Graduation Traditions Continue at HP

The class of 2014 toss their caps at Moody Coliseum at last year's commencement ceremony. Be sure to check next issue and for graduation coverage. (Photo: Don Johnson) 0
The class of 2014 toss their caps at Moody Coliseum at last year's commencement ceremony. Be sure to check next issue and for graduation coverage. (Photo: Don Johnson)

It’s that time of year again to turn tassels, toss caps, and lose yourself in a sea of gold and blue (oh, and did we mention the bagpipes?). Highland Park High School returned to its usual Moody Coliseum venue last year, following renovations and rerouting to Allen Event Center in 2013. We’ve got the rundown of graduation events and details so you can properly celebrate the graduates — all 535 of them.

May 28

  • Honors Day Breakfast — HPHS seniors, HP Cafeteria, 9:15 a.m.
  • Honors Day Assembly — HPHS seniors and parents (limited seating), Palmer Auditorium, 10 a.m.

May 29

  • Graduation — SMU’s Moody Coliseum, 7 p.m.

HP Library Offers Online Language Lessons


Highland Park Library cardholders may now access Mango Languages, an online language-learning program, for free. The courses are taught in the user’s native language and focus on skills in vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and culture. Mango offers 60 foreign-language courses and 17 English courses and can be accessed at the library or on personal devices, such as an iPhone or Kindle. Those interested may contact the library or visit the Mango website for more information.

TV Show Makes Hyer Teacher’s
Dream Home a Reality

Fixer Upper 0

Allen and Gail Holt recently had their Waco home renovated by Chip and Joanna Gaines from the TV show “Fixer Upper.” (Courtesy Photos)

Although this will be Gail Holt’s last year as a science teacher at Hyer Elementary School, her new home in Waco is ready to welcome her and her husband, Allen, thanks to the reality show “Fixer Upper.”

(Watch the episode this Thursday at 8 p.m. on HGTV. Click here to see more air times.)

The couple, a blended family with seven children between them, decided to relocate to Waco for Allen’s job as director of development for Baylor University’s Truett Seminary.

After some of their friends moved to Waco and settled on sections of the Brazos River, the Holts decided to look for a similar location.

Chemistry Drives HPHS Science Team

The HPHS science team is coached by chemistry teacher Wenzen Chuang (left).

The HPHS science team is coached by chemistry teacher Wenzen Chuang (left).

Four members of the Highland Park High School science team will compete at the UIL state academic meet this week in Austin.

The team — which includes Robert Luo, Khai-Leif Nguyen-Hille, David Wiegn, and Jiamin Zhou — won first place in its Region II meet last month in Waco. Zhou took home an individual gold medal after earning the top score in biology. Nguyen-Hille was the runner-up.

Wiegn also was an individual gold medalist at regionals in current issues, and advanced to the state meet in social studies. The current-issues team finished second at regionals.

Valant Honored For Nursing, Volunteerism

Nancy Valant

Nancy Valant

Nancy Valant, a Highland Park resident and emergency department nurse at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, has been recognized recently with a pair of awards.

In April, Valant was among the honorees at the 25th annual DFW Great 100 Nurses celebration, which pays tribute to registered nurses honored by their peers for contributions to the profession.

The 30-year nurse also was recognized by the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council at its May awards luncheon as the organization’s Volunteer of the Year.

Food Truck Hype Could Help Hungry

Columnist Len Bourland

Columnist Len Bourland

Ahh, May. It’s a month when people picnic, eat outdoors, and enjoy the plethora of produce, especially that grown regionally. But there is much grumbling in Highland Park, where banks and boutiques abound, that it’s now inconveniently necessary to go to the periphery to grocery shop since Tom Thumb left the Village.

People, especially women who still do the vast majority of grocery shopping, don’t like to adjust to an unfamiliar store. Imagine, then, what it is like for those working poor and impoverished who live in what have been dubbed “food deserts.”

Car Dealership Hosts Special Grad Party

Here's the happy graduate with a few of his closest friends. Congrats Nick!

Here’s the happy graduate with a few of his closest friends. Congrats Nick!

Here’s a follow-up on one of our favorite recent stories from the paper. You might recall our profile of Nick Jones, a senior at Highland Park High School with Down syndrome who works a part-time job at Park Cities Ford.

He’s quite an inspiration, not to mention an avid Mustang enthusiast, so his family, friends and co-workers held a graduation party recently in the showroom at the dealership.

The party came complete with a DJ, a cake and balloons, and commemorative gifts from the Lone Star Mustang Collectors Club, which made him an honorary member.

After graduation, Jones will continue working part-time at the dealership while taking part in a state program called, which provides ongoing job coaching to young adults trying to work toward greater independence.

SMU Cox Hosts Venture Capital Forum


The Caruth Institute of the Cox School of Business at SMU will continue its excellent Southwest Venture Forum series on Thursday with a panel called “Dallas: Why VCs Invest Here.”

The breakfast session at Dallas Country Club will feature a panel including venture capital experts Robert Faber (Ballast Point Ventures), Venu Shamapant (Live Oak Venture Partners), and Carl Soderstrom (Green Park and Golf Ventures).

The moderator will be Gary Boyd of Montgomery Coscia Greilich LLP. Seating is limited, and the registration deadline is Tuesday. Click here for more information.

Radishes Aren’t Just For Peter Rabbit

Columnist Stephanie Casey

Columnist Stephanie Casey

As soon as I started harvesting radishes from my garden, I knew I wanted to devote a column to this colorful vegetable.

For most of my life, radish exposure was limited to the classic round reds acting as decor on party trays or dry, bitter slices in a salad. No, thanks! I began playing with this vegetable in my kitchen a few years ago.

Now a spring favorite, I have found so many ways to enjoy radishes. If you are not a fan, I hope you will give the little guys another chance.

Jesuit Rallies to Eliminate Scots

Jesuit knocked Highland Park out of the playoffs on Friday. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

Jesuit knocked Highland Park out of the playoffs on Friday. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

For the second straight game, a home run in the top of the first inning gave the visiting team an early lead. But this time it didn’t hold up.

Jesuit rallied with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to defeat Highland Park 5-3 on Friday, completing a sweep of the Scots in a Class 6A Region II quarterfinal series.

HP struggled to capitalize on its opportunities for the second straight game. The Scots (26-7) stranded at least one runner in every inning, and left a total of 10 runners on base.

Boone Gets Another Term As SMU Chair

Mike Boone

Mike Boone

Park Cities resident and longtime civic leader Mike Boone has been re-elected chairman of the board of trustees at SMU.

Boone is co-founder of the law firm of Haynes and Boone and has been a trustee on the 42-member board since 1996. He also serves as vice chair of the Dedman Law School executive board and as a co-chair of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which is trying to raise $1 billion.

“Mike Boone’s leadership has been crucial as SMU marks the final year of its centennial celebration and capital campaign,” said SMU president R. Gerald Turner. “His able guidance has set a strong course as we prepare for our second century of achievement.”

Robert Dedman of Bluffview was re-elected as vice chair of the board, and Highland Park’s David Miller will continue his role as board secretary.

HP Senior Honored With Spotlight Award

Brandt Gros (right) with his Spotlight Award. (Photo: HPISD)

Brandt Gros (right) with his Spotlight Award. (Photo: HPISD)

Highland Park HS senior Brandt Gros was honored with the Spotlight Award at Tuesday’s HPISD board meeting, with many of his baseball teammates and coaches there to witness it.

The Spotlight Award goes out to a community member who has gone “above and beyond to support the special education population in HPISD.” It is given out by the Special Education Parents Advisory Committee of HPISD, or SEPAC.

Not only were notes read aloud that parents and community members had written about Gros, but a video was shown with encouraging words from members of the special-needs community.

“Brandt Gros is our answer to a very long time prayed prayer — that Jack will have a true friend. The one thing that shines above everything else is how Brandt sees the real Jack, not the kid in the wheelchair who can’t speak, but the Jack who has a heart of gold and just wants a true friend,” Jack’s mother Christina Murzin wrote. “He doesn’t think that he is doing anything out of the ordinary, yet anyone who knows him knows just how extraordinary a person he truly is.”

If that doesn’t warm your heart, we don’t know what will.