Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Cinco: United We Stand: A Student's Perspective

Everything is silent but the echoing of the voices and the snapping of the flag. All attention is turned to one stunning sight, colored red, white, and beautiful blue. Both the sounds of lips moving along to the words of our nation’s song and the booming cries of veterans in the audience reverberate in the stadium. This fleeting flash of unity is what excites me most about Cinco’s football games.

Every week as I watch the flapping flag and listen to the national anthem, I am fixated on the respectful silence yet unintentional noise of the crowd. Though the noise reminds me of our varying reasons for coming to the game — perhaps to show support, perhaps to socialize — I am lost in the allure of the silence because it represents a brief but significant moment which we all share together. Once the song ends, the football team gets ready to play, the Stars walk off the field, the fans in the bleachers scream and shout. Everyone goes back to their life, but in that moment we were one.

Because in that moment, when we are all turned the same direction with our hands on our hearts, singing the same words, all that is felt is unanimity. For those two minutes we are enveloped in a concept greater than us all and a feeling of oneness that supersedes any feeling of divergence. I feel that in this occasion, the football players, the Cougar Stars, the cheerleaders, the coaches, the band, and the audience all realize how blessed we all are to be given the privilege to savor the freedom to come together and enjoy, in my opinion, Texas’ favorite pastime. Additionally, in this moment, sparks of pride are lit within us all. Pride of course for our nation, but more importantly for our school (especially when our lovely choir is singing the national anthem so wonderfully).

This moment stands out to me because I believe it encapsulates the spirit of Cinco Ranch. Our school is one of unmatched diversity and camaraderie: two principles that every school tries to achieve but rarely obtains because of their paradoxical relationship. In almost every environment, differences seem to divide, while at Cinco it is a force that unites. As the celebrations for Cinco’s 20th anniversary continue, I believe this ideal Cinco has reached should be highlighted as one of its finest accomplishments. 

Lauren Parker, Senior
Student Council President

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

One-Way New York to Katy: Bargain of a Lifetime

I will never forget the day my family arrived in Katy, Texas eight years ago.  I can remember pulling up to our new home that my husband had picked out in a weekend and thinking, “What did we do?” I was extremely overwhelmed. Having been born and raised in Queens, New York and living in the same town for the first 34 years of my life with just a small period of time living in Bangor, PA, everything was so different from what I was accustomed to.

Little did I realize at the time that my family would soon become part of one of the most dedicated, fun, caring communities. A huge part of our community would be our schools.  One of those schools would be Cinco Ranch High School.

For me, Cinco Ranch High School represents more than just a place that my children go to receive a top-notch education.  Cinco Ranch High School represents family, friendships, teamwork, perseverance and, most of all, community.  The community that is Cinco Ranch High School works together through good times and bad times. While my kids are away from our home attending school, I can rest easy knowing that their teachers, the administrative team, and fellow students are taking care of them.  As a parent, I feel honored and privileged to be part of such a wonderful high school.  

The four years that our children spend in high school are also an opportunity for us parents to continue to be involved and participate in our kids’ daily lives. Cinco Ranch High School provides our children with the opportunity to learn more about themselves and us parents the opportunity to learn and grow in our parenting. I can't think of a place more welcoming than Cinco Ranch High School to share our children with and the experience of seeing them grow and become the adults that they are meant to be.

In the eight years that my family has been part of this community, I have come to realize the “what did we do?” has turned into “we are blessed and thankful that we did.”


Dawn Bell

CRHS PTSA, President 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Here's to the New Year. May she be...

Dear Cougars New and Old:

As I pull the stuff out of the closets and place it around my room for my 21st year in the profession, I came across one very special artifact that has been part of my décor for over thirteen years, from a very special person, Bridget Clock.

It was 2005, my first year of having Bridget as my aide in the classroom, and she noticed the Greek Orthodox icon of St. Paul that I picked up on the Island of Patmos, during my Greek sojourn in 2004.  After a year of putting up with me ;-) she gave me the little wooden carving of the Catholic peace sign, that she did at CYO Summer Camp (see photos) as a young girl.  It has remained on my desk, alongside the Pirate batting helmet sundae cup and an autographed baseball. Every year I have pulled it out and placed it in its usual spot, without really thinking about it.  When I placed it last year, Bridget was still here, and now she is gone!

As we start a new school year, none of us knows what lies in front of us. How could I have known that by the end of the year, our area would have been devastated by a once in a century storm, and Bridget would no longer be sitting next to me at the lunch table as she always did. 

So take a minute, take the time to look at these mementoes, remember why you keep them, why you have them, why are they important.  Maybe drop an email or call a former colleague or  catch up with that special student who gave you that little token of their affection for that reference letter, or for just “being you.”

There was a classic episode of the TV series M*A*SH that I thought of recently. It covered a year in the life of the 4077th, beginning with New Year’s Eve and ending with the next New Year’s Eve. Colonel Potter book-ended it with the same toast, “To the New Year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one!” 

I even quoted this to Mr. Cross as I shook his hand at the checkout table last May! He agreed.

It would be tough for this year to be worse than last year!  So enjoy your school year, whether you’re a raw rookie or someone like me with twenty or more years under your belt.  Enjoy the small moments and the grand ones, the quiet times and the big events, the football games, Bravo shows, AP exams, art shows but don’t forget to enjoy sharing a joke at lunch with your colleagues.

Tomorrow the gates open, and three thousand or so teenagers will pour into the building for the new school year, a year that will have its good and bad, but will be unique and unlike any other previous year.  I will hazard a guess that the new year as Colonel Potter on MASH put "will be a damn sight better than the old one."  Let’s hope.

Have a great year everybody!


Bob Diethrich
CRHS; AP Economics/Economics
Bowling Team Sponsor

Quiz Bowl Sponsor

Friday, August 17, 2018

Score 20 for Cinco! Let the celebration begin!

Hey Cougs!

I am excited to announce that our blog is back for 2018-19.  Did you know that we are celebrating our 20th anniversary?  Look for our blog to show up each week throughout the school year.  We will have thoughts and reflections from teachers, staff, students, parents, and community members. We are kicking off this year with a blog post from the second Cougar staff member ever hired at Cinco, our head football coach and athletic coordinator Don Clayton.  I know you will enjoy his thoughts on our school.  I think he might be a little proud.  I might be a little proud too.  Welcome Back Cougars! Looking forward to a fantastic year!

James Cross, Principal

A score is another way to say twenty years.  President Abraham Lincoln famously said in his Gettysburg Address, “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation….”  Well, one score ago, Katy ISD brought Cinco Ranch High School upon this continent to be the best high school in America.  What an awesome high school filled with outstanding young people mixed with caring teachers, para-professionals, custodians, and administrators.  From the day CRHS opened, we have been achieving varying high degrees of success in everything we do, from Academics to Athletics to Fine Arts.  Going into our twentieth year, we are only getting better at everything we do.  But the great thing is that our kids are complete kids – they are not only talented in a lot of areas but they truly care about their fellow classmates and about our community.  We are a proud Cougar Family.  As we go into our twentieth year, we do so with a great deal of excitement because we know that we are all on the same team and that we will always be here for one another – that’s family – our Cougar Family.  Personally, it has been unbelievable watching this school and community grow.  From my first day on the job on April 15th, 1999, this has been a ride like no other and I’ve been blessed to be around so many outstanding students and an awesome school staff.  I can say from first-hand experience, WE are the best high school in America!  GO COUGARS!!!

Coach Don Clayton

Friday, September 29, 2017

Hammer and a Nail: Cinco Strong!

The students come back on Monday. We went back last Wednesday, and had our official "Where do we go from here" meeting on Thursday. As many as 1/6 of our students may have been affected seriously by Harvey, two of our elementaries and one of our feeder junior highs were wrecked by the Barker reservoir flooding. The counselor talked to us about what to expect and how to proceed with our students, and even a nice bit about the difference between sympathy and empathy (a distinction I never really thought about until now).

Well, the sun rose again and we are rebuilding. I spent hours updating my calendar for my class. I am an AP semester class teacher so losing two weeks is like losing a month. Actually it turned out to be good because I have been looking to streamline and fine tune my course a bit and this gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. "Do I really need to do this particular lesson? A: Nope Goodbye! :-)

Friday our district did a great thing. Instead of just staying at the school and doing almost nothing, we were given the chance to get out and help with the cleanup and render service to anyone in need. One of our history teachers stepped up and organized crews of people to visit homes of our staff members or parents that were in need of clean up, clean out or even tear out at this point.

People donated tools and boots, cleaning supplies and bleach, buckets and shovels, and not everyone worked on the cleanup. Those who could not do the physical stuff made sure to pack and deliver coolers of snacks and water and they brought lunches to the haggard crews. Others offered babysitting services so parents could be free to clean. Based on such things as "who has a big pickup truck (not hard to find here in Texas ;-) ) and what tools did you bring, we were organized into crews.

And one of the nice things is that the crews were divided and mixed among our departments. In a mega school like ours, you can become "compartmentalized" You end up only seeing or associating with your department and hardly see anyone else, except to say hi in the main workroom or crack a joke in the hall in passing about "How soon is it till Christmas break?" Yesterday I set off with one of my good friends from social studies, one of our support teachers, a couple of science teachers (one of whom brought her fiancé and her Mother) and a few of our engineering teachers from career education. Nothing makes new friends like working together.

Our morning job was for one of our staff members, and it was depressing driving through the neighborhood, seeing people's formerly prized possessions, furniture, family heirlooms, not to mention the flooring, sheet rock and carpets just piled up at the curb in blobs of mixed media as high as one story. We helped move our coworker’s stuff out to the "ten foot line" where FEMA will pick it up, and then we finished cleaning up the tear out on her home. We swept and cleaned and sprayed bleach at every place we could where there had been water and mold could be growing.

At one point on moving detail, I had a snow shovel in my hand to move water-logged books that had once been a library! I hated doing this as I love books, it broke my heart to see all those tomes of fiction and nonfiction, ruined beyond all repair. Made me think about what I have been holding on to and why as well.

During the tear out, a pickup truck of teachers from Seven Lakes, another Katy ISD school, drove up with water and snacks for us. Later another crew from our school drove up with a cooler with packed lunches, sandwiches, fresh fruit, power bars and chips and of course more water.

Around 1PM we headed over to our second job. The streets were jammed with cars, it was getting hot and the view was more of the depressing same as every house had a mountain of refuse piled in front. But you know what, we also saw people working together, a bunch of guys had set up a barbecue grill in the parking lot of one of our closed schools and were cooking up delicious meats for everyone. Folks were all working together, neighbors and families, people giving and borrowing whatever supplies, tools, water and food they could. Nothing could define community like what I saw yesterday as we inched our way to our second job.

At the second location, we joined Christie, the history teacher who organized this whole thing, and her crew. There was still a lot of tear out to be done, and much as I hated the idea of it, there was a small part of me that relished this work. I knew we were rebuilding, but still there was that inner, helpless human rage at this situation and how this natural disaster proved that nature is so much mightier than any human endeavor. I was able to take out my feelings of helplessness on sheet rock and flooring. I was Job crying out to the whirlwind as my id  bubbled to the surface to let off steam as I swung my hammer again and again, sweating, covering myself in white chalky dust. Years ago my Dad, among other tools he gave me, handed me a mini-sledge hammer that I have never used.....until yesterday. It's a heavy for such a little hammer, and I felt like Thor swinging Mjolnir yesterday. It was very therapeutic.

We eventually finished and we learned a little about the person whose house we were cleaning out it turns out she was a single mother, an immigrant, who had one son, and he was at our affected junior high. With tears in her eyes, she thanked us repeatedly and also told us that she was not aware we were teachers until almost the end of the day. Somehow my body hurt a little less at that point. I saw tears welling in the eyes of my colleagues in our crews, friends, acquaintances, and some who I may almost never see or talk to again, although I would like that not to be the case. For some reason I think we will see more of that "out of department" socializing and communication. I may even suggest some to my principal.

So now going to begin going through all the "stuff" in my life and starting to sort out what's really important. Ask why I am saving this or keeping that? Going to streamline the stuff, see what can be used by charity or a community library or senior center. We're only here for a short time and all we have in the end is each other. I will always cherish yesterday's memories of working side by side with friends and strangers...sitting on a patio slab having lunch out of bag with these people....the heartfelt thanks of the Mother whose house we worked on.....the people in the neighborhood all coming together.....Yeah that's what's important.

Funny I couldn't help but think of an Indigo Girls song yesterday, and it kept running through my head, over and over again: From "Hammer and a Nail"

Clearing webs from the hovel
a blistered hand on the handle of a shovel
I've been digging too deep, I always do.
I see my face on the surface
I look a lot like narcissus
A dark abyss of an emptiness
Standing on the edge of a drowning blue.
I look behind my ears for the green
Even my sweat smells clean
Glare off the white hurts my eyes
I gotta get out of bed and get a hammer and a nail.
Learn how to use my hands, not just my head.

Bob Diethrich,  Economics Teacher

Friday, August 18, 2017

We proudly wear maroon. We proudly wear white. we proudly wear ...gold?

Hi Cougar Families and Friends!

Welcome back to the start of another fantastic year!  I am super excited to let you know that our weekly blog Celebrating Cinco is back for the upcoming year.  Look for posts from students, teachers/staff, parents, and maybe even your principal every now and then.  

Our first post of the year comes from an admired veteran teacher and coach here at Cinco.  Coach Hayes has inspired many young lives, but as you will read in his post, he is inspired by the young people who walk through these doors each day.  I know you will enjoy his post.  Again, welcome back for another year of purpose, passion, and pride! #CPOE

I am starting my 33rd year of teaching and coaching.  This career spans time spent in Miami, Arlington, Conroe, Fukuoka, Japan, Morton Ranch Junior High and the last 15 years at Cinco Ranch High.  Teaching and coaching is all I have ever wanted to do.  Every day I get to engage in discussions and arguments, exchange ideas, wonder, challenge and be challenged, encourage dreaming, and provide opportunities to think.  It is truly a blessing to be a teacher and coach. 

What I have learned over the past 32 years, is to approach my job completely different than I did my first year way back in 1985.  When asked, “What do you teach?’  English was always the response.  Fortunately, I have learned the correct answer.  (This is hard for me to say as I constantly tell my students that English is the best subject as there are no wrong answers.)  Nevertheless, for the question, “What do you teach?” there is only one answer.  “I teach young people.” The who is so much more important than the what.  English as a subject, is strictly what puts us in a room together. 

I was recently reminded of this when a student of mine told me about the Japanese art form called kintsugi.  Basically, it is the process of repairing smashed pottery by using beautiful seams of gold.   It takes something broken and makes it more beautiful.  This reminded me of the 100 young people that will walk through my door this week.   All are in need of some gold to patch things up. Some a lot, some a little.  Teaching the rhyme scheme of a poem or where to correctly place a comma is certainly beneficial, but restoring broken pieces can be life changing.  Our colors at Cinco Ranch High School are maroon and white and I proudly wear them.  Yet this year I hope that I can add some gold to that on a daily basis.       

Bruce Hayes, Teacher/Coach    

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Daring Greatly Finds Fulfillment – a Cinco Dad’s perspective

I’ve enjoyed reading the blogs as they come out, and was inspired since the first installment by Principal Cross.  The talk of Daring Greatly: understanding one’s vulnerability, putting yourself out there to be seen in order to find fulfillment; intrigued me, and had me looking at my own parenting style with my daughters.

My oldest daughter graduated from Cinco last year.  I remember her freshman year was hard on the entire family.  She had sustained a back injury over the summer leading up to freshman tryouts and ended up not making the volleyball team.  After some coaxing from Mom and I, she reluctantly tried out for the dance team and didn’t make it.  In the spring she tried the local swim team, but didn’t enjoy that either.  Then over the summer she told us she wanted to join FFA; we didn’t know the organization was offered at Cinco.  I remember dropping her off at the barns for Ag Olympics.  She didn’t know anyone there.  The look of being lost was all over her face.  As I dropped her off, I said “Well, have fun with this, and make some friends.”  When I returned a few hours later I saw a completely different look on her face.  She found her home.  Over the next few years, she competed in District, Area, State, and National competitions for Entomology, Public Speaking, Radio Broadcasting, Parliamentary Procedure.  She attended leadership conferences in Washington DC and within the state of Texas.  For two seasons, she led the students with a service project that donated over 200 toys to needy children for the Christmas season, and she served as an officer, most notably the President.  I remember the night before her officer interview, I asked her if she wanted to be the president of her chapter.  She said “yes, of course!”.  I said “well then, you need to respectfully ask for consideration.”.  She and her Mom thought I was crazy.  But she went ahead and asked, and a week later it was announced, she was their president.  In addition to the competitions and service projects, she raised animals; lambs, steers and one heifer, which we still own today.  She made life-long friendships in FFA, and I enjoyed it as her core group of friends joined the program after they saw how much fun she was having; they succeeded in the program as well.  She’s in college, now, studying her passion, Agricultural Science.  She moved in with some roommates she didn’t know, but after her life lessons at Cinco, this was not even an issue. 

Her high school experience inspired the rest of our family.  Her younger sister attended a mission trip over the summer with a group of students, none of which she knew beforehand.  Now, she has a completely new set of friends and is attending a weekly bible study group with them. 

Mr. Cross wrote about putting yourself out there to be seen in order to find fulfillment.  I got to witness this, firsthand, with my daughters the last few years. That freshman year was hard on the entire family and it took her to dare greatly, to find her passion and determination today.  So go out and Dare Greatly . . . The life lessons you gain, will follow you for years to come.  Thank you CRHS!

Kurt Atkinson