We have a fourth “R” in our neighborhood schools – “relationships.”

Several district-wide beliefs and goals focus on the relationship between schools and our community: (1) the spirit of community is central to RISD; (2) public education is vital to a democratic society; (3) we will develop individual and civic responsibility; and (4) we will have a high degree of school and community satisfaction.

The board of trustees recently honored schools that best demonstrated living these beliefs and goals. The awards are the board’s “Silver Cups” in two categories – “on-campus” (bringing the community into the school), and “community outreach” (taking the school into the community), Lake Highlands schools received the following awards:

Lake Highlands Junior High received an on-campus Silver Cup for its program called CATS, “Creating Academically Talented Students.” The school created 21st Century Community Learning Centers, offering 42 classes, career education and family enrichment programs after school and during the evenings. CATS is making a marked difference in the cultural, social and academic experiences for students and their families.

A community outreach Silver Cup was awarded to Lake Highlands Elementary for a series of Spanish parent-ed meetings that included working with local businesses. As a direct result of this initiative, homework participation increased, test scores rose significantly, mobility decreased, and volunteer participation among Spanish-speaking parents is at an all-time high.

Stults Road Elementary was awarded a Silver Cup for efforts to increase voter registration and educate students about the privileges and responsibilities of voting. Six “books” campaigned against each other, and the students held a mock primary election to determine the winning book. Teachers became deputy registrars for Dallas County, and voter registration in that precinct doubled.

An honorable mention went to Moss Haven Elementary for its “Somalia Student/Family Outreach.” The effort eased the assimilation of Somalian immigrant families and students into the community and classrooms. Students, staff and parents joined in creative efforts to emotionally, educationally and financially support their new neighbors. Moss Haven now has a process for welcoming and assisting other new families.

White Rock Elementary received an honorable mention for its “Read for Need” program. Students read books for monetary pledges and raised $10,000 for a playground and other school improvements at a school in Juarez, Mexico. Students strengthened their reading skills and developed civic responsibility in a global community.

You should be proud of these schools’ efforts to develop a meaningful and lasting relationship with their surrounding communities.

See you at school.