Monday, November 24, 2014

Two SBISD Schools Join SPARK Week Celebration

Dedication ceremonies were held at two Spring Branch ISD campuses on Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 to mark the 31st year of the SPARK School Park Program, which has now built and opened 200 campus-based, family friendly parks across Houston.

Six schools were featured during Spark Week, including SBISD’s Spring Forest Middle and Pine Shadows Elementary schools in SBISD. Dedications were also held at four HISD campuses.

Most  of SBISD’s 18 Spark Parks are based at elementary schools, but the Nov. 18 dedication at Spring Forest Middle School showed what can happen when students, parents and a school team dream big about a secondary-level campus.

Spring Forest’s new Spark Park includes a giant, two-story wall mosaic of 190 flags at the entrance of the school created by students and artist Rose Toro. “Flags represent what it means to be a multicultural campus in the middle of a big, multicultural city like Houston,” the artist said after the recent dedication.

The middle school art project incorporates mosaics into several murals or related signs. Mosaics were installed at the entrance to the music and fine arts wing. Mosaic sports balls and an inspirational word wall stand at the rear of the school.

Highlights include a huge, spirited Bobcat painting on the competition gym wall; large, colorful banners posted at the rear entrance; welcome signage front and back; inspirational courtyard quotations; a multi-use sport court; and native Texas landscaping, new benches and trash cans.

Stratford High School senior Andrew Ford, a Spring Forest Middle School graduate, put more than 50 hours of work into the acrylic Bobcat painting. A fan of classic modern auto design, the senior had never before painted such a large animal figure.

“I was skeptical at first about doing it, but I was glad that I did,” said Ford as he stood next to his large-scale work. His future goal is an industrial design career.

Jennifer Bradshaw, Spring Forest Middle’s PTA Park Project chair, said that students had sold lollipops and the PTA held a letter-writing campaign to families, area businesses and firms. The group was able to raise more than $80,000 through candy sales and letter appeals.

SPARK Park donors are listed on a huge, “Giving Tree” style mosaic of glass and tiles. Other funding for the park includes $5,000 from SBISD and $10,000 from SPARK.

The Spring Forest Middle School Park dedication event included remarks by SBISD leaders. Houston City Council’s Jack Christie, a three-term SBISD and State Board of Education board member, told students and parents to think positively about their middle school.

Student groups performed songs and dance routines as part of the indoor dedication, which was held inside due to cold weather.

“You are in Spring Branch, Texas, the best place in the world, and Spring Forest Middle School, the best school in the world!” Christie exclaimed. (See detailed list of dedication special guests at Spring Forest Middle below.) 

Dedication ceremonies for Pine Shadows Elementary’s SPARK Park were held Nov. 19. The new park, called a re-SPARK project, resulted from the rebuilding of the elementary school as part of the 2007 Bond program. Thirteen elementaries have been or are being rebuilt under the plan.
The Pine Shadows Park includes new playground equipment and an outdoor classroom. The four-seat walls of the outdoor classroom are decorated with student-made tiles. Art teacher Alyssa Beauchamp and a SPARK Park artist, Rose Toro, assisted students.

The Pine Shadows project cost roughly $125,000, of which $98,000 was paid for by Community Development Block Grant funds obtained through the City of Houston. The park design was led by SHW Group, LLP, now called Stantec.

Pine Shadows PTA, staff and student fundraising efforts included the sale of commemorative bricks, SPARK Park T-shirts, water bottles, and appeals for donations. Spring Branch ISD has donated $5,000. Other donations included $5,000 from Harris County Precinct 4, Jack Cagle’s office, and $10,000 from Spring Branch Management District. Bayou City Fellowship made a donation to the school-community park, also.

Special guest speakers at the outdoors Pine Shadows dedication included Houston City Council Member Brenda Stardig and Neal Rackleff with the City of Houston’s Housing and Community Development Dept.

“I went to school next door at Spring Woods Junior High,” Councilwoman Stardig said. “I want to thank the SPARK Park Board for being here once again, and stepping up with another project. This we know: SPARK Parks help the neighborhood and schools.”

The City of Houston’s Neal Rackleff noted that President Barack Obama, through federal funds used to build the park, deserved some public credit. As a first-generation college graduate, and a law school graduate, he encouraged students in the Pine Shadows Fifth-Grade Choir to reach for the stars in their own lives.

“Education has been a huge blessing in my life. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t go on to college, or find your dream!” he proclaimed.
Spring Branch ISD Superintendent Duncan Klussmann, Ed.D., praised the ongoing commitment of the district and the SPARK Park Board and its dedicated executive director, Kathleen Ownby. (See detailed list of dedication event special guests at Pine Shadows Elementary below)
Dedications were hosted at four HISD campuses: Chavez High School, Revere Middle School, and Helms and Port Houston elementary schools.

Spring Forest Middle School SPARK Park – Dedication Details

Spring Forest Middle School is featured inside the new 2015 SPARK Art Calendar for June.
Trees for Houston, with assistance by volunteers from College of Wooster, planted 30 trees.

Special Guests included the following:
  • Emily Taylor with District 7 U.S. Rep. John Culberson’s office presented a flag flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
  • Wendi Lojo with Texas Sen. Dan Patrick’s office presented a flag that flew over the Capitol in Austin.
  • Deanna Harrington with District 133 Texas Rep. Jim Murphy’s office presented a certificate of recognition.
  • Spring Forest Principal Kaye Williams, Ed.D., was master of ceremonies for the event.
  • Spring Forest Middle Spark Committee and PTA members Jennifer Bradshaw, Alison White and Roxanne Yose were introduced.
  • Stratford High student and artist Andrew Ford was introduced as a special student artist.
  • Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan made special remarks.
  • SBISD Associate Superintendent Jennifer Blaine, Ed.D., represented the district superintendent.
  • SBISD Trustee and Spark Board Member Chris Gonzalez made special remarks.
  • SBISD Spark Liaison Kris Drosche attended representing SBISD Planning and Construction.
  • SPARK Board members Michele Fraga and Massoud Dioun attended.
  • Also scheduled to attend were Al Sloan with College of Wooster and Trees for Houston representatives.

Pine Shadows Elementary re-SPARK – Dedication Details

Pine Shadows Elementary is featured in the 2015 SPARK Park calendar for November.
All Pine Shadows students received a SPARK Coloring Book to celebrate the occasion.
Trees for Houston with Carlson Wagonlit Travel volunteers planted 26 park trees.

Special Guests included the following:
  • Pine Shadows Elementary Principal Joyce Olson helped dedicate the new SPARK Park.
  • The lead architect was Ashlea Hogancamp, and the contractor was E-Contractors.
  • Heather Ramsay of District 2 U.S. Rep. Ted Poe’s office presented a flag that flew over the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
  • Texas State Rep. Dwayne Bohac’s office provided a flag that flew over the Texas Capitol.
  • Brenda Deruen of Texas Sen. District 15 John Whitmire’s office presented a certificate of recognition.
  • SPARK Park artist Rose Toro attended.
  • Elizabeth Stinsman with Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle attended.
  • SBISD Trustee and Spark Board Member Chris Gonzalez made special remarks.
  • David and Josh Hawes with the Spring Branch Management District attended.
  • SBISD Spark Liaison Kris Drosche represented SBISD Planning and Construction.
  • SPARK Board members Michele Fraga, Mark Lee and Massoud Dioun attended.

For more SPARK Park information:
(832) 393-0911 


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