From left are Superintendent Benny Soileau, scholar student Michael Kuta and Board President Matt Dutton. Photo by Bruce Olson

The Huffman Independent School District Board of Trustees recognized its academic stars and other outstanding students at the Feb. 23 board meeting.

“We have a lot to celebrate tonight and we are thankful for that,” said Superintendent Benny Soileau.

He called senior student Michael Kuta to come forward.

“Michael is receiving a very special award tonight. It is the National Merit Scholarship Letter or Commendation. It is awarded to Mr. Kuta for outstanding performance on the PSAT National Merit Scholarship Test in 2013,” Soileau said.

Kuta plans to continue his education studying chemical/biochemical engineering.

“He is in the agonizing process now of waiting until April to find out where he has been accepted. He is hoping for acceptance at Rice University,” Soileau said.

Soileau then recognized the district’s University Interscholastic League academic winners and 15 coaches who accompanied 86 students to the Elementary UIL 2015 District Academic Meet in Coldspring, Texas. Twenty-three of the students achieved first, second or third place in their respective subject areas in the second through fifth grades.

Rodeo Art Contest winners were also recognized. Best of Show award winners were Cordelia Hanson, fourth grade; Savannah Jones, eighth grade; and Vivian Bienek, 12th grade. Gold Medal award winners were Jake Johnson, fifth grade; Chastity Babiak, sixth grade; Jenna Smith, 12th grade; and Alyssa Basquez, 12th grade.

Finally, Soileau called Julie Dean, coach of students in Business Professionals of America to recognize the performance of her Hargrave High School students.

Dean explained the students competed in the regional conference Jan. 17 at Alvin Community College. Fifteen students competed in 14 individual events and five team events. Overall, in 19 events the group took top five in 12 of them. Students recognized for first- and second-place finishes and named state qualifiers in their respective areas were: Ryan Morris, Shelby Letterer, Rochelle Zientek, Michael Kuta, Caitlyn Linthicum, Haley Boudreaux, K.J. Bryan, Jake Harrison, Stephanie Ramirez, Olivia Parra, Amber Price and Allison Wicker.

Following the recognition ceremony the board’s short business meeting included public comments from parent Angela Blackburn. She said she was against the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind.

“I support local control,” said Blackburn.

She explained she was against reauthorization of State Bill HR 5 because of how it dealt with the program No Child Left Behind.

Blackburn then voiced her disapproval of the 35-minute lunch period, saying it was too short.

Regarding the district sex education program, Keep It Real, Blackburn said, “There is no amount of evidence that can say anything. It is a horrible program and inappropriate for our students.”

In other business Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Joel Nolte presented an informational presentation about initial plans to create a Professional Development Program for the district. He said in his outline:

“Currently we do not have local policies or requirements for our teachers regarding professional development. We want to explore adopting the general requirements in the Teacher’s Handbook that will uniformly address what will be annually required for all instructional staff members of Huffman ISD.”

Nolte explained the project was just underway and his staff was considering new requirements for instructional staff to receive a certain number of professional development hours each school year in conjunction with approvals of teacher contracts. He acknowledged there were potential budgetary costs to be identified and added they are looking into online professional development resources. “We are looking to create a high standard,” said Nolte.

The next board meeting will be March 23 at 7 p.m. in the Board Room of the HISD Administration Building, 24302 FM 2100.

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