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Fort Bend & Sugar Land Schools,
Sports, and Students August 2017

Texas 4-H scholarship recipients.

Texas 4-H scholarship recipients.


The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR) warded 70 4-H members from 54 different Texas counties with $1.4 million in scholarships during the Texas 4-H Roundup in College Station on June 8. Founded in 1908, Texas 4-H is the largest youth development program in the state, impacting more than 550,000 students each year through agriculture-related, hands-on learning experiences.

“Texas 4-H and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo have a shared vision of youth development that involves a diverse offering of competitions and educational programs, many of which incorporate some facet of agriculture,” said Joel Cowley, Show president and CEO. “As a result, it is particularly rewarding to recognize the effort and accomplishments of these very deserving 4-H scholars.”

Each of these 2017 Texas 4-H Show scholars receives a $20,000 college scholarship, payable over four years. Alexandria Hornsby from Fort Bend County is a recipient.

Students were selected by Texas 4-H officials based on the students’ involvement with the program, academic achievements and financial need. Of the 70 recipients honored, 65 percent were female and 35 percent were male. In the fall, these students will attend 25 different Texas colleges and universities and will major in 44 different disciplines.

Since the first scholarship was awarded in 1957 in the amount of $2,000, more than 2,500 Texas 4-H’ers have received scholarships from the Show.

This is the third of four scholarship presentations this summer in which the Show will commit $14.3 million in scholarships to Texas youth. These scholarships represent a portion of the HLSR’s annual commitment of more than $26 million to scholarships, research, endowments, calf scramble participants, junior show exhibitors, School Art participants and other educational programs. For more information on the Show’s educational support, visit rodeohouston.com/Educational-Support/Commitment.

The HLSR is a charity that benefits youth, supports education, and facilitates better agricultural practices through exhi­bi­tions and presentation. Since its beginning in 1932, the Show has committed more than $430 million to the youth of Texas. For more information, visit rodeohouston.com.


Hubenak Team Two (lower left corner, clockwise): Michelle Akpan, 5th Grade; Sidney Nguyen, 5th Grade; Caleb Helmke, 3rd Grade; Valeria Vazquez, 4th Grade; Maxine Buena, 5th Grade; and Jennifer Jew, 4th Grade.

Hubenak Team Two (lower left corner, clockwise): Michelle Akpan, 5th Grade; Sidney Nguyen, 5th Grade; Caleb Helmke, 3rd Grade; Valeria Vazquez, 4th Grade; Maxine Buena, 5th Grade; and Jennifer Jew, 4th Grade.


Twenty-two schools. Thirty-eight teams. Two-hundred-and-forty students. Twenty books. Fourteen questions in “sudden death overtime.”

One winner.

Hubenak Elementary School’s Team Two emerged victorious in Lamar CISD’s annual Battle of the Bluebonnet Books. Teams compete to see who can identify the most quotes from the 20 Bluebonnet Books from the current year’s list.

Team Two outlasted last year’s champ, Hubenak Team One.

The Texas Bluebonnet Award Program is a state-wide program for students in grades 3-6. Texas librarians nominate 20 new books each year from different genres to be on the Bluebonnet list.

Its purpose is to promote free-choice reading and expose students to a variety of quality literature. The goal of the “Battle” program is to improve student engagement in reading, while challenging students to read rigorous texts within a variety of genres.

The Lamar Educational Awards Foundation sponsored the Battle, paying for transportation and lunch for the teams. This year’s Battle was held May 17 at Fulshear High School.


The 2017 Fort Bend County Fair scholarship recipients.

The 2017 Fort Bend County Fair scholarship recipients.


The Fort Bend County Fair Association hosted its Scholarship Reception and presented forty-two scholarships and five Queen scholarships to deserving recipients. From the swing of the gate at the rodeo to the strike of the gavel at the auction, this is the one evening that over 50 committees made up of 1,300 plus volunteers work so purposely for to help shape the future. Forty-two scholarships, each valued at $4,000, were awarded to students representing schools and districts throughout Fort Bend County. “It is so rewarding to give away these scholarships; we look so forward to watching these kids at their next level – at college- to see what they do in life. It is extremely rewarding and I couldn’t be happier to do what we do,” said Fort Bend County Fair President, Ernest Lawson.

Recipients are set to pursue a wide-range of higher educational paths. Agricultural degrees spanning from science to business, to finance and medical degrees, make up a few of the career choices of the recipients. Each of the scholarships were earned by individual students who shared the passion for continuing their education but were diverse on their journeys to obtain them. Several of the scholarships were awarded to lifelong Fair exhibitors, while others were earned by students who excelled outside of the show arena. The Fair’s scholarships are divided into several divisions: restrictive, non-restrictive, open, art, vocational and Queen.

A Brazos high school senior, Taylor Hoelscher, is no stranger to the Fair. This scholarship recipient has been showing animals for the past six years. “It means a lot every year coming to the Fair in September. All the hard-work finally gets to pay off. Especially for how much it gives back to me, not only the auctions but all the committee members giving all their support, not only to me but my fellow competitors and friends as well,” said Taylor of being awarded a scholarship. “This scholarship really means everything ­– I mean all the hard work over the years, all the volunteer hours…the Fair gives back to me just as much as I like to give back to them. It has taught me a lot of dedication, responsibility, time management, and a lot of life skills. I plan to apply them to my life and not only the agricultural industry, and to whatever I am enduring.”

Several of the scholarship winners began their journey half a world away: Parichehr Sadeghi from Iran and Marki Samuel from Ethiopia; both immigrated to Texas. Both are students at Stafford High School. Parichehr, is an aspiring dermatologist and is University of Houston bound, said, “I think it means a lot to me because I can help my parents financially and try to at least help them a little bit by paying for a small portion of it on my own.” Marki is planning to pursue a medical degree but is first Aggieland-bound said, “This scholarship means that I get the opportunity to go the college that I actually planned on going to and money will not hold me back.”

Scholarship recipient Caitlin Wesneski wants to be an agriculture teacher. Since the third grade, Caitlin has been showing animals at the Fort Bend County Fair. “I started showing chickens first, then eventually I wanted to show something bigger, so I showed pigs and then steers. By far pigs are my favorite,” said the 19-year-old Sam Houston State University student. Caitlin has come back to volunteer to help with the swine tag-in and show. She shared, “The county Fair has done a lot for me throughout the years. This is the place that molded me into the young adult that I am today. It taught me hard work, dedication, responsibility, and more life lessons than I will ever be able to remember. I’d like to say thank you because without the Fort Bend County Fair Association this would not be possible and I would not be able to make my dreams come true.”

The scholarships are a result of money raised by the Fort Bend County Fair Association and its various committees’ fundraising efforts, and individual sponsors. The Go Tejano Committee, Life Member Silent Auction, Art Auction Committee, Grapes on the Brazos Committee and sponsors such as The Charlie Seely Memorial, Durwood Greene Construction, Kunz Farms and McDonald’s have given back by generating or donating scholarship funds.

The 2017 Fort Bend County Fair will run from Sept. 29 to Oct. 8. For more information on the Fair’s scholarship program or schedule of events visit fortbendcountfair.com or call the Fair office at 281-342-6171.


Bijon Radia with his family and the gaga pit.

Bijon Radia with his family and the gaga pit.


Bijon B. Radia received his Eagle Scout Award at a Boy Scout Court of Honor held on Saturday, May 27. The ceremony was held at the Parkway United Methodist Church in Sugar Land. The master of ceremonies was Gary Ray, assistant scoutmaster Troop 38.

The Eagle award is the highest achievement earned in Boy Scouting, and only two percent of Scouts achieve this award. To be considered to become an Eagle Scout, a candidate must be active in his troop, hold a leadership position, earn at least 21 merit badges (including 12 Eagle-required badges), complete a leadership service project benefiting his local community and receive several letters of recommendation. After the Scout works up through the ranks, he performs an Eagle project to develop his leadership skills while providing a community service.

For his Eagle Project, Radia designed, planned and provided leadership to a group of Scouts and adults to build a Gaga Pit (an outdoor wooden dodgeball pit) for the children at Attack Poverty. Tina Tilghman, a volunteer at Attack Poverty who was instrumental in approval of this project, had this to say about the project, “You know that everyone’s going gaga over the gaga pit. Gaga is a fast paced, high energy sport played in an octagonal pit- which was very difficult to build. The more players the better! So many children in the area can enjoy this pit.”

Radia joined Troop 38 in September 2012, when he bridged from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. In these years, he was elected by the Patrol Members in a competitive election to be their Patrol Leader for all scouting activities of the Patrol. He planned campouts, food purchase, cooking, games, and safe camping activities for all scouts in his Patrol since he joined.

Radia is a senior at Stephen F. Austin High School and plans to attend University of Texas at Dallas in the fall. Bijon Radia’s parents are Bimal and Priti Radia.


Girl Scout Troop 28259.

Girl Scout Troop 28259.


Girl Scouting’s highest awards – the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards – are a girl’s chance to make a lasting difference in the world.

Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council – in particular Brazos Valley Community is honored to present the members of Troop 28259 with the Girl Scout Bronze Award, the highest recognition for achievement in Girl Scouting for girls in grades 4-5. The Bronze Award recognizes Girl Scouts who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through sustainable and measurable Take Action projects that address important community needs.

When the girls discovered Tip of the Spears, they developed a Take Action plan to address the issue’s root cause. They organized the project around educating and supporting our armed forces with the organization, Tip of the Spear. They received permission at their school to post posters, send flyers home in weekly folders, place donation bins around the school, and speak on the morning announcements about the program. They collected from the generous teachers and families at Brazos Bend Elementary as well as from friends and families of each scout in the troop. In addition, they sold and donated 86 boxes of Girl Scout cookies from the Clean the Cupboard sale to include in the care packages. With these donations, they were able to sort items, tape boxes, pack items into boxes, label and deliver the packages to the post office. They were able to get 60 care packages off to the troops.

Diana Wilson, the leaders of Troop 28259 had this to say about the girls and the Take Action Project, “Through the Bronze Award activities, the girls of Troop 28259 learned how to plan and organize a project from beginning to end while helping a worthy cause close to their home. They built a lasting relationship with Tip of the Spears and will continue to support our armed forces through volunteer activities. They have already committed to working on holiday packages for next year.”



Fourteen Elkins High School Air Force JROTC cadets were among more than 300 students throughout Texas to attend the third annual Houston Area Air Force JROTC Cadet Leadership Course, held June 11-17 at the University of Houston Main Campus. During the weeklong training, the cadets completed one of three physically demanding courses – including Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. The training gave the cadets an opportunity to develop their leadership, decision-making and communication skills, while building self-confidence.

Elkins AFJROTC cadets participating in the leadership course included:

Discovery Basic Course – Cadets Royce Carrizal, Victor Chang, Jose Falcon, Jason Jumawon, Adrian Melchor, Meghna Paul, Sharon Samuel, James Smith, Destiny Swafford and Paulavion Williams

Challender Intermediate Course – Cadet Jack Rosner

Endeavor Advanced Course – Cadets Seth Owens, David Perches and Tanmay Shah

The event also recognized recent graduates Victor Chang and Adrian Melchor for their achievements. Chang received recognition as an Honor Graduate at the Top 15 percent of his class; and Melchor received recognition as a Distinguished Graduate for being among the Top 5 percent of his graduating class.



Fort Bend ISD has announced that 37 students in the district qualified for Grand Recognition and 246 students qualified for State Recognition through the Duke Talented Identification Program (Duke TIP) for their exceptional scores on the ACT or SAT.

The seventh grade talent search identifies, recognizes and supports high-performing students. The program offers qualifying seventh grade students the opportunity to take college entrance exams and provides them with other college prep tools. Stu­dents qualify for Duke TIP by scoring at or above the 95th percentile on a grade-level standardized test. Nationally, more than 50,000 were tested this year.

Grand Recognition award recipients are invited to attend a special recognition ceremony at Duke University, and the Special Recognition award honorees will be recognized at a
Texas university.

Students qualifying for Grand Recognition include: Arjun Bhatia (Quail Valley), Doyita Biswas (Quail Valley), Andrew Cai (Quail Valley), Joseph Chau (Fort Settlement), Wen Chen (Quail Valley), Jacob Foster (First Colony), Daniel Guan (Quail Valley), Caleb Guse (Fort Settlement), Christine Huang (Fort Settlement), Kelly Huang (Quail Valley), Eric Jia (Sartartia), Hemant Kanwar (Sartartia), David Li (Sartartia), Eric Liang (Sartartia), Leo Lu (Fort Settlement), Ayush Manoj (Fort Settlement), Timothy McDonald (Sartartia), Nicolas Morales (Quail Valley), Andrew Palmer (Fort Settlement), Amogha Pokkulandra (Quail Valley), Norah Rami (Sartartia), Rachel Rockwell (Fort Settlement), Vivek Saravanan (Fort Settlement), Aaroh Sharma (Quail Valley), Amaris Shi (Fort Settlement), Vivek Tallavajhula (Sartartia), Sreeja Thipireddy (Quail Valley), Vikas Thoutam (Quail Valley), Ivan Tong (Fort Settlement), Vishwa Venkatesan (Quail Valley), Jackson Walton (Baines), Arnold Wang (Quail Valley), Sandor Wat (Quail Valley), Albon Wu (Fort Settlement), Jarvis Xie (Quail Valley), Christina Xu (Fort Settlement) and Kaylee Yu (Sartartia).

For a complete list of students who qualified for State Recognition, visit fortbendisd.com.


The FBISD 2017-18 Project Search school-to-work interns.

The FBISD 2017-18 Project Search school-to-work interns.


UnitedHealthcare recently announced the names of 12 Fort Bend ISD high school students who were selected to participate in Project Search, a job training program created for students living with disabilities. Fort Bend ISD’s Special Education Department partners with UnitedHealthcare, Texana and Texas Workforce Solutions to provide the school-to-work program to help young people make a successful transition from school to productive adult life.

FBISD’s 2017-18 Project Search interns include: Joshua Berry, Bush; Ritika Bhardwaj, Kempner; Nicholas Contarell, Bush; Daniel Hall, Bush; Gary Metz, Dulles; Cody Nguyen, Ridge Point; Ileana Ramirez, Hightower; Nicholas Sparks, Austin; Sara Sugar, Dulles; Divine Tezzo, Austin; Emma Watson, Dulles; and Jacoby Young, Marshall.

During the 2017-18 school year, the FBISD interns will gain real-life work experiences as they receive onsite job training at UnitedHealthcare and learn independent living skills.

“We are very excited that our son was selected for Project Search,” said Emile and Lilliane Tezzo, parents of Divine Tezzo. “His high school teachers have been talking to us about the project for a couple of years and we’ve always hoped that Divine would be selected. Now that he’s entered the program, he will discover a path leading to his independence.”

Parent Lillian Holmes is equally proud of her son on being selected as a Project Search intern.

“When my son Daniel learned about Project Search, I noticed an immediate difference in how he presented himself,” she said. “From the second he took part in the orientation, his confidence blew through the roof. He spoke much clearer, made direct eye contact when speaking to people and started dressing appropriately – and this all happened before he knew of his acceptance into the program. The change I’ve witnessed in him and his excitement for the Project Search lets me know that he will have a great experience next year.”


Taylor Bannister

Taylor Bannister


Taylor Bannister, who attended Fort Bend Christian Academy (FBCA), was awarded a full scholarship to play volleyball at LSU.

Bannister committed to LSU in September 2015 at the age of 15 and had only played one season of competitive volleyball the first time recruiters from the university saw her in action.

During her athletic career at FBCA, she was MVP for the district (2015), first team all state and first team all district (three years), second team Under Armour (2016), volleyball prep ranking for 2017 recruiting class number 13 in the nation. Bannister also won numerous awards in track & field during her athletic career at FBCA, where she competed in district, regionals and state.

Texas Tornadoes Club Mizuno was her club volleyball team. The Texas Tornadoes received the Bronze medal at nationals and Bannister made the All-Tournament team.

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