This Week's Headlines

Dobie ninth-grade center opening postponed

Chamber honors top-10 graduates

CCISD robotics place 2nd in world

HPD officer charged with DWI after annual South Belt cook-off

Sagemont to honor Texas soldiers

UHCL releases faculty research briefs

UHCL Pearland facility opens in 2019

UHCL announces upcoming events

CCISD pays tribute to volunteers of the year

San Jac sets calendar dates, deadlines

CCEF hosts annual fashion show

CC Education Foundation seeks nominations for annual awards

Groundbreaking for Ellington’s new control tower

PISD announces fine arts calendar

Early college students honored

Brook’s Padilla, Herrera at state tennis

BHI boys’ athletics to welcome Arroyo as Battlin’ Bears’ leader

LSA athletes sign collegiately

San Jacinto College softball to nationals

SJC baseball to make 25th series appearance

SJC hoopsters pick universities

Dobie football spring game May 26 at Veterans

Athletics physicals – urgency stressed


Dobie ninth-grade center opening postponed

The opening of the new Dobie ninth-grade center has been postponed until early 2018, according to Pasadena Independent School District officials.

Originally scheduled to open in August 2017 for the 2017-2018 school year, the campus is now expected to open in January 2018.

School officials sent a letter to parents notifying them of the delay.

“The building will be first class, state of the art and beautiful,” said Dobie Principal Franklin Moses and Dobie Ninth-Grade Campus Principal Mike Van Essen in the joint letter. “Construction crews have been working diligently the past 14 months. We want to make sure that all parts of this campus are in pristine condition and ready to be utilized for your student’s arrival. Factors out of our control, such as weather conditions and other circumstances have delayed the opening of the new campus to January 2018.”

To be located at the southeast corner of Fuqua and Monroe, the campus was approved by voters in November 2014 as part of a $175 million bond package.

The new facility is needed to alleviate overcrowding at the area school, as Dobie has been at its maximum capacity for more than a decade.

When the new Blackhawk campus was constructed as part of a 2000 bond issue, it was designed to accommodate 3,000 students. A subsequent bond issue in 2004 increased student capacity by 525, bringing the total to 3,525.

Campus enrollment, however, topped 4,000 students at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.

Last school year, the campus had 14 portable buildings, including 12 double-classroom buildings and two quad-classroom buildings.

In the fall of 2014, Dobie was named one of the 100 largest high schools in America. With a reported 3,452 students, Dobie ranked No. 88 on the list.

According to PISD officials, however, Dobie’s enrollment at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year was actually 3,708 students (1,005 freshmen, 994 sophomores, 887 juniors and 822 seniors). Using this figure, the school would have been ranked No. 56 on the list.

By 2018-2019, enrollment at Dobie is expected to reach 4,200. PISD officials expect the proposed campus to reduce enrollment at the primary campus to approximately 3,100-3,200 students, with a capacity for enrollment at the ninth-grade center of 1,000-1,100 students.

The facility will house only first year ninth-graders. Students will have the same academic and extracurricular opportunities as students on the main campus.

School officials are confident the postponement is in the students’ best interest.

“We certainly understand that this is not ideal, but be assured that we will still be able to keep our three promises to each incoming freshman at J. Frank Dobie High School, which is to keep them safe, provide them with a high quality education and an ultimate high school experience,” Moses and Van Essen said in the notification letter.

“We will continue to inform you of the progress and notify you of any changes during the fall semester.

“We do appreciate your patience and trust to do what is best for your students.”

Chamber honors top-10 graduates

Community leaders and elected officials gathered Tuesday, May 16, at a luncheon hosted by the South Belt-Ellington Chamber of Commerce to honor the top-10 2017 graduates from Dobie High School, Lutheran South Academy and Clear Horizons High School.

Dr. Victor Van Phan, an orthopedic surgeon from Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital, once again served as the featured speaker at the event.

Phan, a 1988 Dobie graduate, stressed to the esteemed students the need for a strong work ethic. Having lost both of his parents by the age of 14, Phan said he grew up always having to work two to three jobs to survive.

“What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger,” Phan said.

The speaker recalled growing up just three miles away from the Golfcrest Country Club where the luncheon was held and applying for a job while still in high school. He was forced to look elsewhere, however, when he was told he would have to purchase three white shirts – something he could not afford at the time.

Phan told the students that life will not be without its challenges.

“You will fail,” Phan said. “Your parents haven’t taught you that. Whether in college or your career, you will fail. It’s what you do during that failure that defines who you are. Failure is not a weakness.”

Phan further reminded the students of their own mortality.

“You will die,” Phan said, before reciting a quote he attributed to Abraham Lincoln. “It’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years.”

“Are you going to truly live?” Phan asked. “It’s easier said than done.” Phan concluded by telling the students they were “invincible.”

At last year’s event, Phan pledged to donate $10,000 annually in scholarship funds to be divided among the local high schools. Winners of this year’s Dr. Victor Van Phan Scholarships are Valencia Barrientos (Dobie), Rachel Bivens (Lutheran South), Sofia Fernandez (Lutheran South Academy), Francisco Moreno (Dobie), Taylor Nguyen (Dobie), Than-Nguyen Pham (Dobie) and Samaria Wilson (Dobie). Reportedly, no students from Clear Horizons applied for the assistance this year.

Dobie’s Moreno was also recognized as being the recipient of the Sally Mitchell Scholarship, named in honor of the South Belt-Ellington Chamber of Commerce’s former executive director.

Like Mitchell, Moreno also lost a parent at a young age.

“He’s worked so hard and should be proud of himself in so many different ways,” Mitchell said.

The top-10 Dobie graduates are (in alphabetical order) Thanh (Bill) Huynh, Steven Ly, Derek Nguyen, Johnathan Nguyen, Steven Nguyen, Christiana Nnabuife, Adam Padilla, Vy Pham, Leanna Ta and Kelly Tran.

The top-10 Lutheran South Academy graduates are Trevor Bishop, Gill Bradley, Jake Cabler, Sofia Fernandez, Josh Gohlke, Will Hancock, Riley Rankin, Justin Roy, Tara Ruth and Elaine Soliman.

The top-10 Clear Horizons graduates are Adam Cardenas, Jennifer Dan, Trish Huynh, Michelle Katemauswa, Rebecca Nguyen, Megan Perry, Sofia Scharunovych, Sarah Shehreen, Vy Tran and Leni Varghese.

See related photos in the Leader’s 2017 graduation issue on June 1.

CCISD robotics place 2nd in world

Students from the Clear Creek Independent School District placed second in the world at a recent robotics competition.

More than 15,000 students from around the world traveled to Houston last month, putting their innovation skills to the test at the inaugural FIRST Championship, held at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Minute Maid Park and Discovery Green.

The four-day event, attended by nearly 30,000 people, came down to a heart-pounding conclusion Saturday, April 22, in front of thousands of cheering fans at Minute Maid Park when teams from FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and FIRST Tech Challenge competed in match finals.

With a structure much like March Madness, CCISD’s The Robonauts finished as the number one seed in the Newton Division, then selected three teams, Citrus Circuits, Davis, Calif.; Columbus Space Program, Columbus, Ga., and Energy HEROs, Houston. This “alliance” then went on to win the Newton Division, which earned the alliance a trip to the Elite Eight, more affectionately called “Einstein.” In front of more than 25,000 robotics fans, The Robonauts had a great showing in the FRC world finals by placing second in the world.

The team had competed across the country prior to the world championship.
The Robonauts are the CCISD’s high school robotics team with coaches from the school district and the NASA Johnson Space Center.

The team is composed of 64 members from throughout the district, with 24 members being from either Clear Brook High School or Clear Horizons Early College High School.

Local team members include Yuka Abe (Clear Brook, 10th grade), Taylor Cao (Clear Brook, 11th grade), Sakshi Kulkarni (Clear Brook, 10th grade), Amanda Lu (Clear Brook, 11th grade), Elena Michnovicz (Clear Brook, 11th grade), Claire Romero (Clear Brook, 10th grade), Chanmarie Un (Clear Brook, 10th grade), Christa Westheimer (Clear Brook, 10th grade), Jessa Westheimer (Clear Brook, 12th grade), Brennan Butcher (Clear Brook, 12th grade), Danny Nguyen (Clear Brook, 11th grade), Bhargav Parthasarathy (Clear Brook, 11th grade), Marcus Schlauch (Clear Brook, 10th grade), Wittiker Schlauch (Clear Brook, 12th grade), Alec Shih (Clear Brook, 10th grade), Hunter Smith (Clear Brook, 11th grade), Michael Vidales (Clear Brook, 12th grade), Zain Virani (Clear Brook, ninth grade), Gabrielle LaRochelle (Clear Horizons, 11th grade), Megan Perry (Clear Horizons, 12th grade), Aaron Beaty (Clear Horizons, 11th grade), Alex Campos (Clear Horizons, 11th grade), Nuriel Canizal (Clear Horizons, 12th grade) and Chamikera Dharmawardene (Clear Horizons, 11th grade).

For its project entry, the team designed a shooting robot named Ruckus. For additional information on Ruckus, visit

The Robonauts, named in recognition of the NASA humanoid, participated in the FIRST Robotics Competition, the varsity “Sport for the Mind.” “It’s as close to ‘real-world engineering’ as a student can get,” coaches said.

FIRST Robotics Competition combines sports excitement with rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources and time limits, teams are challenged to raise funds, design a brand, exercise teamwork and build and program robots to perform tasks against competitors.

The tournament proved to be rewarding for both coaches and students alike.

“For the Robonauts, the 2017 Houston FRC championship event was exciting, nerve-wracking, and it was a tremendous learning experience for both our students and mentors,” said Lead CCISD Mentor Candace Campanelli. “We are extremely proud that we made it to the world championship finals and were able to see all our hard work pay off.”


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