By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – The Grapeland ISD Board of Trustees met in a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night, Sept. 18 and the first order of business was to recognize the youngest students in the district.

Once the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance had been given, GISD Superintendent Don Jackson requested Pre-K teachers Carrie Luce and Donna Prasatik to come forward, along with Grapeland Elementary Principal Cassie Satterwhite.

“We have some special students with us tonight. We have our Pre-K students and they are going to sing a couple of songs for you, which they have learned in class,” she said.

She introduced Luce and Prasatik and said they have done “… an awesome job so far this year with our Pre-K.”

Satterwhite asked the littlest Sandies and Sandiettes to come forward and join their teachers at the front of the room.

Once the students had joined their teachers, Luce said a lot of the Pre-K instruction involved the use of songs and music to help the students learn the concepts being taught.

“We have only been in school a few weeks, so we haven’t been able to the fancy stuff. We are doing the basics. We are learning about the months and days of the week and we are learning about our seasons. That is what we are going to be sharing with you tonight is a song about our seasons,” Luce said.

With that, the Pre-K students began singing about the seasons of the year in two songs. They also provided an encore performance with a song about the color red.

After the applause subsided from those in attendance, the formal part of the meeting got underway. The superintendent continued the recognition as he spoke about Satterwhite and GHS Principal Rick Frauenberger.

“I want to brag on them for the communication and collaboration we have had, along with the planning and their visibility. It is exciting and good for our district. I really wanted to say that in front of the board,” Jackson said.

As he continued, Jackson said several initiatives were underway in the district. Among these were the start of the Fellowship of Christian Students, the SPND (Sandie Pride Never Dies) team which helps clean Sandie Stadium after a game and the FFA officers who help clean the stadium during the game.

Jackson also reported the eighth-grade students would soon be taking a field trip to Stephen F. Austin State University next month to get an idea about what college life is all about.

As the meeting continued, a lengthy discussion on a community collaboration project tasked with assembling a greenhouse for the GHS Ag. Department was held, but no action was taken on the matter.

Following the greenhouse discussion, Grapeland FFA Instructor Gary Graham, also present at the meeting, informed the trustees of a new welding program he was trying to get off the ground.

“Last spring, Vulcraft contacted us about some robotic welders they were looking to move out to different schools in the area and wanted to see if we could use one. We went and got it but when I looked at it, it was way too big for us to do anything with. It takes up too much room, has three-phase power and it would cost us $2,000 or $3,000 to get it up and running. We could show the students basically what it was and that was it,” Graham said.

He added he had a friend at Kilgore College who was a welding instructor and called him to see if they could use the robotic welder.

“I worked out a deal with him where we would give him the robot in exchange for allowing our kids to go over to Kilgore and use some of their equipment and possibly even receiving some scholarships,” he explained.

Graham said his friend had a schedule that allowed for the GHS students to come over on Friday and work with the college’s equipment and robotic welder.

“He told me we could bring 15 or 20 students at a time. I told him I didn’t want to bring that many but rather about seven or eight. That way, they can get more time and individual instruction. They can also see all the different equipment at the school,” he said.

“It looks like we can spend several hours over there any Friday we want to go. We can take the kids over there and they can use the C and C cutters, where they can design something on the computer and it cuts it from the computer,” Graham added.

In other matters brought before the board:

• The trustees approved the 2017 tax roll.

• An agreement with the Lufkin Regional School for the Deaf was approved.

• The extra-curricular status of 4H was approved.

• The extra-curricular status of Grapeland Youth basketball was approved.

• The quarterly investment report and consent agenda items were approved.

• It was announced a district wide “Open House” would be held on Monday, Sept. 25 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the elementary and from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the junior high and high school.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.