April 2022
Upcoming Partnership Will Allow Special Needs Students to Shine on Stage in Broadway Musical
The Board of Trustees heard an update at its April meeting about a district partnership in the works with an organization that pairs students without disabilities as mentors to children with disabilities — on stage in a modified version of a well-known Broadway musical.

The Penguin Project will give students across the district a unique learning experience through putting on a theatre production. After the casting of special needs students is complete, age-level peers are paired as understudies. These mentors learn all the lines, help the actors through rehearsals and appear on stage with their partners, who do all the acting, singing and dancing. 

Next steps are identifying a theatre, along with production and technical staff, who can help make this partnership a reality. The goal is for an inaugural production next spring.
Student Showcase - VEX Robotics Teams
Members of the Belton High School and Lake Belton High School robotics teams were on hand to showcase their work this year. Both teams were invited to the VEX Robotics World Championship to be held in Dallas this May. This competition brings together student-led teams from all over the globe to showcase their game strategy, design and teamwork skills.

The BHS team includes: Francisca Ordonez Lopez, Karmanyaah Malhotra, Delilah Rowell, Caleb Packard and Perla Martinez. The team’s advisor is Pietro Giustino. 

The LBHS team includes: Braedyn Brannum, Cahaya Lane, Haeven Holden, Keifer Marshall and Soteria Shin. The team’s advisor is Jessica Persilver. 

This Career and Technical Education program allows students to showcase their critical thinking, collaboration and perseverance Journey of a Graduate competencies.
Board Recognition -
Orchestra Solo/Ensemble State Qualifiers
Twelve high school orchestra students have advanced to state UIL solo and ensemble contests to be held next month. To advance, the musicians had to perform a memorized Class 1 solo or ensemble — the hardest difficulty level — in front of a judge and earn a superior rating. We are proud of how these students demonstrate Journey of a Graduate competencies through their participation in the fine arts.

Orchestra soloists qualifying for state from Belton High School are: Jackson Belobrajdic, violin; Aditi Bhat, violin; Krithika Rajesh, violin; Rijul Gupta, viola; Matthew Herrera, piano; and Kara Shin, piano.
The BHS string quartet of Belobrajdic, Shin, Gupta and Savannah Fish also qualified for state.
Preston Patterson is the head orchestra director at BHS.
Six soloists from Lake Belton High School qualified for the state UIL completion. They are: Alana Irom, violin; Rachel Kim, violin; David Larsen, violin; Soteria Shin, cello; and Rachel Kim, piano.

Ricky Rasura is the head orchestra director at LBHS.
Board Approves Agreement with City of Belton
The Board approved an agreement with the City of Belton to continue contracted school resource officer services in the district. Belton ISD has contracted with the City of Belton for these services since 1996.
Board Recognition -
CX Debate State Qualifiers
Belton High School students Mykaela Johnston and Clayton Hixson took first place in the UIL District 12-6A CX Debate Tournament in January which advanced the team to the state competition last month. Mykaela was also named the top speaker at the district tournament. While the pair didn’t place at state, they demonstrated several of our Journey of a Graduate competencies during their debate season. The CX debate coach is Kathy Person.
Board Recognition -
UIL Theatrical Design State Qualifier
Belton High School varsity theatre student Allison Vekasy is advancing to the state UIL Theatrical Design Competition. Allison is among students from across the state who submitted designs based on the play Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express by Ken Ludwig. Her costume designs will now be re-submitted for the state meet in May. 
Belton High School’s Technical Director of Theatre is Marie Phillips. She has played an integral role in helping develop Allison’s Journey of a Graduate competencies in adaptability, communication and critical thinking.
Board Committee Reports

Policy: The policy committee met on April 4 and discussed EF(LOCAL), the policy about instructional resources such as textbooks and library books. Since the meeting, the Texas Education Agency has provided a model policy that the committee will review in the future and determine how the district's policy might be adjusted. The committee also discussed next steps after last month's Texas Association of School Boards policy review and heard an update on the district's legislative priorities.

Facilities: The facilities committee did not meet in April.
Board Recognition -
Color Guard State Qualifiers
The Belton High School varsity winter guard finished eighth in their division at the Texas Color Guard Circuit state championship competition last month performing their show “Enchanted.” This is the highest placement the guard has ever earned and demonstrates their mastery of the collaboration Journey of a Graduate competency.

Members of the Belton Guard varsity team include: Kylee Bell, Alantis Berry, Rylee Blattner, Kaydence Doughty (second lieutenant), Amanda Fountain (captain), Abigale Hussey, Chloe Hutchinson, Emma Johnson (co-captain), Chloe Messersmith, Karli Moon, Koral Palomarez, Daylyn Porter, Raina Ross, Semaj Smith, and Marryah Smith-McCarthy (first lieutenant).

The team is under the direction of Cody Hudnall.
Board Recognition -
Texas High School Coaches Association
Academic All-State Recipients
Belton High School is celebrating 18 student-athletes who were named to Texas High School Coaches Association Academic All-State teams in cross country, volleyball and football. To be nominated, seniors must be in good standing with their team, of good moral character and have an overall GPA of 92 or above. Class rank and SAT/ACT test scores are also taken into consideration. Maintaining these high academic standards as a competitive athlete demonstrates perseverance, one of the district’s Journey of a Graduate competencies.

This year’s recipients include:  

Soccer: Sara Navarro (second team); Madeline Fournier (second team).
Swim: Ryan McKenzie (second team); Jacob Peebles (honorable mention); Liana Planz (second team); Wesley Kincaid (first team); Grayce Snyder (honorable mention); and Savannah Upton (second team).

Boy’s Basketball: Aaron Rhoads (first team); Bradyn Stewart (second team); TJ Johnson (second team); Peyton Euer (honorable mention) and Seth Morgan (honorable mention).

Girl’s Basketball: Mykaela Johnston (first team); Anna Beamesderfer (second team); Ayanna Jones (second team); McKenna Maddux (second team); and Lillian Small (honorable mention).
Superintendent's Report

  • Dr. Smith briefed the Board on several highlights of his April, including attending the Texas Association of Suburban/MidUrban Schools spring conference and working with the Concordia University Advisory Board to discuss the current national teacher shortage.
  • Dr. Smith also noted that in April, district leaders will have conducted 40 presentations about the 2022 bond proposal.
Board Recognition -
New Belton High School Athletic Record Holder
Belton High School senior athlete TJ Johnson has left his mark on Tiger basketball. As a four-year starter, he appeared in 130 games for the Tigers, leading his junior and senior teams to back-to-back playoff appearances. This season, the Tigers were District Co-Champions, a feat not accomplished since 2004.

TJ is only the second Tiger basketball player since 1961 to sign a Division 1 letter of intent. He plans to attend Lipscomb University and play ball for the Bisons. Here are just a few of his accomplishments as a Belton Tiger:

  • TJ is the all-time career-scoring leader in Tiger basketball history with 2,672 points scored.
  • He’s also the all-time single-season leading scorer. In his junior season, he averaged 25 points per game.
  • TJ is the MVP of District 12-6A this year and was also named to the All-Region 6A Region 2 team.
  • He’s also a leader in the classroom. Let’s not forget to mention TJ has earned District 12-6A Academic All-District recognition all four years and has been honored by the Texas High School Coaches Association and the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches for his academic excellence this year.

TJ has consistently practiced and demonstrated the district’s Journey of a Graduate competencies throughout his basketball career. The Bisons are getting a good one, and we look forward to watching TJ’s academic and athletic career continue at Lipscomb. 
Board Recognition -
Texas History Day State Qualifiers
Thirteen Belton ISD secondary students are headed to the Texas History Day competition in Austin next weekend after earning accolades at the regional competition last month.

The yearlong history fair program includes three levels of competition — regional, state and national — in which students showcase their rich knowledge and present their work to a panel of judges. It’s the perfect opportunity for students to practice the district’s Journey of a Graduate competencies.

Advancing students are:

  • Trijae Bilbo, Annie Brown, Lydia Ddoege, Isabelle Howson and Victoria Slazar-Canales from North Belton Middle School
  • Kay Baker, Emily Jeong and Hailey Woodward from Lake Belton Middle School
  • Celetia Carroll, Zoe Motz, Liam Bower, Joshua Ely, Aiden Orsag and Ezekiel Ramirez from Belton New Tech @Waskow
  • Isaiah Devasure, Kaden Lehrmann and Jisella Wightman from Belton High School

Belton ISD teachers who served as advisors are: Danielle Conner and Pam Rodriguez from Belton High School; Timothy Potts from Belton New Tech @Waskow; Elizabeth Howson from North Belton Middle School; and Prescott Hersey from Lake Belton Middle School.
Consent Agenda Highlights

  • Unaudited financial report for the month ending March 31, 2022
  • Budget amendment #6 for 2021-2022
  • Gifts, grants and bequests
  • Expenditures over $50,000 (Career & Technical Education technology devices; furniture and equipment from Palmer Hamilton)
  • School resource officer interlocal agreement between City of Belton and Belton ISD
  • Instructional materials allotment and TEKS certification for 2022-2023

To review Belton ISD board meeting agendas and full packet materials, click here.
Board Recognition -
SkillsUSA State/National Qualifiers
Eleven Belton High School students qualified for the state SkillsUSA Championship competition in April. These career competition events involve industries in directly evaluating student performance with the goal to keep training relevant to employers’ needs.

Two students took home state medals — Chad Robertson placed first in carpentry to advance to the National competition in June. Kyler Peters placed second in sheet metal.

Other students qualifying for state include: Cain Porter in Cabinet Making; William Crosswhite in Electrical Construction Wiring; Evan Hall in Carpentry; Hayden Mosley in Construction Tool ID; Rayhan Shah in Masonry; and Nathaniel Hernandez in Plumbing. Also advancing is the Crime Scenes Investigation team of Emily Linklater, Alexandria Finn and Garius Upshaw.

Sponsors are Michael Carrillo, Pete Giustino, Brian Bownds and Willie Ward.

In Belton ISD, we believe that the learning experiences of our students are enhanced through engagement with our community — and CTE programs like SkillsUSA are a great example of it.
Board Recognition -
Texas Public Service Teacher Association State Winners
A team of Belton High School students placed third in the Crime Scene Investigations event at the Texas Public Service Teacher Association’s state competition last month in New Braunfels. The group qualified for the state competition after earning first place in the district competition. What a great event to weave together all of our Journey of a Graduate competencies! The team includes Emily Linklater, Alex Finn, Emily Jacobson and Garius Upshaw. Their advisor is Willie Ward, the forensic science and law teacher at BHS.
Board Recognition -
Texas State German Contest State Qualifiers
Students from Belton High School and Lake Belton High School competed in Winterfest earlier this year. Winterfest is the regional German arts and academics contest. Eight students qualified for the Texas State German Contest, highlighting their critical thinking skills from the district’s Journey of a Graduate competencies.

Advancing students were: Chance Frary (fourth place — German Jeopardy); Lena Cook (first place — poetry recitation); Makayla Thomson and Chloe Messersmith (second place — research paper); Gavin Young (fourth place — vocal solo); Taegan Buchanan (second place — needlework); David Larsen (third place — poetry recitation; first place — sight reading 3; second place — instrument solo; and third place — German Jeopardy); and Julian King (third place — German Jeopardy). BHS placed third in academics while LBHS placed fourth in sweepstakes, culture and academics.

Sandra Dieckman is the German teacher at both schools.
Board Recognition -
Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)
Culinary Arts State Qualifiers
Three Lake Belton High School students qualified for the state Family, Career and Community Leaders of America state competition in culinary arts. Janessa Lobo placed second in the cupcake competition and earned a $2,000 scholarship to Escoffier Culinary School. Stephanie Martinez placed third in the cupcake competition earning a $1,500 scholarship to Escoffier Culinary School. Megan Kyle placed fifth in culinary arts. Congratulations to these students for their successes and for demonstrating many of Belton ISD’s Journey of a Graduate competencies. 

The culinary arts instructors at LBHS are Noemi Virostek and Elizabeth Amor.
Board Recognition -
2022 Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award Nomination
A North Belton Middle School educator who consistently demonstrates our World-Class Employees competencies of collaboration, learner and student centered was recently named the state of Texas’ nominee for the National History Day’s 2022 Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year contest. 

Elizabeth Howson is known for bringing history to life for her eighth-grade students by wearing costumes, letting them touch artifacts and incorporating flashlights and other props into her lessons. Her principal, Michelle Tish, says she is a gifted teacher who finds fun and innovative ways to deliver content to her students.
Board Recognition -
Pioneer Athletics 2021 Field of Excellence Award
Tidwell Field was recently named a 2021 Field of Excellence winner, an honor that marks the field as one of the top 100 in the nation. Behind every great field is a great grounds crew, and we recognize the expertise and dedication of our world-class employees on the athletics grounds crew. In addition to mowing, edging and trimming responsibilities, the crew uses proper agronomy practices to maintain the correct balance of nutrients through fertilization, irrigation and mowing practices to maintain a safe and playable natural turf surface. The athletics grounds crew includes Jeremy Cavanaugh, Marcos Chico, Duamel Figueroa, Kenneth Wilson and James Glenn.
Board Recognition -
Temple Rotary Educator of the Month
Daren Ramesar is being recognized by the Temple Rotary Club for his outstanding service to Belton ISD. Daren serves as a physical education teacher at Miller Heights Elementary. He is in his third year in education with Belton ISD.
Michelle Mikeska, assistant principal at Miller Heights said this about Mr. Ramesar: “Coach Ramesar is amazing at making connections with students and using those connections to motivate them to improve performance, not only physically, but also academically and behaviorally. He utilizes a wide variety of instructional strategies to meet students at their level and engage all in productive activity. Students have so much fun, they do not always realize how much they are learning.” 

Coach Ramesar demonstrates on a daily basis the competencies that make a World-Class Employee in Belton ISD. Congratulations!
Board Recognition -
Belton Rotary Educator of the Quarter
Katherine James is being recognized by the Belton Rotary Club for her outstanding service to Belton ISD. Katherine serves as a music teacher at Miller Heights Elementary. She is in her 24th year in education and her third year with Belton ISD.
Michelle Mikeska, assistant principal at Miller Heights said this about Mrs. James: “Mrs. James’ extensive knowledge and love of music are displayed daily through her effort and dedication. Each day she sees over 200 students in her class. Her lessons are detailed, intentional, differentiated and highly engaging. Many times, she integrates other disciplines, such as geography and world culture, into her lessons, which are subjects our students need more exposure in. Additionally, Mrs. James creates monthly, after-school musical programs for the parents and community. Oftentimes she even composes new music to match the themes of the events. Mrs. James has worked hard to improve parent involvement and attendance at these programs, which has increased from below 50% two years ago to over 75% this year.

Congratulations to this student-centered educator!