An Evening of Excellence celebrates 2003 Honor Roll Schools of South Texas
Posted: 04/08/2004
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Twenty schools from the Rio Grande Valley were honored at The University of Texas-Pan American March 30, during the Texas Business and Education Coalition - Just for the Kids 2003 Honor Roll Schools of South Texas dinner.

Joe Rios, Jr. accepts an award on behalf of his late wife, Alicia Rios, for her outstanding leadership as principal of Mims Elementary School.
"I'm very proud of our staff and students, everybody worked together towards the same goal," said Irma Duran, principal of Hidalgo High School. "Our high school was the only high school in the Valley that made the honor roll of schools and one of only 13 high schools in the state, eight of which were magnet schools."

John Stevens, executive director of the Texas Business and Education Coalition, was present and appreciative of the work the University has done to help education in the Valley.

"I want to acknowledge Dr. (Miguel A.) Nevárez for all the University has done for Texas and the model it has provided for the rest of the state," Stevens said. "You deserve the support of every citizen in Texas and support from our political leadership. I want citizens to know that they get a great value for their education tax dollar."

Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services and the evening's emcee, congratulated the schools on their accomplishment.

"UTPA will be a beneficiary of your good work. In years to come, your students will be at our door," Edwards said.

Edwards expressed the University's interest and desire to have more students in concurrent enrollment programs. In its effort to encourage more students to enroll in a concurrent enrollment courses, Edwards announced that the University, with the support and authorization from Dr. Nevárez, will cut the fees per hour in half.

UTPA's effort in making higher education affordable is one way of addressing the state's challenge of Closing the Gap between the number of students with and without a college degree.

Dr. Don Brown, commissioner of higher education for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the keynote speaker, recognized the importance that this achievement has on Texas' future.

"We have a big plan - Closing the Gap - for a big state," Brown said. "We need to turn around the trends of the 80s and 90s to prevent the bleak part of that projection. If we don't, we will be less educated, less prosperous and less competitive with other states."

Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez receives the Bridge Builder Award for his lifetime service to education from Dr. John Edwards.

During the dinner, Mims Elementary School in Mission was honored for its third year on the honor roll. Mims was the only school in the Valley to make the honor roll three times and one of only two schools in the entire state to accomplish this.

Edwards honored the memory of Alicia Rios, former Mims principal who died earlier this year, for her outstanding leadership.

"She was a great example of an educator - she loved her students and had a passion for her work," he said.

Also recognized was Brown and Nevárez with the Bridge Builder Awards for their lifetime service to education.

"They have a lifetime of service to education with 60 years between them and both are stepping down this year," Edwards said. "They are two great bridge builders in Texas education."

Brown said he was impressed by the number of schools being recognized in the Valley.

"It is wonderful to see the number of Honor Roll schools in the Valley. Why can't every other part of the state have this many schools," Brown said. "It is wonderful to see all the steps that have been taken to try and lift and pull more people through into higher education."

The following schools were recognized at the dinner: Hudson, Russell and Yterria Elementary Schools, Brownsville ISD; Gutierrez Middle School, Harlingen ISD; Hidalgo High School and Kelly Elementary School, Hidalgo ISD; Eligio "Kika" De La Garza Elementary School, La Joya ISD; Palmer-Laakso Elementary School, Los Fresnos CISD; Bonham Elementary School, McAllen ISD; Mims and Salinas Elementary Schools, Mission CISD; Bowie, Carman and North Alamo Elementary Schools, PSJA ISD; Ricardo Middle School, Ricardo ISD; Ed Downs Elementary School, San Benito CISD; Olivero Garza Sr. Elementary School, Sharyland ISD; Valley View Elementary School, Valley View ISD; Bruni Middle School and Oilton Elementary School, Webb CISD.

For more information about TBEC Just for the Kids Honor Roll visit