Category: Features

High school graduate publishes children’s book


Local Weslaco resident Victoria Moreno published her first children’s book, “Arbez the Friendly Zebra” this year. The story is about a zebra trying to make friends on a farm. Her brother Leroy Moreno Jr illustrated the book.

By Raul Garcia Jr.

Most people will never write a book in their lifetime. One recent high school graduate was determined to get it done before starting college.

Arbez the friendly Zebra is a children’s book written by Victoria Moreno and was published by Outskirts Press in April of this year. She said it took her a lot of writing over the years and help from her brother Leroy Moreno Jr. who illustrated the book.

“I wanted something different where kids could say — Wow,” the author said. “This is the first time I read something like this.”

Her book details the social problem of bullying through the experience of a zebra that does rope tricks. Moreno hopes the book will help teach children not to bully other students at school. In the story Arbez the zebra quickly becomes the outsider at a farm and found himself unwelcome by all the animals because he is different.

“The book is helpful and it teaches kids not to be so hard on somebody,” the author said.

Moreno recalls letting her imagination run wild at her grandfather’s farm. At a young age she would often wonder what it would be like if the farm animals could speak and later she turned them into characters and started writing it all down. The zebra became her favorite and because it was so different from all the other animals she related social differences and found the basis of her book to not judge someone because they are different.

“I do plan to continue more stories along the way,” Moreno said. “It’s something that I enjoy doing.”

The entering college freshman is considering psychology as her major but she hasn’t completely taken business off the table. After all her family owns the Moreno’s Feed and Pet Stores in Weslaco and Donna where she has spent time working.

The book is available at Moreno’s Feed and Pet Stores in Weslaco and can be ordered through Barnes and Noble or Amazon.


By Raul Garcia Jr.

You have seen it on the movies, you have seen it in the shopping mall and you have wondered what would it be like to ride one– and now you can at Segway Valley Tours at South Padre Island.

“As long as you’re comfortable with you on the machine you’re really good to go,” said Reid Vaughn, SegValley Tours guide.

20150718_134646It’s a leap of engineering from the Pogo Stick invented in 1891 that were designed for jumping off the ground in a standing position. The Segway is like a Star Wars vehicle and it’s reminiscent for the sound, speed and alien-like technology. The Segway can go from slow to fast in an instant like hyperdrive and the sound it makes gives you an added rush cruising down the island strip.

The SegValley Tour guides take the time to train every rider that they take out with practice riding a straight line and back and learning to turn.

“Everything is done with the weight shifting of your feet except for the steering,” said Rachel Bunton, the store manager. “It’s swing arm steering sort of like a joystick.”

SegValley has their walk-in office on South Padre Island off Padre Boulevard and Amberjack Street. Segways are always charged for anyone to enjoy. Groups can also call ahead to reserve a tour ahead of time. They are the only Segways rentals in the whole Valley and also host tours in Harlingen, the National Butterfly Center, Bentsen State Park and Port Isabel starting at $45 dollars an hour. Call (956) 565-2404 for inquiry or a reservation.

A family visiting the beach from Omaha, Nebraska took the tour down the strip and to Isla Blanca Park. Their guide showed them the many sand castles and tourist attractions on the beach.

“At first it was really scary and then is was really great,” Kate Jones said. “I thought the tour was great and I loved the scenery and it didn’t even take very long.”

Transporting down the main strip in style beats walking it the old fashioned way. Enjoying the island breeze on a segway is something new everyone who visits the beach needs to try.

The Segway was introduced in 2001 by its inventor Dean Kaman. The machine got its name from the word segue, meaning smooth transition. It’s a personal transporter built with computer sensors and electric motors in the base of Segway that keep the machine upright when a rider maintains balance while standing on it.

SpaceX inspires Educational professionals and impacts students

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SpaceX will have a final count down to launch rockets into space from Boca Chica Beach. In the mean-time the talk of SpaceX is gearing up teachers and administrators to get their schools ready to teach their students about Aerospace engineering.

“One of our goals is to expand aerospace engineering to all of our students and all of our high schools,” said Dr. Carl Montoya, BISD Superintendent.
The company cleared all the necessary check marks giving millionaire Elon Musk, SpaceX Chief Executive Officer, the green light to build his South Texas spaceport. He said to the national press association that he will have a fully operational launch pad facility ready for lift off in about two years.

“One of the things we told them was when they get going we will invite their people to talk to our kids about IE, science, rocketry Aerospace activities and take field trips to see the launches,” said Montoya.

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Parent Academy Graduates Students

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Eighty parents of students from Mercedes ISD completed an intensive six-week Parent Academy for Success of Schools (PASOS) training program to help there children improve academic performance and build stronger relationships with the school district.

Mercedes School Board Trustee Don Vogel, President, said, “It is a fantastic program and it is really encouraging to see the parents become involved to furthering their students’ education.”

The Board President said the school board had been talking about a program like this to help foster parent involvement to have more successful students.
Dr. Daniel Trevino, Mercedes ISD Superintendent said, “We facilitated certain topics like personal finances, preparation of our students for the classroom and home. It’s part of our family engagement program. We continue to say and believe that our biggest resource are our parents.”

Parents who participate in the ENCORE PASOS Program learned how to create a positive and lasting educational environment at home using a number of proven academic strategies: dedicating a home study location and time of day for homework, facilitating ongoing dialogue with their children surrounding their academic successes and challenges, and discussing children’s college expectations. Parents also learned the importance of creating a bridge between home and school; how grades are used for college admittance; what classes are important and needed for students planning to attend college; how to navigate the school system, and other vital information for the academic success of their children.

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NASA shows students Mars with space satellite

Area students were given a huge surprise during the breakout session with NASA at the ENCORE Convocation held at UTPA.

“We’re going to target our camera at Mars now,” said Sheri Klug Boonstra, ASU director of the Mars Education Program. “Every two hours we go around Mars and this is what the real scientists do, we take pictures.”

Boonstra is the Arizona State University Director of Solar System Exploration Education/STEM Program. She gave students a first hand look at how scientists are preparing to explore Mars with the J-Mars Targeting Tool that takes photos of the Red planet’s surface.

“What the students did today was really special,” Boonstra said. “ We put a live link to our laboratory where we control the THEMIS camera which is on board the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, a satellite that orbits the planet, and we were able to have the students choose a target and that image will be uploaded to the spacecraft.”

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