By Alton Porter
GRAPELAND – Honoring several Grapeland High School (GHS) students for their outstanding scholastic and athletic accomplishments this semester and two retiring teachers for their years of service as educators were the highlights of the Grapeland Independent School District (GISD) Board of Trustees special meeting held Monday, May 17.
In recognition of GISD excellence, the trustees, high school administrators and staff members introduced and commended GHS’ 2021 graduating class valedictorian and two salutatorians, members of the boys basketball team, and the girls golf and softball teams for their outstanding performances. In addition, the two retirees were recognized.
The GHS Class of 2021 valedictorian is Cierra Espinoza, and the salutatorians are Mary Jane Watson and Stacy Perez-Maldonado, who were introduced by Katie Doughty, associate principal of instruction and guidance, as were three Pilot Program participants who made the President’s List and Dean’s List.
The Sandies basketball team won the championship runner-up trophy in the UIL Class 2A Boys State Basketball competition. Several of the team members who were present were introduced by Head Basketball Coach Blake Doughty.
Members of the Sandiettes golf team, introduced by Coach Tyler Terry, advanced all the way to the UIL Conference 2A state playoff tournament.
The Sandiettes softball team advanced to the area round (Region 4) in playoffs. Head Softball Coach Trina Pierce introduced the majority of the team members who attended the meeting.
The two longtime educators, described as “very special retirees” by GISD Superintendent Don Jackson and introduced by Doughty, are science teacher Karen Cole and history, government and economics teacher Arthur Betz.
“I would like to consider them legends here at Grapeland High School,” Principal Doughty said. “When I think of these two, the word that comes to mind is truly solid. They are reliable (and have) great relationships with kids.”
GISD Board President and Position 2 Trustee James Martin, who presented plaques and Christian devotional booklets from district officials to the two retirees, said, “You all are both so special. They taught all three of my older kids. We love you guys, and you all are going to be truly missed. We’re so thankful for you all.”
A video presentation featuring comments made by school staff members honoring, thanking, congratulating and showing appreciation to Cole and Betz, and wishing them joy and happiness in their retirement was played after they were introduced.
In addition, during the recognition part of the meeting, newly hired Athletic Director Jordan Wood, as well as two new faculty members—Heather Wood and Kelli Fletcher—were introduced.
In other business, four members of the GISD board—Josh Goolsby, Brad Spisak, Allen Cheatham and Ryan Richie—who were unopposed in their bids to continue serving on the board, as their previous terms expired this year, were declared reelected and were administered the board’s oath of office and presented a statement of public office by Business Manager Julie Martin.
In reorganizing the board for the next 12 months, Martin was reelected to continue serving as president, Position 1 Trustee Brad Spisak was newly elected to the position of vice president and Position 3 Trustee Kendra Huff was reelected as secretary.
In another matter addressed by the trustees, they heard a report on district facility improvement initiatives from Jackson and a presentation by Zane Oliver, of Lucas Roofing of Crockett.
After discussion, the trustees voted to accept—pending confirmation that the roofing materials are the ones they expect—the lowest of two bids submitted by Typhoon Roofing of Sugarland to make repairs to the roof of the junior high school building, one of the district’s oldest structures, which has water leaks.
In addition, Jackson suggested that district officials hold a strategic planning meeting and draft a two- or five-year plan for the district’s facilities “to see where we want to go and what we want to do.”
In another action, the trustees approved a retainer for the district’s attorneys.
The trustees approved a change to the district’s Policy DC(LOCAL) regarding the hiring of teachers.
“I believe that’s the policy where we’re asking that our administration office has the power to hire teachers in the next month,” Jackson said.
Julie Martin added that “it gives people notice that we can hire them on without having us call a special, called meeting to get that approved. It would bring them to you (trustees) at the next meeting. I think we have a few positions open. And so, it would give the authority before the cutoff date in July because there’s a certain day that people have to have resignations turned in.”
In his monthly report to the trustees, Jackson said, in reference to repairs and upgrades that are being made to the district’s Lorena Shultz Auditorium, “We’re moving really good. I think we’re ahead of schedule.”