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Moving in the right direction

By Rickie R. Harris

As we move forward into the 2015-2016 school year, I am proud to say that West Orange – Cove CISD is moving in a positive direction. Our enrollment is up 61 students from May of last year; and, our current attendance rate is approximately 96 percent as a District. These are positive numbers.

Our students are also moving forward. Our first marking period is complete and already, our students are representing us well.

Twenty-eight culinary arts students at the WO-S Career Center passed the ServSafe Food Handler Certification Test to earn Safe Food Handler Licenses.

WO-S Middle School students volunteered in the 29th Annual Adopt-a-Beach fall clean-up recently. Members of our Student Council and National Jr. Honor Society were some of the 8,000 volunteers state-wide that participated.

WO-S High School choir members competed in the All-Region Contest last weekend. Nathan Hayes, Joseph Sterling, Rita Jenkins and Manuel Franklin each earned the honor and will advance to additional competition.

Our High School students are becoming involved in a new campus club, Interact, sponsored by the Rotary Club. We are excited to bring this outstanding service club to our students and to our WOCCISD community.

Congratulations to September’s WOCCISD Teacher of the Month, Employee of the Month, and Student of the Month. Each was recognized at the end of September in front of the WOCCISD Board of Trustees. All are from WO-S Middle School.

William Reynolds was the Student of the Month. He is a member of the robotics team, TAME (promotes math, science, and engineering) Club, and a member of the All “A” Honor Roll during EVERY six weeks of the 2014-2015 school year. He is also a member of the Stallion football team.

Stelleshia Mitchell was the Teacher of the Month. She is an outstanding science teacher, the cheerleader sponsor, and has a huge heart for her students and community. She is also a graduate of the WOCCISD school system.

The Employee of the Month was WO-S Middle School counselor Nakia Francis. She has done a fantastic job of building her department, supporting our students, and also serving as Stallionette coordinator.

In September, students at WO-S Elementary and North Early Learning Center expanded their classroom activities to include a day in celebration of apples that coincided closely with the birth date of Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman. Teachers and volunteers assisted in class activities that included reading about apples, counting apples, apple crafts of all sorts, apple snacks, and more.

Throughout September, we transported West Orange – Stark High School students enrolled in dual credit courses to Lamar State College – Orange for classes in process technology, pharmacy, history, government, and English. This is a great opportunity for our students to earn college credit while still in high school. At the same time, it benefits students’ families. The District pays the tuition of all of our students enrolled in these college credit courses.

Additionally, WO-S High School welcomed five foreign exchange students to the campus. These students are from Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Brazil, and Vietnam. We are excited to welcome them to Texas and to our Mustang traditions!

Outside of our campuses, the WOCCISD District Strategic Planning Committee was also very active in September. The group started the process of setting the course for long term plans. The committee spent four long evenings developing a Vision Statement, Mission Statement, Goals, and Core Beliefs. They also identified critical issues. These plans will help us to further develop and guide our District and Campus Improvement Plans for the years to come. This planning process was a collaboration between all stakeholders, inclusive of parents, community leaders, administration, and teachers. I would like to thank all of the participants for their valuable time, honest insight, and their commitment to our students.

I also want to thank the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce for nominating me to become a member of their Board of Directors. I will do my best to serve in a positive manner and in way that represents our District well. My term will begin in January 2016 and I am looking forward to working with others to build this community.

Our District is also excited to be taking part in the Chamber’s Shop Orange County “Slice of Orange” Marketing Campaign. The District recorded our broadcast commercial for the local television campaign which will begin it October. Our commercial features each of our three currently teaching Beaumont Foundation Wayne A. Reaud Excellence in Education award winners: Annely Domas, Camille Fuller, and Meri Elen Jacobs. Athletic Director Cornel Thompson and I also appear in the commercial. The “Slice of Orange” commercials will be broadcast on KFDM, Fox, ESPN, HGTV, Food Network, Hallmark, CNN, Discovery, and more. We are eager to share our Mustang pride with the region.

The District is also excited to promote WOCCISD in the Orange County Economic Development Corporation’s Explore Orange County, Texas magazine. This publication is shared with individuals visiting Orange and those who may be interested in relocating to our area. We want them to know that West Orange – Cove CISD is a great choice! Look for our full page advertisement inside the publication. It should be available very soon.

Our tradition of athletic excellence is continuing this fall. We are off to a great start in many areas. The WO-S High School girls’ volleyball team is doing well and is competing for the lead in district. Our football teams are also doing well at all levels from Middle School through High School. I want to thank all of our coaches for teaching our students how to compete with a high level of integrity and courage.

I look forward to the month of October and the continued progress that it will bring. Remember, it takes all of us to keep the ball moving.

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