BANGS — Bangs superintendent Dr. Josh Martin recalled the outdoor pep rally last November, when the community prepared to send the 9-1 Dragons football team off to the playoffs.
With Dragons supporters lined up, the band marched down a street, playing the fight song. Cheerleaders cheered.
“Everybody was on Cloud Nine,” Martin said in his office.
Then Martin saw Kyle Maxfield, the Dragons head football coach and athletic director, walking toward him — and he knew by Maxfield’s expression that something was amiss.
The Tornillo Coyotes — the Dragons’ playoff opponent in a game to be played in Fort Stockton — had just forfeited due to COVID, Maxfield told Martin.
That, Martin said, was a “gut punch” and one of the low points of the 2020-’21 school year — Martin’s first year as Bangs superintendent. Despite the Coyotes’ forfeit, the Bangs pep rally continued and ended up as a presentation of trophies.
That low point didn’t define the school year for the Bangs school district, which actually went on to have a great year, Martin said. Students and staff overcame the challenges presented by COVID, and Martin said he anticipates an even better year in 2021-’22.
“There was actually a COVID gap,” Martin said, noting that students were not on campus for 5 1/2 months following the closure of schools in March 2020.
‘It worked out’
He added, “it worked out. It’s a pretty exciting time for us. I just now wrapped up my first year. It was a good one.”
Martin became Bangs superintendent last year after previously working as chief academic officer in the Farmersville school district. Martin and and his wife, Amber, who works as the PEIMS (Public Education Information Management System) clerk at Bangs High School, have two daughters in Bangs schools.
Spend a little time with Martin, and it becomes quickly clear how much passion he feels for the district he leads.
Martin noted several achievements the past school year and plans for the coming year including:
STAAR test results
The district ended the year on a “high note,” Martin said — especially when STAAR test scores came in.
Martin said the district performed better on the tests in 2021 than it did in 2019. Because of COVID, no Texas students took STAAR tests in 2020.
“That picked up morale pretty good,” Martin said of the 2021 STAAR results. “We blew our test scores out of the water. We went up in every single tested subject from 2019. To do what they were able to pull off — the kids and teachers — is amazing. There are a lot of schools that are making excuses about why they couldn’t.
‘“ It’s made getting ready for this next year real exciting. There’s a definite buzz.”
For the first time this fall, Bangs High School will begin offering a total of 13 “pathways” in career and technical education that will lead to industry certifications.
The pathways include the options of earning an associate of arts and an associate of science degree.
Additional pathways are in the areas of education, welding, culinary, animal science, real estate, business management, emergency medical technology, nursing, pharmacy, drone pilot license and a pathway known as STEM, which consists of math, science and chemistry classes.
Martin said he tells students, “even if you know what your doorway is, I want you to have multiple paths, multiple doors to walk through.”
“One of the things we’re really trying to push this year is our tradition, school pride, all these things,” Martin said.
The district is beginning a Hall of Honor for past athletes, with five induction planned for the inaugural hall at Meet the Dragons in August.
Plans are also under way for hanging playoff banners in the gym and installing football, track, baseball and softball boards.
The Bangs community is “fired up” over its school district, Martin said.
“We’re going a good job celebrating our kids, celebrating our staff,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of people who love Bangs. I honestly think it means something to work here.
“Let’s get this party started now. The switch has been flipped. Bangs is a special place, man. We have good teachers and good kids. These kids’ parents went here, and their parents went here. It’s contagious. It’s fun.”