“GREAT THINGS ARE HAPPENING AT ELKHART I.S.D.”
Dr. Ray DeSpain, E.I.S.D. Superintendent
Most of us are guilty of taking many things in life for granted. God loves us and provides for us. Our military personnel, law enforcement officers, and emergency situations personnel protect and defend us and keep us safe. Our families support and sustain us, and our friends and colleagues nurture us. Sometimes we all need to take a step back and give thanks for all we have and all we have been able and allowed to do. As we prepare for the 2017 – 2018 school year, it is with great pride that I reflect back on Elkhart I.S.D.’s many accomplishments of the past year.
As I have stated many times before, the school business is the “people” business. We are very fortunate to have great kids to work with, and we have a staff that is dedicated to being the very best. For the ninth consecutive year, Elkhart I.S.D. has maintained 100% “Highly Qualified” status among all staff teachers and paraprofessionals.
First and foremost, we are here for academics. Once again this year, our Texas Public School Accountability Summary ratings were among the highest in the state in the areas of Student Academic Achievement, Student Progress, and Postsecondary Readiness. Elkhart students exceeded the state average on all twenty-two of the mandated standardized (STAAR and End of Course) examinations (and by ten or more percentage points higher than the state average in twelve of the tested areas). Elkhart I.S.D. campuses “Met State Standard” in all sixteen of the Texas Education Agency’s rating system areas, and “Distinction Designations” from T.E.A. were earned in all four of the major academic areas of Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. For the sixth consecutive year, Elkhart High School had a 100% graduation rate by the senior class. These outstanding accomplishments are made possible only by teachers preparing students and students performing. Our Elkhart High School U.I.L. Academic and Literary team once again won the District U.I.L. Academic and Literary Championship, and also won the Regional Meet by a very impressive sixty-five points. Thirteen Elkhart High students advanced to the State Meet in eleven events. Students at both our Middle School and Elementary campuses were District Champions also. Our 2017 Valedictorian, Jacob Urbina, was named to the highest student honor in the country this spring by being awarded the distinction of “National Merit Scholar.” Also, Ashley Buck was accepted into the prestigious United States Military Academy at West Point.
Once again this year, Elkhart I.S.D. met full compliance standards in the myriad of state required benchmarks on financial integrity ratings (where we achieved a perfect score), school safety and security, student reporting, site-based decision making, and policy adherence. I am very proud to say Elkhart I.S.D. was just one point away from a perfect 100 score on our most recent T.E.A. compliance review.
The Fine Arts programs at Elkhart are second to none. The Big Red Band once again earned “Superior” ratings at both their U.I.L. Concert and Sight Reading competitions, as well as at Marching competition. All-State Band honors were bestowed on Jacob Urbina and Briley Patterson. Our Middle School and Beginner Bands also earned First Division ratings at their respective competitions. We continue to provide for our students top-shelf Art programs at all three campuses, with several of our students having works displayed at the state capital and also receiving awards at competitions. Our Theater Arts programs at the High School and Middle School put on plays and shows in both the fall and spring, and several of our students have won individual accolades for their performances.
Our Career and Technology offerings have been greatly expanded. We now offer courses and certifications in the areas of: Nursing, Phlebotomy, Computer Information Systems, Welding, Machining, Business Practices, and Child Development/Principles of Education. Our Homemaking and Career Preparation courses are also popular with our students. The EHS Future Farmers of America club has seen great growth in both numbers of participants and at competitions and shows. The Elkhorn yearbook, produced in its entirety by a student staff, is one of the best in the state.
We take great pride in offering a wide range of outstanding extracurricular programs district-wide. Both our High School and Middle School campuses have very active national Honor Society chapters, Student Councils, and Art Honor Society clubs. Several of our “incentive” programs, such as the “Elite Elks” at the Middle School have proven to be very beneficial as well. Our students participate in several ancillary programs, projects, and events throughout the year. Special events this past year have included: “Back the Blue”; Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ “See You at the Pole” and “Fields of Faith” programs; a Veteran’s Day assembly at the Middle School; “Giving Thanks”, Homecoming, and various other parades; Family Movie Nights; Book Fairs; Blood Drives; Canned Food Drives; “Operation Christmas Child”; “Character Counts”; and “DARE” Drug Awareness and Prevention – just to name a few.
Once again this year, our athletic teams and several individual student-athletes excelled. Both our Girls and Boys Cross Country teams captured District Championships, as well as our Girls Track team. Our Boys Track team and Junior High teams dominated the meets they competed in throughout the season. The Lady Elks were once again Bi-District Champions in Softball, and our Girls Tennis team won the District. The Lady Elk Volleyball team once again qualified for the playoffs. In Power Lifting, three student-athletes qualified for the state meet. Our Baseball and Football teams were competing for playoff spots up until the last game of the season. Golf and Tennis both produced Regional qualifiers. Student-athletes who will continue their careers at the collegiate level include: Camryn Rucker (Softball at Mary Hardin Baylor); Ashley Buck (Track at West Point); Monique Ashford (Track at Highland College in Kansas); and D.J. Williams and Jacob Walters (Football at Howard Payne). Our Cheerleading squads also excel.
We have wrapped up Summer School, Summer Sports Camps, and most of our summer facility improvement and upkeep projects (most notably, we have upgraded greatly in the area of technology with new servers, cabling, and systems). Our upgraded website can be viewed at www.elkhartisd.org, and we continue to add computer devices at all campuses. Also, a number of our air conditioning and heating units have been replaced district-wide.
These accomplishments, scores, and accolades are an indication of our commitment to providing the highest quality education and offerings possible for our students. We also know that our many accomplishments would not be possible without the support of our TEAM of parents, guardians, businesses, community members, and site-based leadership team members. The positive input, encouragement, and assistance from these stakeholders are invaluable. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, administration, and staff of Elkhart I.S.D., I sincerely appreciate the effort of every individual, and I look forward daily to providing the very best education and experiences for the young people of Elkhart.
Come see us some time – You’ll be impressed!