PNGISD sees successful year, plans for more

Published 11:32 am Tuesday, December 27, 2016

It’s been a good year for Port Neches-Groves Independent School District.

From success in academics and the arts to sports, 2016 was a favorable one at PNG.

“We’ve had a good semester that ended on a good note,” Superintendent Rodney Canvess said of the 2016-2017 school year. “We are very pleased with the students and staff and the parents’ participation.”

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The district’s motto, “honor, pride and tradition” was showcased throughout the year and was evident with high school students such as 2016 graduates Leah Dismukes, who strives to be a constitutional lawyer, Omar Hamza, who plans to work with Doctors Without Borders, Railey Tassin, a commended scholar, and Ram Polavarapu, who was successful in both sports and academics.

Then there are this year’s co-head drum majors and top students Jack Dolce, Makenna Fore and Madelyn Clark, Indian Spirit Matthew Geisel, Deja Garlington who created the Empower logo, Julianna Benson, a HOSA student and the PNG welding students who took on a holiday inspired project that spread cheer through the community.

Football fans saw extra reason to cheer as the Indians reached the third round of the University Interscholastic League Class 5A playoffs.

Hundreds of fans were so dedicated they moved their Thanksgiving Day plans a bit so they could watch their team practice.

Some highlights of the year:

  • Many campuses participated in #PNGKindness, where they shared random acts of kindness in the community and at their schools.
  • Elementary schools held special nights to encourage reading, celebrate science and promote parent involvement.
  • Groves Middle School choir sang at a Houston Dynamos game.
  • Port Neches Middle School eighth-graders heard living history from World War II veterans on Pearl Harbor Day.
  • High school theater students participated in the Thespian Festival.
  • Students participated in the Second Annual Mid-County Kindness, in which they donated winter clothes and other items to be given to the Hospitality Center in Port Arthur to help the less fortunate.
  • The National Honor Society kids took part in a recycling project, Key Club participated in a service project and Awesome Indian Athletes held a charity toy drive.

This year also saw the addition of two new school board trustees. Mark Holmes took the seat of outgoing trustee Melanie Miller and Brandon Cropper won the seat previously held by Rodney Balsamo.

During the summer, maintenance personnel began work to create a backdrop behind the totem pole at Magnolia and Merriman. The spirit wall features a large Indian “head,” flags and “Welcome to the Reservation.”

The district is also in the process of upgrading the high school baseball and softball fields. The work includes adding turf and rehabbing curbs. Other project phases will include covering the bleachers, upgrading restrooms and concrete and fence work.

In looking to the future, the district will continue work to implement House Bill 5, which was passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 and includes changes to the state’s curriculum and graduation requirements, assessment program and accountability system. As plans progress, local industry will continue to be involved in the identification and development of courses that lead to local career and college opportunities, according to information from the district. Student performance will continue to be stressed, according to the 2016-2017 district goals, with an emphasis on increasing the percentage of commended performance and educate the community on the new A-F district and campus ratings.

“We have been working on implementing HB5 and are excited about it,” he said. “We also have two new board members who are coming on, and I think they are both good men who care about the district.”

A demographic and facility study done earlier showed the district growing by leaps and bounds and talks of a bond proposal may come into play in the near future.

PNGISD is also looking at pursuing a District of Innovation   status to increase class size options.

“This can give us freedom as a district to go in some directions that are a benefit,” he said. “There are some issues in this we may never pursue.

With plans for the future laid out that correlate to the success of PNGISD, Cavness is looking forward to 2017.

“We are going to continue moving forward and are going to continue to set the standard in everything we do,” he said.