The Salado Independent School District earned its second Lone Star Cup in five years, showing its prowess in high school University Interscholastic League academic, athletic and fine arts competition.

“This is a great accomplishment and the credit goes to our students and the teachers and coaches who prepared them to excel,” district Superintendent Michael Novotny said. “There are 241 schools in our classification (Class 2A), and even to finish in the top 10 is certainly impressive. “To actually win the award is a wonderful tribute to the community and to everyone involved.”

Winning the cup was a challenge. Novotny noted that Brock High School, which eventually finished in second place, led Salado High School, then in fifth place, by 10 points in the May standings, 50-40.

Salado picked up a whopping 40 points in the last month of competition, sweeping UIL mathematics competition, finishing third in One Act Play, advancing in the softball playoffs and finishing as a state semifinalist in baseball.

Brock wasn’t idle in the last month of competition, picking up 22 points of its own, but the Salado onslaught was too much to overcome.

“The whole point is that you have to be well-rounded as a school to win this award,” Novotny said. “It takes outstanding students, teachers and coaches in many different areas, so we’re proud of the way they worked together to represent the school district and the community.”

Points are awarded for performance in state and area marching band, cross country, volleyball, football, wrestling, girls basketball, boys basketball, golf, track and field, academics, one act play, softball and baseball.

For winning the competition, Salado High School will receive a Lone Star Cup trophy, which is likely to be presented during Meet the Eagles Night in August, and a $1,000 scholarship.

Ron Byrd, who recently completed his second year of teaching math at SHS, is one of the coaches of the school’s UIL math teams.

“It’s a huge honor,” Byrd said of the award. “I give the credit solely to the kids. You do good work when you have outstanding kids.”

The students’ dedication was the key in their outstanding showing in math.

“They were so dedicated,” he said, “and they had their own individual goals which they worked hard to achieve.”

Dennis Cabaniss, who has taught at SHS for 42 years, was another strong factor in the students’ academic success, Byrd said.

“I just followed his lead,” Byrd said. “He’s been doing this for 40-something years and he’s a great teacher and motivator.

“We’re looking forward to next year.”

Plenty of groups contributed to the accomplishment, Cabaniss said.

“We’re happy to win it,” he said. “It speaks well of the strengths of all our programs. We definitely think we have that in Salado, and winning an award like his helps to validate that.

“I’m very proud of our students — they take it seriously and work hard, and the parent support is tremendous. There are so many in the community who help contribute to this success.”

Theater arts director J.J. Jonas and speech teacher Tim Cook, the co-coordinators for UIL competition for SISD, deserve a special mention, Cabaniss said.

“They are as good as it gets at what they do — just tremendous in helping students achieve their best,” he said. “They’re two of the best in the country.”

SISD Athletic Director Brent Graham praised the commitment and dedication of Salado students and staff.

“As a newcomer, I walked into a great situation,” he said. “The kids are outstanding competitors who finish very strongly, whether in athletics, academics or anything they’re involved in.

“They strive for excellence, and that really comes from the top. Dr. Novotny has a great vision for the district, and the kids reflect that in their accomplishments.”

While strong athletic accomplishments, including the girls golf team’s winning a state championship and the boys baseball team advancing to the state tournament, played a significant role in SHS’s winning the Lone Star Cup, Graham said contributions from academics and fine arts put the school over the top.

“It takes all hands on deck, and I applaud the contributions of all of our students, faculty members, parents and community members,” he said. “We did very well in athletics, but academics and fine arts did an excellent job.

“We’re very fortunate as a faculty to have outstanding students and amazing support from parents and the entire community. I’m blessed to be a part of this wonderful district.”

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