Ms.  Stacia  Crescenzi
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Principal's Corner

June 4, 2017

That’s it.  School year 2016-2017 is officially over.  As I said in my Senior Salute welcome, saying good-be to the Class of 2017 is bittersweet.  It became even more apparent as I hugged each graduate as they crossed the stage at the Erwin Center just how amazing this group of young adults are.  I truly feel lucky to have seen them grow over the last four years.

I thought I would wrap up the last Principal’s Message of the year with a recap of accolades.  Thank you to Trish Smith for helping to compile this, it was a huge undertaking. 

It is our hope at LASA that at one point or another during the year students experience their personal best.  Whether that is in the classroom, on the playing field, within an extra-curricular activity, in service to others or in a social situation- all are noteworthy. To do a recap of the academic highlights of the year proves quite difficult because highlights are many. We have top-notch kids producing top-notch projects and competing at the top of their event regardless of the event. The 2016-17 school year was a good one in terms of recognition and accolades for our students.  As you read through everything our students accomplished during the school year, allow yourself to be awed by realization that they did all this while taking eight academically rigorous classes.  Also, as much as we tried to get information from every club, team or group, I’m sure we missed some.  Please feel free to email me with any accomplishment that we missed and I’ll add it.  We plan to take these and update the accolade section of the website over the summer.  In particular, I know I need a reap of the golf season and short paragraph that highlights marching and concert band success.

Class of 2017

·         News within the Senior Class: Things went extremely well for this years graduating class.  All in all, the class of 2017 is now at $28,038,031 in scholarship and grant offers! This is a new school record! Along with that, they had 20 National Hispanic Recognition Program finalists as well as 22 National Merit Finalists. Overall, just over 40% of this year’s senior class received some type of recognition from College Board.   



·         Computer Science Within the area of computer science, LASA holds the state champion team of Russell Coleman, Alex Wlezien, and Edison Bertotti.  These students had to go through district, regional and state competition to win this honor.

·         LASA students Evan Hochstein and Nicholas Gonzales also competed against over 1500 students that participated nationally in the invitational round of the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO); only about 10% of those who competed, qualified for the invitational round. 

·         For the first time, LASA Students participated in the Cyberpatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition.  After qualifying for the national competition, the teams placed in the top quarter.

·         The LASA computer science team also took 2nd place in the Hewlett Packard’s 2017 Codewars programming contest.

·         Also qualifying to compete on the national level, Evan Hochstein went on to advance from the invitational round of NACLO to be an alternate for the United States team. 

·         LASA's WIC, Women In Computing, held its first Hackathon for young women.  The successful event was attended by 45 young women from Austin and surrounding area.  Mr. Mueller and Mr. Shockey are extremely proud of their team’s year.

·         Two juniors, Sawyer Timco and Alec Schultz were featured in the tech section of the Austin American Statesman detailing their successful work reviewing tech devices for their company on their website, techiegrad.com

·         Model United Nations: The LASA Model United Nations won “Best Large Delegation” at (MUNSA) the Model United Nations competition in San Antonio this year and 20 individual awards were garnered throughout the Model UN season.

·         Government/History: Mr. Risinger took 44 people on the "Freedom in America" tour coinciding with the 2016 presidential election.  The group traveled to New York City, and Washington D.C. to tour as well as witness the presidential Inauguration.  The final day of the trip allowed students to observe the National Women's March, as well.  It was a great trip to review our nation's past, reflect on its future, and celebrate freedom along the way.  

·         More national finalists to recognize as the History Bowl varsity team placed 7th in the National History Bowl.

·         In honor of National History Day, Roman Ugarte won 1st place due to his historical research paper for the Central Texas Region.

·         Murthy, playing for LASA B, as he was named a freshman all-star for the tournament.

·         Competing at the Academic World Quest National Competition in Washington D.C., the team of Anish Katta, Ojas Ahuja, Harrison Tran and Evan Hochstein came in 5th in the nation. They were competing against 46 other four-person teams from around the country. All first place winning teams from regional competitions around the country compete at nationals.

·         LASA freshman Champ Turner won 1st PLACE in the 13-15-age category of the Barbara Petchinik National World Map Drawing Competition.  He is now an international finalist in the international competition that will be held in Washington D.C. in July.  Champ's map drawing received the most public votes and the highest judges scores at the recent American Association of Geographers meeting. People were truly amazed at his illustration skills. 

·         Math: The Math Club had seven students take the American Invitational Mathematics Exam this year, and two of these students will go to Iowa this month to compete in the American Regions Mathematics League (ARML) competition, a nationwide math contest.  That certainly adds up to success!

·         Science News: Edward Lee has been named a finalist in the USA Biology Olympiad.  For those of you unfamiliar with the program, this means that Edward has taken two very challenging biology exams and ultimately earned a score in the top twenty nationwide. The last week of school, Edward participated in the finals at Marymount University in Arlington, VA.  Four of the twenty students invited to the National Finals will be selected to represent the United States at the International Biology Olympiad. 

·         Science Fair Club
Science Fair Club had 8 students who presented projects at the Austin Energy Regional Science Fair.
Akshara Anand
Adithya Kumar
Alexander Mancevski
Suchith Palyam
Sameer Pusapaty
Shivang Singh
Roy Stracovsky
Bryce Yeazell

Award Winners:
1) Akshara Anand
BioAustin 1st
2) Suchith Palyam
5th Place in Engineering Mechanics Category
3) Roy Stracovsky
2nd Place in Computer Science: Systems Software Category
4) Shivang Singh
3rd Place in Animal Sciences Category
Texas St. Univ Master of Arts in Technical Communication Science Writing Award 3rd Place
5) Adithya Kumar
1st Place in Robotics & Intelligent Machines Category
6) Alexander Mancevski
1st Place in Energy: Traditional/Alternative/Energy Efficiency Category
US Air Force Special Award
ISWEEP Sr Qualifier
Genius Olympiad Qualifier
7) Sameer Pusapaty
1st Place in Earth & Environmental Sciences Category
NASA Earth system Science Award
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin. Certificate
The Earth Day - Positive Futures Award
Austin Energy Best Use of Renewable Energy Award SrAustin Energy Science, Math, & Engineering Scholarships
Superintendent Award for Austin ISD Sr.
Texas St. Univ Master of Arts in Technical Communication Science Writing Award 2nd
Texas Tech Scholarship 1st
Ricoh Award
ISWEEP Sr Qualifier
Genius Olympiad Qualifier

·         Sai Sameer Pusapaty and Alexander Mancevski both competed in Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.  Alex was awarded a full ride to Drexel University and both he and Sameer placed 4th in their categories, Energy:  Chemical and Environmental Engineering respectively.  All in all there were 1800 projects from 78 different countries, territories and regions.

·         The Astronomy Club went to McDonald Observatory this past November.  They toured the telescopes, went stargazing, and generally experienced the vastness of our universe.

·         Competing at the National Science Olympiad Tournament at Wright State University, the LASA Science Olympic team placed 8th place in the nation! Individual awards were as follows:1st Place - Experimental Design - Sarah Chieng, Edward Lee, Alec Schultz; 1st Place - Hovercraft - Kevin Black and Abhi Dhir; 2nd Place - Invasive Species - Prerna Kundalgurki and Varun Sudunagunta; 2nd Place - Remote Sensing - Fedor Aglyamov and Michael Taleff; 4th Place - Rocks and Minerals - Prerna Kundalgurki and Varun Sudunagunta; 5th Place - Hydrogeology - Fedor Aglyamov and Michael Taleff; 6th Place - Dynamic Planet - Fedor Aglyamov and Shubhanga Ballal; 6th Place - Microbe Mission - Edward Lee and Prerna Kundalgurki; 7th Place - Materials Science - Shubhanga Ballal and Sarah Chieng; 8th Place - Helicopters - Alec Schultz and Michael Yi; 9th Place - Anatomy and Physiology - Varun Sudunagunta and Edward Lee.  These students prove that hard work and good coaching pay off.

·         Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering (TAME) Competition
At the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering (TAME) Competition held on Saturday, February 4th, the LASA Engineering Team, under the expert leadership of senior Sameer Pusapaty, took home almost all the top spots in all 4 grade levels. Please congratulate the following students for their success:

  • Nikhil Lyles - 1st Place amongst 9th Graders
  • Aditya Desai - 3rd Place amongst 9th Graders
  • Jessica Ding - 2nd Place amongst 10th Graders
  • Maya Lyles - 6th Place amongst 10th Graders
  • Shubhanga Ballal - 1st Place amongst 11th Graders
  • Kyle Sheth - 1st Place amongst 12th Graders


·         UIL Academic: In terms of U.I.L. academics, LASA saw a huge increase in student participation this year, evidenced in registering 45 students to compete compared to last year's 19. We also doubled the breadth of categories students have competed in this year to 18. I would say that's a success as LASA continues to grow in its involvement in UIL Academic competitions. Several students were successful in competing at the state level: Computer Science: 1st Place Team: Edison Bertotti, Alex Wlezein, and Russell Coleman; 3rd Place: Russell Coleman and in Ready Writing: 5th Place: freshman Roman Ugarte; 6th Place: sophomore Alex Loia 

·         Journalism News: The newspaper staff also had a wonderful year.  Student journalists achieved honors at UIL competition as well as at ILPC competition.

·         The newspaper staff also had a wonderful year.  Student journalists achieved honors competing at UIL contests as well as at ILPC competition. Specifically, Clara Morse (newswriting), Quinn Simpson (newswriting), Ashley Thomas and Roxy Bonafont (news feature writing), Eva Strelitz (editorial writing), Sarah Lucas and Kenza McKerrihan (feature writing), Gabrielle Jabour (entertainment feature), Emma Moran (entertainment review), Lisa Moomaw (personal column), Meena Anderson and Sarah Porter (column), Emma Jane Hopper (sports column), Grace Bodine (student art), Grace Bodine (infographic/sidebar), Grace Bodine, Sarah Mines and Roxy Bonafont (Double Truck Design).

·         On the national scene, Eva Strelitz-Block was recognized as a National Winner in the Quill and Scroll Competition for a commentary piece and a feature story she penned. We are so proud of the products our journalism staff produces.

·         Obviously, the yearbook staff has much of which to be proud. This year’s book is innovative, beautiful and something that our students will want to access for years to come. Our editor, Jostens, also recognizes this tradition of excellence. The 2016 Stetson was featured in the Josten's Lookbook as an example of yearbook excellence.

·         Foreign Language News: Each year travel awards are given to high school juniors who are members of Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica (the Spanish NHS). The students travel to a country or region of the Spanish-speaking world for a period of 8-14 days during the summer. This year the most expenses covered trip was awarded to Sreenidhi Tupuri applied, won and will be going to Guatemala this summer with the Society. In addition, each year the Junior Travel Award provides eligible students who have performed at a high level in the NSE, the opportunity to travel to and experience the culture of a Spanish-speaking country. The award includes a round-trip transportation from the student’s home airport to Perú, transportation and guided excursions while in Perú, hotel stays, and meals.

·         Vada Andrews…applied, won and is going to Perú this summer with the Society. The travel awards continue with Global Citizen Scholarships for Underclassmen. The scholarship covers the cost of tuition for a two-week Spanish immersion program through Concordia Language Villages during the summer. Sarida Morejón…applied, won and is going to Concordia Language Villages this summer. And lastly, every year the SHH gives several seniors scholarships to students and one of the recipients was one of our students. Jack LaWare…applied, won and will be receiving two thousand dollars for tuition.

·         In the French classes, much success was had at the Texas French Symposium. Though it was the first time for the students to compete at this symposium, they came home with a 3rd place for drama group and 2nd place for school video.  In addition, French II student, Olivia Lee, earned a platinum medal for her performance on the National French Exam by scoring #1 in the nation for her level and division

·         The Chinese Club brought southeast Asia to the LASA campus by organizing the Moon-cake Festival and the Chinese New Years celebration.

·         Congratulations to these students for winning the Consolidated Chinese Programs of Central Texas 1st Calligraphy Contest: 
Brush Contest: 
3rd place: Kate Wang; Mingxuan Zhao; Jenny Lu    
2nd place: Shea Popov; Alexander Burton 
1st place: Winnie Cheng

Pen/Pencil Contest:
3rd place: Amy Min; Helen Mah; Sungmin Kim
2nd place:Olivia Tung; Allison Lee
1st place: Fan Wu

·         du sprichst Deutsch? LASA German students won 1st place at Sprachfest, the regional German Language & Culture Competition, and 1st place at the Texas State German Contest.  



Community Service

·         Community Service News: The LBJ Cares students involved with LBJ Cares volunteered 696 hours of their time to different organizations throughout the city, including the Trail of Lights, Austin Ironman Triathlon, Brown Santa, The Settlement Home for Children, and numerous AISD elementary school festivals. Their impact was certainly felt across all of Austin.

·         Emily Carr was selected as Sophomore of the Year by the Kiwanis Club of Austin-Northeast.  Her proven record of service, leadership, as well as her desire to learn and share her knowledge and experience with others were key factors in her being honored.

·         After months of planning, LASA's Diversity Council hosted the inaugural Cultural Day on April 12th, 2017. On this day, Diversity Council brought in experts, educators, and leaders from across the city to give presentations to all 1100 LASA students on a variety of topics, including: wealth dynamics, education overseas, college campus diversity, racism, gender equality, African folktales, salsa dancing, kathak dancing, and many more subjects related to diversity and inclusion.

·         In addition to making several improvements to the Mindfulness Trail, LASA's Trail Ambassadors sought out grants to help fund future improvements. All our Trail Ambassadors dedicated many hours to the continued development and maintenance of the Mindfulness Trail, but the efforts of two students stand out:

·         Srikari Punyamurtula (11th) secured a $400 grant from the Natural Plant Society of Texas so that we could plant a butterfly garden to serve as a way station during the Monarch Butterfly migration. The first installment of those plants were planted in March and we have already seen monarch butterflies at the trail! Srikari will continue to lead planting projects in her senior year.

·         Alice Sullivan (11th) secured a $2000 grant from the National Wildlife Federation and helped our school be accepted into their Monarch Heroes program. This grant will fund more supplies, a field trip to the Lady Bird Wildflower Center, signs about the trail habitat, and professional development for Ms. Rivera and Ms. Moore. The grant also includes on-site consultations from professionals at the National Wildlife Federation. 

·         Additionally, Alice Sullivan (11th) successfully completed all classroom and field certification requirements to become a Texas Master Naturalist. Alice is the first minor to successfully petition for application to the Texas Master Naturalist Training Program.


·         Amateur Radio Club News: K5LBJ, the LASA High School Amateur Radio Club, was ranked #1 in the National School Club Roundup.  This contest has schools competing to see who can make the most contacts via radio within a 24-hour period.  LASA students made 863 contacts with 46 states, 18 countries, six Canadian provinces, and 45 other schools.  

·         Debate Team News: This year the debate team had a very successful season! Our two graduating seniors, Ezra Serrins and Mason Marriott-Voss, were tournament champions at the Harvard Invitational Tournament as well as the Texas Forensics Association State Tournament. They were also octo-finalists, one of the top 16 teams in the nation, at the Tournament of Champions in Kentucky. Way to go using logic, reasoning and an orator’s voice to get your point across.

·         ROBOTICS
FRC Team 418 performed well at the FIRST Robotics World Championships April 19-22 in Houston.  The drive team Amir Downing, Aaron Garay, Matthew Cabello, Jessica Gitre, and mentor Gijs Landwehr was selected by the 4th seed team which made it to the quarterfinals of the Roebling Field. The winner of the Roebling Field was the overall championship winner.

·         Quiz Bowl – LASA’s A team tied for 25th at the High School National Championship Tournament in Atlanta; LASA B tied for 15th.  Individually recognized was Chinmay



·         In the pool, five swimmers advanced to the state meet in February.The boys medley relay placed at state: Alex Mancevski, Aidan Dulaney, Andrew Stowers, Lucas Abounader. Individuals who placed included Ava Longi in the 100 Free and 50 Free and Aidan Dulaney in the 500 Free.

·         On the track we also excelled. In the boys 4x100 and 4x200 meter relays we ranked 3rd in our region. Furthermore, Cameron Kleiman placed 1st in the 1600m and 2nd in the 3200m at the Austin ISD Invitational and Dylan Cox was 1st in the 3200m and 3rd in the 1600m and Kathryn Christian: 1st in the JV 3200m at the Austin ISD Invitational.

At the Temple Relays Antoine Denis placed 1st. Also, Rachel Horowitz won 1st in the 100m with a PR time of 12.14! Jackie Meisel placed 2nd in the JV Long Jump

Additionally, our Girls 4x100 (3rd) , 4x200 (4th), and 4x400 (4th) meter relays competed exceptionally well against some of the state's top programs at the Prairie View Relays. Relay team members include Rachel Horowitz, Hannah Porter, Sarah Porter, Daylin Glibert, Caroline Anyatonwu, and Dawnyay McKee. Track boys and girls relay teams made it to state meet. The girls relay team placed in the 4x200 meter relay in the state meet. The girls also won the district, area, and regional track meet.  

·         On the soccer fields, the women’s team came in 3rd in the district with individual honors going to Dayln Gillentine for District Defensive Player of the Year;  1st Team All District: Aidan Henderson, Dresden Timco; 2nd Team All-District: Rachel Horowitz, Ana Marsh, Emma Green; All District Honorable Mention was earned by Mara Eccles, Elena Humphreys, and Isabelle Cartwright. 

·         Across the countryside, The boys cross country team won district, and both the boys and girls teams qualified to compete at Regionals. Two boys, Dylan Cox and Cameron Kleiman, qualified to run at the state meet for the first time in the school's history.

·         At the diamond, the softball team made it to the district playoffs. 

·         On the Baseball field: The Jaguar baseball team ended their season with a 5-4 game two loss to the eventual regional semi-finalist- Dripping Springs Tigers in the Bi-District round of the state playoffs. Strong pitching performances from Sam DiCarlo and Seamus Quinn as well as solid offensive performances by Kekoa MacAuley and Remington Linda kept the Jaguars close. Game highlights included a triple-steal, including the steal of home, by Harrison Lee and a successful squeeze play executed by Sam DiCarlo and Aidan Parente. The future is bright for this Jaguar baseball team, as four underclassmen: Nate Moore (So.), Aidan Parente (Fr.), Walker Kohler (Fr.), Lucas Abounader (Fr.) were in the starting lineup and three others: Tucker Ebest (So.), Jacob Greendyk (So.) and Trent Wolff (Fr.) also saw action in the game.

·         On the girls’ basketball court, Olivia Lee made 2nd Team All-District for Girls Basketball this season.  She was also was Runner Up Defensive MVP for our District. She led the district with four steals per game.

·         The Boys Basketball team were : 25-5A All-District Semifinalist 

·         Boys Soccer: The following student athletes received recognition for their efforts during the 2017 soccer season. Corbin Schmeiland Ian Mcintosh were voted into the 1st team all-district and Charlie Riley was placed on the 2nd team all- district. The 2017 defensive player of the year honor went to Fillipos Kallivokas.  All their efforts placed the boys soccer team 2017 AISD district champions.

·         Tennis Congratulations to Naveen Yarlagadda and Chaitu Aduru for achieving 2nd place in the UIL Boys Doubles State Tennis Finals. The Tennis Team cannot recall a time when we have reached this achievement before. 

Kudos also to the following players for awards in the Regional Tennis Tournament:
Swati Yarlagadda - 3rd place Girls Singles
Vishwa Adore - 3rd place Boys Singles
Shawn Tan and Vijay Veeraraghavan - 4th place Boys Doubles 

In addition to the awards above, the following players also received awards in the District Awards this year. Congratulations to them!
Aidan Evans-Strong and Angela Li - 3rd place Girls Doubles
Arsal Faroog - 3rd place Boys Singles
Yaritza Villasana - 4th place Girls Singles
Dessie Then and James Koeper - 4th place Mixed Doubles.


·         On the Gridiron:  The Jaguar football team was the 25-5A District Champions


·         Volleyball  The Lady Jaguars finished the overall district season in 5th place, just missing playoffs by one spot, but Oooooh what a GREAT season it was! The Lady Jaguars were the only team in the district to defeat the  McCallum Knights who had been undefeated prior to the match.  6 girls were recognized and honored as a part of the All-District Teams Selection:  

1st Team All-District Honors

Sophomore Jada Harris

Freshman Ronnie Ashley

Freshman Alexia Gallegos

2nd Team All-District Honors

Junior Ella Carlander 

Honorable Mention Honors

Senior Caitlyn Wilson

Senior Dayla Woller

Newcomer of the Year Honors

Freshman Alexia Gallegos


·         Pin for the Win-Girls Wrestling Success!
Elexis Kalar (sophomore) earned 1st place at  District, 2nd place at Regional, and competed winning one match at the UIL State Wrestling Tournament in Houston on February 24-25. 

·         Water Polo
Congratulations to Senior Isaac Van Eenoo, Juniors Alexander Mancevski and Mingxuan Zhao, and Sophomore Aldo Ordonez for being key players in the Longhorn Orange Water Polo Squad who won the Lone Star League Championship in Central Texas. 

·         Congratulations to the LBJ Water Polo teams that competed/scrimmaged almost every weekend since March to achieve a high seed for Regionals.  At the West Regionals in Round Rock, LBJ WP Boys placed 2nd, only losing to Waco Midway. LBJ WP Girls placed 6th in Regionals. The LBJ Boys team advanced to the State Championship


Fine Arts

·         Jazz Band
All region jazz band success:

Nicky Manavi - 2nd chair alto sax - Jazz Band One (moves on to the state-level recording)
Teles Sanchez - Guitar - Jazz Band One (moves on to the state-level recording)
Andrew Mauro - 2nd chair alto sax - Jazz Band Two
AJ Marks - 2nd chair trumpet - Jazz Band Two
Mathew Heighway - 3rd chair trombone - Jazz Band Two
Eva Legge - Piano - Jazz Band Two

·         Junior Vada Andrews (clarinet) and sophomore Amy Min (oboe) each placed first in the Texas Music Educators Association Area E band competition held this past Saturday at UT's Butler School of Music. This is the second year these two students will join "the bes of the best" Texas young musicians at TMEA's Annual All-State Band and Orchestra Conference in San Antonio, February 8-11th. 

·         First Ladies Success  Congratulations to the LBJ/LASA First Ladies dance team for their success in the MA Regional Dance Competition at Bowie High School.  The Officers were awarded a trophy for two Superior routines for their jazz and contemporary dances, while the team was awarded a trophy for Super Sweepstakes, and a plaque for choreography in jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary, as well as technique for their contemporary routine.

·         LBJ HS Orchestra
LBJ HS Orchestra, under the direction of Mrs. Luzvic Backstrom, was privileged to perform at The Symphonic Series at Carnegie Hall on Monday, March 20th. Carnegie Hall is located in New York City and is the most respected venue in the United States. They received high ratings and comments from a panel of nationally recognized clinicians. The orchestra also benefited from a private workshop led by MIT Symphony Orchestra Director Adam Boyles. The ensemble received a plaque for outstanding participation. Congratulations LBJ Orchestra! 

·         Greater Austin musical theater award for 'Best Orchestra for a Musical" goes to the pit orchestra for LBJ/LASA’s  NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT. Award ceremony was Thursday evening at the Long Center. 

·         Winter guard finished fourth at the state competition.

·         Congratulations to all of the students who auditioned for Region Orchestra this past weekend! It was an extremely competitive audition process on Saturday. We had four students make the region orchestra…

- Amy Min – 2nd Chair Oboe 
- Vada Andrews – 1st Chair Clarinet 
- Ryan Russo – 3rd Chair Trumpet 
- Sanjay Pandiri – 3rd Chair Percussion

·         Marching band placed 1st in the group and 5th overall at US Bands marching competition. 

·         Choir
On Saturday 10/15 members of the LBJ choir auditioned at the first level of the All State competition. Please congratulate Ames Jewart, Charlie Diaz, Rachel Fuller, Lia Wiese, Caroline Hemphill, Maggie Walker, Amaya Johnson, Antonio Batista, Issac Stone, Alex Seigenthaler, and Humberto Venancio on making the All Region Choir!

·         Reflections
Congratulations to Sarah Jackson whose musical composition, "Winter's End," advanced to the statewide Reflections competition.