Sunday, May 26, 2024

Azle teams recognized at school board

Parents and students commended for state qualifying teams

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AZLE — Azle ISD’s board of trustees saw a full house at the most recent meeting at the administration building, April 15. Parents, families and school staff filled the room for more than 40 minutes of student recognition. Walnut Creek Elementary students and Principal Stephan Garretson lead off the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Azle High School archery team was the first to be introduced by sponsor Lisa Helm. The team recently attended its sixth National Archery in Schools state tournament in Belton.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these kiddos,” Helm said. “They put in some after school practices. We were consistent throughout the school year and these kids wanted to practice more and more each week. We’re very blessed in Azle ISD. Not many people know we have an archery team. We teach it in the classroom, and we also have an afterschool program. We competed with 1,000 other archers in the state of Texas and competed for over $60,000 in scholarship money. I’ve actually had colleges call me and inquire about our archers after the state tournament. We’re very excited about the opportunities and all the hard work that these students put in.”

The AHS swim team was the second group to be presented with commendations, along coach Amy Estes. Athletic Director Becky Spurlock spoke about the swimmers’ hard work through the semester.

“These young men and young women get on a bus every morning at 5:45 a.m. and drive to Decatur to swim for an hour-and-a-half then come back, get ready and go to class,” Spurlock said. “So just that alone is worth a round of applause.”

Estes then spoke about the team’s success and thanked AHS teacher John Epps for driving the students to their practices each day from August to February.

“I’m blessed to work with some great student athletes,” Estes said. “This year we qualified 12 to regionals. We had an excellent year, and this is the most we have ever had graduate. We broke two school records this year. Going into the year I didn’t think we were going to do that, but I shouldn’t have second guessed this group.”

AHS girls’ bidistrict championship soccer team was next on the docket with coach Hannah Smith saying “This group of young ladies, as they stand before you, placed third in district, then they went to bidistrict and won the bidistrict championship. So, this is your bidistrict championship ladies soccer team. I just want to firstly say how proud I am of each and every single one of these girls standing here today. We had 11 seniors in this group. It’s the largest graduating class we’ve had in the last four years that I’ve been here. So, we’ve very proud of how hard they worked in these four years to get from where we started to where we finished. This goes for the juniors, sophomores and freshmen; they’ve all had a lot of roles that they played. They work hard every practice, every weightroom, every morning and every day after school, they put in all the effort. So, all the hard work, all the appreciation goes to them.”

Smith also thanked Epps for assisting the team and driving for the group.

While AHS FFA teams were away at state competition that evening, Career and Technical Education Director Suzanne Murr introduced some of the other teams under her purview. Future Business Leaders of America returned from its state competition in Galveston Friday and was the first to be introduced by Murr. Sponsor Tracey Knoll spoke alongside three of her students. A junior, Luke Petersen, placed first in business management and is going to the national competition the last week of June in Orlando, Florida. Petersen placed eighth in last year’s national competition in the same category.

Family, Career and Community Leaders of America returned from the state competition Sunday afternoon. Advisor Natasha Deramee spoke about the group.

“We had a few of our members make it to the top five at state, 14 went to region,” Deramee said. “We’re so excited. They have grown a lot. Thank you so much for letting them come. We really enjoy it.”

After describing a recent car show hosted by this group at AHS, Murr introduced the school’s SkillsUSA team.

Sponsor Robert Herring introduced his team that returned from state competition in Corpus Christi the week before.

“These are some of the hardest working young people that I know,” Herring said. “I am blessed every day that I get to cross paths with these young people. These guys are the best of the best. They do the best that they can. In fact, they would meet every morning four days a week in most cases from 6 o clock to 8 o’clock and practice, practice, practice, their speeches, their marching. They have to walk the same, they have to look the same, if Mr. Brown has a hair out of place so does Jacob, they all got to have a hair out of place. So, it’s got to be that perfect. First of all, these young adults are extremely proud of what they’ve done. Everyone of them brought home gold medals when they went to compete at the state level.”

Texas Public Safety Association advisors Samantha Brown and Officer Steve Stutsman were the last to recognize their teams.

“Like anybody else here, we’re extremely proud of all the youngsters here and all the hard work that they put in,” Stutsman said. “I also want to make sure that our school board understands how important the CTE program is. This and all the other students you’ve seen are our future and it’s money well spent. What you’re looking at here are future firefighters, police officers, forensics, anthropology, lawyers, corrections. I’d like to also give a big shoutout to the Azle ISD Police Department and the Azle Fire Department. They helped us every week to train these youngsters and prepare for their competition. This year at our regional competition, they absolutely dominated. They were sick and tired of hearing, ‘first place Azle, first place Azle, first place Azle.’ State competition was extremely competitive and we did take home third place in our cell extraction team. We’re very proud and can’t say enough. Both of them that (competed in) individual events had their personal best at state, they did not slack off, they did their best times.”