The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Opinion

September 12, 2010

Homecoming week at Palestine ISD

PALESTINE — It’s Homecoming Week at Palestine Independent School District and I hope you can be a part of the celebration.  We will have a parade at 6:30 pm Monday.  The parade will begin at the Courthouse and end at the Courthouse Annex. Then, we will have a pep rally at the annex.  The football players, color guard, homecoming court, drill team, and band will be there for the parade and pep rally.  Parents, if you have younger children, please walk with them in the parade and stay with their schools. There will be face painting, hamburgers and soft drinks, and a dunking booth where, for a price, you can dunk your favorite high school administrators. Each day next week is a theme day coordinating with the football game Friday night against my old Mabank Panthers.   

 It’s a great week to celebrate because your hard work is paying off.  All of our accountability rating trends are showing steady improvement. For instance, writing at Story Intermediate School was 84 percent passing in 2007, 86 percent in 2008, 99 percent in 2009, and 100 percent last spring.  Math at Story went from 77 percent to 89 percent and science moved up from 72 percent to 80 percent last year. And these are just some examples. All of the accountability ratings are doing the same thing.  At the Middle School, social studies moved from 85 percent passing to 100 percent; science went from 54 percent to 94 percent. At the High School, math went from 65 percent to 90 percent, social studies moved up from 86 percent to 98 percent. You can’t do much better than that.  Science at the High School moved steadily up from 60 percent to 94 percent. This means PISD is exemplary or recognized in 24 of 25 indicators in state assessments, removing all federal and state monitoring stages. It’s not by accident that Palestine High School has been a recognized campus two years in a row.

We’re not letting up. We plan to continue to improve and move forward.  This year, all high school students are being given a laptop computer to use. This was paid for by grant funds and will prepare our students for success in the decades to come. The technology crew has been working day and night to get the laptops safe and ready for use by the students.

Story Intermediate School was already a beautiful campus, but it just got better.  Trinity Valley Pools and Spas donated materials to improve the flagpole area. The school’s beautification committee donated their hours of labor. The maintenance crew is installing new playground equipment at Story for the students. The school is also adding new computers to all of the classrooms.  Lots of improvements are being made at Story!  

Our sports teams, band, and drill teams are representing our district well.  They have been working hard to participate on the courts and fields. Congratulations to the Cross-country teams. The varsity boys and girls won first place at the Crockett meet recently.  Coach Absalom keeps adding to his wins.

 The Summit Early College High School has 72 freshman students from Palestine and Westwood. Not only are they studying High School curriculum, they are actually working toward a college degree. This is a service never before offered to our community.  And more than two hundred students are enrolled at Washington Early Childhood Center, where we offer HeadStart, PreK, and even our own district daycare for employee’s children. The little ones at Washington Early Childhood welcomed visits from their grand-parents Friday.  The kids mixed, baked, and served cookies, and showed off what they’ve been up to this year.

 On Thursday, the Middle School boys played their first games of the season and had a good turnout. The Middle School math teachers are exploding with creativity as they have students folding paper, building models, and drawing visual representations of the math problems.

 Why all the success in the Palestine ISD?  Our motto this year is “We Are One” and that is what we are.  We realize we are all in this together, teachers, staff, students and parents.  We realize that any weak links will keep us from becoming the World Class Academic Organization we know we can be. If we work together, there is nothing we cannot achieve, and our rating scores are proving that.  

Five years ago, New Orleans was pummeled by Hurricane Katrina. The city was devastated, lives were lost, and many people suffered greatly.  But the city refused to give up. Soon, the city’s football team, the Saints, was playing in the Superdome again and, then last February, won their first Super Bowl. It was heartening to see the banner unfurled Thursday Night during the opening NFL win against our own Adrian Peterson and the Vikings. (Adrian played great, by the way, and continues to represent Palestine ISD well.) In the interviews about coming back and winning the Super Bowl, the players and coaches kept saying how important it was to pull together with a positive attitude.  

No matter what trials we face, let’s pull together with that same spirit. We Are One and we can do it!

This weekend, as always, remember what is important. Remember those who have given their lives to protect our freedoms, our values, and our system of free education for all. This Patriot Day, remember that our fight for freedom is ongoing and paid in blood.  See you at the Homecoming Parade Monday.

————

Thomas A. Wallis, Ed.D. is the superintendent of Palestine Independent School District.

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