We, in Leander ISD, are extremely fortunate to be considered a “district of choice” for many of our parents and local business leaders, meaning they sought out a home within our boundaries because they want to be a part of our community. Reflecting on this closing semester, as 2016 quickly comes to an end, it is easy to see why so many are so proud of our schools. I have collected just a snapshot of the many achievements our students, teachers, administrators and district have tallied during the fall semester.
We announced just last week that, for the second-straight year, the College Board has placed LISD on its AP® District Honor Roll. We are one of only 425 school districts in the U.S. and Canada to earn this distinction, by increasing student access to Advanced Placement (AP) courses while maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams. In just a few short years, our list of “No Place for Hate” campuses has quickly expanded, culminating in 100-percent district participation this year and the districtwide “No Place for Hate” designation by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). At the beginning of the semester, we also opened our sixth comprehensive high school, Glenn High School. The Grizzlies have hit the ground running and set the pace for an outstanding inaugural year!
This semester solidified LISD’s reputation as one of the strongest extracurricular programs in the state. We started the year with the UIL Lone Star Cup presentation to Vandegrift High School (VHS), its second consecutive year to earn the award for accumulating the most points in UIL competition (academics, athletics and fine arts). With Vista Ridge (VRHS) and Cedar Park (CPHS) High Schools also finishing in the top-15, I am so proud to see what well-rounded students we have, that we can excel in any and every category. Marching band continues to be one of our most competitive programs, with VRHS qualifying for state competition, and Vandegrift finishing fourth and Leander High School (LHS) finishing seventh in the state. At the Bands of America Grand National Competition in Indianapolis last month, out of 100 bands from across the country, CPHS finished fifth and LHS earned sixth place, as well as Best in Class AAA, Outstanding Music Performance and Outstanding Visual Performance; both bands were awarded Outstanding General Effect. Not to be outdone, choir students at Canyon Ridge Middle School got to show off their singing skills after being invited to perform at the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Convention. Additionally, our Navy Junior ROTC Cadet and VRHS student Robin Ellis was one of only 17 students nationwide to be recognized with the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement.
Similarly, our athletics program remains a gold standard in Texas. Once again, CPHS, VRHS and VHS made the playoffs in football, with CPHS advancing to the regional quarterfinal and VHS to the area round. The CPHS volleyball team had an excellent season, fighting hard all the way to the state championship. Our girls cross country teams also had a great semester, with CPHS finishing fifteenth at state, Rouse High School finishing eighth and VHS finishing seventh.
Academically, 23 of our students were distinguished as National Merit Semifinalists, an achievement less than 1 percent of high school seniors in the country can claim. We also learned last week that 31 LISD seniors have earned recognition through the National Hispanic Recognition Program, a 10-percent increase over last year. And three of our students—Stephanie Cutler and Ashley Chase from VHS and Curtis Harrison from VRHS—achieved the near impossible by earning a perfect score on the ACT Exam!
Lest we forget our administrators, typically working behind the scenes to make this district run as smoothly as it does, we celebrated Marc Scott, an assistant principal at Running Brushy Middle School, for being named Outstanding Assistant Principal for Region 13. Brenda Edwards, athletic coordinator, health and PE teacher at Canyon Ridge Middle School, was recognized at the state level as a Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) Champion thanks to her dedication to helping children develop healthy habits. Our Business Services staff earned the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International and the Government Finance Officers Association, the highest form of recognition the department can earn. And our Child Nutrition Services (CNS) staff received an “Excellent” rating from the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA).
I wish I could share every remarkable achievement that came out of our district this semester, the byproduct of countless hours of work and tireless support from our incredible community of students, staff, parents, Board and community members. Just imagine the feats they will accomplish together by end of the school year, because truly, we are leading to a bright future.