CFISD recognizes numerous volunteers with VIPS Appreciation Event

Though many of the thousands of volunteers who help serve CFISD aren’t motivated by recognition, the district made sure to let all the extra supporters know how important they are.

CFISD does this annually with its Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) Appreciation Event, put on by the VIPS Executive Board. The 2018 ceremony was held May 2 at the Berry Center, with the event and reception underwritten by PBK and supported by many other sponsors.

0509 VIPS Appreciation 1CFISD Board members join Ault Elementary School students for a special cheer during the VIPS Appreciation Event at the Berry Center on May 2. 

An addition to collectively recognizing all district volunteers, the ceremony highlighted 11 individuals and supportive businesses and faith-based organizations with awards that included outstanding volunteer and mentor at elementary and secondary levels, Bus Buddies Award and community engagement awards for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

“All the volunteers, every single day throughout the school year, are coming in and serving but we don’t know (and) we’re not able to truly recognize them until this event,” said Kelli Ray, a VIPS Executive Board member leading community outreach.

Volunteers provide support at district, campus and organizational levels by serving as business partners, Adopt-a-School partners and mentors. They even include Board of Trustees members, who give up many hours of their personal time to help steer the third-largest school district in Texas and 22nd-biggest in the nation.

“You get to see the kids on an everyday basis (and) what they’re doing,” said Krista Guerrero, who serves as Post Elementary School’s PTO president. “When they see you, it puts a smile on their face and there’s nothing better.”

Added Klaudia Weston, a volunteer with the Langham Creek High School band: “You get to know all the kids, get to know all the parents and actually support the staff and administration.”

0509 VIPS Appreciation 4Heath Rushing, right, Memorial Hermann Cypress CEO, accepts a Community Engagement Award for the hospital from Becky Souther, CFISD Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) executive board member at the VIPS Appreciation Event on May 2.

The VIPS Appreciation Event filled the Berry Center arena, with administrators from individual campuses bringing signs and balloons to show their support for their volunteers.

Attendees were treated to numerous performances from students across CFISD. They ranged from the Cy-Fair High School Air Force JROTC presenting the colors and Sampson Elementary School first-grade student Coral Khieu performing Sonatina on the piano, to Spillane Middle School’s percussion ensemble performing a piece with dinnerware and Cypress Ranch High School senior Abigail Ayala singing I Dreamed a Dream.

The Board of Trustees joined Ault Elementary School cheerleaders for a combined performance to end the ceremony.

“The VIPS Appreciation Event is a wonderful opportunity each year to recognize our district volunteers and business partners,” said Leslie Francis, CFISD director of marketing and business relations. “We are so fortunate for the incredible support from our sponsors, who completely underwrite the event, as well as our extremely talented students and staff which provide the entertainment.”

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Bus Road-e-o showcases CFISD drivers in family-friendly event

For many in the CFISD community, their view of the district’s transportation department are the school buses transporting students to and from campuses and extracurricular activities.

The department, which transports more students to schools than any other district in the state, is more than that. And the School Bus Safety Road-e-o, held this year on April 7 at the Eldridge Transportation Center, is one way for the community to get that first-hand view.

The Road-e-o is a competition among participating drivers and attendants in two separate divisions (regular and special needs). The competition includes 12 events encompassing different aspects of driving and a written exam.

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In total, 42 bus drivers participated in the competition in addition to five special needs teams. This year’s event also drew participants from Conroe and Alvin ISDs.

But the day is also an open house for the hosting transportation center. Music, games and food were available to visitors, family and guests who attended to watch the competition or get a peek at how the transportation center operates.

Staff from the community programs department served as DJs and game organizers. Students and student groups volunteered, while the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department showcased a fire engine as well.

“There are so many facets that are involved with our transportation department that the community really doesn’t get to see,” said Bill Powell, CFISD director of transportation. “So, this is that opportunity for them to get to see behind the scenes of what we’re all about.”

The events included parallel parking, offset alley and diminishing clearance and straight line – a challenging event where the bus must be aligned to allow front and rear dual wheels to travel between a row of tennis balls without disturbing them.

0410 Bus Safety Road-e-o 6

The top four finishers advanced to the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Texas Association for Pupil Transportation (TAPT) School Bus Safety Road-e-o on April 21, where CFISD participants also excelled. Helen Nixon of the Eldridge Center got first place in the regular competition after taking second at the district level. Jessica Otwell of the Westgreen Transportation Center claimed second at regionals after she won her second consecutive district title.

Pam Bokemyer and Linda Hair (Eldridge) placed third in the special needs competition.

They all advanced to the statewide competition, which will be held during the 45th annual Texas Association for Pupil Transportation Conference and Trade Show on June 22 in Corpus Christi. Top competitors will then have a chance to advance to the national level.

With the day being filled with friendly competition and fun activities, the CFISD School Bus Safety Road-e-o not only gives community a chance to see the inside of the transportation department but also showcases the talented and skilled drivers within the district.

“The Road-e-o’s an awesome event where our drivers and attendants are able to come in and showcase their skills,” Powell said. “They hone their skills practicing throughout the year and it’s just a great time for the community to come together.”

Da Vinci Day a showcase event for young GT students

Just as a number of departments within CFISD have events and programs highlighting the opportunities they offer students, staff, families and community partners, the same can be said for the HORIZONS Program, which serves the needs and interests of academically gifted and talented students.

One of those showcase events is Da Vinci Day, which brought together more than 2,350 CFISD elementary and middle school HORIZONS students on Feb. 24 at Cypress Ridge High School for a morning of activities that challenged their critical thinking and allowed them to demonstrate skills in science, STEM and fine arts.

0305 Da Vinci Day 1Volunteers from the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Alley Theater, Space Center Houston and Play-well (Legos) of Dallas brought their equipment for hands-on learning and excitement to more than 2,350 CFISD elementary and middle school HORIZONS students during Da Vinci Day, held Feb. 24 at Cypress Ridge High School. The Houston Zoo also served as a partner, bringing animals to the showcase event.

“Da Vinci Day is such a wonderful opportunity for our HORIZONS students to gather and participate in activities designed and differentiated to challenge and engage them,” said Katrina Nelson, CFISD director of advanced academics.

For the 2018 event, community partners that came in to help challenge the HORIZONS students included the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Alley Theater, Space Center Houston, Houston Zoo and Play-well (Legos) of Dallas. They brought their equipment for hands-on learning stations.

The Houston Zoo even brought animals.

0305 Da Vinci Day 2Da Vinci Day is a showcase event for CFISD elementary and middle school HORIZONS students, which serves the needs and interests of academically gifted and talented students. The morning of activities challenges students and their critical thinking and allowed them to demonstrate skills in science, STEM and fine arts.

Other community partners who have been a part of Da Vinci Day activities include Little Breakers Science Lab and Color Me Mine, a paint-it-yourself ceramics studio.

But it’s not just CFISD community and business partners engaging and working with HORIZONS students at Da Vinci Day. The 2018 event saw more than 200 CFISD elementary and middle school staff and administrators lead participants through sessions like coding, robotic challenges, science labs, art activities and escape rooms.

In addition, over 200 students from Bridgeland, Cy-Fair, Cypress Falls, Cypress Lakes, Cypress Ranch, Cypress Ridge, Cypress Woods and Langham Creek high schools volunteered in helping the event be a success.

“There were sessions for everyone at all different interest levels,” said Dr. Linda Macias, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction and accountability. “Certainly, it’s an opportunity for us to highlight our gifted and talented students and continue supporting them in this district.”

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In addition to a number of community and business partners helping put together Da Vinci Day, the 2018 event had more than 200 CFISD elementary and middle school staff and administrators participanted in sessions like coding, robotic challenges, science labs, art activities and escape rooms.