Western Hills Art Teacher’s Grant Submission Earns State’s only $10K Technology Grant As LRSD Students Go Global with Hour of Code

November 30, 2015 - Sarah Burns had no idea that her creative “outside the box” thinking would pay off in a big way when she submitted a grant request to help improve technology at Western Hills Elementary where she spends part of her instruction time as an art teacher.   Word came just over a week ago that her school had been the only Arkansas campus selected, along with one entry from each of the 50 states and Washington, DC, to win a $10,000 technology grant.  Burns’ submission detailed how she would incorporate the use of technology in art instruction, and demonstrate that effort during the global movement, the “Hour of Code.”  

The Hour of Code is an international initiative that reaches tens of millions of students in 180+ countries, and provides an opportunity for all of us to see what computer science is about.  The Little Rock School District will have hundreds of students from 16 campuses participating in the “Hour of Code” the week of December 7th , including those attending Roberts and Forest Heights STEM Academy.  To show their excitement about and commitment to this year’s event, staff and students at Forest Heights will be donning Star Wars costumes on campus, Tuesday, December 8.  Last year, LRSD’s students were among 120 million nationwide participating.  Additionally, anyone - ages 4-104, anywhere, can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 40 languages. No experience is needed.

"The Hour of Code is designed to demystify code and show that computer science is not rocket-science, anybody can learn the basics," said Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org. "Over 100 million students worldwide have tried an Hour of Code. The demand for relevant 21st century computer science education crosses all borders and knows no boundaries."

LRCH SECME Robotics Team Wins Again!

Congratulations to the following LRCH SECME ROBOTICS TEAM members: Alida Kaufmann, Alex Wang,  Evalyn Berleant,  Rafael Estrella, Adaja Cooper and  Kaylyn Harris. This group of talented students helped LRCH SECME ROBOTICS TEAM win again in the RICEBIRD ROBOTICS INVITATIONAL on Saturday November 21, 2015 in Stuttgart.

LRCH now moves on December 4th and 5th to the BEST FRONTIER TRAILS ROBOTICS REGIONALS in Fort Smith, where they will face seven states and 100 schools. Thank you to all who have contributed to this trip including sponsors Mr. Kent Moore, Mr. Patrick Foley and Ms. Rosetter Dirden, but they still your support.

If you would like to make a donation to support the SECME Robotics team please contact Roshaunda Franks at roshaunda.franks@lrsd.org or 501-447-1424. Checks should be payable to: LRCH SECEME Robotics. You may mail donations to Ms. Franks at LRCH, 1500 S. Park St., Little Rock, AR 72202.

Central Teacher Named Claes Nobel Educator of the Year!

Little Rock Central’s Mary (Katie) Parson was selected as one of the top ten National Society of High School Scholars’ Claes Nobel Educators of the Year for 2015. As one of the top ten, she will receive a $500 award, a personalized plaque and an invitation to the upcoming member recognition program at the Carter Center in Atlanta on December 5, 2015, where she will be recognized by  Mr. Claes Nobel, a senior member of the family that established the Nobel Prizes.

In 2011, National Society of High School Scholars (SHSS) established the Claes Nobel Educator of the Year Award to spotlight educators like Parsons, who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of young people and helping to usher them into the wider world.

According to Mr. Nobel, NSHSS co-founder and senior member of the family that established the Nobel Prizes:

“Among the education stars recognized as Educators of Distinction, a few shine bright above the rest. The Claes Nobel Educator of the Year program embraces my family’s tradition of recognizing world class minds and supports the vision of NSHSS to help students build on academic success and grow the skills and desire to have a positive impact in the global community.”

Back-to-Back State Tennis Champions!

Hall High School Tennis Players Ashley Gray, senior, and Caroline Gibbens,  sophomore, were selected as Student Athletes of the Month for November after winning the 6A State Championship Doubles match. This is a back-to-back championship win for Ashley Gray, who also won last year's top spot with Jasmine Brown (class of 2015) as her partner. Their performance in the tournament also secured the 6A Runner Up slot for the team.

New, Earlier Open Enrollment for the 2016-2017 School Year

New, this year Open Enrollment in the Little Rock School District began October 19 and ends December 18, 2015 with designated enrollment periods. Open Enrollment will NOT be held in January and February.

Please Note: Applications are still being accepted for Early Childhood P3/P4 and Forest Heights STEM Academy.

Parents are requested to bring two copies of the application packets to expedite the enrollment process.

LRCH Senior Name One of Only Five National Student Poets

LRSD is proud to recognize Little Rock Central High Senior David Xiang as one of only five students in the country to be awarded the country’s highest honor for student poets.  See information in article from the National Student Poets Program below.


“Every year we have great young people who take this pledge and go on to do some wonderful things. This is the beginning of something phenomenal for each and every one of you. And I am so excited for you. And I don’t want you to be nervous about it . . . I want you to feel empowered by it. You all can do this. You made it to this point. There is nothing you can’t do.”
–First Lady Michelle Obama, during her remarks at the National Student Poets Pinning Ceremony at the White House, October 8, 2015.

First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a poetry reading in honor of the 2015 National Student Poets (from left: Anna Lance, David Xiang, De’John Hardges, Chasity Hale, and Eileen Huang) in the Blue Room of the White House, October 8, 2015. (Photo by Patrick G. Ryan for the National Student Poets Program.)

Meet the Class of 2015 National Student Poets

  • The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers partner to present the National Student Poets Program, the country’s highest honor for young poets (grades 10–11) presenting original work. We are thrilled to introduce the 2015 National Student Poets, who were appointed on October 8, 2015.

David Xiang
Age 17
Little Rock Central High School
Little Rock, AR
Southwest Region

Eileen Huang
Age 15
High Technology High School
Lincroft, NJ
Northeast Region


Chasity Hale
Age 16
Miami Arts Charter School
Miami Beach, Florida
Southeast Region

Anna Lance
Age 17
West High School
Anchorage, AK
West Region


De’John Hardges
Age 16
Cleveland School of the Arts
Cleveland, OH
Midwest Region


Former LRSD Teacher of the Year Named 2015 Arkansas History Teacher of the Year

Former Little Rock School District Teacher of the Year, Steven Helmick can now add another distinction to his list of impressive accomplishments - his selection as 2015 Arkansas History Teacher of the Year.  The news about Helmick, now assistant principal at Don Roberts Elementary School, came earlier in the school year, but his school colleagues and officials from the Arkansas Department of Education hosted a surprise reception in his honor Monday at the elementary campus. Helmick was a fifth grade social studies teacher when curriculum specialist Laura Beth Arnold nominated him for the award.  

The local teacher of the year designation is an arm of the National History Teacher of the Year Award program, which supports the teaching of American history in classrooms across the United States. Each year, one K-12 American History teacher is chosen from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense Schools, and U.S. Territories. The program is co-sponsored by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, HISTORY® and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on behalf of its Preserve America program. 

DJ and Payton - Dynamic Debating Duo - Continues Winning Ways

Not only did Little Rock Central High's DJ Williams and Payton Wood win the University of Michigan Round Robin this weekend, they also won the regular University of Michigan Tournament, placing as the top team in a field of over 100.  And, if that's not awesome enough, Payton and DJ were awarded 2nd and 3rd speaker, respectively!  The two are making quite the impression on the national debate circuit.  See highlighted article. 

Article from HS Impact

Click here to read article on corresponding website - photo and text from article found below.


Little Rock WW wins Michigan Tournament and Seniors Round Robin

November 2, 2015 · by Josh Clark

Little Rock Central’s Payton Woods and Darrin Williams had an amazing week.  After already leading the TOC bid count through the first two and a half months of the season, they now have even more accolades to their impressive start.  Payton and Darrin started the week by winning the Seniors Round Robin with a 7-1 record.  Payton was also top speaker and Darrin was 5th.


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