Sunday, August 21, 2016

Routine too perfect to mention

A warm hello Cougar families,

The start of a school year is such an exciting time for so many of us.  Beginnings tend to bring smiles, lots of energy, and sometimes a little anxiety.  If you are returning for another year at Cinco, welcome back!  If you are new to us this year, welcome to your new school.  It is a place I am so proud of...a place where we work alongside our parents daily to help young people to be the best versions of themselves while we work to do the same.

I was recently listening to a Lady Antebellum song called Heart of the World.  In it they sing of "routine too perfect too mention." I love that line.  It reminds me that this time of year is when we find ourselves talking about getting back into a routine after the summer break.  Often routine can seem like such a mundane word, but as I listened to the song, I felt such joy in that simple phrase   I think it's because the routine of coming to a place everyday where I get to work with young people and teachers/staff who care so deeply for those young people is a routine too perfect to mention.  A routine that touches my life deeply.

Each family's daily routine throughout the school year may look somewhat similar yet possesses significant differences I would guess.  Even routines can make us unique.  I hope whatever your routine is for the start of another school year, you are able to take time to appreciate and enjoy the moments that make up those routines.  Those moments make up a lifetime, and parents, we know how quickly those moments can pass.

Our routine at Cinco will continue to be to teach, challenge, nurture, and care for our students.  It's a routine that has made this school, while not perfect, such a special place. I hope your routine this year finds your child sharing stories of learning new things, making new friends, strengthening current friendships, competing, performing, growing, serving, caring, and loving.  Those are routines that makes life worth living.

Speaking of routines, our Celebrating Cinco blog is back for its second year.  Be on the lookout for weekly posts from students, staff, and parents. Occasionally the principal might even share a thought or two.  I wish your family a joyful start for this school year.  Go Cougs!

James Cross, Principal #CPOE

Purpose...It drives us.
Passion...It fuels us.
Pride...It defines us.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Journey of a Cougar

It has been my honor to speak to every student who has walked across the stage as a graduate of Cinco Ranch High School.  What a great privilege it has been to celebrate with our students on this high point in their lives!  Our interactions range from a simple question of, “Is this you?” as I hand the student a name card for the reader to one last imposition as we check pockets for prohibited items to tear-filled hugs as we recognize the obstacles many of our kids have overcome.  What may seem at the time as a small, inconsequential exchange is actually the highlight of each school year!  I have the opportunity to represent each teacher, coach, librarian, counselor, custodian, paraprofessional, superintendent, landscaper, security guard, nurse, help-desk technician, school board member, school resource officer, and principal who has ever been involved with the education of the student and offer my congratulations.  We have all worked in our own unique way to ensure that each student whose name is called is prepared to succeed in the world outside of Cinco Ranch.

When thinking about my role at graduation, I am reminded of the words of Abraham Lincoln as he honored those who fought at Gettysburg, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”  Graduation, as with all things in the school business, is not about what we, the adults, say, it’s about what the kids did!  Kids, and their parents, will not remember the speeches, songs or presentations of the ceremony—just that their name is called and they received a diploma.  Actually, graduation is not that much different than each day at school in this regard.  Each day, hundreds, if not thousands, of good people work hard to be certain that the kids of Cinco Ranch have everything they need to be successful.  Many more have been diligently working for a dozen years (or more) in support of these kids and others still striving for success.  As important as all this is, what people ultimately remember is the accomplishments of our students!

Isn’t this why we work from the time kids arrive that very first August until that very last June?  Our reward is that look of sheer, unadulterated joy when a kid first realizes he is successful and that all the hard work has paid off.  Sometimes that look happens in a small group in the corner of a classroom and sometimes it happens in a stadium in front of thousands.  We’ve seen the look after presentations, games, competitions and other public events, but my favorites are the private moments—when a special needs student learns to write her name; when a struggling mathematician finally learns the quadratic equation (and why it matters); when a pre-K student learns all the colors; when a young historian figures out why the Roman Empire fell and how it compares to the United States; when a budding research scientist determines what happens when you add water to acid; or when a developing writer has his work “published” on the classroom bulletin board.  It’s the small, everyday victories that make us all come back each day!

So, as we complete another year I want to thank each person who, “is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; …who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”  

David Calfee, Assistant Principal "Proud Cougar for Life"

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Daring Greatly...with a twist

40 years ago, at the enlightened age of 17, I remember telling friends in my homemaking class that all I wanted to do was raise children: LOTS of them. That's all. I distinctly remember telling them it was going to take a SCHOOL BUS to transport all of the children I would have.  Might sound a bit old-fashioned to some, but I honestly and truly meant it and so looked forward to doing just that.

So, since my parents, who grew up in the depression, wanted every one of their six children to attain a college education, no matter the sacrifice on their part, I decided the best college degree I could pursue would be one in education. Makes sense, right? So, after graduating from Boling High School in 1977, a graduating class with 81 students, I proceeded to pursue a degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Well, I achieved the degree and loved every aspect of that process, but in order to achieve my ultimate goal... I sort of needed a husband. 

Fast forward six years, and voila! I found my prince, Leonard Morrison. Leonard and I have always believed God "arranged" our marriage, and we both wanted LOTS of children. So, we knew I needed to get my masters very quickly before we started having babies.  Thus, I got my MA in public school administration in record-breaking time. Fast forward through some wonderful parts and some hard stuff…  And, now that I am retiring and reflecting on my years as an educator, well, I still think I would have been an amazing momma to a bus load of kids. OH WAIT! Over these 35 years, it HAS indeed taken many, many buses to transport my children. I have loved so many kiddos; I have treasured so many staff members; I have worked for outstanding principals; and I have partnered with many of my children's parents. 

So, in daring greatly, sometimes the plans change. But the plans are still so good, and I have absolutely NO regrets. 

Thank you, Cinco family. I have cherished this time with you and will now DROP THE MIC for the next generation to pick up and carry on. Go Cougars!

Cheryl Morrison, Freshmen Assistant Principal
Proud Cinco Ranch Cougar

Monday, May 2, 2016

My American Dream

When I first stepped off the plane from England, I was scared and worried. The uncertainty that was before me was one that I had not known before. I never thought that I would have the best two years of my life. In 2014 I joined Cinco Ranch High School as a junior. When I first entered the school, the size of it blew my mind. Culturally, going from a small school in England with a size of 500 children to a school of 3,200 scared me, and so did the thought that I was an outsider trying to fit in, but I was wrong. Everyone I met was so welcoming: the teaching staff, the pupils and more importantly the soccer team. 

The first thing that drew me towards going to Cinco was the strong reputation for its successful soccer program. Soccer in England was my passion, I was quite apprehensive to try out, but when November came I tried out and was honored to make the varsity team.  The squad was full of talented individuals, and much to my own surprise, I found myself starting most games in the center of midfield. I was welcomed by the team instantly and began to make strong bonds with teammates, a group that I saw as my brothers. It was a very successful season, every game we wore the Cinco jersey with pride and were able to get the results we needed. Despite tough times when games drew close, the hard work and leadership saw us go to penalties on two separate occasions. The determination and skill shown by the team lead us further and further into the playoffs.  We made it through the playoffs with a perfect record of no losses and were set to go to state. It was one of the best experiences of my life; to know we had gone from more than 100 teams in Texas to the final 4 was mind blowing. 

Travelling to state and staying together was an unforgettable experience, bringing the team closer and leaving long lasting memories. We successfully made it to the state final against a difficult Brownsville Rivera team, sadly we lost. Tears filled my eyes but I was so proud of our achievements, to come this far was a great experience and even though we lost, it was the best season I had ever had as a player. The season came to an end, and it was devastating to say goodbye to my first true friends I had made in America, but I will never forget our final goodbye and the words they said “Take it all the way next year, make us proud”.

This year, a tough off-season began and we knew we had to fight and come together in order to be successful once again. We lost some key players, but talent and the strong bond between players still remained.  We fought hard through preseason with minimal ties and loses, it wasn’t a perfect season as it was last year.  Unfortunately we finished district at a slight low with two losses and a second place finish. However, this motivated us to work harder.  The team responded well when the playoffs came this year, the hunger and passion to go further and to complete what we failed to do last year has driven us to where we are now. We battled against two tough teams of Seven Lakes and Northshore to send us to the regional final versus Elsik. Despite tiredness the team gave it their all throughout the game. I was honored to head in the winning goal with 15 minutes to play and I knew we could hold on. The feeling of making it to the State tournament for the second time was extraordinary, we had created history, and we were the first boys’ team in Katy ISD to make it back to back to state. It was a wonderful achievement.

I am proud to say that I have had the best two years in my life as part of the Cinco Ranch Soccer Program, I have made long lasting friends and memories I will never forget. I have to add that we could not have done it without an amazing coach. Coach Whitfield has been the best coach I have ever worked with. His desire to win, his intelligence to help us become better individuals, both on and off the field, and finally his kind heart helped us be the successful squad we are today. The close bond he formed with each and every one of his players helped us find success on the field and off. It will be sad to say goodbye to a coach that has had such an impact on my life, but I know he will continue to bring success to the program. 

In conjunction, the support from both the pupils and the community has been fantastic, to look up at a filled stand is what drives us to win, not only us, but for the school. As state draws closer, I know that win or lose it has been a phenomenal experience, and I wouldn’t want to spend it with any other team. I am proud to have played soccer for Cinco Ranch High School, and I have for sure lived my American Dream.

Brady Johnston, Senior CRHS

Note:  Brady and our Cinco Ranch Boys' Soccer team played a phenomenal state semifinal match again an undefeated and eventual state champion Coppell team, but came up short in a 1-0 defeat. Both boys' and girls' soccer teams had incredible seasons, and we are extremely proud of them all! 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Black History is all of our History

"Dr. King shouted “Free at last, free at last . . . “  And his dream of a promised land did come to pass. The sit-ins, the marches and the demand for equal rights were necessary for those freed in darkness and deprived of light."  –Latorial Faison

How can one utter the words “Daring Greatly” without thinking about Black History and culture?  President Gerald R. Ford said the country needed to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”  The month of February became Black History month and should be celebrated and honored by all Americans not merely African Americans, for Black History is ALL of our history.

When we think about Daring Greatly, we can’t help but imagine the courage it took for African Americans to stand up for their race and fight for equality.  Many African Americans, not just the ones you read about in text books (e.g., Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman), have had to dare greatly to be heard, to be seen, to be accepted in a society that deemed them as inferior.

We are so grateful to our ancestors for choosing to be daring and brave in order for African Americans to have rights.  In the case of Brown v. Board of Education Topeka, several people had to dare greatly and come together to end segregation in the public schools.  Because of their efforts, students of all ethnic groups and cultures are able to learn together, compete together, and have a chance at an equal education here in Katy ISD.  Because of them, we are able to work here at Cinco Ranch High School and collaborate with parents, students, and staff members of a wide range of ethnicities. 

With Black History month coming to an end, let’s remember that all Americans, regardless of race, have benefited from and continue to benefit from the contributions of African Americans.  Again, Black History is ALL of our History.

"So, in my daily living, I do not dare ignore the sounds but am honored that my ancestors were strong and freedom bound.  When fellowmen can’t remember the truth about this sadness, pause to share with them one of the many sounds of Blackness" -Latorial Faison

Written by: Kia Jones-Bynum (Speech Language Pathologist) and Kenya Washington (Special Education Teacher)

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Life Full of Breath Taking Moments

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.  This quote has been attributed to a number of people in recent history. In my mind the idea of daring greatly can be related back to this quote. As teachers it is a daunting task to dare greatly in the class room. What if I fail? What if the kids see my vulnerability? How will this affect the learning in my classroom? Those are questions that immediately cross my mind when daring greatly is mentioned.

Next week students from Cinco Ranch and other Katy ISD schools will be competing at the Katy ISD Livestock Show and Rodeo. This is an opportunity to dare greatly on a completely different level. Ask a student about raising a livestock project and most will tell you it is one of the most challenging and rewarding activities they have ever participated in. To put this in perspective, understand that some of these students have been caring for their animals since the first week of June last year. This involves feeding twice a day as well as exercising, practicing showmanship, cleaning pens, buying feed and dealing with sickness and Texas weather. The final step in this project program is the Katy ISD Livestock Show.

This livestock show is considered terminal. For those of you that do not speak livestock terms, that means when the students enter the show grounds with the animal, it is no longer their property. All animals are sold at the conclusion of the show. Here is the take your breath away moment. Consider that these students invest all of these hours for a 5-10 minute presentation in the arena. The judge’s decision is final – there is no retest, mulligan or do over! One person’s opinion determines the outcome. I can’t think of a better example of daring greatly.

Each school year we present students with the opportunity to dare greatly. Cinco Ranch has a great variety of clubs and organizations that students can be involved with. If you take these examples one by one, certainly all of them have breath taking (daring greatly) moments. An FBLA member competing at the national contest, a debate student performing at a competition, a choir member presenting a solo and the list goes on and on. If you ask most students to talk about their fondest high school moments, they will revolve around teams, clubs and competitions. Everyone needs the opportunity to find their spot or group. 

In conclusion, it is my hope that all students find that activity or group that provides a breath taking moment to dare greatly. Good luck to all students competing at the livestock show as well as participating in other school activities. We would love to see you at the Katy Livestock Show and Rodeo next Wednesday through Saturday! 

John Ford, Ag Teacher, CTE Department Chair CRHS

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Paradox of Courage: A Parent's Perspective

Daring greatly - by being vulnerable

In the book Daring Greatly one chapter scared me to death…in fact, I skimmed it at first.  Then I went back.  I bet I started that chapter five times before I sat, finished it and allowed it to soak in…to change me.  The dreaded chapter four – The Vulnerability Armory. 

Mr. Cross has always pushed the Cougar community to stretch ourselves.  Chapter four was definitely a stretch to me.  Why does the word “vulnerable” scare me?  Us?  Why are we so afraid of being vulnerable.  What’s the harm?  Oh yeah – hurt, ridicule, embarrassment.  What if they see what my house really looks like?  What if they really knew how hard I had to study?  What if they knew that I was sad some of the time?  When did it become wrong to be vulnerable – to be real?

Want to know what I finally learned in the dreaded chapter four?  I learned that we all struggle with vulnerability.  I learned that everyone has some type of mask they pray does not get ripped off, discovered.  I learned that I had to redefine “joy.”  I needed to be grateful for even the smallest of things.  The sun shining, the car rider line moving smoothly, a good hair day – I was going to be grateful for more than the “obvious.”

The last thing I learned might shock you.  Hold onto your hat…I don’t need to be perfect.  Wow!  Mind-blowing; I know.  I can strive for excellence but don’t need to obtain perfection.  The scars I have gotten along the way, the cracks I have fallen in…they make me who I am.  They make me “enough.”  Learning that I did not need to be perfect changed my life.  Accepting me for me – that was something quite frankly that saved my life.  Yep; saved my life.  Uh oh – I am being vulnerable.  I am being honest.  I am being real.  Know what?  It feels pretty good.  
Maybe you are lucky and knew these things before me.  I am truly happy for you – but guess what – the new vulnerable me is here to tell you I needed to learn these things.  I sure am glad I did.  I want each of these things for my girls.  I want each of these things for you.  I want you to know that everyone around you struggles, worries and stresses.  Look around.  I dare you to be real with someone.  It might make you a new friend. 
I want you to find joy.  Find joy in the little things, in the ordinary.  Maybe you will see joy in your classmate who shares a pencil with you.  Maybe you will find joy in a smile from a stranger.  Hey, maybe you will find joy by smiling at a stranger. 

Perfection – don’t let it rule over you.  Embrace your scars.  Embrace each other.  Support each other.  Lend a hand when it’s needed and ask for one when you need it.  I am not kidding, chapter four changed my life.  Be vulnerable.  I dare you!  

Kym Pratt, Proud Cinco Ranch Parent