Cougar Newsletter: Week of Feb. 20Posted by Marcial Guajardo at 2/21/2017
Hello Connally Family,
For those of you who do not know me, I am Sheila Reed the interim principal. I have been the associate principal here at Connally for the last nine years. Before coming to Connally, I was employed in AISD for 14 years – eight years as a high school assistant principal and seven years as an elementary teacher.
I know this has been a hard two weeks for all of us, but I am here to continue to serve the Connally community and to ensure that your students get the best quality education possible during this time. I will be sharing information regarding the campus/district with you to keep you informed and report our progress towards our goals. I look forward to meeting and talking with you as you visit the campus, at PTA meetings, athletic competitions, UIL events and other campus events.
Thank you all for your continued support of Connally High School.
Community/Business/Parent representative needed
The Board of Trustees adopted a Resolution that is the first step to exploring the possibility of Pflugerville ISD becoming a District of Innovation. At the March 2 Board Workshop, there will be a public hearing, and the Board will approve recommendations to appoint a district-wide committee to study and possibly develop a Plan of Innovation. If created, that Plan of Innovation will be taken to DAAC for their potential approval and recommendation to the Board.
What do we know about the District of Innovation Opportunity?
HB 1842 was passed during the 84th Texas Legislative Session in Spring 2015, and provides Texas Public School Districts the opportunity to be designated as Districts of Innovation.
Districts of Innovation may be exempt from a number of state statutes and will have:
· Greater local control as the decision makers over the educational and instructional model for students;
· Increases freedom and flexibility, with accountability, relative to state mandates that govern educational programming; and
· Empowerment to innovate and think differently.
What do we need you to do?
One Community/ Business/or Parent representative who is interested in working on this committee to let me know by Feb. 23 23, so that I can submit your name.
Board seeks your input for next Superintendent of Schools
The Pflugerville ISD Board of Trustees has begun the search for the next Superintendent of Schools.
The position has been posted and will stay open for applications until March 16. Trustees will review all applications and make selections for candidates to interview during the last part of March. By early April, the Board will begin the interview process, with a final selection of a lone finalist later in April. There is a state-mandated, 21-day waiting period after naming a lone finalist before the Board can officially execute a contract. The Board hopes that the new Superintendent will enter the district on a full-time basis sometime in early summer.
It is very important to the Board that staff and community have the opportunity to provide feedback on what qualities and characteristics that it would like to see in the next superintendent. With that in mind, there will be an open community forum on Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. in the PfISD Rock Gym (immediately next door to Timmerman Elementary at 700 W. Pecan St. in Pflugerville), where the community can provide input into the selection process. Staff will be on hand to take comments that will be provided to the Board of Trustees to assist them in the search process.
The forum will have a come-and-go format to provide flexibility for community members who wish to participate. In addition, for those who cannot attend the forum or wish to provide online input, there is an online survey opportunity to provide input to the process as well. Visit the PfISD website (PfISD.net) beginning Friday, Feb. 17, and click the link that says “Superintendent Search.” All input will be shared with the Board.
All juniors, including 10th graders who should be classified as Juniors, will be taking the ACT test on Feb. 28, 2017. If you have any questions regarding ACT testing, please contact Counselor Richard Tupper.
Federal Report Card (NCLB)
John B. Connally High School
Cougar Newsletter: Jan. 27, 2017Posted by Marcial Guajardo at 1/27/2017
Eighth Grade Invasion
This week we had well over 600 eighth graders in our building Wednesday exploring their choices of CHS’ vast CTE offerings. The aftermath of the event left me feeling both accomplished and optimistic. Accomplished because our district is insistent in having programs within our schools that meet the specific needs and interest of all students. For that reason, we offer a wide variety of programs that capture the interest of our students.
The feeling of optimism is strong within me since Wednesday was a glimpse of what’s on the way. Those eighth graders were attentive, respectful, excited and inquisitive. That is a good recipe for success.
The Write Stuff
The Write Stuff is a district-wide opportunity for students (PK-12) to publish their writing in an anthology and participate in a writing workshop. The Write Stuff 2017 theme this year is “Through the Looking Glass”.
At the workshop, students will get a copy of the anthology in which their writing appears. Students will also have the opportunity to read their writing aloud to their grade-level peers, and spend time with a published author.
We are proud to say that 19 of Mr. Rogers’ creative writers were selected for The Write Stuff 2017! A total of 22 entries from CHS will be published in this year’s anthology!
Excellence in Attendance
I was rightfully asked by my boss to create two goals to work on for the school year. One of those goals was to elevate CHS’ attendance rate. When I arrived here, our attendance rate was a contemptible 92.1 percent. Normal to good attendance rates range from 94.5 percent to 97 percent.
The goal that I set for myself was 95 percent. However, I am just short at a more respectable 94.5 percent. I am not done yet as I still have a few months left in the year to affect this. Next week we are prepared to reward 308 Cougars with lunch passes that allow them to leave class 5 minutes early for lunch. Moves like this could very well bail me out.
This may not seem like a big deal to some. However the kids feel like they have won the lottery with these passes. Those five minutes gives them either a jump in the lunch line or for our drivers, an easy exit from the parking lot.
The last time we did this, we offered a 10-minute head start for a week. However, our kids suggested that we consider doing the five minutes for two weeks. We listened and our period of perfect attendance rewards will begin on Jan. 30 and conclude on Feb. 10.
Our criterion for awards was finding students present in every class for each day within the second grading period.
Cougar Newsletter: Jan. 22, 2017Posted by Marcial Guajardo at 1/23/2017
We had a four-day work week yet this week somehow, someway, so much occurred here on campus. Allow this list-serve to be evidence required to support my claim. Read on:
The Big Event
We are 650 strong for the Big Event in March. The first day of school I spoke with each grade level about several things. One of those was the importance of growing up to be good citizens and developing a giving heart. Educating our students will always be this school’s primary mission. However, ounces behind that should be and is teaching the whole kid.
I am proud of our students for embracing The Big Event. Connally High School has the smallest enrollment of the three Pflugerville high schools yet we have the most enrolled for this event of the other two high schools. Our kids have spoken loud and clear with their interest in not only this but other community service projects.
2017-18 School Calendar
District leadership has been working to finalize a recommendation to the board for the 2017-18 School Calendar. We anticipate that the first reading will be at the Feb. 2 workshop, followed by an approval at the Feb. 16 regular meeting.
The DAAC recently met and endorsed the attached calendar. It was agreed that getting public input on the proposed calendar would be valuable information for the board to have prior to its vote.
A webpage has been created and feedback form is being promoted through next Friday, Jan. 27: www.pfisd.net
This page includes important considerations and parameters that the DAAC considered as it reviewed different calendar options.
Spring Final Exams
It would appear that spring final exams are so far away for our students. In some ways they are but we wanted to outline our exemption process for our students, which is now attached.
We thought it was important for our kids to know right now what they have to do in order to earn the right to be exempted from a final exam. The administrative team has also worked ahead to develop the final exam schedule for those days and it is now attached. It will be added to our website.
Reverse Raffle Dinner
I am often reminded of the many positive differences within the CHS community. This is the third high school that I have been a part of and I often see things that do not exist anywhere else.
Yearly, the senior parents sponsor a highly successful fundraiser to support the senior lock-in. I grossly under-estimated this event last year and its fundraising significance to their funding goal. I have attached more information regarding this event and I strongly encourage your support.
Speech and Debate News
The Connally Speech and Debate team kicked off UIL season this past weekend at Blanco High School against 30 other schools, and with our captain taking the weekend off our short squad went and took care of business. Our extraordinary freshman, Sarah Raymond, won the whole thing in Lincoln-Douglas debate, going undefeated in both preliminary rounds and elimination rounds before being crowned champion of the tournament on a 2-1 panel decision late Saturday night!
In policy debate, our team of Simon Birk and Andrew Wissman advanced to semi-finals and finished in third place. And, Ms. Reliable Nicole Otutu made it to the final round in Poetry Interpretation and finished 6th.
Pflugerville ISD Technology last week recognized Connally High School students for their participation in the Hour of Code global introduction to computer science and programming. Led by campus computer science students, Connally had nearly full participation in Hour of Code earlier this school year.
District Technology representatives last week presented the school with four virtual reality headsets as a reward for student participation. Computer science students, on-hand for the presentation, tried on the headsets, as did I:
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.