery Community College District.

The entry fee is $600 for a foursome, and $150 for an individual entry. Non-players can attend the banquet following the tournament for $25.

There will also be a hole-in-one contest, a putting contest, a closest to the pin contest and a longest drive contest. Trophies will be awarded to the first and second place low net teams and the first and second place low gross teams.

The tournament will begin with a shotgun start at 1p.m. A silent auction will be held beginning at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the awards presentation at 7 p.m.

For more information, contact the ASF office at (281) 260-3137.

The Sharks of Summer

“Shark!”

This frantic warning is enough to strike fear into the heart of any wade fisherman or anyone else, for that matter, who happens to be waist deep in the salt water.

Sharks have fascinated and frightened coastal anglers for centuries. They bring out a mixture of fear and excitement in most of us. These mysterious creatures are the stuff that folklore and legends are made of. Early ocean adventurers and ancient seafaring maps depicted them as menacing sea monsters of the deep. Anyone who has ever watched a several hundred pound, toothy, “gray fin express” slash a trophy size kingfish in half with one vicious bite might tend to agree.

However, on the Texas coast, the shark has a somewhat undeserved bad reputation as a prowling, man-eating killer. Over the last 40 years between 1961 and 2001, there have only been 15 recorded shark attacks in Texas’ coastal waters, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department statistics. Only two of the attacks resulted in death; both were from severe bleeding. Experts agree that most of these attacks have been a case of mistaken identity where the shark sees the splashing arm or leg of the fisherman or swimmer and identifies it as something it is accustomed to eating.

During the late spring and early summer, warming tides and temperatures bring a variety of sharks into our closer coastal waters. These same warm temperatures lure more fishermen and swimmers into the same waters, creating an up close and personal contact with the sharks.

These magnificent creatures are vastly misunderstood. Not only does the shark play a critical role in our vast marine ecosystem but it also frequently provides a few encounters on the opposite end of a fishing line that can be the highlight of a memorable fishing trip. In warm coastal waters, sharks of all sizes are literally everywhere. They prowl the shallow waters of the back bays, they feed along the sand bars in the surf, and they roam the deep drop-offs in the blue waters of the Gulf.

In the world’s bays and oceans, there are over 250 species of sharks. Many of these species are found in our Texas coastal waters. Water temperature is one of the most important factors concerning the movement of sharks. Deep-water species such as the mako, the bull shark, and most of the time the great hammerhead can be found year-round in the warm, open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. These creatures will migrate along the jetty systems, in the surf, and even within the Texas bays, depending on the rise and fall of the thermometer and the movement of baitfish. During these warming trends, the popular, shallow-water blacktip and sand sharks will move into the bays and surf.

Without exception, all sharks lack a true bone structure. Their skeletal support is made of cartilage, and the skin is made up of placoied scales. The abrasive hide of the shark is rough enough to cut through some of the strongest monofilament line. If you have ever owned a pair of almost indestructible sharkskin boots, you understand how tough this scaly hide can be.

The abrasive hide is not the only thing that can cut your fishing line. The shark’s mouth is lined with rows of razor-sharp teeth. Through their lifetime, sharks shed their teeth and generate new ones. The bays and beach bottoms are virtually littered with all sizes of shed shark teeth. Many consider the teeth as good luck, and others collect the to adorn necklaces and key chains.

Because even a small shark can easily slice through a heavy monofilament leader, most fishermen anticipating the possibility of an encounter with a shark will rig up with a wire or plastic coated steel leader. Leader length should exceed the length of the shark in the 12’-15’ range. A shark’s thrashing tail can also wreak havoc on a monofilament line. Most anglers fishing specifically for sharks like to use the heavy circle hooks in the 9/0 to 12/0 range designed to hook the fish in the corner of the mouth and not in its throat.

In near offshore waters where a large population of big sharks roams, chumming is the key to bringing cruising sharks to your boat. Sharks possess a most acute sense of smell. The shark can detect the smell of a meal in the water from a great distance away. Oily baits such as chopped pieces of blue fish, menhaden or mullet are ideal chum. Bloody baits like pieces of bonito and jackfish are also great shark chum. The more oil and blood in the bait, the better.

Many times you will find sharks as well as king mackerel working the same chum lines behind anchored shrimp boats culling their by-catch after a night of shrimping.

Oil rigs and platforms in the Gulf are good places to start a chum line, but don’t overdo it. Toss just enough chum into the water to create a continuous slick. A small amount of chum can attract big numbers of sharks. Too much chum will cause the sharks to lay back in the current and feed rather than come in close enough to eat a drifted bait.

To really enjoy picking a fight with a shark, lighten up on your tackle. For a medium weight rig with lots of quality line and acres of open Gulf water, a heavyweight shark can create the fight of a lifetime. Almost as memorable will be the boneless shark steaks served hot off the grill.

For me, when someone yells “Shark!” it’s an exciting signal to grab the nearest rig with a long wire leader and get ready for a king-size battle with one of the true monsters of the deep.

Bailey: Ninth Grade Initiative

Rep. Kevin Bailey reported today that efforts by Texas lawmakers’ to improve Texas’ public schools are producing positive results for Texas children, and reiterated his commitment to continue improving the quality of public schools.

A recent study by the Texas Center for Educational Research on the Texas Ninth Grade Success Initiative shows that 63% of the at-risk students targeted by the program successfully passed the ninth grade. Rep. Kevin Bailey explained that it is critical to support students in their first year of high school because more students repeat the ninth grade and more students drop out during during ninth grade than at any other time.

State Legislators developed the Ninth Grade Initiative in 1999 to increase academic performance and attendance rates and reduce the dropout rates. The initiative provides educators with the resources necessary to help struggling students achieve, said Rep. Kevin Bailey.

Students and teachers in more than 245 public school districts benefited from Ninth Grade Success Initiative grants. The grants enabled schools to provide at-risk students with increased individual attention and academic assistance through activities including tutoring and mentoring. School districts also utilized the grants to make improvements inside the classroom through the integration of technology and professional development for teachers.

Rep. Bailey said that too many young Texans are giving up on their dreams and futures by leaving school. He said that despite the largest decline in high school dropouts since 1994, Texas still ranks 3rd in the nation in dropouts because more than 23,000 students left high school in the 1999-2000 school year.

He went on to say that he supports building on programs that work, like the Ninth Grade Success Initiative, which keeps students in school and helps them prepare for the future.

A key component to the success of these students is more one-on-one time with educators, explained Rep. Bailey. He said that he will continue to fight for smaller class size and reducing the amount of time teachers spend on paperwork to increase individual student attention and prevent dropouts.

Lane School students benefit from partnership with local business

James Mitchell stands next to his job coach Raymond Gonzalez, student Abel Leon, Lane School job director Bob Toner, student William Duncan and coach Vickie Shirtz. The students are learning job skills and social behaviors as the work at the Shell service station at 1950 North Sam Houston Parkway East.

Students from the Ellen B. Lane and other AISD schools are benefitting from the District’s relationship with business partners such as Shell and Burger King.

Students who face a wide range of mental and physical challenges arrive at the combination store every day accompanied by their job coaches.
Once they arrive, they are assigned tasks such as stocking coolers, cleaning gas pumps, washing windows and straightening merchandise.

Through these activities, performed under the watchful eye of their job coaches, they learn both work and social skills.

Long time coaches Vickie Shirtz and Raymond Gonzalez work with two students at a time. The skills they teach their charges will not only make them employable and functional in the community, they will help them to qualify for a post-secondary program that offers long-term employment, work-orientated services and residential living.

According to Bob Toner, job coach with Lane, this type of experience is difficult to simulate within the schools. The program relies on business partners like Shell and Burger King to provide opportunities where students can learn behaviors through interactions with co-workers that occur naturally in a work setting. School administrators carefully screen the students, who exhibit a wide range of mental and physical challenges, to match each individual with the right job.

Ahmed “Danny” Dhanani, operations manager of Gulshan Enterprises, Inc. and owner of the Sam Houston Parkway location recommends the program to other retailers and credits its success to helping his station fully integrate into the community