HPMS Student Gets Royal Mardi Gras Treatment

John C. Reilly was the King of Bacchus XLVII, and HPMS student Thomas Lembcke was one of his pages. (Photo: Steve Randon)

John C. Reilly was the King of Bacchus XLVII and HPMS student Thomas Lembcke was one of the pages on his parade float. (Photo: Steve Randon)

Thomas Lembcke, a seventh-grader at Highland Park Middle School, recently got to experience some Mardi Gras revelry firsthand when he was one of 18 young pages during the Krewe of Bacchus parade in New Orleans.

But wait, it gets better. Lembcke got to ride on the King’s Float with the celebrity King of Bacchus, which this year was Oscar-nominated actor John C. Reilly.

The krewe — with more than 1,400 members and 33 animated floats — stages the only parade to feature pages, and in order to receive that honor, you need to be the son or grandson of a Bacchus member. The theme of this year’s parade was “Children’s Stories That Live Forever.”

Lembcke and his fellow pages tossed beads and doubloons to the crowd during the procession through the French Quarter and other landmarks.

George W. Bush to Speak at SMU Graduation


W. Unbridled. 

Today in things that fill me with envy, former U.S. President George W. Bush will be the keynote speaker at SMU’s May 16 commencement ceremony at Moody Coliseum.

“This commencement is especially noteworthy because 2015 is the 100-year anniversary of SMU’s opening,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner said.”So it is fitting that we should hear from a president who led our nation and the world during historic times and is a valued member of the campus community.”

President Bush also gave the commencement address at SMU in 1999 when he was governor. He is the first speaker to complete a second commencement address at SMU.

As many know, former first lady Laura Bush is a graduate of SMU, and President Bush’s library is located on SMU’s campus. Turner estimates that 700,000 people have visited SMU through the presidential center.

President Bush received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University and his MBA from the Harvard Business School — which is appropriate, because SMU’s colors are Harvard Red and Yale Blue.

As a side note, I graduated in 2011 — the centennial of the university’s founding — and got U.S. Senator John Cornyn as a commencement speaker. So pony up, everyone.

HPHS Students Extend Friendships Overseas

hphs_taiwan2 0

Annual trip to Taiwan set for MarchWenzen Chuang moved to the United States from Taiwan when he was 8 years old, but is taking advantage of a unique opportunity to return.

Chuang, an AP chemistry teacher at Highland Park High School, will be one of the chaperones for HPHS’s Youth Ambassador Program over spring break. He will lead 11 students and use his fluency in Mandarin to assist with translation.

Chuang said he’s eager to see how much he remembers about the school system in Taiwan and compare it to his experiences as an educator in the United States.

Orr Set to Retire As HPISD Superintendent

Dawson Orr

Dawson Orr

Dr. Dawson Orr announced on Monday that he will retire as Highland Park ISD superintendent, effective Aug. 31.

Orr has been with HPISD for six years, and worked as a superintendent for almost 20 years before that in Pampa and Wichita Falls. Beginning this fall, he will become a clinical professor in the department of educational policy at SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Orr has served on the advisory board for the Simmons School, and now will teach as part of a new degree plan that the university is gearing toward district-level executive leadership.

Pittman Knows ‘How to Get Away With Murder’ (Costume Designer)

Here's Oscar nominee Viola Davis wearing a turquoise necklace by Ashley Pittman during a recent episode of "How to Get Away With Murder."

Here’s Oscar nominee Viola Davis wearing a turquoise necklace by Ashley Pittman during a recent episode.

Fans of the TV drama “How to Get Away With Murder” saw the work of Highland Park jewelry designer Ashley Pittman multiple times in February.

The show featured stars Viola Davis and Karla Souza wearing African necklaces and bracelets from the Ashley Pittman Collection during a Feb. 12 episode, and again during a pair of episodes on Feb. 26.

The jewelry was selected by Linda Bass, the costume designer for the show.

‘Believe Me’ DVD Releases Tomorrow


Believe_Me_Film_PosterLast fall, we wrote a feature surrounding the theatrical release of Believe Me, a Christian comedy that marked the feature directorial debut of Park Cities native Will Bakke and some collaborators with local ties through their Austin-based production company.

If you missed it, the film is being released on DVD and Blu-Ray on Tuesday, and will also be available through various video-on-demand platforms.

The film is a satire about a group of college students who create a fake religious charity as a method for generating some quick cash.

Lay Family Garden Reopens at Arboretum

Brian Shivers, Susan Lay Atwell, and Dorothy Lay

Brian Shivers, Susan Lay Atwell, and Dorothy Lay

To kick off the start of flower festival Dallas Blooms, the Dallas Arboretum reopened the Lay Family Garden on Feb. 28. Members of the Lay family officially opened the garden at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 26.

The two-acre garden was started over 25 years ago by Mimi Lay Hodges, with additional gifts for the renovation by her two daughters Susan Lay Atwell, Dorothy Atwell, and from the Estate of Herman W. Lay and Anthony Atwell.

Warren Johnson from Fallcreek Gardens redesigned the space to include a new water feature, redesigned pathways and entrances, and new plant species.

Kristof Coming to CitySquare Speaker Series

Nicholas D. Kristof

Nicholas D. Kristof

Nicholas D. Kristof, a journalist and human rights activist, will be the first speaker featured in CitySquare’s new speaker series Up Close with CitySquare. The series is designed to share the experiences of influential people fighting against poverty.

Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a columnist for The New York Times who has traveled to over 150 countries. His journey to places like China, Africa, and India gave him first-hand experiences with global health and poverty around the world.

Scots Have Long Shortstop Legacy

Baylor signee Jon Skidmore will start at shortstop for Highland Park for the third straight season. (Photo: Chris McGathey) 0
Baylor signee Jon Skidmore will start at shortstop for Highland Park for the third straight season. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

Infielders win fans at HP, collegeFor some youngsters growing up in the Park Cities, meeting the varsity shortstop at Highland Park High School is like shaking hands with a superhero.

You aspire to be like him, and to one day fill his shoes. And players fortunate enough to one day gain that coveted spot in the lineup have a responsibility to mentor those behind them.

It’s part of a tradition for the Scots that has seen a string of shortstops move on to Division I college baseball during the past decade or more.

“We grow up and we see the guys in front of us, watching those guys and trying to be like them,” said Jon Skidmore, who will begin his third season as the HP starting shortstop this spring. “The expectations are high for everyone.”

Royal Blue Coming to Highland Park Village


Thanks to our colleague Nancy Nichols on SideDish for her scoop confirming the rumor that, in fact, Royal Blue Grocery will be the new boutique grocery tenant in Highland Park Village.

The new store won’t directly replace Tom Thumb, which closed last year, because it will occupy a different space with a Preston Road storefront. It’s targeting a July 1 opening.

Royal Blue has five locations in its hometown of Austin, but this will be its first expansion to the Dallas area. Have any of you been there? What are your thoughts?

Fresh Legs Fuel Scots in Lacrosse

Hugo Reisenbichler and Highland Park will start the season on Saturday in the Patriot Cup. (Photo: Don Johnson)

Hugo Reisenbichler and Highland Park will start the season on Saturday in the Patriot Cup. (Photo: Don Johnson)

The key to Highland Park’s lacrosse fortunes this season could be in the knees.

Let’s flash back to 2011, when the Scots lost seven players to season-ending knee injuries, forcing them to rely on young and inexperienced players, and struggled to an early exit in the playoffs.

The next year, HP won the Texas High School Lacrosse League state title.

Could a repeat be in the Scots’ future following a 2014 season in which a series of injuries to key seniors led to some growing pains and an eventual loss in the state semifinals? Coaches and players hope so, and they have reason for their optimism.