lamar middle school signToday, Lamar Middle School erected a new marquee at the southwest corner of the school fields. This was one of the notable items mentioned in the following article by PTA President, Jennifer Carson that appeared in the August issue of the Allandale Neighbor. The marquee is located amidst the small group of trees planted by Sustainable Neighborhoods a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, they were forced to uproot one of the trees to make room it.

Top Ten Things Happening at Lamar!
by Jennifer Carson, Lamar PTA president

The Lamar PTA has worked hand in hand with new principal George Llewellyn to make huge improvements to the school! More and more neighborhood students are choosing Lamar as their middle school. We received $90,000 in grants for the Fine Arts curriculum that we will be implementing this year. Of all the wonderful things happening, here are the top ten:

1. Fine Arts Academy at last!
After years of effort, the Lamar Fine Arts Academy opens this fall! Over 200 students are attending with an emphasis on the fine arts. We are keeping the same spirit as McCallum so that all our students participate in the fine arts, not just Academy students. Our partnership with the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., will expand our arts instruction into all core classes.

2. New Shade Structure Outdoor Performance Pavilion
With our community partner, the Shade Project, Lamar installed a new shade structure in our courtyard. We added landscaping, picnic tables, and natural seating too. The new sound system will provide our students with the opportunity to perform for their schoolmates weekly and also to put on special performances for the community.

3. Dance Studio
One of the Lamar portables was converted to a dance studio in close consultation with the McCallum Dance department. Lamar worked closely with AISD to make sure all specifications were met for a dynamic department.

4. Painting, Landscaping, and Updates
Through a partnership with the Seedling Foundation, Lamar received a new paint job, landscaping and updates throughout the school before school even started last year. Prior to that time, the school hadn’t been painted in 14 years.

5. Athletic improvements
With a matching grant from an anonymous donor, the Lamar Athletic department is refinishing the school gym floors. We also worked with partners including Dickey’s, Thundercloud, CiCi’s, and Chili’s to provide meals for players before the football games. Go Scotties!

6. Gardens
In collaboration with Texas Action for Healthy Kids, Lamar planted a community garden and started an afterschool gardening club. Next year, we will use the gardens in our classes too. The Umlauf Sculpture Garden and the PTA signed on to develop a sculpture garden this coming year.

7. Electives and Clubs
Mr. Llewellyn added several new electives last year including Japanese, robotics, French, Art I, and advanced math (Algebra I and geometry). This year, students have the opportunity to take dance and Rockestra too. Each Friday, students will participate in clubs such as electric guitar, visiting artists, engineering, and gardening.

8. Our Fabulous PTA
This past year, we increased membership and provided many more opportunities to become involved. Over 175 participants attended our fall and spring open houses. At least 150 attended our first annual Back to School picnic. Our committees blossomed, including Grocery Cards (thank you HEB!), Partners in Education, LamarFest, and more.

9. Fantastic Fine Arts
Lamar’s band, orchestra, and choir received UIL Sweepstakes awards this year the highest honor! Over 200 students participate in our band, and our orchestra and choir continue to grow. In partnership with the Austin Classical Guitar Society, Lamar also offers an award-winning classical guitar program. And in the past two years, Lamar visual arts students received more Junior Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE) awards than any other AISD middle school.

10. Academics
Lamar is working to give students the best academic experience possible. We are implementing a plan for rigorous instruction that will be applied to all core subjects and all grade levels, thanks to a $7,500 grant. We are working in close collaboration with Dr. Walter Stroup, UT math and science education professor, to enhance our math and science curriculum through technology and hands-on exploration. We also are working with the Theater Action Project and other partners to bring our Creative Classroom to life.

Coming Soon…
With generous donations from our Partners in Education committee, a new marquee will be installed right before school starts at the corner of Burnet and RM 2222. This sign will give Lamar the opportunity to expand the news about our terrific school to the larger community and to continue to pull in more neighborhood students.