Congratulations to Abilene ISD Fine Arts Coordinator Brady Sloan for her recent success at the Center for Contemporary Arts National Juried Competition. Sloan took home first place in oil painting at the show at The Center for Contemporary Arts in early September. Sloan is also a CCA Signature Artist, and her work will be on display in a solo exhibition in Gallery 4 titled “Not at This Time.” She is an oil painter who uses self-portraiture to explore universal themes of contemporary existence through a deeply personal lens informed by her West Texas Plains heritage. Her involved process and conceptual practice is an act of self-reflection that allows the artist to process life experiences and build resilience. Her work will be on view through Saturday, Oct. 28.

The Abilene Education Foundation’s annual Prize Parade hit campuses all over the Abilene ISD earlier this week (Tuesday and Wednesday), awarding 76 grants totaling more than $79,000 to more than 120 teachers. One of those stops was at Dyess Elementary School on Wednesday, where four teachers were awarded grants (pictured). We will have more on this year’s Prize Parade and a list of all those who received grants in next week’s AISD Newsletter.

In its annual Homecoming contest, Abilene High will host Amarillo Tascosa tonight (Sept. 29) at 7 p.m. at Shotwell Stadium. The Eagles are 3-2 on the season and 1-0 in District 2-5A Division I after last Friday night’s 59-14 domination of Lubbock Monterey at Lowery Field in Lubbock. Abilene High quarterback Dylan Slack – who threw for 259 yards and five touchdowns in last week’s win – was nominated as the Mrs. Texas Football Player of the Week presented by Kroger. Slack has thrown for 994 yards and 12 touchdowns through Abilene High’s first five games. The Rebels – the defending district champions – are now 1-4 overall and 0-1 in district play after falling to rival Amarillo High, 42-6, last Friday night. If you can’t make it to Shotwell, you can watch and listen to the game at The Cooper Cougars are off this week but will return to action next Thursday (Oct. 5) when they open District 2-5A Division II play and host Wichita Falls Rider at 7 p.m. at Shotwell Stadium.

The Cooper Cougars captured their first District 4-5A volleyball victory of the season Tuesday night (Sept. 26) with a 3-1 win over Lubbock High at Cougar Gym. The Lady Coogs will finish the first half of district play on Saturday (Sept. 30) at Lubbock Coronado. The Lady Coogs enter that match at 10-23 overall and 1-4 in district play. They’ll begin the second half of district play on Tuesday, Oct. 3, when they play at Lubbock Cooper, before returning to Cougar Gym on Friday, Oct. 6, to take on Abilene High at 5:15 p.m. The Lady Eagles, meanwhile, finished off the first half of district play Tuesday night (Sept. 26) with a 3-1 loss at Lubbock Cooper. Abilene High is now 10-18 overall and 4-2 in the district and will be off Friday before returning to action Tuesday, Oct. 3, when it hosts Wylie in the opening match of the second half of district play. You can watch and listen to the match at The match is set for a 6 p.m. start at Eagle Gym and will serve as the program’s annual Dig Pink Night to raise breast cancer awareness. Student tickets are $2, and everyone is encouraged to wear pink and celebrate girls of all ages in sports.

The race for spots in the University Interscholastic League state tennis tournament is heating up and coming down to the final week of play. Abilene High and Cooper are still in the mix for spots in the postseason. District 4-5A is home to four of the top 17 teams in the state in Class 5A, and all are in line to make the postseason. Fourth-ranked Lubbock High is atop the district at 4-0 after beating Abilene High last Saturday (Sept. 23) in Abilene. Following the Westerners are No. 14 Lubbock Cooper (4-1), No. 3 Wylie (3-1), #17 Abilene High (2-2), and Cooper (2-3). Lubbock Monterey and Lubbock Coronado are both 0-4 in district play. Abilene High will close out its season by hosting both Coronado (Sept. 30 at 9 a.m.) and Wylie (Oct. 3 at 5:15 p.m.), while Cooper will close out its season on Sept. 30 at 9 a.m. when it hosts Lubbock High. The top four teams in each district will advance to the state playoffs.

Just a reminder that students are off next Friday, Oct. 6, and Monday, Oct. 9, for a four-day weekend. Abilene ISD staff will report for duty as usual on Friday, Oct. 6, for a professional development day, but everyone – students and staff – will be off on Monday, Oct. 9, for the Columbus Day holiday.

Because of the holiday, the Abilene ISD Board of Trustees will combine its monthly workshop and regular meetings into one meeting, and that will be Thursday, Oct. 5, starting at 4:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the One AISD center on Pine Street. You can watch the meeting live here. You can find the agenda for the meeting here.

Sometimes, standing up in front of a classroom full of peers is a hard thing to do. To make it a little bit easier, Clack Middle School teacher Stephanie Weddle and her classes are embracing “Capturing Kids’ Hearts” by using “support chairs” in her classroom. Support chairs are used to show support for and help a person feel that they’re not alone when talking in front of an audience. The person sits quietly with the presenter and is their personal cheer section. The focus of the lesson pictured was building connections. Students designed shoes that were unique to them and then presented their designs to the class to learn about each other’s interests. Students were reluctant to present in front of each other until Mrs. Weddle introduced them to the support chairs. They LOVED them! Everyone was so supportive and excited to share their designs with their classmates when it was their turn. Great job, Mrs. Weddle’s class!

For the last couple of years, high school students participating in athletics, band, cheerleading, dance, and other extracurricular activities have visited elementary schools in the district on selected mornings to hand out high-fives to students as they enter the building, hoping to encourage them to have a good day and get their day off on a positive note. On Monday, the Cooper Cougarettes were at Dyess Elementary School to welcome the Jets to school and the beginning of the second six weeks of the academic year. Thanks to these high school students for taking time out of your morning to help some young AISD students get their day off to a good start.