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Many reasons for school district to celebrate

By Rickie R. Harris

The past month was full of activity within our schools.
Teachers, administrators, and students were extremely busy with completing the curriculum, finalizing grades, recognizing achievements at end of year awards programs, and planning and participating in various transition and celebration activities associated with moving forward.
The West Orange – Stark High School Senior Class of 2015 graduated in front of a large audience of family and friends. Felicia Amy graduated as valedictorian. Brittany Barclay graduated as salutatorian. This class of 128 collected over $925,000 in scholarships and are to be congratulated. We wish them well and know that they will represent the Mustang family well in their future pursuits.
During May, West Orange – Stark High School students also participated in the UIL State Academic and Track Meets. At State, Aaliyah Teel placed fourth in the 400 meter dash and fifth in the 100 meter dash. Brittany Barclay placed seventh in the Journalism Headline Writing competition. Will Johnson competed in the 300 meter hurdles. We are very proud of the achievements of each of these students. They worked hard to reach the highest level of competition in their respective divisions and are to be commended.
Yet another group of West Orange – Stark High School students, through the support of our community, was able to visit the State Capitol in May. Students in Advanced Placement Government Class visited the legislature and viewed the daily workings of our state government. The trip was funded through generous grants from the WOCCISD Education Foundation and The Earl Thomas III Guardian Angel Foundation. Local businesses Compro Tax / Jackie Mayfield, and Claybar Funeral Home also provided support. Thank you.
At West Orange – Stark Middle School, the eighth grade class was honored with a banquet. Abigail Stephens and Manuel Gomez were announced as Mr. and Ms. WO-S Middle School.
West Orange – Stark Elementary third graders conducted a very successful financial literacy project. The students sold lemonade and popcorn at a lemonade stand set up at the front of the campus. Through community support, the group raised over $775 to benefit the Southeast Texas Humane Society. Both students and staff did a phenomenal job with this project. Our hope is that this school activity will provide a strong foundation for future real life financial decisions.
North Early Learning Center students participated in perfect attendance, transition, and graduation programs.
In sports, the West Orange – Stark High School baseball team has extended the spring baseball season to a post-graduation experience in the state baseball playoffs. We are so proud of these Mustangs!
The month of May also brought changes to the WOCCISD Board of Trustees. I would like to thank former board members Pete Amy, Eric Mitchell, and Nathaniel Colbert for the dedicated leadership that they have provided to this District. Your service is appreciated. I would also like to welcome new board members Linda Platt-Bryant, John Gray Jr., and Roderick Robertson to the board. I am excited about the progress which we will achieve together.
During the last week of May, our District held a special dinner to say thank you and farewell to our retirees. Thank you to Vivian Wolfford, Charlotte Brown, Mike Jones, Sunnye Landers, Bonnie Tegge, Rebecca Wolfe, Kathy Jones, Callie Orebo, Rebecca Washburn, Rhonda Duhon, and Kim Smith for all that you have done for our district, campuses, and students.
Congratulations to our 2015 Campus Teachers of the year. They are Lindsey Tipton, North Early Learning Center; Heather Anderson, WO-S Elementary; Bryan Yancey, WO-S Middle School, and Delmar Basinger, WO-S High School. Bryan Yancey was further selected as our WOCCISD Teacher of the Year. In learning about and meeting each of these teachers, I know that we are certainly fortunate to have them educating our children.
During this past school year we have not only educated children; but, we have also provided new opportunities for personal growth, initiated local partnerships, and built stronger relationships. Many in education see the month of May as a month of completion, with June serving as a finish line and an opportunity to relax.  I see May as a month of not only endings, but also exciting new beginnings. As a district we must ignite – overcome perceived obstacles and maximize every resource in order to provide a premiere education to our students.
I believe we have built a fire, kindling a flame that has the components to become a bonfire of Mustang spirit which promotes and demands achievement in every area. Please join me in fanning this flame and building this District.
As contemporary author John Maxwell said, “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.”
Go Mustangs!

Rickie R. Harris is the Superintendent at West Orange – Cove CISD.