Bryan ISD Kickstart Kids Achieve Success Physically & Mentally

If Briana Gonzalez receives a new belt at Davila Middle School’s Kickstart Kids belt ceremony 6 p.m. Dec. 14, it will be a proud moment for her and her family. However, the Davila Middle School seventh-grader said a new belt would only be an added benefit to what she has already gained from the Kickstart Kids program.

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING – Davila Middle School students practice kicking techniques.

Gonzalez is currently participating in her second year of the non-profit in-school martial arts program that a group including Chuck Norris started in 1990. She said it provides her with the discipline necessary to respond to conflict. Something she said she struggled with in the past.

Additionally, Gonzalez said the martial arts class increased her confidence and her grades. She credits her success to techniques taught in the class as well as guidance from Michael Cooper, Davila Middle School Kickstart Kids Instructor, who she said is willing to help her and her classmates with their problems.

Persistent Achievement

Cooper is one of two Bryan ISD Kickstart Kids instructors along with Teddy Coleman at Jane Long Middle School. Kickstart Kids arrived at Bryan ISD in 2010 at Davila under former instructor Rommel Gargoles. Coleman arrived the following year when Kickstart Kids came to Jane Long. Over the last six years, Coleman believes he has taught over 1,000 students. He is currently in charge of 256 students, and he said the program is still growing. Jane Long’s belt ceremony will be 6 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Jane Long big gym.

Many students join the program to learn martial arts techniques, but Cooper said they come out learning much more.

“Punching and kicking is one thing, but the real structure of the family and the personality and self-esteem, that’s what we’re aiming for,” Cooper said.

Comprehensive Development

Nick Rudd
REACHING GOALS – Nicholas Rudd displays his black belt plaque with his instructors Teddy Coleman, Michael Cooper and Benjamin Mendez.

Like Gonzalez, Jesse Rakowitz, Davila eighth-grader, said he struggled with anger issues before learning martial arts. He used to get into several fights before joining Kickstart Kids. Rakowitz said the program has helped him relax and deal with stress. Rackowitz currently has a blue belt and said he wants to advance all the way to 10th-degree black belt before he’s done, the highest martial arts rank.

Zachary Yeomans
ACHIEVING DREAMS – Zachary Yeomans proudly holds a plaque commemorating black belt status with his instructor Michael Cooper.

Last school year, two Bryan ISD students achieved the coveted rank of first-degree black belt. Nicholas Rudd, Bryan High 10th-grader, and Zachary Yeomans, Bryan High 11th-grader, stood before their peers at last year’s belt ceremony and received embroidered belts, new uniforms and plaques signed by Chuck Norris.

By earning their black belts, Rudd and Yeomans earned the chance to compete with other Kickstart Kids students, perform on demonstration teams throughout Texas and mentor younger students as they become more advanced in the system.

Encouraging Reaction

Kickstart Kids is an officially recognized program by the Texas Education Agency and teaches thousands of students at over 50 public schools in Texas. Coleman said the benefits of his program extend beyond his classroom, as he’s received positive feedback from parents and teachers about changes in the attitude and work ethic of students who enroll in his class.

FOCUSED DETERMINATION – Davila eighth-grader Jesse Rakowitz practices punching techniques in his Kickstart Kids class.

“I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot of great things,” Coleman said. “I know students are being a little bit better with the attitude and behavior. I know students are getting some work turned in on time when they’ve had issues with that before. Parents are letting me know their child has changed some behaviors at home as well as at school.”

As parents and teachers observe great strides in students that go through the martial arts program, students recognize growth in themselves. Jane Long eighth-grader Gabby Saenz said she gained many benefits from being in the program.

“I’d recommend Kickstart to anyone thinking of joining because it not only gives you physical health but also mental health,” Saenz said. “Self-respect and self-discipline are highlighted in posters on our wall, and we learn all those traits.

Bryan ISD
Children First. Always.

Bryan ISD is Building the Future, as Construction Takes Shape

Fruits of the $132 million bond election passed in November 2014, are developing around the district. Construction projects are on time and will be ready for the 2017-2018 school year, when a historic grade realignment is set to take place.

Hammer, backhoe and drill sounds can be found all around Bryan ISD as building projects are coming together.

The new press box at Merrill Green Stadium has been delighting fans during regular season games and playoff games. Sul Ross Elementary students, teachers and staff are enjoying the food coming out of their recently remodeled kitchen. And, SFA student-athletes are excelling in their newly refurbished gym.

Additionally, the new Bryan ISD Performing Arts Center (PAC), once called the Bryan Civic Auditorium, opens at 6 p.m. tonight for a free grand-reopening performance at the historic building.

z Bryan ISD Performing Arts Center.PAC Opening.Nov.15 (1)
GRAND REOPENING – Bryan ISD’s Performing Arts Center reopens at 6 p.m. tonight, celebrating a landmark new chapter for the old Bryan Civic Auditorium.

Upcoming projects to be completed in the spring include building additions and renovations at Henderson, Crockett, and Ross Elementary that are ahead of schedule. The quick progress will allow staff to begin moving in furniture to their new space in May before the projects are scheduled to be complete in the summer. Additionally, SFA Middle school staff are scheduled to start moving in their instructional materials in June.

sul ross
MOVING UP – Workers carefully construct a new section of Ross Elementary. Progressing quickly, the school looks different every day.

Renovations at Rudder High School and classroom additions to Jane Long and Sam Rayburn Middle School were granted at the Oct. 17 board meeting. Those projects should progress on time if they follow the lead of all the other projects in the November 2014 bond election. That’s music to the ears of Jeff Windsor, director of construction.

“Right now we’re rocking and rolling on everything we have,” Windsor said.

Children First. Always.