Not Everyone Celebrates Freedom

Columnist Len Bourland

Columnist Len Bourland

July is our month dedicated to celebrating freedom; it’s when school kids and teachers are on break, when a significant part of the population chooses to take a vacation, often to one of our national parks to see our landmarks.

It’s the Fourth of July, when President John Adams declared that the commemoration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence should be “solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other.”

He forgot the watermelon, barbecue, and beer, but as a renowned quaffer of ale, no doubt he would have approved of our celebrations today. Whatever our faults and differences, and they are hurled at us 24/7 in our age of incessant telecommunications. A whole lot of the planet would still like to pour into our land to experience what we Americans so often take for granted: the freedom to complain, to get furious with our government, to make as much money or seek as much celebrity as we can think up, the freedom to reproduce at will, the freedom to read anything we can lay our hands on, to dress and dance with abandon, and to worship (or not) pretty much as we please. The list goes on and on, despite our increased rules and regulations.

Dalai Lama Visits Bush Center

Pretty sure they're best friends. (Photo: Courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center)

Pretty sure they’re best friends. (Photo: Courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center)

Tomorrow is America’s birthday. You know who else has a birthday coming up? The Dalai Lama. So to celebrate, he came to SMU. The George W. Bush Presidential Center hosted “A Conversation with the Dalai Lama” at SMU’s Moody Coliseum on July 1. He spoke on harmony, compassion, and love — just as you would hope the spiritual leader of Tibet and Nobel laureate would.

“We must promote compassion, love and forgiveness,” he said. “Therefore we must extend love to all of creation.”

The event was open to the public but sold out quickly. The World Affairs Council of Dallas-Fort Worth and Crow Collection of Asian Art also co-hosted the event.

The Dalai Lama last visited and spoke on SMU’s campus in 2011. His 80th birthday is July 6 (W. also shares this birth date, FYI).

ABC News political correspondent Cokie Roberts moderated the discussion. She also led the audience in singing “Happy Birthday” to His Holiness. We think that sounds like a pretty legit way to celebrate.

Dive Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

Doesn't this look delish?

Doesn’t this look delish?

Can you believe Dive is five years old already? They are celebrating by throwing a party, of course.

On Saturday, July 18, join them from 7 to 9 p.m. for complimentary hors-d’oeuvres and 10 percent off all menu items.

Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka will serve two specialty cocktails: blueberry bonnet and lemonade fizz. The first 75 guests will receive a signature Deep Eddy glass to take home.

Bush Library Gets a Matching Highway

George W. Bush

George W. Bush

The stretch of North Central Expressway between downtown Dallas and Walnut Hill Lane is now the George W. Bush Expressway.

Well, presumably U.S. 75 is still North Central Expressway, too, and it’s not President George Bush Expressway. We’ll let Robert Wilonsky explain in The Dallas Morning News, which has more details on the christening of the freeway for the younger Bush, whose library sits along the frontage road at University Boulevard.

After the idea was approved by state lawmakers last year, signs have started appearing to reflect the change in recent days. What do you think? Is it a worthy honor, or just a confusing hassle?

HP Cheerleaders Go, Fight, Win at Camp


The HPHS cheerleaders won plenty of awards at the prestigious UCA camp.

Four HP cheerleaders were named UCA All-Americans: Annalea Pedigo, Arden Wynn, Nicole Gottlich, and Camille McSherry.

HP cheerleaders are UCA All-Americans: Annalea Pedigo, Arden Wynn, Nicole Gottlich, and Camille McSherry.

The Highland Park High School cheerleading squads proved themselves against some of the best in the country when they brought home several awards from the recent Universal Cheerleaders Association camp in Grapevine.

In addition to classes and pep rallies, the four-day camp included an opportunity to qualify for UCA All-American status in addition to various team honors. HP’s All-American qualifiers included Nicole Gottlich, Camille McSherry, Arden Wynn, and Annalea Pedigo. All four earned an invitation to perform at Thanksgiving Day parades in either Orlando or Philadelphia, and Gottlich was invited to return as a staff member as next year’s camp.

Learning Can Be Fun Afterschool

Bottom left: Dallas Afterschool works with 120 sites throughout Dallas, collectively serving 9,000 students. Activity boxes contain 45-minute activities to help actively engage the students. (Photos Courtesy of Dallas Afterschool) 0
Bottom left: Dallas Afterschool works with 120 sites throughout Dallas, collectively serving 9,000 students. Activity boxes contain 45-minute activities to help actively engage the students. (Photos Courtesy of Dallas Afterschool)

There was a time when afterschool care was just homework help, apple-juice boxes, and peanut butter sandwiches — not the most appealing situation for today’s youth.

Introducing Dallas Afterschool, where there’s more to programming than just snacks. The staff is in the business of improving the quality of afterschool and summer programs. Since 2007, Dallas Afterschool has collaborated with nonprofit afterschool sites in low-income neighborhoods to suit the needs of the youth in that area.

“There’s something to be said for having kids safe between the hours of three and six,” said Christina Hanger, CEO at Dallas Afterschool.

Today, Dallas Afterschool serves 120 nonprofit afterschool sites, including Trinity River Mission and Family Place shelter, serving nearly 9,000 students.

HP Police Arrest Armed Robbery Suspect

Michael Watts

Michael Watts

Highland Park police have arrested Michael Glenn Watts of Duncanville in conjunction with a harrowing ambush and armed robbery last week, and have also released more details of what sounds like a horrifying experience.

At 1:40 a.m. on June 22, a robber threatened a man at gunpoint as he sat on his backyard patio in the 3200 block of Cornell Avenue. The crook demanded money, which the victim said he didn’t have. So the victim drove the insistent gunman in his Range Rover to an ATM in the 3000 block of Monticello Avenue in Dallas, so he could withdraw the maximum $500.

The two men negotiated in the parking lot before returning to the house, where the victim lunged for the robber’s revolver during another tense confrontation. The homeowner was led upstairs and forced into a closet inside the master bathroom, where he tried to call police as his house was being ransacked.

Police Report: June 16 to June 21


Skulduggery of the week: Ding-Dong Drunk

Between 12:45 and 1 a.m. on June 18, a vandal broke a window in the door of a house in the 4400 block of University Boulevard, causing $300 in damage. Apparently the man was intoxicated and at the wrong address.


Between 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., a thief stole $52,750 worth of jewelry from a closet inside a house in the 4600 block of North Versailles Avenue.

Between 12:30 and 2:11 p.m., a burglar stole $5,450 worth of jewelry, $1,800 worth of Royal Crown China soup bowls, and a $300 Gold Vermeil salad fork from a house in the 5400 block of Fairfield Avenue. The perpetrator jumped a backyard fence and shot a BB gun through a double-paned window to break into the house, then ransacked a bedroom and dining room.

At 3:13 p.m., James Hinman, 75, of Dallas was arrested at Highland Park Village on a public intoxication charge.

At 8:26 p.m., Jeffrey Charles Drapkin, 28, and Katherine Danielle Nuckolis, 28, of Dallas were each arrested in the 3400 block of Armstrong Avenue on a public intoxication charge.

HPMS Twirler Aims For National Crown

Heather Skidmore received plenty of hardware.

Heather Skidmore received plenty of hardware.

Congratulations to Heather Skidmore, featured twirler at Highland Park Middle School, who brought home plenty of prizes from the recent NBTA Texas State Baton Twirling Championships in Lubbock.

She was honored as 2015 Pre-Teen Miss Majorette of Texas and was the champion in the Solo and Fancy Strut categories in the 10-12 advanced division. In July, she will compete at the NBTA National Championships in South Bend, Ind.

Skidmore has been twirling since age 7.

Get Pop-Cultured at Barnes & Noble


Three Barnes & Noble locations, including those at Preston and Royal and Lincoln Park, will hold the second annual Get Pop-Cultured events in July, including a Time Travel Weekend and Throwback Thursday events.

Throwback Thursdays will be held every Thursday in July, beginning with a 1950s event on July 2. Festivities include Deals of the Decade, where books of the decade are priced down; a ’50s-themed display; and a hula hoop contest at 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Park location.

Time Travel Weekend will be held from July 3-5. Attendees may experience trivia, activities, giveaways, author appearances, and more for “Doctor Who,” “Magic Treehouse: Dinosaurs Before Dark,” and “Outlander.”

The “Doctor Who” event will be held on July 3 at 7 p.m., the “Magic Treehouse” event will be held on July 4 at 10 a.m., and the “Outlander” event will be held on July 5 at 2 p.m.

Those interested may visit the Barnes & Noble event page for more information.

Landry Classic to Honor 2005 Scots

This guy was there in 2005. Were you?

Matthew Stafford was there in 2005. Were you? (File photo: Chris McGathey)

Were you on Highland Park’s football team in 2005? If so, I’m sure you have a lot of great memories of an undefeated season that culminated with a Class 4A state title.

But seriously, if you were on that team, or knew somebody who was, then the organizers of the annual Tom Landry Classic event want to speak with you. The squad will be inducted into the Tom Landry Classic Hall of Honor at halftime of a game between the Scots and Frisco Centennial on Aug. 29 in Allen.

Those able to attend should contact executive director Kris Cumnock at for more information.