Irvin High School News

Irvin's "Rocket New Tech School" recognized by the White House

POSTED: 01:09 PM MST Nov 18, 2015 UPDATED: 05:37 PM MST Nov 18, 2015 

"Rocket New Tech School" recognized by the White House


The Obama administration hosted its first-ever White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools last week.

According to a news release by the White House, Next Generation High Schools are "schools that incorporate key elements of redesign including more personalized active learning.  Access to real-world and hands-on learning such as "making" experiences...and a focus on expanding STEM opportunities for girls and other groups of students who are  underrepresented in these high-growth well-paying  fields."

Among those acknowledged was Irvin High Schools "Rocket New Tech School".

The El Paso Independent School District and New Tech Network partnered together to implement an innovative school within a school at Irving High School. This is Irvin's first year with the "Rocket New Tech School".

The new school is one of two new tech schools in El Paso, with "Cougar New Tech" at Franklin High School being another, and it is one of nearly a dozen in the state of Texas.

The school will be the platform for launching students into Irvin's T-STEM courses beginning 9th grade year. According to the schools website, the cornerstone of Rocket New Tech and T-STEM's unique learning environment will be project-based learning (PBL).

T-STEM courses include Engineering, Biotechnology, Media Production, Cyber Security and Computer Technology.

The new learning technique, PBL, is an attempt at teaching students the core values of trust, respect, responsibility, collaboration, critical thinking, and technology.

Instead of handing out daily assignments, teachers assign periodic projects that require critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication.

The Rocket New Tech School was the only El Paso and Texas New Tech campus to be recognized by the White House for its work.


Class of '63 presents Scholarship

This year's (2015) $500.00 scholarship was made possible by donations we received from classmates during the year of our 50th Anniversary Reunion. Last year, thanks to the generosity of two classmates, three $500.00  scholarships  were presented in the name of our class.

Thank You! to all scholarship donors for your generosity and community spirit.

EPISD Education Foundation awards $57,000 in scholarships to graduating 58 seniors

The EPISD Education Foundation this spring awarded the Class of 2015 with 58 scholarships totaling $57,000. El Paso High’s Scott Spivey, who received the highest rating on his application by the Foundation reviewers, was awarded the Board of Managers Scholarship. Students earning scholarship will be attending colleges and universities from UTEP and UT Austin to Brown University and MIT. The 58 scholarships also includes scholarships sponsored by the Burges High School Class of 1994 and the Irvin High School Class of 1963. All scholarships awards are $1,000 with the exception of the $500 scholarships from the Burges Class of 1994 and Irvin Class of 1963.

Scholarships provided through the EPISD Education Foundation are made possible through the generous support of our corporate donors through the Community Campaign for Excellence, our employees contributing to the Employee Giving Campaign and the participants of our events. El Paso Electric Company, the Community Campaign Honorary Chair for the 2014-15 school year, kicked off the campaign with a $25,000 contribution.

The following students received Foundation scholarships:

Deanna Pedroza, Andress High School
Sage Stewart, Franklin High School
Diana Diaz, Silva Health Magnet
Yanaisa Anais Padilla, Austin High School
Camille Hicks, Franklin High School
Nina Garza, Silva Health Magnet
Lee Egure, Bowie High School
Kathryn Howard, Franklin High School
Alena Marrufo, Silva Health Magnet
Isabelle Bartnett, Burges High School
Karen Fierro, Irvin High School
Anessa Tobias, Silva Health Magnet
Karissa Amorette Ramirez, Burges High School
Lisa Melanie Parks, Irvin High School
Leornard Ayala, Silva Health Magnet
Dessia Schier, Burges High School
Magda Christine McClendon, Irvin High School
Genesis Michelle Luna, Silva Health Magnet
Anna Burgess, Burges High School
Angel Rodriguez II, Jefferson High School
Samantha Mariel Escalera, Silva Health Magnet
Valerie Gallegos, Chapin High School
Elizabeth Martinez, Jefferson High School
Gabriela Olivarez-Alvarado, Silva Health Magnet
Fernanda Grajeda, Coronado High School
Janet Garcia, Jefferson High School
Noelle Olivarez, Silva Health Magnet
Camille Martin, Coronado High School
Anthony Cortez, Jefferson High School
Quejona Hodges, Silva Health Magnet
Ronald Lee Dentinger III, Coronado High School
Shelby Nava, Jefferson High School
Samantha Holguin, Silva Health Magnet
Brandon Dukes, Coronado High School
Miriam Torres, Jefferson High School
Rebecca Rose Ramos, Silva Health Magnet
Bianca Hsieh, Coronado High School
Adriana De La Torre, Jefferson High School
Rohanna Bruker, Silva Health Magnet
Scott J. Spivey, El Paso High School
Peniel Rodriguez, Jefferson High School
Karla Carrillo, Silva Health Magnet
Enzo Modesto- Abudd, El Paso High School
Valeria Serratos, Jefferson High School
Josue Sanchez, Silva Health Magnet
Carlos Enrique Diaz, El Paso High School
Rachel Cener, Silva Health Magnet
Sarah Estrada, Silva Health Magnet
Courtney Shrode, Franklin High School
Natalia Berry, Silva Health Magnet
Lizette Salazar, Silva Health Magnet
Amanda Burciaga, Franklin High School
Maritza Martinez, Silva Health Magnet
Anthony Michael Quinn, Franklin High School
Joel Reyes, Silva Health Magnet


Burges graduate Esther Sanchez received the $500 Burges Class of 1994 Scholarship and Giovanni Paz received the $500 Irvin Class of 1963 Scholarship.





































Irvin High School Protest

EL PASO, Texas -

Students and faculty at Irvin High School are very upset about their principal, Laron Sharp, was reassigned to Andress High.

One student said the Superintendent's decision to reassign Sharp was a big mistake.

"He needs to know its a very big mistake and everybody is human," the student said. "He made that decision not knowing what he took away from us."

Students and faculty told ABC-7 they are worried this may be in relation to consolidating the two schools (Andress and Irvin), but an EPISD spokeswoman said that is not the case.

Melissa Martinez, with EPISD, said Sharp's reassignment was unrelated to possible consolidation or merging with schools in EPISD.

But a large majority of students said they need Sharp, and he had a large positive impact on the student body and throughout the community.

"He loves you, he knows you by name, and there isn't a person on campus that loves this school more than he does that's why he needs to be here," another teacher said.

As for now, they are doing everything they can to get Mr. Sharp back to the school where he belongs



On Sept. 21-22, Northeast El Paso took the brunt of a downpour generated from Hurricane Odile. On Monday, Sept. 22, a woman drowned when floodwaters swept her car into the drainage canal near Vulcan and Diana streets. At least one emergency shelter was set up at Magoffin Middle School. Several areas of Irvin High School were flooded, including the recently renovated cafeteria.  On those two days nearly half the students were kept home by parents or were unable to make it to campus.  (Information compiled from and the Irvin website

Inline Image Not Displayed

(Photo courtesy of KVIA



Three Scholarships Awarded by Class of '63

Pictured from left to right: Raul Alvarez, Mitzi Martinez, Ilse Delgado, Linda Oatman (Cox) and Klaus Hille. Not pictured: Scholarship recipient Stephane Flores and photographer Ernest Jiron.      


           Thanks to generous donations from several of our classmates, the Class of ’63 was able to present three $500.00 scholarships to deserving Irvin High School students. The scholarships were presented at the school’s Awards and Scholarship Presentation Ceremony on May 27, 2014. The honor of representing our class went to Linda Cox (Oatman), Raul Alvarez, Ernest Jiron and Klaus Hille. The scholarship recipients were Ilse Delgado, Stephane Flores and Mitzi Martinez.

            The three scholarship recipients were selected from eleven applicants. All three students  submitted well written applications. They have outstanding academic records and are very involved in community service. They have worthy, well thought out goals, have already  demonstrated a tenacious ability to overcome challenges and to accomplish what they set out to do. One of the students plans to study Business Administration and two are planning to study Biology/Medicine. All three intend to give back to their community after establishing their career.

            The scholarship funds are managed by the El Paso ISD Education Foundation. Once the student is registered at a university, the funds are transferred to the registrar of that institution.

            The members of the scholarship selection committee were Linda Cox (Oatman), Gayle Dollarhide (Thompson), Frank James, Ernest Jiron, Raul Alvarez and Klaus Hille. Special thanks to Linda for obtaining the scholarship selection guidelines and the student applications from the El Paso ISD Education Foundation. She guided the committee in the selection process and coordinated the committee’s efforts with the requirements of the Foundation. Also, special thanks to Gayle for reserving an excellent meeting place for the committee to accomplish its work.

            Selecting the scholarship recipients was a very difficult task. All eleven applicants were deserving of special recognition and financial assistance. The task was made a little easier when two committee members donated a total of $1,000.00 in addition to the original amount of $500.00 that was budgeted for a single scholarship. As a result, the Class of ’63 was able to present three $500.00 scholarships. It is the hope of the scholarship selection committee to again be able to present at least one $500.00 scholarship next year.

Rocket Proud!



Students attend orientation for UTEP-Irvin High School research collaboration

By Andrew Kreighbaum \ El Paso Times
POSTED:   12/07/2013 12:20:57 AM MST

Andrew Kreighbaum

Irvin High School began its first year this fall as a STEM academy -- a campus with a state-approved curriculum focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Thirty-six Irvin juniors will get an even deeper introduction to the sciences starting today with orientation for a partnership with the University of Texas at El Paso.

Dubbed "Work with a Scientist," the four-year study will use a $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant to examine the educational benefits from a hands-on experience rather than a structured classroom environment.

"The whole purpose of the study is we want to create a supportive environment for students to communicate and interact with scientists," said UTEP Associate Professor of Teacher Education Pei-Ling Hsu, the project's principal investigator, after the award was announced.

The study aims to measure how directly working with scientists and science educators could influence the number of students who eventually enter STEM fields in a college setting.

Fifty-four total students from Irvin will be involved in the partnership between Irvin and UTEP. Selected students and their parents will learn more today at the university's chemistry and computer science building, along with receiving safety training and introductions to scientists and a tour of research labs.

Andrew Kreighbaum may be reached at 546-6127



TEA approves science, technology, engineering and math approach at Irvin High

By Andrew Kreighbaum \ El Paso Times
Posted:   09/29/2013 12:00:00 AM MDT


Irvin High School student Rolando Gonzalez eyed an axle set collar which was being prepared for mounting in a robotics at the northeast school Wednesday. (Victor Calzada / El Paso Times)
Click photo to enlarge
Robotics teacher Fernando Arias, left, watched student Pierre... (Victor Calzada / El Paso Times)

The desks from Irvin High School engineering teacher Benjamin Montoya's class sit in stacks just outside his classroom, weeks into the fall semester.

In their place, he's moved tables where students face each other and collaborate almost daily on projects in his introductory engineering courses.

"It's becoming more of a lab than a classroom," Montoya said.

Classes throughout the campus are making similar changes -- some faster than others -- to encourage students to approach class material with hands on applications in mind. Irvin this fall begins its first semester with designation as a STEM Academy, or a campus with a focus on teaching in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Schools that receive the designation from the Texas Education Agency are designed as demonstration schools that should develop innovative methods for teaching in those fields to high school students. Irvin is only the third STEM academy offered in the El Paso area by a traditional public school and, more significantly, one of a handful of such schools statewide to convert its entire campus to the program.

At the Northeast school, the campus is rolling out 10 different strands, similar to college majors, that students will decide on by the end of their sophomore year. They'll be able to choose from degree pathways in biotechnology, robotics, electrical engineering, media production, technology, cyber security and other plans.

While modifying a four-wheeled robot with a sleeker design in Montoya's class, Irvin sophomore Juan Lopez said he had always been interested in robots. But Lopez, who hopes to become a veterinarian, said he is still deciding between a focus on robotics or biotechnology over the next three years.

"I want to make my own robot," he said. "Maybe I can (make) prosthetic parts for animals that have lost a leg."

Shalaya Wakefield and Isaiah Nevarette worked in teacher Jaci Queen's biotechnology class Wednesday. (Victor Calzada / El Paso Times)


Irvin Principal Laron Sharp said the new focus on science and math will create more opportunities for students from one of the district's more underprivileged areas who are typically underrepresented in engineering and science majors at the university level.

"It's not just a high school graduation kind of initiative," he said. "It really is something preparing them better for a college (career)."

After taking introductory courses in their first two years at the campus, students will settle on one of 10 pathways by the end of their sophomore year, taking more advanced classes as upperclassmen.

By their senior year, they will work on capstone projects that could include work at a professional internship in their field outside the campus.

Sharp, now in his third year at the campus, said administrators found many of the top students in the Irvin feeder pattern were finding better academic options at magnet programs elsewhere in the district.

"All of a sudden we were faced with a bulk of our brightest students going other places," he said. "We were trying to figure out what can we do to not only attract kids from other places but to retain kids from our own feeder pattern."


Teacher Jaci Queen, right, shows students Isaiah Navarette and Shalaya Wakefield about electrophoresis Wednesday in a Biotechnology class at Irvin High School Wednesday. (Victor Calzada / El Paso Times)

The STEM Academy project could make Irvin more attractive to students who might look at academic programs elsewhere, he said. But including the entire campus means its entire student body of 1,600 receives those advantages.

The district this summer also approved magnet status for the school so that beginning next year students from campuses outside the Irvin feeder pattern can apply to attend the campus.

Current freshman and sophomore students will be the first to graduate from Irvin after completing requirements for one of the STEM degree pathways.

With a larger campus come bigger challenges for meeting that goal than those faced by typical STEM academies. Unsurprisingly, the largest is funding.

Before 2011, schools had the opportunity to apply for competitive grants through the TEA to support the STEM academies. Transmountain Early College High School, El Paso ISD's first such campus, also received support from groups like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

Although the school receives advising and professional development from the public-private partnership Educate Texas, when Irvin was approved for a new academy last year by the TEA it was essentially an unfunded designation.

"We didn't get any money for our 1,600 pupil campus," said Irvin STEM coordinator Oscar Rico.

Campus administrators have found alternatives to those large grants, reallocating some funding for the school and seeking other assistance from the community.

Irvin is aiming to provide laptops or other devices to each of its students beginning with current underclassmen.

Two hundred devices were purchased with district funding and another 600 laptops for freshman and sophomore students will be obtained through a computer repair program at state prisons.

And the school is planning on eventually offering many of its technology-related courses in a new wing to be rebuilt at a cost of about $250,000 as soon as funding from the district is made available.

The STEM project is receiving support from local corporate and higher education entities through a panel of advisory partners.

Willy Silva, vice president of community outreach at El Paso Electric, said the company has deemed itself a STEM company. El Paso Electric employs about 70 engineers of all types, he said.

"Everything we do here is associated with one of those fields," Silva said. "You name it, we have it."

He said building on science and engineering education at the high school level would not only help steer more students toward those fields at the university level but also could help improve dropout rates and engagement at public schools.

Educators at the campus also say the STEM requirements could boost the number of girls studying math and engineering at the high school -- fields where female students are typically underrepresented at the college and university level.

Biotechnology instructor Jaci Queen has seen the number of girls in her classes rise dramatically since starting at Irvin.

She said the new degree plans could expose even more girls to those fields who never would have considered a career in science.

"This does introduce these fields to a more diverse population -- both male and female and all ethnicities and races and all backgrounds," she said.

The switch to a STEM-oriented campus has also meant changes in the classrooms of instructors teaching what are traditionally considered liberal arts, social studies, literature and foreign languages.

Geography teacher Ruth Bohlin, during the recent Constitution week, had her students arrange desks in groups of five or six and, instead of receiving a lecture on the document, present and defend rankings of important American values.

"It's kind of allowing the students some ownership over their own teaching and learning, giving them opportunities to teach each other," she said.

Those methods aren't new to Bohlin, who has embraced the more project-oriented, hands-on curriculum pushed by the STEM model.

"It was kind of exciting, it kind of made me think this is where I want to be then," she said. "To my knowledge, nowhere else in El Paso is a teacher or an educator given so much liberty to teach the way they want."

Sharp, the Irvin principal, said he was grateful the campus's teachers have been open to embracing the STEM project.

"We can't get rid of an art teacher, we can't get rid of another person because we're going to STEM," she said. "We have to transition art into something that can do more with art whether that's have our art teacher do more things like a digital art or something. We've got to have our staff be very flexible, be very willing to change."

Andrew Kreighbaum may be reached at 546-6127.