United ISD Departments Receive Awards from Texas School Public Relations Association

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1 Vol. 13, No. 7/ March 2011 United ISD Departments Receive Awards from Texas School Public Relations Association United ISD brought home three Best of Category, 22 GOLD STAR, 17 SILVER STAR, and three CRYSTAL COMMENDA- TION Awards from the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA). TSPRA presented the awards for excellence in school communication at their Star Awards Celebration on February 24 during the associationʼs conference in Arlington, Texas. Each year TSPRA recognizes exceptional communicators in public school districts, education foundations and educational organizations throughout the state of Texas for their outstanding work in both print and electronic media. This year, TSPRA received more than 1,076 Star Award entries. TSPRA is a professional organization based in Austin whose members are dedicated to improving public education in Texas. TSPRA supports its members by promoting effective public relations practices, providing professional development and improving communication between Texans and their public schools. L-R: The Instructional Television Department; Pete Martinez, Luis Garza, Joe Moreno, Robert Niño, Susan Carlson, and Ana Prado. L-R: The Public Relations Department; Paola Arcos Mansinghani, Veronica R. Cantu, Rocio G. Moore, and Alex Meyer. United South student takes first place in Region One ESC Child Find Art Contest... Turn to page 5 for their story United HS recognized by the College Board for a score of three or higher on the AP Spanish Language Exam... Turn to page 10 for their story February Youth of the Month...Turn to page 12 for their story United I.S.D. teachers earn Texas School Ready certification...turn to page 14 for their story

2 Page 2 Roberto J. Santos Dear U.I.S.D. Employees: I would like to thank all of our dedicated employees, including our teachers, principals, and central office administrators, for their outstanding work on the recent administration of the TAKS test. While there are more rounds of TAKS testing still before us, I know we will continue on the winning track to success. We must all continue to take great pride in our Texas Education Agency Recognized School District rating. This is not an easy task for a District of our size, yet we accomplished this magnificent goal by working together. I am confident that by continuing to work together as a team, we will reach new heights for our students and our District. Another school year is going by so fast, it s difficult to believe that there are only two months until the end of the year. While exciting, these last few months have also been filled with many challenges by way of budget restraints. Please know that U.I.S.D. is continuing to analyze every possible measure that could further assist our District in operating more efficiently. As such, I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the District s budget-saving initiatives that were presented and approved by our Board of Trustees at a Special Called Meeting held on Thursday, March 3, 2011, at the Student Activity Complex. Our Board Members approved the following cost-saving measures that will allow us to continue providing comprehensive services to our students, while retaining each of our dedicated employees. Nonpayroll items such as: a 10% budget reduction in department/campus nonpayroll items; modifications to current bus transportation routes; reduction of the District s Furniture Replacement Plan; cost savings from extending the electricity contract, in addition to implementation of temperature control measures at District facilities; reduction of Capital Improvement Projects; the cancellation of the Teacher Certification Reimbursement Program; phase out of the Communities in Schools Program; reduction in the number of employee uniforms; modification of the Student Drug Testing for Steroids Program; and the elimination of portable building moving expenses. Elimination of specific vacancies at the Central Office/Support Services Level Reduction of overtime usage Reassignment of full-time campus substitutes Also, the District s plans to use the current year budget savings for the first year of the District s budget shortfall. Please understand that these changes will be implemented gradually, and your continued support during this process would be greatly appreciated. Working together we will continue to achieve and reach new heights. I wish all of you and your families an enjoyable and relaxing spring break. Best Regards, Roberto J. Santos United South High School students attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Program Xiomara Chapa and Alvaro Guel, students at the Academy of Global Business and Technology at United South High School were sponsored by The Gateway Rotary Club to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) Program. This program is designed to shape leadership skills in students who already possess and demonstrate outstanding leadership characteristics in their high school and community. The RYLA Camp is a youth retreat whose main objective is to expose students to the many phases of leadership by learning from individuals who are already leaders in their community and businesses. The RYLA Leadership Camp was held January 28-30, 2011, at Camp Zephyr in Corpus Christi, Texas.

3 Page 3 FREE TAX PREPARATION SERVICES AVAILABLE: Back row L-R: Roylin B. Wilson, U.I.S.D. Executive Director of Secondary Education; Jesse Godina, Los Obispos M.S.; Justyn W. Bentancourt, United M.S. and Carlos Fresnillo, Washington M.S. Front Row L-R: Jacob Hernandez, Clark M.S.; Alejandra Flores, United South M.S.; Jackie Trevino, Gonzalez M.S.; Victor Escamilla Jr., Lamar Bruni Vergara M.S. and Alondra D. Garza, Trautmann Middle School. Febr uar y 2011 Blessed Sacrament School hosted the Outstanding 8th Grader of the Month ceremony for February Nine distinguished U.I.S.D. middle school students were recognized during the ceremony. Also recognized were middle school students from L.I.S.D. and local private schools. The Laredo Police Department, KGNS-TV/ Telemundo/Laredo s CW, Laredo Medical Center, and Paul Young Family Chevrolet sponsored the monthly recognition. LBJ High School Financial Analysis Teacher Mirta Piña recently appeared on a local talk show to remind the community to visit any U.I.S.D. high school campus and have their income tax return prepared by IRS certified students free of charge. Free income tax services are available from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at your nearest high school campus until April 14. Teachers at each campus will supervise students while they work on each customer return. Black History Month at United South High School During Black History Month, Sinneh J. Koroma Jr., United South High School Assistant Principal, spoke to a group of U.S.H.S. students. Koroma s theme for this year s presentation was African-Americans and the Civil War. In his presentation, Koroma stated blacks contributed to the creation of a free nation before they had freedom for themselves. Koroma also emphasized how important it is for all students to set their goals early in life. Black History Month took shape in 1926 when Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson and other African American and white scholars believed that Americans should reflect on the history and contributions of African Americans. Tony Salas, a Senior from United High School, was honored recently with the Dario Hinojosa Memorial Award during the Latin American International Sports Hall Of Fame hosted at the Laredo Country Club. This prestigious award is given to an athlete who has excelled in sports, has exhibited leadership skills, and is a role model for other athletes in the community in memory of Dario Hinojosa Jr. Tony has been the starting varsity quarterback for United High School since his sophomore year and has also excelled in baseball as a pitcher and right fielder. His future plans are to continue playing at the collegiate level while earning a degree in sports medicine.

4 Pasta for Pennies Page 4 Mr. J. Jorge Verduzco, IBC Exec. V.P., invited David P. Perez to be an honored guest at the Boys & Girls club Soaring Above the Rest Hall of Fame Gala. Perez, a United High School student, was recognized for his ongoing accomplishments, including his success with the Del Mar Little League Angels baseball team. The gala was attended by many prominent members of the local business community. With their green collection boxes in hand, the students at Dr. M. E. Malakoff Elementary School headed out on Monday, January 10th, full of anticipation to see how much money they could collect for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The Pasta for Pennies campaign raises funds for this wonderful cause from January 10th- January 28th. Boxes of donations were collected and at the end of the campaign the students raised over $6,000. The school held a competition to see which class could collect the most. In the end, 17 classes raised more than $100 earning a bronze pennant, five classes raised more than $200 earning a silver pennant and two classes raised more than $300 earning a gold pennant. Mrs. Teresa Allumbaugh s 4th grade class was the winner of a Pasta Luncheon that will be provided by our local Olive Garden restaurant. Malakoff Elementary School would like to thank all students and their families for supporting this wonderful campaign that helps people with blood cancers. In addition, we would like to thank all teachers for motivating their students and promoting the campaign with much enthusiasm. Together, we can make a difference and that s all that matters. Photo: Rosendo Chendo Carranco gives David P. Perez a congratulatory embrace upon his recognition at the Soaring Above the Rest Hall of Fame Gala. Pat Campos, United I.S.D. Board President, took time to congratulate the Alexander High School All State Students at the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA), conference held in San Antonio, Saturday, February 12, at the Lila Cockrell Theater. Juan Resendez (Trumpet) and Alex Portillo (Bassoon) performed live in concert with the Texas All State Symphonic Band conducted by Gary Green. Pictured left to right: Assistant Band Directors, Patrick Lewis, Lyle Perkins, Juan Resendez, Alex Portillo, All State Musicians, Jose Valenzuela, Band Director, and Chris Lunsford, Assistant Band Director.

5 Region One ESC Child Find Art Winners Announced - United South Student Takes First Place in High School Competition Page 5 Pictured: Kimberly Romero and Art teacher Armando Chapa. Kimberly Romero, an 11th Grade student at United South High School, won the 1st place award in her division during the Region One ESC Child Find Art Contest. Romero will receive supplies and a calendar depicting her artwork. The annual event, sponsored by the Region One ESC Child Find program, a component of the Region One Education Special Education Program, organizes the art contest for elementary, middle, and high school students. The program also promotes the winning artwork on the official Child Find brochure, poster and other promotional items throughout the year. These items are distributed throughout the Region One area, in the schools and community. Romero s art teacher at U.S.H.S. is Amando Chapa. Kazen Elementary students explore career opportunities Fourth Grade students from Kazen Elementary had the opportunity to visit with a professional from the community for the Annual Kazen Shadow Day. This day provides the students with the opportunity to discover a career they may be interested in pursuing in the future. Pictured left - right: Adamina Peña, Kazen Teacher; Asia Ho-Morales, student and Dr. Joe B. Castellano (Castellano & Carpenter Dental Associates). PUT YOUR TAX-WORRIES AWAY Enroll today in Payroll Deduction for UISD Property Taxes Call UISD Tax Office at ext FREE Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Free tax income tax preparation services are currently being offered and will last through April 14 at the following UISD High Schools: JB Alexander High School Tuesday & Thursday 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm Site Contact: Mr. Tony Gonzalez Phone: (956) LBJ High School Tuesday & Thursday 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm Site Contact: Mrs. Mirta Pina Phone: (956) United High School Tuesday & Thursday 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm Site Contact: Ms. Elizabeth Rodriguez Phone: (956) United South High School Tuesday & Thursday 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm Site Contact: Ms. Evelyn Avalos Phone: (956) For more information call the UISD High School Tax Preparation Site nearest you or dial 211 or 311.

6 Page 6 UISD Community Role Models for February 2011 Four UISD students were among the students who received Community Role Model awards for the month of February. These fine students received the award for their ability to excel in academics and make good personal choices. The awards are sponsored monthly by the Webb County Sheriff s Office, Fernando A. Salinas Charitable Trust, KGNS-TV, Laredo s CW, and Telemundo. Front Row, L-R: Carlos Javier Trevino, Alexander High School; Yesenia G. De Luna, LBJ High School; Iliana Rodriguez, United High School and Tatianna Cortez, United South High School. Back Row, L-R: Jesse Gonzalez, Webb County Sheriff Deputy; Martin Cuellar, Webb County Sheriff and Socrates Garza, Administrative Commander, Webb County Sheriff s Office. Centeno Elementary students participated in the Read Across America literacy program by celebrating the life and literary works of Dr. Seuss. The program included a contest that allowed students to dress up as the Cat in the Hat. Students also created replicas of headpieces and hats associated with the author s most famous characters. Pictured left - right: Sonia Reyna, Gutierrez Elementary 5th grade teacher; G.T. students; Jessenia Camacho, Albert Flores, Claudia Gonzalez, and Luis Aguilar. Pictured left right: Centeno Librarian Analine Johnston is seen here as the Cat in the Hat along with with Melanie Villarreal, Felix Ramos, and Kayla Sanchez Gifted and Talented (G.T.), 5th grade Social Studies students at Gutierrez Elementary spent six weeks researching individual families from the Colonial period. Their research focused on the lifestyle and occupations of the families. The students documented their findings by creating unique family scrapbooks. They also dressed in clothing reminiscent of the period. The project culminated with an oral presentation in front of parents, teachers and other students. Students portray the Schuyler family of the colonial period. A sampling of the scrapbooks created by the students

7 Page 7 Head of the Class Students Honored L-R: David Canales, United South H.S. Principal; Andrea Almendarez, U.S.H.S.; Beverly Herrera, Alexander H.S. Nominating Educator; Priscilla Perez, Alexander H.S.; Mrs. Brenda Herrera, Counselor, Alexander H.S.; Mr. Robert Santos, U.I.S.D. Superintendent; Martha Orozco, L.B.J. H.S.; Maggie Martinez, L.B.J. Principal; Traci Yvonne Treviño, United H.S. and Ms. Angie Sanchez, United Magnet Dean. U.I.S.D. students were among those recognized as Head of the Class for the month of February. The program identifies local high school students who excel in academic pursuits, community service, and are involved in extra-curricular activities. Teachers and counselors nominate students for the title. The monthly recognition is sponsored in part by the U.S. Border Patrol, I.B.C., Royal Laser Wash, McDonald s, and the Public Access Channel. Col. Santos Benavides School second graders sponsored an annual mini float parade. Students worked on their floats with this year s WBCA parade theme in mind. Members of the Pocahontas Court were invited to the school to participate in this parade. Photos curtesy of Cristina Vidaurri

8 Page 8 U.I.S.D. Celebrates National School Counselor s Week United South Middle School Principal Mrs. Selma Santos and 8th Grade Reading Teacher Aurora Guzman celebrated Dr. Seuss Birthday with some United South Middle School students in the library. Malakoff Career Day Pictured: UISD Director of Guidance and Counseling Christina Uribe Flores (right) reviews school counseling materials with Laura Garcia, staff member. UISD has comprehensive school counseling programs that focus on student academic success, social/personal skills, career awareness and development, as well as other important character building traits. The United Independent School District (UISD) Board of Trustees and Superintendent Roberto J. Santos were pleased to announce February 7 11, 2011 as National School Counselor s Week. The focus of this national designation is to heighten parent and community awareness on the unique contributions of professional school counselors within school districts and how students realize their full potential as a result of what school counselors do. Detective Mario Gonzalez with the Laredo Police Department, explains to students about the tools used when investigating a crime scene. Local Meteorologist, Richard Heatwave Berler, speaks to students about how science plays a role in predicting the weather. 5th grade students in Mrs. S. Martinez class learn about what it takes to be an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent. School counselors have a tremendous impact in helping students achieve success in school, said UISD Superintendent Roberto J. Santos. Our comprehensive school counseling programs serve as a vital part of the educational process for all students as they must meet the challenges of the 21st century, he continued. Our school counselors help students examine their abilities, strengths, interests and talents, said UISD Guidance and Counseling Director Christina Uribe Flores. They focus on finding positive ways to enhance students social/personal, educational and career development. They work with teachers and other educators to provide an educational program where students can realize their capabilities and set realistic aspirations for themselves, she added. Parents and community members with specific questions or concerns about school counseling programs should contact the school counselors at their local schools. UISD supports and thanks each of our school counselor s efforts. They have a positive impact on our students futures and their lives as responsible members of society.

9 Page 9 UISD UIL Region 8 Swimming Championships Freshman Alexander swimmer, Martin Martinez, took first place in the UIL Region 8 championships sending him to the UIL State Championships. Clocking in at 2:05.46, he set a new Alexander High School record. Martinez also broke his own 500 Freestyle record with a time of 5:05.56, taking 3rd place and only 5.2 seconds off the first place time, and state qualifying time of 5: Alexander Junior Greg Garza, finished a close second in the 200 yard Freestyle and 100 yard Butterfly, both new Alexander School records. Clocking in at 1:48.85, lowering his own school record of 1:52.88, and just.9 seconds of the 1992 UISD record of 1:47.67 set by Salvador Munoz of United H.S., Garza took second behind David Santos of Rowe High School. Garza won second place in the 100 yard Butterfly by.13 seconds, finishing the close race with a time of 54.59, and lowering his previous record time of set in November of Garza set a new Alexander Record in the 100 Freestyle with a lead off time of 50.82, breaking the old record of 51.49, set by Marcus Wong in December of United High s girl 200 yard Freestyle set a new record in the 200 yard Freestyle relay, breaking the record they set earlier this season. Freshman Muriel Casanova, Freshman Elieen Gonzalez, Senior Catherine Mendoza, and Junior Alexis Duarte, set a new school record of 2:02.53, lowering the time from 2:06.51, set in September of During the competition UISD swimmers set six new records. Other top finishes include the Alexander girls 400 Freestyle relay, taking 3rd place medals in the event. Sophomore Sarah Hachar, Freshman Luisa Garza, Junior Ashley Martinez, and Senior Martha Mendoza made up the relay. Greg Garza; 2nd place in two events; 200 Freestyle and 100 Butterfly. Martin Martinez; 200IM Region Champion and State Qualifier, also 3rd place in the 500 Freestyle at Region 8. Martin finished 16th at UIL State in the 200 IM. Pictured left - right: Luisa Garza, Martha Mendoza, Sara Hachar, and Ashley Martinez Alexander students place 3rd in 400 Free Relay at Region Championship. The United ISD Migrant Program presented an educational forum for Migrant and Even Start Parents on Friday March 4, 2011, from 9 am to 1:30 pm at the Student Activity Complex (SAC) located at 5208 Sta. Claudia Lane. Calling all Laredoans young and old to submit a phrase or image of what makes you Laredo proud. A special community coalition made up of the entities below is looking for your best idea or phrase to help us launch a local community-wide pride campaign. We want to know how you would jump start that pride in others by submitting your most clever catch phrase in text, video, artwork or photographic form. All submissions and winning phrase become the property of the committee and are limited to one submission per person. A winning entry will be selected by a committee of judges representing each of the participating media entities. Sponsors: City of Laredo, Alliance of Laredo Business Associations, Laredo ISD, United ISD, members of the media including Laredo Morning Times, KGNS, KLDO, KVTV, El Manaña, Guerra Communications radio stations, Border Media radio stations, Lamar Outdoor and Time Warner Cable. Como hacer de tu hijo un triunfador presented by Adelina Peña; La importancia del Respeto en la Familia by Lupita Benavides; Como inculcar valores a tus hijos by A.A. Lic. Eduardo Garza Robles; were the topics presented by the guests speakers, followed by an open question and answer session. Participants: Contest is open to all ages and the entire community; residents of Laredo preferred. Requirements: Submissions will be accepted in the following formats: Physical submissions: Text may be ed or written and submitted physically; all entries must be accompanied by this form and all information must be fulfilled to be considered a valid entry. Electronic submissions: Digital photographs, if used, are not to exceed 1 MB and no lower than 300 DPI. IMPORTANT DATES: April 1, All work should be turned in to the respective participating locations. April 29 - Judging to be complete; winner will be notified. May 16 - Winner will be honored during the regularly scheduled City Council meeting by Mayor Raul G. Salinas and members of the Laredo City Council. Prizes: The selected winner will receive a special plaque in recognition of their winning submission during announcement ceremony and at various other local events. Additionally, the winner will be named a special ambassador for their community and will be called upon occasionally to represent their Laredo pride in subsequent PSAs and in various other local outreach and promotional efforts. Submissions will be accepted at the following locations: Submittal information Laredo Chamber of Commerce San Bernardo Avenue (All information must be complete for submittal to be considered valid. Laredo City Hall Houston St. at first floor receptionist desk Information will be used for notification purposes only.) Laredo Morning Times Esperanza Dr. at reception desk El Mañana Mcpherson Rd # 300 Name: KGNS Studios West Del Mar Blvd., at reception desk KLDO Studios Bob Bullock Lp., at reception desk KVTV Studios Shea St., at reception desk Address: Lamar Outdoor Advertising Texas 359, at reception desk Guerra Communications N. Bartlett Ave., at reception desk Phone: Border Media Calle Del Norte # 212 LISD Office of Communications Juarez, upstairs LEA Arena Blvd, front desk Time Warner Cable N. Bartlett #7 Date/Time: The parents also received important information by the Interstate Migrant Program on the STAAR test. Lunch was served courtesy of Uni-Trade Forwarding LC and A.A. Lic. Eduardo Garza Robles.

10 CMS students create gifts of art for children in orphanage Pictured back row left to right: Nancy Poinsot (CMS Art teacher), Victor Morris, Charlotte Acorn, Rita Olivares, Cindy Ibarra, and, Gema Paredes, Teacher. Front row left to right: Brenda Arroyo, Jessica Mireles, Yulissa Ibarra, Alexa Ramirez, and Audrey Wise. Art students at Clark Middle School participated in the Memory Project, a nationwide initiative in which art students create original portraits for children living in orphanages around the world. The CMS students are the first Page 10 group ever from Laredo to become involved in the project. Given that children who have been abandoned, orphaned, abused, or neglected often have few personal keepsakes, the purpose of the portraits is to provide them with a special memory of their youth, to honor their heritage and identity, and to help them build a positive self-image. The project also provides an opportunity for young Americans to open their hearts to children who have endured many hardships, and to promote the value of sharing kindness with others. Students at CMS are participating on behalf of their Art Club. The process begins when students receive pictures of children who are waiting for portraits, and then work in their art classrooms to create the portraits. Once finished, the Memory Project delivers the portraits to the children. In total, the students will make portraits for 10 children living at an orphanage in Mexico. The Memory Project has been featured on national television several times, most notably when Katie Couric concluded her very first broadcast of the CBS Evening News with a story about the project s success at an orphanage in Nicaragua. The project has also been covered by major newspapers and magazines throughout the country, all of them telling the story of students who have participated. United HS recognized by the College Board for student scores of three or higher on the AP Spanish Language Exam Students Spread the Word About the Benefits of AP at United High School The Spanish language is embedded in the cultural heritage of the community that United High School serves in Laredo, Texas. This year, United was recognized by the College Board for having the greatest number of Hispanic/Latino students scoring a 3 or higher on the AP Spanish Language Exam. Beyond providing these students with the opportunity to earn college credit, Principal Alberto Aleman Jr. says succeeding in AP helps these students many of whom are first-generation college students feel confident about pursuing higher education. About 3,700 students attend United, and nearly 98 percent of them are Hispanic/Latino. Enrollment in AP Spanish Language and AP Spanish Literature has increased as faculty members have made efforts to highlight the advantages of taking AP courses and exams. About 40 percent of all AP Exams offered at the school are in AP Spanish Language, but United offers AP courses in other subjects as well, including English, the sciences, statistics, history, physics and economics. Our Spanish teachers have worked hard on their courses and their strategies, taking advantage of professional development opportunities so that they can offer a great experience to students, Aleman said. As more students try [AP Spanish], word gets around that this is a good class and has the benefits of potential college credit. Students enjoy practicing the simulated conversations provided in AP preparatory materials, said Doris Gonzalez, head of the school s Spanish department. In addition to honing their speaking skills, students improve their writing through personal essays, and work with authentic recorded materials to improve their auditory and comprehension skills. The recruitment process [for AP classes] is very important for us, said Angelica Sanchez, the school s dean. We have a parent night for all families on campus where we talk about the benefits of taking AP. When parents see that this may count for college credit, they push their children to try it. Students who have succeeded in the course tell their friends and siblings about their good experience. We teachers promote the class and our students enjoy Spanish, particularly the speaking part, said Gonzalez. And when they find they re getting college credit, they pass the word on.

11 Page 11 Benjamine Mota signs with Texas A&M Javelinas Alexander High School Student Benjamine Mota recently signed to play with the Texas A&M University Javelinas in Kingsville. Mota is the recipient of a scholarship from the University, and plans to major in Kinesiology with an emphasis on Exercise Science and Physical Therapy. Mota s athletic achievements include his role as a two year starter, First Team All District, and All City Team. At Kennedy-Zapata Elementary School, 45 employees joined a four week competition for weight loss and healthy eating. The school s employees weighed-in for a total of 8,595 lbs. On March 21st, each employee will be checked during a final weigh-in to see who has lost the most percentage of weight. Prizes will be given as follows; 1st place $750, 2nd place $250, and 3rd place $125. Kudos to Kennedy-Zapata staff for promoting healthy eating and weight loss. Edwin Garcia, AHS Coach; Mr. Benny Mota, Benji Mota, and Martha Mota. Col. Santos students have a colonial ball! Pictured: Col Santos Elementary teachers and students pause for a pose with the Sons and Daughters of Liberty. Back row, L-R Violeta Zertuche, Pancho Averill, Betty Bunn Moreno, Jennie Reed, Bonnie Casso, Bebe Alexander and Victoria Bowdren. The Sons and Daughters of Liberty took time out of their busy schedules to visit with Col. Santos Benavides students. This year s Martha and George also made a special appearance at the campus. The group took turns sharing stories and facts about great Americans from the colonial era. We thank the Society of Martha Washington for helping our students appreciate the history of our great nation!

12 Page 12 A Textbook Adoption Hearing was held recently in the SAC auditorium and meeting rooms. The function allows Elementary and Secondary level education committee members from United I.S.D. to attend publisher presentations. Publishers present textbooks for consideration in the classroom. The United InSiDer is a monthly publication of the UISD Public Relations Department. To submit stories, information, and/ or photos for this publication, you can and/or All pictures must be of high quality (sent in JPEG format) and must identify everyone, from left to right in the photo (with first and last names, including titles or grades levels). Veronica Cantu Public Relations Director Paola Arcos Mansinghani, Communication Specialist/Publications Elia Martinez, Secretary Alex Meyer Communication Specialist Rocio Moore, Communication Specialist/Publications Rosy Rocha, Graphic Designer It is the policy of United I.S.D. not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or handicap in its programs, services, or activities as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. First graders at Zaffirini Elementary were asked to build floats that reflect Laredo s tradition of celebrating President Washington s birthday. First grade teacher, Ms. Lydia Vasquez, coordinated the social studies project for the campus.

13 Page 13 Annual Winter Shopping Spree for Children in District I United South Middle School held its campus spelling bee on March 3, Pictured left - right: 3 rd place - 8th grader Christopher Garza, 2 nd place - Marko Carrillo, First place - 8th grader Alejandra Garza, and Spelling Bee Coordinator Ms. Aurora Guzman. Alejandra will represent US Middle in the City Wide Spelling Bee on March 26, 2011 at the TAMIU Student Center. Council Member Mike Garza, District I; Justice of the Peace, Judge Ramiro Veliz; and UISD Board Member, Rick Rodriguez hosted a Winter Shopping Spree for Children in District I on Saturday, February 5 at Wal-Mart Supercenter on HWY 83. It is the fifth year of this event where 40 needy students from District I can go to Wal-Mart and buy shoes and a jacket for the holidays. The shopping spree was made possible by generous donations, including a $500 donation from Wal-Mart. Council Member Garza would like to thank the school counselors for selecting students that are in need of these items and Wal-Mart for their support. Clark Middle School art student Andrea Marquez work, entitled Panda s Room, has been chosen as one of the 4 pieces of art to represent Texas for the next round of judging in Washington, DC in the All Kids Can Create Call for Art. The program supported by the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust and CVS Caremark, is a five-year, $25-million commitment to support children with disabilities. Trautmann Elementary students participated in a video chat with Dan Gutman, author of My Weird School and many other children s books. Gutman answered student questions about his stories, ideas, and what inspires him. The goals of CVS Caremark All Kids Can are to support children with disabilities by raising awareness in schools and in local communities about the importance of inclusion, creating greater opportunities for physical activity and play, and providing access to medical rehabilitation.

14 Page 14 The Children s Learning Institute, in conjunction with Teaching Mentoring Communities (TMS), announced recipients of the recent Texas Early Education Model (TEEM), Certification. A total of 106 awardees represented teachers from United I.S.D., Laredo I.S.D., Zapata County I.S.D., Webb County Head Start, private child care centers, and private faith-based schools. Teachers and administrators from Arndt, Centeno, Perez, Prada, Roosevelt, and Zaffirini Elementary schools beam with pride after receiving their certification. The School Readiness certification indicates that, after two years of active program compliance, these teachers and their respective administrators have demonstrated a high level of performance in providing a quality preschool curriculum to children ages four and five years old. They have successfully implemented the TEEM program principles of classroom management, vocabulary building, letter knowledge, early writing, early math, and preparatory reading. Teachers and administrators from six United I.S.D. elementary campuses were among those recognized during a ceremony held at the SAC Auditorium.

15 Page 15 U.C.O.P United Council of Parents Photo Highlights February 24, 2011 United Middle School Maverettes invited to America s Got Talent Show The United Middle School Maverettes were invited to audition for the national N.B.C show, America s Got Talent. The dance group went to the Reliant Arena in Houston, Texas to audition in front of show s judges. They received the opportunity after a representative from the show saw them perform at halftime at a Spurs game. These girls have already won 21 awards including Best in Show and Best Choreography.

16 Page 16 Employee Benefits Corner March is Vision Awareness Month Ways to Reduce the Symptoms of Computer Eyestrain 1. GET AN EYE EXAM! This is the most important thing you can do to prevent or treat computer vision problems. 2. USE PROPER LIGHTING In your office you are likely to find several things that can cause eyestrain, including glare on walls and finished surfaces, reflections on the computer screen itself, excessively bright light coming in from outside, and excessively bright light inside Eliminate exterior light and reflections by closing drapes or blinds. When using computers, lighting should be about half that used in most offices. Reduce lighting by using fewer light bulbs or florescent tubes, or use lower intensity bulbs and tubes. 3. TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS Full time computer users should take a 10-minute break every hour to reduce eyestrain problems. Part-time users should take frequent breaks, after sitting in front of their display for more than a hour. 4. REFOCUS YOUR EYES Look away from your computer screen every minutes and focus for 5-10 seconds on a distant object outside or down the hallway. 5. BLINK MORE OFTEN When staring at a computer, people blink less frequently-about 5 times less than normal. Tears coating the eye evaporate more rapidly during long nonblinking phases and cause dry eyes. For significant problems, ask your eye doctor about artificial tears or eye drops that you can use during the day. 6. MODIFY YOUR WORKSTATION If you need to look back and forth between the printed or written page and the computer, this can cause eyestrain. Place written pages on a copy stand adjacent to the monitor. Properly light the copy stand. Adjust your workstation and chair to the correct height. 7. MATCH THE COMPUTER SCREEN TO THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE ENVIRONMENT Closely match the brightness of the environment with that of the computer screen. The contrast between the background and on-screen characters should be high. 8. MINIMIZE GLARE Use window shades, blinds or drapes to block out excessive sunlight, or install an anti-glare screen, to minimize reflections on the screen itself. Reduce the internal ambient light if necessary. 9. EXERCISE EVEN WHEN SITTING Anyone in a sedentary job, especially those using computers, should also stand up, move about, or exercise frequently. NIOSH recommends several sitting, stretching, and joint rotating exercises for computer users. Excerpts from: VISION The Employee Benefits Committee (EBC) is happy to report again that they have selected to continue with the current insurance provider for vision. Eyetopia Vision Care will continue to provide vision care for one year with no increase in premiums. The beginning of each renewal is September 1, AIR EVAC LIFETEAM The district has concluded the special enrollment for air ambulance service on December 14, If you enrolled for Air Evac Lifeteam, please check your February paycheck for the proper deduction. If you do not see the deduction, please contact the Risk Management Office at immediately so we can make the necessary correction. The next opportunity to sign up for air ambulance service will be at our next open enrollment in August Dates, times and locations for next year s open enrollment will be posted on the May, June, and July 2011 newsletter which is included with your paycheck or direct deposit receipt and United ISD s website. CHANGES IN YOUR STATUS Outside of open enrollment, IRS regulations, under Section 125, state you may make changes, within 30 days of the event; to your benefits if one the following situations occur: 1. Change in marital status 2. Birth or adoption of a child 3. Dependent reaches the age limit (Health/Dental is 26, all others 25) 4. Death of spouse and/or dependent 5. Loss of health coverage under another plan 6. Change of job status which reflects the inability to maintain coverage or have become eligible to enroll for insurance coverage Please note: Changes to your coverage may result in an increase or decrease of premiums. FLEX MED /DEPENDENT CARE The following changes became effective January 1, 2011 under the Internal Revenue Code: A doctor s prescription is required for over-the counter drugs and medications. Examples of qualified expenses for which you may be able to receive reimbursement: Deductibles and co-payments for medical, prescription drug, vision and/or dental expenses Over the counter drugs and items that are used to alleviate or treat a personal injury or sickness Eye exams, eyeglasses, contact lenses and other vision expenses. Hearing exams, hearing aids and batteries Individual psychotherapy. Chiropractic expenses Orthodontia monthly and down payments If you would like more information, you may contact National Plan Administrators at

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