Friday, December 2, 2016

MISD Kids Find Their Genius Through Clubs

On Fridays, there’s an extra pep in the step of the third and fourth-graders at Martha Reid Elementary School, but it’s not because the weekend is near.

The students know that if they do their school work Monday through Thursday, there’s a special period Friday morning where they can engage in different clubs.

Origami, the art of folding paper, is intriguing to the students.
Principal Rebecca Stephens said the idea was implemented in the second six weeks to coincide with one of the guiding statements of Vision 2020, Mansfield ISD’s new strategic plan, which states that students will participate in an extracurricular or co-curricular activity.

“Every kid has an interest; every kid has their genius,” said Stephens. “We’re giving them the opportunity to try different clubs to see what they like to do outside of school.”

She added that having the clubs during the day gives students who may not be able to come early or stay later an opportunity to participate in the different activities as well

Origami, science, music, drama, robotics, Legos and kindness are just some of the various offerings each six weeks. There’s also a Book Buddies Club in which the older children read to the younger ones.

Students said that reading is more fun with partners.
“I like reading because it helps me learn, and I can get a job one day because of it,” said third-grader Keller Johnson, who enjoys being a book buddy.

Stephens added that it’s not just about having fun. The Friday clubs give children something to look forward to throughout the week.

“It has made a difference because they have the intrinsic motivation to do well at school and be a part of school, and they take ownership in that.” she said.

Next semester, the club rotations will be available for the second-graders as well.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Students Open for Grammy Award-Winning Artist

What’s it like to be the opening act for a man who has spent the last two decades topping music charts? The students in Mansfield ISD’s newly formed All-District High School Gospel Choir will be able to answer that on Friday night.

Kirk Franklin, who has won many prestigious awards for his singing, songwriting and producing on gospel songs, will grace the stage of the Mansfield ISD Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 18.

Wright conducts his choir class at Mansfield High.
The concert will feature select students and community members as the opening act. The all-district gospel choir will then break away from the mass choir and perform to the crowd on their own.

Choir Director Reginal Wright from Mansfield High School said he envisioned having a gospel choir for all MISD high school students, and his vision quickly turned into a reality with a surprise visit from Superintendent Dr. Jim Vaszauskas.

“Dr. V walked into my office about two weeks after that and said, ‘We have Kirk Franklin coming to town, and I want a gospel choir,’” Wright recalled.

Auditions began in September. Katie Swan said she was thrilled to make the cut.

“Gospel music is a way to express yourself, and it’s energetic, and it’s fun,” said the sophomore.

The student gospel singers have spent hours each day perfecting the music.

The opening choir consists of students and community members.
Junior Dylan Ngo said he likes the music, but also enjoys the inclusiveness he feels among his fellow singers.

“It’s so hype,” Ngo explained. “It’s like you can be yourself around them, and there’s no judgement."

The fact that the students are going to open for Kirk Franklin is definitely an added bonus, especially for senior Anyse Dawson whose parents have been listening to Franklin before she was even born.

“That's the coolest part," she said. "I’ve never met somebody famous and someone of that relevance."

Wright said the choir gives students a change from the traditional classical music that is taught in the classroom. He added that he sees the choir continuing for years to come. 

More information about the Kirk Franklin concert is available here.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thanking Those Who Have Served Our Country

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 18 million people in the United States who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Several campuses across Mansfield ISD took the time to thank each of them in a very special way on Nov. 11.

Military veterans related to MISD students and staff were invited to a variety of Veterans Day events, ranging from breakfasts and luncheons to assemblies and parades. It was a day of appreciation, but also a time for students to learn why Americans have the freedoms they enjoy today.

“We know that we are the greatest country in the world because of the sacrifice that’s been given by our men and women in the armed forces,” said Dr. Michael Evans, school board trustee and military veteran.

Evans said he was proud to see all the veterans who were getting a hero’s welcome, and he salutes MISD for the many ways gratitude was shown toward them.

“It’s important for our students to recognize where all of their privileges come from,” Evans continued. “It comes from these people who have given their lives and who have laid it all on the line for them.”

Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919 to mark the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress later passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance. Armistice Day was officially changed to Veterans Day in 1954.

View details about what each MISD campus did to honor the nation’s veterans here.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Senior Describes Father’s Fight with Stage 4 Lung Cancer

Nguyen said photography is his outlet, and
he plans on becoming a nurse.
Nam Nguyen has had his share of challenges. He moved to the United States from Vietnam when he was in the eighth grade and encountered a major culture shock. He said he had trouble fitting in and had to learn how to be comfortable in his own skin.

When he transferred into Mansfield ISD, Nguyen said everything was going well. Now that he’s a senior, he has a set routine of going to school during the day and earning college credits at night. But he said the news he received earlier this year nearly sent him on a downward spiral.

“In May, my dad started coughing so much,” said the 12th grader at The Phoenix Academy. “He went to doctors, and they kept giving him allergy medicine, but it kept getting worse.”

His dad underwent scans and blood tests to determine what was wrong. He was later diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in August 2016.

“I was so depressed,” Nguyen recalls. “He’s my only family here. Without him, I’m alone. I was shocked because he’s a non-smoker.”

Nguyen remembers spending two weeks at home grieving and crying. His dad eventually told him that being sad isn’t going to change anything, and that’s when the senior’s perspective changed.

Nguyen said he has five posters filled with well wishes for his father.
“I have to stay positive so that my dad’s positive throughout his chemo. My friends really helped me out during this hard time. Now, I see that I’m very fortunate for a lot of things in life, like a bright future and my career opportunities.”

Through his own experience, Nguyen said he realized how necessary MISD’s Colors for Caring initiative is. On the designated days, he said he will be wearing colors in honor of his dad.

“I’m also making a poster collage for him. A lot of people have already signed it,” he said. “It will mean a lot to him to see that others care about him. That’s why I know that Colors for Caring is helping other people feel that they’re not going through this alone.”

For information and a photo gallery of MISD’s Colors for Caring Days, visit the district’s website.

Friday, November 4, 2016

MISD Students Explore the Sounds of Strings

A new type of sound can be heard in the hallways of Mansfield ISD intermediate schools this year. Students are getting the opportunity to participate in the district’s new orchestra program.

“I love that orchestra is important to the district,” said Kevin Pearce, orchestra instructor at Mary Lillard and Mary Orr intermediate schools. “I think it’s an essential part of a well-rounded music program in school.”

For its inaugural year, the program serves as an exploratory class to expose fifth graders to string instruments. Students are learning various techniques, such as bowing and plucking. Pearce said he is impressed with how quickly his classes are learning the concepts.

Pearce led the orchestra class during a recent mini-concert.
“I’ve seen some really nice progress in them, especially considering how they’re not practicing at home,” Pearce explained. “They’re still moving as quickly through a method as other school districts where they did have instruments that they’re taking home.”

Lilan Jackson, fifth grader at Mary Lillard Intermediate School, said although she loves singing, being able to play a stringed instrument brings a different dynamic that she appreciates.

“For singing, it’s my voice, so I know how to control it; but for music, I can control it with my fingers, but I don’t control the sound,” said Jackson. “I like how it just comes out, and I like to hear that.”

The MISD orchestra program will expand in phases to the middle school and high school levels. For more information about the district’s fine arts programs, visit the MISD website.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Cowboys Mascot Teaches Kids to Live Drug Free

Rowdy, the official mascot of the Dallas Cowboys, took time away from the gridiron to teach Mansfield ISD youth that you can’t score in life by doing drugs.

The mascot was the special guest at Danny Jones Middle School for Red Ribbon Week, a nationwide effort to visibly take a stand against drugs. He educated the seventh and eighth graders about the dangers of drugs and encouraged them to stay safe and smart.

In true Rowdy fashion, the program was filled with entertainment and dancing, which included dance-offs, crowd chants and giveaways. Event organizers hoped the upbeat pep rally would inspire students to make the right choices in life.

Rowdy pumps up the crowd at Jones Middle School.
“We wanted to get everybody’s juices flowing,” said Jones Middle School PTA President Lisa Huff. “I hope they take away the message that being drug free is valid and good and always something that we want to do as good people in the world, and that we make that commitment all of our lives.”

The 2016 theme for Red Ribbon Week was: YOLO. Be Drug Free. (YOLO stands for You Only Live Once.)

Schools all across Mansfield ISD held events that encouraged kids to say no to drugs. Several campuses wore red ribbons, took part in special activities and held dress-up days to show the importance of living a drug-free lifestyle.

Red Ribbon Week also motivates youth and parents to have open dialogue about the need to live a healthy lifestyle because children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42 percent less likely to use drugs than those who don't.

The first Red Ribbon campaign began more than 30 years ago. Today, the Red Ribbon Campaign is the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the nation reaching millions of young people. View more information about Red Ribbon Week and sign the pledge.