"30 Years Strong" Plano ISD Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 19, 2017
Student Artwork and Performances Strengthen Plano ISD MLK Tribute
Plano ISD's annual tribute celebrating the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was held the evening of January 19 at Williams High School. The event featured the theme "30 Years Strong" and showcased student talent through musical performances, student writing, artwork and awards presentations.
Pre-program entertainment was provided by the Haggard Middle School Wind Ensemble directed by David Fortenberry. Original student art work was on showcased in an "art walk" and art teachers were on hand to help families take part in an interactive weaving activity.
The Williams High School Panther Battalion Color Guard, under the direction of Sergeant Major - CMS (Retired) Michael Franklin, posted colors. The student cadets:
Commander: Cadet First Sergeant Alvern Dyer;
American Guard: Cadet Sergeant Wesley Archambeault
American Flag Bearer: Cadet Staff Sergeant Gabriel Whitmire
Texas Flag Bearer: Cadet Master Sergeant Emily Castrejon
Texas Guard: Cadet Staff Sergeant Pedro Escalante
The welcoming remarks were given by Teachers of the Year Erika Manning and Bryan Yee. Dr. Myrtle Hightower, Chairman Emeritus of the Plano ISD MLK Event welcomed guests with her video remarks.
"With hard work, vison and incredible dedication Dr. Hightower and her committee provide this annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr as a reminder and celebration of the pride we have in the diversity of our school community."
- Dr. Brian Binggeli, Superintendent of Schools
"Plano ISD has had the opportunity to enjoy 30 years of wonderful speakers, thoughtful student writings, amazing artwork, magnificent musical performances and much more at this annual event that was born from the vision and passion of Dr. Myrtle Hightower."
- Erika Manning, Plano ISD Elementary Teacher of the Year
"As many of you may know, this wonderful event came to life as a result of the efforts of Dr. Myrtle Hightower when she was working as a counselor here at Williams High School. Her dedication to this district and to our community has produced this truly inspiring event we all look forward to each year."
- Bryan Yee, Plano ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year
Student Writing Winners
MLK Essay Contest winners read their award winning original letters to Dr. King throughout the MLK Tribute event.
- Grant Henricksen, Hickey Elementary
- Paul Mansur, Brinker Elementary
- Laurie Spitz, Hightower Elementary
- Matthew Manning, Weatherford Elementary
- Zoey Forsvall, Hughston Elementary
- Leydi Arreola, Sigler Elementary School
- Dhanya Casavaraju, Brinker Elementary School
- Gavin Tran, Brinker Elementary
Art Contest Awards
Recognition of the first place art award winners in each of four categories was provided by Board President Nancy Humphrey. The contest was sponsored by the Plano ISD Education Foundation.
Diversity Leadership Awards
These awards are coordinated annually by the Plano ISD Diversity Advisory Committee to recognize students, staff and community members who have shown leadership and commitment in fostering and promoting harmony, respect, acceptance and understanding among the diverse cultures within our community. Nominees and winners of Plano ISD Diversity Leadership Awards were announced by Zan Breithmoore, Plano ISD diversity advisory committee chairman and Autry Daniel, Plano ISD assistant director, employee recruitment and retention with help from Head Start students via video.
Dr. Victor Nixon, Plano West Senior High School Assistant Principal Community Impact Award Winner
Dr. Nixon has developed and recruited teachers for a Campus Diversity Committee where teachers from diverse backgrounds have a forum to discuss how diversity impacts Plano West Senior High School. He is a member of the Commitment 2 Equity outreach team Plano Community Forum where deserving minority students are recognized and awarded scholarships. Now serving as chairman, he founded the Plano Area Alliance of Black School Educators which is a community organization that promotes diversity and brings to light the needs of diverse student populations in Plano. Dr. Victor Nixon, Plano West Senior High School assistant principal, “…embodies the spirit and determination of one who seeks results and improves the lives of all children and especially those of the minority community through his efforts. He has been, and will continue to be, a champion for the cause of equal opportunities for a diverse community of students,” said Dr. Kevin Lyons, Plano West Senior High School assistant principal.
Theresa Biggs, Plano ISD Advanced Academics Community Impact Award Winner
Ms. Biggs partners with educational leaders at both campus and district levels to build unity to expand instructional methods and mindsets. She has a fundamental belief in increasing a broader range of educational opportunities for under-represented students. Her efforts stem from her core belief that all advanced academic programs should reflect the diverse community Plano ISD serves. She has taken the helm of district efforts to increase equitable representation of all groups in gifted programs and college preparatory classes. In her own words, “Districts must understand that the work (closing the achievement gap for students of color and/or low socioeconomic status) is challenging, but not doing the work is unethical.” Theresa Biggs, Plano ISD advanced academics coordinator, is never afraid to speak on behalf of students and families whose voices have not always been heard and her ability to relate to others and forge connections between people promotes a deeper sense of community.
Lamplifters, Wilson Middle School Group Diversity Leadership Award
Colleen Clarke, Kiera Fyfe, Hannah Hodnett, Emily Kilgard, Ellie Menton, Isabelle Smith and Josephine Thompson
This group’s vision is to provide a cultural exchange organization for middle school and elementary students and their families who want to build relationships in their community. Their mission is to help Plano ISD’s international students enhance their understanding of American culture and academics while honoring their cultural values.
These girls are all servant leaders. They established this group because they saw a need, love their community and want our international families to feel welcome and at home in Plano. In their first year of service, this group of girls used their summer to run kids camps for the international families that live in apartments in their community. Weekly, they planned engaging activities that would help introduce these children to some American cultures. Some of the families had been here only a couple of months and they were able to help them navigate how to enroll kids in Plano ISD and what the City of Plano had to offer.
Lamplifters plan to extend their program to meet the needs of the families during the school year as well by giving academic support after school. Lamplifters’ big goal is to continue mentoring kids and extend the program to high school as they are headed there next year.
Glenda Rouse, Armstrong Middle School Special Education Individual Diversity Leadership Award
She has established a standard of service that is inclusive and celebrates the diversity of our community. As part of our leadership team, she assists in guiding the campus-wide decision making process. Her input is a valuable part of the team, as she is quick to remind everyone how decisions may impact those who aren't always thought of due to their special needs. She is dedicated to ensuring that students with special needs work toward their full potential and that they are able to experience school as typically as possible. When working with parents, she is always committed to building a strong partnership and providing the resources needed for parents to fully participate in the process.
Glenda Rouse, special education department head at Armstrong Middle School, respects the diverse knowledge and skills of culturally distinct staff members which strengthens the campus' productivity and responsiveness to changing conditions. In parent partnerships, she strives to ensure that they have an understanding of the educational process by providing translators while recognizing cultural background and values.
Mission Possible Kids, Harrington Elementary School Diversity Leadership Service Award
Mission Possible Kids is an extracurricular organization that empowers students to become, “agents of change in their own lives and the lives of others,” and Harrington Elementary currently has the largest chapter in the U.S.
Each month, a “target” is selected and the agents complete the assigned mission that focuses on changing the world one person at a time. “Missions completed,” include: i.e. providing “Birthdays in a Box” to children who are living in shelters and helping homebound senior citizens with food staples providing pillows to Syrian children who were living in refugee camps. Mission Possible Kids look to embrace people of all backgrounds, cultures, races and creeds through meeting their needs in the form of "missions." The agents are working on developing a sense of empathy and compassion for the people they are surrounded by and the world that they live in.
The following group and individuals were also nominated for the award and recognized at the event.
- Lisa Guerra, Hickey Elementary School PTA
- Farah Kuzbari and Kelly Wasemiller, Stinson Elementary School PTA
- Soumeya Lehachi, teacher at Armstrong Middle School
- Kim Peake, counselor at Frankford Middle School
Musical and Dance Selections
Music for Patriotic Ceremonies compiled and arranged by Jari Villanueva; performed by the Texas Air National Guard Band of the Southwest Brass Quintet:
Master Sergeant Michael Simoneaux, Master Sergeant Shonda Mashburn, Technical Sergeant. Marcelo Perez, Technical Sergeant Joshua Keen, Technical Sergeant Jorge Cruz, Staff Sergeant Nicholas Jones and Staff Sergeant Joshua Ritchie.
Star Spangled Banner
Written by Francis Scott Key and John Stafford Smith; performed by the Texas Air National Guard Band of the Southwest Brass Quintet.
The Storm Is Passing Over
Written by Charles Albert Tindley; performed by the Plano Children’s Chorale. The Plano Children’s Chorale is a fifth-grade ensemble selected by audition and representative of the entire district. Tonight’s performance is directed by Karen Patton, Christie Elementary and Virginia Asiatico, Daffron Elementary with assistance from Administrative Assistant Robyn Heyde, Hughston Elementary. Tonight’s performance is accompanied by Corey Fisher, Haggar Elementary.
I Have a Dream
Music arranged by Mitchell S. Bender (ASCAP); performed by the McMillen Choir directed by Nicolas Blaine and the Plano West Orchestra directed by Ryan Ross with theatre students from Carpenter and Otto Middle Schools and Williams High School.
Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue
Music by artist Toby Keith; dance performed by the McMillen High School drill team.
Washington Past March
Music written by John Philip Sousa; arranged by Empire Brass Quintet; and performed by the Texas Air National Guard Band with cheerleaders and drill team members representing:
- Bowman Middle School
- Clark High School
- Jasper High School
- McMillen High School
- Murphy Middle School
- Plano East Senior High School
- Plano Senior High School
- Plano West Senior High School
- Renner Middle School
- Rice Middle School
- Schimelpfenig Middle School
- Shepton High School
- Vines High School
- Williams High School
- Wilson Middle School
- Greg Arp
- Autry Daniel
- Margaret Dyer
- Bill Gilkison
- Laura Grundler
- Gwendolyn Guthrie
- Jeremy Kondrat
- Kathy Kuddes
- Jonathan Miller
- Lesley Range-Stanton
- Karla Oliver
- Brittnea Ussery