Monday, Feb. 19, is President’s Day, a student holiday in AISD, and a Professional Development Day for all staff.

Two weeks ago, the Cooper boys’ basketball team was 2-6 in District 4-5A play and on the verge of elimination from the playoff race. Two weeks later, the Coogs are on a four-game winning streak and have forced a one-game playoff against Wylie for the district’s fourth and final playoff spot. The Cougars reeled off must-have victories over Lubbock High, Lubbock Coronado, Lubbock Cooper, and Tuesday night over Abilene High at Eagle Gym. The Coogs have been in playoff mode since a 50-40 home loss against Lubbock Monterey on Jan. 30, which seemed to drop them out of contention for a playoff spot. But the Coogs have rallied, and now only their rival to the south is standing between them and a sixth straight berth in the Class 5A state playoffs, this one coming under first-year head coach Michael Bacon. The Cougars and Bulldogs will meet tonight (Feb. 16) in a play-in game at 7:30 p.m. at ACU’s Moody Coliseum. Tickets are $5, and only cash will be accepted. District 4-5A Athletics passes and Texas High School Coaches Association passes can also be used for admission. If you can’t attend in person, AISD-TV will broadcast the game here.  The winner of tonight’s game will earn the district’s No. 4 seed and take on state powerhouse Amarillo High, the champion of District 3-5A and the state’s fifth-ranked team. The Sandies – under the direction of Cooper graduate and former basketball standout Jason Pillion – are 29-4 this season. They are 145-29 overall and 51-2 in district play in the last five seasons. Their only two district losses during those five years have both been against fierce rival Amarillo Palo Duro – which finished as the runner-up in District 3-5A and will play Abilene High in the bi-district round – winning those two games by a total of seven points.

The Abilene High boys’ basketball team is back in the playoffs after a two-year hiatus, finishing the regular season at 22-11 overall and 8-4 in District 4-5A, good for third place in the league behind Lubbock Cooper and Lubbock Monterey, who tied for the district championship at 9-3. The Pirates of Lubbock Cooper, however, won a coin flip against Monterey and will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed from the district, followed by Monterey, Abilene High, and the winner of tonight’s play-in game between Cooper and Wylie. Sixth-year head coach Justin Reese is two wins shy of 100 wins at Abilene High (98-79 record at AHS) and will have a chance at win No. 99 Tuesday (Feb. 20) when he leads his Eagles into a bi-district matchup against Amarillo Palo Duro (21-6 overall and 6-2 in District 3-5A), the No. 2 seed out of District 3-5A behind Amarillo High. The Eagles and Dons will meet Tuesday (Feb.20) at 7 p.m. at Lubbock High School. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students. District 3-5A and District 4-5A passes and Texas High School Coaches Association passes can be used for admission. The Dons were led for the previous 23 seasons by former Abilene High head coach Jeff Evans, who resigned after the 2022-23 season with 542 career wins at Palo Duro. Former Palo Duro player and assistant coach Marquis Loftis is in his first year as the Palo Duro head coach.

It’s time again to nominate teachers in AISD for their extraordinary work during the 2023-24 school year. Educators from the district will be honored later this spring at the Teachers in the Limelight Celebration dinner hosted by the Abilene Education Foundation. Just a reminder that last year’s Edwin and Agnes Jennings Teaching Excellence Award winner as the Elementary Teacher of the Year in the district was Stafford Elementary School fifth grade teacher Taniece Thompson-Smith, who went on to become the Region XIV Elementary Teacher of the Year, and, last October, the Texas State Teacher of the Year. She is a finalist for the National Teacher of the Year award, which will be announced in the spring. The Teachers in the Limelight Celebration goes beyond just a celebration; it serves as a platform for recognition and collaboration, inspiring excellence in teaching practices. Let’s unite to acknowledge and reward these outstanding teachers and contribute to advancing education in AISD. Nominations are now open for Coach, Counselor, Math, Science, and Fine Arts Awards. You can nominate someone for each of those awards here. Nominations will be accepted through 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

The Abilene High and Cooper swim teams wrapped up the 2024 season last Saturday (Feb. 10) at the Region I-5A championship meet at the Pete Ragus Aquatic Center in Lubbock. The Abilene High boys’ and girls’ teams finished 14th in their respective overall standings, while the Cooper boys were 15th and the Cooper girls were 19th. Emilee Thompson broke the AHS school record in the 50 freestyle, finishing with a time of 28.99 seconds, and the AHS girls 200 freestyle relay broke the school record, finishing seventh in 2:01.41. Bronwyn Ward broke the Cooper girls record in the 100 freestyle with a time of 1:08.75. Cooper’s Alex Longoria finished 11th in the boys’ 100 individual fly in a personal-best time of 1:00.68. The AHS boys’ 200 free relay and 200 medley relay each finished 10th, and the AHS girls’ medley relay finished 13th. The Cooper girls’ 400 relay finished 12th. Cooper’s boys 200 relay finished 12th, and the boys’ 400 free relay finished 13th.

Fine Arts Roundup: The Youth Art Month display – which features numerous pieces of art created by students in the Abilene ISD – continues through Saturday, March 2, at The Grace Museum. Make sure to stop by and explore all the wonderful work our talented students are creating on campuses throughout the district. … On Thursday, Feb. 22, Bowie Elementary will host its second-grade program at 6 p.m. … The Clack Middle School band and Madison Middle School orchestra will compete in Solo and Ensemble contests next week. Clack will compete on its campus from 4-8 p.m. next Thursday, while the Madison orchestra will compete on campus from 4-8 p.m.

The Abilene High girls saw their season end Monday night in Brownfield as they fell to Amarillo High, 67-18, in a Class 5A Region I bi-district game. The Lady Sandies are the No. 3-ranked team in the state, and the win pushes them to the area round of the playoffs, where they will play El Paso Bel Air, a 40-36 winner over El Paso Chapin earlier this week. The Lady Eagles wrap their season under head coach Brenda Andress at 17-16, the program’s first winning season since 2017-18 (24-12) and first trip to the playoffs since 2018-19 when they were fourth in District 3-6A.

AISD Athletics Roundup: The Abilene High and Cooper boys’ soccer teams are in the playoff chase as the end of the first half of District 4-5A soccer comes tonight. … The Eagles are 10-4-1 overall and 3-2 in the league, which is good for second place behind Lubbock Monterey (14-0-1 and 5-0-1). The Eagles won two matches last week: 2-0 last Friday against Lubbock High and 7-0 on Tuesday against Lubbock Coronado. The Eagles will wrap up the first half of district play tonight at 7 p.m. at Shotwell Stadium against Lubbock Cooper (10-3-3 and 1-2-2).  Abilene High will get the second half of district play started next Friday (Feb. 23) when it plays at Wylie. … The Cooper boys, meanwhile, dropped a narrow 2-1 decision to Lubbock Monterey on Tuesday at Shotwell Stadium. The Cougars are 5-8-1 and 2-1-1 in district play, with the start of the second half of district play set to start next Tuesday (Feb. 20) with a home match against Lubbock Coronado. … The Abilene High girls – the defending district champion – picked up a huge 8-0 win at Lubbock High last Friday, but lost to Lubbock Coronado, 2-0, earlier this week at Shotwell Stadium. The Lady Eagles (3-5-3 overall and 2-2-1 in district play) will be back in action tonight at Lubbock Cooper (6-6-4 and 2-1-1) in the finale of the first half of district play. The Lady Eagles will start the second half next Friday (Feb. 23) when they host Wylie at 5 p.m. at Shotwell Stadium. … The Lady Cougars, meanwhile, dropped a 4-1 decision to Lubbock Monterey earlier this week. The Lady Cougars (6-6-1 and 0-4) will host Lubbock High tonight at 7 p.m. and close the first half of district play Tuesday (Feb. 20) at first-place Lubbock Coronado. … The Abilene High softball team is off to a blistering start at 3-0, with wins coming by the scores of 11-0 (over White Settlement Brewer), 10-1 (over San Antonio Madison), and 10-1 (over Joshua), the latter two on Thursday at the Comal ISD Tournament. The Lady Eagles will be back in action at the Comal ISD Tournament on Friday against Eagle Pass (2 p.m.) and Smithson Valley (6 p.m.). … The Lady Cougars of Cooper will get the 2024 softball season started Friday at 12:45 p.m. when they take on North Mesquite in the Tournament of Champions in Carrollton. … The Cooper and Abilene High baseball teams are closing in on their season-openers and will be scrimmaging this weekend. … Abilene High will scrimmage today (Feb. 16) at Copperas Cove before opening the season Feb. 22-24 at the Melissa Tournament in the DFW Metroplex. … Cooper will wrap up the scrimmage portion of the 2024 baseball season today (Feb. 16) against Wichita Falls at Cougar Field. Cooper will start its season Feb. 22-24 with five games against Chisholm Trail and Granbury (doubleheader on Feb. 22 at Granbury), Azle and Nacogdoches (doubleheader on Feb. 22 at Azle), and a single game against Boyd on Feb. 24 at Weatherford. … Congratulations to former Abilene High football and baseball letterman Andrew Roy, named the new head football coach and athletics coordinator at Lubbock Coronado High School on Feb. 8. Roy – who graduated in 1997 and played for head coaches Gary Gaines and Steve Warren (football) and Jim Reese (baseball) – has served as the Mustangs’ defensive coordinator since 2021. He has also made coaching stops at San Antonio Highland High School and Snyder High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from Hardin-Simmons University and has a master’s degree in education with a sports management focus from Concordia University.


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 graduation, Shotwell Stadium