Archive by Author | Austin Partners In Education

April Newsletter: A Slice of APIE

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Happy Volunteer Appreciation Month! We’re endlessly grateful to you, our dedicated volunteers. Without you, APIE wouldn’t be … APIE!

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Our students love when you take time out of your day to work with them!

“They help me and they’re nice and they give us extra help.” – Judy

“They take the time to explain it to us step by step.” – Samantha

“We still do work but it’s a little bit of a break because it’s fun work.” – Gerardo

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And it appears that you love your time with the students, too!

“The students keep me young!” – Joan

“I like giving back to the community. If you give a person an education, it’s like teaching them to fish.” – Dave

“I walk away from every volunteer opportunity with such great fulfillment.  It is great to do something for the kids and the community.” – Kalandra


Andrew DurhamVolunteer Spotlight | Andrew Durham

Hi Andrew! How has your experience as a Math Classroom Coach been so far?

It has been great. The students are very respectful, willing to learn and always very happy to see us when we walk in the door. We have a great group of tutors and the classroom teacher is very welcoming – a positive experience all around.

Why did you decide to become a Classroom Coach?

I used to tutor High School math whilst at University, and I wanted to get involved again and offer any help to encourage the next generation. When I heard about the opportunity at APIE and the experiences of other tutors it compelled me to sign up. My sons are a similar age to these students I help tutor, so it also gives me an up-to-date refresher for our homework time!

In general, what do you like about volunteering – what keeps you coming back?

I like seeing someone having that “lightbulb moment”, when a concept sinks in and they are able to repeat and master the new ability. Each person can take a slightly different length of time to pick up new theories or ideas, and sometimes we as tutors can offer that little extra one-on-one attention that is the encouragement to realize the concept.

Do you have any favorite stories about your students so far?

One girl was struggling with ratios for the majority of the lesson. Finally, it clicked right as the bell rang. As the others packed up, she finished the problem herself and seemed very proud that she figured it out (and wouldn’t have to complete it for homework)!

As a volunteer, what lasting impact do you hope to have on your students?

My goal is to offer a familiar face, giving them an opportunity to ask questions and progress each week. I aim to encourage them to stick with math, keep trying and it will start to make sense. As an engineer – I like to offer them proof that math really is used in the real world.

Why should someone volunteer as a Classroom Coach?

It is a great way to get out of the office and have a change of scenery that is 100% different than the rest of the work-week. Sitting in the classroom is by far the fastest and most enjoyable 45 minutes of my week. It is also important that students see people (other than parents and teachers) care about them and perhaps it may also inspire them to volunteer in the future.

Donor Spotlight | Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation

Cathy & Norma IICF reception

Executive Director Cathy Jones with IICF Board Member Norma Essary

Special thanks to the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) for their recently awarded grant to APIE’s College Readiness program.  IICF Board member, Norma Essary, also CEO of Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas, recommended APIE to IICF and we are deeply grateful.

The IICF is a unique organization that helps communities and enriches lives by uniting the collective strength of the insurance industry through grants, volunteer service, and leadership. The IICF has served as the philanthropic branch of the insurance industry for more than 25 years. During their annual Week of Giving,  IICF member, The Zenith Company, has supported APIE over the past two years during its annual Week of Giving and has also provided volunteer support several other times.

“I look forward to our volunteer experiences with APIE because it helps me learn and understand the needs of our community. I know how important it was for me to grow up with an education and I want every kid out there to have the same opportunity, regardless of their circumstances.  The work that APIE is doing for our community will have far-reaching implications and I’m happy to be able to partner with them to make a difference.” Lisa – The Zenith Company

Thank you, IICF!

Join us at Salute!


Save the Date!  APIE is hosting a Volunteer Appreciation Event on Wednesday, June 5th!

Picnic in the Park!

Pease Park – 4:30 pm – 7:30pm

Refreshments provided

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March Spring Greeting

Spring has Sprung

January 2019 Newsletter: A Slice of APIE

January Newsletter

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Welcome back, volunteers! In this issue, we share our program results, spotlight several of APIE’s supporters, and kick off the new year celebrating National Mentoring Month.

National Mentoring Month


Americans are overwhelmingly crossing racial, economic, and other bridges to mentor young people outside their families. As reported by the National Mentoring Partnership, one-in-three young Americans are growing up without a mentor to offer real-life guidance, leading to possible disconnection from school and work.

With a Mentor, a child is:

  • 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school
  • 55% more likely to be enrolled in college
  • 46% less likely than their peers to start using drugs
  • 81% more likely to report participating regularly in sports extracurricular activities
  • 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities
  • 130% more likely to say that they held a leadership position in a club or sports team

-As reported by the National Mentoring Partnership

Refer a Friend | Spread the Word About APIE

thank you notesSpring semester has begun, and we are looking for caring adults to join us in the classrooms. Have you asked your friends, coworkers, or neighbors, “Do you like working with students?  Can you give one hour a week to enrich the education of  a young learner?”  We would love for them to join APIE! Click here to register.

Listen to more testimonials about volunteering with APIE here.

Volunteer Spotlight | Rick Schumacher


Rick Schumacher, APIE Mentor

Rick Schumacher has been an APIE mentor since 2010. As a military veteran, Rick recognized volunteering with APIE aligns with his passion for providing service to the community.

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

I am a Tillman Scholar. The Tillman Foundation provides scholarships to military veterans and spouses. Part of our ethos is a dedication to service. Mentoring seemed like a great way to provide service to my community.

Additionally, I was lucky enough to have a mentor when I was a kid. He had a big impact on where I am today. I want to pay it forward.

What activities do you do with your mentee?

Mostly we eat lunch and talk about school, life, and video games. We also like to play board games. I am in a unique position in that I have two mentees, one in second grade and the other in seventh. It is interesting to contrast the two. I have mentored the seventh-grader since he was in kindergarten. Back then, we started playing with simple toys; and now, we are playing chess. It has been great to see him progress over the years.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a mentor?

Sometimes there are issues that have come up that are just too big for me to handle. Maybe it is a situation at home or maybe there is an issue of bullying. It is great to know that I am not alone. The counselors and teachers have always been available.

Have you had a specific “breakthrough” moment or story where you’ve shared a positive session with your mentee?

When you go into the mentoring relationship, you usually get some background on the mentee, home life or particular concerns at school. I had one mentee for two years and it was half-way through the second year when he finally opened up about his background. It was just like any other conversation we had ever had, easy and without hesitation. I was so happy that I was able to bridge that gap and become someone he could just talk to without the filters.

What advice do you have for mentors in the future?

  • Meet the kids where they are. You have to tap into your inner 8-year-old.
  • Be honest and open. They will know if you are trying to sugarcoat something.
  • Set goals with your mentee. All A’s or no behavior problems? Wear a clown wig to lunch. Get creative!

Program Results | Annual Evaluation Report 2017-2018

The results are in and you helped make a difference! Thank you for being a part of APIE’s initiative to connect the community and the classroom. We know our volunteers increase students’ self-confidence and improve their test scores, too.

Math Classroom Coaching Program

Eighth-grade students from seven middle schools participated in APIE’s Math Classroom Coaching Program to prepare for Algebra I in high school. In 2018, our strongest results were with our Hispanic students, who make up 76% of our math program and met the STAAR Math passing standard at significantly higher rates than did their matched peers. APIE participants also developed greater awareness of math-related careers.

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College Readiness Program

Overall, 487 seniors from 10 AISD high schools participated in APIE’s College Readiness Program. Significantly greater percentages of APIE CR program participants than of a matched comparison group met college readiness criteria on college admissions tests (i.e. ACT, SAT, and TSI) and completed college admissions and financial aid applications


Donor Spotlight | Patty Steinwedell


Patty Steinwedell, APIE Supporter

Patty works for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) and has been an active APIE donor and volunteer with the Middle School Math Classroom Coaching program for two years. We asked her a few questions about her experience as an APIE Volunteer, and about her reasons for giving back.

Why do you get involved in the community? 

In order to feel at home in a place, it’s important to make a contribution.  Contributions include time, talent, and resources.  Involvement in the community gives me a chance to learn new things, to share some things I’ve learned, and to feel grounded where I live.  Getting involved creates a common history that binds us together and makes a place feel like home.

What inspired you to volunteer with Austin Partners In Education and what have you enjoyed most about it?

I work at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and they offer a program giving TRS employees time to go volunteer with APIE.  It was an easy decision to take part! Volunteering with APIE is a great opportunity to give back to the community TRS serves.  I chose to be a Math Classroom Coach because of my various careers in insurance, as a stay at home mom, and in finance, all required a strong foundation in math.  Without strong math skills, I would not have been successful in any of these careers.  I’m not the first one to say this, and I believe it completely: The only investment with guaranteed returns is an education.

What’s one of your favorite stories from your time volunteering with APIE?

One group I worked with included four students who had a lot of fun with each other, but sometimes their attention to math wasn’t a high priority.  For any age, it’s hard for math to compete with phones and paper football and sports and social conversations, but maybe especially for 8th graders.  I sometimes wondered if any of the lessons were sinking in, but then at the end of the year, I received a handmade card from all of them that was heartfelt and proved they had been listening more than I knew.  And Shakira’s card was so honest it brought a chuckle:  “Thank you for working with me and helping me.  Even though most of the time the group was loud and playing, I appreciate you sticking with us and not leaving.”

Austin Marathon | Sam & Grace Dowd

The 2019 Austin Marathon is quickly approaching! On February 17th, runners will compete in the Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K while fundraising for their favorite nonprofit organizations. During last year’s race, Sam and Grace Dowd raised over $6,000 for Austin Partners In Education. Here’s an inside look on their experience!

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Sam & Grace Dowd, Austin Marathon Participants and APIE Supporters

“We were nervous at first about soliciting donations, but after we drafted a letter together and sent it out we received an incredible response! There are so many people looking for great organizations to support in Austin, and we were thrilled to tell people more about the scope and scale of APIE’s work. The outpouring of support served as tremendous motivation to run hard for APIE. We cannot wait to start the process again.”

APIE will be returning to mile 22 to hand out water and cheer Austin Marathon runners on! Volunteer to join the fun during this city-wide event. On February 17th, two shifts are offered: 7:30AM to 11:00AM, and 10:30AM to 2:00PM. To sign-up, please e-mail Andrea Panter – See you on race day!

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October 2018 Newsletter: A Slice of APIE

October 2018

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Our Mentoring and Math Classroom Coaching programs are officially back in full swing! From students and teachers to staff here at APIE, we are so grateful for your commitment to supporting the success of young Austinites. Thank you! In this issue, be sure to check out tips and testimonials from our community members.

Refer a Friend | Spread the Word About APIE

IMG_2025“The mentorship you give students really makes a difference in their lives. Volunteers are needed in all schools.  Please sign up to help and make a difference in a child’s life. -Joan, APIE Math Classroom Coach

“Not only does my mentee get excited about me coming every week, but his friends do, too. We really need more volunteers.” -Derrick, APIE Mentor

We are still looking to fill spots in our Math Classroom Coaching and Mentoring programs! Have you asked your friends, coworkers, or neighbors, “Do you like working with students?  Can you give one hour a week to enrich the education of  a young learner?”  We would love for them to join APIE! Click here to register.

Listen to more testimonials about volunteering with APIE here.

Quick Bites of APIE | Tips for Math Classroom Coaches

  • Relationships are an essential part of learning.  Spend time getting to know your students.  Make sure you know their names and use them.  Ask them questions to learn about their lives.  As a volunteer, you are modeling the relationship you want to have with them, and how they can relate to their world.
  • Be patient.  Students may become disengaged when learning difficult concepts.   Math is a subject that takes time to learn.  Math Classroom Coaches answer questions, guide the discussion, and help find successes to balance out failures.
  • Make math relevant. Whenever possible, relate concepts to everyday life. Even if the student doesn’t think a lesson is applicable, remind them when math can be used in the world around them.  Share your enthusiasm for math and learning!
  • Celebrate mistakes.  A mistake is an opportunity to learn.  Help students examine their mistakes so they can learn what they still need to learn!
  • Praise effort. Celebrate students’ progress by acknowledging their effort.  Give genuine and specific praise for their behaviors that you would like to reinforce.  (“I like that you asked questions to make sure you understood what the problem is asking for” or “I like how you explained the problem to your friend.”)
  • Have fun. The relationships you build with your students over the year may impact their worldview, and yours. Students look forward to having a caring community member come into their classroom. Remember to enjoy math, your students, and yourself!

Happy Hour Recap

On Tuesday, September 25th APIE volunteers, donors, staff and Board members toasted the new school year at Austin Eastciders. We enjoyed a variety of ciders as well as delicious hors d’oeuvres provided by a friend of APIE, and donated by Trader Joe’s. Thank you to everyone who was able to join us!

Giving Tuesday | November 27, 2018

Save the date

This holiday season, give the gift of a mentor or a tutor to students across Austin ISD. APIE greatly appreciates your volunteer work with Austin ISD students, and we are able to create even more of an impact through generous donations.

Mark your calendars to support our Mentoring and Math Classroom Coaching programs on November 27.


Fall Day of Caring | September 21, 2018

JP Morgan

APIE gives a warm “thank you” to our friends at United Way Central Texas for hosting Fall Day of Caring 2018! Members from JP Morgan Chase came to help prepare materials for APIE’s Math Classroom Coaching program as we kicked off the new school year. Thank you, JP Morgan and UWATX!



2019 Austin Marathon | Join Our Team!


The 2019 Austin Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K will take place on Sunday, February 17, 2019.  Registration is open, and we hope you will join our team here!

For updates, insider stories, and increasing price notifications follow Austin Partners In Education on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


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August 2018 Newsletter: A Slice of APIE

August 2018

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Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year from our Executive Director, Cathy Jones:

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APIE in the Classroom | Register Today! 

IMG_2031Interested in volunteering? Registration is now open for our Math Classroom Coaching and Mentoring Programs!

This year, APIE will be launching a new opportunity to work with sixth grade Pre-AP math students and eighth grade Algebra I students at Sadler-Means, Dobie, and Martin middle schools.

Click here to support Austin students by becoming a Math Classroom Coach or Mentor today. For more information, please contact Andrea Panter at

 Come Celebrate the School Year! | Happy Hour with APIE 

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Come meet APIE staff!

On Tuesday, September 25th, APIE will be hosting our annual Happy Hour at Austin Eastciders from 5:00-7:00 PM. The first 25 guests will receive a drink on us. Come celebrate the new school year with us as we welcome new and returning volunteers!





Employee Health & Wellness | Greater Austin Business Awards 2018


APIE was honored to be nominated in 3 categories for the 2018 Greater Austin Business Awards presented by the Austin Chamber of Commerce. We took home the Ascension Seton Employee Wellness Award for our outstanding participation in the Go 365 program!

Volunteer Spotlight | Hailey Kim

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Hailey Kim is a pre-dental student at UT Austin. She’s been volunteering with APIE as a Math Classroom Coach since fall 2017. Read below to hear a firsthand account of what volunteering with APIE is all about! Hailey

What inspired you to be a volunteer?  

I enjoy working with kids, helping students learn, and encouraging them to take control of their own education. Volunteering with APIE has been a great way to empower students.

In general, what do you like about volunteering – what keeps you coming back?

The kids. They’re really enthusiastic. Once they figure out a concept, they’re really excited. Sometimes it can be challenging, but I love coaching them through and helping them get to that point of solving problems by themselves.

 What road blocks have you been met with?

Balancing the difference in skill levels of the students can be challenging when you’re working with groups in three or four. It can be discouraging for the student moving slower than the rest of the group, but having one of their own peers help with a concept can be helpful for them too.  They like working together!

Has this experience influenced your interests as you think about a career/community involvement after college?

Yes. Working with these kids really encourages me to work hard in whatever I study, seeing them put so much effort into what they’re studying! I tell them, it’s okay to fail, as long as we learn from our mistakes. I want to continue to work with kids as I go into dentistry. I hope to be a source of encouragement to young kids and be empowering to them as they learn the importance of education.

Why should someone volunteer as a Classroom Coach?

It’s a great experience for both the tutor and the student. The kids are getting more individualized attention and learning from you and your peers. You’re also learning from these kids. You learn to be more patient and understanding. A lot of students have other struggles outside of school, and maybe school is not their most important matter at that age. But it’s still encouraging to let them know that education can set them up for greater future success.

2019 Austin Marathon | Join Our Team!

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The 2019 Austin Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K will take place on Sunday, February 17th, 2019.  Registration is open, and we hope you will join our team! For updates, insider stories, and increasing price notifications, follow Austin Partners In Education on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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June 2018 Newsletter: A Slice of APIE

May Newsletter

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School may be out for the summer, but APIE is still in session! Read below to join our Summer Wait List, see what our volunteers and sponsors have helped us achieve this year, and learn more about one of APIE’s newest developments: GEAR UP!

Summer Wait List | Sign Up Now!

Thanks for a great year, volunteers! We are so thankful for your dedication to Austin ISD students and Austin Partners. Already miss being in the classrooms? Click here to join our Summer Wait List!

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Paint with APIE | June 29, 2018

Paint DayLooking for volunteer opportunities during the summer? Join APIE on Friday, June 29, as we repaint our classrooms-turned-office-space!

Please email to officially RSVP. Click here to share the event with friends!


Salute | A Tribute to Excellence 

The annual Salute Awards were a success! Austin ISD partnered with APIE to  recognize outstanding staff members and community volunteers for their continued dedication to student excellence and achievement in our schools.


The ceremony named the Teachers of the Year, Classified Staff of the Year, PTA of the year, Principal of the Year, Librarian of the Year, Counselor of the Year, and Assistant Principal of the Year. In addition, our very own founding APIE board member, Dr. K.C. Cerny, was inducted into the APIE Hall of Fame! Thank you for 16 years of dedication, K.C.!

Click here to view the full list of honorees.

Donor Spotlight | Our Salutatorian Sponsors

With Salute 2018 in the books, we’d like to shine our Donor Spotlight on our Salutatorian Sponsors! Read below to see how the philanthropic efforts of these organizations have impacted the Austin community.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo

Through a combination of strategic relationships with local and national nonprofits, grants, volunteer activities, and other community investments, Wells Fargo is creating solutions that help strengthen the communities in which they operate and grow local economies around the world. Wells Fargo’s contributions have helped us honor the people who have been instrumental in the education of Austin ISD students. Thank you, Wells Fargo!

City of Austin

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In addition to supporting Salute 2018, The City of Austin runs a Mentor and Tutor Program to  improve the quality of life for Austin’s students while offering employees an opportunity to give back to the local community. The City provides its employees up to two hours of administrative leave during the week to encourage participation. Thank you for your dedication to Austin ISD students and to APIE, City of Austin!

H-E-B Tournament of Champions


This annual golf tournament sponsored by H-E-B’s vendor community provides funds for charitable projects and programs that have a positive impact on our communities. Thank you, H-E-B Tournament of Champions for your contribution to Salute: A Tribute to Excellence!

Excellence in Advocacy | Latino Academic Achievement Awards

Latino Excellence Awards 1

On May 12, 2018, Austin Partners In Education was honored to accept the Latino Excellence in Advocacy Award presented by Austin ISD. The award is defined as: an organization which has provided outstanding support in advancing Latino academic achievement and promoting educational outcomes in AISD. In our 14 years, we have been proud to support over 32,000 students and to engage over 14,500 community members as volunteers. Thank you for this great honor!

2019 Austin Marathon | Join Our Team!
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APIE is excited to partner with the Austin Marathon again to support Austin ISD students.  The 2019 Austin Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K will take place on Sunday, February 17th, 2019.  Registration is now open, and we hope you will join our team! Please register early for the best rates.

Getting to Know GEAR UP | An Interview with Zachary Korth and Elizabeth Severance

APIE is excited to be one of several partners in AISD’s recently awarded federal GEAR UP grant! GEAR UP provides comprehensive services to students to prepare for postsecondary education. APIE will be providing the support of Mentor Tutors who are passionate about working with middle school students to achieve overall academic success.

In celebration of our partnership, APIE sat down with GEAR UP Facilitator Zachary Korth and Coordinator Elizabeth Severance to discuss education, their roles, and the future of the program. Read below to meet the faces of GEAR UP!


GEAR UP Coordinator Elizabeth Severance with daughter, Joy, and Facilitator Zachary Korth

What is your educational background?

Z.K.: I studied Elementary Education at Layola and Educational Leadership at Concordia. I was voted “most likely to become a teacher” in high school.

E.S.: I completed my bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Macalester College and my master’s in Public Administration from UTSA. I’m currently  finishing my doctorate in Educational Leadership.

 How did you decide to become an educator?

Z.K.: Growing up, teachers were like parents to me: they gave students lunch money, rides, whatever they needed. I actually failed geometry one year, and my teachers were very supportive. They saw through the bureaucracy. School became home.

How would you describe GEAR UP?

E.S.: GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness And Readiness For Undergraduate Programs. It’s a seven-year cohort-based grant to help low income students to prepare and succeed in college. Every sixth grade student at the 11 designated middle schools is in the cohort, and the program continues throughout high school. Students build a relationship with their campus facilitator as they continue their education, while coordinator supports facilitating staff.

What are you most excited about GEAR UP?


GEAR UP Facilitator Zachary Korth in his office at Covington Middle School

E.S.: What I’m most excited about with GEAR UP is the potential to impact students across Austin ISD in general. Our project objectives include equity and outcomes, working to address the gap of opportunities between low versus high income households.

Z.K.: GEAR UP takes a different approach than a traditional teacher-student relationship. We work with both students and teachers, creating relationships to provide the same opportunities and possibilities to each student, despite socioeconomic status.

E.S.: This includes prescribed things such as counseling, mentoring, and tutoring, but we also have flexibility with how we meet these goals within each campus, for each student. For example, we help kids build resumes so they’re more competitive to receive scholarships. This means steering students to become more community service and leadership skills focused.

Any words of wisdom for middle schoolers as they think about college?

Z.K.: It gets better! There are good and bad days, we all went through it. The relationships you create through mentoring are really important and will guide you!

E.S.: Have more self confidence. You don’t have to value the same things as everyone else, you will find your community. And, apply for more scholarships!

STEM Discoveries | Mini Science Olympiads

STEM Discoveries celebrated another successful year! Middle school students competed in the Mini Science Olympiads with the support of APIE volunteers and AmeriCorps Stem Coordinator VISTA, Faith Smith. We had two teams come away as winners – Gus Garcia YMLA received the Spirit Award,​ for being the most enthusiastic and in actively participating throughout the day, while Small Middle School took second place in the sixth grade category overall. Several individual students won various awards across the district. Students are eagerly waiting for the clubs to begin again in the fall. Great job on the hard work students, volunteers, and Faith!

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