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Students examine AIDS, genocide in state projects

By Carolina Astrain
April 22, 2014 at 9 p.m.
Updated April 22, 2014 at 11:23 p.m.

Skylar Jones, 14, poses with the poster from her Texas Performance Standards Project about genocide in North Korea, which won first place in the ninth grade in  district this year. The Victoria East High School freshman wanted the project to raise awareness of the issue. "I figured that if I didn't know about it, other people wouldn't," she said about choosing her topic for the project.

LIST OF WINNERS

Here are the winning entries and the category titles for this year's Texas Performance Standards Projects:

Kindergarten

Jennell Sheetz, Dudley Elementary School, "Do Your Part for Art"

First grade

Ellie Adrean, Dudley Elementary School, "Animal Nation"

Maison Leet, Aloe Elementary School, "Animal Nation"

Second grade

Isabela Benson, DeLeon Elementary School, "The Ripple Effect: A Study of Water"

Kristine Koch, DeLeon Elementary School, "The Ripple Effect: A Study of Water"

Third grade

Benjamin Adrean, Dudley Elementary School, "Utopian Destination"

Fourth grade

Kaden Kolle, Vickers Elementary School, "We Are Texans"

Fifth grade

Kathryn Beyer, Mission Valley Elementary School, "Story Quilt"

Sixth grade

Kyleigh Nethery, Howell Middle School, "Instant Millionaire"

Seventh grade

Wade Gawlik Jr., Stroman Middle School, "Tell a Tale of a Trail"

Eighth grade

Lauren Cortez, Howell Middle School, "Sudden Impact"

Ninth grade

Skylar Jones, Victoria East High School, "Contemporary Issues: Effects of Genocide"

10th grade

Kevin Clark, Victoria West High School, "Pursuit of Scientific Inquiry"

11th grade

Summer Gregurek, Victoria East High School, "Pursuit of Scientific Inquiry"

12th grade

Kate Klimist, Victoria West High School, "What's the Diagnosis?"

SOURCE: VICTORIA ISD

LIST OF WINNERS

Here are the second and third place and additional honor winners for this year's Texas Performance Standards Projects:

Kindergarten

Caleb Alvarez, Dudley Elementary School, "Do Your Part for Art"

First grade

Noah Leet, Aloe Elementary School, "Animal Nation"

Second grade

Nathan Halpin, Aloe Elementary School, "Who's Who: A Study of Biography"

Third grade

Yasmin Shropshire, Torres Elementary School, "Mathematics in Nature"

Fourth grade

Anna Scarborough, Aloe Elementary School, "Enigmas"

Emma Scarborough, Aloe Elementary School, "Enigmas"

Fifth grade

Jonathan Halpin, Aloe Elementary School, "Energy Efficiency Exploration"

Sixth grade

Kelly Ellis Hairell, Howell Middle School, "Products in Motion"

Seventh grade

Andrew McKnight, Cade Middle School, "Pursuit of Scientific Inquiry"

Eighth grade

Nickolas Hurt, Cade Middle School, "Sudden Impact"

Ninth grade

Tie: Gregory McCarthy, Victoria East High School, "Pursuit of Scientific Inquiry"; Travis Parker Tadlock, Victoria West High School, "We've Got a Problem"

10th grade

Olivia Carroll, Victoria East High School, "Contemporary Issues: Effects of Genocide"

11th grade

Willord Simmons, Victoria East High School, "In the Community: A Study of Culture"

12th grade

Katherine Aupperle, Victoria West High School, "We've Got a Problem"

Kindergarten

Eric Acosta, Dudley Elementary School, "Do Your Part for Art"

First grade

Collin Flessner, DeLeon Elementary School, "Animal Nation"

Second grade

Haley Beckner, Torres Elementary School, "Who's Who: A Study of Biography"

Third grade

Kelci Grahmann, Vickers Elementary School, "Utopian Destination"

Fourth grade

Joshua Baldwin, Dudley Elementary School, "We Are Texans"

Fifth grade

Tie: Anthony Garza Jr., Mission Valley Elementary School, "Energy Efficiency Exploration"; Emma Prakta, Vickers Elementary School, "Story Quilt"

Sixth grade

Rama Hamoudah, Cade Middle School, "Culture Shock"

Seventh grade

Carly Oracion, Cade Middle School, "Waxing History"

Eighth grade

Sarah Diebel, Howell Middle School, "Figure It Out"

Ninth grade

Nicholas Elizondo, Victoria West High School, "Financing the Future"

10th grade

Hayden Nelson, Victoria West High School, "Pursuit of Scientific Inquiry"

11th grade

Kaylee Huang, Victoria East High School, "In the Community: A Study of Culture"

12th grade

Breanna Takacs, Victoria West High School, "What's the Diagnosis?"

TPSP Rising Star Award: Suzann Creager, Victoria East and Victoria West High School

TPSP Advocate of the Year Award: Pamela Edge, Howell Middle School

Source: Victoria ISD

Step into the garage at Skylar Jones' home, and you will find what she refers to as her "TPSP graveyard."

"This is my third year to win first place," Skylar, 14, said. "I really enjoy doing them; sometimes, I feel like I'm the only one."

The Victoria East High School freshman was one of 42 Texas Performance Standard Project entries that placed in the top three of the 176 projects submitted from Victoria school district campuses.

Texas Performance Standard Project entries were a part of the graduation requirements for the Distinguished Achievement Program, but under the new graduation guidelines set by the state, they will only be required for students in the Gifted and Talented program, said Meredith Hairell, Victoria school district advanced academics coordinator.

"VISD students will still participate in the projects because it is required by law," Hairell said. "We have it included as part of our independent study courses or Advanced Academic Skills course."

The projects entail developing an abstract summary of the project and its components and eventually a public presentation with a question-and-answer session at the end.

Skylar's project, "Beyond the 38th Parallel: The Reality of Genocide in North Korea," won first place in her grade level.

"I've always been a history buff, and that was the only genocide I was interested in," Skylar said. "I didn't know that all of the killing there was intentional and that they were actually killing other people because of their beliefs."

Skylar worked on her project for half of the school year and through the process fanned her love for video editing.

"I really love video editing, which is why I did a documentary," Skylar said.

Victoria West High School senior Kate Klimist also produced a video for her first-place entry, "It Could Be You."

"I'm an extremely hands-on and visual person," Kate, 18, said. "For this, I wanted people to not only see but also jump into the issue."

Kate, who played the role of Belle in last year's "Beauty and Beast" production, recruited student actors to create a vignette of people with AIDS.

"I just kept getting 'wows' from everybody that saw it," Kate said. "I wanted it to be sort of similar to the movie 'Rent,' which I love."

Hairell said she hopes to see more students attend the program's showcase next year to gain some inspiration from other projects.

"The main goal is to provide students with the opportunity to engage in independent research in an area about which they are passionate," Hairell said. "It's authentic engagement with something they actually care about."

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