Celebration marks 181th Anniversary of San Jacinto Battle and Texas’s Independence from Mexico

Houston, TX — The largest battle reenactment in the state is the centerpiece of the admission-free San Jacinto Day Festival, to be held on Saturday, April 22, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the grounds surrounding the San Jacinto Monument. The reenactment recreates the events leading up to Texas winning its independence from Mexico 181 years ago at the decisive Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836

On Saturday, reenactors from across the state become figures in Texas history, for the day. Visitors can wander freely among the Mexican and Texian camps to learn what the soldiers and their families were doing prior to the battle in 1836. At 3 p.m., the official (and historically accurate!) reenactment of the Battle of San Jacinto begins.  With hundreds of history reenactors, this reenactment—complete with cannons, horses and pyrotechnics—is the largest in the southwest United States.

Sponsored by the San Jacinto Museum of History Association, the festival is a full day of entertainment, vendors, food, family activities, cultural exhibits, games and fun set amidst living history: music and dancing on three stages featuring country-western bands, flamenco dancers, Native American presentations, square dancers and much more; 15+ food vendors; make-and-take activities and crafts for children; children’s train; petting zoo; medicine wagon show; birds of prey; weavers, spinners, blacksmiths and other demonstrators; and dozens of unique hand-crafted items for sale. All festival activities are updated regularly on the San Jacinto Museum of History website at

PARKING will be significantly closer this year. There will be several lots along Independence Parkway open for the general public. Disabled parking is available at the Battleship Texas parking lot (disabled placard or license plate required) at 3523 Independence Pkwy, La Porte, TX 77571. Only VIPs and Media with passes will be allowed to park at the Monument. A map of parking lots will be posted as event comes closer. Free shuttles will be running between the lots and the festival from 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

For the convenience of out of town guests, hotels in the neighboring city of Deer Park are offering discounted lodging during the event. Visit visit for links to each of the hotel properties such as the Hampton Inn. Mention the Stay in Deer Park program for associated discount offers.

“We are so proud to continue to present this festival with free admission, free shuttles and free parking, which would not be possible without our presenting sponsor H-E-B, as well as The Dow Chemical Company, Pasadena Strawberry Festival, City of Deer Park, City of La Porte and LyondellBasell,” says Larry Spasic, San Jacinto Museum of History President.  “Just as important are our partners who help us coordinate this event, including the City of La Porte, TPWD, the volunteers from San Jacinto College and Deer Park ISD, Clean Harbors, La Porte EMS and Hampton Inn Deer Park.”

The San Jacinto Monument is open all day year round except for Thanksgiving Day, and December 24th and 25th. Visitors can ride the elevator to the top for a panoramic view of the festivities, explore the special exhibit, watch a Texas history movie and tour the hundreds of museum pieces on display. A prized Tryon flintlock muzzle-loaded musket from 1816 is on loan from native Texan Tom O’Neal, whose great, great, great, grandfather Samuel Watkins fought in the Republic of Texas army.  The musket will be on display for free until the end of 2021; there are as few as seven of this type of musket documented in the country.

There are modest admission fees for the elevator ride, movie and the special exhibit entitled “A Destined Conflict: The U.S. – Mexican War,” located inside the Monument. For more information, the public may visit and Facebook, or call 281-479-2421.

The event is coordinated by the San Jacinto Museum of History Association with the assistance of Texas Parks & Wildlife and the San Jacinto Volunteers reenactors.

Entertainment and educational activities

  • Aaron Einhousewill headline the main stage. This Austin, Texas native is a singer, songwriter that has built a loyal following touring around the country playing country western music. His fourth album, It Ain’t Pretty was just released and is his most imaginative and literary music to date.
  • Fred Rusk & the Zydeco Hi-Steppers will perform on the main stage. This band has beenserving the Houston/Louisiana and surrounding areas for 12 years and consist of 5 faithful Zydeco musicians that collaborate to bring the unique sound of a Funky Cajun-French gumbo.
  • Danza Azteca Taxcayolotl will perform a version of a Danza Azteca ceremony with a dozen dancers from around Texas dressed in colorful regalia, wearing headdress with beautiful long feathers, and utilizing natural instruments to compose traditional rhythms for ceremonial dancing. Through dance steps and drum beats, the dancers will be honor generations of indigenous traditions.
  • Last Chance Forever, The Birds of Prey Conservancy will present interactive demonstrations of magnificent birds including hawks, owls, eagles, falcons and vultures.
  • Texas Snakes is a fun and hands-on educational show of many different species of non-venomous indigenous snakes of Texas for the children to view and touch.  Emphasis is on teaching about the environment and how reptiles provide their part for the balance of nature.
  • Houston School of Irish Music prides itself on giving students a fun and enriching environment to play traditional Irish music. The school is comprised of the North Texas School of Irish Music, with branches in Allen, TX and Murphy, TX, and the Houston School of Irish Music.
  • Bruce Mannersis an interactive show that combines family friendly stand-up comedy with world class juggling and is best described as Stand-up Juggling. As a strolling or “atmosphere” entertainer, Bruce presents world class 3 ball juggling and amazing balance tricks while engaging the crowd in a relaxed and unobtrusive manner.
  • Camel Rides will be available for a small fee. Camels played an important role in Texas history when the state hosted the U.S. Army’s camel experiment, a short-lived project that used camels to ferry supplies across west Texas and the Great American Desert from 1856 to 1866.
  • Gilbert Hernandez is a reenactor portraying his great grandfather, Santiago Tafolla. Tafolla was a Hispanic pioneer in Texas and part of the Texas Camel Experiment as well as the only known Hispanic in Texas to have memoirs during the Civil War. His presentations consist of the story of the Texas Camel Connection, working with the camels as a Calvary soldier and a Government employee all during the 1850s and 60s.
  • Mixteco Ballet Folkloricoprovides Houston area youth with cultural activities that preserve Mexican customs, traditions and culture through the art of music and dance.
  • Red Chanuska
  • R. “Jack” Edmondsonis a celebrated historian, author, and reenactor. An alumni of the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Christian University, he is best known for his educational portrayal of the illustrious General Sam Houston.
  • Charles Lara aka Black Beaver will reenact a Delaware Blanket Trader to teach festival goers about the Texas of the 1800s.
  • Dan Barthwill use his Medicine Show Wagon to tell the tales of special 19th century cure-all elixirs, and entertain with a little magic.
  • Irish Dancersfrom the Tew Academy of Irish Dance will share the thrilling tradition of Irish step dancing, a timeless art form characterized by rapid movements and remarkable body control.
  • Exhibit of TPWD’s popular Operation Game Thief, its wildlife crime-stoppers program offering rewards of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction for a wildlife crime.  Begun in 1981 as a result of laws passed by the 67th Legislature to help curtail poaching, the program is highly successful.
  • North Harris County Dulcimer Societywill provide musical entertainment throughout the day.
  • Blacksmiths, weavers, spinners and other demonstrators—including the popular Baytown Area Quilt Guild-will give visitors a full sense of how life was in the early 1800s.  Sutlers (civilians who sold provisions to military posts) will be on hand to sell or show their wares.
  • Texas Parks & Wildlife Departmentwill offer archery classes for young people.
  • Visitors can also view the restored marshlands and look for otters, great blue herons, osprey, mottled ducks and American avocets.  The marsh is historically important because it barred the escape of many of General Santa Anna’s troops during the 1836 battle.
  • Representatives of the San Jacinto Descendants, the Daughters of the Republic of Texasthe Sons of the Republic of Texasthe Texas General Land Officeand the Texas Independence Trail Region will be on hand to share their history.
  • Texas Independence Square Dancers—square dancers from various groups throughout Texas—will demonstrate square dancing and give lessons.
  • Visitors can browse through the vendor area to admire unique hand-crafted items, Texas products and history-related items.

The Children’s Area—sponsored by The Dow Chemical Company and Deer Park ISD—includes:

  • A 55′ train complete with train whistle and Texan and American flags.
  • Make-and-take history activities and crafts created and overseen by Gifted/Talented specialists from Deer Park ISD.
  • Marsha’s Petting Zoowith sheep, goats and other friendly small animals.

Release Summary:

The largest battle reenactment in the southwest is the centerpiece of the admission-free San Jacinto Day Festival, held on Saturday, April 22, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the grounds surrounding the San Jacinto Monument at One Monument Circle, La Porte, TX. The festival is a full day of entertainment from three stages, rides, vendors, food, family activities, animals, cultural exhibitors, children’s games and fun set amidst living history, paying tribute to the decisive Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, where Texas won its independence from Mexico 180 years ago.  Festival, park grounds, reenactment, parking, entrance to San Jacinto Monument and shuttles are free; there are modest admission fees for the elevator ride, movie and special exhibit inside the Monument.

Organizers recommend guests come early and follow directions from TPWD and other parking staff. There will be no drones or hoverboards allowed on park/festival grounds. For more information, visit or call 281-479-2421.

On April 28, school district Superintendents of Fort Bend County will give a State of the School Address to the community at Safari Texas Ranch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Hosted by Central Fort Bend Chamber, Dr. Thomas Randle, Lamar CISD Superintendent; Dr. Charles E. Dupre, Fort Bend ISD Superintendent; and Curtis Rhodes, Needville ISD Superintendent will share the latest improvements, district goals, and upcoming changes in the academic programs they oversee.

Each school district is managed by a Superintendent that is hired by and reports to the local elected school board.  Superintendents work with school leaders to serve the needs of students and meet the district goals.  They also respond to the demands of all the other constituencies and interest groups in the district – teachers, students, parents, staff, advocates, and the community at large – and consider how to use the financial and human resources of the district in order to achieve the best results.

As one of the fastest growing counties in the United States, Fort Bend County’s academic success impacts the economic success and the quality of life in the community.

Attending the upcoming Chamber luncheon is a great opportunity to hear from Randle, Dupre and Rhodes about the mission and vision they have for the school districts they serve.

For questions about this event, contact Debbie Kilen at 281-342-5464. To register by April 25, go to

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The Katy Bar Association is proud to announce Jun-Yong Kim, a student at Seven Lake High School, placed First in the statewide, State Bar of Texas Law Day writing contest.

The State Bar of Texas competition theme is “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy. Why is it important that all people receive equal protection of the laws”.  The essay is the student’s original work.

The State Bar of Texas just announced that first place in State 2017 Law Day Contest, was awarded to Jun-Yong Kim, a student attending Seven Lakes High School.

Katy Bar President Elizabeth Pratt, added that “ We were pleased to submit Jun-Yong Kim’s essay, to the State Bar of Texas for its Law Day essay writing contest. The entire community is so proud of his success. He placed first in the 2017 Katy Bar Association Essay Scholarship contest. The other students placing in the Katy Bar Essay contest are,

Parisa Jesudasem              2nd Place             Tompkins High School

Emily Palmer                    3rd Place               Cinco Ranch High School

Iyanla Smith                     Honorable            Mayde Creek High School


“The Katy Bar first place winner will receive a $1,500.00 scholarship, the second place winner will receive a $1,000.00 scholarship, and the third place winner will receive a $500 scholarship, to defray education expenses.”

The State Bar First Place Winner will receive a $1,000.00 scholarship and is invited to attend, with his parents, and be introduced at the May 1, 2017 Law Day luncheon hosted by the State Bar of Texas and Texas Young Lawyers Association, in Austin.

Scholarship Committee Chairman, Stu Levin, remarked “ We are so proud of Jun-Yong Kim, what a wonderful accomplishment. We are so proud of all the students that crafted and submitted their essays, with such thoughtful insights. These students’ achievements, will last a lifetime, and is a wonderful tribute to the good work in Katy ISD by their teachers and the support of the administration.”


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Students who did not meet the passing standard on sections of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) Exit Level will have the opportunity to retake the necessary subject tests in June 2017.
Students currently enrolled in school who need to retest are automatically registered; however, those who are out of school need to register online by 5 p.m. (CT), May 26 by accessing the website at The registration process will be online only and any submissions received after May 26 will not be processed. Those wishing to take the exam can continue to register at a participating campus on the day of testing, if the campus can accommodate them. Additionally they should arrive at the test site 30 minutes before the designated start time of 7:30 a.m. A picture identification, such as driver’s license, DPS ID, military ID, school ID or resident alien card must be presented to test.
The 2017 June online TAKS tests will be administered on the following dates:

• June 19, 2017
English Language Art
• June 20, 2017 Mathematics
• June 21, 2017 Science
• June 22, 2017 Social Studies

Katy ISD is offering the June Exit Level retest at Taylor High School located at 20700 Kingsland Blvd. For additional information, contact Dr. Christy Gregory in the Katy ISD Department of Research, Assessment and Accountability at 281.396.2128.

James Williams Elementary School recently did a program with 36 specially chosen 5th grade students who trained, applied and blasted off to space in an elaborate NASA ceremony. The students wore spacesuits which included helmets and life support packs. They made a homemade shuttles and were scheduled to spend from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. experiencing various space simulations while attempting to survive in space on their mission.
The students and the staff spent 10-weeks after school learning about space and building their own shuttle for the event that took place on April 13th. As part of the program John Gruener from NASA came out to speak to the children and give some examples of space and distances of the Moon and Mars from the Earth and asked the children lots of questions. Several of the students came very close to the correct answers. Gruener is a Houston native who was born in 1961 which was the same year that human spaceflight began.
Space-themed movies and television shows were a staple in his life growing up in Spring Branch.
Gruener has been at NASA’s Johnson Space Center since 1986 and currently works in the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division. Most of his work is in advanced mission planning for the future human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars, specifically focusing on science goals, objectives, and surface operations.
Past efforts involved working in Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division Soil Chemistry. He also worked in the Mineralogy laboratories developing a mineral-based substrate for plant growth in regenerative live support systems, and supporting Mars Exploration Rover missions of Spirit and Opportunity.
Gruener’s wide range of activities in the space program have included working as a rocket scientist, systems engineer, space farmer and planetary scientist.
Gurener’s background made him uniquely qualified to speak to JWE’s fifth grade explorers. He had a slide presentation which explained the things that happen in space. He used an example of the location the earth is to the Moon and to Mars. He used a Cantaloupe to represent the earth, an orange to represent the Moon and a Lime to represent Mars. He then had the students estimate how far each would be apart and the students came very close to the correct positions. The students paid apt attention to all he had to say. After his slide presentation the students went on to present their home-made shuttle.
Check out for a photo gallery and audio from the events. Thank you JWE for inviting The Katy News to be part of this production event.

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Katy Independent School District has again received the “Best Communities for Music Education” designation from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education for the 14th year. Katy ISD is one of 4% of school districts across the nation to receive this prestigious award.

Katy ISD is leading the way with music learning opportunities as outlined in the federal education legislation, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The District understands the importance of providing music education as part of the curriculum and knows the vital role music plays in the overall success of students in school and in life.

The Best Communities for Music Education designation honors school districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in their efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

Kondapi Will Oversee Engineering Offerings at Energy Corridor Campus

Phaneendra Kondapi, a veteran engineering educator who helped develop the nation’s first subsea engineering program at the University of Houston, has been named founding director of engineering programs at the University of Houston at Katy.

Kondapi is returning to the University after serving as director of subsea engineering at Texas A&M University for the past year.

The UH Cullen College of Engineering began offering two energy-focused engineering courses at the Houston Community College (HCC) Northwest-Katy Campus last fall, in advance of the planned opening of a new UH System facility in Katy in 2018. The UH System site will be home to UH Katy and the University of Houston-Victoria in Katy. The graduate-level course offerings are focused on areas in high demand in Houston’s Energy Corridor, including petroleum, subsea, electrical and environmental engineering.

Five graduate-level classes will be offered at the HCC Katy campus this fall, in electrical engineering, subsea engineering and environmental engineering. Kondapi will teach one of the subsea courses, flow assurance.

“Dr. Kondapi was vital to developing the first subsea engineering program in the U.S. here at the Cullen College. I am tremendously proud that he will now help to bring our top-ranked engineering programs to the Katy community,” said Joseph. W. Tedesco, Elizabeth D. Rockwell Dean of the Cullen College of Engineering.

Kondapi taught the UH subsea engineering program’s inaugural course, flow assurance, in 2011, and has worked on to standardize global subsea education through the UH-led Global Subsea Education Alliance.

Formerly an adjunct professor of subsea engineering, Kondapi has more than 20 years of experience managing engineering projects at energy industry giants FMC Technologies and KBR.

He said he wants students to learn not just the technical material but to gain an enthusiasm for the field. “My motivation is to make my students successful by encouraging them to get ready for industry,” Kondapi said.

Kondapi was awarded the 2013 SPE Teaching Excellence Award from the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) International, which recognizes petroleum engineering faculty who have demonstrated innovative teaching techniques and creative pedagogy methods in the classroom.

The HCC building in Katy is easily accessible for Energy Corridor professionals pursuing degrees or certificates to enhance their skills. “We are here in Katy to serve both the community and the industry to improve their technical and engineering careers,” Kondapi said.


By Keith Randall, Texas A&M Marketing and Communications

Texas A&M University opened its new Human Clinical Research Facility (HCRF) on Tuesday, and the building will be home to some of the world’s leading research and education in human health, performance, nutrition and well-being.

“This facility will be a world leader in innovation and research, and the knowledge created from it will influence generations to come,” noted U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, a 1976 Texas A&M graduate.

“The investments we make in buildings such as this are investments going forward and they are critical to Tier 1 universities such as Texas A&M.  I am especially interested in it because I am among the age group they will be studying here.”

Added Texas A&M President Michael K. Young, “This is a vision that has come to fruition.  The collaboration among the colleges, researchers and students will produce knowledge that will benefit people around the world.  Such a facility as this is central to all we do.”

The 21,518-square-foot facility has been developed to provide a centralized research facility for clinical researchers to conduct much-needed human clinical research trials.  The building includes an exercise training and rehabilitation core to conduct supervised endurance and resistance-exercise based training and rehabilitation programs for healthy individuals or individuals with disease under medical supervision;  an exercise physiology and body composition core for research in nutrition, exercise and clinical intervention assessments and research trials; a clinical research unit consisting of a 12-bed overnight stay unit to run 24/7 human clinical trials, a nurses’ station and a metabolic kitchen for nutritional studies; a compounding unit to prepare medicines for human use; a mass spectrometry and analytical core for comprehensive in-depth analysis of metabolic, nutritional, and clinical markers; and an education unit to provide an open environment for education, collaboration, and student mentoring.

HCRF organizers note that a critical goal of the facility will be improving the lives of individuals and entire communities for a healthier Texas and world.

“We hope to change lives of people for years to come,” said Joyce Alexander, dean of the College of Education and Human Development.

“We want to create new knowledge and new futures, and this facility will be among the best in the world for research and education.”

The HCRF houses two primary research groups from the Department of Health & Kinesiology in the College of Education and Human Development — the Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory (ESNL) and the Center for Translational Research in Aging and Longevity (CTRAL). The ESNL was developed in 1997 under the direction of Richard Kreider and focuses on the role of exercise and nutrition on health, disease, rehabilitation and performance. The CTRAL was developed in 2006 under the direction of Nicholaas Deutz and Marielle Engelen and concentrates on nutrition, exercise and metabolism in relation to aging and the common diseases of the country’s aging population.

“We know that exercise and nutrition are two keys to human health, and we will be leaders in these areas,” added Kreider.  “Aggies are bold and have a vision and they lead by example, and a facility like this will help people have a better quality of life.”

More information about the facility can be found on the HCRF website. 

By Lesley Henton, Texas A&M University Marketing & Communications

Prospective students, curious parents or anyone else who wants to see the historic campus of Texas A&M University, no matter where they are in the world, can with Xplorer Virtual Tour by concept 3D.

The university launched the platform last month at South By Southwest, transporting users from Austin to College Station in virtual reality.

Now the software is available for anyone to experience Aggieland at their own pace, in a 360-degree panorama making for an exciting virtual experience, says Texas A&M Senior Graphic Designer Michael Green.

“It puts you right into the action and provides the ability to explore and get a feel for the Texas A&M campus in a way that gets visitors and prospective students really excited about what we offer as a university,” Green notes. “Aside from prospective students, I can see current students, faculty and staff, parents and especially former students loving how they can get immersed in Aggieland from wherever they are. Xplorer is a really fun and compelling way to see Texas A&M up close, in virtual reality, and at your own pace.”

Try it out here

More information, images and links to experience Xplorer Virtual Tour


WPA Research, a leading research and data analytics firm, this week issued a new report detailing the strength of support for school choice across a majority of Texas House and Senate Districts.

According to the results published online, WPA’s analyses show that most state legislators who voted against school choice (either by voting against SB 3 in the Senate, or against budget amendments 8 and 9 in the House), voted directly against the will of their constituents, who have shown overwhelming support for expanding educational options for parents.

WPA started by collecting 5,000 responses from registered voters in Texas before applying predictive analytic machine learning techniques to assign probability scores for each individual registered voter to measure their support for school choice.

Key findings of WPA’s analysis include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Voters support school choice in every Texas Senate district;
  • The average level of support for school choice across all State Senate Districts in Texas is 63%;
  • The highest ratio of support comes from Senate District 31 (Seliger, R-Amarillo);
  • The average level of support for school choice across State House Districts in Texas was also 63%;
  • The highest ratio of support came from House District 86 (Smithee, R-Amarillo).

Texans for Education Opportunity chair and co-founder Stacy Hock issued the following statement regarding the report:

“School choice is supported by a majority of Texans from all corners of the state. Texans deserve to have their voices heard. It is time for legislators to do what is right for Texas parents and the generations of students who would benefit from having a school choice program.”

The full text of the report, as well as a breakdown of data by members who voted against school choice and are at odds with their constituents, can be found here.

To learn more about Texans for Education Opportunity, visit our website,