December 16, 2016
Southern Hills Teachers Celebrate Certification
Yes, it's Christmas time, but academics is still the priority across the district. The Southern Hills staff, pictured here, showed up at the Dec. 12 board meeting this week to celebrate a first in Texas: They are the first (and only) elementary school to earn their Level 2 Certification in the Marzano High Reliability Schools series. The certification affirms that every single teacher in the school is delivering high quality instruction. "Reliability - that's the point," said Superintendent Mike Kuhrt. "What this means for kids is beyond words," said Principal Naomi Alejandro. Nine other WFISD campuses are at various stages in the certification process.
Christmas Cookies

Christmas events take a lot of planning and hard work, as these two Rider High School culinary students can attest. This week, Lauren Hoist of Culinary 1 (left) and Lily Tran of Culinary 2 (right) helped decorate 500 Christmas cookies under the direction of Rider culinary teacher Deliese Nusser. The cookies were destined for holiday celebrations for the faculty of Barwise and McNiel Middle Schools.


What would Christmas be without a door-decorating contest? Hirschi High School chemistry teacher Jaclyn Burkett capitalized on her favorite subject to create her "Oh Chemistree" door that won first place. Student helpers who helped swathe the door in holiday cheer joined her in this photo. From left: Burkett, junior Ana Costilla and sophomore Shakayla Brown.

Cunningham Student Council Helps With Angel Tree Project

Christmas giving gets personal at Cunningham Elementary, thanks to the school's Angel Tree project and Student Council, pictured here. Assistant Principal Gena Ayers explained: The Student Council orchestrated gift-giving to two anonymous families picked from the Cunningham enrollment, known only to the counselors. Student Council members and staff shopped for gifts that will be delivered before Christmas. They also collected 40 gifts - everything from clothing to pillows and blankets - that will also be given away to the needy families.
McNiel Athletes Donate to Hospice of Wichita Falls

Community service at Christmastime has always been important to the McNiel Middle School female athletes. This year, the boys joined in to help, said Jeff Moore, boys athletic director. Together, they raised funds for Hospice of Wichita Falls. The Mustangs and Lady Mustangs raised more than $1,700. The McNiel athletes pictured here shared their fund raising efforts Dec. 16 on Radio Day on 92.9 NIN. From left: Boys Athletic Director Jeff Moore, Mariah Gilbert, Jackson Redding, and Bella Kelleher.
Fain Gingerbread House Decorating

Parents joined their children Wednesday at Fain Elementary to decorate gingerbread houses. Here, Anthony Goolsby, 9, and his mother, Sarah Goolsby, put the finishing touches on their gingerbread house. 

Haynes Christmas Circuit Boards

At Haynes Elementary, students made Christmas circuit boards using Christmas lights.

Who says you have to buy ornaments from a store? Mrs. Renae Dickens' showed her 4th and 5th grade science students how to make crystallized ornaments from boiling water, borax and pipe cleaners. How's that for a creative science experiment?
Altman Legal Group Selects Christmas Card Winner

For 25 years, the Altman Legal Group in Wichita Falls has linked a fun tradition to its office Christmas card. The business created an art contest, soliciting drawings from students of every grade at Southern Hills Elementary. The company uses the winning design on its annual Christmas card that it mails to 4,000 clients and former clients. "Every year, we love doing this," said Brad Altman (third from left). "Each year it gets tougher and tougher. Every one of them was fantastic." This year's winner was fifth-grader Colten Jackson's drawing of a snowman. He received $50 and a framed copy of his winning entry. Other finalists and grade winners received varying amounts of prize money; the school received $100.
Burgess Kindergarten Students Create Holiday Art

A kindergarten classroom like Dana Arthur's at Burgess Elementary incorporates Christmas into many projects around the holidays. Here, students color wreathes cut from paper plates. This week they also used comparing/contrasting skills to analyze two favorite books: The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett and The Gingerbread Boy, by Paul Galdone. Ms. Arthur's commitment to Burgess runs deep; this is her 22nd year at Burgess. Pictured from left: Dana Arthur and kindergarteners Cayla Barnes, Kris Thompson, and Denise Witherspoon.

The Sounds of the Season Serenade the Ed Center

The most serenaded staff members in Wichita Falls ISD during the holiday season may well be those serving at the Education Center. During December, Christmas carolers from nine schools visited the Ed Center and gathered around the Christmas tree outside Superintendent Mike Kuhrt's office to perform Christmas favorites. This year, staff members enjoyed performances from Wichita Falls High School, Scotland Park, Haynes, Franklin, Crockett, Milam, Burgess, West and Fain. Here, Franklin's large choir is decked out in Santa hats for its lively Christmas performance, led by music teacher Abi Parker.
WFHS FCA Delivers Christmas Cards to Horizon Bay

Twenty Wichita Falls High School students with Fellowship of Christian Athletes made and delivered Christmas cards to residents of Horizon Bay Retirement, HealthSouth, and Courtyard Gardens. Here, WFHS students Caroline Cooper (top) and Ashton Guess got creative with markers, crayons, cotton balls and cut-outs. "The students all felt it was very important to make the cards for people in nursing homes because many do not have any family or friends who will visit them during the holidays," said Gwen Hilliard, FCA sponsor and WFHS child development teacher. 

Music Fills the Halls of Lamar

Retired teacher Tom Brox brought his trumpet to Lamar Elementary and filled its hallways with Christmas music. He is a familiar face around Lamar; he also serenaded students on the first day of school.
JLWF Throws Christmas Party for Zundy Students

The Junior League of Wichita Falls treated 100 needy Zundy Elementary students to special Christmas gifts Dec. 17. As the school's PIE Partner, Junior League members selected students' names off a special Angel Tree and purchased gifts especially for them. The gifts were presented at a party with cookies, juice, a visit from Santa and the Nighthawks, a professional football team in the Indoor Football League.

Ventriloquist Entertainment

Nancy Burks Worcester, a popular ventriloquist, educated and entertained students at several WFISD schools during the week before Christmas. She has performed in nearly every state as well as Mexico and Newfoundland. At Fain Elementary, she used her puppets -- like Waco, above -- to teach about people skills, like gracious winning and losing, and personal skills, like drinking lots of water and going to sleep when you're told. 
Rider PALS Give Back

Rider High School PALS, under the direction of PALS sponsor Marina King, celebrated the Christmas spirit by raising $620 for Hospice of Wichita Falls. This was the first time Rider students had ever adopted Hospice as a fund-raising project, even though the facility sits practically in the high school's backyard. Pictured from left: Rider Assistant Principal TiAda Radtke, PAL Grayson Ellett, Hospice representative Tricia Golding, and PAL Kenedy Darland.

Academy Donates Bikes to Booker T. Washington

On Thursday Dec. 15, Academy Sports and Outdoors had this stash of 30 bikes ready to load up for a special Christmas give-away Friday at Booker T. Washington Elementary School. Thirty students in grades 1 and 2 will win the 20-inch bikes in a raffle in the school cafeteria.
Ed Center Special Needs Raffle

Every year, the Education Center hosts a giant raffle to raise money for the District's Special Needs department and its social workers. The Special Needs Gift Basket Event draws dozens of fancy gift baskets and lucrative gifts, such as this year's big-screen TV, two tickets and parking pass to a Cowboys' game, and a Nighthawks flight deck season pass valued at more than $800. The 65 gift baskets were all donated by district departments or vendors.

'Casualties of War' Donates to Farris Families

Head Start programs like the one at Farris Early Childhood Center are federally funded, so the rules say they can't fund-raise. But Head Start teacher Rachel Faris asked her high school friend, Zack Brown (far right), founder of the non-profit Casualties of War in Gainesville, Texas, if his non-profit would like to donate toys, clothing and food to two needy Farris families. He drove more than an hour to Wichita Falls Thursday to drop off more than 100 pounds of food and several bins of clothes, stuffed animals, and toys. Here, he records the joyful faces of the children as they unwrap his gifts.
Christmas Singing at Rosewood

Rosewood Head Start invited Adam Weatherly, music minister of Faith Baptist Church in Iowa Park, to lead Christmas singing Thursday with the 3- and 4-year-olds. This was his second visit to the Head Start campus. He led the children in singing their favorite Christmas carols and two rounds of Happy Birthday (one in English, one in Spanish) for all the children with December birthdays. 

Scotland Park Students Collect Mondey for Samaritan's Purse

Don't count kindergarteners out when it comes to making a difference in the world. Kristi Whyrick's Scotland Park kindergarten class collected money and gifts to fill four shoeboxes for the Operation Christmas Child project of Samaritan's Purse. It's a favorite outreach of Ms. Whyrick's because of its emphasis on clean water projects throughout the world. "I want my kids to know that, no matter how poor they are, they have so much to be thankful for," said Ms. Whyrick. "There are so many children in this world who can't even get a drink of clean water."
Scotland Park Students Perform Annual Christmas Program
Christmas at school wouldn't be the same without the annual Christmas program. At Scotland Park, music teacher Melissa Zamzow spent two months rehearsing with the school's 50 third-graders for a program titled Elfis and the Sleighriders. The program featured "Santa," third-grader Ethan McFarland, pictured here during the last rehearsal before the final performance for parents and friends Dec. 13. The group took its show "on the road" during the school day Dec. 6.
District in Pictures is a weekly publication developed by the WFISD Community Relations department. If you have events, recognitions or classroom activities taking place on your campus that you would like us to cover, please let us know by emailing We would love to include you in our weekly district news. (Please know that we will do our best to cover every story idea submitted but it may not be possible to include everything every week due to time constraints.)

We look forward to seeing our "District in Pictures!"

Wichita Falls Independent School District
Community Relations Department