Written by Phil Cerroni
By Alice Canham
Melanie Heitzman traveled from Verizon on Aug. 31 to make a prestigious award to a worthy Irving teen – Megan Elrod. The senior at Irving High School was honored with the ‘2012 Verizon Community Leader Award’ – one of only ten recipients in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Verizon accepts nominees from 250 schools and this year received 67 entries.
But first, reality intruded: festivities at the high school were interrupted by a prolonged fire drill. Hundreds of students spent several minutes outside, waiting patiently for the resumption of their football season’s first Pep Rally where Megan was to receive her award. When they finally got to jump, pound, yell and tumble, it shook the walls of the school gymnasium.
One of those doing the most jumping was the day’s honoree. Megan is an overall-wearing member of the school’s spirit squad, responsible for pumping up Tiger Fever.
“We’re so proud of Megan,” said grandmother Darlene Fleeman who attended the rally with Megan’s grandfather, Barry Fleeman. ”Not just her leadership skills but her grades – she’s always so positive. She’s in the top five percent of her class and has earned magna cum laude honors.”
The teen’s mother, Jennifer Elrod, added that Megan was chosen to participate this summer in Camp RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award), another significant accomplishment.
Heitzman marveled as she watched the energetic teen.
“To win this award is a big deal,” she said. “The purpose of the award is to recognize achievements from outstanding students in the high school sports community. They’re viewed as leaders who display Verizon’s core values: integrity, respect, performance excellence and accountability. Academic excellence, yes, but we’re also looking for a well-rounded individual.”
Along with the prestige comes a cash award of $1,000 to be designated for the nonprofit, PTA or booster club of the winner’s choice. Megan’s gift goes to the school’s volleyball booster club to reflect her passion for the sport in which she has been an All-District, All-Academic player for the past two years. She also volunteers in coaching the sport for younger girls.
As Megan’s name was called, she turned to her mother and grandparents, gesturing that they should join her. Shaking their heads, they remained on the sidelines.
“This is her time to shine,” said Jennifer. “She worked for it.”
Last Updated on Sunday, 09 September 2012 17:40
Written by Phil Cerroni
On September 2, just after midnight, officers responded to the 3700 block of Valley View Lane in reference to a pedestrian lying in the grass just off the roadway.
When officers arrived, they located Timothy Niewolak, a 52 year-old Irving resident, lying approximately 15 feet off the roadway suffering from severe injuries. Based on the initial investigation, it appears as if Niewolak had been walking northbound in the 3700 block of Valley View Lane along the right side of the street, when he was struck from behind by a passing vehicle that did not stop. Niewolak was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Debris from the vehicle that hit Niewolak was located at the scene and determined to be from a Ford F-150 pick-up truck. The truck would have sustained damage to the passenger side headlight and rear-view mirror areas. No other descriptive information about the vehicle is known. Police are asking for businesses and or individuals in the DFW area that provide vehicle repair to be alert and contact them if they have information that could help identify or locate the vehicle and operator.
Niewolak was last seen on Sep. 1, at approximately 11:00 p.m., in the area of SH 183 and Valley View. He was discovered the following morning by a passing motorist at about 12:22 a.m., lying next to the road. Niewolak was on his way to work when he was hit.
Investigators are also looking for any witnesses who might have details about the incident and are asking that they contact the Irving Police Department at 972-721-2761.
Last Updated on Sunday, 09 September 2012 17:39
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Alice Canham
Ruth Callahan listens to the fabric for guidance as she creates a quilt.
“I really do talk to them,” she explained as she demonstrated some of her fiber arts, on display through Sep. 21at the Thompson Loggia Gallery in the Haggerty Art History Building, University of Dallas (UD). “It’s a form of meditation for me. When I do my art, I am focused on this one thing. I’m almost in a zone. Three hours can go by and I don’t notice it.
“Maybe understanding how the fabric works and how the space works… it has to be right for me. And the colors give me so much joy!
“I keep rediscovering things to love in each piece.”
Callahan has worked for the last five years as a transcript clerk for UD. A longtime stay-at-home mom, she returned to school for degrees in anthropology and museum studies after a divorce. Interacting with students keeps her energized, she said, since they seem so much like her own children, now grown.
“I always had an understanding that my children were their own people, all along,” she said. “As toddlers, they might not have made any sense, but I viewed them almost as visitors from another galaxy. So we had an inside joke – I told people they were aliens from Alpha Centauri, here to observe our lifestyle.
“That’s the story behind this piece,” she said, turning to one of the mounted fabric squares, characterized by egg-shaped creatures with googly eyes. Its title: ‘From Alpha Centauri, With Love’.
“These are their supervisors back on the home planet.”
Most of the quilts in the show, ‘Meditations From Alpha Centauri’, show off Callahan’s expertise in hand quilting, although the smaller squares are machine-stitched. A few of the pieces contain examples of utility quilting, utilizing a thicker thread and bolder designs. Working with the Quilt Guild of Arlington and the Et Cetera Art Quilt Group, Callahan has expanded her understanding of the art of quilting, which she taught herself.
“My grandmother was a strong woman who made her living as a tailor,” said Callahan. “So I did learn sewing from her – but not quilting.
“There were some quilt tops that my mother passed down to me and I thought, ‘I ought to do something with these’. I’ve always been drawn to fiber arts, which by the way, they DON’T teach her in the UD Arts program. Maybe they’ll add them someday.
“Anyway, I read some books about quilting and just started putting pieces together. You know, this involves a lot of math to plan your grids! So I made a lot of mistakes, but I kept at it. My weekends are my favorite time now for sewing, if I’m not with my family.
“I’m just thrilled that some of my pieces have won honors at a few quilting shows.”
Creating this show was almost an accident, according to Callahan. The Chair of the UD Arts Department, Dan Hammett, saw a few pictures of Callahan’s creations and invited her to mount the show, the first in a planned series of exhibits to highlight works by faculty and staff.
The public is invited to see (and hear?) these works for themselves, Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturday/Sunday from noon to 5:00 pm. A closing reception will be held on Friday, Sep. 21, 4:30 – 6:30.
Last Updated on Sunday, 09 September 2012 17:37
Written by Phil Cerroni
Las Colinas Medical Center continues to find unique and exciting ways to support the local Irving community. This September, the hospital will be offering Irving community members an opportunity to raise money for their local animal shelter using Facebook.
For every new “like” the Las Colinas Medical Center Facebook page receives, $1 will be donated to Irving Animal Services. The mission of Irving Animal Services is to promote and protect the health, safety and welfare of Irving residents and animals. Its shelter accepts unwanted animals, offers adoptions and provides low-cost spay/neuter clinic services.
Las Colinas Medical Center has pledged to donate up to $5,000 to this cause. The campaign will run from through Sep. 30. Facebook users are encouraged to visit the Las Colinas Medical Center Facebook page and “like” the page in order to make their donation count.
As a leading provider of healthcare services in the Metroplex, Las Colinas Medical Center remains committed to assisting the people of Irving—not only within the walls of the hospital but throughout the community’s neighborhoods.
Source: Las Colinas Medical Center
Last Updated on Sunday, 09 September 2012 17:36
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
The stage in Coppell High School’s auditorium was bare except for a few risers and blocks, and the better part of the auditorium was filled with the happy, chatty families of the students who were about the perform that evening..
High school performances, especially weekday ones, always have a certain bittersweet quality about them – if it is not your kid up there, or your friend’s kid, or your friend, why care. But high school always has a raw excitement with enough skill that is does not matter who you are watching – it is fun regardless.
But that was not the primary focus of the Coppell ISD Showcase event. It is meant to show off Coppell ISD to the rest of Texas.
Dr. Jeff Turner, the Superintendant of Schools for Coppell ISD, made it clear that this showcase is meant to show the rest of Texas everything Coppell has to offer.
“This year, I am serving as the president of the Texas Association of School Administrators which is an organization of about 3,000 school superintendants and assistant superintendants across the state of Texas,” he said. “We have our annual convention in September – total will be about five to six thousand people. The first part of that is a celebration of my district, so I invited this group to come and showcase the great things going on in Coppell. That show will go on Saturday the 28th of September.”
The thirty minute performance was comprised of short scenes that highlighted the cutting edge aspects of education in Coppell.
The performance began with a fifties style vignette about a young boy who is about to start school for the first time. As he falls asleep, he is transported to 21st Century Coppell, in an Alice and Wonderland twist, where he is greeted by a bald man who led him around the new Coppell with a fatherly concern somewhere between Virgil and the Caterpillar.
The child’s trip to “future” Coppell introduced itself with a dance number in which students sang, “We’ve got the Coppell beat.”
Another scene was comprised of a video about all the imaginative learning opportunities in Coppell from hands-on history lessons with Civil War weapons to broadcast journalism to conservation and a lot of shots of cute animals. Although the number had a backing track, the lyrics were all sung (and rapped) by students onstage.
“Coppell ISD, the sky is the limit!”
The last bit of spectacle was a closing video where the boy wakes up in his bed – the scene then transitioning from the screen to the stage in a display of cinematic flair worthy of the Terminator ride at Universal Studios, replete with back flips and synchronized break dancing choreographed to the band’s percussion section.
As the performance ended, the students’ closing challenge echoed around the hall, “You can try to stop the beat, but you just know it can’t be.”
The president of the Coppell ISD Board of Trustees, Anthony Hill, was very proud of the monumental amount of work the students and the teachers have put into the project.
“They’ve been practicing all summer,” Hill said. “It’s a major endeavor because you have to coordinate all the kids; you’ve got to coordinate the music, you have to choreograph everything and get it working in a short period of time.”
Lisa Tabor, the lead theater teacher at Coppell High School, directed the showcase.
“I was approached in February about putting it together, and I went home and prayed about it and said, ‘God, what in the heck should I do.’ And sat down and started listening to some different Glee songs because I knew that was something Dr. Turner was interested in,” Tabor said.
“The biggest challenge is trying to put this together while you have your other shows going on and you are teaching class,” she continued. “We had about three other shows going on at the same time, but the blessing has been to see the talented kids up there and see all the arts come together.”
Tabor said that all levels of the school system took strongly to the process.
“The kids responded really, really well to it. We actually went over and auditioned at the elementary and middle school and then here at the high school,” Tabor said. “They gave up their summer to do the rehearsals. The kids from KCBY, our broadcast journalism kids, put together all the video tape but they were very glad to do it, and they’ve been so proud of what they’ve created.
“We were definitely going for futuristic, because we want to show that Coppell is on the cutting edge of education. So we definitely wanted to stress that we’re the ones to be looking at as far as education and other things we do, and the things our kids do here.”
Last Updated on Sunday, 09 September 2012 18:01
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