Lake Highlands, Merriman Park, Moss Haven and Wallace elementaries will receive cash awards for student improvement on the Texas Assessment of Academic Standards given last spring.

The state-wide, annual test measures students’ reading, writing and math.

The Texas Successful Schools Award System of the Texas Education Agency recognized these neighborhood schools for “significant gain” on the TAAS, with each school showing an overall improvement of at least 10 percent.

Lake Highlands will collect the most in RISD with a $9,167 award. Wallace will receive $8,520 and Merriman Park will receive $7,916.

The assistant principal at Lake Highlands Elementary, Joyce Wilson, says school administrators were surprised to receive the award and have asked the faculty for suggestions for what to do with the money.

“We were real, real pleased,” Wilson says. “We worked hard, so we feel like all our hard work has paid off.”

Moss Haven achieved “recognized” status and will be awarded $2,957. To attain this status, at least 65 percent of Moss Haven’s students passed each subject of the TAAS.

A total of 18 RISD schools won cash awards with the district receiving an overall amount of more than $67,000.

High School Gets Hot Tips

If there is a problem at Lake Highlands High School, school administrators want to know.

To encourage communication, the school started a Hot Tips Line, an answering machine on which students, faculty and community residents can leave anonymous information to be picked up daily by Youth Action Officer Dwayne Nance.

The line was installed in the hopes that it would provide insights into school activity not available to administrators, says Assistant Principal Phil Jones.

So far this year, several messages have been left, Jones says.

“We have been able to track down some problems before they got out of hand,” Jones says.

Tips regarding drug activity and car break-ins have been left on the line, says Nance, who funnels information to the proper authorities at the school.

Administrators were also able to stop a parking pass scam in which seniors were selling their passes to juniors and sophomores, Jones says.

Any problem in connection with the school can be voiced on the line, Nance says, It is not just a crime watch.

“This is a problem-solving line,” Nance says. “We get a little bit of everything.”

To leave a hot tip, call 503-4747.

Moss Haven Picks Up the Blue Ribbon for Excellence

Moss Haven Elementary was recently awarded a plaque for being a National Blue Ribbon School, an award that recognizes excellence in education.

Schools were chosen for the honor last spring by the federal Department of Education for effectively pursuing state and national education goals; for establishing good working relationships between faculty, students, parents and the community; and for developing student skills in core academic subjects, says Joey Lozano, director of public information for the Texas Education Agency.

Moss Haven teachers Diana Smith and Avalyn Thompson accompanied Principal Mary Manantov to the October award ceremony in Washington, D.C., where they met President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and Secretary of Education Richard Riley.

Ninety Texas schools nominated themselves for the Blue Ribbon award by filling out an application, which accessed their academic programs. The Texas Education Agency then chose 27 schools to represent Texas at the national level. The Department of Education visited several of these schools for on-site examinations, Lozano says.

Moss Haven was one of two Blue Ribbon Schools chosen in RISD, the other being Brentfield Elementary, and one of the 20 Blue Ribbon schools chosen from Texas. RISD has had a total of 11 Blue Ribbon schools in the past eight years, says Susan Dacus Wilson, who does publicity for the district.

Moss Haven’s Blue Ribbon plaque is on display in the school’s main office.