The Journal’s top 10 BISD moments to remember from 2012
Monday, 21 January 2013 by Grayson Edds
2012 was full of memorable moments for Belton ISD which ranged from technology to new schools.
These events tipped the scale in making Belton a leader in innovation, creativity, community, leadership and education.
With the hard work of all of the faculty, dedication from the students and parents, Belton ISD has even become an example to school districts from other states.
The future of Belton is bright, and it starts with a focus on the children of our community and extends throughout the community to those outside of the school district who are working to ensure that Belton remains a vibrant gem in Central Texas where the children of our community will be proud to claim as their own.
And now, a look at 2012:
BISD launches iPhone App
Belton ISD has made unparalleled commitments toward using technology to empower its students.
Now, it's expanding that commitment by empowering the parents.
On Jan. 20, Belton ISD announced the release of the much anticipated iOS app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad available on Apple's App Store. After just 10 days, the app eclipsed the 1,000-download mark.
Belton ISD Communications Specialist Renee Cervantes, who manages much of the social media sites and website content, helped design the look and feel of the app, which, gives parents instant access to a variety of basic information that will be available to them at any time, day or night.
"We made a list of common things that parents request, and from there we knew that the app needed to be able to, at the minimum, make that information accessible quickly and easily," Cervantes said. "So we started with that, and eventually included things like athletic events, school menus, contact information – our goal was to gather that information into an application. Latest news – there is always something going on, constantly updating district news headlines. Parents at a checkout line or at the doctor's office. What parent wouldn't like that?"
It's a technological first for Central Texas school districts, which is nothing new for this district.
The school was the first to get involved in a pilot program bringing iPads into classrooms last year in an immersive program where students worked collaboratively to solve real-world problems, with professional development provided by Apple Computer.
Cervantes said she and System Administrator Rachel Starnes worked hand in hand on development of the app from the very start.
"We both worked on the design of the buttons. We were going after a sleek, clean, and organized look," she said. "Organization was our key when we designed the iPhone app because we wanted to make the information for parents on the go easily accessible. But we also wanted to add some things like social media integration into it as well such as Facebook and Twitter. We're constantly posting stuff on our website, and parents praise that, because they want to check in on their students while they're away from them."
Popular buttons on the app include: Calendar, Athletics, Fine Arts, Nutrition (for School Lunch menus), Grades (Skyward) and Resources, which will link to Bus Schedules, Local Weather Forecasts, Campus Counselor directory and Board of Trustees. Other buttons will link to district news, videos, photos and the district map.
Belton ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon said in a release, "We have been planning the launch of our app for several months. (Cervantes and Starnes) have worked very hard to make this happen, and now we are ready. The app will provide another way for us to communicate with our families in a quick and efficient manner."
Mitch Anderson scores a perfect PSAT score
When Belton High School junior Mitch Anderson took the Preliminary SAT last fall, he suspected that he had scored pretty high. But when his school counselor, Beverly Stephens, called him to her office in December 2011, Anderson was shocked to learn he had scored a perfect 240 on the test.
"I had no idea why I was being called down, but she asked me how I thought I did on the PSAT," Anderson said. "I thought I did well and then she told me that I got the 240. I was surprised."
Throughout the nation, about 1.5 million students take the PSAT each year with around 34,000 students being commended for their scores. Then 15,000 finalists are chosen for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
According to the PSAT website, students average a score of 141 and on average National Merit finalists score in the 230s.
Stephens said she had to do a double take after seeing Anderson's score of a perfect 240.
"I've been here 10 years and I don't remember a student ever making a perfect score on the PSAT," Stephens said. "It really couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. He's very humble about his accomplishments. We are extremely proud of him."
The son of Patty and Tom Anderson, Mitch said he studied hard for the PSAT.
"I took practice tests out of a book and then I would look at the 'SAT Question of the Day' online. I also went to the school's SAT Academy to get ready," Anderson said. "I felt like I knew what I was doing."
The PSAT consists of five sections, including critical reading, math and writing. Anderson said the biggest challenge of the test was the writing portion.
"The information was easy, but it was more of knowing what kind of question was being asked," Anderson said.
Stephens said seeing Anderson's performance is a testament to not only him, but the school district as well.
"I think it says that we are preparing them and providing the rigor that they need," Stephens said.
Anderson is a member of the BHS swim team and said it has been a big part of his life for a number of years.
"I started swimming in the second grade," Anderson said. "It's always been a big part of my life and what I do."
After graduation, Anderson is planning on studying Disease Control at the University of Texas or Texas A&M University.
"I saw the movie Contagion and the whole premise of a virus being able to spread that quickly was interesting to me," Anderson said.
Although he scored a perfect 240 on the PSAT, Anderson said he has high expectations for the SAT.
"I've always put a lot of pressure on myself and I've realized that I shouldn't try to live up to other people's expectations," Anderson said.
New Tech @ Wascow opens doors to students
While most high school students spent the last weekend of their Spring Break enjoying their last few hours of freedom, numerous students at Belton New Tech High @ Waskow were helping getting their new school ready.
After spending the first six months of the school year in a hallway in the Belton Independent School District Administration building, students and teachers of New Tech moved into their renovated building, located at 400 N. Wall St., on March 19.
"It's phenomenal," principal Dr. Deanna Lovesmith said of opening the new building. "Where across the state of Texas most schools are checking out, we were checking in. Our kids were ecstatic, helping move boxes, setting up rooms and worked to get the building ready."
New Tech was opened this past school year and is a project-based learning center with large classrooms and collaborative areas.
Currently, New Tech has 125 students, all of them freshman.
"Having a new building like this is definitely exciting because we were just in a hallway, and now we have a lot more space and it just feels more like a school," freshman Caleb Cable said.
Freshman Leslie Nicholson said she likes the new look of the building.
"I like it because of the moderness of it and because I've never seen another school like this," Nicholson said.
Students also had input on some of the aspects of the design building.
"They had a lot of input in the design of the building," Lovesmith said. "We talked about colors, collaboration spaces and how those would work and they helped us develop our trust-card policy."
Cable said he was happy to be a part of the process and to set things in motion for the future classes that come through the school.
"It feels great that we get to be partners in development with the administrators and district because we are the first class here and we get to decide some of the things that will be going on for quite a while here," Cable said.
Lovesmith said she saw the need for students to be involved with the planning.
"I think it's imperative that students have input in their learning because it is their learning and it is their high school," Lovesmith said. "For them to have an active role is crucial for their buy in and the longevity of the project."
The school will grow approximately 125-130 students per year, but will never house more than 500 students according to Lovesmith.
New Tech was formally Henry T. Waskow High School and was built in 1970 as the Belton High School Vocational building.
BISD Bond approved
Residents of Belton and the Belton Independent School District looked toward the future during Saturday's general election.
On Saturday, voters re-elected Mayor Jim Covington and city council members Marion Grayson and John Agan to two-year terms, and also approved a $60 million bond for the addition of three new schools.
With 1,844 votes for, the BISD $60 million bond for the construction of two elementary schools and one middle school, while 1,564 voted against the action.
BISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon said the residents in the BISD school system understood the need for the nearly 400 new students per year to the district.
"We just want to say thank you to the entire BISD community for their support of this bond election," Kincannon said. "Three new schools will take care of our capacity needs at the elementary level, as well as, the secondary level.
"Our citizens understand the enrollment growth of the district and what those needs are. We were pleased that the community understood the needs."
Field House completed
Sept. 14 was a big day at Belton High School, which was celebrating its first home game of the season. They kicked off the day with their pep rally ritual at 3 p.m. in support of the Tigers hosting the Vikings.
Before the game, however, was a one-of-a-kind event – a ribbon-cutting ceremony honoring the official grand opening of their new athletic complex at Tiger Field.
The Belton Chamber of Commerce, Tiger parents, faculty, brothers and sisters all were invited to gather in front of the complex in their red and white to honor the grand opening event.
Four football players were chosen to attend the event, and senior tight end Durham Smythe did the honors of cutting the ribbon with the help of senior quarterback Peter Shelburne.
Senior defensive back Garrett Curry and senior offensive lineman Erik Erwin also attended the event with athletic director and head coach Rodney Southern.
The ribbon-cutting event was followed with a tailgate bar-b-que inside the complex, allowing visitors to tour the facility.
Seniors kick off iBHS launch
Belton seniors were part of the revolutionary launch of the iBHS initiative on Sept. 21 at Belton High.
And as Belton does, the execution of the launch came and went with ease. Seniors filtered through the library during their English class, following a path through the library and were given the opportunity to pay their deposit and sign a pledge for iPad use at BHS.
The iPad came equipped with an Otterbox case and a charger. The only other modification was the addition of a BHS iPad barcode, which was then scanned and linked to the student's ID card.
The iPads will be the student's responsibility, and the pledge they signed is an agreement between the student and the district to ensure they're protecting these iPads to the best of their ability.
Juniors, sophomores and freshmen received their iPads the following week.
The students will be free to use these iPads both at home and at school. iBHS provided Wi-Fi at the school and plan to open approximately 20 hotspots throughout the community to provide students more access to free internet to study, and even hotspot capabilities to those who may not have Internet access at home.
Funds for the iPads are provided through the Instructional Materials Allotment through the state, and allows flexibility to purchase technology.
After the success of the iPad program at the middle school, the high school has now joined the program.
More than five parent sessions have been held, which provide parents the opportunity learn about how the students are utilizing the iPads at school. Parents are encouraged to bring their student's iPad or their own. The parent meetings will provide technology tips. There are several more planned throughout the year. Visit www.bisd.net/bhs for more information on parent meetings.
Ninth elementary school breaks ground
The Belton Independent School District finally broke ground at the site where the ninth elementary school, High Pointe Elementary, will be.
With trucks and diggers in the background, a large group gathered at the site including Board Members, representatives from both cities and both school districts, Belton Chamber of Commerce, the construction and architectural agencies involved, and students from the neighboring Tarver elementary.
Dr. Susan Kincannon, BISD Superintendent, opened the ceremony with a few remarks.
"It's a great day for a groundbreaking for our newest elementary school," she said. "We've been planning for this for a long time. This school will serve our fast-growth school district, as many of you have heard during the bond process, our school has grown by 40 percent over the last 10 years."
The elementary school is located at the intersection of 2483 and 317 in Temple. Stephanie Turnham, the Bell County Museum Director, provided the school district with information about Bell County and that area of land, which led to its naming as High Pointe because of its geographic landscape.
This elementary school is the first of three schools to open in the next two years.
"We're 190 square miles of school district," Kincannon said. "The city of Belton, the city of Morgan's Point, a lot of Temple, and we're growing. We're very excited to break ground on this school."
School Board President Randy Pittenger took a moment to thank all of the parties involved for providing the support to open High Pointe.
"This is a great representation of what it took to get here," Pittenger said. "It was a community effort, a great partnership with our cities, with our chambers of commerce, with our citizens, with our parents, and most importantly our students.
These students here are representing the hundreds, and eventually thousands, of students that will be educated here at High Pointe Elementary school. We're so excited to provide quality facilities for our students. We found that high achievements happen when you provide an environment that's conducive to that."
The district is still in the process of discussing district mapping.
High Point is expected to open its doors to students Fall of 2013. Amy Armstrong, currently the Sparta Elementary principal, was chosen to be the principal of High Pointe.
BISD raises more than $40 for charity
Two of Belton ISD's philanthropic events took place during the pregame of the BHS football game on Oct. 19.
Belton ISD has supported the United Way since 1995 when they began their United Way Campaign. It was started by Jeannette Kelley, who is now the director of Project Apple Tree, when she was principal at Lakewood Elementary. The contribution totals were announced before the Think Pink Go Red BHS football game.
BISD students sold Spirit Links for 25 cents each from Oct. 15-19. Each campus was assigned a yard marker and stretched out their spirit chain as their campus total and the district total was announced. The campuses were able to raise approximately $8,150. Top contributing campuses were Belton High School, Lake Belton Middle School, Sparta Elementary, Southwest Elementary, Belton Middle School, and Tyler Elementary, but BISD is proud of everyone's efforts in support of the United Way Campaign.
When the BISD Employee Campaign was added, more than $31,600 was donated to United Way.
The Think Pink Go Red campaign was put on by the cheerleaders to raise funds for breast cancer awareness. A check was presented to Dr. Mike Middleton and Dr. Roy Smythe with Scott & White during the pregame.
They raised $10,233.25 for the campaign.
Three athletes make Wall of Honor
Three of the best athletes in Belton High School history, Max Hogan, Hadley Young and Levi Jordon, were honored Oct. 22 by being inducted to the Wall of Honor.
"This is a special day. These kids have worked hard to achieve something special and today we honor them. You have brought recognition to our community and our school," said Joe Pirtle who, along with Dr. Billy Wilbanks, created the Wall of Honor.
The following are the partial achievements of the three athletes that were included along with their picture from their playing days at BHS.
Max Hogan qualified for the Belton Athletic Wall of Honor by making All-State in baseball in his junior and senior years. He was a two-year starter at second base for the Tiger varsity and was chosen to play in the Coaches' Association All-Star Game and Team Texas, which matched top players from across the nation. He signed to play at Dallas Baptist for the 2012-2013 season.
Hadley Young scored more goals in a season than any other Texas soccer player as a junior in 2011 and as a senior in 2012. She was named a Texas All-Star by ESPN Rise in 2011 & 2012. Young set the Belton record for most goals in a season (41) in her junior year and tied that mark in her senior year. She also holds the school record for career goals with 119 in 109 games.
Levi Jordan was a "double qualifier" for the for the Belton Athletic Wall of Honor as he was named All-State in football as a senior in 2011 as a punter and in track and field by winning a silver medal in the discus at the 2012 state track meet. He signed with UT—San Antonio for track and field and plans to compete in the decathlon.
Belton ISD Campuses Selected as Apple Distinguished Schools
Belton ISD Superintendent, Dr. Susan Kincannon, announced on Dec. 19 that South Belton Middle School and Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow have been selected as Apple Distinguished Schools for the 2012-2013 school year. Both campuses were invited to apply for this award this past October. Dr. Kincannon received the notification from Stephanie Carullo, Vice President, Education, for Apple. According to Ms. Carullo, "Both campuses join 87 schools that Apple is recognizing nationwide as exemplary learning environments and centers of innovation, leadership, and educational excellence. Administration and faculty have exhibited the five best practices of an Apple Distinguished School: visionary leadership, innovative learning and teaching, ongoing professional learning, compelling evidence of success, and a flexible learning environment."
Ms. Carullo further said, "We applaud schools such as South Belton Middle School and Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow who advance the mission of providing a learning environment that supports the way students live and how they want to learn, ensuring that all students are prepared for future success in work and life."
A presentation will be made by Apple at a future school board meeting. Dr.Kincannon, said, "South Belton Middle School and Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow are deserving of this special distinction. Our teachers are to be commended for their commitment to learn new instructional approaches while integrating technology into instruction. The work that they are doing with our students serves as a model of excellence for others and we couldn't be more proud."