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  • Flannery presented with TEA award

    Payton Flannery 111920CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB Woodville High School senior Payton Flannery (left) was presented with the Student Hero citation from the Texas Education Agency. Matt Robinson from TEA (right) presented her with the award. It recognizes students in pre-kindergarten through high school who do outstanding volunteer service. One student from each of the 15 State Board of Education districts is recognized with the award. Flannery started a group at WHS called Eagles for Christ. Flannery is involved in a variety of other clubs and activities, including the WHS Interact chapter and Future Farmers of America.

  • Tyler Countians encouraged to take broadband survey

    NEWS Broadband IllustrationIllustration by Mohamed Hassan | PIXABAY

    By Chris Edwards

    TYLER COUNTY –  A survey is available online to gauge the broadband internet needs of Tyler County residents. The survey, which launched in early February, is being put forth by the Connected Nation Texas, a localized division of a national non-profit organization dedicated to expanding access to broadband.

    The survey launched in early February, but the response has been hamstrung by the recent winter storm, and the loss of utilities for many.

    “We understand that everyone across Tyler County should have access to the resources they need and can find online for themselves, their families, their work and more,” said Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette.

    Pamela Waggoner, a community technology adviser with Connected Nation Texas, said that Blanchette, along with Woodville ISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg have been local champions in getting the word out about the survey. The survey is available online for residents to take at the URL Connectednation.org/Texas, and Waggoner said that Meysembourg has paper copies available, and copies of the survey in Spanish, as well, for anyone in need, by calling her office at 409-283-3752 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    “Basically, what we’re trying to do as Connected Nation Texas is to understand broadband availability needs in Tyler County,” Waggoner said. “The better info we have, the better the information we can provide to provide solutions for the county.”

    Blanchette said that local residents’ input, along with that of businesses, community organizations and other demographics within the county, will help to identify challenges and provide solutions to bringing broadband access to the county.

    “The better educated Tyler County officials are, the better the opportunities are for grants. The monies are only available for a certain amount of time, and if they know [the county] can use the resource efficiently, it has a better chance of being funded,” Waggoner said.

    Tyler County is one of 27 counties asked to participate in a statewide effort led by Connected Nation Texas and funded by the Texas Rural Funders at no cost to the county.

    “Having access to the internet means having access to doctors and specialists through telehealth, a global market for our small businesses, educational opportunities for our children and so much more,” Blanchette said.

  • WHS speech and debate competitors excel

    Izzy NarvaezPHOTO COURTESY OF CATHY D’ENTREMONT Izzy Narvaez prepares to compete at Congress State Debate.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – Students in Woodville High School have excelled in a great number of extracurricular pursuits throughout the years, with each endeavor preparing them for some sort of skill in life beyond graduating. A group of WHS students recently took home top-notch honors in a field of competition that is relatively new to the school.

    The sport of speech and debate is, in the words of WHS’s speech and debate coach Cathy D’Entremont, “the consummate academic activity”; one that uses research, analysis, critical thinking skills and a variety of other skills, for competitors to succeed. WHS’s speech and debate team recently took home the first-place honors in District-level UIL competition.

    D’Entremont, a seasoned speech and debate coach, has been involved in the world of forensics, for more than 50 years. From the time she started competing as a seventh grader in Beaumont, she was active throughout the rest of her student career as a speaker and debater.

    After graduating from the University of Texas, she began coaching in public schools, and coached a national champion in 1983 in Houston.

    When she began working at WISD, she said she began looking for students to debate, and a recommendation from a colleague bore her witness to a transformation. “A teacher suggested I recruit a student who was acting out,” she said. That student, whom she said was a “bright, articulate smart aleck,” was Drake Broom a 2020 WHS graduate, who became a standout success and went to state in Student Congress and Cross-Examination Debate.

    “He developed great leadership skills, stayed out of trouble and is now in the Marines planning to become a JAG (Judicial Advocate) and follow a career in law,” D’Entremont said.

    “I have seen the transformative power of speech and debate many times in my years as a coach,” D’Entremont said. “I remain lifelong friends with numerous former students who are professors, attorneys, entrepreneurs, physicians and CEOs.”

    The current crop of award-winning speakers and debaters at WHS includes Izzy Narvaez; Jaydee Borel; Zander Duckworth; Kyler Coleman; Riley Vaughan; Kirby Wright; Mollie Jarrott; Kesean Paire; Kevon Paire; Rachel Risinger; Conner Risinger; Adriana Stark; Savanah Ludwig; Tanyia Mitchell; Chase Gray and Cailee Stephenson. All of the students took home awards from the recent UIL District competition in their respective events. Team captain Narvaez won first place in Congressional Debate and has been to state two years in the event.

    As the speech and debate program at Woodville High School flourishes, D’Entremont said it is a great benefit, both to her and the student body. “Anything that helps make better thinkers, writers and communicators is a huge educational success,” she said.

    She added that the support of WISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg, along with WHS Principal Rusty Minyard and special programs director Terry Young, along with the WISD Board of Trustees, has been encouraging and supportive.

    “I feel blessed to have opened the door to this activity I love to the kids here,” D’Entremont said.

  • WISD coach Mixon dies

    2 Jennifer Mixon 031821FILE PHOTO Jennifer Mixon

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE –  Longtime Woodville ISD educator and coach Jennifer Mixon died last week at the age of 50.

    Mixon died on Friday at Lakeside Lodge in Brookeland. She had been fighting breast cancer for several years and undergoing treatments. WISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg said Mixon had, in more than 20 years with the district, impacted the lives of many and left behind “a legacy of strength, courage, caring and commitment.”

    A public funeral service is planned for 10 a.m. on Thursday at Eagle Stadium, with a graveside service to follow at 1 p.m. in Little Hope Cemetery in the Beech Grove community. WISD is cancelling classes on Thursday so that all students, staff and families who wish to do so will have the opportunity to pay their respects.

    “Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers as we all mourn her loss together,” Meysembourg said.

    The athletic director of the WISD girls’ program, Troy Carrell, called Mixon “the backbone of our girls’ athletic program,” and said she will be greatly missed.

    “She has had the opportunity to touch countless numbers of students as well as teachers and coaches alike,” Carrell said.

    “Coach Mixon was a perfect example of what it meant to be a Lady Eagle. She always held everyone to high standards and expected only the best of what you had to offer both on and off the court,” he added.

    Education and athletic leadership ran deep in Mixon’s blood, as her late father, Jerry Ives, was a longtime respected and beloved coach at Elkhart High School. After his death, the school’s stadium was named in his honor. Her brother, Jason, has also served as a coach and administrator. Her husband Shawn has also served as a football and softball coach for WISD.

    In addition to her husband and brother, Mixon is survived by two daughters, Shelby and Emily and her mother Darlene, as well as numerous other family members.

  • WISD recipient of Temple grant

    student 5520411COURTESTY OF PIXIBAY student

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – The continuing pandemic has been especially tough on how schools carry on with the business of education. As part of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation’s efforts to address the issues East Texas school districts have faced, it awarded grants totaling $377K to 12 school districts, with each district getting $30K of the amount. Woodville ISD was one of the districts and district superintendent Lisa Meysembourg said she and the faculty, staff and administration are extremely excited to recceive the grant money.

    Meysembourg said WISD will utilize the funds to address instruction and achievement at all grade levels, from Pre-K through grade 12 “to ensure that all students have equitable access and opportunity to learn, progress and master learning expectations needed for future success,” she said.

    T.L.L. Temple Foundation President and CEO Dr. Wynn Rosser said that although educational inequities existed prior to the pandemic, “the most vulnerable students are bearing the heaviest burdens.”

    Recent studies have posited that the learning disruptions brought about through COVID-19 will only continue to widen underlying achievement gaps, and could ultimately prove detrimental economically, due to increases in dropout rates and reduced postsecondary education completion.

    “Research has shown that without an intentional targeted response to accelerate learning in reading and math in our schools, this event could impact the educational achievement and future of students for generations to come,” Meysembourg said.

    Meysembourg added that the grant funding will help give the district financial resources to provide additional focused instruction and intervention support services to meet the individual needs of the district’s student population in order to increase potential success in school as well as life after school.

    Specifically, she said that on the district’s elementary, intermediate and middle school campuses, master reading and math instructors will be hired as interventionists in order to provide targeted small group instruction to students who are identified as being at-risk, and to help fill learning gaps.

    Also, a summer credit recover program will be offered for WHS students, and the district’s teachers and staff will be provided ongoing professional development in order to strengthen their curriculum knowledge and to build skills toward helping students to recover from the pandemic’s impact upon their learning.

  • Woodville’s Wise signs with Sul Ross

    DQuincyWise021121PHOTO COURTESY OF WOODVILLE ISD D’Quincy Wise, seated – center, on signing day. Wise signed on to play for the Sul Ross University Lobos.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – For high school athletes hoping for the opportunity to test their mettle at the collegiate level, the first Wednesday of February is a day of anticipation, as it is National Signing Day.

    One Woodville High School senior has signed on to play college football last Wednesday. D’Quincy Wise, who played both ways for the Eagles as a tackle, during his high school career, will go on to play for the Sul Ross University Lobos.

    The 5’11”, 285-lb. senior is set to graduate in May, is planning to major in kinesiology, and has a goal of becoming a coach.

    Upon signing with the university, Wise wrote on social media that he is “blessed to commit to Sul Ross and become a person on and off the field.”

    Sul Ross is located in the west Texan locale of Alpine, and their athletics program is part of the American Southwest Conference West division, which also includes schools like McMurry, Hardin-Simmons and Texas Lutheran. Wise will play under the direction of Lobos head coach John Pearce.

    As an Eagle, Wise was part of a powerhouse team for his last season, which found them achieving bi-district champion status and finishing third in UIL 3A Division 1. Wise also played basketball for the Eagles and competed in the shot-put event in track and field.

    He was named the Defensive MVP in district when all-district honors were named. In 2019, he was named first team defensive tackle.

    A social media post from Woodville ISD congratulating Wise stated “We can’t wait to see you on the field as a Lobo.”

  • ‘Wit’ challenges notions about life and death

    OAP Kids 032521PHOTO COURTESY OF WHS THEATRE The cast and crew of Woodville High School’s One Act Play entry “Wit” is advancing to UIL Regionals and officially placed in the Top 32 in the state of Texas. Adrianna Stark received Top Performer; Madison McGinty got All Star Crew and Tatum Chandler earned an Honorable Mention Cast award. The cast and crew will compete for advancement to the State competition on April 17.

    By Jacob Spivey

    Saturday March 20, Woodville High School Theatre competed at the Bi-District One Act Play Contest. After a convincing performance that won district the week prior, this week’s contest would select the best performances from Bi-District to compete at the Regional Contest in Houston April 16.

    Woodville’s selection by Director Melanie Spivey, is scenes from the Pulitzer prize winning play Wit. Wit is the story of Dr. Vivian Bearing, and her death from ovarian cancer. Over the course of the play, Bearing reflects on her life which she has dedicated to the study of metaphysical poet John Donne.

    Throughout her career, Bearing has developed a reputation as a harsh intellectualist, preferring knowledge to kindness, throughout the play, as she realizes that she if of interest to her physicians more as research than as a person, Vivian finds a new appreciation for humanity and kindness.

    Wit is headlined by Adiranna Stark’s rendition of Dr. Vivian Bearing. Stark, who received Top Performer honors at both District and Bi-District, captivates the audience throughout the performance, never leaving stage she is unequivocally the star of the show and shows tremendous range. In the course of 40 minutes, Stark showcases Bearing as a force of nature in the classroom lambasting students who have no passion for poetry, a graduate student still unsure of her convictions, a child learning to read, and woman dying as she grapples with the reality of death. Stark’s performance as a woman who has studied the humanities only to find that it is in her death, not her life, that she finally understands the depth of what it means to be part of humanity is both breathtaking and awe-inspiring.

    Joining Stark on stage is an ensemble that includes Joseph Ratcliff playing Dr. Harvey Kelekian, Tatum Chandler as E.M. Ashford, Savannah Ludewig as Jason Posner, A’Nijah Betts as Susie Monahan, and Zachary Woravitz as Vivian’s Father.

    Chandler, who was awarded as an All-Star Cast Member, joins Stark in showing a wide range as she and the crew backstage does a masterful job of showing Dr. E.M. Ashford in her prime as Vivian’s professor while in graduate school, and then thru the force of makeup and costuming she ages 30 years to return to the stage as Vivian is dying to provide comfort and love that Vivian has so desperately needed.

    Other standout performances included Savannah Ludewig as young medical resident Jason Posner, who along with Bearing, learns that there is more to people than just research. Ludewig showcases a depth of understanding of her role as she embraces the intellectual complexity of remaining professional well having compassion for her patients. Susie Monahan RN, played by A’Nijah Betts plays opposite Posner, as a nurse who is long on compassion, and truly tries to provide comfort and dignity to Vivian as she fights, and ultimately loses, her battle with cancer.

    Other members of the cast include Madison Benthall, Alexis Lee, Taniya Mitchell, Brianna Gilbert, Gladys Abbey, and Elizabeth Mullins, who provide support in a variety of strong roles that bring the story of death to life. Crew members include All-Star Stage Manager Madison McGinty, Lights Mckenzie Perkins, Sound Theta Drake, Katelyn Jasper, Brek Wagon, Jeremy Waldrep and Kesean Paire.

    While the crew may be behind the scenes, it should not be lost on those who come to see this show, that the lights and set for Wit were by far the most complex showcased on Saturday. This show, directed by Melanie Spivey and assisted by Donna Blackerby, was truly a delight that challenges our assumptions about what it means to die, and live with dignity.

    Woodville One Act Play will next perform in Houston at the Regional Contest on April 16. By Advancing to this level, they are already ranked in the Top 32 3A plays in the state, in April, they will compete for a place on the stage in Austin for the State Competition and a top eight finish.

    At this time a public performance is being planned for the near future and trust me when I say you don’t want to miss an opportunity to witness fantastic theatre right here at home.