A quick reminder that today is the final day of classes and work before next week’s Thanksgiving holiday break. Everyone will return to work and school on Monday, Nov. 27. We hope everyone has a blessed time with family and friends, and that you have a chance to relax and enjoy a much-deserved rest. Happy Thanksgiving!

On the subject of Thanksgiving, the holiday season is a time for family, friends, and feasts. This might mean you end up spending more time than usual in the kitchen. So it’s important to brush up on safety tips. Cooking is the main cause of home fires any time of the year but they are especially common on Thanksgiving. The average number of home fires in residential buildings on this day is often double the number of these same fires throughout the rest of the year. Be smart about how you cook this season by following these ten tips:

  • Stand by your pan. If you leave your kitchen, turn the burner off.
  • Keep an eye on what you fry! Most cooking fires start when frying food.
  • Roll up your sleeves. This reduces the chance that they’ll catch fire.
  • Supervise children and pets. Make sure they stay away from the stove.
  • Watch what you’re cooking! If you see any smoke, or grease starts to boil, turn the burner off.
  • If there’s an oven fire, keep the door closed. Turn off the oven and keep the door closed until it’s cool.
  • Move things that can burn away from the stove. This includes dishtowels, bags,boxes, paper, and curtains.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove. This is so no one can bump them or pull them over.
  • Only use a turkey fryer outdoors. Make sure that the fryer is on a sturdy surface, away from things that can burn.
  • Check smoke alarms. Make sure to have working smoke alarms close to where anyone may be sleeping.

For more fire safety tips, visit the U.S. Fire Administration’s site.

Shotwell Stadium will host two high school football playoff games this weekend with Odessa Permian (7-4) set to take on undefeated North Crowley (11-0) at 7 p.m. Friday in a Class 6A Division I game, and Clyde (10-1) facing Shallowater (6-5) at 4 p.m. Saturday in a Class 3A Division I game. Tickets to the Permian-North Crowley game will be on sale at the Shotwell gates for $10 for everyone. Tickets for the Clyde-Shallowater game will be $5 for everyone. Passes that will be accepted for entry to the Permian-North Crowley game are the Texas High School Coaches Association, Texas High School Athletic Directors Association, and District 3-6A passes. Those passes that will be honored at the gate for the Clyde-Shallowater game will be THSCA, District 3-3A, District 4-3A, and Senior Citizens.

Texas Association of Future Educators members at both Abilene High and Cooper competed earlier this week Nov. 14 in the Area championship at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. Both schools did well and will send a combined 70 students to the state TAFE competition, which is scheduled for Feb. 28-March 1 at the Kalahari Resort in Round Rock. … Cooper will send 30 students to the state competition: Katelyn Cook, Jayvee Bautista, Faith Alvarado, Kenzie White, Lynae Tutt, Kim Torres, Isabel Casarez, Ashlyn Winchester, Bryana Parson, Melissa Granados, Mollie Dukes, London Biesman, Savannah Rollins, Devanie Reyes, Jasmine Ituarte, Harley Barbour, Shaley McReynolds, Lilly Hogg, Alyssa del Castillo, Zoey Klohn, Christina Sutton, Colton Harris, Claudia Jackques, Iva Rodriguez, Doris Ndayishima, Reed Ridley, Kaylee Ballard, Kenli Pace, Katelyn Cook, Bryana Parson, Angel Dugan, and Christine Habasa. … Abilene High will send 40 students to Round Rock for the state competition: Roman Almanza, Anna McMillion, Citlaly Dehoyos, Anela Garcia, Alyssa Chaney, Hallie Chavez, Elizabeth Harrison, Brynn Reese, Kenzie Reyna, Dezirae Guzman, Madison Vedick, Anela Garcia, Olivia Cabes, Sarah Richert, Tarena Rodriguez, Barrett Roberson, Jacob Cortinaz, Brelon Badon, Malia Williams, Dylan Slack, Tarena Rodriguez, Ben Bredemeyer, Rejoice Mitachi, Luke Fisher, Maddie McMillon, Graciella Rodriguez, Raquel Girtz, Braylon Merriam, Dristain Payne, Rosalene Liu, Maliakah Coston, Sam Pinson, Kate Breckenridge, Ricky Lackey, Gabriel Hattaway, Ethan Barriga, Natalie Bowman, Vivian Dyer, Blake Ware, Claire Bone, Alice Anne Riley, and Faith Tedford.

Fine Arts Roundup: Mann Middle School will host its Fall Theatre Show this weekend (Friday and Saturday) at the Mann Auditorium. … Several members of the Abilene High and Cooper bands and orchestras, as well as middle school band and orchestra students, were part of the Abilene Youth Orchestra for its performance last Nov. 13 of the group’s fall concert “Dances & Dreams” at ACU’s Boone Family Theatre. The Abilene Youth Orchestra is part of the Abilene Philharmonic and is open to any 9th-12th grade musician in the Big Country who auditions and is invited to join the orchestra. The AYO is under the direction of Dr. Steven Ward, the Director of Orchestra and Bands at ACU. Groups that participated in the concert were Mission: Strings, Abilene Youth Strings, and the Abilene Youth Orchestra. … The City Sidewalks celebration, which annually rings in the Christmas season in Abilene, is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 28. Once again fine arts groups from the Abilene ISD will play a big part in the celebration. The Abilene High and Cooper bands will both march in the FOX West Texas Christmas Lights Parade beginning at 6:30 p.m., and several elementary, middle, and high school music groups will provide entertainment. Here’s a list of when and where those groups will be performing that evening (each performance is scheduled for 30 minutes):

  • Soundwave Handbell Choir (Abilene High and Cooper students) – Center for Contemporary Arts, 5:30 p.m.
  • Taylor Elementary School – Voice of Taylor Choir, Everman Park, 5:30 p.m.
  • Mann Middle School – Boys and Girls Concert Choir, Grace Museum, 5:30 p.m.
  • Dyess Elementary School – 2nd Grade Choir, Minter Park, 5:30 p.m.
  • Austin Elementary School – Choir and Art, NCCIL, 5:30 p.m.
  • Abilene High School – Pure Gold, DoubleTree Lobby, 5:30 p.m.
  • Alcorta Elementary School – Honor Choir, Everman Park, 6 p.m.
  • Ortiz Elementary School – All-Star Singers, Grace Museum, 6 p.m.
  • Bassetti Elementary School – Honor Choir, Minter Park, 6 p.m.
  • Cooper High School – Red Rhythm & Blues, DoubleTree Lobby, 6 p.m.

On Saturday, Nov. 25, The Abilene Downtown Association kicks off a month of fun with the 35th annual celebration of City Sidewalks with specials and sidewalk sales all day long. Downtown retailers are creating unique promotions or extending shopping hours to encourage people to support locally owned businesses. Buy local!

Robotics at The LIFT: ATEMS hosted 29 teams Nov. 11 in The Battle in the Big Country VEX Robotics Over Under High School/Middle School Tournament at The LIFT. ATEMS Team 9871E finished third and Team 9871T finished fourth in the Skills competition, which was one robot operating autonomously or in driver-controlled mode. In the tournament portion – which is two robots working together with two other robots from another team – ATEMS Robotics Team 9871E finished fifth with a record of 5-1, and Team 9871V finished eighth with a record of 4-3. ATEMS Robotics will host a second Over Under tournament on Saturday, Feb. 3, and will host the Region 5 VRC State Championship on Feb. 24.

The AISD Memorial Park honors the memory of deceased AISD students and staff who honorably served in the United States Armed Forces. The park is located on the grounds of Dyess Elementary School and includes a Veterans Memorial Wall commemorating the names of those who served. If you want to nominate a loved one who has passed away for memorialization on the district’s Veterans Memorial Wall, please click here to submit their information. If you’d like to search the AISD database for the 77 names that already have their names etched onto the wall, click here.

The Marine Corps Toys for Tots program is currently accepting applications for their program. Applications will be accepted through Sunday, Dec. 10. The program is for children 14 and under. Distribution to the community is planned for Dec. 19-Dec. 21. If you have any questions, email abilene.tx@toysfortots.org. The Toys for Tots program distributed 18,425 toys last year, supporting 4,411 children in Abilene and the surrounding area. If parents need assistance with the application, they can call Abilene ISD School Social Worker Diana Hall at 325-677-1444, ext. 7123. The application can be found here. If you would like to make a financial donation, click here. If you want to donate a toy, click here to learn where to drop off your donation.

Abilene ISD Sports Roundup: Now that all of the District 2-5A volleyball teams in the state playoffs have been eliminated from the postseason, the coaches’ all-district team has been released, and it includes a combined 16 players from Abilene High and Cooper. Kinzley Cantu and Laila Brown led Abilene High to its second straight playoff appearance and were voted first team, while Jazlyn Hatcher from Cooper was also first team all-district. … Second team selections were Amelia Carr and Yasmine De La Garza from Abilene High and Abi Pena-Perez from Cooper. … Honorable mention selections from Abilene High were Maddie McMillon, Emily Jordan, Allie Bennett, and Olivia Weatherford. Honorable mention selections from Cooper were Rachel Sprencel, Maeley Siglock, Cayelyn Nault, Jaedah Titus, Emma Ruiz, and J’Lee Sloan. … Academic all-district selections from Abilene High were Ava Breckenridge, Jordan, De La Garza, McMillon, Bennett, Cantu, Weatherford, and Whitley Wright. … Cooper’s academic all-district picks were Hailey Young, Amyah Walzer, Sprencel, Hatcher, Maddy Fry, and Nault. … Hatcher was also selected as Texas Girls’ Coaches Association Academic All-State. … All four high school basketball teams will be in action during the Thanksgiving break. The Abilene High boys (2-0 on the season after a 56-38 win over Midland High in Tuesday night’s home opener) will play Llano at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Brownwood and will then play Monday at 1:30 p.m. at Mineral Wells, Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at San Angelo Central, and will play at Sweetwater at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28. … The Cooper boys (1-1 after a 60-38 win Tuesday over Sweetwater) will play today at 6 p.m. when they host Fort Worth Chisholm Trail and will also host Wichita Falls Rider at 2:30 p.m. Monday before playing Lubbock Estacado on Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Cougar Gym. … The Abilene High girls (3-4 after a 32-31 loss at Weatherford Tuesday night) will play this weekend in the Pug Parris Classic at various sites around Abilene and will then host Odessa Permian at 12 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 21) , host Vernon at 2 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 25) and play at Snyder at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28. … The Cooper girls (2-2 after a 61-40 win over Sands Tuesday night) will play in the Pug Parris Classic this weekend before playing at Granbury on Monday and then hosting Jim Ned next Saturday at 1 p.m. and Midland Greenwood at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28.


Monday, Nov. 20-Friday, Nov. 24 – Thanksgiving break

Friday, Dec. 22 – End of 3rd grading period (early release)

Monday, Dec. 25-Monday, Jan. 8 – Winter break

Monday, Jan. 8 – AISD Staff Work Day

Tuesday, Jan. 9 – Beginning of 4th grading period

Monday, Jan. 15 – MLK holiday (AISD closed)

Friday, Feb. 16 – End of 4th grading period (early release)

Monday, Feb. 19 – Student holiday / Staff Professional Development

Tuesday, Feb. 20 – Beginning of 5th grading period

Monday, March 11-Friday, March 15 – Spring Break

Friday, March 29 – Good Friday (AISD closed)

Sunday, March 31 – Easter

Monday, April 1 – Easter holiday (AISD closed)

Friday, April 5 – End of 5th grading period (early release)

Monday, April 8 – Beginning of 6th grading period

Sunday, May 19 – Baccalaureate Services, First Baptist Church

Thursday, May 23 – End of 2023-24 school year (early release)

Friday, May 24 – Abilene High graduation ceremony, Shotwell Stadium

Saturday, May 25 – ATEMS and Cooper High School graduation ceremonies, Shotwell Stadium