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Leading into Thanksgiving week - Nov. 12, 2018
Dear SAISD Staff,
We continue to bring forward research-based, curricular options for our families to consider, based on their children’s needs and aspirations. And today, we will introduce another innovative approach to instruction that directly prepares high school students to impact workforce needs.
Later this morning, the District will announce the first Pathways in Technology Early College High School, known as P-TECH, in San Antonio. The program will debut at Sam Houston High School in August 2019 with a focus on cybersecurity.
P-TECH is a new educational model approved by the Texas Legislature in 2017 that provides students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, an associate degree and industry certifications, as well as complete work-based training around high-demand, high-wage career fields.
What is noteworthy about the Sam Houston model is that students are able to work toward an associate degree specific to cybersecurity! San Antonio is a large cybersecurity hub in the United States, and Cyber P-TECH at Sam Houston will partner with St. Philip’s College, which has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
Students also will have the opportunity to learn from industry partners, which we’ll be announcing at today’s event.
In other news, students at two of our schools – Briscoe Elementary and the Advanced Learning Academy at Euclid – were surprised last week with substantial grants for projects that will benefit their schools. Thanks to Silver and Black Give Back, the philanthropic arm of Spurs Sports and Entertainment, and the Team Up Challenge, Julian Martinez, a fifth grader at Briscoe, was awarded $16,000 to start a food pantry on his campus. And ALA received $11,000 to give its third graders the opportunity to write, create and produce puppet shows, which they will perform at other elementary schools in the District. 
In addition, the San Antonio Spurs rewarded Jose Flores, a fourth grader at Arnold Elementary, with a lively pep rally – complete with costume characters and Spurs center Jakob Poeltl – for reading more than 5,600 hours in the Spurs What’cha Reading Program presented by Whataburger.
On Saturday, Sarah King Elementary was the recipient of a Kingdom for Kids playground, in partnership with Rick Cavender, Kingdom for Kids, and City Year. Construction kicked off at 8 a.m. as community and campus volunteers began to build the new playground, soccer field, basketball courts, reading amphitheater and murals. Later in the afternoon, they held a celebratory ribbon-cutting with music, games and food. This is such a wonderful gift for Sarah King and all the children in this community.
Also on Saturday, the Jefferson High School Historical Preservation Society rededicated the Student Council Fountain on campus. The fountain was a gift from the Class of 1932, but after several years of it not functioning, the Jefferson Historical Preservation Society raised $183,000 in order to restore it. The event this weekend celebrated the renewal of a beautiful campus treasure.
Both last week and through today, our District has been observing Veterans Day. Among the events on Friday, students from Barkley-Ruiz Elementary School participated in the city’s official commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice ending WWI, an event coordinated in part by Dr. Amy Jo Baker, retired director of social studies for SAISD. During the ceremony at the San Antonio National Cemetery, students laid a wreath at the gravesite of David B. Barkley, who is recognized as the U.S. Army’s first Medal of Honor recipient of Hispanic descent. 
On Saturday, Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Andrew E. Reyna was the 2018 Honorary Grand Marshal for the U.S. Military Veterans Parade in San Antonio. Reyna, now 94, was the senior Army instructor for Lanier High School from 1968 through 1981.
Campus ceremonies were held last Thursday, Friday, and again today. I thank everyone who participated in honoring our nation’s military veterans.
This week we also look forward to our District’s Spanish Spelling Bee, which begins tomorrow with the elementary-grade contenders, and continues on Wednesday with the middle school grades and then on Thursday for the high schools. I wish all of these students buena suerte!  
Also happening Thursday is Burbank High School’s 10th annual “Ag in the City” event, which teaches fourth graders science concepts based on their grade-level TEKS. Students from eight elementary schools will have the opportunity to visit more than 30 stations including Seed to Salad, meeting the farm animals, and, of course, making ice cream.
When we return from Thanksgiving break, our application period for Choice Schools and Magnet Programs begins, and runs Nov. 26 through Feb. 8. In preparation, some of our schools already have been holding information sessions for parents. These open houses will continue for the next couple of months.
And on Dec. 1, we will celebrate all of our schools, programs and departments – our entire District – at the second annual Experience SAISD at the Freeman Coliseum Expo Hall. The event was so well attended last year, we moved it to a larger venue and added more opportunities for families to engage with us. The first 500 families will receive a special gift, and there will be giveaways every hour including a Nook tablet, bicycles, movie passes, uniform gift cards and Magik Theatre tickets.
There will be many student performances, including choirs, mariachi, JROTC and cheer groups. Art displays and interactive demonstrations including those featuring virtual reality, nutrition, career and technology pathways, and a dual language game show also will be showcased. There is no better time to come learn about SAISD. Please spread the word throughout the community! 
In closing, I wish each of you a happy Thanksgiving and a restful week. Enjoy this time with your families.

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