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Jan. 18, 2018 - MLK Tribute Program "Creating Our Future"


Plano ISD's annual tribute celebrating the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was held the evening of January 18 at Williams High School. The event featured the theme "Creating Our Future" and showcased student talent through musical performances, student writing, artwork and awards presentations. See the playlist of event videos including the full-length event. Pre-program entertainment was provide by the Rice Middle School Jazz Band directed by Josh Reyna.

Rice Middle School Band

Rice Middle School Band pre-program entertainment.

The MLK Tribute celebrates the wealth of diversity we experience in Plano ISD and the Plano community. Within our district, 96 different languages are spoken. The richness that comes from students working side-by-side with others from backgrounds and cultures different from their own is incredibly valuable to their educational experience and to the future of our community. The MLK Tribute event celebrates our wonderfully diverse community and the role it plays in our student’s lives as they are “Creating Our Future.” 

The Williams High School Panther Battalion Color Guard under the direction of Command Sergeant Major - CMS (retired) Michael Franklin began the official program with the posting of colors. The Color guard commander was Cadet First Sergeant Gabriel Whitmire; American guard was Cadet Staff Sergeant Rey Oliva; American flag bearer was Cadet Staff Sergeant Kimberly Moreno; Texas flag bearer was Cadet Staff Sergeant Wesley Archambeault and the Texas guard was Cadet Sergeant Brandon Ching.

Williams HS Panther Battalion Cadet Staff Sergeant Wesley Archambeault salutes Texas flag

 Cadet Staff Sergeant Wesley Archambeault, Williams High School Panther Battalion Cadet 

Welcome was provided by Plano ISD Teachers of the Year Cody McGregor, Schell Elementary and Kevin Moore, Shepton High School. Chairman Emeritus Dr. Myrtle Hightower provided video remarks welcoming attendees. Dr. Hightower, who created this event 31 years ago, has contributed greatly to the bright future of our students and this community. 

Art Award Finalists Recognition and Photo Gallery

Board Secretary Nancy Humphrey introduced the MLK Art Contest finalists and awards were presented to students by Visual Arts Coordinator Laura Grundler. Finalists were honored at the event with gift cards and certificates courtesy of the art contest sponsor, the Plano ISD Education Foundation. The award winning artwork was displayed in a gallery setting, and this display included an interactive art project for attendees. Contest finalists are:

  • Jatvik Veerisetty, Wells Elementary, kindergarten to second grade finalist
  • Sandra Aquirre, Haggar Elementary, third to fifth grade finalist
  • Harrison Klotz, Murphy Middle School, sixth to eighth grade finalist and contest winner
  • Katie Lau, Jasper High School, ninth to twelfth grade finalist

 See Photo Gallery of winning artwork.

Art Contest finalists with certificates

Harrison Klotz, Murphy Middle School; Katie Lau, Jasper High School; Sandra Aquirre, Haggar Elementary and Jatvik Veerisetty, Wells Elementary with presenter Visual Arts Coordinator Laura Grundler.


Interactive Art Project at MLK Tribute

Pre-event interactive art project with Memorial Elementary Art Teacher Jill Powell.


Student Writing Contest Winners and Videos

Throughout the event, student writing contest winners read their work via video and were honored with certificates at the event. Winners and links to their video presentations:

  • Reian Abualjazer, Hedgcoxe Elementary

Reian Abualjazer video link

  • Myia Garcia, Mitchell Elementary

Myia Garcia, Mitchell Elementary

  • Evelina Lindsjoe, Haun Elementary

Evelina Lindsjoe, Haun Elementary

  • Faeez Masha, Stinson Elementary

Faeez Masha, Stinson Elementary

  • Sydney Naser, Beverly Elementary

Sydney Naser, Beverly Elementary

  • Isabella Wang, Skaggs Elementary

Isabella Wang, Skaggs Elementary

  • Franyelis Zabala, Daffron Elementary

Franyelis Zabala, Daffron Elementary


Music and Dance Performances

Attendees were treated to music and dance entertainment. The Plano East Senior High School Men's Chorus, directed by Dana Goodnuff and accompanied on African drum by Michael A. Hernandez Plano Senior High School band teacher, performed two selections: Betelehemu arranged by Wendall Whalum and the program finale, Hakuna Mungu arranged by William McKee. The Plano Children's Chorale, directed by Virginia Asiatico, Daffron Elementary and accompanied by Tobit Hall from Haun Elementary, performed Morokeni, arranged by Bernard Kruger. The Children's Chorale is a fifth-grade ensemble selected by audition and representative of the entire district. A dance by Sindhu Kavuru of the Nrutyashala School of Indian Dance was performed. And Samba Cat #1 was performed by the Plano Senior High School Samba Ensemble directed by Michael A. Hernandez. 

Plano Children's Chorale

Plano Children's Chorale, directed by Virginia Asiatico, Daffron Elementary with assistance from Karen Patton, co-director Christie Elementary and Robyn Moore, administrative assistant Hughston Elementary.

PESH Men's Chorus and Indian dancer

 (Left) The Plano East Senior High School Men's Chorus, directed by Dana Goodnuff and (right) Sindhu Kavuru of the Nrutyashala School of Indian Dance.

Featured Speaker

Dottie Gandy, co-founder of the National Association of Women Business Owners gave a rousing address as the featured speaker. Ms. Gandy is an avid supporter of women in business and co-founder of the National Association of Women Business Owners. In June 2014, she was inducted into the National Association of Women Business Owners Hall of Fame.  In 2016, the association was awarded the Susan Hager Lifetime Achievement Award. She has had successful careers as a corporate executive, business owner, consultant, keynote speaker and author. Ms. Gandy was present at the "I Have a Dream" speech by Dr. King in Washington, D.C. and had inspiring words for the Plano community about their dreams and "Creating Our Future."

Dr. Myrtle Hightower and Dotty Gandy

Dottie Gandy (right) pictured with MLK Tribute Chairman Emeritus Dr. Myrtle Hightower.

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. Misty Tippen, chairman of the 2017-18 Plano ISD Diversity Advisory Committee and Autry Daniel, assistant director employee recruitment and retention, welcomed and presented certificates to all award nominees. They then presented the diversity leadership awards with help via video from Head Start students

Diversity Leadership Award Winners with trophies

Individual Diversity Leadership Award - Heba Abdelghani

In her ESL classroom, Mrs. Abdelghani creates a safe environment for her students as they learn to speak English at Robinson Middle School. Students gain a sense of belonging as she creates a family environment in the classroom. She teaches her students problem-solving skills so that they can advocate for themselves both inside and outside of the classroom. Through her communication with ESL parents and families that are new to the country, they more quickly, feel they are a part of the Robinson community and are less reserved about getting involved at their child’s school. This has lead to an increase in volunteerism on the campus and more parents being a part of the PTA. The implementation of the Robinson ESL Parent Academy, as well as Mrs. Abdelghani's day-to-day outreach to parents, can be greatly contributed to these successes.

Group Diversity Leadership Award - McCall Elementary PTA

McCall Elementary is represented by several different cultures with 35 to 40 different languages spoken on campus. They take pride in and cherish their rich multicultural heritage. The McCall PTA has stepped up to take the lead in fostering student educational opportunities in cultural awareness and appreciation through community outreach and family events such as multicultural night. At this event, students and their families bring food, music, clothing and artwork to celebrate and educate others on their cultural heritage. This event is designed to help build a meaningful understanding of how we are all connected.

Diversity Leadership Service Award - Plano’s Closet and the Plano Senior High PTSA Outreach Committee

This joint effort by Plano Senior High School’s PTSA Outreach Committee spearheaded by Cynthia Flores-Harris and Plano's Closet, is a student organization sponsored by English teacher Jacqueline Mizeur. Ms. Mizeur has worked tirelessly to help provide basic needs to students who find themselves living in challenging circumstances. Jacqueline has inspired students for the last few years to form and participate in this program. By educating the school community, she has also created an environment where students feel safe reaching out for help. They know they can contact any adult on campus if they have food or clothing needs. Ms. Flores-Harris and the PTSA Outreach Committee contact businesses for donations of goods and gift cards, and they reach out to the PTSA community for donations. They also assemble everything, so that students can easily pick up what they need to take home. 

Diversity Leadership Community Impact Award - City of Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere

Mayor LaRosiliere is passionate about fostering a sense of community. He views his role as Mayor is to inspire citizens, especially youth, to believe they live in the best city in the nation and to encourage them to give back to their community through service. This is reflected through the two community initiatives he helped launch. The Nourishing Hope Program affirms to our food insecure elementary students and their families that they will be provided access to nutritious food when needed throughout the year, and the Plano Mayor’s Summer Internship Program has given hundreds of senior high students real-world workplace experience through an eight week paid internship. 

Honorable Mention - Stephanie Mullins. Armstrong Middle School

As the department head for the ESL Department at Armstrong Middle School, Stephanie Mullins is strongly skilled at developing an inclusive environment within the school so that all English learners are able to take advantage of the wide range of opportunities that exist on Armstrong’s campus.

Diversity Leadership Award Nominees

  • Kaki Bennett, Haggard Middle School
  • Kathleen Good, Murphy Middle School
  • Hedgcoxe PTA, Hedgcoxe Elementary School
  • Hickey PTA & Multicultural Committee, Hickey Elementary School
  • Terri Richards, Schimelpfenig Middle School
  • Maria Roos, Armstrong Middle School
  • Tina Vaguine, Davis Elementary School
  • Brandon Watts, Huffman Elementary School