By KIM ESTES, Four Points News
“Astonishing” is how Principal Charlie Little described the recent award of the Lone Star Cup to six-year-old Vandegrift High School by the University Interscholastic League.
“For VHS to win the Cup in that short of a time frame is truly astonishing. This award is significant in that it is a holistic award for excellence in academics, fine arts and athletics. To win, a campus has to have vibrant, successful programs across the entire campus,” Little said.
The UIL Lone Star Cup, first awarded in 1998, is presented annually to six Texas high schools, one in each of the six UIL classifications – 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A. It is based on the school’s team performance in district and state championships including marching band, team tennis, cross country, volleyball, football, swimming and diving, wrestling, basketball, soccer, golf, track and field, academics, one act play, softball and baseball. The winning schools in each classification receive a Lone Star Cup trophy and a $1,000 scholarship.
“Three LISD high schools finished in the top 10 of those who were vying for the prestigious UIL Lone Star Cup,” said Bret Champion, Leander ISD superintendent.
Vandegrift came in first place and won the 5-A division. Cedar Park High School achieved a fourth-place finish and Vista Ridge High School came in seventh place.
“To the Vandegrift High School family, we offer our heartiest congratulations,” Champion said.
VHS racked up 94 points in the UIL totals for the 2014-2015 school year, nine points ahead of Aledo High School, which finished second with 85 points. Coming in third place with 83 points was Grapevine High School. Cedar Park and Fort Bend Ridge Point High School tied for fourth place with 68 points each.
For Little, the award carries personal gratification. “It is especially rewarding since my administrative team has had the privilege and honor of hiring each and every staff member over the last six years. To see the success of our staff and programs reaffirms the excellence and promise we saw in each of these candidates. Winning the Cup is a tangible recognition of their hard work and commitment to the students of Vandegrift.”
He recalled a meeting of the inaugural VHS coaching staff, parents and student athletes. “At that time, we knew we were only going to open with 9th/10th grade and we had the option to compete at a lower level or take on the full brunt of varsity competition. We had similar meetings with our fine arts and academic programs,” Little said.
There was “overwhelming” support to participate at the highest-level possible. “The fierce determination and the spirit of these original competitors and their coaches and directors has become a hallmark of the Vandegrift tradition,” Little said.
Eighty-five to 90 percent of VHS students participate in extracurricular activities. It is an important factor in their overall success. “If students are connected to extracurricular activities, they will be more successful in school. The high expectations set by directors, teachers and coaches transfers to academic success. For example, many of our National Merit Scholars are also band members,” Little noted.
Furthermore, Little added, the award adds to the general standing of the school.
“I believe any state-level recognition for excellence contributes to the overall reputation of a school and may contribute to our students getting a closer look when they have participated in one of our successful programs. As a school develops a consistent tradition of excellence, recruiters and college admissions staff become keenly interested in the students from that campus,” he said.
Little said the $1,000 scholarship given as part of the award will go toward something that benefits all VHS students, such as a display case.