Thursday, December 21, 2017

Inactive Blog

To our readers: This blog will be inactive for an indefinite period of time.  The project has ended and may not be done again. Most posts have been deleted and only some remain.

Saturday, April 22, 2017




       This has been an extraordinary year in support of all environmental causes. This year, a March for Science is also being done in conjunction to bring awareness for scientific freedom. Science has shown us that climate change is here and now.

       So, while climate change continues to be on the news front of our lives, we are seeing more of a devastating effect on our water, food supplies, and air quality. 

      This year, for Earth Day and every day, let's forge on by doing our part to combat climate change and getting involved in our communities. Now is the time to inform others, continue doing our part and keep on leading by example.

      Remember to:
        *Eat less meat.
        *Reduce energy consumption.
        *Begin composting.
        *Stop using plastic.
        *Plant more trees or contribute to planting more trees.
        *Buy local produce.
        *Grow your own food.
        *Live simply and produce less waste.

         ( )

Saturday, February 11, 2017



            In our continuing venture with the San Jose Jesuit School and Mr. Mariano Parra Diaz, our students have increased their knowledge of cultural and historical facts and its applications to other areas of study.
During their involvement, the students also formed friendships. Additionally, the project has also made them aware that learning about Extremadura has exposed them to different cultures and their heritage. By expanding the learning to another country, the students have become global citizens; their lives have transcended geography and borders.

            One part of the project being done this year with my seventh grade students is learning of Spain’s History, through collaborations with Mr. Parra Diaz and Mr. Francisco Jose Morales. Mr. Morales’s students in Spain have created wonderful virtual magazines that highlight historical Spanish events in English. It has created a window for my students to recognize world history learning that is under way at the Jesuit school. Likewise, my students have and are developing power point presentations to the Spanish students about Texas history. The first power point we sent was about the Aztecs.

            Another endeavor, The Orchard Project, is where we are learning about Pershing’s Organic Garden and The Jesuit Garden. Mr. Coursey is Pershing’s garden and sixth grade Social Studies teacher that has operated the garden for about 10 years. Since then, Mr. Coursey has planted many varieties of vegetables and fruits. Recent additions to the garden are two fig trees. Other recent trees are lemon and orange trees. We also have many vegetables such as eggplants (aubergines), sweet potatoes, carrots, and several varieties of Kale. Mr. Coursey’s students help plant, harvest and maintain the garden. 

Pershing’s garden uses compost as fertilizer and only soap and water as an insecticide, following organic practices.
Next school year, Mr. Coursey will have the pleasure to teach only gardening as it is an important and popular subject.

              At the Jesuit school, Don Teodoro has run the school’s garden for their elementary school students. Don Teodoro is a retired teacher having taught more than 40 years at San Jose Colegio. He has been teaching gardening the last 10 years. Just as our school, Don Teodoro also has students planting and maintaining the garden. Similarly, Don Teodoro has the students taste the harvested food. 

            In a yearly event, parents help in cooking the vegetables and bring side dishes in culminating the year with a feast. The gardens at the Jesuit school are also extensive and have several trees planted as well as their produce. One tree that was planted and was shown to me while I was there is the Gingko Biloba tree that is an endangered species.


             This year, when we visit their campus in March, we will plant another endangered tree at the Jesuit School: Quercus Suber L. or the cork tree that is native to that area of Spain.

            Putting resources and practices to learn Spanish is an exceptional way my students are building and fostering a more meaningful connection to the language. Inversely, the students at San Jose Jesuit School are also enriching their use of English in non-traditional settings.
            Our students are enriched and exposed to more than just a language; it is a limitless, way of life!





Houston, Texas

Saturday, November 5, 2016


       Lately, some important news in the US, has been about the Standing Sioux Tribe and their protest  that began months ago. The Native peoples are trying to block the Dakota Access Pipeline project that when completed, will transfer crude oil to other major US markets to support domestic demand. Their primary reason for the protest had been foremost that the oil company has ignored consulting with them since it is their land and therefore in clear infringement of their sovereign rights. Their legal team has filed and asserted that these rights were not followed and also that the Tribe was not included as partners in the historical surveying the land.

       One of the important and noteworthy reasons that the Sioux do not want the line to go through their land is because the authorities missed major archeological finds in the path of the pipeline. One discovery is in regards to a large stone that has a feature that depicts Iyokaptan Tanka, or the Big Dipper, which is indicative that a major leader or a highly respected Chief was buried nearby. The Big Dipper are the seven brightest stars that make up the constellation Ursa Major or 'Great Bear'. This sacred site is a significant archeological find in North Dakota that has not happened in many years. It is believed that to find a leader buried in the Big Dipper cup, means the Chief was someone of great importance.

       The other reason the Sioux and other Native Nations are protesting is that the pipeline is in violation of The Clean Water Act. The Sioux allege that the pipeline’s environmental outcome can be detrimental if the pipe ruptures spilling oil and other toxins into their main water source. 

       Native Americans are the first true environmentalists of our country. Even to this day, they protect our Mother Earth. By protecting the water and air, the Native Peoples continue to honor and respect the land they live on. Clean water is important. Water is life!
       The injustices while the native peoples protest, have been recorded daily and witnessed by many in the US and all over the world. The Standing Sioux Tribe has had a large following through social media as the construction of the pipeline continues.

       As the entire world is watching, will the world unite to stop these injustices and halt the construction of the pipeline in that area of North Dakota?
  We can only hope.  

Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Sioux Tribe at the UN in September
       Next week the UN’s Conference of Parties , or COP22 on Climate Change begins in Marrakesh, Marrakech Morocco - November 7-18, 2016. The countries that signed the climate change agreement in Paris will be put to a test. Are they honoring their commitment? The world will be watching.

       As we all know, fossil fuels such as oil harm the environment through locating, moving and by its production. Oil spills harm animals and affect plants, as well as humans. We cannot neglect that oil production and its uses also add toxic emissions into the air.

       Additionally, just in time for the conference is the movie BEFORE THE FLOOD, which may be seen in its entirety for free, in this link from National Geographic:

       The following link shows realtime world environmental data. 
Check it out: Environmental Clock 

R. Aguilar

Friday, September 2, 2016


By: Ellie Plummer and Katherine Willcockson, Feature Writers of
JJP: The Middle (A Publication of Pershing Middle School; Houston, Texas)
Adventure, education, and a colorful history are just a few ways to describe Proyecto Extremadura. Ms. Aguilar has run this amazing program for her middle school students since 2013, and helped to enhance students learning across the world.
One of the largest parts of the project is the annual trip to Spain and surrounding area. When visiting these culturally different and diverse neighborhoods, students are enabled to learn in ways that aren’t exhibited in the classroom. Going to places that are studied in textbooks and diving into the history and language can be the critical concept that a student needs.
In each of her Spanish classes, eight graders are given pen pals from a school in Spain (Extremadura). Ms. Aguilar’s students write their letters in Spanish while the opposite group writes in English. Using this method the kids in both America and Spain are able to learn slang, conversation ticks, and many other things that are essential to speaking fluently. Some of the Pandas involved say that they enjoy hearing about the everyday activities of their peers in Spain and even started to genuinely bond with their pen pal.
Not only does this project enhance students’ education, but it also helps to spread environmental awareness. While in Spain, the group of teens and adults from Pershing plants trees to improve the air quality and regrow forests. By doing all the service work that they can, Ms. Aguilar’s groups have spread the word and exhibited a behavior for many to mimic.
“A project of friendship and environmental awareness with history and cultural highlights”: These are the words that Ms. Aguilar uses to describe her phenomenal project. Not only do students get to learn about a different culture, they also get to help the community and experience everyday life.

*Ellie and Katherine are two Spanish students that will soon be writing to their pals this year. Ms. Aguilar

Note: This year, my seventh and eighth grade students will participate in the pen pal project. Students and their parents may visit their pen pals and do a service project in Villafranaca de los Barros, Extremadura, during our Spring-Break tour.
Our customized tour, made possible by Explorica Educational Travel, will include Madrid, Trujuillo, Merida, Villafranca de los Barros, Burguillos del Cerro, Seville and Malaga. Any person interested in participating in our tour may contact me at the email on the Contact page of this blog.

San Jose Jesuit School in Villafranca-Home to our next project.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Our Friends at Sotomayor y Terrazas; Jerez de los Caballeros

Dear friends,
      This is a recent post from our friends at Sotomayor Y Terrazas School in Jerez de los Caballeros, Extremadura, Spain.

      At present we are still collaborating and hope to meet again next year. In the meantime, this is their most recent post. We share fond memories with them.


Ms. R. Aguilar

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day 2016

           “Over the next five years, as Earth Day moves closer to its 50th anniversary, we’re calling on you to help us achieve one of our most ambitious goals yet —we’re planting 7.8 billion trees and we’re starting now.
            Trees will be the first of five major goals we are undertaking in honor of the five-year countdown to our 50th anniversary. On their own and together, these initiatives will make a significant and measurable impact on the Earth and will serve as the foundation of a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet for all.”

Earth day is April 22, 2016. Earth Day is the anniversary of the modern environmental movement of 1970.  The idea of Earth day was created by Gaylord Nelson in 1969 after the Santa Barbara, California oil spill and inspired by the student movements of the times. People were becoming more aware of water, air and other types of pollution. Nelson believed if he fueled the emerging environmental rage, the government would start to recognize neglect of the Earth a more serious matter. It was decided that there should be a day to recognize the Earth, the pollution, and to teach people about the environment. April 22, 1970 became the ‘set day’ because it generally happened to fall between spring break and final exams. On this day 20 million people went to seminars and had meetings in parks and other places to demonstrate how to maintain a healthy environment.
As the 50-year anniversary approaches on in the year 2020, an aspiring goal has set the bar very high for humanity and Mother Earth. The objective is to have 7.8 billion, Yes! 7.8 billion trees planted. No one person can do this alone. However, if every person plants at least one or two trees, we will well surpass our goal. I will plant one tree and tell a friend. A friend will plant one tree and tell another friend, causing a chain reaction. 7.4 billion People plus live on this planet. It is our job to take action to save the earth. This would also be a fun class or school project. Students could take field trips to parks or a fundraiser could be conducted to pay for a larger growing area on school grounds.
            Several individuals might ask why this is a reasonable plan, but they might not be taking into consideration how much of the air that we breathe could be shortening the life expectancy of each generation, or how much of the water we drink could be contaminated with chemicals that will circulate in our bloodstream for years. Yes, this isn’t a solution to these problems, but we all have to start someplace to improve our environment. Eventually, taking care of the Earth will become a habit. Planting trees isn’t the only way to celebrate earth day. You could pick up litter you see in the street, or even start at home by conserving water and electricity or even to produce something better from recycled items, which would otherwise go to the trash.

            Earth day is all about taking care of the planet we live on. If we don’t who will? If we take care of the earth, we could prevent global warming from getting worse or even stop it, we could lower the cost of environmental expenses too! So let’s take care of the earth or else it will expire way before time.

Written by: Grace Okoro
Eight Grade/Spanish Student