Pratt Selected for Math Camp at Ole Miss
Math Camp

Jordan Pratt, a 5th grader at Houston Upper Elementary School, has been accepted by the Center for Mathematics and Science Education 2016 Math Camp for upcoming 5th and 6th graders. The camp will be held at The University of Mississippi in Oxford June 26-30, 2016. Students participating in the camp will engage in fun mathematical activities and science lessons. Participants are nominated by teachers and chosen by the Center of Mathematics and Science Education at Ole Miss. Jordan is the son of Qynn Harris of Woodland, Miss.

HOSA Student Organization Places 1st at State
HOSA Student Organization Places 1st at State

Winners: Extemporaneous Health Poster: 1st Place – Lydia EddingtonPublic Health: 1st Place – Caroline Blankenship, Cassidy Rae and Tayla Young; 4th Place – Maggie Flatt

Elected as State Officers: Sharia Moore – VP-Northern District Wendy Hillhouse – Chaplain

The 1st place winners and state officers will be attending and competing at HOSA International Competition in Nashville, Tenn., in June.

Also competing in Jackson were: Anna Claire Rucker, Tia Brownlee, Chrishawna Ford-Green, and Bryana Grice. Working as Courtesy Corp were Stacy Gillespie and Tatiana Forshee.

In order to compete at HOSA State, the students had to place in the top 5 at District Competition.

HHS Anchor Club Paints City Park

5 years ago

Written by: Crystel Ellison
Photographed by: Miriam Garner

While most students were headed home, ready for a weekend break, HHS Anchor Club students joined other community members on a recent Friday afternoon to spruce up city park.

Sponsored by the Pilot Club of Houston, the first step was to paint the pavilion.

“A couple of men started the painting process earlier during the day, and then the Anchors came after school and stayed until about 6 p.m. to help finish,” Miriam Garner, HHS Librarian and Anchor Club sponsor said.

When questioned why bother working on the park, Anchors responded with “Why not?” They agreed that if everyone did their part in taking care of Houston, then it was a better place.

“The more work the students put into the town the less likely they are to mess it up or look the other way when their peers try,” Garner said.

Plans are in place to continue work on the park.

HHS Seniors Offered College Scholarships for Sports and Band

5 years ago

Ezra Blissard – ICC Tennis


Carol Beth Bray – Itawamba Community College Dance

Madeline Burdine – Northeast Mississippi Community College – Softball

Lane Callahan – Itawamba Community College – Band

Clay Hillhouse – Mississippi Delta Community College – Baseball

Sarah Ray Griffin – Itawamba Community College – Dance

Hunter Moore – Mississippi Delta Community College – Baseball

Wes Parker – Mississippi Valley State – Baseball

Zack Poteete – Blue Mountain College – Baseball

Carter Scott – Itawamba Community College – Band

Michaela Upshaw – Itawamba Community College – Dance

HHS Students Launch Rockets and Put Physics and Trig Skills to Test

5 years ago

Written by: Crystel Ellison

Houston high school seniors and juniors put their physics and trig skills to work recently both inside and outside the classroom.

Ms. Anna Katherine Davis, HHS physics and algebra teacher, taught her physics students formulas to calculate the average speed and trig functions to calculate the altitude of a rocket. Davis then expanded on these lessons by having her students collect data and calculate these methods during a real live launch.

“The students had to build the rocket first and then had to find the mass for their calculations,” Davis explained. “When we launched them, they had to place the rocket on the launch pad and hook it up correctly. Then they had to count down and push the button on the launch controller.”

Students were divided into pairs and given different assignments to collect data.

“While the rocket was in the air, a student had to find the angle of the rocket using the angle finder. Another student had to time the rocket until it reached its maximum height. Another student had to time the entire flight of the rocket,” Davis said.

A total of five rockets were launched three different times using three different engines: B6-4, B6-2, and C6-5. All five rockets had a successful first launch. Liza Boyer, senior, and Alex Spring, junior, had successful launches all three times.

Once the data was collected, the students plugged the numbers into the formulas and calculated the speed and altitude.

(For more pictures of the rocket launch, visit Houston School District’s Facebook page.)

HLES & HHS Celebrate National Read Across America Day

5 years ago

Written By: Crystel Ellison

Houston Lower Elementary and Houston High School recently joined schools across the nation to celebrate National Read Across America Day.

The “Read Across America” event is celebrated annually March 2 in honor of American author, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

“We celebrate ‘Read Across America’ to promote positive reading habits, help foster a love for reading, inspire creativity and provide exposure to rhyme,” said Robert Winters, HLES principal.

Elementary students and teachers dressed up as Dr. Seuss, as well as ate green eggs and ham, to celebrate.

Miriam Garner, librarian, and Ann Beckett-Willis, English teacher, read to classrooms at Houston High School to promote reading in honor of this national event.

“[The students] listened to Oh the Places You Will Go, and then [told] me the places they wanted to go: college, careers, travel, family, etc. This led to a discussion of how they were going to to get to those places,” said Garner.

HLES Performs Disney and Rock-n-Roll Musicals

5 years ago

Written by: Crystel Ellison
Photos by: Daphne KIng

While older students enjoyed a live performance of Beauty and the Beast, students at Houston Lower Elementary School put on a show of their own Friday, Feb. 26, 2016.

Kindergarten and first graders put on a musical about Walt Disney. Second graders, dressed in poodle skirts and leather jackets, performed songs and spoke dialogue about the early Rock-n-Roll era and the Golden Decade.

“It was awesome! Students were so expressive in their dialogue and had fun with it,” said Christy Watkins, science special class teacher, who along with Emily Peel, librarian, and Ann Weaver, gym coach, present a program every other month during the school year.

The performances, while entertaining, were also used to develop speaking and listening skills, as well as incorporate a history lesson for students both on and off stage.

Homerooms participating in these productions were: K5:  Mcmullen and Brassfield; 1st:  Callahan and Bedolla; and 2nd: Smith and Sterkel.

First graders perform in front of family and peers.

Kindergarten students pose for the camera during their musical.

HLES Performs Nursery Rhymes and Possibilities

5 years ago

Written by: Crystel Ellison

Houston Lower Elementary School students lit up the stage as they shared nursery rhymes and sang about possibilities in their final productions of the year.

Christy Watkins, science special class teacher, along with Emily Peel, librarian, and Ann Weaver, gym coach, create the programs that draws parents to the school every other month.

They combine music, narration, acting, and talent to create programs that serve as a means to teach important lessons and build confidence in students.

“The students get a boost of self-confidence when they memorize parts and perform in front of their teachers, peers and parents. The programs are also used for academic purposes, such as to strengthen listening ability, build vocabulary and encourage creativity,” Watkins said.

Watkins went on to say kindergarten and first graders recited and acted out nursery rhymes, which caused them to create mental images. They also hoped to spark in students a love of nursery rhymes and all books.

The second grade program was entitled, “Possibilities.”

“The purpose of this program was for students to realize they have choices each and every day over their decisions and attitudes.  Even when things seem to be against us or out of our control, we have the power to react a certain way,” Watkins said.

Students also showcased talents and told what they wanted to be when they grew up.

“It was also an eye opener of the importance of having dreams and working toward those dreams, even as a child,” Watkins said.

HMS Builds Future Leaders Through Jr. Beta Club

5 years ago

Written by: Crystel Ellison

Excited middle school students, with tagged luggage in hand, said good-bye to their parents and entered the yellow school bus on a chilly Sunday morning. Their destination: Jr. Beta Club State Convention in Biloxi. Duration of trip: Three days/two nights. Their goal: Compete at state level.

Stacy Chapman, Jr. Beta Club sponsor (for 17 years) and sixth grade Language teacher at Houston Middle School, knows this convention goes way beyond a field trip to the coast.

“The purpose of the Jr. Beta club is to foster future leaders for our community, state, country, and the world,” Chapman said. “It assists students to graduate and further their education after high school.”

It is through competitions, community service projects, and academic achievement that Chapman hopes the HMS chapter of Jr. Beta will develop leaders of character and service.

“Students must complete 15 hours of community service and maintain an 85 or above for their final average for each subject,” Chapman said. “Competition is optional for sixth graders but mandatory for seventh and eighth graders at HMS.”

Students compete in academic, visual arts, crafts, and performing arts categories at the state level, from quiz bowls to digital photography to woodworking to jewelry design.

Destiny Fields, an eighth grader who competed in the T-shirt Design category, credited Jr. Beta Club for her good grades and giving her the confidence to succeed.

“It helps me keep up my grades. I also enjoy learning new things and meeting new people at the convention,” Fields said. “The community service projects inspired me to help others and be a role model.”

The Beta organization was founded in 1934 by Dr. John W. Harris. Named after the second letter in the Greek alphabet, The National Beta Club is the largest, non-profit educational youth organization in America.

Houston Community Theatre Performs Beauty and the Beast

5 years ago

Written by: Crystel Ellison
Photographed by: Patricia Ellison & Crystel Ellison

Middle and high school students enjoyed a production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, at Houston High School auditorium, directed by Janet Coker.

A cast of students and community members sang and acted in the romantic musical fantasy about a prince transformed into a beast, played by Bro. Daniel Heeringa, as punishment for his arrogance. He imprisons a young woman named Belle, played by Madeline Burdine, who he hopes will fall in love with him to break the magical spell.

Others featured in the production include, Gaston, played by Cameron Allen; Lumiene, played by Jim Stites; Cogsworth, played by Daniel Casados, LeFou and the Prince, both played by Lane Callahan; Mrs. Potts, played by LaTara White; Chip, played by Millie Heeringa; Wardrobe, played by Tristen Laufenberg; Babette, played by Liza Boyer, and Maurice, played by Kenny Adams.

Houston Community Theatre performs live Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, at 7 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door.

Houston Middle School Holds Academic Awards Ceremony

5 years ago

HMS 2016 Hall of Fame: Jasmine Rogers, Emily Pettit, Haley Makamson and Emma Brassfield

8th Grade Highest GPA: Emily Pettit

Woodman of the World Award: Bo Springer

8th Grade Subject Areas Highest Averages: Emily Pettit (Science, Math); Bo Springer (History); Haley Makamson (Language Arts, ICT2).

8th Grade Most Improved: Ashton DeHetre (History); Bailie Pennington (Math); Santanna Hughes (Language Arts); Montrell Fulton (Language Arts); Angel Zarate (Science); Kellen Pumphrey (Math); Not pictured: Kolton Birmingham (Language Arts).

8th Grade Citizenship: Jasmine Rogers, Destiney Fields, Bo Springer, Angel Zarate, Keshon Bynum, Makia McCoy (Not pictured: Kennedy Earrey and Kiley Smith

Highest GPA: Jaden Johns (7th Grade; Also highest subject area averages for 7th grade Language Arts, History, Math, Science, and ICT1); Sarah Brassfield (6th Grade)

6th Grade Subject Area Highest Averages: Jessica Torres (Language Arts); Sarah Brassfield (Math, History); Alexis Ellison (Science)

6th & 7th Grade Citizenship Award Winners: Front – Tayisha Walker, Diamond Hall, Zalexus Actkinson, Lauren Knapp, Marilyn Montoya, Aniston Criddle, and Paige Kilgore; Back – Jacob Gillespie, Jaxon Laster, Kirklyn Johnson, Greer Nabors, Hunter Coleman and Hunter Young (Not pictured: Juiliana Gonzalez, Alexandra Varela and Brittany Brownlee)

6th and 7th Grade Most Improved: Front – Maddyson Font (Math); Amy Murillo (Language Arts); Nollie Lee (Math); Allie Dobbs (Language Arts); Anna Claire Kirby (Language Arts); Back – Fred Gates (Language Arts, Math); Jacob McHann (Math); Zach Boren (Science); Not pictured: Marquaysia McGregory (Math); Tavia Moore (Science); Chenoa Poole (History); Mikaisha Cooper (Math); Qua Doss (History); Guadalupa Gonzalez (Language Arts); Daniel Montoya (ICT1); Gabriel Womack (Language Arts)

        Houston Middle School took overall 3rd place at the science fair held this spring. Pictured with Amy Alford, 6th grade science teacher, are Courtney Fant and Hayden Crump. (Not pictured: Jonathan Hollingsworth, Morgan Young, Allison Blansett, Keyea Morgan, Keyonna Holmes and Derrion Pulphus)         

Houston School District Begins First Annual “Senior Walk”

5 years ago

Written and Photographed by: Crystel Ellison

Graduating seniors at Houston High School took part in the first annual “Senior Walk” Friday, May 13.

Seniors, donned in caps and gowns, loaded three school buses, which took them to stops at Houston Lower, Upper and Middle schools.

Seniors walked through the halls lined with elementary and middle school students and staff showing their support through cheers, applause and signs.

“This was an opportunity to show our seniors how much we appreciate them for having the persistence to make it to this point in their lives,” Tony Cook, Houston School District superintendent, said. “It will also give our younger students something to look forward to as they work through their educational careers.”

The event was inspiring to all involved. From younger siblings cheering on their older brothers and sisters to teachers sentimental and proud as they hugged necks and high-fived seniors they taught in earlier grades, the walk brought high school graduation to the forefront at Houston.

“A high school diploma is so important to students. Once they receive their diploma, they have a chance to be successful in life. Without it, life will be a constant struggle,” Cook said.

(For more pictures and videos of the “Senior Walk,” check out Houston School District’s Facebook page.)

HUES GT Students Visit MSU

5 years ago

Written by: Crystel Ellison

It’s never too early for students to start thinking about their future after high school.

For students at Houston School District (HSD), the possibilities are limitless and as for college, convenient.

Houston School District sits just west of the heart of Chickasaw County and is about an hour away from two community colleges and four universities. Factor in all of the on-line degree programs as well as federal aid and scholarships, there are plenty of opportunities for HSD students to further their education after graduation.

Sharon Vance, who teaches Gifted and Talented (GT) at Houston Upper Elementary School, recently took her students on a field trip to Mississippi State University, building on the HSD drop-out prevention plan and career readiness standards.

“Many of my students had never been exposed to college life nor even stepped foot onto a college campus,” Vance said. “I wanted this to be a positive meaningful experience that they must be a part of one day.”

Vance stressed that experience actually starts now, from the grades they earn in the classroom to the choices and decisions they make on a daily basis that affects them for a lifetime.

The third, fourth, and fifth graders took a walking campus tour, which included seeing Davis Wade Stadium and the Hall of Fame. They ate lunch at Colvard Student Union and ended with a tour at Sanderson Recreation Center.

“My ultimate goal was to spark an interest and expose them to real-life experiences beyond their normal setting…to make them see the purpose and importance of education at such an early age,” Vance said.

Langley Smith, a third grader who attended the field trip, was one of Vance’s students who made that connection.

“I realized there is a lot of stuff you can do at college, and it made me realize I want to go,” Smith said. “My education is important, because I need to know the stuff I am learning now, so I can go to college and get a job where I want to work.”

Math + Students = $3K for St. Jude

5 years ago

Written and photographed by: Crystel Ellison

Mrs. Daphne King’s 2nd grade GT class at HLES recently sponsored a math-a-thon and raised $2,911.85 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“It is a great blessing to be able to be a volunteer coordinator for the St. Jude Math-a-thon.  Every family has been touched in some way or knows someone who has had cancer or other life-threatening or debilitating diseases,” King said.

King has served as a St. Jude volunteer coordinator for the past 12 years and under her leadership and with the participation of elementary students, has raised more than $30,000.

“St. Jude greatly depends on fundraisers such as the math-a-thon because families never have to pay anything for their child’s treatment,” King said.

At the kickoff assembly, students watch a video about St. Jude that includes stories about some of the patients and how donations help the hospital.

“I can tell that the video tugs at the student’s heart by their faces as they watch.  When they see that these students are the same age as them or have the same hobbies as they do, the students really want to help,” King said.

Participants are given a Funbook to complete with math skills set to Common Core standards. The more math problems completed, the more money collected.

“I continue to participate in this fundraiser each year, knowing that I can help and that I can involve the students to help these sick children,” King said.

Mississippi Roads and WTVA Visit Houston Solar Race Team

5 years ago

Written by: Crystel Ellison
Photographed by: Summer Carner, April Moore, and Crystel Ellison

The Houston Solar Race Team won first place in the Adventure Division of the Panasonic World Solar Challenge in Australia in October 2015. Now that the Sundancer is back home, news and film crews visit Houston School District.

Mississippi PublicBroadcasting (MPB) sent a crew to Houston, March 2-3, to film for Mississippi Roads, a show that highlights people, places, events, attractions, and cultures of the Magnolia State. WTVA also sent a crew to Houston the previous week.

“The Houston Solar Race Team has two components of interest for MPB: education and highlighting Mississippi achievements,” said Lawrence Uelmen, MBP producer. “I was impressed that a small town like Houston is able to compete on a world stage and win.”

Uelmen and his film crew interviewed students and filmed HHS junior and HCRT Co-Captain Hunter Moore as he drove the Sundancer, escorted by police, through the Houston area.

Keith Reese, Houston School of Science and Technology teacher and HSRT manager. was interviewed as well. “This program is for all students. It promotes high order thinking skills, problem-solving skills, critical thinking, public speaking and team work,” said Reese.

Retired Teachers Give Back

5 years ago

Written by: Crystel Ellison

Retired teachers return to the classroom at Houston School District (HSD) and make a big impact.

Whether subbing for the day, filling in for an extended period of time or tutoring special populations, every school at HSD benefits from these much needed services retired teachers provide.

Anita Ellison, who retired in May 2015, after 31 years at HSD working with elementary and secondary students, returned just seven months later to teach the state-tested course, Biology 1, at Houston High School (HHS).

“The Houston School District and its students and staff have been a major part of my life for many years and will always be important to me. When they needed me to return and teach for a semester, I could not refuse the opportunity to help,” Ellison said.

Sandra Kay Gibson, a retired teacher of 32 years who worked for both the Tupelo and Houston school districts, is serving as a tutor at HHS, helping students with English grammar, writing skills, comprehension and test-taking skills.

“I have always had a desire to help anyone in need, especially students. Most of the students I tutor just need one on one instruction to get back on track. They need encouragement and self-confidence to help them overcome their fear of failure,” Gibson said. “I strive to help them become confident and successful in learning.”

Cara Chism, retired social studies teacher of 29 years, volunteers both at Houston Upper Elementary and HHS. Her roles include tutor and proctor for state tests.

“Teaching is my passion and volunteering offers the opportunity to do what I really enjoy with the goal of helping every student I work with,” Chism said.

Chism came back to instill a love for reading and learning and encourage students to pursue their dreams.

“I missed the interaction with students…the smiles, hugs and ‘Aha!’ moments of my third graders…the ‘Light Bulb!’ expression of my juniors,” Chism said. “After all, these students are the future, and I really want them to enjoy the ride rather than fear change.”

Dorajean Sanderson, who taught elementary and home economics and retired after 26 years to take care of her parents, later returned to education, subbing on a regular basis for HSD.

“I was used to working and able to use my degree in a way that is helpful to others,” Sanderson said.

While retired teachers give much, they also get much in return.

“I enjoy being able to work with young people and keep my mental facilities going. I also enjoy the social aspect of being with teachers,” Sanderson said.

Gibson says her biggest blessing has been the progress and success of her students.

“It’s so rewarding to hear [the students] say, ‘Now I understand!’ How blessed I am to later see these students become happy and successful in the classroom,” Gibson said.

Ellison, who continued to help with the Houston Solar Race Team following her retirement, acknowledges the blessings she has received in returning to HSD.

“The biggest blessing I have received from coming back is the opportunity to use my God-given gifts that were developed over many years of experience to meet a need in my community. It was a blessing to be a part of the lives of another group of students, many of which whose parents I taught as well,” Ellison said.

These are just a few of the retired teachers who have returned to HSD to devote their time and talent to serving students once again. The staff at HSD appreciates the service of all who have come back to fill a void.

“I appreciate the caring they have for our students. They also bring back wisdom and experience,” John Ellison, HUES principal said. “They are able to give students special attention one on one and in small groups that we don’t have the resources on staff to do.”