Monday, December 16, 2013

Principals return for Westwood Elementary’s 50th anniversary

Several hundred current students, teachers, staff and families joined four campus principals and dozens of former staff members and campus graduates to mark 50 years at Westwood Elementary School, 10595 Hammerly.
The Dec. 12 anniversary event was held in the cafeteria of the new school, built about a block west from the original 1963 facility located at the intersection of Tiger Trail and Shadowdale. The old school is now used for transitional training and office needs.
One highlight of this late afternoon gathering was the return of three principals, including the current superintendent of schools in Katy ISD, to Westwood. Four principals were present for the 50th anniversary gathering. They include:
  • Alton L. Frailey, Katy ISD Superintendent. Alton was Westwood principal from 1990 to 1994, and then served in numerous SBISD leadership roles, including assistant superintendent, area superintendent and as executive director of governmental operations.
  • Claudia Iselt, who was Westwood principal from 1994 to 1999. During her leadership, the school earned Recognized status from the Texas Education Agency through school and community efforts.
  • Cheryl Glasser, Westwood principal from 1999 to 2005. Principal Glasser is noted for establishing a community outreach program called SWAN, which helped inspire related district efforts, including the highly successful Good Neighbor program in operation today.
  • Kay Kennard, who is current campus principal. Today, Westwood is held in high district regard for its school-based programs ranging from KSHAC (Kids School Health Advisory Council) to problem-based learning through campus integration of technology.
Westwood’s 50th anniversary event began with remarks from the Student Council President, Cynthia Sanchez-Hidalgo, and SBISD Community Relations Officer Linda Buchman.
Cynthia Sanchez, a fifth-grader, compared the 50-year old school community to a attributes that describe the school’s mascot, the Westwood Lion: leadership, self-confidence, generosity, wisdom and passion.
Westwood’s KSHAC program helped her develop leadership skills, she said. “With this program, I’ve been able to see great leadership skills in action by doing events like community service at the Houston Food Bank,” she told the gathering.
“I am pretty sure that during these 50 years our Westwood family has been full of these characteristics of a lion because Westwood is all about helping our students reach their potential so they can be ready for the present and the future,” Cynthia said. “So, like I said, ‘Let’s roar like lions!’”
Community Relations Officer Buchman reminded many in the audience of how a day five years marking the new school groundbreaking was much like this anniversary – cold, damp and chilly outside, but warm, inspiring and filled with traditions on the inside.
Westwood students and staff continue to benefit from the enduring support that Westwood neighbors, parents, students and alumni continue to provide. “In Spring Branch, we are a unique enclave where community and our community schools are so important,” the Community Relations officer said.
Principal Kay Kennard introduced special guests and former principals. In her own remarks, she noted that 50 years is a significant milestone for any campus.
“We pride ourselves in being a school that offers academic excellence as well as a school culture that focuses on our students’ success through team learning and innovative practices,” she said.
In addition to its integration of learning and technology, KSHAC program and Seed to Plate nutrition program that promotes healthy meals and diet, Westwood is an innovator that has earned district and state-recognized afterschool program. “Our after-school programs support students in taking leadership roles as they move to our secondary schools, including a mentor program with past students,” Principal Kennard said.
Former Principal Claudia Iselt described how the school’s teachers, staff and local community worked together to win a Recognized state rating. “The biggest thrill I had was this: We did it together!”
In closing remarks before a reception with cake and library activities and displays, Principal Kennard urged guests to take part in the school’s ongoing 50th activities. These include a time capsule project with students and families contributing brief notes that will be opened 25 years from now; a Wall of Fame where all graduates are encouraged to submit photographs.
During the library reception, a well-edited collection of clippings and photographs from each decade was available for browsing. The time capsule project and many student-built displays were also popular.
School 50th anniversary sponsors included Chapelwood United Methodist Church, Oliver Foundation, Party Piñata and the Westwood PTA.


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