Monthly Archives: April 2012
Earlier this year the Central Junior High Band won 40 medals at its first ever UIL competition. Earlier this month the band members visited SFA and played alongside the Lumberjack Band. Later this year the band will march in community parades, and the 2012-13 school year will see twirlers, more UIL events and basketball games added to the band’s expanding resume.
These achievements and future plans are beyond what band director David Lambert expected when he stopped teaching math two years ago to begin what he assumed would be a small school band.
“I thought maybe someday we would get to where we are now,” Lambert said. “But this being our second year, and to see how far we have come, I am continually floored by it. With the help of the community, and especially the help of the directors and musicians at SFA, we have really set ourselves on the right track.”
Lambert’s reaction is not surprising, considering the lack of funding and space, not to mention instruments, the band started with.
“We had 130 students in the sixth-grade, so we expected maybe 25 kids to sign up, and the old music classroom would be plenty of room for that many students,” Lambert said. “We started with a grand total of zero instruments, and we didn’t budget any money because we didn’t really expect a huge response.”
The response Lambert received was, as he described it, overwhelming. Eighty-five students participated the first year, and this year 90 more sixth-graders joined the band.
“There were kids knocking on the door constantly, every day, asking if they could be in band,” Lambert said. “It was at that point that I was excited, but growing concerned about possibly having to tell kids no because we didn’t have enough instruments, or the instruments they wanted to play.”
The Disabled American Veterans of Lufkin donated $3,500 to help the band get started, and once the Central ISD school board saw the interest the program was garnering, it “tapped in” to some of its funding to help out, according to Lambert.
Next was a grant from the E.L. Kurth Foundation, then instruments began being donated by other schools and community members who heard about the program’s need.
“We literally went from having zero instruments to over 100 by the end of the first year,” Lambert said. “SFA gave us a ton of instruments, so did area high schools. It is really beyond explanation how much support we received and how well everything turned out.”
According to Lambert, with the state funding problems that exist in public education, during a time of economic uncertainty, starting the band program in 2010 did not make sense — just like the program’s instant success has not made sense.
“Logically, it should not have happened now, but it did,” Lambert said. “Someone is looking out for us.”
Lambert, who called himself a man of faith, said that God was calling him to do something other than teach math in 2010, when his own son began talking about playing instruments. With his son still a few years away from junior high, Lambert said he wondered whether or not the school would have a band program in the near future.
“The timing of it is all still so funny,” he said. “I asked our administrators what it would take to get a program going, and Superintendent (Allen) Garner pretty much told me he had already been thinking about the same thing.
Lambert, the first to ask the question, also became the first to get the job.
“With my interest and musical background, I sort of became the guy who asked the right question at the right time and was the lucky one to have the opportunity to help start this program,” Lambert said. “I taught math for six years and I would walk around campus and see kids with guitars, and kids that really enjoyed music. It’s like there was this need because the students love music, but there wasn’t an outlet for it.”
Lambert said that seeing the needs of the program continually met at every turn has made him feel incredibly blessed.
“God was calling me, and I have seen his provisions,” he said. “On multiple occasions I have had students come to me and want to play an instrument we don’t have, and right before I tell that student that they can’t do it, I get a call and someone has just donated that exact instrument. It is beyond explanation.”
Lambert said that during one those instances, a student who wanted to play the trumpet had come to see him. Just before having to tell the student that there was not a trumpet she could play, a man walked into the office and brought a trumpet and a snare drum.
“At that point, this type of thing had happened before and I just smiled and was thinking ‘wow,’ but I remember at the time I wondered what the snare drum was for,” Lambert said. “The very next day a student came to me and asked if there was a snare drum he could play.”
Now, according to Lambert, the band program has become a place that students can call home during the school day. Groups of students eat lunch in the band room, and then practice their instruments until it is time to go back to class.
“The biggest positive, for me, is that we created a band family for the kids,” Lambert said. “They have a safe group of friends. They look out for one another, and they have healthy relationships with their peers. That is something that band encourages.”
Not only has the band provided positive social results, but academics have improved as well, according to principal Chad Smith.
When Lambert asked Smith what stood out to him about the emergence of the program, Smith said that students in the band had seen improved attendance and grades.
“We haven’t had a single student fail a course for the year,” Lambert said. “Those that may be struggling during the 9-weeks period always turn it around, because they know that they can’t play if they don’t.”
Lambert attributed the program’s success to the desire of the students and the support of the community, the school board, the principal and the superintendent. Moving forward, Lambert said he has a pep band in the work to play at basketball games.
“We don’t want the band to be an isolated entity, but rather a catalyst for school spirit and student involvement,” Lambert said. “We want to continually enhance the community by marching in parades and being visible.”
Eventually, with the band’s size growing, Lambert said he hopes to be able to practice and store equipment in a band hall that can accommodate the full size of the group.
“Everyone understands that would be a huge commitment for the district, considering the state of the economy and the scarcity of funding for new programs,” Lambert said. “We have initiated an intensive search for grants, and we are doing everything we can, but we are getting a little bit beyond what we can accomplish on our own, without more community help.”
Lambert said that he, as well as the district, is in uncharted territory at this point, but will trust things to work out the same way they have since the program began two years ago.
“As we add one grade each year, we don’t know what high school will hold,” he said. “We know we are going to have an even greater need for funding going forth and that any help would be greatly appreciated, but if there is a way for things to work out, I believe our community, our district and our superintendent will make it happen. There is not better advocate for student opportunities and involvement that Mr. Garner. This is new for everybody. We are out of the beginning stages and into the big leagues.”
“It takes less energy to process recycled materials than to process virgin materials. For example, it takes a lot less energy to recycle paper than to create new paper from trees. The energy from transporting virgin materials from the source is also saved. Saving energy also has its own benefits like decreasing pollution. This creates less stress on own health and our economy,” says the Benefits-of-Recycling.com’s homepage.
Just about anything can be recycled. There are the basics like; paper, plastic, glass, wood and aluminum cans. Then there are things we don’t normally think about being recyclable. This includes cell phones, ink cartridges and technotrash. Technotrash includes just about all electronics; CD’s, DVD’s, cell phones, pagers, cameras, handheld games, CD players and MP3 players.
There are a few places that students can take their recyclable products to. For ink and printer cartridges students can go to Staples and Cartridge World stores to exchange your empty cartridges for full ones. For paper and cardboard products can be taken to the city landfill at 4602 NW Stallings Dr. for free of charge, there are also drop cites behind the Nacogdoches Public Library. Magazines can be donated to hospitals or the library. Aluminum can be sold at the Nacogdoches Metal Recycling Center at 2508 Woden Road and glass can be donated to Habitat Restore for Humanity at 600 Powers Street.
For more information on recycling and ways to conserve energy visit www.benefits-of-recycling.com. For more information on locations and how to recycle in the Nacogdoches area visit www.keepnacogdochesbeautiful.org.
Nacogdoches, TX- This past Thursday and Friday (April 26 and 27) Stephen F. Austin played host to the Southland Conference Men and Women’s tennis championships at the Schlief Tennis Complex on the SFA campus.
While the ‘Jacks did not bring a host team for the male competition (there currently is not a NCAA sanctioned team at SFA) the Ladyjacks squad brought enough firepower for the whole campus, coming into the tournament as the no. 1 seed out of eight teams.
The ‘Jacks recorded their second-straight 20 win season under Southland Conference coach of the year Patrick Sullivan with his second year on the team. Sullivan has managed to break nearly every record in the SFA books with his stellar coaching job the past two years including taking the ‘Jacks to their first ever NCAA tournament this year.
Sullivan went 20-5 in his inaugural campaign, shattering the record for both wins and winning percentage. His rookie season saw SFA earn its first ever team national ranking, first top-10 regional finish, first nationally-ranked player, and highest individual regional ranking ever.
Sullivan managed to recruit then no. 1 ranked recruiting class of 2011 among mid-major programs and the #23 overall class in the NCAA after the momentum carried by last year’s season. The ‘Jacks also managed to show off their skills in the classroom earning their second consecutive ITA All-Academic team honors for GPAs of 3.5 or higher.
In the opening round of tournament play on Thursday the ‘Jacks came out hot against the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Roadrunners recording an almost effortless 4-0 victory to advance to the semi-finals while also setting a program record for wins moving on to 21-4 for the season.
The ‘Jacks set the pace fast and early winning the doubles point to take the first lead of the match. They picked up 8-2 wins at Nos. 2 and 3 singles to force the start of singles play.Senior Alina Shazhko tacked on a quick second point with her 6-1, 6-2, victory over the Roadrunners’ Isabelle Johnsson at No. 2 singles. Freshman Tereza Bekerova quickly followed with a 7-5, 6-2, victory over UTSA’s Micaela Silva at No. 3 singles. Freshman Julia Lorca ended the match when she posted a 6-1, 6-2, decision over Natalie Hand at No. 6 singles.
The regular-season conference champions were now set to face No. 5 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The tournament’s seventh-seed, Sam Houston State, sent the No. 2 overall seed Texas State home with a 4-3 decision. In the other match No. 3 Texas-Arlington had no problem taking it to No. 6 Lamar, 4-0.
The `Jacks won the doubles point by taking matches at the Nos. 2 and 3 positions. The team of senior Alina Shazhko and junior Jithmie Jayawickrema with an 8-3 win at No. 2, while freshman Elena Kordolaimi and sophomore Laura Servise were an 8-5 win at the third spot.
Jayawickrema pushed SFA’s advantage to 2-0 when she picked up a 6-1, 6-1 win over A&M-Corpus Christi’s Mia Matuszak at No. 6 singles. Shazhko added another point when she followed suit with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 2 singles.
The Islanders were able to cut the lead to 3-1 with a victory at No. 1 singles, but that win came only seconds before freshman Malena Gordo closed out the victory with a 7-5, 6-2 decision over the Islanders Stefania Nicolae at the No. 4 spot.
After a tough and grueling match-up with the Islanders the ‘Jacks were now set to face the University of Texas at Arlington Lady Mavericks, the only team to have successfully beat them in the regular season, in the tournament championship. The Lady Mavs advanced to the finals with victories over No. 6 Lamar, and No. 7 Sam Houston State.
Freshmen Tereza Bekerova and Malena Gordo got an easy 8-0 win at No. 1 doubles, but Texas-Arlington returned the favor with an 8-2 decision at the No. 2 spot. SFA was able to pick up the point with the All-Southland Conference tandem of freshman Elena Kordolaimi and sophomore Laura Servise who pulled out a hard-fought 8-6 decision at No. 3 doubles
Junior Jithmie Jayawickrema gave SFA a two-point lead with her 6-0, 6-4 victory over Texas-Arlington’s Christine Foote at No. 6 singles. SFA just needed two wins in the final five singles matches of which they already had one-set leads in three of them. Freshman Tereza Bekerova came off a 7-5, 6-2, win over the Lady Mavs’ Natalia Mayuk at No. 3 singles. Classmate Malena Gordowon at No. 4 singles. Gordo than notched a 6-3, 6-2 win to punch SFA’s first ticket to the NCAA Championships.
The ‘Jacks play their first game of the NCAA tournament March 5.
Trent Ashby, a Lufkin man who is opposing current State Representative Marva Beck in the upcoming May primary election, garnered an endorsement from the Texas Parents PAC last week.
Ashby held a press conference in front of Lufkin Middle School, the largest middle school in the state, to accept the endorsement and speak about the large role that education reform will play in his agenda, if elected.
Ashby, who has served five years on the Lufkin ISD school board, said he has “deep roots” and a “personal investment” in education.
“My grandmother was a teacher, my mom was a teacher, two of my sisters are teachers and I have two sons in school right now,” Ashby said. “Public education is something I am keenly aware of, and extremely passionate about.”
Ashby said it was during a school board meeting last summer that he made the decision to run for state representative.
“As we were outlining what the budget cuts were going to do to our school district, I knew that it wasn’t just isolated to Lufkin, and that districts across the state were dealing with this,” Ashby said. “It struck me at that moment, that we can do so much better. We are Texans, and we hold our head high and say we are the best in everything, and I firmly believe we are; but when I see what our teachers and our students are having to go through, we can do better.”
Ashby denounced the state budget cuts in education, the state mandates that are handed down with no money attached, and the lack of equity in the school finance system that has led to five current lawsuits against the state.
“I am tired of hearing politicians say that they are going to fight to give more power to their local constituents, and then when they get to Austin or Washington, they get amnesia and begin sending down unfunded mandates,” Ashby said. “The financial burden for those mandates lies with the local taxpayers and gives more power to Austin and Washington. If elected, I will fight for rural schools and rural taxpayers. I’m excited about the opportunity to represent you and your values, because we are one in the same.”
Ashby said he has been around politics long enough to know that there will be pressure, should he be elected, but that “at the end of the day” he hopes to represent the people in the district; and if given the opportunity, he would do just that.
“I hope to have the opportunity to represent the people in District 57, because I know where their heart is,” Ashby said. “This issue is one that we can not afford to get wrong. Public education can’t be partisan, because it is about protecting our kids, our teachers and our future; that’s why the first thing on my list is making public education a priority again in Austin.”
Ashby said he would advocate for public education, rural East Texans and local control.
“This district includes six counties and is almost 300 miles across,” Ashby said. “Half of the population of the district is right here in Angelina County, and when I want to get in touch with my state representative, I want to pick up the phone and look in the local phone book. That’s where you’ll find me.”
After the first round struggles for the Lady Lumberjacks in the conference tournament, they were in desperate need for a solid last two rounds to try and get back in the tournament. With their first round score of 338, the girls were in the last place eighth position.
“Last place did not feel too good but we knew that we had a lot better games than what we showed, and we knew that we could get ourselves back into the tournament,” Coach Stefanie Maynard said.
The girls once again got off to rough start and ended the second round with a 331 score still keeping them in last place for the tournament.
“We were pretty disappointed with it but we did get better in round two and we just wanted to make sure we finished out the tournament strong, and mainly just try to get out of last place because we were only five back of 7th,” Coach Trey Schroder said.
The ladies had their best day of the tournament in round three shooting a team total of 322. A score that was 15 shots better than the seventh place team McNeese state which allowed the Lady Jacks surpass the Cowboys and place seventh for the tournament.
“We weren’t very happy with it but at least we didn’t get last which was the goal we made for ourselves going into the last day,” Sophomore Aliece Anderson said.
Now that the conference tournament is over and the ladies season is over until next fall, Coach Maynard says, It is time for rebuilding and getting better.
“We only had five girls this year, which makes it tough to compete week in and week out because we were taking the same girls to every tournament whether any of them were struggling or not,” Maynard said. “Most other teams we compete against have 10 to 15 girls on their teams which gives them the opportunity to bring the 5 that are playing the best, but we are planning to have quite a few girls come in next year so that will help us a lot next season,” Maynard said. The Lady Jacks do not have any seniors this year so they will not be losing anybody, but are also planning on bring in five or six girls next season to help rebuild the program.
“We don’t have anybody graduating which will leave the team with upper classman and experience, but getting all these freshman girls will help us be more competitive as a team in practice and at the tournaments,” Sophomore Sara Jones said.
The SFA girls golf program will only be going into their fourth year of existence next season, so a disappointing season like the one they had this year wasn’t surprising according to coach Schroeder, but it was still disappointing.
“It’s always tough to get a program started but this next year is a big one for us, we need to get this program moving in the right direction and I think we are making the proper steps to do so,” Schroeder said.
The pressure of having a successful program is already tough, but for having only three years under their belts, the Lady Jacks program is destined for improvement and is excited about their upcoming seasons according coach’s Schroeder and Maynard.
“We have a lot of improving to do, but with the moves we are making in the off season with all the recruiting, and our girls being committed to our program, I think we will have no problems getting better,” Maynard said.
“It’s going to be a fun season, our upper classman are going to be pushed by our new girls coming in and it should get real competitive, and that will make us much better in the long run,” Schroeder said.
Coach Schroeder Interview-http://youtu.be/eICt34_gSnU
Stephen F. Austin State University’s Wind Ensemble held a performance in Turner Auditorium on Tuesday, April 24th at 7:30pm. Their repertoire for the evening first consisted of uneventful, yet moving classical pieces. The Wind Ensemble played “Notturno, op. 24″ by Felix Mendelssohn, “Colors and Contours” by Leslie Bassett, and “Divertimento VIII. March, ‘The B.S.O. Forever’” by Leonard Bernstein. All these pieces were performed beautifully and then led to a quick intermission. The title of the concert was “Circus Maximus”, also the name of the highlighted piece they played after intermission. This piece is no ordinary classical piece by any means. The set up alone was unorthodox and there was a full note to the audience in the program that was handed out:
“During the performance of Circus Maximus, please be aware of the following:
- Please remain seated for the entire piece.
- For maximum enjoyment of the “surround” aspect of the piece, sit as close to the center of the auditorium as possible.
- Balcony will be closed, as musicians are positioned to perform there.
- A small marching unit will actually make a trip down and back through the two center aisles.
- Trumpeters are positioned in the side aisles, surrounding the audiences for the entire piece. Please avoid not only using the side aisles, but please also avoid sitting within three seats of the side aisles (for your own enjoyment)
- IMPORTANT NOTE: A recording of a gunshot ends the piece. It is a very realistic sounds, but it is only a recording.”
The balcony seats were closed for the performance because players were actually seated there to play during the concert. This one piece has eight movements and was so enormously orchestrated, that the SFA School of Music professors were asked to be involved. The movements each had a very specific nature to them, even though it sounded like chaos most of the time. Also in the program was a note from the composer of the piece, John Corigliano, explaining each persona of the movements.
“I. Introitus – Trumpets and percussion surrounding the audience play fanfares, signaling the opening of the work. The full band enters with primitive call from the clarinets. A short central section features the lowest winds and brass followed by the joining of the offstage and onstage ensemble playing together this time, and reaching the first climax of the work.
II. Screen/Siren – A saxophone quartet and string bass call from the 2nd tier boxes in seductive inflections. Other instruments scattered around the hall echo the calls, which are suddenly interrupted by…
III. Channel Surfing – Our need for constant change echoes the desires of the ancient mob, only now we can access it all by pressing a button. Music in this section is constantly interrupted by other music and comes from all sections of the hall.
IV. Night Music I – Tranquility in nature. Away from cities, forest sounds suspend time. Animals call to each other.
V. Night Music II – The hyper night-music of the cities pulse with hidden energy and sudden flashes. Sirens and distant battles onstage build the tension to…
VI. Circus Maximus – The peak of the work incorporates all the other movements and is a carnival of sonoric activity. A band marching down the aisles counterpoints the onstage performers and the surrounding fanfares. Exuberant voices merge into chaos and a frenzy of overstatement.
VII. Prayer – In answer to this, a long-lined serene melody is set against a set of plagal cadences that circle through all the keys. This rising lines grows in intensity against the constantly changing harmonies as the chords overlap from stage to surround trumpets and back.
VIII. Coda: Veritas – Music from the Introitus enters almost inaudibly, but grows in intensity until it dominates the “prayer” music, and the surrounding trumpet calls reach an even higher peak. A gunshot ends the work.”
The concert was extraordinary and a whole new experience as far as typical classical performances go. All who attended the concert were shocked as well as entertained the entire time.
A popular trend in today’s society is “going green,” to help preserve the planet. Stephen F. Austin State University’s non-profit organization called The Environmental Awareness Movement or T.E.A.M. has the biggest hand in efforts of helping the university go green.
For the second year in a row they have hosted a competition between the fraternities and sororities called “Go Greek, Go Green”. The competition is simple, fraternities and sororities have to collect empty aluminum cans to turn in to the members of T.E.A.M. These members then weigh the amount of cans they bring in. A winner is determined based off the number of pounds they bring in.
The Student Government Association (SGA) at SFA wanted to focus on organizing recycling at the university, as well as raising environmental awareness. They created T.E.A.M. in efforts of having a greener university. Earth Day and Go Greek, Go Green are the two events they host every year to raise awareness around campus. Go Greek, Go Green first began last year when they sent out fliers for fraternities and sororities to compete against each other in addition to helping the planet.
Last year’s prize was a tailgating tent with the winning fraternity/sorority’s decal airbrushed on the side. The competition was held for a little more than a month where there was a drop off date for cans each week throughout the competition. The collection was behind Hall 20 underneath the T.E.A.M. tent, where the members of T.E.A.M. would weigh the cans each group would bring in. After the final day of collection and all the cans were weighed, fraternity Beta Gamma Omega (fine arts appreciation social fraternity) and sorority Tau Beta Sigma (music service sorority) were the winners. Beta Gamma Omega alone brought in a weight total of around 80 pounds of empty aluminum cans.
This year T.E.A.M. hosted the same competition beginning March 1st through April 19th, but with a new prize to win, a customized Coleman stainless steel cooler. Another great tailgate accessory and something to keep cans cool to continue the can collecting spirit. Beta Gamma Omega still had it set in their minds to win this competition for the second year in a row. This year, they brought in 126 pounds of empty aluminum cans single handedly and blew anyone else in the competition out of the water. T.E.A.M. will actually host an awards ceremony on Thursday, April 26th at 6:30pm in the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture Building. The winners of the competition were no surprise when it came to the category of fraternity, Beta Gamma Omega. The sorority winner was Phi Rho Psi, a social color guard appreciation sorority.
Vice President of Beta Gamma Omega, Danny Paxton organized the fraternity’s can collecting and was in charge of every can drop off.
T.E.A.M. sent out emails and a post on their Facebook about the competition with, “A special thanks is extended to Beta Gamma Omega for crushing and removing the tabs on their large volume of cans! Tabs will be donated to a cancer research cause (i.e. Ronald McDonald House). All tab weights were also factored into the total aluminum weight recycled for the competition.” When the cans are brought to the drop off, there is no instruction on what exactly to do with them beforehand other then to collect them. The members of T.E.A.M. have to crush and de-tab every can they receive in the competition. When Danny Paxton dropped off the cans, he previously had the members of Beta Gamma Omega take off the tabs and crush them so T.E.A.M. would not have to do all that work themselves.
Congratulations to the greenest fraternity for two years in a row, Beta Gamma Omega and to this year’s new sorority winners, Phi Rho Psi!