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Friday, May 18, 2018

Senior on Track to Get Bachelor’s Degree at 18

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When Melody Delatorre was a sophomore, she had a mission: to graduate with an associate degree while still in high school.

The Mansfield High School student visited her counselor to discuss her plans and became laser-focused to earn at least 60 college credits before graduation.

“She could take up to three dual credit courses per semester, so we just mapped out what three she was going to take in her junior year and what three she was going to take in her senior year, “ said Mansfield High School counselor Monica Dabney.

To put her education on a faster track, Delatorre also took courses at Tarrant County College (TCC) on her own after school. She took no breaks and continued taking courses in the summer and winter.

Delatorre met with her counselor to map out her graduation plan.
The senior graduated with her associate degree from TCC on May 12. She will walk across the stage to get her high school diploma on May 25.

“It was really cool knowing I was getting my associate degree before my high school diploma,” said Delatorre. “It took a lot of work and sacrifice. I didn’t always have time to be with my friends, but I’m glad I did it. I feel accomplished and proud.”

“I cannot even describe how proud I am of her,” Dabney added. “She is such a driven student and highly independent, so I was just elated to hear that she had competed her associate’s degree.”

The 17-year-old said she will take summer classes at the University of Texas at Arlington.

She said she won’t take any breaks and hopes to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biology in May 2019. Her goal is to become a doctor.

“I want to become a doctor because I like helping people, and I like being able to make a difference in people’s lives,” Delatorre explained.

For those wanting to follow in her educational path, the senior’s advice is simple. She said, “just go.”

Friday, May 4, 2018

Cancer Survivor Rallies Behind Diagnosed Staff Member

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At the age of 28, Tracy Johnson received a call that changed the way she views life.

The doctor called her at the school in which she taught to tell her that she had colon cancer. Her principal at the time was Donna Shepard, a Mansfield ISD school namesake who was also battling cancer.

“She grabbed me and hugged me and said, ‘I am here. I will be with you. You’re strong. You will be fine,’” recalled Johnson, who is now principal of J.L. Boren Elementary School. “To this day, that has meant so much to me.”

Johnson said that since she has been principal of Boren Elementary, a few of her staff members have been diagnosed with cancer. She said she feels it is her calling to rally behind them and encourage them along the way.

“I think there was a great plan for me to be here, and I’m able to share my experience to help others,” she continued.

Carney received gifts from her music students
after news of her diagnosis.
Recently, the school’s music teacher, Katie Carney, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The principal said it has been amazing to see how the staff members and community have come together to support her.

Being able to show an outpouring of love to those battling cancer is one of the reasons why Mansfield ISD’s Colors for Caring initiative is near and dear to Johnson's heart. The initiative encourages the community to wear cancer awareness colors on the first Monday of each school month.

“People always want to be helpful in a way, and they don’t know how,” Johnson said. “This is one easy way we can stand for others and be strong. It’s nice to know that we’re all a community working together to stand for each other.”

The Colors for Caring initiative began in 2015 after Superintendent Dr. Jim Vaszauskas was diagnosed with thymoma cancer. He was grateful for the support he received and wanted to continue to spread the love to others.

The last Colors for Caring Day of the 2017-18 school year is on May 7. Johnson said her campus will be wearing a shirt with a pink cancer ribbon made of music notes for Carney.

Friday, April 27, 2018

MISD Student Trainers Help from the Sidelines

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They may be standing on the sidelines during game time, but they are the stars of the show when it comes to the health of Mansfield ISD’s student-athletes.

The MISD Student Athletic Trainer Program consists of high school students who help take care of student-athletes.

Students in the program treat injuries, keep athletes hydrated and serve as the eyes and ears on the field or court.

“All a fan sees or a parent sees when they come to a game is a student trainer holding a water bottle and a towel and standing there. That’s kind of our down time,” said district trainer Andy Starnes. “All of our action happens before the game and during the week during practice.”

Strength tapes a wrist before football practice begins.
There are approximately 30 student athletic trainers across MISD.

Starnes said having the trainers is essential to the district’s athletics program because they provide extra help to the thousands of students who participate in sports.

“Without those guys, we couldn’t do what we do. There’s no way,” he added. “We have almost 900 athletes here at Mansfield High School, and each of the campuses have a number of athletes.”

A day as a student athletic trainer can be time consuming. They tape injuries, lug coolers, fill water tanks and restock medical kits, just to name a few.

Despite the work, the students said their job is very rewarding.

“I like to help others, and that’s what I want to do as a living, so this is a way for me to be able to do that,” said Bailey Strength, a junior at Mansfield High.

“My favorite part is being able to spend time with the other trainers,” said sophomore Brianna Devito. “We’re like a family.”

Many of the student athletic trainers have gone on to pursue careers in sports medicine. Those interested in the MISD Student Athletic Trainer Program can contact one of the campus athletic trainers.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Fourth-Graders Beat Out High Schoolers Nationwide in Stock Market Game

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When it comes to stocks, bonds and market trends, some elementary school students at Tarver Rendon Elementary School are already ahead of the game.

The fourth-graders are competing in an online stock market game as part of their social studies curriculum. They were given a $100,000 fictional account in which they are able to buy and sell mutual funds, stocks and bonds.

Out of more than 300 schools nationwide, a Tarver Rendon Elementary team has been leading the pack. What’s even more impressive is that a majority of the people they are competing against are in high school.

White teaches the students how to interpret the stock charts.
“Mrs. Thomas’ class has the team that is actually second right now. They were first yesterday and second today,” said Brian White, a social studies teacher. “I was hoping to have five teams in the top 100. I think we’re sitting on ten right now.”

Gatlin Gerhard, the captain of the leading team, said his winning strategy is to buy what he knows.

“I just got my favorite big companies and invested in them,” the 10-year-old explained. “I have Netflix. Shopify is one of them. Apple’s doing really good.”

The student said he has learned a lot so far and plans to explore Wall Street even more when he’s an adult.

White added that the activity has been a fun way to incorporate real-world money management skills into the classroom.

“They’re about 8 percent over the S&P 500 growth already, and we still have five weeks to go. They’re doing very well.”

More information about The Stock Market Game is available here.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Students Provide Comfort to Patients Through Music

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Fine Arts students across Mansfield ISD are helping hospital patients recover by simply doing what they love.

A new music therapy program named Recovery Notes allows the young musicians to perform for patients at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.

“The original intent was that these patients needed to have a reason to kind of get up and out of their beds,” said Dr. Chuck Roe, assistant fine arts director. “But even for patients who are confined to the bed, they get a little enjoyment than just watching the T.V.”

Medical center officials said music can be a good resource to manage pain and anxiety, ultimately playing a significant part in a patient’s recovery.

The students are assigned to the cardiac telemetry floor.
Students in musical theatre, choir and band participate in Recovery Notes on Monday evenings. The program is in its infancy, but it has already proven to be a benefit.

“The patients really love it and so do the students,” said Brittany Ross, a fine arts teacher at MISD. “We’ve even gotten some really great reactions from the nurses. It really does bring this feeling of joy throughout the entire hallway.”

Dr. Roe said the students start out not knowing what to expect; but after they perform, he said they are excited to sign up for another session.

“I’d like to believe that maybe their days got better because of this, and I would love to do anything that I can to make their days better,” said senior Jisella Ayala from Legacy High School.

Students who participate in Recovery Notes have an opportunity to win a $500 scholarship to the college of their choice. Dr. Roe said the program will continue in the summer months.

Friday, April 6, 2018

MISD Teacher Leads Junior Step Team to Success

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It’s hard to imagine that Christy Heath didn’t even know what stepping was five years ago. The dance form, which uses the body to produce rhythmic sounds through footsteps and handclaps, was a new concept to her.

Heath was introduced to it when she was asked to help with the administrative side of a step team at her previous school district.

“I had no clue what stepping even was, but I was in marching band, so I knew about form, timing and precision,” she explained.

The following year, the math teacher became the main coach for the group, leading her team to back-to-back national titles. She came to Mansfield ISD in 2015 and revitalized the step team at Mary Lillard Intermediate School.

“I simply asked them if they wanted to compete or not, and they were all gung-ho about competing,” she said. “So I signed them up to compete, and that year they did go to nationals.”

The girls practice after school at Lillard Intermediate
during competition season.
The Powerhouse Steppers, which also includes students from Danny Jones Middle School, didn’t win the national title, but they kept pushing themselves to learn harder routines and compete with the best step teams in the area.

As a result, the group was named 2018 league champions of the Texas Dance and Step Association.

The steppers said that performing is fun, but they also value the relationships they develop with team members.

“We’re like a family,” said Camryn Morgan, seventh-grader at Danny Jones Middle School. “We help each other, we motivate each other and we just have each other’s backs.”

The group started working together with neighboring Lake Ridge High School to get the younger team familiar with their future teammates and coaches.

“When we’re at competition, they’re supporting us, we’re supporting them, and it’s just ‘Bring it home to Mansfield. Bring it home to Mansfield’ every time,” said Heath.

The Powerhouse Steppers earned five trophies for the 2017-18 school year, placing in nearly every compeition. Their season will resume in August.