Frisco honored as one of Best Communities for Music Education

Frisco Independent School District has been honored as one of the Best Communities for Music Education in the United States in 2016 for its outstanding commitment to music education.

Frisco ISD joins 476 districts from across the country in receiving this prestigious award from NAMM Foundation, a national non-profit foundation. FISD was also a winner in 2013.

The Best Communities Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

Districts that have been recognized by the NAMM Foundation are often held up as models for other educators looking to boost their own music education programs.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, FISD answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“This honor is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our talented teachers who put in long hours coaching students and building our outstanding music programs,” said Frisco ISD Fine Arts Director Richard Oldham. “Thanks to the support of parents, administrators, School Board members and the community, our students have multiple opportunities to participate and excel at the highest levels.”

Frisco ISD offers band, orchestra and choir at all middle and high school campuses. Some schools are also home to guitar and harp programs. Additional fine arts programs include art, cheerleading, dance, drill team and theatre.

Frisco ISD music programs and students consistently earn top state and national honors. Among them:

Forty-six students were selected for one of 15 All-State band, orchestra and choir ensembles in 2016, the highest honor a music student can receive in Texas.

Marching bands from Wakeland and Centennial high schools advanced to the finals in the Texas State Marching Band Contest in 2015, placing fifth and ninth, respectively.
Band and orchestra students from six Frisco ISD schools were lauded for their performances through the 2015 Foundation for Music Education Mark of Excellence competition.

The Liberty High School Symphony Orchestra was selected to perform at The Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago in 2015. The clinic is one of the largest conventions for music education.

The Fowler Middle School Percussion Ensemble was the only middle school percussion ensemble in the country chosen to participate in the 2015 Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), an expo which draws thousands of drummers, percussionists and exhibitors from around the world.

Studies continue to show a strong connection between music and academic success, particularly in reading, math and learning in group settings, making it an important part of a well-rounded program that meets the needs of the whole child.

McKinney ISD trustees approve bond projects for May 7 election; early voting starts April 25

McKinney ISD: On Thursday night, the McKinney ISD Board of Trustees approved a detailed list of projects to be included in a $220 million bond program that will go before voters on Saturday, May 7. If passed, the measure would allow for a 2 cent tax decrease  because of an increase in the McKinney tax base and the retirement of old debt.

The items submitted to the board for consideration were determined by Project Kids, a 100-member bond committee comprised of students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members.

Two weeks ago, Project Kids Chairs Richard Beasley and Jennifer Gray stood before the board and presented the committee’s recommendation.

Now, those bond package items have been approved by the board and include major initiatives for technology, safety and security, fine arts, campus renovations and improvements and a new McKinney ISD stadium/event center.

The McKinney ISD Board of Trustees voted Thursday night to approve the items for a $220 million bond election called for May 7. Passage of the bond would allow for a 2 cent tax decrease due to an increase in the McKinney tax base and the retirement of old debt.

“I’m very happy about the process and how many community members have been involved,” said Board of Trustees President Amy Dankel after Thursday night’s meeting. “The comments tonight—both for and against—were very respectful, and I appreciate that. I love that a student came and addressed the board about the bond and that we involved students, not just adults, in the bond committee. There are clear needs in the district and calling the bond was the way for the citizens of McKinney to vote on those issues.”

Bond funds allotted for technology will support classroom and instructional technology, the high school One to the World program and infrastructure and network upgrades.

The bond includes a new 1,000 seat auditorium and a practice gym at McKinney High School. The new auditorium would double the school’s current theatre seating capacity of 500 and bring it in line with the 1,000 seat auditoriums at McKinney Boyd and McKinney North. The bond would also provide for additions to the band halls and fine arts areas at McKinney Boyd High School, Cockrill Middle School and Evans Middle School.

Items included in the MISD 2016 bond package were recommended to the MISD Board of Trustees by Project Kids, a committee comprised of 100 students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members.

The new McKinney ISD Stadium/Event Center included in the bond would account for long-term growth and provide a larger site that can accommodate attendance, ingress, egress (traffic flow) and the parking needs of 5A and 6A athletic programs. The stadium would seat 12,000 fans and include approximately 2,400 dedicated parking spaces.

By contrast, the district’s 54 year old existing facility, Ron Poe Stadium, seats 6,988 and has 341 dedicated parking spaces. It was built when McKinney ISD served about 7,000 students. Today, district enrollment is approximately 24,700.

In addition to its primary uses for athletic competition, the new stadium facility will also feature a community event room to host athletics and fine arts banquets and events, professional development, district events such as the annual Teacher of the Year Program and other community functions.

Also accounted for in the bond package are facility upgrades for 21 schools across the district in need of HVAC, roof replacement and other renovations. Valley Creek Elementary School and Glen Oaks Elementary School are both scheduled for comprehensive renovations as part of the district’s scheduled update cycle, and funds are included to replace worn and outdated classroom furniture at schools across the district.

The bond targets significant safety enhancements including internal and external security cameras at every school. The MISD Transportation Center will be expanded to accommodate growth and will include a fueling station expected to save the district $50,000-$60,000 per year in fuel costs.

Lastly, the projects include digital marquees throughout the district.

McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel said: “I am excited that the bond election unanimously approved tonight by our board will touch all facets of our district from safety and security to additions at McKinney High School to the fine arts additions at Boyd, Cockrill and Evans to the stadium project. I look forward to the opportunity to present these projects in their entirety to the community.”

The board’s approval now places the decision in the hands of McKinney voters. The bond election will be held on Saturday, May 7. Early voting begins on April 25th.

For more information on the 2016 bond, visit

Allen ISD: Allen High School qualifies for Marine Corps JROTC Academic Bowl in June at Catholic University

An Allen High School JROTC team has advanced to the Championship level of the of the 2016 Marine Corps JROTC Academic Bowl Championship set for June 24-25 at the Catholic University of America.

The team includes Alexander Webre, Daniel Roberts, Jacqueline Walker and Ryan Jacobs.

The team earned top scores to win a place in the national competition and is one of only four Marine Corps JROTC Academic Bowl teams to advance to the finals. During the two fast-paced preliminary rounds, students were tested on their knowledge of the JROTC curriculum, English, math and science. One of the main goals of the JROTC Academic Bowl is to prepare students for state exit and graduation exams as well as college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT. The event is conducted by College Options Foundation.

The winner of the Marine Corps JROTC Academic Championship will compete against the winners of the Army, Navy, and Air Force JROTC Academic Bowls in the JROTC Joint Service Academic Bowl Championship.

Ready to zip line? Oak Point Park in Plano opens up new adventures

Ready to Zipline?

Check out this info from GO APE TREETOP ADVENTURES:

What is Go Ape Treetop Adventure?

A Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course is an outdoor experience that provides participants 2-3 hours of outdoor fun and exercise.  The result is spectacular. The course allows participants to explore the park from an otherwise unobtainable vantage point while navigating through the treetops using zip lines, obstacles and Tarzan swings.

Go Ape Treetop Adventures says: “We start by equipping participants with harnesses, pulleys and carabiners, give them a 30-minute safety briefing and training and let them loose into the forest canopy, free to fly on zip lines, swing through the trees, and observe the surroundings. Of course, instructors are always on hand, regularly patrolling the forests.  The Go Ape Treetop Adventure course gets the adrenalin pumping, gets people out of their comfort zones and above all, it’s a great outdoor activity for families, friends, and corporate groups.”

To learn more about Go Ape and what we do for the environment and community click here.

Can I participate?   Age, Height, & Weight Requirements

The Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course does require a degree of physical fitness but if you can climb up a rope ladder you should be fine.  Although, we do have some participant restrictions we created to ensure you have a fun safe experience on the course.

The restrictions for an individual and the supervision ratio are:

Minimum age: 10 years old
Minimum height: 4ft 7in (55 inches)
Maximum weight: 285 lbs (subject to harness fit)

Supervision:  One participating adult (18+) is required to supervise up to two 10-15 year olds. 16-17 year olds do not require a supervising adult, but do require a waiver signed by their legal guardian or an adult (18+) who has obtained permission from the 16-17 year olds legal guardian.

For 16-17 year olds, we recommend printing the waiver at home and bringing a signed copy to Go Ape.

Harnesses: At Go Ape we use harnesses to make sure you’re nice and safe throughout your time on the course. The maximum waist measurement of the harness is 43 inches and the leg loops (which go around the top of your thighs) is 28 inches. If you’re unsure about the fit of the harness, feel free to come by the cabin before your booking time and we’ll help you try one on.

Can we watch our friends and family Go Ape from the forest ground?

Yes, we encourage Go Ape guests and other park users to view the course activity from the ground.  There are trails below the course that all are welcome use and to watch their friends and family swing through the trees.

Can I zip line without going through other obstacles?

Due to the design of our course, we’re unable to provide an experience of only riding zip lines.  Participants must climb a rope ladder into the trees and cross multiple obstacles before reaching the zip line.  This ensures the experience will be a rewarding adventure through the forest canopy.  Part of what makes Go Ape unique from other zip line experiences is the feeling that you’re on a giant obstacle course up in the trees!

How do I book my adventure?

We highly recommend that you book your treetop adventure in advance as our courses tend to fill up especially during weekends and holidays.  You can book online or by phone at 1-800-971-8271.  You will need to pay the full amount at the time of booking.

What are the opening times?

Opening times vary depending on daylight hours and the time of year, so please check in advance using the calendar on the top right.  Generally our days of operation throughout the year are:

March to May: Weekends, and select weekdays
June to August: Everyday
September to December: Weekends and select weekdays

How much does it cost?

Our ticket prices are:

Age 18+ (Gorillas): $49-58
Age 16-17 (Orangutans): $49-58
Age 10-15 (Baboons): $29-38

*These prices do not include local taxes which are added when booking.

Is there a time limit to complete the course?

No. You can go at your own pace and let people ‘pass’ if you want to take your time. If you want to reduce the chance of being held up by people in front of you, we recommend that you book on a weekday or an early morning slot, as there will be fewer people ahead of you on the course.

When do I need to arrive?

Please arrive 10 – 15 minutes prior to your session time.

Factor in extra time for driving through the park, parking, getting to the cabin and filling out forms, especially on busy days when you’re more likely to get stuck in traffic.  If you arrive late and miss your session, or cancel on the day, you are still charged for your session, so come early.

What do I wear?

The Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course is an outdoor activity so come in clothes you don’t mind getting a little dirty. We recommend participants check the weather before arriving and dress appropriately for the conditions. Closed toe and closed heel shoes are required. We recommend ankle-supporting boots, but sneakers are fine too. We do not allow participants to wear sandals, open-toed or slip-on shoes. Some participants like to wear gloves, especially if it’s cold or your hands are sensitive. Gloves are available for purchase at Go Ape.  Long hair has to be tied back, waists covered and body piercings and jewelry removed or taped over.  You may want to bring a change of clothing for the journey home.

Are there storage or changing facilities?

We can store small items such as keys and phones in our cabin, but recommend that you leave larger items at home or safely in your car.  There are restrooms on site where you can change before and/or after you swing from the zip lines and Tarzan swings.

What can I bring with me?

You may take cameras, phones, or any other device on the course as long as they are secured to you and tucked away to prevent them from getting caught or falling to the ground.  If you don’t bring your own lanyard, we do have them available for purchase in the cabin.  Water is available on the course, but you may also bring a watter bottle if it can be carabineered to your harness.  We don’t recommend you bring a bag with you into the trees because they are bulky, but if you must bring a bag, it should fit closely to your body.

After you’ve captured your experience, share it on our social pages @GoApeUSA to be entered in cool contests and win prizes!

Is it safe?

We take safety seriously and we ensure that everyone who comes to Go Ape knows what they’re doing and has the skills to complete a course without putting themselves or anyone else in danger. For the safety of everyone on the course, we require all participants to read and sign our waiver before going ape.  Learn more about waivers here.

Is there an instructor with you on the course?

You will receive a 30 minute safety briefing and training from a qualified instructor before you start the course. After that you’re on your own, free to swing through the trees. Of course, instructors are always on hand, regularly patrolling the forest.

Can I participate if I am afraid of heights?

If you are worried about your knees knocking and your arms trembling, do not worry.  We are proud to have helped lots of people to conquer their fear of heights. Why not give it a try? You might surprise yourself!

What if I have a pre-existing medical condition? (Handicap & Disabilities)

Our staff is not in a position to assess the implications of the Go Ape activity on your pre-existing condition. It remains your responsibility to undertake such an assessment prior to taking part in the activity. We advise you to visit the course prior to booking or contact your doctor to undertake a personal risk assessment.

Handicap Access: Participants:  The Go Ape course requires upper body strength and the ability to climb a rope ladder into the trees.  We encourage all physical abilities to participate on the course.  However, if a participant arrives to Go Ape and finds they are physically unable to participate due to a disability, we are happy to provide a full refund.  We also recommend visiting the course prior to your adventure, if possible, to take a tour and speak with our staff about any concerns.

Non-Participants:  There are forest trails that follow our course from the ground, which are open to the public and free of charge.  These are natural, unpaved trails, which may or may not be suitable for wheelchair access depending on the durability of the wheelchair.  ADA viewing areas are available as well.

Other Disabilities: We have had a number of guests participate on Go Ape courses with disabilities, including those who are deaf, blind, amputees or have learning disabilities.   We recommend that these participants book with a guide who will assist them through the course.  For children, the normal supervision ratios apply, and a one adult to one child ratio is strongly recommended for any children with disabilities.  Sign language interpreters will be provided for the training brief to deaf participants, provided two weeks notice is given to Go Ape before their adventure.  If a participant arrives to Go Ape and finds they are physically unable to participate due to a disability, we are happy to provide a full refund.  We also recommend visiting the course prior to your adventure, if possible, to take a tour and speak with our staff about any concerns.

Can I do the course if I am pregnant?

Go Ape recommends that pregnant women do not take part on the course. However, we are not medical experts, so we suggest that any pregnant participants seek their doctor’s advice before booking.

What happens in bad weather?

Go Ape is an excellent all weather activity! Rain makes the course muddier than usual – which all adds to the fun! Don’t be scared of going ape when it’s hot either. The course is shaded by the forest canopy and is several degrees cooler and drier than you’d expect. Plus, there are water stations throughout the course to keep you hydrated!

The course remains open in all weather conditions, except when it is icy, thundering, or during lightning. See cancellation policy below for more details regarding weather cancellations.

Hot Weather: Go Ape is a highly physical activity. Prepare yourself by eating well beforehand and make sure you’re hydrated. Water is provided on the course, so drink up!

Collin County vote: Ted Cruz tops Trump, Rubio locally in Republican Primary 2016; Hillary Clinton wins Democrat vote

How did Collin County vote in March 1, 2016 Texas Primary?


Ted Cruz 39.6 percent (Ted Cruz received 46,094 votes in Collin County)

Donald Trump 25.58 percent (29,772 votes)

Marco Rubio 23.27 (27,082)


Hillary Clinton 59.18 percent (23,591 total votes for Clinton)

Bernie Sanders 40.34 (16,082 votes for Sanders)

Note: 63 of 63 voting centers reporting


Congressman Sam Johnson wins Collin County vote in four-man Republican Primary race

Congressman Sam Johnson won the Collin County vote in the 2016 Texas Republican Primary with 74.62 percent.

The Congressman received 65,288 votes on Tuesday, March 1, 2016.

In the Democrat Primary, Adam Bell drew 14,223 votes to win locally with 60.36 percent in District 3.



Andrea Thompson holds off Puhl in District Judge race in Collin County

Andrea Thompson captured 41.89 percent of the vote to take the most votes in the District Judge race (D416) in Collin County on Tuesday, March 1.

Michael Puhl finished with 29.34 percent.

Lon Garner 16.71

Andrea Bouressa 12.06


Who is Andrea Thompson?


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