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School Priority Day showcases CFISD campuses to community

community members tour Rowe MS and Cypress Park HS during School Priority Day
Community members Stephen Bailiff, lead pastor at Second Baptist Church Cypress, and Butch Milks, sales professional at Balfour All-American, take the walkway between Cypress Park High School and Rowe Middle School during their tour of the two campuses on School Priority Day, Oct. 25. 

Oct. 28, 2022—Cypress-Fairbanks ISD welcomed more than 100 business partners and community members, including elected officials, to see public education in action during the third School Priority Day on Oct. 25.

The event began at the Berry Center with a welcome message from Dr. Mark Henry, superintendent of schools, Leslie Martone, president of the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce, and Stephen Bailiff, lead pastor of Second Baptist Church Cypress. Visitors were then transported via school bus to and from one of three campus tours to take student-led tours of school buildings over approximately two hours.

“This is an ideal opportunity to show the community and our elected leaders how vital a quality public school system is to the community,” said Dr. Henry. “Our teachers and our principals and the staff on the campuses are helping meet the needs of our students academically and emotionally. Great things are happening in CFISD.”

One of the tours visited Cypress Park High School and Rowe Middle School, an educational village with a flexible commons area that is shared between the two schools.

julie hinaman tours the culinary academy at cypress park hs
Julie Hinaman, Board of Trustees vice president, and other community members tour the CFISD Culinary Academy-West at Cypress Park High School during School Priority Day. 

“We were able to see classrooms, CTE [career and technical education] areas, automotive services, culinary arts, fine arts and athletic facilities,” said Julie Hinaman, CFISD Board of Trustees vice president. “We have so many opportunities for students to connect and plug into schools. There’s really a place for everyone at CFISD.”

Another tour stopped by McGown Elementary School and Bridgeland High School, where visitors observed the Spanish action-based learning lab, an outdoor learning space and flexible learning spaces at McGown; and fine arts, CTE and math/science classes at Bridgeland.

“I enjoyed the kinesthetic Spanish lab experience. I’ve never seen that before,” said District 130 State Rep. Dr. Tom Oliverson. “They explained that moving while you’re learning a second language improves your comprehension at an early age.

rep. tom oliverson and McGown DI jerri vanwunnik participate in a sundial activity.

District 130 State Rep. Tom Oliverson, left, joins Jerri Vanwunnik, McGown Elementary School instructional specialist, in participating in a sundial activity at McGown’s outdoor learning space during School Priority Day.

“I love coming to the schools and seeing how our tax dollars are spent to make sure that our kids are given the best opportunity to be our future leaders for the next generation. It’s a point of personal pride for me as a state official to be able to come out and see that in action,” Rep. Oliverson said.

The third tour highlighted flexible learning, the pre-kindergarten program and outdoor garden learning at Rennell Elementary School and fine arts, a learning courtyard and a CTE manufacturing lab at Anthony Middle School.

“My biggest takeaway is the quality of education going on, the focus on opportunity for everybody, and equitable learning so all our kids come away with a quality education,” said District 135 State Rep. Jon Rosenthal. “It was just fantastic.”

rep. jon rosenthal high-fives a rennell elementary school student during school priority day.

Rennell Elementary School kindergarten student Sara Delpilar gives a high-five to District 135 State Rep. Jon Rosenthal during School Priority Day on Oct. 25.

Leslie Martone also toured Rennell and Anthony. She came away impressed by the safety and security upgrades funded by the 2019 bond program.

“After participating on the bond committees, it was neat to see that in action,” Martone said. “We observed additional security around the portable buildings, additional doors and locks.

“People who move to this community are looking for a good school district where their kids are going to fit in. They may not all be high-level students; some of them are in special ed programs, some of them have other challenges, but they know they’re going to get a great education. That’s what draws people to CFISD.”

visitors tour the spanish action-based learning lab at mcgown elementary.
LauraAnn Novacinski, McGown Elementary School principal, showcases the school’s Spanish action-based learning lab to School Priority Day visitors including Will Hickman, second from left, State Board of Education District 6 representative. 

visitors observe student artwork at anthony middle school during school priority day.
Community member Gil Mayfield listens as Anthony Middle School student Madison-Grace Johnson showcases student artwork on School Priority Day.