The Spring ISD Board of Trustees during its June 13 regular meeting celebrated a special recognition honoring the work of district students who took part last month in Spring ISD’s first official Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month program. Spring ISD’s contest this year recognized writing, art and oratory skills from students across the district.
“The entries – from elementary, middle and high school students – celebrated the accomplishments and contributions of people of Asian American and Pacific Islander descent, both in contemporary society and culture and throughout our nation’s history,” Chief Communications Officer Shane Strubhart said during his remarks at the board meeting. “The projects also highlighted the incredible diversity that is a hallmark of our vibrant community here in Spring ISD.”
Individual and group winners were named at the elementary and secondary levels, and the Board of Trustees welcomed several of this year’s top district winners, who attended the board meeting together with their families. In addition, winning students had an opportunity to present their work during a districtwide celebration and awards ceremony held on May 30.
Student projects spanned a wide range of topics, historical periods, and mediums – from recorded dance performances to poster displays to intricate dioramas like the one created by Annamaria Busti from McNabb Elementary School, who took first place in the Pre-K–2 Individual category.
While some students focused their projects on contemporary Asian American and Pacific Islander contributions in areas such as music and culture, Busti used her research project and carefully constructed diorama to tell the story of the thousands of Chinese laborers who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad across the U.S. in the 1800s, facing dangerous working conditions, long hours, low pay, and widespread racism and intolerance.
“It wasn’t fair,” Busti said as she pointed out key scenes from her diorama to guests attending the May 30 event.
Many parents looked on proudly while students discussed their projects, including Emi Jose, whose daughter, Abigail John, represented Winship Elementary School with a project on Lalisa Manobal, a Thai singer and dancer who has gone on to become part of the international K-pop music scene based in South Korea.
“Growing up, I told her, ‘You be friends with anyone who’s kind to you, who’s nice to you,’ so she has friends from all different ethnicities,” said Jose, whose own family came to the U.S. from India when she was in elementary school. Her daughter’s experience in Spring ISD, she said, is a far cry from the isolation she sometimes felt as a brand-new fifth grader in Lubbock, Texas, where at the time she was the only person of Indian descent at her school.
“It’s so different now, especially for my daughter,” Jose said. “I’m so glad she goes to Spring ISD, because the diversity of the population is so important. It’s different when you’re the only person that looks different and speaks different, and even the food culture is so different. I love it here in Houston, and I’m so glad that she has that opportunity to go to Winship.”
During this week’s Spotlight presentation at the board meeting, trustees also extended thanks on behalf of the district to the Spring ISD Education Foundation – which helped make the Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month events possible – and the Houston chapter of the OCA–Asian Pacific American Advocates organization, which sent representatives to address the students and their families during the May 30 celebration.
A full list of district winners follows:
- 1st Place – Annamaria Busti, McNabb Elementary
- 2nd Place – Serenity Vaughn, Cooper Elementary
Grade 3–5 Individual
- 1st Place – Jasmine Rodriguez, Eickenroht Elementary
- 2nd Place (tie) – Abigail Bryan, Meyer Elementary
- 2nd Place (tie) – Naomi Min, Major Elementary
- 3rd Place – Ruth Garcia, Meyer Elementary
Grade 3–5 Group
- 1st Place – Camila Oviedo, Camila Cotto, and Giselle Balderas, Link Elementary
- 2nd Place – A’aliyah Shelvin, Katherine Vo, Allie Huynh, Abby Batiste, Zariah Buckley, Yulianna Lovos, Riley Rangel, Isabella Rodriguez, and Vanessa Castaneda, Lewis Elementary
Grade 6–8 Individual
- 1st Place – Kaysie Burnett, Bailey Middle School
Grade 6–8 Group
- 1st Place – Muhammad Umar, Isaiah Salinas, and David Tran, Claughton Middle School
- 2nd Place – Keri Nguyen, Branden Lee, and Nandy Ahmed, Claughton Middle School
- 3rd Place – Ariel Jackson, Khloe Gomez, Karyna Garcia, Kaela Jackson, and Yanira Mulato, Bailey Middle School
Grade 9–12 Individual
- 1st Place – Ryan Sammuon, Carl Wunsche Sr. High School