Asked to name the district’s top three achievements for the 2016-2017 school year, Mission Consolidated Independent School District’s superintendent named the district’s partnership with three cities to provide free online books to thousands of children in those communities as the district’s number one achievment.
Superintendent Ricardo Lopez was talking about the district’s decision to spend more than a half-million dollars over the next five years to provide about 17,000 books to area children free online. To defray the district’s cost it has partnered with the cities of Mission, Palmhurst and Alton, each of which are contributing annually to the program.
The books, offered through the company, myOn, which also offers magazines, current events and other types of literature targeted for children through eighth grade, was adopted in an attempt to reduce the Valley’s 50 percent English illiteracy rate.
“By far that has to be my number one and especially with the partnerships,” Lopez said of the district’s achievements this year during a May 12 interview in his office.
Lopez said the program will provide log in information to children in the community even before they are enrolled in school.
“So it says a lot about our community: they care about kids,” Lopez said. “And it says a lot about our district that we’re not just focused on our own, it’s really about everyone.”
Lopez cited the high number of college credit hours students received this year taking classes offering dual high school and college credits as the district’s second most significant achievement.
This year’s seniors from Mission Collegiate High School, Mission High School, and Veterans Memorial High School have earned a total of 12,322 Dual Enrollment college credit hours during their high school careers. Based upon figures from the College Board, the Mission CISD classes of 2017 will have saved $3,856,786 in college tuition costs.
A total of 69 Mission CISD graduates have also received an associate’s degree two weeks before they receive their high school diplomas.
Lopez cited the significant numbers of Mission Collegiate High School students graduating with associate’s degrees as that campus’ most significant achievement this past year, especially in light of the fact many of the school’s students are children of migrant farm workers for whom English is a second language.
Lopez named the success of the district’s robotics teams as the district’s third greatest achievement and probably the top achievement for Mission High School.
In April a team comprised of Mission High School and Alton Junior High School students traveled to Houston and placed within the top 50 from among 400 teams from around the world.
“And there’s teams from Turkey and China that we compete against that have been doing this for years,” Lopez said of the robotics program that only began competing outside the district four years ago. “Our robotics teams ranked in the top world categories. Not just in the state, not in the nation but the world. So to be a top fifty team in the world is huge.”
Lopez cited another example of district robotics success in the number of junior high school teams from Region One to place in state UIL competitions this year.
“There were 12 opportunities for teams from across the region to compete at the state level and 10 of those 12 spaces went to Mission CISD schools,” he said. “We sent all our teams that competed to state so it’s really catching fire.”
Though Lopez said Veterans Memorial High School also fielded excellent robotics teams, he said VMHS’ football program was perhaps the school’s greatest achievement this year.
The school fielded the only football team in the district to advance into the third round of the playoffs. A lot of their success was attributed to their senior quarterback who was named 31-5A’s Offensive Most Valuable Player.
“They went farther than they ever have in school history,” Lopez said. “And they had some extraordinary achievements from their seniors and their quarterback, Diego Hernandez. We’re proud of him.”
As for what to expect next year Lopez said he and the board of trustees are looking forward to the recommendations of a consultant the district hired this year to enhance the its curriculum and programs. That report is not due until next month, he said.
“Of course there’s going to be tweaks to our curriculum to integrate writing across the curriculum to ensure that we’re teaching to the high AP (advanced placement) standards and ensure that students are mastering SAT and ACT tests. That’s going to remain our focus. And so we’ll tweak towards that,” Lopez said. “We have some of the finest teachers I’ve ever been around. And they have heart and passion and they’re invested in our children and in our community. So we want to make sure that they get the right training.”
And Lopez cited more things to look forward to next year.
“In August we hope to have the grand opening of our revamped [Tom Landry] stadium. In January we plan to have a ribbon cutting of the new fine arts, ag, cafeteria and classroom project at Mission High. Those are the two major construction projects coming. In the future you’re going to see renovation projects for the [northside] pool; and the installation of LED lights at the [MHS and VMHS} tennis courts to be more energy efficient.”