Kyle Heath mug

Happy fall to all! After several weeks of trademark Texas heat, it’s nice to see — and feel — a drop in the temperatures, letting us know that the seasons are changing. 

We are excited to let our Cleburne ISD stakeholders know that the district’s tax rate has declined for the third consecutive year, following the school board’s adoption of the new rate for 2021-22. Combining the new tax figure with those of the last two years, the tax rate has dropped by more than 12 cents. 

Members of our Smith and Wheat middle school football teams will be engaged in community service this morning as they meet at St. Mark United Methodist Church to unload an 18-wheeler filled with pumpkins for the church’s annual Pumpkin Patch. The Pumpkin Patch helps raise funds for community outreach programs sponsored by the church. We appreciate the opportunity to have students from both these campuses work together for the benefit of others. 

The Golden Pride Band is beginning their contest season this weekend, with a performance today at the Mansfield Preview of Champions at MISD’s Vernon Newsom Stadium. The Pride will take the field at 5 p.m. in the preliminary performance round. Our students and directors have been spent weeks and weeks in preparation for the annual UIL Region Marching Contest, which is Oct. 12. Good luck to the Pride and SUTA!

On Tuesday evening, more than 440 Cleburne High School students will be honored with Academic Excellence Awards for achieving a 3.4 or higher GPA in the previous school year. This academic recognition program has been in place for decades, under the coordination of St. Mark UMC. A second generation of recognized scholars are now being celebrated, thanks to the ongoing commitment of the St. Mark congregation, joined by members of the community who also lend financial support.

The Academic Excellence Award sweater from early years has been replaced with a black and gold afghan, presented to sophomores achieving the program standard, along with first-time honorees in the upper grades. I always look forward to the annual awards ceremony honoring the hard work and dedication of these Yellow Jacket scholars. It’s a joy to share the moments of pride with the parents in attendance. 

We began the month in celebration mode with the observance of Homecoming and all the festivities that accompany this Cleburne High School tradition. The awards presented by the CHS Ex-Students Association included the dedication of the Homecoming Parade to the memory of Lowell “Stretch” Smith, who was a 1950 graduate of CHS. While he had long been a member of the Alumni Wall of Fame, we appreciate the Association’s recognition of Stretch in presenting the Parade Marshal Award, in memoriam, to his family. 

To have a school named for this legend of a man is something our district is most proud. Stretch Smith was one of a kind — the mold was broken when he was made. His passing is a tremendous loss to our community on so many levels. For several years Stretch and his wife, Shirley, served as student mentors at “his” middle school. Our principals and teachers did a great job capitalizing on the character and integrity of the man for whom their school was named, from adopting the motto “Stretching the Limits” to conducting “Stretch Time” in the period dedicated to tutoring and enrichment. In recent years, “The Smith Way” signified how things were to be done at Lowell Smith Jr. Middle School.  

The 2021 Inductee into the Ex-Students Association Wall of Fame is US Navy Capt. (Ret) Sue Parker Flood, a member of the Class of 1970. Shelly Martin Samuels, a member of the Class of 1968, who served as a high school and middle school teacher in our district for more than 30 years, was honored as Coming Home Queen.

Shelly has remained dedicated to education since her retirement in 2007, most recently as a member of the Cleburne Education Foundation. She was among the CEF members who came to Wheat Middle School Friday morning to surprise Principal Crystal Kampen with a $5,000 campus grant for the implementation of an online math program to benefit all students.

Before closing, we ask you to mark your calendars for 2 p.m. Nov. 7 as we invite you to groundbreaking ceremonies for the A.D. Wheat Middle School renovation and construction project. This is a major component within Bond 2021 that was approved by voters last May. We are very excited to put project plans into motion, starting with the construction of additional classrooms. 

As always, I invite you to keep up with all the news, achievements and activities taking place in Cleburne schools by visiting our website,, and following us on Cleburne ISD Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Go Jackets! 

Superintendent Kyle Heath has been the administrative leader of Cleburne ISD since 2014 and has more than 30 years of service in education as a secondary teacher, campus principal and district administrator. He can be reached at

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