April 24, 2014

  • HP Athletes Make Diverse College Choices

    Front row, from left: Tanner Houghton, Lauren Murski, and Abby Zidell. Back row: Clayton Murtha, Matthew Lillard, and Connor LaFavre.

    Six Highland Park athletes were honored for making college commitments on Wednesday. Front row: Tanner Houghton, Lauren Murski, and Abby Zidell. Back row: Clayton Murtha, Matthew Lillard, and Connor LaFavre.

    Tanner Houghton visited the University of Chicago for a weekend this winter, when the temperature was below zero, and he loved it anyway.

    Houghton was one of six Highland Park High School athletes who were honored on Wednesday for committing to various colleges in different parts of the country.

    “I wanted to find a school where I could get a great education and where I could get to play,” said Houghton, an all-district linebacker for the Scots. “It didn’t matter the size of the program.”

    Besides Houghton’s commitment to Chicago, there is swimmer Lauren Murski, who is headed to the University of Pennsylvania, another big-city school known for its academics.

    “I really liked the people there. It was a social environment,” Murski said. “I think I’ll fit in on the team there. They’ve had a lot of success with distance swimmers.”

    Basketball standout Clayton Murtha and tennis player Abby Zidell both will attend Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.

    “It seemed like a perfect fit, both academically and athletically,” said Murtha, who helped lead the Scots to a District 10-4A title this season. “I always kind of wanted to go someplace a little cooler.”

    Another tennis standout, Connor LaFavre, will play at Xavier University in Cincinnati, while baseball player Matthew Lillard committed to Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.

    “It’s the best academic and athletic opportunity I have,” LaFavre said. “I loved the campus and I love the guys on the team.”

    Lillard said the coaching staff at Millsaps, which reached the NCAA Division III World Series last season, based on a compilation of video highlights he sent prior to visiting the campus.

    “It was incredible. The coach loved what he saw, and he hadn’t seen me play,” Lillard said. “It’s a small school and a nice campus. It will be academically challenging.”

    By Todd Jorgenson Apr. 24, 2014 | 11:12 am | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • Troops Name New Eagle Scouts

    New Eagle Scouts

    Christopher Chapman, J.D. Cochran, Houston Holmes IV, Cole Jacaman, and Blair Riepen

    Christopher Ryan Chapman is a member of Troop 72 and a sophomore at the Cambridge School of Dallas. For his Eagle service project, the son of William and Karen Chapman of Preston Hollow built courtyard benches for Grace Bible Church.

    J.D. Cochran is a member of Troop 70 and a sophomore at Highland Park High School. For his Eagle service project, the son of  Charles and Stacey Cochran of University Park designed and implemented a mapping system for the Salem-Irene Cemetery in Irene, Texas.

    Houston Eccleston Holmes IV is a member of Troop 72 and a junior at Highland Park High School. For his Eagle service project, the son of Sheila and Houston Holmes of Highland Park led the fundraising and construction of a workstation in the Rainbow Room at Community Partners of Dallas.

    Cole Ambrose Jacaman Morgan is a member of Troop 72 and a sophomore at Highland Park High School. For his Eagle service project, the son of Andrea Jacaman and Alberto Lopez of Highland Park and Patrick Morgan and Lyn Herr of Austin built three large plant beds at Mi Escuelita Preschool to beautify the campus and catch rainwater.

    Blair Riepen is a member of Troop 70 and a junior at Highland Park High School. For his Eagle service project, the son of Lynn Riepen of Highland Park and the late Brian Riepen prepared food baskets and hygiene bags for families with children in the ICU at Children’s Medical Center. Blair is the sixth member of his family to achieve Eagle rank, a Troop 70 record.

    Editor’s Note: Please continue to send us pics of your new Eagle Scouts to editor@peoplenewspapers.com. Please send them in color and as hi res as possible. Thank you!!

    By Elizabeth Ygartua Apr. 24, 2014 | 10:00 am | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • ‘Keep America Beautiful’ Not Just a 1970s Thing

    So yesterday was Earth Day, but I figured since Earth Day Texas isn’t until this weekend I’m not late. Recently I attended an event at Dallas Audubon, just a few minutes from Downtown Dallas and worth the trip by the way.  The center director Ben Jones gave a talk and mentioned that we can all do something every day to improve our environment. He picks up at least one piece of trash a day; That resonated with me and I’m trying to do the same thing. It made me remember the “Keep America Beautiful” commercial from 1970 (I’m dating myself), which was touching and still relevant.

    By Patricia Martin Apr. 23, 2014 | 3:15 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • HPHS Students Awarded Landry Scholarships

    From left, Sam Malone, Cole Feigl, Reagan Reid and Conner Rambin

    From left, Sam Malone, Cole Feigl, Reagan Reid and Conner Rambin

    Four students from Highland Park High School were among the recipients of the 14th annual Tom Landry Scholarship, which honors representatives of participating schools in the annual Tom Landry Classic football games.

    Awards went to football players Sam Malone (who received a scholarship from Crest Cadillac) and Cole Feigl (Southwest Securities), as well as Highland Belle Reagan Reid (Bank of Texas), and band member Conner Rambin (Ebby Halliday Realtors).

    HP had four of the 15 honorees this year, and has had 54 of the 203 scholarship recipients since the program began 14 years ago. The Scots have opened the season in the showcase for 12 straight years, including a game against Aledo in 2013. They will start the 2014 campaign against Frisco Centennial on Aug. 30.

    The scholarships were presented during a ceremony on Monday night at Maggiano’s at NorthPark Center.

    By Todd Jorgenson Apr. 23, 2014 | 12:15 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • Local Artists Featured at Zhen Spring Show

    Paper Planes, an abstract painting by 13-year-old Jack Smith

    Paper Planes, an abstract painting by 13-year-old Jack Smith of Highland Park

    Highland Park artists Claudia Coker and Jack Smith will have their paintings displayed as part of the “Scope” spring art show at the Zhen Music and Arts Institute.

    Despite being a student at Highland Park Middle School, Smith, 13, already has his own website and has been painting acrylic canvases for several years. Coker is an award-winning photographer who specializes in landscapes.

    Their works will be on display from Thursday through May 24. The gallery, located at 4901 West Lovers Lane, is open weekdays from 3-6 p.m., with an opening reception scheduled for Thursday night.

    By Todd Jorgenson Apr. 23, 2014 | 7:51 am | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • Watch Yankees Play Red Sox, Rangers in Bronx

    Hope Cottage is hosting an email based auction starting today at 9 a.m. for packages of tickets to see the New York Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox in June, and the Yankees vs. Texas Rangers in July at Yankee Stadium.

    The auction will end tomorrow a 5 p.m. Bidding will be suspended between 11 p.m. and 9 a.m. Thursday.

    All proceeds will benefit Hope Cottage’s Foster to Adopt Programming. Bids can be submitted via email to Leslie Clay. Bidders will be kept abreast of competing bids via email and online. The two top winning bids for each game will receive a parking pass. The starting bid for each ticket pair is $500.

    The seats are in the Legends Suite in Row 8. Nothing like watching a little baseball in style. For more information on times, dates, and package options, click here.

    Hope Cottage is the oldest nonprofit, non faith based adoption agency in Dallas. Disclosure: I am a member of the Hope Cottage Leadership Council. We raise money and organize events to support the organization.

    If you’re a member of a charity in Dallas hosting an event or auction, please feel free to email me. We’re always looking for new things to blog about.

    By Elizabeth Ygartua Apr. 23, 2014 | 6:30 am | No Comments | Comments RSS

    April 22, 2014

  • Young Shutterbug Cleans Up in Photo Contest

    Abby Law, a seventh-grader at Highland Park Middle School, won six awards from the city of Dallas for her photography.

    Abby Law, a seventh-grader at Highland Park Middle School, was honored by the city of Dallas for her photography.

    We media types are supposed to have an eye for good photography, so we can appreciate a young talent who knows how to skillfully operate a camera.

    Abby Law, a seventh-grader at Highland Park Middle School, was honored by the Dallas City Council during its April 16 meeting for winning six awards in four categories in the recent Trinity River Corridor Project Photo Contest.

    Abby won first place in the river and wildlife categories, and second in wildlife and architecture. She took third place and honorable mention in the forest category. Some of her winning pictures can be found here.

    By Todd Jorgenson Apr. 22, 2014 | 10:29 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • HPHS Ranked 98th in Nation

    Every year U.S. News & World Report comes out with a ranking of the best schools in the nation and in each state. Consistently Highland Park High School ranks as one of the top, if you take into account just how many schools there are in this country and that the rankings include data on more than 19,400 schools from the 2011-12 school year.

    This year’s ranking of 98th in the nation is a few spots down from its 92nd spot in 2012. It’s also dropped in the Texas rankings from 10th to 14th.

    The report is not without its flaws. As previously blogged in 2012, the report lists there being two high schools in the district. I know the school board is considering lots of options because of overcrowding, but I didn’t realize a virtual/invisible/make-believe school was already in existence.

    By Elizabeth Ygartua Apr. 22, 2014 | 6:18 pm | 2 Comments | Comments RSS

  • Trustees Agree: HPISD Needs More Space

    Highland Park ISD is bursting at the seams, and the board of trustees is struggling to find one more notch on the belt.

    On Monday, the board had its latest facilities workshop with SHW Group Inc., a Plano-based architectural firm hired by HPISD to figure out how to accommodate a growing student population in a landlocked district.

    Priorities and potential solutions have been thrown around for months, but in some ways became a little bit clearer on Monday.

    Of course, the path to creating a master plan for the future starts with a bond election, which could happen as soon as May 2015. But how much the bond issue will cost voters, and what will be included, is still very much up for debate.

    We’ll go into some more detailed scenarios later, including cost and construction estimates, but I’ll do my best to summarize a few key points after the jump.

    1. Elementary schools

    About 39 percent of HPISD’s students currently are in grades kindergarten through four, at one of four campuses that are already crowded. With more growth projected, a fifth elementary campus seems like an obvious solution.

    The fifth elementary school could allow the attendance lines to be redrawn immediately after its opening, or it could function as a relief campus during the first four years while the other elementary schools are being either renovated or rebuilt, one at a time.

    Of course, the biggest issue with this, as has been mentioned previously, is finding land to build such a school. It could be a three-level structure — which has been a common theme during talks of renovation district-wide — that would help in case the land is tight, according to Jonathan Aldis of SHW.

    Another option under discussion is a new centralized kindergarten campus, which also could increase the district’s overall student capacity and could also function as a relief campus. But again, land acquisition would be tricky, and doubly difficult if a new elementary school is built as well.

    2. Intermediate/middle school

    As with most other facilities, there’s not much room for outward expansion at McCulloch Intermediate School and Highland Park Middle School. So the best chances at creating more room are to build up or down.

    Aldis suggested the district look at adding a third floor of classroom and support space at MIS and HPMS, while adding an underground parking structure beneath the athletic fields to avoid losing green space.

    3. Highland Park High School

    Several options are on the table here. What trustees seemed to agree upon was an addition to the northwest corner of the existing building, located above the existing parking lot. The space could be used for a much-needed expansion of fine arts and music programs (a new band hall, for instance) without eliminating much parking. As a bonus, the reconfigured parking lot would be covered.

    Also likely is a proposed relocation of the Seay Tennis Center, which currently is located across from Highlander Stadium and adjacent to the indoor practice facility. Aldis suggests the district construct a new, slightly smaller indoor tennis facility east of the parking garage, across the driveway from the school’s outdoor tennis courts. That would free up the space for an athletic complex of sorts, with office space and team space for various sports — along with a training room and weight room — that currently is cramped under the home bleachers of the stadium.

    Longer-term options include the relocation of either the school’s natatorium or the stadium itself, either of which would then be rebuilt off-campus. But those would require even more land, not to mention more money.

    Stay tuned, because we haven’t even mentioned money yet. But get ready for an influx of construction cranes coming soon to your neighborhood school.

    By Todd Jorgenson Apr. 22, 2014 | 5:35 pm | 11 Comments | Comments RSS
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