Hop to it

Hundreds of kindergarteners rush out during the 5-year-old’s egg hunt at the Denton Easter Eggstravaganza, in 2014, at Quakertown Park in Denton. DRC File art

Pastel colors, bunnies and hunts for brightly colored-eggs might be hard to escape this weekend and next week across Denton County.
Multiple family-friendly events are scheduled for people interested in some Easter fun. So, hop to it!
Breakfast with the Easter Egg Bunny will get underway at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Denton Civic Center. The event is open to children ages 3 to 10 and will include pancakes and a photo with the Easter Bunny.

Get into the Easter spirit with First United Methodist Church Denton’s Eggciting Easter Event from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.

An Easter egg hunt on the Pilot Point square is being hosted by Pilot Point Main Street and the Pilot Point High School National Honor Society from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.

First Baptist Church of Denton will host Eggstravaganza, a celebration for infants to second-grade youth with egg hunts and a petting zoo from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Denia Recreation Center is hosting a Teen Twilight Egg Hunt at sundown Tuesday. Participants will search for eggs with candy, coupons and cash. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight.

Kids rush to grab easter eggs and candy at the Easter Eggstravaganza in Quakertown Park in 2015. DRC File art

The City of Denton is hosting its own Easter Eggstravaganza with face painting, crafts, and egg hunt at other fun beginning at 9:30 p.m. March 26.

Get ready for Rancho De La Roca’s Easter Bunny Picnic March 24-25. Toddler-aged children and others up to age 10 are invited to enjoy hayrides, a story about the true meaning of Easter and games with Mrs. Bunny.

Breakfast With the Bunny, hosted by the Argyle Lions Club, will offer families pancakes, bacon, coffee and a picture made with the Easter Bunny from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. March 26 in the Argyle High School cafeteria. Tickets are $5 per person or $15 per family.

Argyle is gearing up for its third annual community Easter egg hunt at 11 a.m. March 26. Get there early to enjoy breakfast with the Easter Bunny, food trucks, rock climbing and live music.

Police still investigating booster theft

The investigation into the alleged embezzlement of Ponder Fine Arts Booster Club money is still underway, according to police Chief Robert Genova.

Ponder police have no time table for when they anticipate making an arrest or closing the investigation, he said.

“We’re still waiting on some subpoenaed materials,” Genova said. “It’s going well. It’s progressing.”

Genova would not disclose what the subpoenaed materials are that the department is awaiting. He would onlysay that they’re “evidence records” police anticipate arriving soon.

Ponder police began investigating claims of a former band booster allegedly pocketing $20,000 in Ponder Fine Arts Booster Club funds for personal use in January.

Boosters told the Denton Record-Chronicle last month that they learned club money was missing in January when another former booster parent, whose name was still on the organization’s bank account, informed current members of a call received from Bank of the West indicating the group’s bank account was overdrawn and had a $300 deficit. Around the same time, creditors began mailing notices to band officials for unpaid apparel, band patches and video expenses.

The club intended to use the money for future out-of-town band performance trips.

Last month, James Wood dealerships in Denton and Decatur surprised the club with donations totaling $20,000.

Teacher gets students pumped for the STAAR test

Sixth-grade teacher Kelli Hauser, center,  recently filmed a remake of the video "Uptown Funk" called "STAAR Test Funk" to motivate  students for upcoming state standardized test next week.

It’s not your ordinary rally for an upcoming test.

In her own take on Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” sixth-grade reading teacher Kelli Hauser is looking to get students pumped for next week’s State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR ) exams and leave them dancing in the process. The teacher, from Denton’s McMath Middle School, released her remake of the chart-topping song in a video called “STAAR Test Funk” a couple days ago.

“Cause STAAR test we’re gon’ give it to ya,” Hauser belts out in the video. “It’s testing day and we’ve learned a lot. Don’t believe me, just watch.”

Hauser filmed the video March 12 at Ryan High School with the help of the high school drill team, the Strutters, and others.

“Denton, get pumped up. Our scores will triumph,” she sings. “STAAR test, I’ll mop you up. Our scores will measure up.”

The nearly five-minute video has accumulated more than 51,000 views since being posted on YouTube.

“I really just wanted to motivate [students], and I wanted them to [know] we’ve been working all year to make sure they learn what they need to learn … not just on the STAAR test but school in general,” Hauser said.  “A lot of kids feel stressed about the test and that’s the last thing that we want.

“My hope was to ease some of that tension.”

The last six years, Hauser has created similar motivational videos for students using lyrics she writes herself and instrumental music from pop stars including Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.

Check out her latest video and a side-by-side comparison with the “Uptown Funk” video below.


Denton ISD unveils revamped website

Denton ISD unveiled its first website redesign in five years, Monday, March 9,2015.

Denton ISD unveiled its first website redesign in five years, Monday, March 9,2015.

Denton ISD has a virtual new look.

Earlier today, the district launched a new website design that it’s been working toward the entire school year, according to spokesman Mario Zavala. It’s the district’s first redesign to www.dentonisd.org in five years, he said.

“You need to find more ways and new ways to give your users access to information more easily, and I think we’re doing that with this new design,” Zavala said. “Overall I think it’s going to be a better experience for our users.”

He said no information is changing on the website. Families will still be able to find the essentials like lunch menus and school calendars but more easily and with fewer clicks to access information.

“The biggest need we saw was for a responsive template,” Zavala said. “What that entails is the new web design adjusts to your screen size. The information is accessible easily from all formats.”

Additionally, Denton ISD intends to release an application compatible for Android and iPhone devices, according to a statement Denton ISD released on its website.

Zavala said the new design is constantly in an updating phase, and that district officials will be working to fix glitches as they arise.

Website visitors can expect a new look to individual campus website pages before the end of the school year, he said.

“School websites will be transitioned to the new design on a rolling basis, beginning with elementary and early childhood schools, followed by secondary and alternative schools. The new design isn’t being implemented at once to ensure proper compatibility with content,” according to the district statement.  “As the district transitions websites to the new layout, some modifications – such as accent colors and content sizes – may be tweaked as visitors are viewing the site. All content will remain accessible, however. A small amount of non-essential content – such as photos – found on inside pages may not display properly on smartphones until they have been modified.”

Filing deadline ends; some incumbents don’t seek re-election

The candidate filing deadline came and went Friday with incumbents in Argyle, Little Elm and Pilot Point school districts not filing for a place on the May 9 school board ballot.

Incumbents not seeking re-election whose terms are up this May are Argyle ISD board President Eric Fields and Vice President Spencer Jefferies; Little Elm ISD Place 5 trustee Stephanie Ardoin Gregg and Pilot Point ISD Place 5 trustee Steve Klohn.

Five candidates are in the running for the two vacant seats on the Argyle school board. Three people have put their name in the running to succeed Gregg in Little Elm, while Board President DeLeon English is running uncontested. Two candidates are vying for the chance to succeed Klohn in the Place 5 seat in Pilot Point.

In the Aubrey ISD race, board President Ron Bullock filed to retain his Place 3 seat with just hours to spare before Friday’s deadline.

There are three seats in Aubrey ISD with three-year terms expiring this May and an unexpired two-year term on the ballot. All four seats are uncontested. Place 1, 2 and 3 incumbents R. Joey Saxon, Annette Crooks and Bullock have filed to run again and Joseph “Joey” Gonzalez filed for Place 6, which has remained vacant since trustee John Brogdon’s death last September.

Three at-large seats are up for grabs in Krum ISD. Two of the at-large seats are for full three-year terms while third is an unexpired one-year term. Incumbents Brad Andrus, Eric Borchardt and candidate Sonya K. Galik have all filed to vie for the full terms, and incumbent and board President Phil Enis has filed to fill the unexpired term, according to district officials.

Denton school board Place 1 and 2 incumbents Barbara Burns and Jeanetta Smith are uncontested. Incumbents in the Lake Dallas, Ponder and Northwest districts also drew no contenders.

Below is a complete list of the people who’ve filed to run in area school board races, May 9.

Aubrey ISD

Full 3-year term

Place 1- R. Joey Saxon*

Place 2-Annette Crooks*

Place 3- Ron Bullock*

Unexpired 2-year term

Place 6- Joseph “Jody” Gonzalez

Argyle ISD (two at-large full 3-year terms )

Kellye Baum

Keith White

Jeff Day

Randy McKellar

Matt Slaton

Denton ISD

Place 1- Barbara Burns*

Place 2- Jeanetta Smith*

Krum ISD

Unexpired 1-year term (at-large)

Phil Enis*

Full 3-year term (at-large)

Brad Andrus*

Eric Borchardt*

Sonya K. Galik

Lake Dallas ISD

Place 1-Glen Gowans*

Place 2-Steve Payne*

Lewisville ISD

Place 1- Kronda Thimesch

Place 1- Harry Crenshaw

Place 1- Kathy Duke*

Place 1- Mary Smith

Place 2- Trisha Sheffield*

Place 2- Roger Myers

Little Elm ISD

Place 4-DeLeon English*

Place 5- Libby Daftari

Place 5- G. David Montemayor

Place 5- Jason Olson

Northwest ISD

Place 1- Josh Wright*

Place 2- Mark C. Schluter*

Pilot Point ISD

Place 5- Melanie Billmeier

Place 5- Mike Fritz

Place 6- Dana Braack*

Place 7- Dan Flagg*

Place 7- Meridith Parker

Ponder ISD

Place 4- Dale Brown*

Place 5- Todd Nichelson*

Sanger ISD

Full 3-year term

Place 2- Kevin Polk*

Place 3- Russel CeBallos*

Unexpired 1-year term

Place 5- Michelle Springer*

Place5- Natalie Charles

* denotes incumbents

Area school board races take shape

The deadline for candidates to file for the upcoming May 9 school board elections is 5 p.m. today.

Here’s a look at the people who’ve already filed for a place on the ballot in area school districts across Denton County.  The asterisks denote an incumbent.

Aubrey ISD:

Place 1- R. Joey Saxon (3-year term)*

Place 2-Annette Crooks*

Place 6- Joseph “Jody” Gonzalez

Argyle ISD (at large):

Kellye Baum

Keith White

Jeff Day

Randy McKellar

Matt Slaton

Mark Miracle

Jennifer Timmons

Denton ISD:

Place 1- Barbara Burns*

Place 2- Jeanetta Smith*

Krum ISD (at large):

Brad Andrus (unexpired 1-year term)*

Eric Borchardt (3-year term)*

Phil Enis (3-year term)*

Sonya K. Galik

Lake Dallas ISD:

Place 1-Glen Gowans*

Place 2-Steve Payne*

Lewisville ISD:

Place 1- Kronda Thimesch

Place 1- Dr. Harry Crenshaw

Place 1- Mary Smith

Place 1- Kathy Duke*

Place 2- Trisha Sheffield*

Place 2- Roger Myers

Little Elm ISD:

Place 4-DeLeon English*

Northwest ISD:

Place 1- Josh Wright*

Place 2- Mark C. Schluter*

Ponder ISD:

Place 4- Dale Brown*

Place 5- Todd Nichelson*

Pilot Point ISD:

Place 5- Melanie Billmeier

Place 5- Mike Fritz

Place 6- Dana Braack*

Place 7- Dan Flagg*

Place 7 Meridith Parker

Sanger ISD:

Place 2- Kevin Polk (3-year term)*

Place 3- Russel CeBallos (3-year term)*

Place 5- Michelle Springer (unexpired 1-year term)*

Place5- Natalie Charles (unexpired 1-year term)


Early voting for the May 9 elections starts April 27.

For more information like deadlines for registering to vote and how to request a mail-in ballot application, contact the Denton County Elections Administration at 940-349-3200 or visit www.votedenton.com.

Sticking snow leads to early dismissals

A truck is shown flipped on Northbound Interstate 35E, near the Garden Ridge exit in Lewisville.


As weather conditions worsened, area schools and government entities began early dismissals from classes and work Friday.

Snowfall began a little before 9 a.m. and may continue through the afternoon.

Daniel Huckaby, with national weather service in Fort Worth said snow fall totals across Denton County will range from one to three inches and two to three inches in the city.

“Because temperatures are in the mid 20s, well below freezing and not expected to get up to freezing today, it will make travel tricky,” Huckaby said. “Snow is easier to navigate than ice, but still can be slick.”

Huckaby said often it is mentioned that snow accumulates on bridges and overpasses before other road surfaces, but this snowfall is expected to collect on everything.

Ice could be a factor into the evening, overnight and Saturday morning, Huckaby said.

“We may see a transition from the frozen precipitation over to liquid tonight into Saturday morning,” he said. “That’s not exactly a good thing. Temperatures still above freezing, it will put a glaze over the roads and driving conditions in the morning may be worse than they are right now.”

Shortly before 9 a.m. Liberty Christian School sent an alert to parents indicating an early release.

“Due to deteriorating weather Liberty is dismissing at [9 a.m. on Feb. 27],” the message said. “We will supervise all … students until they are picked up.”

Shortly afterward, Argyle ISD announced that it would close at 10:30 a.m. due to worsening road conditions.

Denton County offices and all North Central Texas College campuses closed at 10 a.m. due to the inclement weather.

The University of North Texas closed immediately at 10:20 a.m. “due to worsening  weather and road conditions,” according to an alert in the UNT News Twitter page.

Texas Woman’s University in Denton and Dallas closed immediately around 10:45 a.m. due to weather, according to its Twitter page.

The Denton County Transportation Authority has announced that it will continue to operate its regular service schedule for the A-train, Connect Bus and Access for the remainder of the day, according to a recent news release.  Agency officials encourage passengers to take caution in parking lots and on platforms, dress accordingly and expect service delays if the inclement weather gets more severe.

Both UNT and NCTC Shuttle service will end at 11:30 a.m. with both campuses closing early today.

The Eulene Brock Downtown Denton Transit Center will remain open and operate normal business hours 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, the agency’s administrative office will be open for normal business hours.

Kimberly Sims, spokeswoman for the 35Express reported an accident has caused the two right lanes of northbound I-35E at Garden Ridge Boulevard to be closed.  The highway is expected to reopen at approximately 11:30 a.m.

An accident has all lanes of northbound I-35E at Corinth Parkway closed, according to Kimberly Sims, spokeswoman for the 35Express.  All traffic is being detoured onto the frontage road. The highway will reopen at approximately 11:15 a.m.

Late Thursday night, the Denton and Lake Dallas school districts released letters regarding possible snow in the area. They both stated that they intended to have school on a regular schedule and that weather conditions would be monitored to make any decisions on an early release.

“Our goal is to provide our students with a full day of engaging academic instruction, but should the weather come in heavier than expected you are welcome to pick up your children from school early,” Denton Superintendent Jamie Wilson wrote in the letter. “Our buses will also run on a regular schedule, but drop-off times may run a little behind schedule depending on weather and road conditions.”

View the entire letter from Denton ISD here and the letter from Lake Dallas ISD here.

The Aubrey, Krum, Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Denton, Little Elm ISD, Lewisville and Sanger schools districts released similar messages Friday.

Denton ISD announced Friday morning that it was canceling all after-school activities scheduled as a result of inclement weather.  The district said that the Extended School Day program would “remain open until all children are picked up by a parent or guardian.”

Ponder ISD and several other districts are encouraging parents to pick their children up early due to weather conditions. Students in Ponder who drove themselves to school today “will be allowed to leave early only with verbal permission granted by the parent to school office personnel.” As originally schedulled, Ponder ISD will close at 1:30 p.m.

Northwest ISD  and all Texas Education Centers campuses will dismiss students at 11 a.m. All Winfree Academy Charter School campuses have also closed. All after-school activities are canceled.

Aubrey ISD has announced that afternoon pre-kindergarten classes at  its Early Bird Learning Center are canceled.

Selwyn College Preparatory School said that students will be dismissed at 1 p.m. today “due to worsening road conditions.”  Parents are encouraged to pick their child up from school anytime before 1 p.m., according to weather conditions.  The International Night 2015 tonight has been canceled and rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 2.

Texas Health and Human Services offices have closed.

Staff writers Bj Lewis, Jenna Duncan Adam Schrader and Megan Gray-Hatfield contributed to this report. 


Lone Star TIA announces conference dates

The Denton ISD instructional technology department announced today that its hosting its sixth annual Lone Star Technology in Action (TIA) conference July 21 and 22 at Ryan High School.

The event caters to educators and local technology enthusiasts.  Last year’s conference drew more than 1,200 people from Texas and Oklahoma.

The 2015 keynote speaker is Todd Nesloney, educator, author and co-founder of The 3 Tech Ninjas, a education technology training company.

“Our main goal [with] TIA is we want technology to be used in the classroom,” said Dwight Goodwin, Denton ISD instructional technology director. “I think every year teachers come back to schools, and one of their goals is to incorporate technology in their classroom, and I think this is the catalyst to do so.”

The conference offers local residents tools for enhancing their online and social media presence, he said.

“The best thing that I think you can get out of it is the use of social media to market your business, yourself or build your own professional community,” Goodwin said.

Conference registration is now open here. The event is free for all Denton ISD employees. The early bird rate is $35 for all other attendees who register by June 1. Beginning June 2, the rate is $45, and on-site registration is $55.

For more details on the conference, check out the video below.

What’s in a name … a lot

Sunday’s story expressed local residents’ concern that not enough Denton ISD school facilities are named for people of color.

In our story, we looked at named district facilities from the campus listings on the Denton ISD website. We followed up with the district to see if there were any other facilities not listed in the campus listings with names that were approved by the school board. The district affirmed that there are and here’s what they shared:

Denton High School:

Jim Bateman Athletic Fieldhouse

Jay B. Martin Horticultural Center

Mary Jane Lane Press Box

F.D. “Cotton” Nix baseball field (to be dedicated next month)

Ryan High School:

Tine Minke Field

Calhoun Middle School:

McAlister Gymnasium, named for former Denton High School basketball coach Dan McAlister

Several school board seats up for grabs May 9

In today’s paper is a story about the first day of filing for the May 9 general elections across Denton County.

Here’s a look at area school board trustees whose terms expire this year and will appear on local ballots this spring:

Aubrey ISD ISD (at large):

Place 1- R. Joey Saxon (3-year term)

Place 2- Annette Crooks (3-year term)

Place 3- Ron Bullock (3-year term)

Place 6- Vacant (unexpired 2-year term)

Argyle ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Spencer Jefferies

Eric Fields

Denton ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Place 1- Barbara Burns

Place 2- Jeanetta Smith

Krum ISD (at large):

Phil Enis (3-year term)

Eric Borchardt (3-year term)

Brad Andrus (unexpired 1-year term)

Lake Dallas ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Glen Gowens

Steve Payne

Lewisville ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Place 1- Kathy Duke

Place 2- Trisha Sheffield

Little Elm ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Place 4- DeLeon English

Place 5- Stephanie Ardoin Gregg

Northwest ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Place 1-Josh Wright

Place 2 -Mark Schluter

Ponder ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Place 4- Dale Brown

Place 5- Todd Nichelson

Pilot Point ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Place 5- Steve Klohn

Place 6- Dana Braack

Place 7-Dan Flagg

Sanger ISD (at large):

Place 2- Kevin Polk (3-year term)

Place 3- Russel CeBallos (3-year term)

Place 5- Michelle Springer (unexpired 1-year term)

The Aubrey, Krum and Sanger school districts will each look to fill unexpired terms on their school boards this May. The Krum and Sanger districts will each look to fill unexpired one-year terms. Both districts in 2013 had board members resign from the seats and they appointed trustees to serve until the upcoming May election.

Aubrey ISD will look to fill an unexpired two-year term which has remained vacant since the death of a trustee in September.

Early voting for the May 9 elections starts April 27.

For more information like deadlines for registering to vote and how to request a mail-in ballot application, contact the Denton County Elections Administration at 940-349-3200 or visit votedenton.com.