Cougar Newsletter: Jan. 13, 2017Posted by Marcial Guajardo at 1/16/2017
We supported students needing help the first day back in January. However, due to not many kids typically taking advantage of the support so soon after a long break we usually give it a week or two before we begin providing transportation. Our tutorial bus is scheduled for a 6 p.m. departure Monday through Thursday beginning on Jan. 17.
Once a Cougar, Always a Cougar
On Jan. 10 and 11, a group of Connally alumni were in town for Christmas break. In response to feedback we have been getting from our college freshmen we decided to include a cross-curricular research paper in our curriculum.
Students who are in Ms. Poole’s APES or Biology classes and also in Horn’s senior AP English classes are required to research and write a six-page paper on the pre-approved topic of their choice.
We invited three ex-students to lead classes on this process and they came to all of Mr. Horn’s AP English classes to demystify and assist. Hong Bui, a junior at Yale; Cindy Alvarez, a junior at Yale; and Ian Karamali, a sophomore Terry Scholar at UT, led the hour-and-a-half classes and walked small groups through break-out sessions. They taught how to prepare research proposals, how to effectively research various databases, how to evaluate resources and how to cite them properly.
The entire process was remarkably refreshing for the staff and I am sure for the students as it was a rare glimpse into what comes as a result of our work in the classroom.
Cougar Newsletter: Jan. 6, 2017Posted by Marcial Guajardo at 1/7/2017
We are starting the new year in much the same way that we ended 2016: busy. The staff worked in late December and on Jan. 2 to ensure that our students have a successful first week back. We capped off this week with a great celebration of excellence in our library this morning. We celebrated and praised the work of several high-end AP students and their accomplishments. See here for the program from this event.
Next week will be big here as well with the CHS course fair being held on Wednesday night starting at 6. All returning CHS students and current 8th graders are strongly encouraged to attend this event. It has always been the intention of PfISD’s leadership both at the campus and district level to create schools that offer courses of interest for all students. At this event, CHS students will be showcasing and discussing the value and benefits of their specific classes. Parents and students will leave Wednesday night being more informed about the direction of their high school education and post-graduate career.
Students Get Chance to Discover Careers in Statistics
At Connally, we have 115 students enrolled in AP Statistics, which is a very high number for a school our size. These students will be taking a field trip in April to the offices of Indeed.com, one of the world’s largest job search websites.
They will get to tour the offices of this global technology company and they will get to meet with the company’s data scientists. These students will get to see up close exactly how these professionals use statistics to take information from large sets of data and use that information to help the company make better decisions and increase profits.
Statistics is a career field with enormous amounts of job opportunities and great pay, so we are excited to see the inspiration our students get from this unique field trip.
Tutorial Buses will begin Tuesday, Jan. 17. The buses will follow similar procedures to last semester. Next week, I will send out more details and the updated Bus Passes.
Connally High School in partnership with The Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Best Buy is offering a very special computer course to CHS students for the second year in a row. The course, Coding as a Second Language, is an introductory course to computer programming.
Lessons and learning will focus on basic markup languages HTML, CSS and JAVA. The course is free and open to all CHS students. Sessions begin Tuesday, Jan. 10 and run through Feb. 14.
Cougar Newsletter: Dec. 5, 2016Posted by Marcial Guajardo at 12/6/2016
Baby-Sitting Opportunities for You
Do you have kiddos at home that are ages pre-k through third grade? Do you need a day to go holiday shopping alone? We have a deal for you.
The Connally HS Choir is hosting its Fifth Annual Camp Christmas on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For the low price of $25 per child, we teach the kiddos holiday songs with choreography, create a craft to take home, feed them lunch and a snack, have recess and story-time with a concert of the songs at 3:00 on the stage in the cafeteria.
If you are interested, you can find the registration flyer at connallychoir.weebly.com or you can email Kelly.email@example.com and request a flyer be emailed. Please let us know of your interest by Wednesday, 12/07/16, in order to make sure we purchase enough craft supplies and food.
The Orchestra Tour
The tour continues. Saturday morning the wonderful kids in the attached photo performed at Hendrickson High School’s holiday bazaar. If you are interested, they will be providing holiday cheer here at CHS this Wednesday evening at 7:00 in the PAC. They have an eclectic program to share this year – from Brazilian to more classical. Come hear the holiday mash-up.
More Band Accolades
Our band students have worked tirelessly to prepare a competitive marching band show, entertain at football games and prepare a holiday concert. While this was going on, several of our students also worked independently on three college-level musical selections in preparations for the TMEA All-Region Band Auditions. Students get a chance to compete for All-District and All-Region honors. Students may also be selected to advance to area auditions for a chance to make the All-State band.
The All-Region contest was held at East View High School on Saturday and consisted of various schools in the north Austin area. We had 31 students selected to All-District (up from 10 in 2015). Twenty-three of those were selected as All-Region Band Members and will perform with a guest conductor at Pflugerville High School on Jan. 28. This is the highest number of students selected in many years. Also, seven students placed high enough to qualify for advancement into area completion. The area contest will be held on Jan. 7 at Duncanville High School.
CHS Yard Sale
Our AP Statistics and AP Physics students are having a yard sale at CHS this Saturday, 12/10, to help them raise money to help pay for their AP exam fees. We have been doing a lot of preparation and I think this fundraiser will be a great success, but that success is greatly dependent on shoppers. If you care not to shop, these kids are also accepting donations to go towards paying for their AP exams. Those donations can be given to any staff in the office. See their advertisement flyer for more information.
Cougar Newsletter: Dec. 3, 2016Posted by Marcial Guajardo at 12/3/2016
Way Too Cool For Me
About a week ago a few kids and our band director, Marcos Telles, approached me with an idea of performing alongside them in their holiday performance. I did not pause or hesitate to agree to this. I would have never agreed to play an instrument alongside the band as my skillset is very weak compared to those kids. My part was to read a poem in-between musical versus that they would play.
I was required to show up for rehearsal practice (People, this is part of these kids’ level of perfection).
Oddly I was a nervous wreck because I just did not know if I was up to the task of matching the band’s level of performance. I did not want to be a weight on their performance. In the end, the band’s performance masked my imperfections and flaws; the opportunity they gave me likely was the highlight of my November.
I have really paid attention to all the moving parts required to run a large band this year and I really want to thank a skillfully and very dedicated group of parents for keeping the band engine running. It is not my first time saying that every single kid in the band represents some of the best kids walking through the halls of CHS. They really would be good kids without their parents but those parents create a platform for them to be great at all the things they do.
Hour of Code Comes to CHS
The CHS staff is committed to delivering a modern-day education to all CHS students. Applications in and of technology should always be considered when we plan the day for our kids.
For this reason, next week the entire Connally High School campus will participate in the global Hour of Code. Hour of Code takes place Dec. 5-11, which coincides with Admiral Grace Hopper’s birthday. The admiral was one of the most well-known female computer programmers.
The purpose of the Hour of Code is to give every student the opportunity to learn some computer science concepts. Computer science helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic, and creativity in those who choose to learn it.
From The CHS Yearbook Coordinator
Dear senior parents,
This year is a special time in your senior's life and the yearbook has an entire section for celebrating our seniors. Our senior ad section of the yearbook is a place where parents and friends can submit photos and write personal messages to their graduate. It can be planned out or a surprise.
You can come to room C303 to purchase a senior ad or go online to www.smart-pay.com to purchase your yearbook and senior ad together.
Cougar Newsletter: Nov. 13, 2016Posted by Marcial Guajardo at 11/15/2016
Getting Good and Headed to Great
In the staff’s attempt to make CHS better, we are constantly looking for points of comparison and evidence that we are in the right track. I spent a significant amount of time in my office before the game Friday night signing my name to 123 NHS certificates. It’s human nature to grow tired of repeatedly doing something 123 times but this was different. I read the names of each of these kids and proudly signed my name to each one with a smile. I asked the coordinator of this group for historical information in this area as I thought 123 was an unusually high representation of our school. Below is his report back to me:
"Here are the numbers based on the spreadsheets we have created for the induction process since my wife and I have been in charge.
2014: 73 new inductees out of 98 applicants from 198 who received an application based on GPA
2015: 66 new inductees out of 122 applicants from 242 who received an application based on GPA
2016: 123 new inductees out of 177 applicants from 292 who received an application based on GPA
Let me know if you need anything else or have any questions.
Folks the data from his report screams at you loud and clear.
An Article I Came Across
The students here well understand my passion for them and the things that I attend. I support any and everything wearing green here. Yes, it is set up to be an obligation for me to attend games and events, yet when I am in the stands watching our kids, I am just as entertained and engaged as some of you parents. This is one of the great things about being a high school principal: the fine arts, athletics, and the other things really are a great watch. We should all commend the work of our coaches, coordinators, and event sponsors here with your children. We have hired people that often go beyond the call of duty with our kids. The level of success, and sometimes domination, shows their character and the hard-working attitudes that our coaches are instilling in them. After reading this article, I caused me to reflect on what we have in our building.
Only Show in Town
Ask any game attendee about the improbable finish of Friday’s football game was and you will likely wish you had not. There was enough content in that game that I could make several good life lessons to teach from.
Storming back to claim a 34-33 win after being down by 11 points with 4 minutes to go shows the grit, character, and the courage of our kids and the positive attitude of our coaches who always believe that our kids are in the game. I considered the sight of Coach Cecil hugging those boys affectionately after getting dumped with iced Gatorade priceless. I won’t easily forget the hugs, high-fives, and screams from our administrative team after we scored the winning touchdown with 3 seconds left.
According to the “experts” and the outsiders, we are not supposed to be here. We were picked near the bottom in a very strong nine-team district. The real story here, however, goes well beyond the success of the football team. In the end, this really is just a game and maybe an opportunity to build a few life-long memories. The real story here is the transformation: Transformation of attitudes, work habits and personal beliefs.
For certain we see the same level of success occurring within our building in our classrooms as well. The administration here often takes time out of our day to pat ourselves on the back with regards to the new teachers that we have brought in and the MVP teachers that were comfortable enough with our leadership and the school’s overall direction that they came back to continue the construction project.
Getting back to the football team, their next game is Friday at 7:30 against a strong Temple Wildcat team. I am asking for every ounce of your support by you attending the game and being loud once you get here. I should not be hard to find myself. Just look for the loudest mouth on the sidelines decked on in green with a black hat on. Should be another epic game.
Cougar Newsletter: Oct. 31, 2016Posted by Marcial Guajardo at 11/1/2016
I created and sent a listserve last Friday only to get a returned receipt on Sunday indicating that it was not delivered. I suspect that it is due to the amount of space the pictures consumed. For this reason, I will be sending another listserve right after this one.
PTA Holiday Bazaar, Free Admission!
12th Annual Holiday Bazaar at Connally High School this Saturday, Nov. 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the school cafeteria! More info here: www.facebook.com
Donations Still Needed Please!
- Bottled water (lots!)
- Sodas (variety, cans only please)
- Regular-sized candy bars (variety)
- Individually packaged pastries and muffins (variety)
$5 recommended donation (please drop off at Connally High School in sealed envelope, labeled “PTA Holiday Bazaar”)
Please help us thank the following sponsors who have donated to our cause. We ask that you please support these businesses so they can continue their support of our school:
- Starbucks (Parmer Lane by Teapioca Lounge)
- Dominos (Parmer Lane and Metric)
- Papa John's (Wells Branch)
- Double Dave's (Metric)
- Bill Miller's BBQ (Wells Branch)
- El Rincon
- Branch BBQ
- First Chinese BBQ
- Trader Joes
- Peace Bakery
- Tortilleria Rio Grande
CHS PTA Holiday Bazaar
CHS PAWS intervention is rounding into shape and will add value to our kids academically and in their next endeavor. I want to thank the parents who stepped up and sent supplies for the Destination Imagination part of this the last time I asked. The amount of parents who did step up was a little sparse and it took a PTA parent to shed light on the situation.
She indicated to me that I presented the list in such a way that did not really allow her a place to start since the list was so vast. That same parent also made the suggestion of breaking the list down by grade levels. Accepted! If possible, over the weekend, please consider supporting the school and sending some of these items with your child to be stored by the front office staff for our next round of Destination Imagaination PAWS classes. Thanks in advance.
From any and all parents:
- old tennis balls and golf balls
From freshman parents:
- Clay or playdough (small packs)
- Wire coat hangers
- Craft foam board
From sophomore parents:
- Ping pong balls
- Craft sticks
From Junior parents:
- Small zip lock bags
- Large zip lock bags
- Colored Markers
From senior parents:
- Address labels
Theater Arts Set to Usher in Fall Show
It's that time of year! We have our Fall show in November. To the right is a flyer with the dates. Tickets are only $5 and it supports the kids and their program. This show is about how Peter Pan became Peter Pan....lots of fun and some surprises too! Most of these kids were part of last year's run all the way to state regionals indicating that you will be surprised with quality of the show's set and the acting. More information is here.
Also, we have T-shirts if anyone wants to consider purchasing one. "Peter and the Starcatcher" is the back of the shirt and the logo is on the front left breast. The shirts are navy blue. Short sleeve $10 and long sleeve $15. Inquiries about shirts should go to firstname.lastname@example.org
FCA Alive and well at CHS
FCA has now had their second meeting for all FCA Members. It was smaller, but it was quite good. Our student leaders led the meeting and devotion very well. They were nervous, but they rose up for the challenge. The topic was family. I and we are all so very proud of this group of kids.
Cougar Newsletter: Oct. 18, 2016Posted by Marcial Guajardo at 10/19/2016
Success can be catchy
I mentioned to the staff over the weekend that I have made a mistake and grossly under-estimated the impact a successful football program can have on the climate and culture of a school. The feel within our hallways is just different. Our students seem to be endlessly upbeat each day about the success, pride, and respect that our football team is establishing. I am not only proud of the football players and coaches; I love most the support that the student body is showing them.
I would definitely like to share an email that I got over the weekend from a prominent board member. I read this to our entire student body this afternoon over the PA system because they need to know how they are perceived in our immediate community. She states this much better than I am capable. Read on:
Every week there are fewer and fewer 2016 undefeated teams. Indeed from my 35+ years in the classroom in various districts & HS's...the impact of a winning season is sensational & permeates the halls & classrooms. It was a big thing decades ago when H. Perot was successful in the "No Pass, No Play". Coaches & athletes got onboard about academics and you could see the teamwork beyond the field ... students & teachers were all-in ... onboard for success.
I believe the Cougar fever reached a major bar last year with the soccer team going to STATE. Students realized following the rules, listening to their coaches, mentors, principals could make a difference. The Cougar culture is developing and maturing. The football team certainly picked up without a beat the spirit created by soccer in May.
Big Test Day
During my game day excitement, I failed to mention the testing plan for this Wednesday. Below is the schedule of who is testing and the plan for each student in our school. Also attached is the schedule that we will guide us through the day.
Enrolled in AVID and Geometry: taking the 8/9 PSAT
Enrolled in Algebra I: taking PSAT MNSQT
All other 9th graders: participating in Academic Enrichment
10th Graders (All)
Taking the PSAT
Who signed up to test: taking the PSAT
All other 11th graders: taking the ASVAB
Who are identified as college ready: have a late start and arrive at 1:55 (Seniors who need to come early will go to the library)
All other 12th graders: taking TSI
I want to remind all parents that we will have October's PTA meeting in the library on Tuesday night. Start time is 6:30.
Coffee with CounselorsPosted by Marcial Guajardo at 10/13/2016
I have said so often that there are so many moving parts to a high school of this size. The great thing about being here is that I have so much help in all the critical places to properly serve our kids and to keep parents informed. Our counselors have put together a calendar of events at just the right times for parents.
Parents, please take advantage of the opportunities they are offering. They also plan to be at this Friday’s football game to talk more about student needs and opportunities. For more information, click here.
Cougar Newsletter: Oct. 6, 2016Posted by Marcial Guajardo at 10/8/2016
I began the year by challenging our staff and our kids to get more involved in our community. It is important to me and should be important to our kids that we all purposely advance the brand of Connally High School. I want our graduates to have that instant credibility and respect when they state that they are CHS graduates. As you peruse this blog you will see how this staff and our student have responded to my request.
Volleyball Getting in the Act
From the CHS Volleyball Coach:
As encouraged by our athletic coordinators, the varsity volleyball team would like to put in our volunteer hours at The Sandbox at Madeline's place next Tuesday. The Sandbox at Madeline's Place is a nonprofit teen center, and future premier sand volleyball facility, located in Hutto. Their mission is to empower teenagers to navigate adolescence safely, happily, and with a healthy sense of self. We will be doing manual labor to enhance their facilities.
Food Truck Battle
Last Friday our kids were the only school in our district to attend Round Rock’s chalk walk festival for the food truck battle with other area schools. This was a great opportunity for our kids and they represented CHS awfully well. The following link is the news coverage from the event:
Dance Team Clinic
From CHS Dance Team Instructor Terrie Meyer:
This Saturday, Oct. 8, the Connally Stars Dance Team will be hosting their annual "Jr. Stars Dance Clinic" in the Cafeteria from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. We would like to invite your "little ones" to come learn some fun hip hop dances from the Stars! The clinic is for ages 4-13, boys and girls! See the flyer with the registration form. We hope to see you on Saturday!
Project Lead the Way Students Shining
And finally a group of really talented and sharp kids are doing something really incredible. Check this one out:
Cougar Newsletter: Oct. 1, 2016Posted by Marcial Guajardo at 10/3/2016
We finished off September in the best way possible. CHS celebrated its homecoming and we made a week out of it instead of a day. School spirit is definitely alive and a bit more vibrant this year. Students in our student council put together a great week of special dress days for our staff and students to enjoy. I definitely saw more of our teachers and students supporting the special dress days than last year. I even got into the act on Friday and posted a few of those pics on Twitter. Below is a pic of some of the staff that we could locate before school started that day. We finished off our Homecoming 2016 with our football team moving to 5-0 on the season and our kids celebrating the win and the week with a PTA-sponsored party.
It’s hard to believe that we are staring at October already. Time is passing us by yet we still feel we have so much work to do. The administration has planned well for this month as we see October as one of the toughest months for our staff. October is when we first see a glimpse of fatigue with our staff. They have been at it since August and October offers no relief for them as it is a full month of work. We offer a few perks for them that let them know that we care about their work and support them. Despite our efforts, you can help us as well by sending a few of your child’s teachers an email recognizing them for the hard work in preparing your child for adulthood. Each staff member’s email address is listed on the campus website.
Cougars in the Community
I have challenged our club sponsors and our kids to advance the brand of Connally High School this year with an elevated effort of providing community service. We are well on our way as the CCC group last Saturday went to work at the Texas Baptist Children's Home. At the event, they helped the Round Rock community raise money to help single parents. There were 20 CCC volunteers helping from 7-12. Their work included serving pancakes, sausage, drinks, cleaning tables, etc. They reported being there to lend a hand and it was extremely fun. Below is a photo of our kids and the event.
Driver’s Ed at CHS
We wrapped up our first driver’s ed session of the year last week. We had 21 students move closer to being certified drivers. The next driving class starts Oct. 3 –Oct. 27 2016 Monday through Thursday from 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. at Connally. The enrollment application can be found here.
CHS College and Career Center News
On Oct. 19, seniors that are not considered TSI complete will be taking the TSI assessment. The TSI assessment is a placement exam that will be used to determine courses that students are eligible to take once they attend any institution of higher education, including community colleges (such as Austin Community College) and four-year universities. Students that need to take the test have already been notified of their testing status and were given a practice book last week in preparation for the upcoming test. Student TSI status is also posted in the College and Career Center for students to check their status. Seniors that are considered TSI complete will be given the option of having a late start or participating in a study hall in the library.
I am sure that you will be impressed as I am with the work of Vi Quach Vu, CHS College and Career Readiness counselor. Below is what she has accomplished with our seniors already:
· 140 seniors registered for the SAT
· 58 seniors registered for the ACT
· 198 seniors that registered qualified for an SAT or ACT fee waiver
· 402 college applications have already been submitted (2 and 4 year)
· 96 seniors have met with one or more of the nine college reps that visited CHS in September
· 7 seniors submitted an application for Quest Bridge Scholarship
· More than 50 families attended our Senior Parent Info Night