Kerr High School student Emily Nguyen placed second in the National Center for Policy Analysis’s Young Patriot Essay Contest with her essay on the relationship between individual freedom and social and economic prosperity. Nguyen was one of hundreds of applicants and was awarded a $3,000 scholarship for her superb writing skills.

Elsik High School student Stephanie Garcia was named the Player of the Week by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and MaxPreps. Garcia was recognized for outstanding play during the week of January 19.

Olle Middle School students placed at the Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering (SECME) and Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering (TAME) Math, Science and Team Engineering Competition. Tra My Nguyen and Thomas Freeman won Judges’ Choice Engineering Design Challenge in the team engineering category. Nguyen, Jonathan Hernandez and Jorswa Sanchez-Perez won first place trophies in the SECME Banner Competition. Jarick Hester placed third in the 7th grade science category.

Smith Elementary students donated 1,055 items to the Alief Homeless Outreach Project. Items included toothbrushes, toothpaste, bars of soap, deodorant, shampoo and pillows.

Martin Elementary exceeded its goal of $2,000 and raised $4,316.77 during its Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser to benefit the American Heart Association.

Hastings High School teacher Lilian Ogunbanjo was featured in the winter edition of Rostrumthe national speech and debate magazine. Her Speech and Debate Team recently finished the season with 10 qualifiers for the state tournament in March.

Elsik High School teacher Johnny Hackett was profiled in the February edition of The Bloomin’ Texan, the official publication of the Texas State Florists’ Association. Hackett, who is an Agricultural Science teacher and a Texas Master Florist, teaches Floral Design, Horticulture and Landscape Design through the district Career & Technical Education Program.

Alief ISD high school orchestra students recently earned medals at the UIL Solo and Ensemble Competition. Elsik received 71 medals, with 36 gold medalists competing at the state-level competition in May. Seven Hastings students advanced to state. Taylor had 16 medalists, with student Rosie Ventura advancing to state.

The Elsik High School Drum Line placed first at the San Marcos High School Texas Winter Guard and Drum Line Competition.

Hastings High School student Damaris Torres won a gold medal for her Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo ceramic pottery piece, which will now be considered for auction. Torres was presented with a 10-day all expenses paid workshop at the Western Art Academy in Kerrville, Texas and a scholarship for classes at the Junior Glassell School.

The Killough Middle School Speech and Debate Team won the second place sweepstakes trophy at the annual Hastings High School Speech and Debate Tournament.