Employee & Volunteer of the Month
Trustees recognized both a district employee and community volunteer who help make SBISD special. Bunker Hill Elementary School Special Education Assistant Laura Ripkowski earned the October Employee of the Month recognition. Nominators praised Laura as a "cheerleader, mother, friend, teacher, nurse, motivator, emergency contact, parent liaison, technical support and beloved colleague" to Bunker Hill teachers, students and families.
At the elementary school, she handles everything from helping manage the daily morning TV broadcast to calmly assisting students in the classroom, as well as many other tasks. "To know Laura is to know what it's like to have the best of all of us in one person," says Principal Valerie Martinez.
October's Volunteer of the Month is Ginny Itz, a faithful and instrumental leader in the success of one of Chapelwood United Methodist Church's premier program for Spring Branch students. This program is known as Students With Amazing Potential, or SWAP.
For more than 10 years, Ginny has led and inspired the SWAP program, which teaches life skills and interpersonal skills to students at Spring Oaks Middle School. Up to 80 middle schoolers are involved in the program.
About 50 adult volunteers help SWAP students dream big and achieve more than they thought possible for themselves. "She has left a legacy of greatness for others to live up to," her nomination states. Ginny will move soon to new management duties at the local church.
National Merit and Related Honors
Earlier this fall, 33 SBISD high school seniors were named among the best and brightest in the nation. Twenty-one students from four high schools - Memorial, Spring Woods and Stratford plus Westchester Academy for International Studies - were honored as National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalists during the Board meeting.
This year's Memorial High students named as National Merit Semifinalists are Emily Ackerman, Joy Ahn, Maryam Amjadi, Casie Chen, Timothy Davis, Austin Espey, Marie Evans, Yezhou Feng, Andrew Frewer, Sang Ji, Dmitriy Khripkov, Min Woo Kim, Mary Schatzman, Paul Snow, Katherine Ustick, Tzu-Ming Yeh.
At Spring Woods High, this year's National Merit Semifinalist is Parker Blome. Stratford High National Merit Semifinalists are Matthew Lastrapes, Elain Lui and Harrrison Vaporciyan. At Westchester Academy for International Studies, this year's National Merit Semifinalist is Zachary Rejwan.
Students become eligible for the national scholarship program when they take the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test as juniors. Semifinalists represent less than 1 percent of the high school graduating class in Texas and rank as the nation's highest scoring elite. These students will now compete for National Merit Finalist awards, which will be announced in 2013. More than 16,000 students nationwide have been named Semifinalists.
Ten SBISD students were named finalists in the annual National Hispanic Recognition program. These students, also known as National Hispanic Scholars, include Memorial High's Emma Bravo, Benjamin Kroger, Katherine Parada, and Karina Soto. One additional student who is not being named publicly is also a finalist. At Stratford High, these finalists are Stephen Martinez, Alexandra Napuri, and Caroline Suchman. Westchester Academy has two finalists in this category. They are Dorian Granizo and David Kassir.
To earn this highly regarded recognition, students must be at least one-quarter of Hispanic/Latino descent, attain a high performance level on the PSAT, and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher at the end of their junior year. About 5,000 students nationally earn this recognition.
Two other seniors have been named National Achievement Scholars. They are Jessica Watts of Memorial High and Destiny Lewis of Westchester Academy. The National Achievement Scholarship Program recognizes academically talented African-American students. About 1,600 semifinalists in this category were named nationally. They will compete for 800 scholarship awards worth more than $2.5 million that will be issued in the spring, according to the program.
Superior "FIRST" Rating
For the 10th consecutive year, SBISD has earned a rating of Superior Achievement from the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) for the 2010-2011 school year. The Texas Legislature created the School FIRST system in 2001 to recognize quality performance in the management of financial resources by school districts.
Once again, SBISD earned the highest possible rating of Superior Achievement with a top score of 70 possible points in the rating system. The district received a perfect "5" score in every category possible. In addition to a presentation by SBISD's Associate Superintendent for Finance Karen Wilson, a public hearing was held on the district's School FIRST rating.