Posts by Sarah Bennett
Highland Park mom Melanie Ross Mills has seen the ups and downs of friendship throughout her life. Little did she know those experiences would add up to research for one of her greatest projects.
“I’ve had [friendships] that have really hurt me that have been the most powerful,” Mills said, “and then I’ve had the ones that have proved to me that I can trust with my heart, which is challenging for me to do.”
Mills has turned those experiences into The Friendship Bond, a book that goes through different types of friendships, helping women identify their levels of closeness and how to strengthen those relationships. She’s also penned a companion volume, Dates With Friends.
“My heart is really for this community,” she said of the Park Cities. “My hope is to really impact our mindsets and our hearts in a way that changes the way we relate to one another and the way that we see ourselves.”
A wife and mother of one, Mills also has a background studying temperament analysis.
“I learned, basically, how unique everyone is but at the same time we have these same basic needs for love, significance, and security,” she said. “And when I learned that, it was a huge ‘a-ha’ moment for me because I realized that this is what brings us together.”
Mills has conducted a series of group discussions related to the topics she addresses in her books. One of her closest friends has already seen the benefit.
“That’s probably the biggest thing I got out of the book, was that it’s OK to compartmentalize your friends,” said Kim Gatlin, author of a well-known book about fractured friendships, Good Christian Bitches. “You want to be the best friend to that person that you’re capable of being, but that doesn’t mean that you’ve got to be everybody’s best friend.”
Mills is planning several follow-up books, including The Marriage Bond, The Mom Bond, and The Cancer Bond. But the friendship edition is her self-publishing debut.
“It’s a quick, easy read, and people are going to be very pleasantly surprised how much they get out of it,” Gatlin said.
For Mills, the process has all been about fostering lasting connections.
“If we can, even just from my little book, get some kind of nugget that you can take with you that promotes life-giving around you, that’s when we really bond,” she said. “It’s really amazing that humans can have the capacity to love that way.”
After you’re done watching the homecoming parade on Saturday, head over to Logos Bookstore in Snider Plaza to hear Ron Hall. Hall is a New York Times best-selling author for his memoir, “Same Kind of Different as Me,” which he co-authored with Lynn Vincent and the late Denver Moore.
Hall, who maintains a residence in Dallas, also co-authored “What Difference Do I Make?” with Vincent and Moore. Copies of both books will be available at the reading from 2 to 4 p.m.
This just in: SMU Homecoming voted “best day of the year” by D Magazine … OK, not really. But it is in my opinion. This year’s parade starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
Academy Award winner and alumnus William Joyce will serve as grand marshal and this year’s theme is books that have become blockbusters. How great is that? Joyce has written and illustrated more than 50 children’s books, plus he’s had a long career in animated film and TV, so the theme is something he knows a little bit about.
The parade starts on Hillcrest Road at University Boulevard and goes south until looping around Highland Park United Methodist Church and back up Bishop Boulevard (the same route every year).
In the meantime, to help you reach the proper level of excitement, I’m just going to leave this here. Class of 2011!
There’s a new restaurant in town, and it’s looking for a team of people to make it run like clockwork. True Food Kitchen will open in The Plaza at Preston Center next month, but until then, they’re building a team of about 100 people.
Tomorrow and Wednesday, head to the Hilton Park Cities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Positions available are: host; server; back server; bartender; line cook; wok cook; prep cook; dishwasher; and pizza cook.
Looking to apply? Come prepared. Interviews will be held on the spot.
If you’re interest is in eating at the restaurant rather than working, circle your calendar for Nov. 19, because you won’t want to miss this. The menu includes everything from kale salads to panang curry, a tantalizing tea selection, deserts such as almond olive oil cake, and a creative cocktail menu. I can’t wait to try the “watermelon rose.”
If you’re the brunching type (like me), they’ve got that covered as well. From goji berry granola to quinoa Johnny cakes, you’re good to go. For younger patrons, there are alternatives on favorites such as “Turkey Sloppy Joe.”
So, like I said, mark your calendars, because I will be arm-wrestling you for a table.
Hundreds gathered Tuesday morning at Bradfield Elementary for the dedication of Johnny’s Place, creating a tone that was more celebratory than sad.
Johnny’s Place is a memorial that has been in the works for months, dedicated to the memory of Johnny O’Leary, a second-grader who died of cancer last school year.
But the memorial doesn’t honor just one child. The design features one flowering tree surrounded by colorful, etched petals in the ground to remember not only Johnny but also Liberty and Faith Battaglia, who were killed by their father while attending Bradfield more than 10 years ago.
The colorful petals remind visitors to remember the joy of the children’s lives, and not the sadness of their deaths.
Principal Chris Brunner gave the opening remarks, while organizer and Bradfield mom Tracy Wallingford thanked those involved.
“Clearly, it takes a village,” Wallingford said. “There are so many people who have helped us.”
Everyone from the landscapers to the Highland Park Town Council to the school community and the families who donated were included in her comments.
Pattye Knight, Johnny’s first-grade teacher, read E.E. Cummings’ poem, “I Carry Your Heart With Me.”
“I want to read a poem that Johnny introduced to his family,” she said before starting to recite. “I hope that every time you read it, you’ll think of him.”
To end the occasion, third-graders sang “Hymn of Promise” before students, parents, and friends who had been holding onto purple balloons through the ceremony let go and watched them float off among the clouds. Loud “oohs” and “ahhs” could be heard from practically every child.
With the ceremony finished, students and teachers filed back in to continue the school day, but many remained to look at the new addition to the school’s landscape. A few grew quiet and embraced in long hugs.
Johnny’s parents, Stin-elli and Tim O’Leary, did not speak during the ceremony, but left their remarks in the program: “Johnny’s Place will always be a special place for us as we continue in this journey of life through our son’s grace.”
Johnny’s memory also continues through the Johnny O’Leary Memorial Fund of the Amschwand Sarcoma Cancer Foun-dation.
This year the Highlander Concert Series will observe All Saints’ Day on Nov. 3 with a performance in memory of HPPC member and Chancel Choir member, Sid Davis, Jr. He was a third-generation elder and was named Elder Emeritus by the Session. He was president of the Chancel Choir and board president for HP Presbyterian Day School.
The concert features Hymnus Paradisi, a composition by Herbert Howells. Rev. Joe Rightmyer will read the necrology of all HPPC members who have died during the year. The performance is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the sanctuary.
We here at Park Cities People would like to ask you a very important question: What makes Highland Park so special? Not the high school; not the school district — the actual town. Share with us your favorite memories or reasons why HP is great. We’re looking to publish some of your profound thoughts in our next HP Centennial section. Feel like sharing? Email me. Thanks in advance, devoted Parkies.
A resolution was finally reached on lights for Highland Park High School facilities at Tuesday night’s University Park City Council meeting.
For years, it has been argued that the lack of lights on the softball field has created a Title IX violation. This year, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights even started looking into it.
But this wasn’t just about softball — district officials fought for lights on the tennis courts, as well.
With this week’s unanimous vote, there will finally be light for softball and tennis players, following months of discussion.
“As you will recall … we closed the hearing on this, I think, two meetings ago, and we have received, since then, innumerable emails that we have read and have here,” Mayor Dick Davis said.
For months, teammates and parents argued that no lights meant fewer games, lower attendance, and more missed class, leading to tougher academic circumstances.
Neighbors argued against an increase in traffic and noise, in addition to lights that would shine through their windows at night.
Studies were done on foot-candles of light and decibels of noise to get down to specifics. Even in the last meeting, a few details needed to be ironed out.
The phrase “non-UIL games” was changed to “non-UIL events” in the clause that bans private, club, or adult leagues from using the lights and sound system. The clause allows lights to be used by minors who attend Highland Park ISD schools. “In that, essentially, we have a broader definition,” city manager Bob Livingston said in the pre-meeting work session.
Additionally, the council added a clause that would ban whistles from being used at non-UIL games after 6 p.m.
As established earlier, cutoff time for the lights will be 9 p.m., with no innings starting after 9 p.m. for non-UIL games. No use of lights or music will be allowed on Sundays.
The unanimous vote passed before a small group of players and neighbors in attendance.
Highland Park’s Town Council approved two proposals from consulting firm NBBJ on Monday — one to guide the development of Highland Park Village and another to create a traffic study of the town. Both have been in the works for a few months.
“Everyone is well aware of what we’re doing,” Mayor Joel Williams said. “I will tell you that … Councilman [Andrew] Barr has gone way beyond the call of duty.”
By that, Williams meant that Barr revised the proposal regarding the Village. Originally, the costs of the Village study were going to be split between the town and the Village, including an economic analysis.
Under the approved proposal, the economic analysis’s costs will be solely the Village’s responsibility; the rest of the costs will be split down the middle. Councilman Stephen Rogers still wasn’t thrilled.
“I’d say that the product is obviously better than what we had,” Rogers said of the revised proposal, but he was still opposed to the idea of taxpayers footing the bill for a study about a shopping center’s development.
For the proposal regarding the Village, Rogers was the only dissenting vote. Representatives for the Village had no comment.
The proposal regarding the town’s traffic study was a different matter.
“The proposal that’s in your packets is very different from the proposal that we reviewed two weeks ago,” Williams said.
During meetings with NBBJ last month, Williams expressed concern that the proposal was more like a mobility study and needed more focusing.
The vote to approve the updated traffic-study proposal passed unanimously.
Remember Carolyn Isler who pinned down a burglar-in-progress at her home? Well, the University Park City Council thought that was pretty cool. That’s why they presented her with this proclamation at last night’s meeting. Check it out: