Special to The Dallas Examiner


The annual Lancaster ISD Black History Bowl Competition will be held Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Lancaster High School auditorium, at 200 E. Wintergreen Road in Lancaster.

The bowl will feature 14 junior division teams and 10 senior division teams competing in their knowledge of African American history and culture.

In addition to the competition, 75 students from the Lancaster ISD Fine Arts program will showcase their culturally inspired artwork in the newly added Black History Art Contest. Students’ artwork will be on display in the Lancaster High School foyer during the history bowl competition for public view.

The goal of this community event is to increase exposure and raise awareness of African American Heritage in the community and schools. The student teams were assigned coaches from their campus in November and have spent the last three months studying facts and learning about African American Culture.

Lancaster ISD employees and community members will serve as judges for both contests. The top three finishers of both competitions will be awarded after the final round of the Black History Bowl and will get to participate in a summer history tour field trip sponsored by Lancaster ISD.

“By participating in this event, our students gain knowledge of African American history and culture and insight into the African American involvement in the development of America,” said Connie Isabell, Lancaster ISD chief academic officer. “They sharpen their research skills, increase their collaboration and communication skills by working on a team and use their creativity and critical thinking skills. All of these elements help to building self-esteem in our students and provide them with more than a diploma.”

Winners of each contest division will also be honored at a reception on Feb. 24 at the Rocky Crest Museum.

This free family event is open to parents, students and community members. For more information, please visit http://www.lancasterISD.org.


Declaring that “it’s a new day in Dallas ISD,” Superintendent Michael Hinojosa Thursday announced a major expansion of school choice options for next school year. In making the recommendation to trustees, Hinojosa said the district has to act aggressively and think differently to make Dallas ISD the district of choice for Dallas families. Next year’s new choice programs will be launched on new and existing district campuses. The programs proposed for the 2016–2017 school year include:

• 12 two-way elementary dual language programs that provide both Spanish and English instruction to students in the same classroom developing bilingual and biliterate students;

• Seven high school collegiate academies that are on the path to becoming Early College High Schools that will offer students the opportunity to earn up to two years of college as part of their high school curriculum;

• Expanded Career and Tech Education programs at seven high schools to equip students with skills leading to high-wage, high-demand careers; and

• Three new single-gender schools offering instruction in environments that research shows improve achievement levels as compared with co-ed schools.

Trustee Edwin Flores proposed the district consider grouping neighboring schools within a feeder pattern into clusters and offering choice options in at least one of the schools in each cluster. Flores said this strategy would help families avoid having to travel across town for their student to attend a choice school. Hinojosa provided trustees the choice school update at the Feb. 11 Board Briefing as a follow up to last month’s adoption of six new student achievement goals, one of which called for making Dallas ISD schools the primary choice for families in the district. Trustees and Hinojosa developed the goals in multiple board workshops where they reviewed district achievement results and other data.


With the help of counselors, students at the district’s 37 middle schools pledged to make their schools kinder, more caring places to learn by inviting everyone to the lunch table on No One Eats Alone Day, Feb. 12.

A national, peer-led initiative sponsored by the nonprofit organization Beyond Differences, No One Eats Alone Day is aimed at ending social isolation in middle schools and creating a culture in which all kids feel included, valued and accepted by their peers.

A tall order for sure, but also one that inspired middle school students in 700 schools in 38 states to participate in 2015. No One Eats Alone Day is based on the simple act of peers inviting even the shy, unpopular kids to the table for lunch.

Stories are legion about how tough middle school can be for anyone who is the least bit different. Counseling Supervisor Sherri Vault explained that much of the drama can be blamed on adolescence.

“The students are awkward socially and emotionally. They sometimes feel insecure, especially the ones who are shy or introverted,” she said. “They’re trying to figure out who they are and their place in the world.”

It’s the social instability of adolescence that makes it difficult for middle schoolers to connect with each other and reach out to students who are not in the popular crowd, she said. In spite of the challenges, counselors were optimistic that the student-led effort will inspire the kind of empathy that moves students to extend themselves to others.

Counseling Services supported the effort with a No One Eats Alone Toolkit that has lessons and classroom activities, an essay and poster contest, posters, wristbands, balloons and announcements to help create a sense of excitement among students.

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