Six MHS Bears make it official on National Signing Day

The future is bright for six student athletes who signed to continue their education at various colleges on Wednesday, Nov. 10.  

Kendall Sadler signed to play volleyball at Southern Arkansas University and plans to become a Pediatric Dentist. Sadler’s coach, Kayli Cane also attended SAU. SAU is in Magnolia, Arkansas, has less than 12,000 people, and the university has less than 3,500 students.  

“I chose SAU because it is similar to Texas,” Sadler said. “It looks like Montgomery, and the people there are super nice.” 

Also signing to play volleyball is Madison Chandler, who is attending LeTourneau University, where she will be a yellow jacket wearing blue and gold. LeTourneau is located in Longview, in east Texas.  

Photos Courtesy of Mrs. Dayna Lawson

 “I picked the college because I liked the coaches and the people,” Chandler said. “They seem like really great people and someone I would want to play for.” 

Both Chandler and Sadler have been varsity players all four years of high school; Chandler was moved up to varsity for the playoffs her freshman year. Chander is an outside hitter and Sadler is a libero.  

“I am thankful for the opportunity to have helped coach both Madi and Kyndall,” assistant volleyball coach Jessica Mitchell said.  “I am so proud of both of these young ladies, and I love getting to watch their hard work pay off as they head to play at the next level. These ladies are phenomenal students, leaders, and athletes; I have no doubt that they will continue to excel in each of these roles as they embark on this new and exciting chapter.”   

Trey Acreman has been on varsity since his sophomore year. He plays shortstop and has almost a .300 batting average. Acreman is signing to play baseball at Sam Houston State University. The Bearkats placed second in the Southland Conference in 2021.  

“I picked this college because it’s the best fit for me and my family,” Acreman said. “I attribute my success to my parents because they put forth a lot of money for me.” 

Also signing to play baseball is Connor Benge, who is a right-hand pitcher. He will attend LSU- Eunice. He wants to be a professional baseball player. Benge has been on varsity since he was a freshman.  

“I attribute my success to my parents and my friends for keeping my accountable,” Benge said. “I am looking forward to getting to know life-long friends and playing the sport.” 

Makenzie Griffith is signing to play soccer at Tarleton University. Next year will be Tarleton’s first year with a soccer team. Griffith is planning on studying Sports Medicine to be a Physical Therapist.  

“I attribute my success to my dad because he’s kept me playing when I didn’t want to,” Griffith said. “Also, my club because I wouldn’t be able to play on a college level without them.” 

A four year varsity player, Griffith received the District 20-5A Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 and the District 20-5A Offensive Player of the Year in 2021.  

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Kenzie since she was about 6 years old,” soccer coach Brandi Wilkinson said.  “I have enjoyed watching her grow as a soccer player.  Kenzie is unlike many players. She is a very versatile player and will do great things for the Tarleton State University Soccer team.”    

Swimming at the State meet for the past three years, Kaitlyn Weightman signed with Incarnate Word in San Antonio. As a freshman, she was a member of the gold medal 400 relay team. The swim team also won the 5A State Championship that year. As a sophomore, Weightman placed 5th in the 500 yard freestyle and 7th in the 200 yard freestyle. As a junior, she placed 6th in the 200 yard freestyle. 

“I’m very excited to be a part of the team as well as improve my speed individually,” Weightman said. “I love the coaches and the family-like atmosphere that the team has. I can’t wait for all of the travel meets. The second I stepped onto the campus, I fell in love with everything.”  

Note: MHS Journalism students contributed this story for the MISD Premier Blog.

Board of Trustees Meeting Recap and Video: October 19, 2021

The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees met for their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, October 19. You can view the full video here and read the recap below

 At the beginning of the meeting, trustees gave a special recognition to the Montgomery High School Madrigal Choir for their recent award, being named a National Winner in the Mark of Excellence National Choral Honors Project. The MHS Choir, led by Director Heather Orr, competed against 236 of the finest musical ensembles in the nation, from 38 different states. The board recognized this remarkable achievement and thanked Mrs. Orr for the continued level of excellence she brings to the district’s music program. The Madrigals performed for the board members and those in attendance at the meeting.

During each monthly regular board meeting for the 2021-22 school year, department directors will present an update to the board on the work happening in their department and share the progress of their objectives and strategies listed in the district’s Pathway to Premier Strategic Plan. For the October meeting, the department on the agenda was the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department.

CTE Director Amy Vance explained the levels of student CTE participation and then shared data for CTE District “Completers” for the 2020-21 school year. Montgomery ISD currently offers 16 complete programs of studies. Students in Montgomery ISD first select their endorsement path, then their career cluster and finally select their program of study and course selection. The career clusters include Agriculture, Architecture & Construction, Technology & Communications, Business, Marketing & Finance, Education & Training, Health Science, Hospitality, Human Services, Manufacturing, STEM and Law & Public Service. Vance also shared the findings and recommendations of a third-party external review of the district’s CTE programs. The report, which can be found on the district’s website in the “Transparency” tab, can be read here.

The CTE department has a department goal in place to increase CTE student enrollment and is adding seven certification opportunities this year. District leadership is evaluating current program offerings to determine which align with district goals and to identify areas of need. District leaders are also working to evaluate the growth of the CTW program and how that will fit into possible bond needs for updating CTE facilities. The CTE department has been a large part of the discussion at bond planning meetings as Montgomery ISD makes plans to grow CTE program offerings.

The Board of Trustees also took action to approve a new service provider for the district’s copy and printing services. The new contract with Funtion4 will provide more flexibility for teachers and district staff in creating copies, as well as a cost savings to the district. New equipment will be installed over the winter break and Function4 will provide training to all district employees.

Trustees also approved a contract with Gibson Consulting to complete an external evaluation of the district’s Specialized Learning Department. The firm will evaluate staffing, procedures and effectiveness and make recommendations to ensure best practices are in place to serve the students that benefit from our special education programs.

To wrap up the meeting, district administration provided an update on the district’s process for developing the district’s academic calendar for the 2022-2023 school year. The calendar development process begins with the assistance of the District Advisory Committee (DAC) and the district is offering the opportunity for staff, parent and secondary students to respond to a districtwide survey, indicating their preferred characteristics of an annual academic calendar. District administration will develop draft calendars based on input received from the DAC and through the districtwide survey. DAC members will then solicit feedback on the calendar options from their respective departments and campuses. District administration will present a final draft calendar to the Board of Trustees for approval during the February 2022 board meeting.

Montgomery Madrigals Selected as National Winners in Annual Competition

Montgomery HS named a National Winner in the Mark of Excellence National Choral Honors Project

Montgomery High School Madrigals Choir Program students and Director Heather Orr have once again been recognized on a national level. The Foundation for Music Education announced the results of its Mark of Excellence National Choral Honors Project last week and the Montgomery Madrigals were selected as a National Winner.

Montgomery ISD Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison visited the Madrigals during their practice on Friday, Sept. 17 to inform them of their award, congratulating them on this remarkable achievement.

 “I am humbled and honored that our Montgomery HS Madrigal choir students have earned this National honor,” MHS Choir Director Heather Orr said. “I am beyond proud of their grit and passion. They gave a stunning performance and one that they will remember for a lifetime.”

The Mark of Excellence is a competition, entered by recordings, in which the top quarter are selected as National Winners and the second quarter receive Commended Honors. This year 236 of the finest musical ensembles in the nation entered the competition, with entries coming from 38 different states.

“Despite the many COVID-19 restrictions, so many musical ensembles still made amazing musical performances,” Managing Director of the Foundation for Music Education Rick Yancey said. “These directors and their communities should be very proud of their outstanding accomplishment!”

This is Heather Orr’s 21st year as choir director at Montgomery HS. Choirs under Orr’s direction consistently earn Sweepstakes at UIL Competitions and have been recognized with First Divisions and Best in Class awards at several festivals. MHS choirs have been selected for seven Convention performances and the Texas Music Educators Association Convention has featured the Chorale Women in 2018, 2010, and 2005. In addition, they have performed at the National ACDA Conferences in 2021 and in 2011, as well as the SWACDA Divisional Conference in 2018. In 2022, the Madrigals will present their first Convention invited choir performance in Little Rock, AR.

“We share this recognition with our amazing elementary music teachers, first class junior high choir directors, and our incredible administrative support,” Orr said. “Our kids can reach amazing heights due to their musical foundation and the encouragement and support of the arts from our district.”

Montgomery ISD Introduces the Class of 2021 Valedictorians and Salutatorians

As the 2020-2021 school year comes to a close, Montgomery ISD proudly introduces the Valedictorians and Salutatorians for Montgomery and Lake Creek High Schools. These students have accomplished so much in their K through 12 educational career, ultimately earning the top two spots in their graduating classes. We are incredibly proud of them along with the entire MISD class of 2021!

Montgomery High School

Valedictorian, Nicholas Ensey

In addition to excelling in the classroom, Nicholas was involved in many organizations throughout his high school career. Some of his extracurricular accomplishments include National Honor Society President, Student Council Treasurer and playing on the MHS Bears football team. He was also named Mr. Montgomery High School and represented the bears at Texas Boys State. After graduation, Nicholas plans to attend The University of Texas in Austin, majoring in Computer Science. His career goals include software development and establishing a company.

“It’s truly an honor to be named the Montgomery High School 2021 valedictorian,” Nicholas said. “There have been some amazing teachers in my life who have shaped me into the person I am today.”

Salutatorian, Dustin Dillon

Although Dustin’s dream for his future has him looking to the stars, his history at Montgomery also had him looking skyward. He served on the team that built Purple Bearon, an RV-12 FAA certified airplane. He also served as the MHS Choir President and was a member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and National Honor Society and VEX Robotics Team. Dustin plans to attend Texas A&M University to pursue an Aerospace Engineering degree. His career goal is to become a Flight Dynamics Officer for NASA.

“I’ve grown up in MISD and it is sad to say goodbye, but endings are just the start of something new,” Dustin said. “The most beautiful things come from new beginnings.”

Lake Creek High School

Valedictorian, Lyle Tobin

Lyle has a unique bragging right when it comes to his high school career, multiple state champion titles! In his senior year, he earned State Championship titles in Social Studies and Current Issues and Events as part of multiple University Interscholastic League academic teams. Lyle’s post-high school plans include attending the University of Mississippi in the pursuit of becoming an Oncologist.

Salutatorian, Isabel Harwood

Isabel’s high school career is an interesting mix of journalism and science. As part of the Lake Creek Journalism team, Isabel served as yearbook editor. She also competed on the UIL Science team, which may serve her well after graduation. She plans to attend The University of Texas as a Nursing major, with a career goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner.

“Something I have learned throughout high school is that there is not one true definition of success,” Isabel said. “It is a measurement of how much work you are willing to put in to achieve your dreams, whatever they may be. Everyone is successful in their own unique way.”

Montgomery HS Bears showcase engineering projects during annual expo

After months of hard work during a challenging school year, Montgomery High School engineering students proudly displayed their engineering skills as part of the fourth annual Montgomery ISD Engineering Design and Development Expo Night.

The event, held on Friday, April 30, was the culmination of nearly four years of learning engineering theory as well as hands-on work designing and building.

Participating students are enrolled in the Montgomery High School Engineering Design and Development course, which is the capstone course in the Project Lead the Way program. The research course provides students with an avenue to develop secondary-level knowledge and skills in math, science and technology. Throughout their senior year in the Engineering Design and Development course, students work in teams to identify and develop a solution to an open-ended technical problem using their engineering design process skills. After designing, building and testing, the student teams present and defend their solution to an outside panel.

“This event brings to fruition all of the hard work our students have accomplished over the last four years in our engineering pathway,” MHS Project Lead the Way Instructor Russell Reid said. “We have moved away from theory and now they have produced tangible products designed to serve as a solution to a real world challenge.”

The Engineering Design and Development course is designed to allow students maximum flexibility in how they structure their time while completing their work.  The project workload required a great amount of responsibility on the part of the student with some outside-the-classroom, research-based coursework. For example, students contacted outside professionals and obtained resources from around the United States to help complete their projects.

“An added benefit of this program is the development of valuable soft skills,” Reid said. “Throughout the design process students work with community mentors and engineering experts working not only on the actual design honing creative and problem-solving abilities, but also refining organizational, communication and interpersonal skills.”

Students participating in this year’s expo were Lain Morris, Daniel Chang, Kalani Hayden, Bradan Graham, Dustin Dillon, Ethan Reid, Samuel Cook, Robert Ackerly, Matt Rickman and Blaine Pavlock.

An overview of each project is below:

“Solo Spotter” – A safety device to aid a weightlifter while bench pressing without the support of a weightlifting spotter. (Daniel Chang, Matthew Rickman, Bradan Graham)

“Aegis Wear” – A belt buckle designed with built in GPS tracking and emergency alarm to protect and track the user. (Kalani Hayden, Robert Ackerly)

Gamers Gauntlet” – Dual purpose gaming/graphic artist glove. The glove allows the user to switch between playing video games and working with artist tablets. (Blaine Pavlock, Lain Morrison)

VaBox” – A unique design Shop-Vac that separates metal from waste. It has a built-in magnetic base that is easily removed for recycling.  (Ethan Reid, Dustin Dillon, Samuel Cook)

Montgomery HS choir program receives “Best Communities for Music Education” designation

The Montgomery High School Music Department has earned the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.  Now in its 22nd year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Montgomery High School representatives answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“It is an honor for our MHS Music Department to be recognized with this award. Involvement in Choir and Band are extremely important to developing the whole child,” Montgomery High School Choir Director Heather Orr said. “Our music programs have great kids, incredible parents, and we are fortunate to have an amazing administration. I am just thrilled about their unending support and dedication to the music programs.”

Since the passage by Congress in 2015 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs and found that in this time of a national pandemic, provides a valuable way to keep students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are being widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education.

“This program has shown me how to go above and beyond in all that I do,” Montgomery HS Senior Lydia Wilson said. “We could easily just stop at being “great”, but we’ve always had the mindset that we can constantly do better in all that we do, so I’ve learned that and implemented it in life outside of choir.”

Montgomery HS Choir Performs during National Conference

The Montgomery High School Chorale Women’s Choir was recently selected to perform at the National American Choral Directors Association’s 2021 Conference. They were one of only two women’s high school choirs in the country selected to perform for ACDA.

“Being invited to perform at a convention is the highest honor that a choir can receive,” MHS Choir Director Heather Orr said. “It is really awesome for these girls and the program.”

This year’s conference was virtual. A video of their performance was recorded for the event, which can be viewed below.

The MISD Minute: Friday, Feb. 5, 2021

Dear Team MISD,

This week is National School Counseling Week!

Our school counselors play a critical role in both the academic and social and emotional well-being of our students. Each day, they push our students to achieve the goals and aspirations they’ve set for themselves, while ensuring that each of them receive the support they need to be successful. I could not be more thankful for the hard work and dedication our counselors have shown this year. They are truly making a tremendous impact on the lives of Montgomery ISD students, and the work they have contributed to our district’s collective efforts this year is without a doubt one of the reasons that nearly 95% of our students are currently participating in traditional, in-person instruction.

Showing appreciation for our counselors is especially important – even personal – to me. When I entered high school as a student, going to college was not an option I was considering. However, my high school guidance counselor not only inspired me to pursue college, but also helped me secure the scholarships I needed for financial support along the way. I would not have become the first person in my family to attend college and ultimately obtained my Master’s degree and Ph.D. without the guidance, support and inspiration of my counselor.

It has been a pleasure getting to know our dedicated counselors during my time as superintendent. Seeing their passion and dedication to our students is inspiring, and I’m excited about the work being performed in our district strategic plan to further strengthen the role of counselors in Montgomery ISD.

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

MISD Strategic Planning Survey

As we continue our district strategic plan work, it’s important that we survey our employees, parents, students and community members on important issues encompassing the five Board of Trustee-adopted district goals, which are: Academics, Safety, Operations and Finance, Human Capital, and Communications and Customer Service.

Diverse community and stakeholder participation in the district strategic planning process is important to us as our strategic plan task force committees work on Key Performance Indicators and initiatives and strategies designed to meet our district goals.

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey by clicking the link below. The survey takes approximately 5-10 minutes to complete.

We appreciate your time and feedback. The survey will close at 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 15.

Click here to access the MISD Strategic Planning Survey

Budget Town Hall Reminder

On Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m., we will hold a Budget Town Hall meeting in the Board Room of the MISD Education Support Center.

At this Town Hall, Chief Financial Officer Kris Lynn and I will discuss our budgeting process and priorities for the 2021-22 school year and provide the community with an overview of district revenues and expenditures. As we work through our budget process, we are fully committed to transparency, active engagement and making meaningful improvements to employee salaries.

I look forward to the community’s participation in these discussions.

Student Leadership Council Meetings

It is always the highlight of my week when I have the pleasure of meeting with our student leaders. This week, I held my monthly meetings with my student leadership councils at Montgomery HS and Lake Creek HS.

These leaders never fail to impress me with their passion and insight on how we can improve the student experience in Montgomery ISD. During this meeting, students provided us with valuable input on our strategic planning survey, which was launched today. We also discussed their personal growth as leaders by reviewing one of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: First seek to understand, then to be understood.

Communication Council Meetings

This week I met with my District Elementary and Secondary Communication Councils. These groups are comprised of a representative from each campus who each bring to me various issues, thoughts, concerns and suggestions raised by their colleagues. In addition to the issues brought forward by members of the councils, we discussed the district strategic plan process and also spent time talking about culture and morale across the district.

These conversations are not only important, but valuable to me as we seek constant improvement in how the district supports our teachers and other campus-level staff. I charge myself, and my leadership team, with responding to the issues raised by the communications councils in writing, which we always share districtwide to all staff.

Our goal is to provide written responses to issues raised by the communications councils within the next two weeks.

Superintendent Shout-Out: Jayson Kimberly

This week, I want to give a Superintendent Shout-out to Montgomery High School’s Jayson Kimberly, who was recently featured on KPRC Channel Houston Life for his fantastic work through his own non-profit organization, Leave it for the Pooch. As the proud owner of a rescue dog, I am especially moved by Jayson’s story and dedication to this outstanding cause.

You continue to make us all proud, Jayson!

You can watch Jayson’s segment on Houston Life here.

Montgomery High School Choir Singers Earn Prestigious All-State Honors

Several members of the Montgomery High School Choir have earned spots on the Texas All-State Choir by the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA). The distinction is a culmination of an audition process that began last fall, including District, Region and Area levels of competition. All-State is the highest honor a music student can receive in the state of Texas.

The performers named to the TMEA All-State Choir are Nick Craddock, Quinn McClendon, Anna McKaughan and Landon Pate. For Landon and Quinn, this is the second time to receive the distinction.

McClendon, a senior, auditioned every year of his high school career. Each time it became more important for him to make the All-State Choir. “I have worked so hard, practiced the details, and really put myself out there,” McClendon said. “I know it’s said several times, but hard work really does pay off.”

Competition aside, this school year proved even more challenging in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m so proud of these outstanding students being named to the Texas All-State Choir,” MHS Choir Director Heather Orr said. “Despite the many challenges we’ve faced throughout this school year, they remained committed to their personal musical development and demonstrated the very perseverance and dedication that ongoing participation in a choir program fosters.”

Over 50,000 choir students from across Texas began the journey to All-State last fall. As part of regional competition, they perform musical selections for a panel of judges who rank each student based on beauty of sound, musicality and over all nuance. Those selected to advance move on to the TMEA Area level of competition in the hopes of qualifying for the TMEA All-State honor.

“Ms. Orr and her students continue to amaze me,” Montgomery ISD Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “To be recognized as one of the top performers in the state of Texas is an incredible accomplishment for these talented students. Our MHS Choir’s tradition of excellence is a point a pride for our school district community.”

Bears and Lions Take Next Big Step as Part of National Signing Day

It was an exciting day at both Montgomery ISD high schools as Bears and Lions made their higher education intentions known as part of National Signing Day. In total, 20 MISD athletes, nine from Montgomery High School and 11 from Lake Creek High School, signed letters of intent to the college of their choice. 

“National Signing Day is very exciting not only for the athletes, but their families, teachers and coaches,” MISD Athletic Director Clint Heard said. “This is the reward of years of hard work and dedication in their chosen sport while excelling in their academic studies, as well. We’re incredibly proud.”

Montgomery High School

Ty AlaridBaseballLyon University
Lacy ChilekSoftballTufts University
KJ DanesBaseballLeTourneau University
Josiah GaetaniFootballMount Marty University
Tre HardenFootballBlinn College
Adavion JohnsonFootballEastern New Mexico University
Dalton MerrymanFootballTarleton State University
Cameron MiddletonFootballMount Marty University
Frankie WatsonBaseballTexas A&M University-Texarkana

Lake Creek High School

Alexis MackVolleyballEast Texas Baptist University
Madison BlaneVolleyballLiberty University
Jenney RobisonSoftballMcClennan College
Emiley KennedySoftballTexas A&M University
Bryce JonesBaseballNavarro College
Dayeton SweetingFootballBlinn College
Ty SextonBaseballTexas A&M University
Chance NiesnerFootballColgate University
Xavier GabelFootballMount Marty University
Zach DownsFootballConcordia University
John SpikermanBaseballThe University of Oklahoma