Year of firsts includes overall elementary win, 2nd graders competing, middle school invitational
Sulphur Springs Independent School District has been expanding and beefing up its academic UIL programs, recruiting more kids, adding younger grade levels and taking students to more competitive events.
This year marks a number of firsts for SSISD at all levels.
Sulphur Springs elementary students collectively won first place, defeating Pine Tree and Hallsville at the elementary level.
“This is SSISD’s second year in recent history to participate in elementary UIL. Last year, our team finishes third in the meet, but this year, our SSISD teams won first place,” SSISD Assistant Superintendent Josh Williams reported to school trustees at their regular April board meeting.
Overall, the elementary team consisting of 115 SSISD students comprised of mostly students from Sulphur Springs Elementary and Douglas Intermediate with a number of second graders from the three primary campuses, 33 coaches and five campus coordinators made the journey March 4 to Parkway Elementary School in Longview. This marked the first time Sulphur Springs second graders were allowed to compete, and they came home with awards in four categories.
The SSISD elementary team amassed 686 points, 55 more than Hallsville and 253 more than Pine Tree elementary teams. By the grade level, Sulphur Springs third and fourth graders outpaced those schools, while Hallsville second and fifth grades earned more points than Sulphur Springs’ second graders
Sulphur Springs second graders earned a total of 67 points, only three less than Hallsville, but considerable higher than Pine Tree second graders’ 46 point total. Sulphur Springs third graders earned 143 points, eight more than Hallsville and nearly three times that of Pine Tree third graders. At the fourth grade level, Sulphur Springs received 216 points, Hallsville 155 points and Pine Tree 100 points. Hallsville fifth graders however, earned 11 more points that Sulphur Springs fifth graders, while Pine Tree was only 24 points behind Sulphur Springs.
“We expect our elementary program to generate enthusiasm for academic UIL, thereby increasing student participation through our middle school and high school programs. We believe that increased participation will increase SSISD’s statewide competitiveness at the high school level,” Williams noted.
SSES and Douglas Intermediate will hold celebrations April 24 for all elementary UIL competitors as well as those students who practiced but were unable to travel with the team, with second graders being bused to SSES to be feted for their achievements. Programs will be pep rally style, with high school cheerleaders and band members performing.
For the first time this year, middle school students were able to participate in an invitational meet in Hallsville, where the district academic UIL meet was held about a month later.
“We took 212 students and 21 coaches in 15 degree F to Hallsville to compete. We were able to take 16 first place spots over Hallsville. The experience and confidence gained from this invitational competition is believed to be responsible for the increased success at the district meet,” SSMS UIL coordinator Kathy Wright noted of the Jan. 7 UIL invitational.
The invitational meet gave students designated as alternates a chance to compete, something they are unable to do at district competition. Thus, the SSMS district academic UIL team consisted of only 171 students and 22 coaches.
SSMS came in second overall for the sweepstakes award, overtaking Pine Tree by 884 points to 762 points at the Feb. 4 district UIL meet at Hallsville Junior High. The middle school title, however, went to Hallsville, who amassed 1,156 points. SSMS was also came in second overall at both the sixth and seventh grade levels, and was third at the eighth grade level. At the sixth grade level Hallsville amassed 357 points, SSMS 253 points, Pine Tree 208 points. Seventh graders from Hallsville earned 380 points and SSMS 355 points and Pine Tree 238 points. Eight graders earned 379 points for Hallsville, 308 points for Pine Tree and 242 points for Sulphur Springs. SSMS also was second in One-Act Play competition, earning 34 points to Hallsville’s 40 points, with Texas Middle School in third with 23 points.
Wright noted that the points spread between the top 3 school was significantly less this year than in previous years, giving SSMS students added incentive to work extra hard next year to try to overtake Pine Tree at all grade levels, and perhaps edge out Hallsville too.
An awards ceremony was held at SSMS Feb. 21, with about 350 in attendance. All UIL participants were also recognized Feb. 17 at a SSMS academic pep rally.
The high school has students competing and advancing to state in two new writing events, the Barbara Jordan Historical Essay Competition and the Latino History Essay Competition. Although only the second year SSHS has competed, the school has one theatrical design team and one individual set designer advancing to state UIL competition as well.
SSHS is sending 16 individuals and four teams this week to the state academic UIL meet as well.
It was also noted that the district was able to save a little bit on costs of attending district, by getting with the hosting school to purchase a meal ticket for $5 for each UIL competitor rather than giving each student $8 to spend as they chose on a meal, as has been the case in the past
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