HPS Austin Highlights JANUARY 2020 Edition

STEM For All

It is science fair season in the greater Austin area and HPS Austin hosts their annual campus elementary science fairs at each of their schools. Students in grades 6th-12th compete in a district-wide science fair at one location, Harmony Science Academy - Pflugerville. Winners of the campus and district science fair will advance to compete in the Austin Energy Regional Science Fair on February 19th-22nd. Take a look at some highlights from our HPS Austin STEM Fairs!


Our Harmony Public School elementary scientists presented their experimental findings to a panel of judges in January at their annual school science fairs. Students were excited to share their discoveries to not only their student peers but also to their parents and community volunteer judges.

Harmony School of Science elementary students exhibited their science projects this January. Congratulations to all the participants and to Ishant Y. for winning first place at the campus science fair. Ishant along with the following students will be competing in the Regional Science Fair: Jordan W. 5th grade, Mateen B. 5th grade, Nicole I. 3rd grade, Mateo T. 3rd grade, Gabriel S. 5th grade, Michael I. 5th grade, Steven R. 5th grade, Emi Y. 4th grade, Itzel M. 5th grade, Amaya F. 5th grade, and Azra S. 5th grade.
Congratulations to all the participants of the 2020 Harmony School of Innovation Science Fair and to 3rd graders, Tristan, Alexandria, Yahya, and 4th grader Husniya for advancing to the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival next month!


Harmony Science Academy - Cedar Park hosted a Community Science Night where families joined in on hands-on science fun with interactive activities that included a dino dig, turtle observation, snow creation, oreo moons, magnetic racing cars, and other scientific discoveries.

3rd grader, Alette, creates a constellation telescope.

Students observed, investigated and described characteristics of turtles.

Students enjoyed dressing up as a mad scientist for the fun photo booth!

Attendees at the HSACP Community Science Night were also able to stop by the school Science Fair to speak to 4th and 5th-grade students about their science investigations.

Congratulations to the HSACP science fair winners! 4th grade: Masa, Ohm, Meera, Teha, Cyrus, Jiya, Anshul, Ayaan; 5th grade: Halil, Hasan, Saanvi, Ahyan, Nia, Ibrahim. Honorable Mention (4th grade): Teagan, Jion, Ashton


The 2020 HPS Austin District Science Fair was held on Wednesday, January 29th, with over 200 middle and high school young scientists competing. The young aspiring scientists presented their science investigations to a panel of judges which included community volunteers from the Thinkery Museum, Samsung, Paypal, Whole Foods, National Instruments, Edgenuity, the Pflugerville Public Library, Dell Technologies, the National Society of Black Engineers, and Travis County Constable Adan Ballesteros - Precinct 2.


At the Awards Ceremony, with parents, teachers, and students in attendance, Harmony Austin hosted Dr. Joyce Rigelo as this year’s keynote speaker. Dr. Rigelo is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer for AutoAuto AI, a computer software curriculum that integrates Python programming and hand-held autonomous cars to teach industry-standard coding methods and artificial intelligence. This program is known to many HPS students who have been working with the self-driving cars in their tech classes through Hello World.

Dr. Rigelo began her journey into the STEM field at the Federal South University in Brazil, where she acquired a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics. Her passion for improving our society and environment through the art of science was a daily inspiration for her while getting her Ph.D. in Mathematics in the states. HPS - Austin students enjoyed learning about her career journey and were inspired by her modest upbringing and ambitious goals.


Students waited in anticipation as winners of the categories were announced during the Awards Ceremony. Cheering, rooting and screams filled the gym as students applauded on their classmates who walked proudly to the stage to receive their medals and trophies.

Director of Academics Award

Congratulations to HSA 6th grader, Angel J., who brought home the Director of Academics award from the 2020 HPS Austin District Science Fair for his project titled "Mood Swings of a Pre-Teen."

"People should know that children also have feelings and also deserve to be treated correctly and with the same privileges as adults."

Superintendent Award

Congratulations to Ethan C. and Pratham B. from Harmony School of Endeavor for bringing home the top prize of the 2020 HPS Austin District Science Fair with their project titled "Discovering Exoplanets." Over 200 students competed and they placed 1st overall! We are #HarmonyProud of them for winning the 2020 Superintendent Award! This award is given to the project with the highest score of the fair.

Congratulations to the winners that will advance to the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival in February! Good luck! #STEMforall #HarmonyProud


Students from Harmony Science Academy - Cedar Park, Harmony School of Innovation, Harmony School of Excellence and Harmony Science Academy - Pflugerville competed along with other Central Texas elementary and middle school teams at FIRST® LEGO League competitions this January.

Guided by two or more adult Coaches, FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League teams (up to 10 members) research a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc., and are challenged to develop a solution. Students must also design, build, and program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS®, then compete on a table-top playing field. Congratulations to all the robotics teams and their coaches.

"The students did an amazing job! One of our teams placed 13th out of 22," said Mrs. Sukran Kat, Robotics Coach at Harmony Science Academy - Cedar Park.
Harmony School of Excellence middle school robotics team at the FIRST LEGO League Jr. tournament in Bryan, TX.
"Great job to our amazing 4th and 5th-grade HSI robotics team," said Ms. Fabiana Montenegro, Harmony School of Innovation Engagement Coordinator.
Harmony Science Academy - Pflugerville middle school students competed in Austin, Texas.


The new year brought a unique hands-on learning experience for Harmony School of Excellence students interested in the medical field. HSE high school students in the Biomedical Science Pathway class (Human Body Systems), 9th-grade students, and Biomedical Club members visited MedtoMarket, a medical training co-working facility across the street from the school this January as they kicked off the Spring semester.

HSE future medical professionals were given a tour of MedtoMarket, a medical innovation space in Austin fully equipped with state-of-the-art training bays, 2-station mock operation rooms, medical equipment, and a theater with stadium-style seating for medical seminars. Under the guidance of Dr. Aaron Ali, MD, CEO and CO-Founder of MedtoMarket, Inc., students witnessed first-hand a prosection demonstration and were also privy to one-on-one discussions with medical professionals from different areas of the medical field.

Dr. Ali hopes this tour will help students understand that the field of medicine is not only limited to the practice of medicine but can range to a variety of medical professions ranging from administration to medical equipment manufacturing.


Congratulations to the Harmony School of Endeavor Math Count League team that placed 1st and won sweepstakes in January's competition.

Civic Engagement


Throughout the school year, Mock Government Club high school students are tasked with working on public policy issues. They will work in-depth with state representatives and senators from across the state of Texas to learn more about the issues they are discussing. This year, students are focusing on gun reform policy, and they will be hosting a special educational round-table discussion at the Texas State Capitol at the end of February. To begin the process of organizing the event, six senior members of the Mock Government Club from Harmony School of Excellence - Austin and Harmony Science Academy - Pflugerville took to the hallways of the Texas State Capitol to personally invite legislative staffers. Students visited 15 local offices of the Texas State Legislator to ask them to share knowledge and answer questions about this hot-topic issue during their round-table event.

“Our goal is to formulate a more concise policy on gun reform by using what we have learned from both sides of the political spectrum. We hope our work highlights how collaborative discussion on a topic can lead to a positive change.” - Danna Esqueda, HSAPF Senior

HPS Austin Promotes a Love of Learning


After hearing "Where I'm From," a poem authored by George Ella Lyon, on the NPR morning program, Texas Standard, Ms. Catherine Gilkey, an English-Second-Language teacher at Harmony School of Endeavor, was inspired to begin a poetry project with her students. “The poem was full of sensory details and engendered a lesson plan idea for my students learning English,” said Gilkey.

After months of working with the students to perfect their poems, Gilkey shared their completed work with the radio station, KUT 90.5. The student's poems about their home country, detailing their memories of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Syria, captivated Texas Standard journalist, Joy Diaz who invited the students to the station to record.

"Our Harmony ESL poets are still learning English, but thousands will get a personal glimpse of Syria from their "Where I'm From" poems. I'm grateful for the privilege of teaching these students!" Ms. Catherine Gilkey, Harmony School of Endeavor ESL and GT Teacher

Shaymaa Salhab (8th grade)

Shahd Salhab (10th grade)

Majed Kaboor (8th grade)

Gilkey has since shared the links of the students reciting their poems, which aired during the school winter break, with poet George Ella Lyon. "I am from tears as I listened to your students' poems. Thank you! Please tell your poets how much their words mean to me. For all our voices," said George Ella Lyon.

Community Connections


Elementary students at Harmony Science Academy - Cedar Park have been learning about Australian wildlife in art and STEM classes. In response to the devastating wildfires in Australia, the school began a fundraiser for the World Wildlife Fund and asked all their families to contribute.

HSACP kindergartner, Ananya, went home upset after hearing about the wildfires and was inspired to make a difference. She decided she wanted to contribute to help raise money for the school fundraiser and spent a weekend creating clay Koala bookmarks to sell. Ananya sold to her neighbors for $1 each, and by the end of the weekend, she had created 20 bookmarks and had raised $35 for the Australian Wildlife fundraiser.

"We are so proud of Ananya and all her hard work!" said Emilee Coleman, Engagement Coordinator and STEM Teacher.

HSACP has fundraised $1,105 benefiting the World Wildlife Fund for Australian Wildlife.

Family Connections


Harmony School of Innovation hosted its annual Parent Academy on Saturday, January 25th, with many parents in attendance. The Parent Academy provided learning opportunities for parents and guardians to build their knowledge and skills to expand their network. The event informs and empowers families as advocates and partners in their children’s education while continuing their personal growth and development. Parents came together to learn more about enhancing students’ achievement, connecting with their students at home through tools on behavior management and communication, and how to become involved with the school campus.

"The HSI Parent Academy was a great success this year because of our amazing families who attended and the generous donations from many businesses and friends. Thank you to everyone who attended and helped make this a wonderful event!" - Fabiana Montenegro, HSI Engagement Coordinator

HPS Austin Celebrates 100th Day of School


During the last week of January, HPS - Austin students celebrated the 100th day of school by dressing as 100-year-olds and parading through the halls in their 100th themed shirts.

Harmony Science Academy - Cedar Park students dressed up in their best oldies look to celebrate the 100th day of school!

HSACP students decorated their shirts in a 100th motif.

HSACP students marched down the halls to celebrate being 100 days smarter.

Harmony School of Science kindergarten teachers dressed up as 100-year-olds on the 100th day of school.

Harmony School of Innovation teachers and students were their best 100-year-old selves to celebrate.

Harmony Science Academy - Austin elementary students paraded through the halls in 100 themed hats and sunglasses.



The Harmony School of Excellence Tigers went undefeated in their basketball division, 8-0 this season. Although they were defeated during a playoff game, the boy's basketball team feel victorious in their season with the enormous outpour of support from teachers, parents, students, and school administrators. With eleven seniors on the team guided by Coach Ian Manzak for the last four years and three 8th-grade starters, they ended, in what feels like, a successful basketball season. Congratulations HSE Tigers!


The Harmony School of Endeavor High School Hawk basketball team earned the title of Austin Champions and placed 2nd in Central Texas. The school honored the basketball team with a celebratory victory lap through the campus halls. All Pre-K through 12-grade students cheered the Hawk Basketball team on alongside their coaches as they marched proudly with their trophy through the campus hallways. Congratulations Champions!

"We are so proud of them! Big shout out to Coach Fullen, Coach Houck, and Coach Yassine! Thank you for all the hard work you put into the season!"

Harmony Public Schools Austin

HPS Austin Leadership Team

Left to Right: Dr. Ebubekir Orsun - Director of Engagement and Talent | Clarissa Davila - Director of Communications and Marketing | Gultekin Kaya, M.S., M.Ed. - Austin Area Superintendent | Katelyn Meck, M.Ed - Director of Academics Elementary | Toraman Yayla, M.Ed MBA RTSBA - Director of Operations | Robert Navarro - Director of Finance | Aydin Yildirim - Director of Academics Secondary (not pictured) | Victoria Mancha - Director of Public Relations (not pictured)
HPS Austin District Office - 13415 FM 620 N Austin, Texas 78717

HPS Austin Schools

Agil Sharifov M.Ed. M.A Principal | Harmony Science Academy - Pflugerville

1421 WELLS BRANCH #200 Pflugerville, TX 78660 GRADES: 6TH-12TH

Tiffany Molina, M.Ed. Principal | Harmony Science Academy - Austin

930 E Rundberg Lane Austin, TX 78753 Grades: PK-8th

Allanur Agaberdiyev, M.Ed. Principal | Harmony School of Endeavor - Austin

13415 FM 620 N Austin, TX 78717 Grades: PK-12th

Ilker Yilmaz, M.Ed. Principal | Harmony Science Academy - Cedar Park

12200 Anderson Mill Rd Austin, Texas 78726 Grades: PK-5th

Waylon Stengler, M, Ed Principal | Harmony School of Science - Austin

11800 Stonehollow Dr. #100 Austin, TX Grades: K-5th

Ashley Gorman, Principal | Harmony School of Excellence - Austin

2100 East St. Elmo Rd. Austin, Texas 78744 Grades: 6th-12th

Amy Chankin, M. Ed. Principal | Harmony School of Innovation - Austin


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Created By
Clarissa Davila