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  • Centerville schools address safety

    Centerville ISD logoFILE PHOTO Centerville ISD logo

    By Tony Farkas

    TRINITY COUNTY — A recent safety audit of the Centerville school system shows the students are learning in a safe environment.At its regular meeting on Oct. 15, the district’s School Board members discussed the audit, which also contained some deficiencies.The deficiencies were discussed only in closed session and not made public. However, Superintendent Mark Brown said that of those, most could be taken care of easily.

    The district was commended for numerous items, which include:

    • having 30 fire extinguishers on campus;
    • having 10 staff members trained in the use of an automated external defibrillatorand CPR;
    • well-kept grounds;•student monitoring;•morale;•adequate use of security cameras;
    • secure classroom doors and metal exterior doors;•robustphone/intercom system; and
    • a healthy school climate.

    In other business, the board:

    • held a second hearing on changes to the school’s policy manual; and
    • approved school finances for the month.
  • Coldspring schools going back to on-site learning

                                   PHOTO BY JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Coldspring-Oakhurst High School is one of two COCISD campuses that will do away with distance learning on Monday. Lincoln Junior High is the other.

    By Jason Chlapek

    COLDSPRING — Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD trustees voted to remove distance learning from Coldspring-Oakhurst High School and Lincoln Junior High during a special meeting on Nov. 2.

    While students at the high school and junior high in COCISD will no longer have distance learning beginning Monday, students at Coldspring Intermediate and James Street Elementary schools will still have the option of participating in distance learning. Students at the high school or junior high with underlying health conditions will still be eligible for distance learning.

    “The board met and heard input from the community, parents and teachers,” COCISD Superintendent Dr. Leland Moore. “We ultimately decided to go back to face-to-face in the high school and junior high, but leave it up to the parents for the intermediate and elementary. After talking with the principals and campus representatives, the board felt like some campuses needed to go back to face-to-face, while others were doing fine. We did this to maximize the learning process.”

    Moore said combating Covid-19 is, “an everyday job.” But, he believes the district has a great person in charge of health services — department director Kristi Benestante.

    “There’s something happening with Covid every day. It’s a struggle and we are experiencing some positive cases, but we have a very thorough process. Kristi has a process that keeps the kids healthy and safe. We listen to her. We had several kids identified as positive and she runs down the close contacts.”

    During October’s monthly meeting, COCISD trustees approved the holiday and vacation schedule. According to Moore, “TASB suggests that employees who work 240 days get paid holidays and vacations.”

    COCISD meets again at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

  • Coldspring students excel at Black History Month projects

    003 COHS law enforcement studentsPHOTO BY CASSIE GREGORY Capt. Kim Webb's law enforcement students in front of their Black History Month project displays. Shown are (back row, from left) Adrienne Steede, I'Kra Bryd, Kynadee Benestante, Stephen Torres, Stormie Payne and Brandon Harris; and (front row, from left) Luckie Poppenhusen, Natalynn Ramirez and Webb.

    Special to the News-Times

    COLDSPRING — February's Black History Month offers the Coldspring-Shepherd CISD a special opportunity to spotlight and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans to the nation and the world.

    LJH students created bulletin boards featuring profiles of prominent African Americans throughout history in many different fields, including education and invention.

    Students in B.K. Harrison's education classes conducted research and created two displays; the Child Guidance students, including Ann Bennett, Abigail Casy, Triniti William and Ashlee Trujillo, created an African American Educators bulletin board; and the Education and Training Practicum students, including Paige Barton, Kandis Martinez, Lila Stevens and Brianna Warren, created an African American Inventors board.

    Students studying law enforcement under COCISD Police Capt. Kim Webb did a display on law enforcement professionals.

    "To celebrate Black History Month the students wanted to go back in time and research some pioneering and inspirational events of African American officers,” Webb said. “Our class found several who have held key criminal justice positions and influenced progressive law enforcement activities.”

    Student Stormie Payne said she enjoyed learning about Georgia Ann Robinson, the first Black female police officer to work for the Los Angeles Police Department, and may have been the first Black female LEO in the country.

    Robinson started out as a volunteer before becoming a full-fledged officer when she was hired as a jail matron in 1919. She also worked as an investigator in juvenile and homicide cases and set up a much-needed women’s shelter in the city during her time as a cop, Payne said.

    “These are individuals who paved the way during a difficult era for law enforcement and Black Americans,” Payne said. “These stories of unwavering dedication to policing serve as strong examples all LEOs can aspire to. (Robinson) had an obvious passion to help her fellow citizens.”

    Black History Month began as the brainchild of Dr. Carter G. Woodson after he participated in the national celebration of the 50th anniversary of the emancipation of slaves. While there, he witnessed thousands of African Americans gathered to view exhibits showcasing the accomplishments and progress their people had made since the abolishment of slavery.

    Woodson had the idea to create an organization specifically for the scientific study of Black life and history. He and four others formed the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, or the ASALH) on Sept. 9, 1915. Eleven years later, Woodson announced "Negro History Week" in February of 1926.

    Eager for the movement to gain ground, Woodson chose the month of February for Negro History Week because it coincided with celebrations already held in many African American communities to celebrate the births of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. His aim wasn't just to include it in the traditional celebrations, but to encourage these communities to use the opportunity to extend their study of Black history in general.

    His goal was to change the focus of the celebrations from only two men to the greater view of the multitudes of African American men and women who had impacted history and humanity. His ultimate intention was for the study and celebration of Black history to continue not just for a week, but throughout the year.

    Beginning in the 1940s, African Americans in West Virginia began to celebrate February as Negro History Month. By the late 1960s, African American college students led the charge to replace the name "Negro History" with "Black History" and to extend it to a month-long event.

    In 1976, President Gerald Ford issued the first Black History Month proclamation. Since then, the celebration has grown to include similar observances in Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, and the Netherlands, though not always in February.

    The study of Black History should not be relegated to one specific month, but should be studied year-round. It helps to teach people about the African American experience beyond stereotypes. Learning more about Black History and the unique struggles faced and overcome by African Americans, both in the past and in the present, is the bridge to understanding. Understanding is the bridge to a better future.

  • Colmesneil suspends in-person learning

    Remote Learning graphicFILE PHOTO Remote Learning graphic

    By Chris Edwards

    COLMESNEIL – As of Monday, Colmesneil ISD will forgo all in-person learning until Jan. 5 of 2021.

    The announcement was issued on Friday by Superintendent Eldon Franco, who cited potential exposures to COVID-19 since Thanksgiving break. “The cases on campus have been very minimal and have not affected large numbers. Regardless, the process that we must follow, as dictated by state and local governments, creates a great deal of worry and stress for those both directly and indirectly involved,” Franco wrote in a letter addressed to parents and community members on Friday, Dec. 11.

    Franco said that the number of cases has surged in the community, and attributed it to outside sources, and that it was expected to occur due to holiday gatherings.

    At present, the COVID numbers, countywide, include 49 active residents who have tested positive from the PCR testing and 86 active tests from the rapid, or quick testing.

    In going to the remote mode of learning, all CISD students will still be expected to participate in remote learning for the remainder of the semester by using district-provided or personal devices to access instruction.

    Students are also expected to check-in with teachers each day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m, and breakfast and lunch will continue to be provided by the CISD cafeteria for pick-up from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

    “Our goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy and continue the educational process,” Franco said.

    With the announcement that CISD will suspend its in-person learning, Colmesneil eatery The Rustic Grill announced that it will offer its facility and Wi-Fi capabilities to anyone in need. “We would like to help out. If you don’t have Wi-Fi at home to do virtual school please don’t hesitate to come here and do your work,” a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page stated.

    The Rustic Grill is typically closed on Mondays but will open its doors for anyone who needs to access the restaurant’s Wi-Fi to do schoolwork.

  • Groveton selects top superintendent candidate

    021821 hamiltonTCNS FILE PHOTO Groveton ISD Superintendent Don Hamilton (right) will be retiring effective Aug. 31, and Board President Mark Folds (left) and fellow board members selected Assistant Superintendent Jim Dillard as his replacement at a special meeting on Feb. 8.

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — The Groveton ISD School Board settled on a finalist for the upcoming superintendent vacancy at a special meeting on Feb. 8.

    Jim Dillard, who currently serves as the district’s assistant superintendent, will assume the top spot in September, after the retirement of current Superintendent Don Hamilton.

    Board President Mark Folds said Hamilton had some challenges and tough calls, but he had the backbone to make them.

    Folds cited the improvements to the baseball fields, the cafeteria and other items as proof of Hamilton’s dedication and service.

    “We are pleased with his work,” Folds said.

    Don Hamilton is retiring Aug. 31 after eight years as superintendent and 34 years as an educator, 31 of which were in the Groveton district.

    “I told them 2 years ago (when my contract was renewed) that this would be my last year,” he said.

    Hamilton said he was looking for a little time off, mostly to spend working on his ranch and spending time with grandsons.

    “We have done a lot of construction on the facilities, and we were named one of the top schools in America by U.S. News and World Report,” Hamilton said of his accomplishments. “We’ve had FCCLA students who have advanced to nationals, and won, we’ve had ag students excel at Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show, and Beta Club has advanced to nationals several times.

    “I hope I left the place better than when I got here,” he said.

    Folds said that aside from Dillard being the lone finalist, he also was the lone applicant, but has the board’s full support.

    Dillard has been in education since 2014, and started in the Groveton district as assistant principal for the junior/senior high school.

  • Trinity Schools affected by COVID

    trinity isd logoFILE PHOTO - Trinity ISD logo

    TCNS Staff

    TRINITY — The High School and Junior High in Trinity are now going through the state required procedures of quarantine and contract tracing as one student and one employee have tested positive for COVID-19.

    Letters were sent out Thursday to parents.

    Superintendent John Kaufman said these are the first positive cases in the district this year.

    “We have completed our contact tracing on the two individuals and notified the appropriate parents,” Kaufman said. “A deep cleaning was conducted on all classrooms and common areas associated with the two positives.”

    Kaufman said TISD will continue to follow the protocol established in its reopening plan and CDC guidance.  

    “Trinity ISD is committed in providing a safe environment for all our students,” he said.

    Due to privacy requirements, the district did not release the names of the individuals or any identifying details.

    According to the letter sent out to the district, based on the information that was gathered, it has been determined the end of the 14-day incubation period for anyone possibly exposed on campus to the student/staff member is Nov. 25.

    The release also states that while the district does not have reason to believe that those who were not in close contact with the infected individual have reason to be concerned, residents are admonished to watch for symptoms of COVID-19, and to follow district guidelines regarding contact with any positive-testing person.

    Anyone within the Trinity ISD community that begins experiencing any symptoms in a way that is not typical is encouraged to contact a physician. Anyone who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19 is requested to notify the school nurse at (936) 594-2090.

    The release states the district continues to monitor the situation and will provide additional information as needed. Questions or concerns can be directed to (936) 594-2090, or information will be available at Trinityisd.net.