Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Science Coordinator Displays Artistic Side

An attendee admiring Garza's artwork.
As art enthusiasts toured the Mansfield High School library viewing an amazing 35-piece exhibit of paintings, one of the patrons turned to her friend and said, "And to think, this was all painted by some science guy!"

That was the sentiment of several people who attended Tuesday's debut of "Shadows and Reflections" by Dr. Fred Garza, which featured paintings of literary novels brought to life or kitchen tools through the eyes of a cooking aficionado.

Dr. Garza is Mansfield ISD's science curriculum coordinator who has been with the district for more than 20 years.

Science and art aren't typically used in the same sentence. However, for Dr. Garza, those two words sum up his greatest passions.

"It's all about creating to me. In chemistry, you're creating a new product. In art, you're creating a new piece," said Garza.

Garza always had a knack for the arts because both of his parents were artists. He said he would always critique his mother's artwork, which led her to tell him to take art classes and make his own creations. And that's exactly what he did.

Dr. Fred Garza and Suzanne Moncuse enjoying the exhibit.
Although this is the second year the former science teacher displayed his artwork at Mansfield High School for the public to see, he said he wasn't always comfortable showing off his creative side to outsiders. It took some nudging from his friends.

"Once Suzanne Moncuse [Mansfield High School's librarian] found out that I was an artist, she pushed to have me showcase my work in the library," said Garza. "Now, I wouldn't have it any other way. She shows a true appreciation and care for the artwork."

Moncuse said the honor is all hers to be able to host such a local artist in the library.

"With the level of talent he has, he could easily be showing his pieces in art galleries. I'm glad to support him, and even happier that our district also supports the arts." said Moncuse.

Garza hopes his story will encourage others to not be afraid to tap into their own passions.

"Everyone has potential," he said. "They just need to dive in."

Garza's work will be on display at the Mansfield High School library until March 1.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Fourth Graders Run School News Network

Anchorwomen Allie Jarrett and Tina Tran preparing for the news.
Seconds away from making T.V. magic, the cameraman shouts, “Lights, camera, action!”

That’s a typical day for the people who run CNN. No, not the Cable News Network—the Cabaniss News Network is a news program that is broadcasted every morning through screens in the hallways and classrooms of Cabaniss Elementary School.

The morning bell rings at 8 a.m., and the newscast starts promptly at 8:03 a.m. to allow time for students to settle down and teachers to tune into the network via their classroom smart board.

Everything from the on-air talent to the information gathering and camera work is done solely by a select group of fourth graders. The students audition as third graders the prior year, so that they are all set for the first day of school. Occasionally, other students get featured on the news program as special guests to read news stories that they contributed.

For Tina Tran, positioned as the T.V. anchorwoman for the day, the choice to audition to be a part of CNN was easy.

“I like being in the spotlight. I always pretended to be a newsperson at home, so I decided to do it here, too,” said Tran.

Weatherman Adam Reynolds giving the day's forecast.
Adam Reynolds, the day’s weatherman, also enjoys the limelight; but to him, it’s also a way to give back to the school.

“We’re giving information that the students and teachers need, so I like being able to help,” said Reynolds.

Counselor David Dye oversees CNN. He started the network four years ago. He said he was thinking of producing a student-run news show when Principal Kisha McDonald came up to him wanting to start one also. Dye wrote a grant for the program to buy all the necessary equipment, and the rest is history.

Dye is very hands-on for the first two weeks of production, but he said after that, he starts handing over the reins to the students.

Cabaniss counselor David Dye after a successful newscast.
“It teaches the students to be self-sufficient,” Dye said. “It makes them have pride in their school and learn life skills. My favorite part is having the kids being able to independently produce quality work.”

And that quality work is surely being noticed. Some of the people on the on-air news team said they get treated like little local celebrities.

“A first grader came up to me and said that she wanted to be like me when she grows up,” said Allie Jarrett, the other anchorwoman on set.

Don’t think the fame is getting to their heads, though. Counselor Dye said he picks students that are very humble and know how to handle the attention.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ACE Students Spread Cheer to Local Nursing Home

ACE students passing out Christmas cards.
Students in the ACE Program at the MISD Alternative Education Center spread some Christmas cheer Wednesday to a local nursing home—proving that you should never judge a book by its cover.

The ACE Program provides an alternative learning environment for students ages 17 to 21 wanting to receive a high school diploma, whose age and academic performance indicate that he or she has not benefited from the traditional educational setting.

Students and staff visited the Mansfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to pass out refreshments, stuff stockings with snacks and gifts, pass out Christmas Cards, make glitter snowflakes, decorate the residents’ rooms, and sing Christmas carols.

It’s an annual tradition that has been going on for five years.

Science Teacher Sally McClure getting into the holiday spirit
with the students.
Sally McClure, teacher and science department chairperson at the Alternative Education Center, said there is very little opportunity for the students to get recognized for something positive, so they get excited for events like this one.

“There’s a transformation that happens within the kids when they come here,” said McClure. “I love watching these kids—who have been written off by some people—turn around and put a smile on the face of a person who really needs a friend.”

The transformation could be seen in the faces of the nursing home residents as well. For a majority of them, the students were the only visitors they will receive in a very long time.

“70 percent of the residents here have no family,” said Gene Compton, administrator for Mansfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. “Today, I can see hope in their eyes and connections being made with the younger generation.”

Senior Devin Settle helping a resident make a snowflake.
Senior Devin Settle was just one of many students who showed an outpouring of love and support to the residents. It was an emotional experience for him.

“I loved being able to touch the hearts of these people," said Settle. “It choked me up a little. It’s sad to see that they don’t have support, but that’s why we’re here today.”

To encourage the ACE students to continue in a path of positivity after the two-hour visit, Compton gave the students a message he hopes will stick with them.

“Always remember that you can achieve your goals, even if people put barriers in front of you.”

Friday, December 12, 2014

Hour of Code Ends via Chat with Polyvore CEO

Technology Applications students at T.A. Howard
video chatting with Polyvore CEO, Jess Lee.
It’s not every day that you get to talk to a major company’s CEO, but the technology applications (tech apps) students at T.A. Howard Middle School were able to as a prize given during the Hour of Code.

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week (December 8 - 14), the event is part of a nationwide movement to get schools to dedicate one hour of time for students to learn coding. During this hour, kids in participating schools learn how fun coding can be through interactive activities.

About two percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science, and the numbers have dropped since the last decade. Yet, computing jobs make up 60 percent of all math and science-related jobs.

These startling statistics are what sparked T.A. Howard Middle School to take part in the event.

As an extra bonus, one out of 100 schools that participated in the Hour of Code won the opportunity to video chat with a celebrity or industry executive. Amy Toombs, T.A. Howard’s librarian, was selected to video chat with Jess Lee, CEO of the style website Polyvore.

“Jess Lee’s in-person speaking fee is $22,000, so getting to hear all her wealth of knowledge for free was exciting,” said Toombs. “I loved that she looked like a regular person and made big goals seem so attainable.”

T.A. Howard was one of seven schools allowed to ask one pre-approved question to Lee, so students in the tech apps classes brainstormed to come up with the perfect one. Eighth grader Hayden Hartrick was the lucky student who got to ask the question during the video chat.

The question: “To what do you attribute your success today? Was it a skill, a class, a mentor or life experience? All of the above?”

Eighth grader Hayden Hartrick asking Lee the
pre-approved question.
It was the only inquiry that prompted the style mogul to respond, “That is a good question!”

View full video chat here.

For Hartrick, the chat with Lee taught him to not back away from the hard things in life.

“If you see something that is difficult, you need to traverse that road and go for what you want,” he said.

Teachers and staff hope this event will encourage students to pursue a career in the computer science field.

“Coding is used for everything from gaming to everyday apps,” said Kristi Bell, instructional technology technician for Mansfield ISD. “These children are learning why coding is important and why they should learn it.”

Find out what you can do to foster the next generation of coders and programmers by visiting the website.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Drive to Save Lives

Legacy Blood Drive
Legacy seniors Haley Jones (left) and McKenzie Johnson (right)
donating blood for the first time.
Saving a life can be as easy as donating a little bit of your time—and blood. That’s what students at Legacy High School discovered.

The school’s Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) group partnered with Carter BloodCare to organize a blood drive Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Lashandra Bible, a representative for Carter BloodCare, said drives like the one held at Legacy are very important to the organization’s blood bank supply.

“The majority of the blood we get comes from our high schools. We get dozens of participants from schools all across North Texas. We’ve gotten over 1,000 donors in one day at certain locations.”

A few of the high school participants were first-time donors who wanted to take advantage of the yearly event.

“I wasn’t old enough last year [to give blood without consent],” said McKenzie Johnson, senior at Legacy. "This year, I wanted to come out and make a difference because I know my blood will help someone in need. It’s for a good cause.”

Carter BloodCare needs 1,100 donors daily to keep up with supply. Approximately one pint of blood is drawn from each donor, and the procedure takes about five to 10 minutes.

For those who are too needle-shy to go out and give blood, senior Haley Jones gave some words of advice.

“Don’t think of your fears. Just think of the lives that you’ll be saving.”

For more information on the blood donation center nearest you, visit the Carter BloodCare website.

2014 Toys for Tots Event Brings in 26k Toys

The third annual Mansfield ISD Toys for Tots event was a stunning representation of the giving spirit of our community. Parents, students, staff, and local community members opened their hearts and donated 26,000 toys and an estimated $8,000 for DFW Toys for Tots!

The event was held on Wednesday, December 10, from 5:00 to 10:30 p.m. at the MISD Center for the Performing Arts. FOX 4 was on site to capture the magic of the evening, as joyful community members flooded the big event. The festivities were kicked off by a student/staff parade, followed by photos with Santa, a giant snow tubing hill, a bounce house and obstacle course, live reindeer, food trucks, more than 30 onstage student performances, and a variety of activities for kids and families.

We are so grateful for the continued support of this fantastic event. Thanks to the many student groups, sponsors, community leaders, and volunteers who make this event possible!


Special thanks to: Mansfield Police Department, the City of Mansfield, Mayor David Cook and the Mansfield City Council, MISD Board of Trustees, Mansfield ISD Police Department, MISD Warehouse Crew, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, Fox 4, Steele Freeman Construction, Huckabee, Lee Lewis Construction, Texas Trust Credit Union, Sam’s Club, Lowe’s Top of Texas Photography, Two Men and a Truck, Sports Clips, Starbucks, First United Methodist Church of Mansfield, Home Depot, Hawaiian Falls Water Park, Mellow Mushroom, BBCTA’s radio station 99.9 THE WILD, Dr. Chuck Roe from the Fine Arts Department, Mark Walker from the Athletic Department,  MISD Transportation Department, Quentin Myers the Music Man, and last but not least – all MISD schools and departments for supporting this event and helping promote the spirit of giving.