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May 29

The Rusk School

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The Rusk School to become middle school with health and medical focus


For young students with an interest in a health or medical career, there is a new magnet middle-school program in HISD.

Beginning with the upcoming school year, The Rusk School will transform from PK–8 into a middle school with a medical focus.

“We are very excited about the big changes coming to Rusk,” said Principal Daniel De León. “The new middle school will be modeled after the highly successful Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan. We have room for up to 250 students in sixth grade, and we want parents to begin applying now.”

Magnet applications for Rusk’s new biotechnical magnet program are now available. Applicants from outside the school’s attendance boundaries will be selected from a random lottery.

“We are actively recruiting students who are interested in a career in the health and medical fields,” said Rusk Magnet Coordinator Senta Butler, who is in charge of the program. “Taking these rigorous classes in middle school will give our students a jump on preparing for a career in the medical field.”

Over the next few years, Rusk will phase out grades Pre-K through 5. Current Rusk elementary students will be sent to neighboring Lantrip and Burnet elementary schools, while the school’s current middle-school students may continue to attend.

For more information, please contact Butler at 713-226-4543 or email SButler5@HoustonISD.org.

Rusk School wins $25,000 in State Farm contest


Coming on the heels of a $25,000 grant from Devon Energy, The Rusk School received another hefty check for its science efforts last week.

State Farm presented the school with $25,000 from its “Cause An Effect” program, an online contest that generates votes for local causes through social media. The school was chosen for its geodesic dome solar-powered greenhouse. 

It’s a project that middle school math teacher Brenda Boyer said is rooted in community service. Boyer said the students will use the dome to grow organic food to donate to the Star of Hope homeless shelter and a local food bank.

“This project will allow our students to help others in the community in a positive way. The dome will also be utilized as a science lab for all our Pre-K through eighth-grade students,” Boyer said.

A State Farm student panel chose 100 finalists from a field of 3,000 entries, then voters on State Farm’s Facebook page chose the top 40.

Rusk debuts new building wing for middle schoolers

Cheerful student ambassadors at The Rusk School met alumni, parents and community partners at the front entrance of their school to welcome them to a celebration for the opening of a new building wing.

Students accompanied guests down the hallways of the school to an outdoor walkway that leads to a new two-story building addition. The 21st century learning areas feature smart boards, document cameras, flexible student seating, and large windows – some of which overlook downtown Houston.

“It feels really good to have our own space,” said seventh-grader Michelle Hernandez, who welcomed visitors to the new building during a two-day celebration that began Friday with an open house that drew more than 300 parents.

The celebration also included a ribbon cutting Monday with musical performances by the school choir and student testimonies about their education at Rusk and how the school has changed their lives.

Many students gave guests tours of the 21,000-square-foot building that will serve 250 middle school students at the K-8 school. The building, funded under HISD’s 2007 bond program, includes seven classrooms, two science labs and a computer lab that will also serve as an engineering lab. The facility will also offer a 1:1 laptop initiative, providing each student with their own laptop or iPad.

“No more temporary buildings for our middle school students,” said Rusk Principal Eduardo Sindaco. “The fact that they have their own space and a brand new space at that will allow them to flourish even more.”

The $11 million building addition, designed by STOA International Architects and built by contractor Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, features state-of-the-art technology infrastructure and multiple environmental enhancements designed to save energy through the use of recycled building materials and increased daylight views.

“I love all the natural lighting and the large rooms that will allow for more collaborative learning opportunities for our students,” said HISD Board President Juliet Stipeche.

The new facility will open to students this week.

“We have been looking forward to being in the new building for a while,” said seventh-grader Nikolas Lechuga while sitting in the facility’s gym that will also serve as a multipurpose room for special events. “We have more room to grow, and we have a gym now. That’s the fun part because when it’s cold and wet outside, we can play in here.”

“It is my hope that with this new building, the school will allow more children to discover themselves,” said eighth-grader Erik Lopez who spoke during the opening ceremony at the ribbon cutting.

Students helped Principal Sindaco, School Support Officer Rudy Trevino, Stipeche and former HISD trustee and Houston City Councilman Felix Fraga, an alumni of Rusk, cut the ribbon before opening the building up for tours.

“I’ve always been proud of Rusk,” said Fraga, who attended the original Rusk in the 1930s. “We keep thinking neighborhoods like this are going to disappear, but they’re not. This community needs school developments like this one that will continue to support and improve our neighborhoods.”

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