Making history: Slidell wins region sweepstakes trophy

Morgan Barnes explains this year’s seniors made a prophesy of sorts with their class T-shirts.

“They say ‘making history,'” Barnes said. “That’s what we’re doing and going out with a bang.”

REGION CHAMPS – Slidell High School students celebrate the Class A Region III University Interscholastic League academic title after last weekend’s meet. Fourteen students earned trips to the state meet May 26-27 in Austin. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Barnes was a big part of history for Slidell Saturday as the school captured the Class A Region III University Interscholastic League academics sweepstakes trophy.

“It’s a big deal. We accomplished many dreams,” said Barnes, who won literary criticism and finished second in computer applications. She also was named Best Actress in the region one-act play contest on Slidell’s production that advanced to state.

“It was crazy. A lot of hard work paying off,” she said.

Barnes is one of 14 Slidell students to earn spots at the UIL state academic meet May 26-27 at the University of Texas in Austin.

“It’s the most we’ve ever had,” said Slidell UIL coordinator Sherrie Enis about her 14 statebound students. “We’ve had five a couple of times, but this is definitely the most. They are such great kids.”

Slidell piled up 318 points – 121 more than second-place Savoy. The school won team titles in computer science, speech and literary criticism.

“We’ve been trying for this for a long time,” Enis said.

The school’s production of “Ruby’s Story” earned 38 points as one of the region’s two advancing plays. Along with Barnes earning the top acting award, Caitlin Pruett and Taylor Davis made the all-star cast.

“With one-act-play, regionals has always been the cutoff,” Barnes said. “That got us super pumped for everything else.

“It’s an awesome story, and we have a good group with a lot of desire. The Best Actress at the regional level was unexpected, but the main goal was I wanted us to advance.”

Sarah Beaver won three gold medals in computer applications, computer science and number sense. She tied classmate Mason Maynard for the top spot in number sense. Obed Galindo was third as Slidell captured all three medals and the team trophy in the event.

“We’re making history. It was a lot of firsts for Slidell,” said Beaver, a junior, who was part of three championship teams along with the one-act play.

Shelby Vanover hauled in gold medals in physics and ready writing, a silver in computer applications and a fifth-place in science.

“I got high point in physics. I got lucky,” said Vanover, who earned his first trip to the state meet.

He credited his teachers for their help, especially in ready writing.

“I had a great teacher in ready writing that got me in it my freshman year,” said the now-junior. “I progressed and added skills that got me to state.”

Jessy Goode won poetry interpretation with Norberto Martinez taking third in the event.

Obed Galindo finished second, Marisol Millan third and Goode fourth in informative speaking.

Tyler Maynard earned a silver medal in headline writing.

Caitlin Pruett garnered second in persuasive speaking and third in prose interpretation.

Barnes and her fellow history-making senior classmates will graduate the week of the state academics meet.

“It’ll be a good way to end our senior year,” Barnes said.


Team: 1. Slidell 318; 2. Savoy 197; 3. Tioga 104.5; 4. Perrin-Whitt 69; 5. Bryson 58; 6. Trinidad 55

Computer Applications: 1. Sarah Beaver; 2. Morgan Barnes

Computer Science: 1. Sarah Beaver; 2. Shelby Vanover

Computer Science Team: 1. Slidell

Headline Writing: 2. Tyler Maynard

Informative Speaking: 2. Obed Galindo; 3. Marisol Millan; 4. Jessy Goode

Literary Criticism: 1. Morgan Barnes; 3. Sydney Keating

Literary Criticism Team: 1. Slidell

Number Sense: 1. Mason Maynard; 1. Sarah Beaver; 3. Obed Galindo

Number Sense Team: 1. Slidell

News Writing: 6. Tyler Maynard

Persuasive Speaking: 2. Caitlin Pruett; 4. Khristian Talamantes

Poetry Interpretation: 1. Jessy Goode; 3. Norberto Martinez

Prose Interpretation: 3. Caitlin Pruett

Speech Team: 1. Slidell

Ready Writing: 1. Shelby Vanover

Science: 5. Shelby Vanover

Physics: 1. Shelby Vanover

Spelling and Vocabulary: 6. Lisbet Licea

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Little Greyhounds take up running early

Slidell Elementary School student Alex Crawford picked herself up off the track. Her fall left her with bloodied elbows and knees and a huge scrape on the side of her face, but she refused to quit running.

She and her classmates were participating in the Mileage Club’s fun run, and there were prizes on the line, not to mention pride.

P.E. teacher Angie McCormick told Crawford she could sit and rest, but through her tears, the third-grader expressed her determination to finish.

“I’m going to get my laps,” she said. “I’m tough.”

Leaping on the Last Lap

LEAPING ON THE LAST LAP – Third-grader Catilin Harwell leaps over the finish line at a recent Slidell Elementary fun run. Also pictured is parent Gina McCullough and Avery Weathers, reaching for the finish. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Slidell students are testing their grit and determination, racking up miles in the Mileage Club, a program started this year to promote health and fitness as part of the revamped elementary physical education program.

With McCormick’s help, students set goals for the running club and are awarded prizes as they meet those goals throughout the year.

“If they get their goal, they get a trip to the treasure box or an ice pop,” she said.

Students run once a week during P.E. and for every 20 laps, they get a plastic foot charm. They also earn charms for the fun run, held every six weeks.

“That’s huge in their world,” she said. “When we first started this, I wasn’t sure what the kids would think, and I even had some parents wondering about it.

“But now they’re asking to go to the track.”

One Step at a Time

ONE STEP AT A TIME – Zairet Del Real-Jara (left) flies by a Slidell parent, Veronica Allen, and classmate Brody Slack during a recent fun run at Slidell Elementary School. The fun runs are part of the school’s Mileage Club. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Throughout the year, the students have gradually increased their distance. The lap goals for the most recent fun run were as follows: pre-kindergarten, six laps; kindergarten, seven; first grade, eight; and second through fourth, 10 laps.

McCormick said Tuesday the club has logged 4,776 miles this year. By the end of the year, she said there will be several students who can claim 50 to 100 miles individually.

The students look forward to running so much that they even ask to make it up if they miss that day in P.E.

McCormick is curious to take the end-of-year height and weight measurements to see if the program made a noticeable impact.

While the program likely improved students’ cardiovascular health, it also helped them grow their determination and peer support.

After Alex Crawford finished her run, bloody knees and all, she didn’t seek glory for herself. She went straight to McCormick and asked that another little girl be recognized.

Fellow third-grader Sam Ricketts had run or walked alongside her the rest of the way, encouraging Crawford after her fall.

Crawford appreciated that and wanted to make sure Ricketts got a Paw Paper, an award given to recognize good behavior, and in that moment running wasn’t about prizes or pride.

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Slidell ISD Student Spotlights for Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Cole Emert

Cole Emert

Grade: 1st

Parents: Wayne and Natalie Emert

Favorite subject: Reading

Activities: Soccer, reading, playing basketball with my sister and playing with Legos

“Cole is a very hard worker and gives 100-percent effort in all academic areas. He enjoys reading and works hard to gain points in our Accelerated Reader program. He is a great role model for his peers and displays exceptional behavior. We enjoy having Cole as part of our Greyhound team!” – Principal Taylor Williams


Savannah Gray

Savannah Gray

Grade: 8th

Parents: James and Elaina Muncy

Favorite subject: History

Activities: Tennis

“Savannah is an exceptionally bright and focused student. She always gives her best effort to succeed and is an independent and creative thinker.” – Principal Marty Hair


Jason Fuller

Jason Fuller

Parents: Angela and Brian Fuller

Grade: 12th

Favorite subject: History

Activities: One act play, basketball manager, UIL academics, FFA, playing video games, walking the creeks, watching TV

“Jason is one of those students who everyone enjoys being around because he is always pleasant and funny. He is involved in multiple school activities and is always willing to help others whenever he is needed.” – Principal Marty Hair

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Track: Raising the stakes – Pruett eyes more hardware entering regionals

On the state’s biggest stage last year, Slidell’s Caitlin Pruett sprinted to the front with 200 meters left in the Class A Division II 800 finals.

MORE TO COME – After medaling at the state meet as a junior, Slidell’s Caitlin Pruett could have easily been satisfied. Instead, she has worked harder than ever, competing in the 800, 400 and 4×400 relay at the regional meet, with a chance to go to state in all three. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

While two other runners overtook her in the final meters, she held on to third to win a spot on the medal stand.

“It was a like a dream,” Pruett recalled. “My goal was to make it to state. Medaling was like icing on the cake.”

The now-senior wants another opportunity to get on the state medal stand. But Wise County’s only returning medalist knows there’s work to do before she can turn her attention to state, starting with Saturday’s Class A Region III meet at Tarleton State University in Stephenville.

“I want to beat my PR and I’d love to win state. But I need to focus on getting there first,” Pruett said.

Pruett will compete in three events at the region meet including the 800, in which she owns the top area time with her 2:24.56. She also won area gold medals in the 400 and 4×400.

“She’s running really well and is where she wants to be,” said Slidell coach Cody Vanover. “As long as she doesn’t stress herself out, she’ll be fine. Sometimes, she tries so hard to do good.

“Caitlin competes so hard. We have a saying that winners find a way. Caitlin typically does.”

Pruett has not been content with last year’s medal. It’s only served to motivate her more to train. She rode that motivation to the state cross country meet in the fall.

It’s kept her going through a tough, activity-filled spring that found her heading to the track for workouts before or after UIL academic events. She’s qualified for state in three – persuasive speaking, prose interpretation and one-act play.

“The spring is crazy. In the spring semester I miss so much school but I make sure I get my workouts in,” Pruett said. “I’ll run in the morning or after a competition Mr. [Greg] Enis will take me to a track for a workout. If you want to be successful, you have to put the work in.”

As a returning state medalist, Pruett knows competitors have their eye on her and want to take her spot. That adds extra motivation for her.

“From my past experience, you know the people that are good,” Pruett explained. “They know my ability and that I’ve been to state and they want to beat me.”

But Pruett can also look to her past to find extra motivation herself. Before making it state last year, she narrowly missed making it as a sophomore.

“I got third at regionals by .08 of a second,” Pruett recalled.

Of all her events, the 800 is her favorite along with being the hardest.

“I’ve grown to love the race because of my competitive nature,” she said. “I’m willing to go on guts. It’s like running long distance on a sprint. The adrenaline of it makes me happy.”

While being the favorite in the 800, Pruett is expected to be among the finalists in the 400.

Slidell’s mile relay that Pruett joins Kayson Roof, Sydney Keating and Kylie Franklin on is seeded among the top eight, according to Vanover.

Pruett is hoping they can challenge for a state bid.

“I love the group of girls I’m running with. They put everything on the line,” Pruett said.

There’s little doubt that she will do that in every race as she eyes her main competition – herself.

“I’m extremely competitive,” Pruett said. “I’m always raising the bar for myself.”

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Student speakers hope to repeat sweep

Student speakers hope to repeat sweep

A precise speech pattern, intense eye contact and thoughtful ideas are not characteristics associated with stereotypical teenagers.

But Slidell High School students Jessy Goode, Obed Galindo and Marisol Millan are not typical teens.

Speaking Engagement

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT – Slidell High School students (from left) Obed Galindo, Jessy Goode and Marisol Millan swept the district UIL informative speaking contest and were to compete in the Class A Region III meet at Tarleton State University this weekend. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The dynamic trio went one, two and three, respectively, in informative speaking at the District 21-A UIL meet and were to compete this weekend in the Class A Region III meet at Tarleton State University in Stephenville.

The students agreed that they like informative speaking because it forces them to stay up-to-date on current events. Galindo said as they prepared for the contest, he realized how out-of-touch he was with world issues.

“I thought, ‘These are things I should know,'” he said.

In the contest, speakers draw five slips of paper, each with a different topic. From the time the slips are drawn, the speaker has 30 minutes to choose one of those topics, research that topic using a file of archived news stories and write a speech, citing six different sources.

The students must then deliver the speech to a panel of judges.

Each of the Slidell students has a different method for choosing their topic.

“My rule is if I can’t pronounce the name [of a person or country] in the question, then I’m not doing it,” said Millan.

The students also base their decision on the information they know is in their research files. For months leading up to the competition, the students research current events and save articles, creating the archive they use during the contest.

“I decide based on which one I have more files on or which one I know more about,” Goode said.

At district, Goode’s question was “How can the U.S. diminish ISIS impact on Iraq?”

“We had lots of files on ISIS,” Goode said with a laugh.

Galindo spoke on “what Kenya’s leaders are doing to rid the country of political corruption” while Millan answered the following: “Why is it becoming popular in California to use solar energy?”

“The hard part is you can’t slip into persuasive [speaking],” Millan said.

The students explained that they also rehearse hand gestures and moving around the room while speaking.

“And whatever you do, don’t say ‘like’ or ‘ummm,'” Goode pointed out.

The girls, both seniors, have competed in informative speaking throughout most of high school. This is Goode’s third year to compete, and Millan has entered the contest all four years.

Galindo, a freshman, was the new kid on the block.

“He was a standout at the tryouts,” Goode said. “He surprised everyone.”

The three agree that the contest will help them in the future, whether it’s preparing for a particular career or simply being more aware of the world around them.

Goode plans to major in broadcast journalism, so informative speaking is a natural stepping stone, and Millan will study to be a surgical tech, where communication is key.

Galindo said he’s noticed that many of his interests and possible career paths keep him secluded, but studying world events draws him out of that isolation.

“It helps you relate to how other people feel, and it affects the choices you make whether it’s voting on something or just your opinion,” he said.

As the trio conducted last-minute research this week, they were hoping for atypical regional results – a sweep leading to state.

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Tennis: Slidell narrowly misses state spots

The Slidell boys and girls doubles teams came up a victory shy of earning trips to the state tennis championships Tuesday at the Class A Region III tournament.

Tyler Maynard and Khristian Talamantes fell in the boys doubles playback to an Ector duo 7-5, 6-3.

The loss followed the pair’s win in three sets 6-7, 6-2, 6-4 to get into the playback.

They fell in semifinals to the region champions of Iredell, 6-3, 6-1.

Slidell’s Megan Garcia and Kylie Franklin lost in the playback to an Iredell pair 6-3, 6-2.

Garcia and Franklin lost in the semifinals to the eventual champions of Iredell. They then won their way into the playback with a win over Strawn.

Makayla Fitzgerald and Kayler Talamantes lost their opening match, 6-2, 6-0.

The Slidell mixed doubles team of Mason Maynard and Jessy Goode reached the semifinals before falling to the region champions.

Adina Zidermanis fell in the opening round to Kimberly Restelle of Bloomburg, 6-4, 5-2.


The Decatur boys doubles tandem of Jimmy Amos and Gavin Buchanan made the second round of the Class 4A Region I tournament.

The duo won their opening round 6-0, 6-0 over Alvarado. Then the Decatur tandem ran into top seed and region champions, Nital Patel and Maxwell Tadvick of Abilene Wylie, falling 6-0, 6-0.

Decatur’s Mati Hornback and Sarah Alling fell in the first round of the girls doubles tournament 6-4, 6-3.

The mixed doubles pairing of Joley Diazczenko and Nick Oberle fell in three sets, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

Stone Coston lost his opener in boys singles 6-2, 6-2.


Boyd’s Mason Whitt defeated Whitewright’s Kenneth Stark 6-3, 6-2 in his first match at the Region II Class 3A tournament.

Callisburg’s Canyon Ramsey ended Whitt’s run 6-1, 6-0.

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Brook DeBusk

Brook DeBusk

Brook DeBusk, 58, of Slidell died Wednesday April 22, 2015, in Decatur.

Visitation is 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 26, at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

Brook was born March 31, 1957, in Evanston, Ill., to Aaron and Betty (Young) DeBusk. He was a commercial framer.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Betty Weaver.

Brook is survived by his wife, Vickie Sadler of Slidell; sons Evan Marshall DeBusk of Navarre, Fla., Michael Calvin DeBusk of Denton and Ronnie Luke Mathews of Slidell; daughters Crystal Marie Crews of Scurry, Melissa Nicole Canales of Bedford and Michelle Lynn Escudero of Denton; his father, Gib DeBusk and wife, Ruth, of Tallahassee, Fla.; sisters Michelle Plummer of Austin, Melissa Carr of Lockhart and Kara DeBusk of Houston; brothers Clint DeBusk of Liberty Hill and Barrett Debusk of Cuba, N.M.; and numerous grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Memorial donations may be made to a charity of choice.

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Young actors advance to regionals

The Decatur and Slidell one-act play casts earned regional bids over the weekend with their performances at area.

Decatur moved on to Wednesday’s Class 4A Region I contest at Texas Tech University with its performance of “Twelve Dreams.”

Freshman Cayden Candioto earned all-star cast. Junior Benji Walker and freshman Taylor Yates received honorable mention.

Mark Harle earned the Best Technician. The crew won the Best Technical honor.

Decatur’s Mallory Bryant-Gawne is taking the cast and crew to regionals in her first year as a high school director.

Slidell advanced to the Class A Region III contest Friday at Tarleton State University in Stephenville with its rendition of “Ruby’s Story.”

Caitlin Pruett and Sydney Keating made all-star cast. Norberto Martinez and Shelby Johnson received honorable mention.

Beth Dill and Keisha Cope are the Slidell directors.

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Track: Lady Greyhounds capture area title

Caitlin Pruett and Kayson Roof came away with three gold medals each Saturday, leading the Slidell Lady Greyhounds to the team title at the 21/22-A Area meet in Ponder.

Slidell piled up 105 points to win the meet over Saint Jo by two.

Pruett won the 400 and 800, running 1:04.11 and 2:24.56. Roof captured the 300 hurdles in 49 seconds and cleared 8-6 to take gold in the pole vault.

The two ran on the 4×400 with Sydney Keating and Kylie Franklin. They won gold in 4:39.31.

The top four finishers at the area meet advance to the Class A Region III meet at Tarleton State University May 1-2.

Keating qualified for regionals in the 100 and 300 hurdles. She was third in the 100 in 21.01 and second in the 300 in 56.37.

Franklin took silver in the 100 hurdles in 20.52 and bronze in the pole vault with a 6-6 effort.

Kayler Talamantes won the high jump, clearing 4-8.

The Lady Greyhounds’ 4×200 with Franklin, Brooklyn Rambsel, Roof and Talamantes took second in 2:03.63.

The Greyhounds’ Shelby Vanover took gold in the 3,200, running 11:51.06.

Francisco Martinez finished second in the 400 in 57.29. Khristian Talamantes was third in the 1,600 in 5:33.12.

The Greyhounds finished sixth with 58.5 points.



Team: 1. Slidell 105; 2. Saint Jo 103; 3. Forestburg 88; 4. Milford 87; 5. Tioga 64

100: 1. Andrea Perez, Tioga, 13.36; 2. Paxton Edwards, Prairie Valley, 13.82; 3. Sarah Patrick, Saint Jo, 13.9; 4. Cayla Smelser, Forestburg, 14.02

200: 1. MarQuisha Houston, Milford, 27.54; 2. Andrea Perez, Tioga, 28.3; 3. Lyric Brooks, Milford, 29.51; 4. Kaitlyn Horn, Midway, 31.31

400: 1. Caitlin Pruett, Slidell, 1:04.11; 2. Danielle Ozymy, Avalon, 1:09.45; 3. Emily Trail, Bellevue, 1:09.88; 4. Brittany Barnett, Tioga, 1:10.12; 8. Kayler Talamantes, Slidell, 1:26.94

100 hurdles: 1. Cayla Smelser, Forestburg, 18.4; 2. Kylie Franklin, Slidell, 20.52; 3. Sydney Keating, Slidell, 21.01; 4. Marysol Avila, Saint Jo, 22.08

300 hurdles: 1. Kayson Roof, Slidell, 49; 2. Sydney Keating, Slidell, 56.37; 3. Erica Airheart, Trinidad, 57.59; 4. Sheridan Stiteler, Saint Jo, 58.3; 6. Brooklyn Rambsel, Slidell, 1:07.58

800: 1. Caitlin Pruett, Slidell, 2:24.56; 2. Katrina Noble, Saint Jo, 2:51.15; 3. Paityn Glaze, Tioga, 3:01.33; 4. Verenise Aguirre, Tioga, 3:06.16

1600: 1. Samantha Reynolds, Forestburg, 6:28.29; 2. Desarae Davis, Avalon, 6:32.12; 3. Coletta Holland, Saint Jo, 6:36.52; 4. Kaylee Choate, Forestburg, 6:39.83

3200: 1. Samantha Reynolds, Forestburg, 14:17.96; 2. Desarae Davis, Avalon, 14:42.17; 3. Ashley Reyling, Saint Jo, 14:44.1; 4. Coletta Holland, Saint Jo, 14:51.58

4×100: 1. Milford, 54.49; 2. Prairie Valley, 55.46; 3. Tioga, 56.77; 4. Bellevue, 58.85

4×200: 1. Milford, 1:57.56; 2. Slidell, 2:03.63; 3. Saint Jo, 2:05.77; 4. Prairie Valley, 2:07.22

4×400: 1. Slidell, 4:39.31; 2. Saint Jo, 5:05.6; 3. Bellevue, 5:08.55; 4. Avalon, 5:13.78

Long jump: 1. Cayla Smelser, Forestburg, 15-2.25; 2. Alley Roof, Prairie Valley, 15-1.5; 3. Lyric Brooks, Milford, 14-8.5; 4. Andrea Perez, Tioga, 14-6

Triple jump: 1. Lyric Brooks, Milford, 32-0; 2. Destinee Jones, Irving Universal, 31-11; 3. Alley Roof, Prairie Valley, 31-1; 4. Erica Airheart, Trinidad, 30-9.5

high jump: 1. Kayler Talamantes, Slidell, 4-8; 2. Gabby Rose, Milford, 4-7; 2. Makayla Mason, Forestburg, 4-7; 4. Aly Corwin, Bellevue, 4-6; 5. Kayson Roof, Slidell, 3-10

pole vault: 1. Kayson Roof, Slidell, 8-6; 2. Sarah Patrick, Saint Jo, 8-0; 3. Kylie Franklin, Slidell, 6-6; 4. Destiny Diaz, Saint Jo, 6-0

Shot put: 1. Cheyenne Banks, Forestburg, 32-9; 2. Heather Monroe, Trinidad, 32-5; 3. Robin Polk, Trinidad, 27-11.5; 4. Karla Fernandez, Saint Jo, 29-7.5

discus: 1. Karla Fernandez, Saint Jo, 84-8; 2. Kendall Wallace, Forestburg, 77-2; 3. Olivia Singleton, Milford, 76-10; 4. Shelby Horton, Gold-Burg, 74-6


Team: 1. Forestburg 105; 2. Avalon 84; 3. Tioga 77; 4. Saint Jo 72.5; 5. Milford 71.5; 6. Slidell 58.5

100: 1. Micah Villa, Tioga, 11.96; 2. Skyler Sandusky, Forestburg, 12.03; 3. Matt Snider, Trinidad, 12.38; 4. Johnny Ayala, Trinidad, 12.71

200: 1. Robbie Johnson, Milford, 24.11; 2. Austin Sprabary, Tioga, 24.5; 3. Daniel Sharon, Forestburg, 24.98; 4. JoVante Hornbuckle, Trinidad, 25.39

400: 1. Skyler Sandusky, Forestburg, 57.05; 2. Francisco Martinez, Slidell, 57.29; 3. Josiah Deleon, Tioga, 59.13; 4. Terry Shear, Avalon, 1:00.4; 6. Kyler Carnes, Slidell, 1:01.4; 8. Walker Gladden, Slidell, 1:01.72

110 hurdles: 1. Jaquay Brown, Milford, 16.07; 2. Daren Cisneros, Milford, 17.07; 3. Garrett Davidson, Avalon, 17.52; 4. Sean Davies, Trinidad, 17.92

300 hurdles: 1. Daren Cisneros, Milford, 43.09; 2. Garrett Davidson, Avalon, 45.46; 3. Garrett Parker, Saint Jo, 46.91; 4. Baltazar Lozano, Saint Jo, 47.95

800: 1. Ryan Ozmy, Avalon, 2:15.59; 2. Justin Rodriguez, Tioga, 2:17.04; 3. JD Moore, Forestburg, 2:19.16; 4. Kyler Carnes, Slidell, 2:19.72; 5. Walker Gladden, Slidell, 2:20.79; 6. Francisco Martinez, Slidell, 2:25.42

1600: 1. Justin Rodriguez, Tioga, 5:22.26; 2. Juan Sanchez, Saint Jo, 5:28.36; 3. Khristian Talamantes, Slidell, 5:33.12; 4. JD Moore, Forestburg, 5:33.72; 5. Shelby Vanover, Slidell, 5:35.22

3200: 1. Shelby Vanover, Slidell, 11:51.06; 2. Juan Sanchez, Saint Jo, 11:59.01; 3. Kyle Waller, Bellevue, 12:01.26; 4. Khristian Talamantes, Slidell, 12:11.28

4×100: 1. Milford, 45.58; 2. Tioga, 46.36; 3. Trinidad, 47.55; 4. Avalon, 49.21; 6. Slidell, 54.33

4×200: 1. Milford, 1:36.28; 2. Tioga, 1:41.75; 3. Bellevue, 1:42.38; 4. Avalon, 1:42.82; 7. Slidell, 1:51.27

4×400: 1. Tioga, 3:48.63; 2. Avalon, 3:56.67; 3. Forestburg, 3:57.57; 4. Saint Jo, 4:03.52; 6. Slidell, 4:11

Long jump: 1. Marc Schafer, Midway, 20-07; 2. Christian Gatlin, Avalon, 19-8.5; 3. Alec Ducharme, Prairie Valley, 19-5; 4. Skyler Sandusky, Forestburg, 18-11.75

triple jump: 1. Marc Schafer, Midway, 39-9; 2. Sean Davies, Trinidad, 38-3.5; 3. Cody McBride, Avalon, 37-1.5; 4. Daniel Sharon, Forestburg, 37-0.5

High jump: 1. Skyler Sandusky, Forestburg, 5-11; 2. Christian Gatlin, Avalon, 5-8; 3. Chris Perry, Avalon, 5-6; 3. Austin Sprabary, Tioga, 5-6

Pole vault: 1. Garrett Parker, Saint Jo, 11-6; 2. Laramie Brawner, Saint Jo, 11; 3. Jakob Watkins, Bellevue, 10-6; 4. Wyatt West, Saint Jo, 9-6; 8. Khristian Talamantes, Slidell, 8-6

Shot put: 1. Malaci Moore, Forestburg, 46-11; 2. James Schoppa, Saint Joe, 45-10; 3. Juan Venegas, Milford, 42-6; 4. T.J. McVey, Trinidad, 40-6

Discus: 1. James Schoppa, Saint Jo, 105-1; 2. Matthew Wallace, Forestburg, 97-6; 3. T.J. McVey, Trinidad, 96-0; 4. Alejandro Palacios, Avalon, 95-6

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Decatur, Slidell one-act plays advance to area

The Decatur and Slidell one-act play casts advanced to the area round of competition over the weekend.

With its production of “Twelve Dreams,” Decatur took third at its 4A bi-district contest to advance to the area competition Saturday at Graham’s Memorial Auditorium.

Benji Walker and Cayden Candioto earned all-star cast at bi-district. Mark Harle received the Best Technician award. Samantha Sanders earned honorable mention.

Slidell booked an area spot at Wednesday’s area Class A contest at Grayson College with its performance of “Ruby’s Story.”

Morgan Barnes won best actress at bi-district. Caitlin Pruett and Taylor Davis earned all-star cast. Jason Fuller and Jessy Goode received honorable mention.

Paradise’s cast did not advance past bi-district after its performance in “Twelfth Night or What You Will.”

“Every student had his or her best performance that day,” said director Karen Bohmfalk. “I am really proud of them.”

Julianna Smith earned all-star cast. Frank Blankenship and Michael Hasty received honorable mention. Heather McDuff was awarded best stage manager.

Paradise will present its production to the public 3 p.m. Sunday, April 19.

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Greyhounds finish 1st at district UIL meet

Slidell captured the District 21-A Sweepstakes trophy in convincing fashion Wednesday.

The Greyhounds won seven team titles, piling up 625 points. Second-place Tioga finished with 338.

Along with the team crowns in current issues, computer science, journalism, literary criticism, mathematics, number sense, and spelling and vocubulary, eight Slidell students won district titles in their individual events. Slidell will take 25 students to the Class A Region III meet at Tarleton State University April 23-25.

“We had a very good day,” said Slidell UIL coordinator Sherrie Enis. “If it wasn’t the best we’ve done, it was close. The kids performed really well.

“We have come to expect it of the kids. They work hard. We take pride in what we do and it shows,” she said. “We don’t just send a kid to compete without practice. Our administration gives us time to work with the kids during the day.”

Sarah Beaver won district titles in computer science and mathematics. Morgan Barnes took gold in computer applications.

Jessy Goode won informative speaking with teammates Obed Galindo and Marisol Millan finishing second and third.

Mason Maynard took first in number sense.

Taylor Davis was the top news writer.

Rosa Verdugo led a sweep of the medals in spelling and vocabulary with Amber Sylvera taking second and Lisbet Licea third.

Shelby Vanover won the physics competition. He also collected silver medals in news writing and computer science.

Dustin Davis finished second in current issues with Kevin Oney taking third.

Licea took second and Brooklyn Ramsbel third in editorial writing. Makayla Fitzgerald earned a silver medal in feature writing.

Jason Fuller finished second and Tyler Maynard third in headline writing.

Kayson Roof was second in literary criticism.


Accounting: 4. Adina Zidermanis; 5. Walker Gladden; 6. Kimberly Bostick

Accounting Team: 2. Slidell

Calculator Applications: 5. Rosa Verdugo

Current Issues: 2. Dustin Davis; 3. Kevin Oney; 5. Khristian Talamantes

Current Issues Team: 1. Slidell

Computer Applications: 1. Morgan Barnes; 3. Sarah Beaver; 4. Mason Maynard

Computer Science: 1. Sarah Beaver; 2. Shelby Vanover; 4. Mason Maynard

Computer Science Team: 1. Slidell

Editorial Writing: 2. Lisbet Licea; 3. Brooklyn Ramsbel

Feature Writing: 2. Makayla Fitzgerald; 6. Megan Garcia

Headline Writing: 2. Jason Fuller; 3. Tyler Maynard; 5. Brooklyn Rambsel

Informative Speaking: 1. Jessy Goode; 2. Obed Galindo; 3. Marisol Millan

Literary Criticism: 2. Kayson Roof; 4. Morgan Barnes; 5. Sydney Engle

Literary Criticism Team: 1. Slidell

Mathematics: 1. Sarah Beaver; 3. Kylie Franklin; 4. Mason Maynard

Mathematics Team: 1. Slidell

Number Sense: 1. Mason Maynard; 4. Obed Galindo

Number Sense Team: 1. Slidell

News Writing: 1. Taylor Davis; 2. Shelby Vanover; 4. Jason Fuller

Journalism Team: 1. Slidell

Science: 4. Shelby Vanover

Science Team: 2. Slidell

Physics: 1. Shelby Vanover

Social Studies: 4. Kevin Oney; 6. Francisco Martinez

Social Studies Team: 2. Slidell

Spelling and Vocabulary: 1. Rosa Verdugo; 2. Amber Sylvera; 3. Lisbet Licea

Spelling and Vocabulary Team: 1. Slidell

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OAP advances to bi-district

The Slidell one-act play cast won a spot in the bi-district round with its performance in “Ruby’s Story” at the District 21-A contest last week.

Caitlin Pruett, Taylor Davis and Morgan Barnes earned all-star cast.

Tyler Maynard was honored as the best sound technician.

The cast also includes Jason Fuller, Jessy Goode, Sierra Hargrove, Sydney Keating, Shelby Johnson, Norberto Martinez and Obed Cerda. Crew members are Shelby Vanover, Sarah Beaver and Kayson Roof.

The bi-district contest will be April 11 in Saginaw.

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Basketball: Trio earns TGCA all-state

Slidell senior Caitlin Pruett averaged 18.4 points and 10.2 rebounds, helping the Lady Greyhounds to the Class A region quarterfinal.

Thursday, she was honored with a selection to the Texas Girls Coaches Association All-State team.

Top Honors

TOP HONORS – Slidell senior Caitlin Pruett earned an all-state selection on the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s Class A team Thursday. She averaged 18 points this season. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

Pruett, who was also named the 21-A MVP, added 2.6 assists and 3.6 steals.

She was one of three Wise County players to earn TGCA honors. Alvord senior Katie Claborn and sophomore Cierra Rangel were picked for the 2A squad.

Claborn, who was the Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 11-2A, averaged better than 14 points and hit more than 100 3-pointers.

Rangel, a 11-2A first-team selection, averaged 14 points and 7.6 rebounds.

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Basketball: Maynard takes offensive award

Slidell senior Tyler Maynard was unstoppable this season.

The Greyhound averaged 24.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists leading his team to the area round before falling to Avinger.

For his efforts, he earned 21-A Offensive Player of the Year.

Leading the Way

LEADING THE WAY – Slidell’s Tyler Maynard scores a basket for the Greyhounds. Maynard, who averaged 24.7 points, earned 21-A Offensive Player of the Year. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

With the senior guard at the helm, the Greyhounds finished the season with a 25-8 record to go with an 11-3 district record.

Though Maynard struggled with back issues for much of the year, he fought through pain when necessary for his team to win.

Fellow Slidell senior guard Khristian Talamantes was named to the first team after averaging 13.2 points per game, 4.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists.

Through district play, Talamantes ramped up his performance increasing his points per game average to 16.3, and his assists per game average to 5.4.

Slidell sophomore Colton Crane was named 21-A Newcomer of the Year after averaging 12.1 points per game in district play.

Crane also stepped up his game in Maynard’s absence, scoring 29 points against Goldburg.

Mason Maynard was named second team with his 6.6 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game.

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Slidell ISD reaches out with distance learning class


Deborah Buchanan greets her Spanish students Monday morning, and they respond from within the walls of Slidell High School and beyond.

For three years, Slidell ISD has facilitated a Spanish distance learning program, providing language classes for not only its own students, but also those in Gold-Burg ISD about 50 miles away.

Breaking Down the Distance

BREAKING DOWN THE DISTANCE – Spanish teacher Deborah Buchanan starts her class Monday from Slidell High School that also includes Gold-Burg students through a distance learning program. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Slidell Superintendent Greg Enis said many people associate distance learning with large school districts, but it’s an endeavor that greatly benefits small districts.

“At some point in my 11 years here we had trouble finding a Spanish teacher,” he said. “There were some small schools in our area that had distance learning programs and so we explored those opportunities.”

Although the district ended up eventually finding a teacher of its own, the research paid off since they were then in a position to offer a Spanish class to others.

“We actually used it to recruit Spanish teachers,” Enis explained. “They’re hard to come by, especially for small schools, so you’re essentially recruiting someone to come.”

He said they have to offer a salary package comparable to other districts, and one way they make it more appealing is by using the money charged to Gold-Burg ISD as a stipend for the Spanish teacher.

“It’s a way to create a better salary compensation plan for teachers,” he said.

Gold-Burg is charged according to the average number of students enrolled in the class each semester.

Buchanan said there are 17 Gold-Burg students enrolled in Spanish I and 11 in Spanish II. She has 13 and 12 Slidell students, respectively, in each of those classes.

She said although it’s an enriching experience, it can sometimes be difficult to keep both classes on the same pace. She teaches from her classroom in Slidell, and the Gold-Burg students watch her present the lessons on a screen in their classroom in Montague County.

They are able to interact and talk to each other via the video feed – all of which is done through the Region 11 and Region 9 service centers.

There is a facilitator in the Gold-Burg classroom to keep order and run the classroom.

Although this is Buchanan’s first time to teach a distance learning course, the concept isn’t new to her. When she was a high school student in West Texas, she took a class in a similar format. Back then they could see the other class, but the only way they could talk to each other was with a big, blocky satellite phone.

She said sometimes the noise level is a challenge because there are two different rooms of teenagers in two different locations. She said another challenge is not seeing their work in person.

“The main thing is I can’t see their work on a daily basis,” she said. “Here, if they have a remote idea of what they’re doing, I’ll give them a little credit, but the facilitator in Gold-Burg isn’t a Spanish speaker, so she’s just grading off keys.”

She hopes to have the Gold-Burg students visit Slidell for a Cinco de Mayo celebration, allowing an opportunity to meet face to face. She said although the students don’t interact with each other a lot, they do sometimes discuss sports and other extracurricular activities.

Enis said he knows of at least one district that teaches a class to six or seven school districts via distance learning, but he felt like that was overwhelming for the instructor.

“It’s a difficult task to manage your own classroom, but more than two we felt like our own kids would suffer,” he said. “It requires a little different take on instruction. It’s pretty neat, but it does require thoughtful preparation.”

Enis said he plans to continue the distance learning program, but obviously it could evolve as the needs of his district and Gold-Burg change. He said the program benefits all the students and even prepares them for learning environments they may encounter in college.

“It’s the way things are going more and more,” he said. “(The students) understand the technology. They’re the tech geniuses; that’s how they live.”

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Slidell ISD Student Spotlights for Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Christian Torres

Christian Torres

Grade: 2nd

Parents’ Names: Luis and Maricela Torres

Favorite Subject: Math

Activities: Soccer, reading, playing outside, playing with my little brother

“Christian is a very hard-worker in everything he does. He gives 100 percent effort in all academic areas, as well as our AR Club, Mileage Club, and UIL competition. Christian was a member of the 3rd spelling and 2nd creative writing teams. He is also leading the 2nd grade class with the most AR points. We are very fortunate to have Christian as part of our Greyhound Team.” – Principal Greg Ennis


Aurora DeLuna

Aurora DeLuna

Grade: 7th

Parrents’ names: Christina and Toby Smith

Favorite subject: Math

Activities: Basketball, 4-H, one-act play, cross country, and track

“Aurora is a busy middle school student. She stays involved in school activities, works hard in the classroom, and supports her siblings in all they do.” – Principal Marty Hair


Francisco Martinez

Francisco Martinez

Grade: Junior

Parents’ names: Antonio and Rosa Martinez

Favorite subject: Science

Activities: Track, cross country, basketball, spear fishing, and tennis

“Francisco has a positive attitude and strong work ethic. He is active in school and community activities and is always willing to help other. Francisco never seeks recognition but always performs to the best of his ability, excelling through hard work and dedication.” – Principal Marty Hair

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Basketball: Slidell falls short against Avinger

The Slidell Greyhounds cut a 13-point deficit early in the second half to just two.

But the Greyhounds couldn’t get any closer as Avinger held them off for the 79-67 victory in the Class A Region III quarterfinal at Honey Grove High School Monday.

“We kept battling but two 6’4″ kids were a little too much for us,” said Slidell coach Todd McCormick. “Our kids played hard and fought hard.”

The loss ends Slidell’s season at 24-7 and wrapped up the careers of seniors Tyler Maynard and Khristian Talamantes.

Maynard poured in 35 points for the Greyhounds. He averaged 37.5 in the Greyhounds’ two playoff games.

Talamantes scored seven.

“It was a pretty successful year and the guys should be proud,” McCormick said. “We had different guys that stepped up and figured out their roles, including Khristian and Tyler. Every year, the kids’ roles have changed. Hopefully our younger kids are ready to step up.

“Tyler and Khristian helped get something started here. I had them for four years and they won 102 games.”

Slidell got off to a slow start Monday, falling behind 7-0. It trailed 14-10 after the first quarter.

Avinger held a 24-20 edge on Slidell midway through the second quarter. Avinger then went on a 16-7 run to build a 40-27 lead.

Slidell fought back, hitting four 3-pointers to start the second half as part of a 20-9 run that got it within two, 49-47, with 2:09 left in the third.

Slidell couldn’t continue the streak. Avinger mounted an 8-1 spurt of its own to end the third and take a 55-48 lead.

“We kept getting close and they’d make a run,” McCormick said.

Avinger added to its advantage in the fourth, outscoring Slidell 24-19. Avinger hit its free throws down the stretch as Slidell tried to extend the game and send it to the free-throw line.

Colton Crane joined Maynard in double figures for Slidell with 11.

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Basketball: Hounds to face Avinger again – Slidell wins bi-district crown

There won’t be any love lost between Slidell and Avinger when the two teams meet for the Class A Region III area championship Saturday in Honey Grove.

Last season, Slidell (24-6) knocked Avinger out of the playoffs in overtime in the area round. They meet for the second straight year with a 4 p.m. tip.

The Slidell coaches and players don’t expect Avinger to forget that before this year’s game.

As for the Avinger team, Slidell coach Todd McCormick sees a big difference in the opponent’s size.

“They’re a little bit different than they were last year,” McCormick said. “Last year, they were more perimeter-oriented. They’ve got two 6’4″ players this year, so their size will play a bigger role in this game. Last season, they kind of had two shooters that we were able to stay with most of the time, but now the big guys add another element.”

The height difference may force the Slidell Greyhounds to run a lot of zone defense.

Still, McCormick wants to keep Avinger honest.

“We’re going to probably try to switch back and forth between zone and man defense,” he said. “The zone should help us keep those guys covered up pretty well, but we don’t want to just throw one look at them and give them an entire game to figure it out.”

McCormick also said that the mismatches can work both ways. He expects the quickness of his players to help create space against the taller, slower Avinger team.

Wednesday, it was clear who the better team was between Slidell and Waxahachie Faith Family.

The Greyhounds won the bi-district matchup 90-63 with 61 of Slidell’s points coming from Tyler Maynard and Khristian Talamantes.

Maynard finished the game with 40, while Talamantes had 21.

“I was super focused,” Maynard said. “I hadn’t been playing well lately, so I was focused on putting the other team out of the game.”

“It feels good to perform well in a significant game,” Talamantes added.

Slidell’s top two scorers say that the whole team will need to step up in the upcoming game.

“They’re going to want revenge,” Maynard said. “We need to push the tempo. Khristian and I are relied on to score but other guys have important roles. If we all do what we need to do we can win the game.”

The all-hands-on-deck mentality is nothing new for this group who understand that playoff runs consist of complete good teams.

“They’re a well-rounded team but that’s what the playoffs are about,” McCormick said. “Everybody is pretty good at this point.”

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Basketball: Dodd City stops Slidell

The Slidell Lady Greyhounds couldn’t slow down Dodd City Wednesday.

FIGHTING TO FINISH – Slidell senior Caitlin Pruett walks off the floor at the end of the Lady Greyhounds’ loss. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

Dodd City scored at least 21 points in all four frames, rolling to a 90-62 win over the Lady Greyhounds in the Class A Region III quarterfinal at Van Alstyne High School.

“They are good,” said Slidell coach Cody Vanover. “We just couldn’t stop them. We also knew we had to hit some shots. We couldn’t beat them to the rim or in transition.”

The loss ended Slidell’s season at 27-5. It was also the final game for senior Caitlin Pruett, who finished with 27 points.

“With eight seconds left, Caitlin hits a bucket gets fouled and has her lip busted open. She goes and hits the free throw with her lip bleeding. That pretty much sums up her career.”

Kylie Franklin added 18 points and Kayler Talamantes 10.

Dodd City (29-4) jumped to a 23-13 lead in the first quarter and built the advantage to 49-22 at halftime.

Dodd City held a 60-43 edge going to the fourth and ended the game on a 30-19 run.

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Basketball: Roof spurs Slidell to victory

Kayson Roof relentlessly attacked the offensive glass Friday, giving the Slidell Lady Greyhounds second-chance opportunities.

Slidell capitalized on enough of the extra possessions to pull out the 44-37 victory over Miller Grove in the Class A Region III area game at Anna High School.

Roof pulled down nine offensive rebounds. She finished with 11 boards and five steals to go along with her three points.

“Kayson Roof saved us keeping possessions alive,” said Slidell coach Cody Vanover.

“I knew she had that in her. If she doesn’t gobble up those rebounds, I’m not sure we win.”

Slidell had 17 offensive boards. The Lady Greyhounds also made 18 steals.

Caitlin Pruett finished with seven steals with her game-high 19 points and 11 boards.

Kylie Franklin scored 15 points. She hit a pair of 3-pointers in a 10-point fourth quarter as Slidell held off Miller Grove.

“We were only up two in the fourth and Kylie hit those back-to-back 3s to get us back to eight,” Vanover said.

Slidell jumped out to a 13-5 lead. Miller Grove then cut the Lady Greyhounds’ advantage to five, 21-16, at halftime.

Slidell maintained that five-point cushion going to the fourth at 30-25.

With the victory, Slidell moves on to play Dodd City in the Class A Region III quarterfinal at 7 Wednesday at Van Alstyne High School. The game was originally slated for Tuesday before the winter weather hit.


Miller Grove … 5 … 11 … 9 … … 12 – 37
Slidell … 13 … 8 … 9 … … 14 – 44

Miller Grove – Kayla Ford 5, Aleigh Bessonett 7, Kayleigh Lester 12, Demi Weatherford 2, Bailey Penny 11.

Slidell – Kayson Roof 3, Kayler Talamantes 4, Makayla Fitzgerald 3, Kylie Franklin 15, Caitlin Pruett 19.

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