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Weekly Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas

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Nov. 20, 1997

Hospital sets town meeting

Ward Memorial Hospital trustees want citizens to attend a
town meeting conducted by the institution's Board of
Managers, reports Ward Memorial Administrator Bill O'Brien.

Hospital Board Chair Glenn Vance notes the special meeting
will be held at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 25, at the Ward
County Convention Center. A meeting of the board is also
scheduled at 12:30 p.m. today, Thursday, Nov. 20, in the
hospital's Family Health and Wellness Clinic.

The announcement came as attempts to resolve several
hospital issues are sought, issues that include fiscal
problems and ways to enhance health services. A panel of
citizens is studying the various proposals. County Judge Sam
G. Massey has spearheaded efforts by County Commissioners to
seek ways to counter the year's long problems of the
Monahans-based hospital. Massey chaired an October public
meeting at which representatives of Community Health
Systems Inc. of Nashville, Tenn., discussed their company
and possible lease of the hospital. Massey has said he
feels sale of the hospital is no longer an option - leasing
might be but hospital trustees must make that decision..

Now the hospital board, O'Brien says, has scheduled another
town meeting comparable to that at which executives of
Community Health Systems appeared.

"Henry Johs, vice president of marketing of Quorum Health
Resources, Inc . . .will give a presentation (Nov. 25),"
says O'Brien. "The public is invited to attend."

Quorum Health Resources is a part of the Quorum Health Group
based in Nashville, Tenn.

Representatives of the for-profit health care organization
spent three days earlier this month in Monahans on the
invitation of the hospital trustees. Quorum owns 19
hospitals, manages 244 hospitals and reported net revenues
for the past fiscal year of $1.4 billion.

The Quorum team, O'Brien says, was in Monahans "evaluating
the hospital to see if they could enhance the hospital

Illness spreads among young

Two young children were admitted to Ward Memorial Hospital
in Monahans Wednesday, Nov. 19, as an outbreak of upper
respiratory illness spreads across Ward County, the
hospital's deputy administrator, Peggy Vestal, reports.

Vestal says the illness seems to have targeted younger
children but it also has struck the general population.
Although the ailment does not appear to be life threatening,
it is widespread and serious enough to warrant
hospitalization in at least the cases noted.

So far, medical investigators, she says, have not confirmed
exactly what the ailment might be although some laymen call
the disease "croup." Vestal says the illness, which causes
difficulty in breathing and headaches, should be watched and
those affected, especially if they have persistent fever,
should seek the services of a physician.

On Wednesday, 11 children were reported sent home from a
Monahans day care center complaining of the ailments which
prompted the hospitalization of two of them. Officials there
have told parents not to return their children to the center
until they are free of disease for at least 24 hours, a
standard precaution in the policies of most such centers and
at schools. Some school children also have been reported
sent home from classes in an attempt to stop the potential

Monahans doctors also are seeing more than usual amounts of
upper respiratory illness, cases that cannot be traced to
the usual reasons of season change, the health officer says.

The outbreak began last week, Vestal says. At least one
middle-aged woman was hospitalized then for treatment, an
indication that the upper respiratory distress that
accompanies the disease is not confined strictly to

"Parents should watch their children and seek professional
help with the disease, especially if there is fever," says

Keele best law officer

FORT STOCKTON - Sheriff Ben Keele of Ward County has been
named the best law officer in West Texas by his peers.

The honor came at a special dinner of the Big Bend Area Law
Enforcement Officers Association meeting in Fort Stockton on
Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Keele, a veteran of nearly 40 years of law enforcement, was
chosen the association's officer of the year in a vote of
its members who come from city, county, state and federal
law enforcement agencies from Odessa to El Paso.

Keele's chief deputy Jerry Heflin and sheriff's captain
Steve Vestal recommended Keele for the award.

At the end of this term, Keele will have served a dozen
years as Ward County's chief law enforcement officer.

Schools get 'great' reviews

Sudderth Elementary is exemplary.

Gensler Elementary and Lathan Walker Junior High are all

The whole of the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote school district's
elementary through high school students generally scored
higher on the state mandated academic tests than their peers
in the region and the state.

More than one administrator in the school district used the
word, "Great!" to describe the test performance on the Texas
Education Agency's Texas Assessment of Academic Skills
(TAAS) or Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS).

That was the bottom line on the annual "report card"
issued each Autumn by the Texas Education Agency to the
state's public school districts.

Earning the agency's exemplary rating means at least 90
percent of a school's students passed all sections of the
test, a rarity in the public schools. At Sudderth, the
district's fifth and sixth grade center, 93 percent of
Sudderth's fifth graders passed; 94 percent, of its sixth

The recognized ratings received by Gensler and Walker, the
second highest given by the state, mean at least 70 percent
of its students prevailed.

District wide, TAAS testing showed students in the school
district consistently scored high enough for the state's
acceptable rating, the third highest level.

In addition to academic standards, student attendance
records of at least 94 percent must be maintained in all
areas to receive one of the three highest rankings.


Cullender Kindergarten

Although pre-kindergarten and kindergarten campuses in the
State of Texas are not given an accountability rating as
part of the Academic Excellence Indicator System, many
positive things have occurred at Cullender Kindergarten and
continue to occur. During the 1996-97 school year, Cullender
implemented a new phonics program, Saxon Phonics, which is
helping to better prepare students with pre-reading and
reading skills. As evidenced by the results from an
end-of-the-year basic skills test that was administered to
all kindergarten students in May, 1996, students were much
more successful than in years past in recognizing and naming
the letters of the alphabet and the sounds produced by these
letters. This is the first basic reading skill that all
children need in order to read. Additionally, more students
were able to blend letters to read simple, and even some
complex, words.

Cullender Kindergarten works continually to improve the
attendance rate of the students. As part of the Campus
Improvement Plan, Cullender has implemented many different
strategies to encourage students to attend school regularly.
Although Cullender is hurt every year with childhood
diseases such as chicken pox, the attendance rate of
Cullender is still fairly high with an attainable goal of 96

Gensler Elementary (Wickett)

There are many exciting things going on at the Gensler
campus. The Accelerated Reading Program is helping to
produce many enthusiastic readers. In fact, the second grade
qualifies as a model Classroom due to several criteria, one
of which is that all the children have made 100 percent on
tests taken in a week. Our volunteer library workers are
making our library a success. All of our students read 10
library books in the month of October and will be rewarded
with a slumber party. Also, 100 percent of our student body
has received pizza rewards for reading in the Book It
Program. The parents and entire town of Wickett supported a
fund raising drive and we made a huge profit because of
their efforts. The Christmas Play is in full swing with
costumes being made for each child in school. Along with all
the stimulating learning programs, the new carpet, the new
painted classrooms, the addition of TV/VCRs and computers in
each classroom make Gensler an exhilarating place to learn.

Edwards Elementary

Our school motto is Edwards Equals Excellence. The faculty
and staff of Edwards expect excellence from themselves as
teachers, professionals and role models for the first and
second graders of Monahans. In turn, we also have a
standard of excellence for our students to aim high and
achieve their full potential.

Our number one goal is to provide a safe atmosphere for
learning. For example, it is our daily practice to remind
visitors to check with the office and sign our guest book
located near the front doors to help us keep track of who is
walking through our halls. Also, another area of safety that
has been addressed is the playground facilities. The
parents, with support from the district, have enabled us to
improve on our playground facilities by removing equipment
that was no longer in operation and replacing it with new
playground toys. An extensive amount of dirt-work was done
to prepare the fall zone areas underneath the equipment.
This is to provide a base cushion for the students to lessen
injuries on the playground while improving upon gross and
fine motor skills.

Another goal that is focused upon is in the area of student
attendance. The purpose of our curriculum is to provide the
students with an academic foundation for future learning.
Therefore, presence in the classroom while teaching and
learning are taking place is of utmost importance.
Attendance awards are given each six weeks for those
students earning outstanding and perfect attendance. Last
year, we were able to award Water Wonderland passes to those
who earned outstanding and perfect attendance for the entire

Realizing that students' individual needs differ, we strive
to provide instruction geared to those needs. There are many
activities that take place on a daily basis in the
classroom. One particular program that is practiced in every
classroom is the Accelerated Reader Program. In conjunction
with our new library facility which opened last year, and
the computer labs, the students are able to read a book on
their instructional reading level and test their
comprehension of what was read on the computer. The students
receive immediate results and are rewarded with a sticker to
place on their chart. Once the chart is completed, they are
sent to the principal's office for a special note to their
parents and a Smartie for all their hard work.

Our standards are high for our students to succeed. Our
efforts are focused on preparing the students for future
learning. We are very proud of our district's recognized
status and proud that we had a small part in the success of
our Monahans students.

Tatom Elementary

Tatom Elementary, consisting of third and fourth grades,
exemplifies the term "collaborative effort." The faculty at
Tatom Elementary work together as grade levels and as a
campus to fulfill the educational needs of the student body.
Faculty members share educational and philosophical ideas to
promote a cordial and safe learning environment.

Students are afforded the opportunity to succeed
academically as well as co-curricularly. The Texas
Assessment of Academic Skills results are important to Tatom
Elementry but they are not the driving force of our
curriculum. Faculty members, administrators and staff at
Tatom Elementary work hard to provide a well rounded
education with numerous learning activities. The Academic
Excellence Indicator System from the Texas Education Agency
rates the Tatom Campus acceptable.

Working together to solve problems is one of the most
requested prerequisites of modern employers for new
employees. It is the belief of Tatom Elementary that the
teaching of these skills is much more important for the
future of our students than passing a state test. We
encourage and help prepare students to do their best on TAAS
but the emphasis is on a good well-rounded education.

Sudderth Elementary

Sudderth Elementary is extremely proud of the exemplary
rating as a result of last year's TAAS scores. To receive
this rating at least 90 percent of the students had to pass
the tests. Fifth grade had 93 percent passing and sixth
grade had 94 percent passing. In addition, each ethnic group
had to have at least an 80 percent pass rate.

These scores indicate the hard work by students and
teachers. The skills tested were not learned in one or two
years. This means that Cullender, Edwards and Tatom are part
of this accomplishment. Sudderth would like to thank the
teachers of these campuses for the academic foundation they
provided for the students. Sudderth was able to build on
this foundation and develop the students' test taking
skills. The development of test taking skills produced the
self confidence for the students to do their very best.
Motivation for the students to do their best on the practice
tests and the state test was provided by the teachers and
TAPS (Sudderth's parent group). TAPS provides a popcorn and
Coke treat for students when they pass a practice test.

Seven practice tests are given during the school year.
Students who pass at least four of the seven practice tests
or the state test are rewarded with a swim party the last
week of school. The key statement of the practice tests is
the discussion and explanation provided by the teachers
after the tests have been graded. If the students do not
know what they missed and why, very little learning occurs
from taking the test.

Sudderth also would like to congratulate Walker Junior High
and Gensler for their recognized rating The rating for the
entire district is also recognized which means that the TAAS
scores are good throughout the district. Students in
Monahans-Wickett-Pyote . . . are receiving a quality
education. Parent and community support enables the schools
to be successful. Thanks!!!

Lathan Walker Junior High

Lathan Walker Junior is an educational institution which
serves the seventh and eighth grade students of Monahans
(Wickett-Pyote). Our faculty believes that all students can
learn and reach their optimal level of academic success. One
of our primary goals is to teach all of our students to be
lifelong learners.

An integral part of making our students into livelong
learners is our accelerated Reader Program. This allows our
students to reach an unlimited number of books of their
choice to further enhance their reading skills. The
cornerstone of our mathematics program is the Saxon Math
curriculum. This program not only incrementally teaches and
reinforces math skills but helps to teach self-discipline as
well through homework. Our language curriculum is being
enhanced and supplemented by the Shirley Method, which is
helping our students become better writers. Our school also
provides enrichment opportunities in the areas of science
and social studies by having field trips to such places as
historic Fort Stockton and the TU Electric facility.

Our students are also fortunate enough to reap the benefits
from a rich fine arts program. The Walker Junior High band
and choir regularly compete and are very successfully all
UIL competitions. Our art program is very diverse and the
students learning everything from sketching to sculpture.

Athletics is another field in which Walker Junior High
teaches its students to be lifelong leaners. All of our
coaches strive to teach the basic skills of hard work,
dedication, discipline, team work and good sportsmanship to
the participant.

Overall, we are proud of the fact that Walker Junior High
produces good, well-rounded citizens for the United States
of America.

Monahans High School

We at Monahans High School are pleased with our AEIS report
of 1996-97. Our foremost objective was to improve our TAAS
scores primarily in the area of mathematics. We were
successful in doing this by increasing the percentage of
students mastering all objectives by 11 points from the
previous year. Along with that increase we were able to
reduce the discrepancies in the achievement gap between our
subgroups. This was a major area of emphasis for our campus.

Other areas of concern are being addressed, as indicated on
our Campus Improvement Plan. We are most pleased with the
decrease in the discrepancies between our student population
subgroups in the various areas of accountability.

Monahans Education Center

Monahans Eduction Center was established in order to provide
an alternative setting for students to achieve a high school
education. Students attending range in ages from 14 to 20
years of age and are working with a self-paced curriculum.
This, along with competency-based curriculum and advanced
technology, makes it possible for learning and motivation,
rather than the calendar, to determine the students'

Students are accepted on a self-referral basis. Teen parents
of any age may apply; all others must be at least 16 years
old by the first day of school.

Test results by grade

Third Grade

Reading- 82.9 percent of students passed in 1997, compared
with 81 percent in 1996. Regional reading pass rates for
1997 were 79.4 percent; state, 81.5 percent.

Math - 86.1 percent passed compared with 88.2 percent in
1996. Regional math pass rates for 1997 were 79.6 percent;
state, 81.7 percent.

All Tests - 79.7 percent passed compared with 75.9 percent
in 1996. Regional all test pass rates in 1997 were 71.6
percent; state, 74.2 percent.

Fourth Grade

Reading - 79.7 percent passed compared with 77.2 percent in
1996. Regional reading pass rates for 1997 were 79.5
percent; 82.5 percent for the state.

Writing - 88.4 percent passed compared with 81.1 percent in
1996. Regional writing pass rates for 1997 were 84.4
percent; state, 87.1 percent.

Math - 83.7 percent passed compared with 84.6 percent in
1996. Regional math pass rates for 1997 were 80.3 percent;
state, 82.6 percent.

All Tests - 73.7 percent passed compared with 63.3 percent
in 1996. Regional all test pass rates for 1997 were 68.5
percent; state, 72 percent.

Fifth Grade

Reading - 93.5 percent passed compared with 86.4 percent in
1996. Regional reading pass rates were 82.4 percent in 1997;
state, 84.8 percent.

Math - 93.5 percent passed compared with 86.4 percent in
1996. Regional math pass rates were 82.4 percent in 1997;
state, 84.8 percent.

All Tests - 92.8 percent passed compared with 80.1 percent
in 1996. Regional all test pass rates were 77.7 percent in
1997; state, 79.2 percent.

Sixth Grade

Reading - 95.6 percent passed compared with 90.7 percent in
1996. Regional reading pass rates were 85.1 percent in 1997;
state, 84.6 percent.

Math - 96.9 percent passed compared with 94.5 percent in
1996. Regional math pass rates were 85.4 percent in 1996;
state, 81.8 percent.

All Tests - 93.8 percent passed compared with 88.3 percent
in 1996. Regional all test pass rates were 79.4 percent in
1997; state, 76.8 percent.

Seventh Grade

Reading - 89.9 percent passed compared with 88.9 percent in
1996. Regional reading pass rates were 82.1 percent in 1997;
state, 84.5 percent.

Math - 87 percent passed compared with 80 percent in 1996.
Regional math pass rates were 78.6 percent in 1997; state,
79.7 percent.

All Tests - 84 percent passed compared with 75.7 percent in
1996. Regional all test pass rates were 73.2 percent in
1997; state, 75.1 percent.

Eighth Grade

Reading - 87.7 percent passed compared with 79.7 percent in
1996. Regional reading pass rates were 80.9 percent in 1997;
state, 83.9 percent.

Writing - 85.3 percent passed compared with 80.1 percent in
1996. Regional writing pass rates were 79 percent in 1997;
state, 80.7 percent.

Math - 81.6 percent passed compared with 72.3 percent in
1996. Regional math pass rates were 74.5 percent in 1997;
state, 76.3 percent.

Science - 89 percent passed compared with 80.7 percent in
1996. Regional science pass rates were 83.1 percent in 1997;
state, 84.6 percent.

Social Studies - 64.8 percent passed compared with 76.3
percent in 1996. Regional social studies pass rates were
63.3 percent in 1997; state, 67.4 percent.

All Tests - 56.5 percent passed compared with 60.6 percent
in 1996. Regional all test pass rates were 53.7 percent in
1997; state, 57.3 percent.

Tenth Grade

Reading - 85.4 percent passed compared with 80.1 percent in
1996. Regional reading pass rates were 83.5 percent in 1997;
state, 86.1 percent.

Writing - 86.7 percent passed compared with 84.6 percent in
1996. Regional writing pass rates were 88.3 percent in 1997;
state, 88.5 percent.

Math - 70.6 percent passed compared with 58.8 percent in
1996. Regional math pass rates were 69.6 percent in 1997;
state, 72.6 percent.

All Tests - 64.1 percent passed compared with 59.8 percent
in 1996. Regional all test pass rates were 64.6 percent in
1997; state, 67.8 percent.

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