Home Education Grapeland ISD Recognizes National FFA Champions

Grapeland ISD Recognizes National FFA Champions


Progress on New Elementary, Baseball Field Discussed

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – The positive accomplishments of Grapeland ISD students were celebrated during a meeting of the Grapeland ISD Board of Trustees held on Monday, Nov. 13. Along with the student accomplishments, the board received updates on the progress of the new elementary school and baseball field construction.

The Grapeland Girls Cross Country team and Coach Anthony DeCello

As the meeting got underway, the Grapeland High School Cross Country team was recognized for qualifying for the state meet in Round Rock. The team was coached by Anthony DeCello and was comprised of Ragan Bowie, Hannah Chipman, Teira Jones, Christie Shepherd, Cierra Simon and Kenya Woods.

“We finished third in Regionals and from what they have told me, it was the first time they have ever taken a cross country team to state,” Coach DeCello said.

Following the cross country recognition the Grapeland FFA Sr. Quiz team was recognized for winning the national championship in the sr. quiz competition for the fifth time.

The team was coached by FFA Advisor Gary Graham and was comprised of Amy Crook, Mark Hanna, J.D. Martin and Taylor Pennington.

“This is a very tough competition,” Graham said. “There is an awful lot of material they have to learn. They spend a lot of hours studying and getting ready for this. This is not one of these competitions where you have a big audience out there cheering them on. It takes a special kind of person to sit down, crack that book and study it cover to cover.”

Graham indicated Amy Crook was the high point individual in this year’s competition after finishing as the runner-up in 2016. Taylor Pennington finished fourth, J.D. Martin was fifth and Mark Hanna was 14th out of over 200 individual competitors.

“The team that knocked us out of the national championship last year – we were reserve champions last year for the first time in a few years – that didn’t sit well with this group. We put them back behind us this year,” Graham said.

The Grapeland FFA Ag Issues team

Following the accolades, a public hearing was held on GISD’s Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST). Superintendent Don Jackson explained this was about “… our financial system, our annual financial report and showed we are doing things the right way.”

The district was rated as “Superior,” the highest rating available and scored 100 out of a possible 100.

After the public hearing was concluded, the FFA was back in the spotlight as the Ag Issues team gave a presentation on the pros and cons of a feral hog bait known as “Kaput.”

The team was comprised of Stacy Perez, J.D. Martin, Mark Hanna, Bryan Perez, Taylor Pennington and Blake Howard.  The team finished third in district competition.

Once the presentation concluded, Hudson Henderson with the architectural firm of Goodwin, Lasiter, Strong provided an update on the new elementary school.

“We are still on schedule with the new elementary school. I told Mr. Jackson we plan on turning over the construction documents to Berry and Clay (construction firm) the first or second week in December.  We had Mr. Jackson and some staff members down to our office last week. We went over interior and exterior finishes. We made a couple of changes and got approval on everything. It’s going to be a really beautiful school,” Henderson said.

Dove-tailing off of Henderson’s presentation, a discussion was held on possibly re-purposing usable buildings at the current elementary school for a possible childcare facility, along with the administra


tive offices.  Because this was a discussion item only, no action was taken on the matter.

As the meeting continued, board member Mitchell Huff provided his colleagues with an update on the progress of the new baseball field.

“We have the grass planted on the infield, the sprinkler system is in and the blocks on the dugouts have been started. It’s moving right along and we are going to set poles tomorrow on the batting cage. We are going to start working on the outfield fence before very long,” he said.

In other matters brought before the board:

  • Policy Update 109 was approved.
  • The board gave its approval to the Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System.
  • Consent Agenda items were approved.
  • A board policy concerning student welfare, wellness and health care was approved by the board.
  • Discussion of the establishment of a Pre-K 3 program was held by the board members but no action was taken on the matter.

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

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