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Every year about this time we challenge our students to master their math facts.  This annual contest gets students to not only know the answers to problems like 7 X 8, and 9 X 6, or 144 divided by 12, but to master them so that they don't have to figure it out.  They can look at the problem and know it without hesitation.

Fifteen students lined up to take a test during our
Beat the Facts Challenge
We set many goals.  First, the 3rd grade works on their multiplication facts through the 9's.  They take tests during the contest of 40 problems.  Students are to get 34 correct in a two minute time frame.  If they do, they "beat the facts" and receive recognition and a Spirit Stick.  Our 4th graders take a test of 50 problems and must get 42 multiplication problems (through 12's) correct in order to "beat the facts."  5th grade has a test of 50 multiplication problems and division problems (through 12's).  Their goal is also 42 correct.

After students meet their initial goal of beating the facts, they strive to improve their score.  Awards are given for perfect papers and then are challenged to increase their overall average.  Awards are given to students who get 100 right out of 100 and eventually some even received awards for 120 problems correct out of 120.

Landon Holze, Isabel Gallegos, and Jaylyn Arp
were the three fastest in our Beat the Facts Challenge.
The contest concluded with our annual "Beat the Facts Challenge."  The top 5 students in each grade level compete to see who is the fastest in knowing their facts and can endure the pressure of the whole school watching them compete.  The following are students who were the top in each grade level and competed for this honor:  3rd Grade:  Landon Holze, Toby Bush, McKenna Holt, Camden Brock, and Dalton Adams.  4th Grade:  Jasmin Romero, Austin Evans, Isabel Gallegos, Lauren Gill, and Caden Meinzer.  5th Grade:  Jaylyn Arp, Garrett Glaser, Caleb Blanek, Caden Helona, and Cade Walker.

This was our best year of all previous Beat the Facts Contests.  263 students earned a Spirit Stick for beating the facts.  Two classes (Mrs. Westerman and Mrs. Douglas) had 100% of their students beat the facts.  Twenty-five 3rd graders had an average of 40+, twenty-four 4th graders earned a 50+ average, and there were twenty-six 5th graders who had a 50+ average.

BEAT THE FACTS CHALLENGE:  Landon Holze, Isabel Gallegos, and Jaylyn Arp were our top three in the Beat the Facts Challenge.

AVERAGE FOR THE FIRST SEVEN TESTS:  Caleb Blanek had a 91 average for the 5th grade, Jasmin Romero had an 83.14 average for the 4th grade, and Landon Holze had a 81.57 average in the 3rd grade
Makenna Holt enjoys making a craft with her friends
3rd Grade teachers organized a fun evening for our parents and students to come and enjoy each others' company.  On December 9th, we filled the cafeteria with students, eager to have a good time.  Parents came to participate and some came so socialize with other parents.  All went way with goodies and fulfillment of time well spent.

Diana and her mother enjoy putting together crafts

Students played games at the 3rd Grade Candyland.
Birthdays used to be so important when I was a child.  I think students at our school think more about their birthday than they do Christmas or any other holiday.  It's THEIR SPECIAL DAY.  They don't share it with anyone else.  All the attention for that day is on them.  Students of mine come up to me to make sure that I will announce their birthday in our morning assembly.  I'll ask them when their birthday is.  They'll tell me that it is the next month or two months from now.  To them, their birthday is right around the corner.  I assure them that I will remember to announce their name so we can sing to them.

As adults, most of us don't think too much about birthdays.  We have our "special landmark birthdays" that identify how young we are NOT anymore.  "20" is a good birthday, "30" is okay, but comes with the idea that we're not really young anymore.  "40" shows maturity, but we start feeling some aches and pains.  I had more joint problems in my 40's than in any other time so far in my life.  Once I hit "50," I started feeling old in some ways.  The number "50" was very tough for me.  My birthday came and went that year and all I had was the number to let me know my status in life.  

My recent birthday over the Christmas holiday brought me a little closer to the next plateau -- "60."  Wow, that number rings a bell in me.

So, with all this comes a reflection on TEN YEARS.  When I came to the Waco area, I was forty years old.  My children were in elementary and middle school and we were beginning a new life in Central Texas.  Ten years after that, both my boys had left the house and were in college.  Ten years doesn't seem like much, but it brings so much change to one's life.  I look back in our church directory to see people who attended ten years ago.  Many of them had small children, a husband and a wife.  Since then (10 years later), their children are grown and may have moved away.  Sadly, there are many couples who split up in that time.  Divorce takes over so many of our lives today.

When I speak to students who are 8, 9, or 10 years old, I tell them that they won't be this age forever.  Most students don't think about getting older.  Their concern is today, this week, and what video game they'll be playing when they get home.

As parents, we need to also realize that our children are not going to be this age forever.  I used to tell my own children, "Stop growing!!"  They never listened to me.  We need to continuously feed our children, not only food, but things to enrich their minds - Books being one of the best sources.  Get your children interested in reading by reading to them at home.  My last book that I read to my boys was "Bridge to Terebithia."  I never finished it with him.  Bedtime rituals went away when my youngest got older.  I know many of you read to your children at bedtime.  This will benefit them to no end.

Besides reading, giving them life long experiences in problem solving will benefit them so much.  My dad fixed everything when I was growing up.  I held many lights for him as he fixed his cars.  Ironically, I held many lights for my oldest son when he was fixing his cars.  

Don't let 10 YEARS slip away.  Use every minute of every day reflecting on how you can enrich your childrens' lives physically, academically, and spiritually.  

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