November 25, 2014

  • Falcons Fly High With Another PCYMCA Title

    Front Row L to R: Asher Meyer, Dashell Whitaker, Miles Lodewick, Jackson Muncy, Brant Williams 2nd Row: Charlie Schneider, Benton O’Banion, Dylan Holliday, Sam Lembcke Back: Coach Don Schneider

    The undefeated Falcons include, from left, front row: Asher Meyer, Dashell Whitaker, Miles Lodewick, Jackson Muncy, and Brant Williams. Back row: Charlie Schneider, Benton O’Banion, Dylan Holliday, and Sam Lembcke. The team is coached by Don Schneider.

    Congratulations to the Armstrong Falcons third-grade football team, which recently wrapped up another undefeated season by defeating Hyer in the championship game of the Park Cities YMCA league at Curtis Park. It was the fourth straight unbeaten season for the Falcons.

    By Todd Jorgenson Nov. 25, 2014 | 8:14 am | No Comments | Comments RSS

    November 24, 2014

  • Local Ballerinas Performing in ‘Nutcracker’

    Lyida and Caleigh Nutcracker

    Caleigh and Lydia England

    If you stuck around for the program at the end of yesterday’s tree lighting at Snider Plaza, you saw an enchanting performance by members of the Texas Ballet Theater, dancing in excerpts from The Nutcracker.

    Among the performers were Lydia England, a sixth grader at McCulloch Intermediate School, and Caleigh England, a third-grader at University Park Elementary School, who each play roles in the production being directed by Ben Stevenson.

    You can see the full performance at the Winspear Opera House on Nov. 28-30 and Dec. 5-7. Visit here for ticket information.

    By Todd Jorgenson Nov. 24, 2014 | 1:46 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • Vieira, Learning Express Help Wishes Come True

    Meredith Vieira

    Meredith Vieira

    Here’s a heartwarming tale to get you in the holiday spirit of giving. It started with talk-show host Meredith Vieira setting up a Wish Booth in Dallas, which attracted the attention of Michelle Brown, owner of Katie’s Little Angels Learning Center, a daycare facility with 67 children mostly from low-income families in west Dallas.

    “My wish is for the children at my daycare,” Brown said in the booth. “I just wish that they have a wonderful Christmas.”

    Enter Hal Cook, owner of Learning Express Toys of Dallas in Snider Plaza. Vieira’s show contacted Cook about helping Brown’s cause, and he offered a $2,500 gift card, which recently was presented to a surprised Brown on the nationally syndicated show. You can see the segment here.

    Brown was praised for playing Santa for the kids each Christmas, when she asks each of them to write a wish list and tries to buy at least one item on the list for each child.

    “Michelle goes above and beyond for the children,” Vieira said. “She even picks them up and drives them home in her own car.”

    By Todd Jorgenson Nov. 24, 2014 | 7:51 am | No Comments | Comments RSS

    November 21, 2014

  • Midway Rallies to Eliminate Scots

    HP's Campbell Brooks is defended by Midway's Keith Henson during Friday's playoff game. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

    HP’s Campbell Brooks is defended by Midway’s Keith Henson during Friday’s playoff game. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

    MIDLOTHIAN – Waco Midway is a former Class 4A powerhouse that in recent years has transferred that dominance to the state’s largest classification. That’s the same path that Highland Park hopes to follow.

    On Friday, however, the undefeated Panthers used advantages in size and speed to hold off a late HP rally and eliminate the Scots from the playoffs, 35-28, in a Division II Region II area-round showdown.

    Midway scored 28 consecutive points to seize the momentum and the Scots (10-2) couldn’t keep pace. Yet their first 6A season still qualifies as an overall success, with HP barely losing a step against the improved competition.

    “We had a great year and I’m very proud of our senior class,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “They did a tremendous job of leading us into 6A. We had a tremendous football team and got beat by a good football team.”

    On Friday, the Scots started fast with 254 total yards and 21 points in the first quarter alone. But the final three quarters produced just 145 yards and seven points.

    After trailing at halftime, the Panthers (12-0) grabbed control with three straight terrific possessions starting midway through the third quarter. The Panthers tied the score at 21 following a 43-yard scoring pass from Ben Hicks to Devontre Stricklin that capped a 98-yard drive. Eric Clayburn ran for 60 yards on seven straight carries.

    Following a three-and-out for HP, Midway drove 87 yards, executing a fake punt on fourth-and-9 near midfield to keep the series alive. Two plays later, Clayburn scored from 11 yards out to give the Panthers their first lead at 28-21.

    On its next possession, Midway drove 80 yards in 19 plays, culminating in a 1-yard scoring plunge by Clayburn to make the score 35-21.

    Clayburn finished with 203 yards on 39 carries with four touchdowns, while Stricklin tallied 146 receiving yards on nine catches. Hicks completed 25 of 44 throws for 311 yards.

    The Midway offense simply wore down a fatigued HP defense by running 106 plays from scrimmage, which accumulated 600 total yards and 35 first downs. They dominated time of possession after halftime. After all, 62 of the snaps were rushing plays.

    “Their running game wound up being the difference,” Allen said. “They kept the ball and made some critical first downs on us. We had to go for it on fourth down because we didn’t think we could stop them.”

    The Scots remained within striking distance in the fourth quarter after Brooks Burgin connected with Kevin Ken on an 18-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-down play with 6:11 remaining. But HP never threatened again.

    The Scots dictated the pace in the first quarter, with Burgin scoring on a 56-yard run on the fourth play from scrimmage. The Panthers answered with a 7-yard touchdown run by Clayburn.

    On its second drive, HP reached the end zone again when Burgin found Sam Welfelt in the corner of the end zone from 9 yards out.

    Midway muffed the ensuing kickoff, which was recovered by HP’s Stephen Briggs, but the Scots couldn’t capitalize when a trick play resulted in a fourth-down interception by Midway’s Logan Paschal.

    Still, HP mounted a 94-yard drive later in the first quarter that included a 54-yard pass from Burgin to Stephen Dieb. Burgin then found Campbell Brooks for a 16-yard score to increase the advantage to 21-7.

    The Scots controlled field position for much of the night by taking advantage of the wet and windy conditions. However, the HP offense began to sputter in the second quarter, as the Scots completed just one of 11 passes and gained only 33 yards in that frame.

    Burgin completed 22 of 46 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns. The two-year starter also led the Scots in rushing with 85 yards on seven attempts in his final game. Ken finished with a team-high seven receptions for 63 yards.

    By Todd Jorgenson Nov. 21, 2014 | 11:56 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • New Friends New Life Home Tour is Sunday

    Here’s a reminder that the 15th annual New Friends New Life home tour will take place on Sunday afternoon, showcasing four lovely Park Cities homes.

    The tour includes stops at 3831 Windsor Lane, 3432 Southwestern Blvd., 3721 Beverly Drive, and another home on Lakeside Drive that’s not being disclosed.

    Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door for the three-hour event, which starts at 1 p.m. Proceeds benefit New Friends New Life, which provides assistance for women who have been exploited or trafficked, as well as their families.

    By Todd Jorgenson Nov. 21, 2014 | 10:06 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • Scots to Tackle Midway in Playoff Showdown

    Stephen Dieb and the Scots will face Waco Midway in the area round of the playoffs. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

    Stephen Dieb and the Scots will face Waco Midway in the area round of the playoffs. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

    One theory when Highland Park jumped to Class 6A before this season was that the Scots — after many years as a 4A powerhouse — would be able to navigate the regular season just fine, but might have a harder time in the playoffs.

    The second part of that hypothesis will be tested tonight, when HP meets undefeated Waco Midway in the Division II Region II area round. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at MISD Multi-Purpose Stadium in Midlothian.

    The Panthers (11-0) should be a clear step up from the opponents the Scots (10-1) are accustomed to facing in the second round, a group that in recent years has included Dallas ISD neighbors Kimball, Hillcrest, Woodrow Wilson, and South Oak Cliff. HP beat them all in lopsided fashion.

    Perhaps HP will benefit from being tested during the first half its bi-district victory last week against Irving Nimitz. The Scots led by four points at halftime before pulling away for a 49-17 victory.

    Brooks Burgin continued his late-season surge by passing for 257 yards and four touchdowns, including two for Kevin Ken. And the HP defense shut down the Vikings after halftime, while scoring a pivotal touchdown on an interception return by Mitchell Kaufman.

    Meanwhile, the Panthers have made a successful transition to the state’s largest classification since eliminating the Scots 41-36 in the 4A regional quarterfinals in 2008. HP certainly can make a statement tonight that they’re up to a similar task, and on a more accelerated schedule.

    Slowing down the Midway offense will be a challenge, even for an HP defense that has posted four shutouts this season. The fast-paced Panthers crushed Tyler Lee 76-47 in their playoff opener after leading 62-14 at halftime. They scored nine first-half touchdowns.

    Midway has surpassed the 40-point barrier in each of its past nine games behind the playmaking trio of Ben Hicks (who is committed to Houston), Devontre Stricklin (who is committed to Baylor), and Eric Clayburn.

    By Todd Jorgenson Nov. 21, 2014 | 3:46 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • Go to GOOP in HP Village, Because Gwyneth

    Paltrow explaining her fabulousness to us all. (Staff photo: Sarah Bennett)

    Paltrow explaining her fabulousness to us all. (Staff photo: Sarah Bennett)

    Facetious headlines aside, I got to take a tour of GOOP in Highland Park Village today, and it was fabulous. As many know, GOOP is Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle blog, and the pop-up store is set up to reflect just that — a lifestyle. (Paltrow called this blog-to-shop concept “click and mortar,” and I nearly died of joy.)

    The photo I have dreamed of since childhood.

    The photo I have dreamed of since childhood.

    As you enter, you will find gifts and clothing from the affordable (read: candles and floral arrangements) to the high-end (such as pieces designed for the store by Monique Lhuillier).

    One room reflects the “kitchen” of this make-believe home, with Paltrow’s cookbooks and a line of luxury soaps. Another represents a bedroom, with loungewear and skincare goods.

    “My favorite, favorite products that I use and love are in there,” Paltrow said of the “boudoir” room.

    Sorting through the clothes, you will find everything from crisp linens and tailored blazers to casual button-downs and runway-ready cocktail dresses. It’s fun to wander through the collections and think, would Gwyneth wear this?

    “It was fun to do this for the holidays, because holiday dressing is stressful,” Paltrow added.

    A fun fact: everything in the store is for sale — everything. That means you could potentially purchase the ginger jars, lampshades, wall hangings, and even the chinoiserie wall panels you find in the store.

    Cookbooks galore.

    Cookbooks galore.

    GOOP is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Dec. 14. The first pop-up shop existed for one week in Los Angeles, and no others are on the books yet. When asked why Dallas, Paltrow told the story of filming her first, big movie-role in Texas with Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid at the ripe, old age of 19.

    “Plus, Dallas is a big market for us,” she said. “We wanted to come and say thank you.”

    Now, if Blake Lively wants to open a Preserve pop-up shop next, we’ll be ready.



    By Sarah Bennett Nov. 21, 2014 | 3:38 pm | 1 Comment | Comments RSS

  • It’s Time For Chi-O, Lovers Lane Holiday Markets

    We’ve been excited since August, but the time has finally come for the annual Chi Omega Christmas Market. Basically, this place looks magical. I will be attending for the first time this weekend, but it’s a longstanding tradition around here — 37 years long, to be exact.

    Come check out more than 175 vendors to help you check your list twice and cross everything off it. Remember, you can also get your carefully selected gifts wrapped there, too.

    Head out to Fair Park until 6 p.m. tonight or from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday for the fun.

    What’s most important? It’s all for a good cause. Here are this year’s beneficiaries: Chi Omega Education Corporation; Bea’s Kids; Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County; City Square; Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center; Dallas Children’s Theatre; Dallas Police Association’s Assist the Officer Foundation; Letot Center Capital Foundation; Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas; Project Transformation; and Chi Omega Collegiate Scholarships.

    “Each year we strive to top the year before, and after a record- breaking year in 2013, we have our work cut out for us,” co-chair Sara Koda said. “This year, we have pledged $206,500 to our fantastic beneficiaries, and we would love nothing more than to surpass that goal.”

    Do you need MORE Christmas spirit? Lovers Lane United Methodist Church‘s Marketplace from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday for even more holiday fun.

    By Sarah Bennett Nov. 21, 2014 | 2:44 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • Hobbies Inspire Student’s Poetry Book

    Raman shows off his book, Beyond the Edge, in the library. (Courtesy Photo)

    Raman shows off his book, Beyond the Edge, in the library.

    Some aspiring writers take decades to get published. That’s not the case for one St. Mark’s sophomore. Gopal Raman has published his first volume of poetry, called Beyond the Edge.

    “I started writing creatively in seventh grade, and I would compile a folder,” Raman said.

    Raman is also a dedicated student of photography, which highly influenced his work.

    “It just started as a side project I was working on in my spare time,” Raman said. “Most of [the poems] are nature-themed. A lot of times, the poem will complement the photo.”

    To help combine these two passions, Raman turned to many of his teachers.

    “By the time he got to me, he had already had conversations with other instructors and had done quite a bit of writing,” ninth-grade English teacher Scott Gonzalez said. “One of his poems ‘El Mar/La Mar’ was actually written on a conversation in our class concerning Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.”

    Gonzalez continued reviewing more of Raman’s poems, and helping him identify his own strengths in writing. Finally, Raman attended a summer writing program at Sewanee University of the South.

    “I know that helped him in his technique and his editing skills, and his reading and writing skills as well,” Gonzalez said. “He has some real insight and some real talent.”

    And though Raman clearly has a talent for writing and photography, his interests are by no means limited. He’s also very interested in the sciences and may continue that passion by the time college rolls around.

    “I really love biology and science,” Raman said. “I can definitely see myself doing something with maybe medicine or technology.”

    But with all this talent comes quite a level of humility.

    “The goal of the book isn’t really to sell copies,” Raman said. “It’s more to compile my work and see what it would look like. It was mostly a personal project.”

    In fact, Raman is dedicating any proceeds from the book to Gooch Elementary School, where he volunteers as a mentor and tutor. With the $10 copies, he was able to raise more than $1,500 for the school.

    “I won’t call him a ‘renaissance man’ quite yet,” Gonzalez said. “I’ll call him a ‘renaissance youth.’”

    For more information and to read an excerpt from his new book, visit Gopal Raman’s poetry blog.

    By Sarah Bennett Nov. 21, 2014 | 10:00 am | No Comments | Comments RSS
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