Celebration of excellence

Published 12:09 pm Monday, March 5, 2018

By Rickie R. Harris

In today’s editorial, I would like to highlight and celebrate some of the achievements that our students have earned this school year. They have excelled in the classroom, in the arts, in career and technology education, and in athletics.

Ten West Orange – Stark High School choir students are advancing to the State Solo and Ensemble competition. Congratulations to Jasmine Smith, Roshni Lauji, Amori Haley, Hannah Chatman, Manuel Franklin, Jaela Ross, Rita Jenkins, Tiayana Clayton, Kamille Queen, and Isaiah Chatman for this accomplishment.

Isaiah, also a commercial photography student, placed second in the advertising division of the Association of Texas Photography Instructors State Photo Contest. Fellow commercial photography students Lexy LaFleur and Kylie Babineaux are also advancing to the State Digital Commercial Photography Competition.

Six precision machine students will compete in the project competition at the state level. In qualifying to do so, Jacoven Hinson earned “Best of Show” honors in exhibits at the local regional meet. Three WOS Career Center students swept the precision machine Speed Skills contest. Carlos Gutierrez Vilches placed first; while Bruce White and Jacoven Hinson placed second and third respectively. Carlos advances to state.

We are also very proud of our High School band. This group’s marching season has continued until mid-December for the past four years. This year they added parade appearances and a first place award at the Port Arthur Battle of the Bands.

I also want to celebrate the success of our Early College High School (ECHS) first cohort. We launched the program this year in partnership with Lamar State College – Orange. ECHS students will earn a High School diploma, 60 hours of college credit and an Associate’s Degree (at no cost to students). Our first class of freshmen has progressed well. I want to thank LSCO for an outstanding collaborative effort in the success of our students. Furthermore, we recently selected an additional 25 Middle School students as Cohort Two. They will enter the program as freshmen next year. This will bring our total number enrolled to 46 for the 2018-2019 year.

In athletics, the 2017 football team extended its streak for consecutive advancement to the State Championship to four and completed the season as the 4A Division II UIL State Silver Medalist. Mustangs Paul Ivory and Davien Teate earned selection to the Texas Sports Writers Association’s All – State Team. These two also earned Academic All-State honors, along with teammates Chad Dallas, Kaleb Ramsey, and Jarron Morris. In addition, Davien was named a Willie Ray Smith Award Defensive finalist.

Four seniors signed letters of intent to continue their education careers at the college level by means of athletics. Congratulations to Paul Ivory (Davidson College/North Carolina), Jarron Morris (Texas State University), and Blake Robinson (Lamar University). These three young men will play college football; plus, Chad Dallas has signed to play baseball with Panola College.

I also want to congratulate our High School’s boys’ basketball team for advancing into the playoffs. For the first time in four years, the team advanced through bi-district. We are excited about the direction this program is moving.

Today, six of our Lady Mustangs are competing in the regional powerlifting meet.

Our district is very proud of these young men and women. I look forward to sharing additional achievements later. We are “Empowering Lives Through Excellence Every Day!”

Go Mustangs!

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