“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Dr. Environment! He’s flying down to Central America to put an end to the destructive villain, Natural Disaster, who cuts down trees with his iron fists and laser eyes, destroying 192 square miles of rain forest in one day.

Dr. Environment must stop Natural Disaster once and for all, before the entire rain forest with all its inhabitants are destroyed!”

What sounds like the scenario for a new Saturday morning cartoon is actually the topic of a comic book entitled, “Dr. Environment Versus Natural Disaster in the Rain Forest.” The comic book was written by Reid Callaway and Brent Holland and illustrated by Quincie Alexander and Michael Patton-Edge, all fifth-grade students at White Rock Elementary School.

The comic book was one of several projects produced by the students as part of a six-week extensive study of the environment.

“The students came to me with questions and concerns about our environment,” says fifth-grade teacher Barbara Sutton, who created and taught the thematic unit. “They researched the causes and prevention of pollution, the greenhouse effect and the destruction of the rain forests.”

In addition to the comic book, the 28 students in Sutton’s class wrote and published an environmental newsletter and a book on an environmental topic of their choice and created a wall-size mural depicting life in the rain forest.

They also wrote a series of environmental math word problems and created maps depicting the perfect environmental community.

The comic book was then translated into a play, which was performed for the White Rock student body. Following the play, copies of the comic book were sold for 50 cents each to raise funds to purchase an acre of rain forest. Enough copies were sold to purchase three acres ($35 an acre) of rain forest, Sutton says.

“The best part about this unit is that it doesn’t end, as most do, with a test,” Sutton says. “The children will continue to think about this, we hope, for the rest of their lives.”

Hotchkiss Orchestra Featured in Governor’s Best of Texas

The L.L. Hotchkiss Montessori Academy Orchestra has been selected to participate in an intrastate educational program entitled “The Best of Texas,” whereby schools will share via telecommunication their unique programs, teaching methods and student performances.

The sharing of educational information was proposed by Governor Ann Richards. From Feb. 22-26, educational institutions in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Midland will participate in a two-way audio and video exchange.

The production of the Dallas-area programs will be broadcast through compressed video from the band hall at Woodrow Wilson High School. Southwestern Bell telephone is providing all of the equipment and phone lines necessary for the exchange of information. The performances will be live.

“All programs to be featured have been recognized as exemplary,” says Diane Radspinner, cable coordinator for the Dallas Independent School District.

The 150-member Hotchkiss orchestra, which consists of kindergarten through eighth-graders, has consistently won top awards in district and regional University Inter-Scholastic League competitions, says Jo Margaret Williams, the school’s orchestra director.

A number of Hotchkiss students also perform with the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra and the Southern Methodist University Chamber Orchestra, she says.

The orchestra performs numerous concerts throughout the year for both community and school functions. The Advanced Orchestra, consisting of sixth, seventh and eighth graders, has also toured in Mexico and Texas.

The Hotchkiss orchestra students begin their instrument study using the Suzuki method of music instruction. Parents are required to attend music lessons once a week to learn how to best assist their children at home.

The students then gradually expand their repertoire to include standard orchestral literature. At the advanced level, students perform in solo and small ensemble competitions.

“Being part of this event is a tremendous honor and privilege,” Williams says. “These students take a lot of pride in what they do. They exhibit motivation that comes from within,” she says.

A number of the orchestra students continue their musical education at DISD’s Arts Magnet High School, and others have received scholarships to universities throughout the country, Williams says.

Last year, the Hotchkiss Montessori Academy won the Governor’s Award for Academic Excellence in Education.

The Woodrow Wilson High School Variation Choir will also be featured in Best of Texas.

Highlander School Features Its Own Catherine Exhibit

Many students from throughout Dallas visited the Catherine the Great Exhibit at Fair Park. However, not all of these students knew as much about the exhibit as the fifth-grade students at the Highlander Carden School.

To authenticate and enhance their learning of Russian history, the students converted their language arts classroom into a mini-Catherine the Great exhibit. More than 300 visuals of the Dallas exhibit were displayed in the room, along with a description of each item. The visuals were displayed in seven different areas, further replicating the Fair Park Exhibit.

Once the students were familiar with the visuals, they served as docents, guiding their fellow students through the mini-facsimile.

Following the classroom tour, the students visited the genuine Catherine at Fair Park.

As a follow-up, the students then wrote research papers outlining the history of Russia from the cultural development of Peter the Great to Catherine the Great, says language arts teacher Betty Woodring.

The students have given a number of the papers to The Dallas Historical Society, which will share them with representatives from the Hermitage of St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Hermitage is the Russian historical museum that provided all of the artifacts for the Catherine the Great Exhibit.

RISD Geography Bee Winners Announced

Students throughout the Lake Highlands area recently competed in their own Geography Bees. The Bees are sponsored by The National Geographic Society and are offered to students in grades four through eight. The Bee is designed to encourage the teaching and study of geography. Winners at the school level will take a written examination with the top 100 students qualifying for the State Bee.

The Lake Highlands area school winners are:

Northlake Elementary, Mary Clark; Skyview Elementary, Lauren Hawkins; Stults Elementary, Juby Ann Phylip; White Rock Elementary, Daniel Barrera; Wallace Elementary, Alexandra Travis; Moss Haven Elementary, Tim Battle and Forest Meadow Junior High, Matt Mitchell.

LHHS Students Experience Teaching through Studies

For three days a week, two hours each day, Skyview Elementary School kindergarten teacher Tracy Lawrence gets some extra help with her 19 kindergarten students. Her teacher’s assistant on those days is Lake Highlands High School senior Jan Playford.

Playford is enrolled in a career educational program called Child Guidance Studies, which places students in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade classrooms.

The program was developed by Kathy Branum, the high school’s child guidance studies teacher. LHHS was the first high school in the Richardson area to offer such a program.

“This program gives the students an opportunity to experience what actually goes on in the classroom,” Branum says. “Many of the students go on to get their degrees in elementary education.”

Playford’s duties in the classroom range from assisting the children with activities to monitoring them in the hall and cafeteria. She also assists Lawrence with lesson preparation.

“The best part about the program is the kids,” Playford says. “They look forward to seeing me and that makes me feel good.” Playford plans to complete her degree in elementary education.

Approximately 25 students are enrolled in Child Guidance Studies. They are assisting teachers in all of the LHHS elementary feeder schools.

Registration for Child Guidance Studies and other programs of Career Education for the 1993-’94 school year is now under way. Registration deadline is Feb. 5.

Due to district budget restrictions, Child Guidance will not be continued next year if fewer than 35 students register for the program, Branum says.

“This is an outstanding program,” Branum says. “It’s beneficial to everyone involved – the teachers, the high school students and the elementary students. Many of our former child guidance students are now teachers in schools across the state.”

LHHS Attendance Incentives Pay Off

At Lake Highlands High School, 119 students recorded perfect attendance for the first semester of the ’92-’93 school year, due primarily to a new incentive program that rewards students having a perfect attendance record.

The program awards students with gift certificates, television sets and Dallas Cowboys footballs. Only 48 students achieved perfect attendance for the first semester of the ’91-’92 school year.

Forest Meadow Participates in Naturalization Ceremony

On Jan. 25, Forest Meadow Junior High was declared a Federal Court, where 100 Dallas residents became citizens of the United States. Judge Jerry Buchmeyer presided over the ceremony, highlighted with performances by the Forest Meadow band, orchestra and choir. Guest speaker for the ceremony was the Rev. Zan Holmes from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.

Forest Meadow Schedules Talent Show

If you’re looking for an evening filled with dancing, singing, comedy skits and magic, the Forest Meadow Junior High talent show is for you.

At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, students will perform for friends and family at the Lake Highlands High School Auditorium.

The talent show, directed by Forest Meadow choir director Patrick Antinone, is sponsored by the PTA and choral department. Reserved tickets are $5 and general admission tickets are $3 for adults and $2 for students. For tickets and information, call Candy Haynes at 349-3931.

Moss Haven Third Graders Excel in TAAS Tests

Moss Haven third-graders scored well above district and state levels in the TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills) tests last fall.

In reading, Moss Haven students’ average scores were 93, compared to 88 in the district and 79 in the state; mathematics scores were 96 at Moss Haven, compared with 94 in the district and 84 statewide; Moss Haven writing scores were 89 compared with 80 for the district and state average of 67.

In other Moss Haven news, good citizens for the week of Dec. 8 include: David Aldrich, Jennifer Baldor, Lauren Fletcher, Katy Hafner, Elaine Karney, Meredith Kent, Robert Kent, Matt Long, Seth Myers, and Ben Rister.

For the week of Dec. 17: Evan Alterman, Brett Crockett, Jeremy Estes, Stacy Krumholz, Sidney O’Neal, Jason Pondrom, Catherine Ringer, Mattew Sepulveda, Adam Tharp and Zach Urquhart.

Also, Amy Bradford, Kristi Gibson, Becky Lamberth, Michelle Muller, Michelle Roberts, James Sellers, Kelly Sellers, Lauren Sims and Ashley Voclain.

Skyview PACE and Super Citizens Announced

Skyview Elementary School’s super citizens for the third six-week grading period are as follows: Norma Alvarado, Derrick Castleberry, Jason Galvan, Donovan Kennedy, Matthew Majdalani, Ricky Meza, Taylor Sebesta, Julia Trecartin, Ingrid Bradley, Chris Conwell, Erika Goodwine, Christopher King.

Also, Elizabeth Mauricio, Trudy Moi, Natt Siritanapivat, Erin Cain, Robin Douthit, Bryan Goss, Kayli LeBlanc, Jordan McAllister, Chelsea Reynolds, Andrew Stabeno, Cory Castleberry, Amanda Foster, Jarvon Hughes, LaGloria Lee, Justin Meyer, Jason Rupp, Justin Thomas.

Skyview PACE winners for the week of Jan. 4th are: Jarrod Thomas, Gladys Gayton, Nicole Gore, Caelie Dunn, Maria Carnijo, Issac Brown, Abel Meza, Amanda Foster, Blair Cascio, LaGloria Lee, Charles Oyoneye, Clay Lipscomb, Irwin Peralia and Carrie Schutza.

Northlake Announces Paws Winners

The most recent Northlake Elementary School Paws winners are: Jerry Finn, Tiffany Reed, Kira Williams, Melissa Denton, Peter Yin, Mandy Walker and Michael Kalldin.

Merriman Park Cultural Arts Winners Recognized

Two entries from Merriman Park students were selected as winners in the district cultural arts competition. Sixth-grader Claire Grant’s prose “Little Red Riding Hood…The Saga Continues” and second-grader Tori Baxter’s painting, “Dreaming Dancer,” will represent RISD in regional competition.

White Rock Announces Educators of the Month

Each month at White Rock Elementary School, one staff member is selected as Educator of the Month from nominations submitted by colleagues. The following teachers received this honor:

September: Betsy Wall, speech pathologist

October: Barbara Sutton, fifth-grade teacher

November: Jan Pendery, fourth-grade teacher and mathematics contact teacher

December: Larry Varian, first-grade teacher


In the Advocate’s January Private School special section, Sue Ann Gilman’s title was incorrectly identified. Gilman is Bishop Lynch’s director of development. The school’s principal is Edward Leyden, and the vice-principal is Dr. Rosemary Henry-Caruth.