Pecan Grove monthly
Author Chris Mullen
a storyteller who is still dreaming
Calvary Episcopal Preparatory School welcomes a new head of school A publication of the
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Contents and Staff June 2020
6 FEATURE STORY Storyteller and author Chris Mullen
announces the release of his Western novel featuring a special character of his own creation.
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8 NEW LEADERSHIP
Longtime Headmaster Malcolm Smith shares his memories of Calvary Episcopal Preparatory School and introduces the new Head of School — Elizabeth “Beth” Raley Dow.
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THE STORYTELLER After releasing his first novel Chris Mullen is ‘still dreaming’
by MARQUITA GRIFFIN | email@example.com
hris Mullen was teaching a classroom of kindergarten students at St. Francis Episcopal School in Houston when he began to chisel at and refine a creation of his own imagination. Within those 20 or so minutes at the end of the school day, Mullen captivated the class of youngsters with a character named “Rowdy” who lived in the American Old West. “He had a horse. He had a gun. He had to make tough decisions and went on all of these adventures,” Mullen fondly recalled of those days nearly 18 years ago. “That’s where Rowdy’s story started.”
Every day Rowdy’s adventures continued and the storyline grew, even long after those students progressed to the next grade level, because Mullen never quit developing the character he had created. Then in the summer of 2011, Mullen transitioned from a viva voce storyteller to an author. “I felt like I owed it to Rowdy to write this story,” he said.“I kept thinking, I have to get this down on paper.” Unlike some authors who set aside time each day to devote to their work, Mullen wrote Rowdy’s story in the snatches of time between his responsibilities as a father and teacher. Mullen has been a teacher for the past 23 years, the last nine as a pre-kindergarten teacher at Calvary Episcopal School in Richmond. He and his wife Joellan, who live in Richmond, have two teenage sons, Ryan and Jackson. “You hear about seasoned writers who talk about how they [schedule their writing], and write every day,” Mullen said.“I’ve never been to train myself to do that. “All the stars have to align for me to write something worthwhile,” he adds with a chuckle. He then refers to his time as a college student at Texas A&M University when he would write songs.
6 • Pecan Grove Monthly
“I wrote so many bad ones,” he said laughing.“I didn’t want to do that with Rowdy. I didn’t want to write all the bad stuff to get to the good stuff. I did a lot of pre-writing in my head and I let it stew in my mind. I’d wait until I could see what is happening, where the story is going, the atmosphere and picture the events in detail.” And when the idea was fully formed, Mullen would write it down. Sometimes he’d be sitting in a structured environment when the moment arrived and other times he’d crank out a chapter or two on his laptop while sitting in the car, waiting to pick up his oldest son from an extracurricular activity. “When I found the opportunity to write, I would,” he said.“It took a very long time.” And after years of“writing here and there,”Mullen’s classroom-storyturned-novel was finally released to the public on March 30. “Its’ very exciting,” Mullen said of his first self-published book, Rowdy:Wild and Mean, Sharp and Keen. Mullen describes Rowdy as “a clean-cut character” who doesn’t curse, doesn’t engage in violence “just because,” and learns, through tough lessons, to stand up for himself. “He is the guy who always makes the right choices, and wonders if the choice is right for him, or if it’s right for others,” Mullen explained.
“Living for others becomes his way.” If Mullen’s character sounds like a protagonist from a traditional Western tale, that’s because it is. Written in three parts, Rowdy:Wild and Mean, Sharp and Keen is a 1800s Western Adventure novel that lays out the story of an orphaned boy’s fight for survival in the unforgiving wilds where life-and-death decisions force him to stand for what’s right, no matter the cost. Although Mullen doesn’t intend for his novel to be moral tale — “I have no agenda for Rowdy, I’m simply about storytelling,” he said — he recognizes that Rowdy could play well as a role model in today’s society. “You have to make choices in life and you have to live with those choices,” he said, explaining that’s the journey Rowdy takes in his book.“And when you put yourself before others — human beings, animals, anything — you will have to sacrifice something for that, but you can make the world a better place, even if its for a short amount of time.” “There are lessons [in the novel] to be sure,” he continued. “But what’s important to me is that people to enjoy the story for the story.”
A FASCINATION WITH THE OLD WEST
Mullen reminisces over his youth when he would wake on Sunday mornings to watch Western movies, featuring iconic actors of the genre like Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. Mullen said his favorite character played by Wayne was Jake McCandle — “he was a real bad dude,” Mullen adds, admiration in his voice. “Some of that influence you’ll find in Rowdy.” “The Western films were all basically the same— you know good guy, bad guy, gun fight, good guy winning — but I always enjoyed them.” The intrigue with Westerns was sparked by Mullen’s father, who retired from the military in 1976 and was a middle school teacher for many years. “My dad is an avid reader and he was really into Western novels like those by Max Brand and Louis L’Amour,” Mullen said.“He would tell me stories about the Old West and the history of that time. It was so entertaining for me.” So it’s not surprising that Mullen, who calls himself “an adventurous kind of guy,” included a special trip as part of his research for his novel. He had already conducted his post writing research about the time period his novel was set in, but over Spring Break he took a road trip with his son Jackson, 14, and his father, 88, to Dodge City and down back roads to Lincoln, New Mexico “to see the terrain Rowdy would have encountered,experience the length Rowdy would have traveled.” Although he didn’t grow up in that part of the country, Mullen said he has traveled there many times and it was from those experiences that his imagination drew upon.
“I’m all about creation and imagination, about what my mind sees, but when you’re writing something like this there has to be truth in what you’re saying.” And yet, Mullen stresses that his novel is a pure work of fiction. Although he was determined to remain true to the characteristics of that time period, he cautions against reading Rowdy:Wild and Mean, Sharp and Keen as a historical account. “It’s up to readers if they want to suspend their belief a little and just engross themselves in the adventure.”
Mullen said he isn’t focused on the financial success of the book or accolades from literary critics. Sure, he does think about the possibility becoming a full-time author one day, but just like he felt all those years ago with that group of kindergarten children, Mullen said he simply wants “to introduce Rowdy to the world.” In the months following his book’s debut,he said he’s enjoying — and truly listening to — feedback from the children and adults who have read about Rowdy and his adventures. “If I could, I would print millions of copies and just give them away,” he said, the excitement in his voice almost tangible. “I just want to give this book to people and say, Here, let me share this great adventure story with you.” His novel wasn’t written for one specific group of people, Mullen explained. It’s a story for youngsters, women, men and especially for folks who enjoyed the Western stories of days long gone. “I do hope it brings back memories for guys like my dad and gets kids interested in the genre,” he added. Rowdy:Wild and Mean, Sharp and Keen is Mullen’s first installment in what will be a three-part series. He’s currently working on the second book and book three will soon follow. The novel is available on BN.com and Amazon.com. A night owl by nature, Mullen looks forward to the moments when “everything is quite and the day is behind [him],”to complete the rest of his Rowdy series and then delve into other story ideas he has in mind. Interestingly enough, those other ideas aren’t Western ones.Within his imagination are different stories waiting to break free — a thriller, young adult romance and science fiction. He shares the budding plot of one them, something not fully formed but imbued with potential. “But I can’t do anything with that one just yet,” he said.“When I start something, I get tunnel vision until it’s complete.” He takes a moment to consider his own journey to developing an entire series around a character he originally created to entertain students. “It’s not a dream come true,” he said.“I guess because as a storyteller, I’m still dreaming.” To advertise, call 281-342-4474
An excerpt from Rowdy: Wild and Mean, Sharp and Keen by Chris Mullen
owdy sat on the front porch of his ranch house and surveyed the horizon.A sultry breeze swirled about the Circle R ranch bringing a sweet smell of coming rain. A rider was coming in. At Rowdy’s feet was Dog.Dog,more interested in identifying the scent flowing in with the breeze, had yet to sense the coming visitor. Rowdy watched the rider’s image grow larger as it slowly sauntered closer. The rider looked toward the Circle R. A smile edged out of the corner of his mouth. It was Roberson. Dog, growing tired of the mysterious smell, caught sight of Roberson and stood pointing in his direction. Quietly, he stepped forward and then shot off the porch, sprinting towards Roberson. Rowdy stood and watched as Dog escorted Roberson through the gate and up to the hitching post where he dismounted. He secured his horse to the post and looked up at Rowdy. Rowdy looked back. Neither said a word. A gust of wind blew between them, spraying dust along its path. “Got a feeling about this one?” Roberson said finally. “More so than the last time,” Rowdy replied. “The last time...should’ve been the last time.” Roberson spoke as he climbed the stairs to the top of the porch. Dog followed and reclaimed his spot next to Rowdy. Both men laughed as they shook hands, but Rowdy knew in the back of his mind that Roberson was right. He laughed anyway as Roberson sank into the chair next to him. “I hear the deer are running bigger this year than they have in a while,” Roberson said. He loved to hunt and jumped at every chance. “I suppose we will see when we get there, but if this wind doesn’t die down, we may catch the brunt of those storm clouds,” Rowdy said, pointing at the sky beyond the ranch. Roberson spat. Both men watched as bulging clouds spread out and up across the western sky, growing darker and more ominous by the minute. “Danged if that isn’t blowing our way!” he said. “Come on,” Rowdy said.“Let’s put yer horse in the barn and head inside for some coffee. Maybe this thing will blow itself out and we can hit the trail in an hour.” The storm didn’t blow out. It grew rapidly, sparking lightning flashes that trailed like spider webs across the sky. Booming thunder followed. Dog, still lying on the front porch, slowly stood up and headed inside for his favorite napping spot.
Chris Mullen, 46, is excited to share his character “Rowdy” with the public in his new book Rowdy: Wild and Mean, Sharp and Keen.
Rain began to fall, gentle at first. Wind whipped through the Circle R, and the sky opened up. Rain swept in diagonally, splashing the ground angrily. The front door rattled against its hinges while the two men tipped back in their chairs and nursed their coffee. “Looks like we’ll be a while,” Rowdy said. Roberson, irritated that his hunting trip was delayed, let out a grunt. Deafening thunder rolled across the plains as the rain showed no signs of letting up. Roberson stepped to the window and looked out. “Dang!” he said.“This is gonna clean wash us out!” “I’ve seen worse,” Rowdy replied. “Worse than this?” Roberson questioned.“Can’t imagine.” Skeptical, Roberson looked out over the soggy terrain. Small streams of water ran rampant, carving miniature canyons into the ground. Rowdy rocked back in his chair and a swift glimpse of the past rolled through his mind—Mississippi river water pouring over his skiff, supplies careening away down river, lightning flashing overhead, and roaring thunder echoed through him. A crisp flash of lightning chased by its thunderous pursuer jolted Rowdy back to the present. Roberson turned around. “Where did you see anything like this?”
Follow Chris Mullen www.chrismullenwrites.com
8 • Pecan Grove Monthly
Fort Bend Strong A headmaster’s sweet adieu
Calvary Episcopal Preparatory welcomes a new head of school by MARQUITA GRIFFIN | firstname.lastname@example.org
hen Malcolm Smith first arrived at Calvary Episcopal Preparatory School in the summer of 2001, his first challenge as headmaster was guiding students and staff through one of the most tragic moments of the decade:
Sept. 11. The nation had been shaken to the core by the unprecedented violence and confusion, fear and rage shrouded the country. But Smith didn’t want his students watching television in the classrooms witnessing the horror. Instead Calvary held a special chapel service. “We prayed for those who were lost.We prayed for the firefighters, first responders and each other,” he recalled somberly. As chaos crept into the minds of Americans from coast to coast, Calvary students and staff came together in prayer. It was the first indication of the type of headmaster Smith would be at the quaint private Christian school on Austin Street in Richmond that instructs students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. It was also Smith’s first taste of the kind of school he would lead. “The time was tragic, it was bitter,” he said. But seeing the school unite for a profound goal “was beautiful.”
‘ALL OF IT WAS WONDERFUL’ Smith has 49 years of experience in education, the first 30 of them in public school education as an elementary and middle school teacher, elementary and middle school principal in Katy ISD, and Director of Curriculum and Executive Director of Elementary Education in Lamar Consolidated ISD. Calvary Episcopal Preparatory became Smith’s first, and only, experience in the private school sector and, he notes, his 19-year tenure at Calvary was nothing short of “an absolutely amazing experience.” “When you say ‘headmaster,’ what that means at a school like this — of about 200 students — is that you’re a mini superintendent. You’re involved with everything from teaching and budgeting to
managing the day-to-day operations,” Smith said. In fact, in addition to being headmaster, Smith also taught Christian Character Education and led the eight grade class trip to Washington, D.C. every year. The entire experience as headmaster, Smith stressed, “was wonderful.” Smith speaks nostalgically because effective on July 1,Elizabeth“Beth” Raley Dow will assume the position of Head of School for Calvary. “The end of June will be my last time at Calvary Episcopal Preparatory,” Smith said. Smith doesn’t take more than a breath’s worth of time to say the students are what he will miss most as he steps into retirement. “I’m ready to play a little more golf and fish more,” he said with a laugh,“but I have mixed emotions.I’m really going to miss the children. I’m going to miss not being in my office because I was always in the hallways, in the classrooms and being at the students’ athletic and academic events.” He shares how grateful he is of the opportunity to witness students and the teachers grow over the years, “both academically and spiritually,” and his tone softens sweetly when he explains the connection that being in education awarded him. “Oh, I have so many fond memories,” he said of his combined educational experience.“You have to understand, I’ve taught children and even grandchildren of some of my students.Amazing, isn’t it?”
OPTIMUM CAPTAIN As the coronavirus pandemic had the community, nation and world on edge, the feeling surrounding Smith’s nearing departure is both bittersweet and ironic. Smith considers the point that he arrived during a national tragedy and is departing during one. But he said he isn’t worried about the upcoming transition. In fact, he is equally elated and serene to hand the precious reign of Calvary to Dow, who is sitting next to him during the interview.
ABOVE PHOTO: Malcolm Smith and Beth Dow stand united during the upcoming transition happening at Calvary Episcopal Preparatory School in Richmond. To advertise, call 281-342-4474
So the next question about Calvary’s most striking achievements, he answers while addressing Dow as well. Calvary, Smith said, is a school that has grown as society has grown. He can recall when the school didn’t have a band, theatre department or even computers (because at that time computers weren’t a traditional resource, of course), but now the school boasts several “customized programs based on what kids want to do and are interested in.” Headmaster Malcolm Smith was Calvary students are excelling in no stranger to the classroom. academics, athletics, the arts, and especially in personal and spiritual development, he said.And with a population of a couple hundred students, it’s easy to see individual achievements. “To have students graduate with full scholarships and pursue all types of careers and services throughout our community ... I just have to look back and say ‘Wow.’” And not to mention, Calvary is a place of little bureaucracy Smith added. “If you want something to change, you can change it. If you need something to improve, you can improve it,” he said, again also addressing Dow.“Look at it this way: most districts are like a ship, and you can’t turn a ship as quickly as you want ... but here, we’re on a little speed boat, and you can turn that as quickly as you need to.” Which is why when the CEP School Board of Trustees put out a nationwide search for candidates to lead the school, it searched for the model captain.
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The person with not just the right credentials, but the morals and perspectives that could continue the trend of excellence at Calvary.A person with the attitude that would strengthen,protect and encourage students. The top candidate, as it turns out, was Dow.
DOW’S PHILOSOPHY “I couldn’t be more excited,” Smith said, turning the interview floor over to Dow.“I know the quality of work she does, her character and I couldn’t pick someone better than Beth. She is a quality educator.” Dow, who has 38 years of experience in education, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in education and earned her master’s in Education from the University of Houston. She served as an elementary school teacher, a gifted-and-talented facilitator and principal in the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District. She also served as Area Superintendent in the Houston Independent School District and continued to work part-time as a mentor for principals in HISD and as a consultant for the Harris County Department of Education. Dow is well known and respected throughout the Fort Bend community for good reason: she is adamantly fervent about enriching students’ lives. No matter where she was in the educational field, her top priority had always been “what is best for the child.” As a longtime resident of Fort Bend with her husband Andy, Dow knew of Calvary’s reputation by word of mouth and even through family members who attended the school. “I had always heard such wonderful things about Calvary,” Dow said. “It’s such a family-oriented place and I’m tickled to death to follow in Malcolm’s footsteps.” Dow had been in retirement prior to the nationwide search for a new head of school and as soon as she heard the position was open, in her mind, retirement had ended. “I was in a rush to get my name into the pool,” she said.“Because this is the place I really wanted to be. I accepted this position because I wanted to, not because I had to.” In fact, nearly five months before her official start at Calvary, Dow had already met with students and staff to introduce herself and get a head start on learning about the new family she would be leading. Dow said she is bringing with her a clear philosophy that she knows will meld perfectly with Calvary’s mission to “develop the whole child.” “You must always make sure to work together as a team; we are all professional learners; we strive for excellence; and make sure children are always safe,” she said, ticking off the traits of her philosophy. But the most important of Dow’s philosophy is this:“Every decision made will be based on what is right by the children.” And that, Dow said confidently,“is what Calvary is all about.”
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Talk of the Town
New executive director spells success for Literacy Council, board exec says by SCOTT REESE WILLEY | email@example.com
erri Stuart’s appointment as the new executive director of Literacy Council of Fort Bend County became effective on the first of this month. Stuart succeeds Kelli Metzenthin who will retire on June 30. “We are excited that Terri is joining the Literacy Council as our new executive director,” said Jeff Tallas, board chair of the LCFBC. “A Richmond resident, she brings to the position nearly 20 years of non-profit and for-profit experience, including management, fund development, budget management as well as marketing and public relations expertise.” As the face of the United Way in Fort Bend County for the past seven years, Stuart has provided strategic leadership and successful stewardship of approximately $1.9 million in United Way agency investments,Tallas noted. Most recently, she partnered with community stakeholders, which resulted in the creation of Fort Bend Recovers, the long-term disaster recovery group for Fort Bend County, he said before adding Terri Stuart that Stuart also led fundraising efforts for the Catholic Charities Mamie George Community Center.
Tallas said Stuart also served as chief financial officer for Brazos Bend Financial Services, which has provided corporate and personal financial services in the Greater Houston area for more than 200 clients. “I look forward to the challenge of leading the organization, especially as we begin to recover from the global pandemic,” Stuart said.“As the executive director, I will ensure the Literacy Council continues to realize its mission of ending illiteracy in our community.” “We are confident that her knowledge and experience in our community will enable her to transition quickly and enhance the sustainability of the Literacy Council,”Tallas said. As executive director, Stuart also will be responsible for overseeing the council’s popular and much-anticipated annual fundraisers — The Great Grown-up Spelling Bee and Reading Between the Wines. For more information, visit ftbendliteracy.org.
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FORT BEND COUNTY MASTER GARDENERS Have You Heard About Drip Irrigation? by ANITA MADDOX | Fort Bend County Master Gardener
he best way to water your flowerbeds is by using drip irrigation. This increasingly popular method releases the water slowly from plastic tubing laid on the surface of your garden bed or under mulch. WHY IS “DRIP” SO BENEFICIAL FOR HOMEOWNERS? • Watering the soil and roots instead of watering overhead onto the leaves of plants reduces the chance of disease; • Less water is lost to evaporation since it’s supplied at ground level; • The drip method applies water more precisely in areas where plants need it; • Drip can be less expensive to install than in-ground irrigation systems; • And it’s simple enough for homeowners to install. ALL YOU NEED IS: • A water source (either a well or city water); • A filter and pressure regulator, which are available in hardware stores and online (the filter is needed to keep the emitters from clogging, and the pressure regulator reduces the water pressure to 30 PSI or less); • And a drip tubing with water emitters, also readily available.
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The most common drip tubing you can buy is one-half inch “dripline” with emitters preinstalled in the tubing at 6-, 12-, or 18inch intervals, your choice. These preinstalled emitters generally have a flow rate of ½, 1, or 2 gallons per hour.Yes, that’s Gallon Per Hour (GPH), compared to spray heads that deliver in Gallons Per Minute (GPM). With a drip system, you water more slowly and for longer periods of time, which prevents soil erosion and nutrient runoff. To begin, you would install the system like this: faucet — filter — pressure regulator — dripline, in that order. After setting up those components, there are limitless configurations you can design in order to suit your plants’ needs. There are a variety of inexpensive accessories available that can adjust how much water you want and where to apply it. If one plant needs more water than others, you just punch a hole in the plastic dripline to add another emitter. If a plant is not in a straight line with other plants, you can punch a hole in the dripline and insert an additional emitter attached to a smaller tube to reach the plant.
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If you want the dripline to make a right-angle turn, insert an elbow attachment.You can also add a timer to make your system automatic! The size of your plants and shrubs will increase as time passes, but that’s not a problem – you can add to the dripline because of the flexibility of this system. In general, you will set up the system in zones, each zone containing no more than 200 GPH of emitters.Whatever brand of drip irrigation equipment you buy, the manufacturer will have instructions on how to assemble the components with guidelines on how long and how often to water. Even if you already have an in-ground irrigation system installed in your landscape, you can still use drip irrigation just for your flowerbeds by purchasing special adapters to attach to your sprinkler risers in those areas. Like all irrigation methods, these drip systems require some maintenance. You’ll need to inspect the lines occasionally to make sure the emitters are not blocked, rinse the filter and flush out the dripline once a year. Setting up a drip system is pretty easy, but if you don’t want to “DIY,” contact a local licensed irrigator. For more information visit aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ newsletter s/hor tupdate/2009/may09/Dr ip and aggiehorticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/files/2010/10/lowvolume.pdf Fort Bend County Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who assist Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in educating the community using research-based horticultural information.
SPORTS REPORTS: Senior night: Foster softball players honored on SportsCenter by RYAN DUNSMORE | firstname.lastname@example.org
portsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt closed his Thursday broadcast as he always has with his “One Big Thing.” The subject was a familiar topic of SVP’s SportsCenter shows over the weeks: senior night — pictures, videos and stories about seniors who have lost their final season of sports in the high school and college ranks. “In my 20th year here, it has been the most gratifying thing I’ve been a part of,”Van Pelt said in April.“What a gift it has been to see these faces from young men and women from all over the country and learn about their stories.” One of those stories told in a picture hit close to home. When the final installment of Senior Night started that Thursday, in the middle of the top row was a picture of one softball player carrying another. Both were smiling and clad in black and Vegas gold. It was the picture submitted by freshman Alina Satcher of the senior Lady Falcons Lia Castillo and Alexis Morin. “My dad and I had been watching SportsCenter and we saw that we could send a picture of Alexis and Lia in with the #seniornight to SVP,” Alina said. “My dad is a coach and understands how much it means to the seniors being able to have that last game and I was saddened that they would miss the real senior night game and half of the season.” The photo was snapped during the VYPE preview magazine shoot
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Left, Foster seniors Lia Castillo and Alexis Morin featured on the video wall during ESPN’s SportsCenter with host Scott Van Pelt. Right, the original picture with Castillo and Morin taken before the season at the Baseball USA Complex in Houston.
before the start of the softball season, and before the thought of a pandemic halting the season was in the back of anyone’s mind. Now front and center, the Lady Falcons were being honored on the most-watched sports news show in the country. Neither Lia nor Alexis knew about Senior Night on SportsCenter before seeing themselves on the big screen. “Watching the segment, I became emotional,” Lia said.“They know how hard it is to put in so much work just for it all to be canceled or shortened. It’s nice they recognized the seniors in their own way.” “I was excited to see that we had not been forgotten,”Alexis said. For Foster head coach Keely Shuler, it was a special moment to see her seniors honored. “It was especially heartwarming seeing my two seniors be recognized,” Shuler said.“The hard work, the sweat, the tears all put in over their four-year high school career, coming to an end this way, it was awesome to see a shout out given to them. “It’s hard for not just the coaches seeing a successful season ending but seeing the players and seniors sad, knowing they could have played their last game with their seniors that they looked up to for so long.Those seniors were leaders of the team and will leave a lasting impression on Foster softball.” The moment was the culmination of a seven-year friendship in junior high and high school. “(Alexis) is my very best friend,” Lia said.“I’ve known her since sixth grade and from then on we’ve been both teammates and friends. High school softball wouldn’t have nearly been as fun if she wasn’t there to
experience it with me. “Lia’s friendship means a lot to me because we have been best friends for seven years and I’m really glad I have her to lean on during this time,”Alexis said. It was also a special moment for the seniors’ teammates because the younger Lady Falcons look up to them. “As a freshman, these seniors have been so welcoming and caring for me.Alexis and Lia became my big sisters on and off the field and were always very supportive,”Alina said.“When I saw their picture we posted on the SportsCenter, my dad and I were filled with excitement knowing that they could experience being on TV.With the season not being exactly over, it was my way of saying a big thank you for everything they have done for me.” That all said, getting your picture on a national stage doesn’t replace the moments of a traditional senior night on the softball field. “As much as this meant to me and how thoughtful this gesture was, I don’t think anything can make up for the possibility of not having a senior night,” Lia said.“Ever since I was a freshman, watching the seniors get recognized by the team and fans was a special-moment memory stone in a player’s high school year that I was lucky enough to be part of. Since then, I’ve always looked forward to my senior night. I also would’ve loved to spend it with both my family and my teammates.” “Although this was an honor, truthfully I am still sad that I won’t be able to spend my senior night with my teammates and my family,” Alexis said.
2020 NFL Draft : Cowboys draft CeeDee Lamb by RYAN DUNSMORE | email@example.com
he night could have been disappointing for Cedarian “CeeDee” Lamb with two other wide receivers drafted ahead of him and his stock sliding past the 16th pick in the NFL process. Instead, the slide appeared to be destiny with the Dallas Cowboys taking the Foster High School and University of Oklahoma product with the next pick. “Honestly, I didn’t know if they were going to take me,” Lamb told the Associated Press. “But when I saw my phone ring, it obviously surprised me. Everything that I dreamt of was definitely in that phone call.” Draft-watchers on April 23 expected Lamb to be picked in the top 10 so it was a bit of a surprise to some that Sooner standout was the No. 17th selection. The Cowboys were surprised that Lamb was still there waiting for them at No. 17, and picked Lamb after other teams had selected wide receivers Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy. “I need some mouth-to-mouth quick,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
14 • Pecan Grove Monthly
had said.”I felt this gave us a chance to get a player that you normally don’t see that can be that kind of playmaker.” Dallas had Lamb much higher on its board entering the night and couldn’t pass up taking the best remaining player despite the team giving wide receiver Amari Cooper a $100 million contract this offseason. “I think that was really surprising to us to see CeeDee sitting there,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told the Associated Press.“We went through a lot of mock drafts. I can tell you he wasn’t a part of any of them just because we felt like he was a top 10 player in this draft and we’d never see him.” Lamb has excelled at every level in his football career. He finished with 2,485 receiving and 25 touchdowns his final two seasons with the Sooners. Previously Lamb led the Foster Falcons to a 14-1 record and a trip to state semifinals in his senior season with Foster in 2016. In that season, Lamb caught 98 passes for 2,032 yards (fourth-most in state history) and 33 touchdowns (tied for second-most in state
Herald photo by Ryan Dunsmore Foster High School wide receiver CeeDee Lamb sprinting away from a Katy Taylor defender during his Foster High School wide receiver CeeDee time with the Falcons. Lamb was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the No. 17 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
history). Lamb is the Cowboys’ first wide receiver drafted in the first round since Dez Bryant out of Oklahoma State in 2010. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy will have plenty of weapons to work with in his first season in Dallas with Lamb, quarterback Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper. “We want to be able to have the flexibility to move all of our perimeter players around,” McCarthy said.“He’s an excellent fit for that.We just felt like we took the best player on the board and he’ll be very dynamic for our offense.”
At Oklahoma, Lamb had 173 receptions for 3,292 yards and 32 touchdowns over three seasons. He was a consensus All-American and a finalist for both the Biletnikoff (best wide receiver) and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose (best Texas high school player in college) awards after his junior season with the Sooners. The team’s close proximity to Richmond is also a plus for the Foster faithful including Foster head coach Shaun McDowell. “How about them Cowboys,” McDowell said after Lamb was drafted.“I’ll definitely be there with my foam Cowboy hat, Lamb jersey and a Foster undershirt.Always repping.”
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FORT BEND BOYS CHOIR REVEALS EXCITING NEWS IN TOUGH TIMES by MARQUITA GRIFFIN | email@example.com
ike other nonprofits around the county, the past few months have not been kind to the Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas.The restricting results of the pandemic resulted in the organization’s planned events for the remainder of its season to come to an abrupt and disappointing halt. “A fundraiser was canceled, our Spring Concert was canceled and now our two-week summer performance tour has been canceled,” said Executive Director Tiana Mortimer, adding that the nonprofit’s financial position is also distressing.“We have zero income coming in due to all the cancellations and that’s the same for organizations everywhere. But I must say, were are so blessed that our last event was so successful.” The Fort Bend Boys Choir’s “Red, White & Blue: A Patriotic Salute to America ” benefit held in February raised $50,000. Weighing just as heavily as the organization’s financial struggle is the fact that the choirboys won’t be able to experience some of the organization’s time-honored traditions. Prior to the pandemic the boys were enthusiastically looking forward to their last official performance of the season — the Spring Concert which would have featured the voices from all four of the organization’s choirs.
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It was to be the chance for the Training,Town,Tour and Cantabilé choirs to celebrate the end of the school year and the start of their summer vacation. But it never happened. “Our boys are so disappointed,” Mortimer said before a sharp inhale and exhale, as if to force the sorrow from her body.“But we’ve had some exciting news, too.” And that was the point of the phone call she had that day.And as she shares the news, happiness seeps into her voice. As it turns out, the organization’s top choir group — the Tour Choir — recently premiered in the Polish film “The Hater” (“Hejter”). Written by Mateusz Pacewicz and directed by Jan Komasa, the film features one of the Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas’ songs,“Ode to Joy” from its tenth album, Heavenly Euphoria. “The film’s producers wanted ‘Ode to Joy’ from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in D minor, 4th movement, but they wanted a unique version of it,” Mortimer said.“And after searching the Internet they came across our song on Spotify. This whole thing just kind of fell into our laps.” The movie, which premiered in Poland on March 6, didn’t spend long in theaters — because of the coronavirus pandemic — and was released to video on demand. The film’s producers added an
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orchestral background to accompany the Tour Choir’s performance and that version is available on the Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas’ website at fbbctx.org/fort-bend-boys-choir-in-a-movie. The choir’s Heavenly Euphoria CD, which includes the original, unaccompanied version of “Ode to Joy,” is available for purchase through the website or can be downloaded as an mp3 version from Amazon. A FEATURE ON A GAME, TOO Being featured in a Polish film is the second recent accomplishment for the Fort Bend Boys Choir. Mortimer revealed that in January the current Tour Choir recorded six songs in a Houston studio for a video game. “The boys were so excited to be in a recording studio, but they had to learn six songs in a matter of weeks and it was an intense two-day recording session.” The worldwide release of the game was delayed because of the pandemic, and it is now set to be released in August. “We’re under contract not to mentioned the name of the game until after it has been released,” Mortimer said.“I will only say that it’s a sequel to a game so it is not a ‘flash in the pan’ low-budget game no one has ever heard of.” There’s a hint of amusement in her voice when she says most of the boys have already deduced the game’s identity. “Of course some of the boys guessed the video game correctly,” she said with a laugh.“But they know how to keep their lips sealed.” AUDITIONS & TRADITIONS WILL RETURN Mortimer declared the effects of the pandemic will not undo the hard works of the Fort Bend Boys Choir, and once society safely resumes, the traditions of the choir will also resume, starting with its auditions for the 2020-2021 school year. Boys with unchanged voices who are at least eight years old, or are entering into the third grade, are encouraged to audition. “In addition to making music, being a member of the choir develops boys into young men who have a deep appreciation and sense of accountability, purpose, commitment and conviction in knowing and being yourself,” said Dr. Robert Hausmann, a former choirboy and the alumnus representative for the Fort Bend Boys Choir. As of press time Mortimer said there was no defined date for the next round of auditions — “Hopefully soon,” she stressed — but updates will be posted on the Fort Bend Boys Choir website (www. fbbctx.org) as well as on its social media pages on Facebook,Twitter and YouTube. Those interested in auditions can also call 281-2403800.
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ort Bend County Libraries presents special reading challenges during the summer to encourage reading among children from birth and up, as well as teens and adults.“Imagine Your Story” is the theme for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. Online registration for the 2020 Summer Reading Challenge, which takes place at all Fort Bend County Libraries locations, began in May and will continue through September 30. Children from infancy through school-age are invited to read a lot of great books to kick off a great summer.Younger children will enjoy the “Youth Summer Reading Challenge,” while students in grades 6-8 can participate in the “Middle School Summer Challenge.”Teens in high school can participate with adults in the “YA/Adult Summer Reading Challenge.” In June, virtual activities will be posted each week on the Summer Reading Challenge page on the Fort Bend County Libraries website. Created by the FBCL Youth librarians, videos of activities will be posted at 10 a.m. each day, according to the following schedule: • Mondays – Mother Goose Time (infants 1-12 months of age) • Tuesdays – Toddler Time (1-3 years of age) • Wednesdays – School-Age Programs • Thursdays – Middle School Programs • Fridays – Family Story Time (all ages) Fort Bend County Libraries will also post video links and special live-streamed performances on the Summer Reading Challenge page on FBCL’s Facebook page.
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Families of toddlers and preschoolers may pick up to-go activity packets from the library for the month.These packets – available for pick up in June and July -- contain fun craft activities that can be done at home. There is no charge to join the Summer Reading Challenge, and it is open to everyone, regardless of the county of residence. Participants may register online by going to the FBCL website (www.fortbend.lib. tx.us) and clicking on the “SRC Sign-Up” image. When the online registration form has been completed, readers will then have their own online page on which to record their books and reading time. Participants may also register and log books/reading time by downloading the free Beanstack Tracker app to their mobile device from the Apple App or Google Play stores. Reading rewards can be redeemed beginning Monday, July 6.The
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last day to pick up awards is September 30. Prizes must be collected from the “primary library of use” that the reader indicated on the registration form. The Summer Reading Challenge is sponsored by Fort Bend County Libraries, the Friends organizations that support the county library system, and by the Collaborative Summer Library Program, a consortium of states working together to provide high-quality children’s summer-reading program materials for public libraries. SUMMER READING CHALLENGE FOR CHILDREN Younger children are encouraged to read or listen to as many books as they can and they will earn rewards based on the total number of books they read or have read to them. For the first five books read, the child will receive a bookmark. The rewards continue with a certificate for 10 books,a color-changing cup for 15 books, and a reading trophy for the first 20 books read. For every 20 books read, the participant’s name will also be written on a picture of a dragon. Drawings for puppets will take place weekly.The names of readers who complete the goal of reading 20 books or more will be entered into a drawing for gift cards — donated by the Friends of the Library organizations — from area stores. One winner from each library location will be selected in a drawing that will take place on October 2. MIDDLE SCHOOL SUMMER CHALLENGE Area readers in grades 6-8 can participate in the Middle School Summer Challenge by logging online the time they spend reading. Middle School youth who read for 600 minutes (10 hours) will receive a color-changing cup. Participants who read for 1200 minutes (20 hours) will receive their choice of a reading trophy or a mystery prize. The names of participants who complete 20 hours of reading will be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card that will be awarded to a lucky reader at each branch library in a drawing that will take place on October 2. YA/ADULT SUMMER READING CHALLENGE Adults of all ages,including young adults in high school,may participate in the YA/Adult SRC by logging online the time they spend reading. All YA and adult readers who complete the goal of reading for 1,000 minutes will earn a duo charging cable and case, while supplies last. In addition, the names of participants who log at least 1,000 minutes of reading time will be entered into a drawing for a $25-gift card that will be awarded to one lucky reader at each branch library in a drawing that will take place on September 25. An ultimate grand prize will be awarded to one lucky YA/adult reader in the library system. Participants in the YA/Adult Summer Reading Challenge who complete the program by logging 1,000 minutes of reading time will be entered into a drawing for a 16 GB Fire HD 8 tablet with a red case, which will be awarded to one winner in the library system on October 2. The last day to pick up awards is September 30. For more information, call the branch library nearest you, or the library system’s Communications Office at 281-633-4734.
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THE LATEST ON COMMUNITY EVENTS THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
lthough Child Advocates of Fort Bend’s 20th Annual Gala – “Through the Looking Glass” — was canceled earlier this year, the organization announced it would be rescheduled. Updates will be posted at www.cafb.org. Once a new date is set, this fun, adult event will feature a live and
silent auction, raffle, wine and jewelry pulls, dinner and dancing. Michele Fisher will emcee for the ninth year. Johnny Bravo is joining her as auctioneer for a third time. Attire for the evening is elegant and festive. Black tie and costume are optional. Rangeland Energy and Next Level Urgent Care are supporting the Gala as Mad Hatter Sponsors. Sponsorship and underwriting opportunities are available ranging from $2,000 to $15,000. Individual seats are available for $150.To attend the Gala, become a sponsor, donate an auction item or for more information, visit ww.cafb.org/events/gala/sponsorship-opportunities/ or contact Lisa Moore at 281-344-5108 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
15TH ANNUAL CINCO DE MAYO FUNDRAISER
fter postponing its much anticipated 15th Annual Cinco de Mayo fundraiser, La Cocina Mexican Restaurant and Fort Bend Seniors Meals on Wheels have rescheduled the event for Sept. 19 “During these challenging times, public safety is of the utmost importance to us,” said Leah Ghobrial, deputy executive director of Fort Bend Seniors Meals on Wheels, said in late April. “We are a part of the Fort Bend community, and we are responsible for keeping our community safe during this difficult time.“Moving the annual Cinco de Mayo Fundraiser to September ensures that we keep our community safe, and will give us all a welcome reprieve later this year.”
A ‘JOURNEY OF HOPE’ 40TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
F Shown from left, front row: Exchange Club Members Carlos Perez, Chanel Bermudez, Paul Barnett and David Lanagan; and back row: John Heinemann, U.S. Congressman Pete Olson, Vita Goodell, Child Advocates of Fort Bend CEO Ruthanne Mefford and Brad Porter.
ort Bend Women’s Center and its board of directors have announced ‘Journey of Hope’ 40th Anniversary Celebration has been rescheduled for Saturday, Nov. 14. Since 1980, Fort Bend Women’s Center has brought Healing & Hope to more than 50,000 domestic violence and sexual assault survivors and their children. A Journey of Hope will be held, as originally planned, at Anson Aviation in Sugar Land, from 6-11 p.m. “We thank everyone for your support and understanding and look forward to celebrating with you under improved circumstances,” the center said in a release.“We are so grateful for our many supporters along the way and are continuing to work hard assisting survivors in their Journey of Hope and the fight against violence.” Sponsorships and tickets will remain available for purchase. For more information visit www.fbwc.org or call 281-344-576.
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On The Fort Bend Scene
by Scott Reese Willey | Frost Elementary School fifth-grader Photo by Scott Reese Willey | Grandmother Vickie Maresh daughter 1fromPhoto Meghan Meyer, 11, and brother Hayden, 9, a third-grader, take a break 4Lena Thomas and grandson Coen Thomas, 2, get set to go bike riding at their in-home schooling to change the message on the boat and oars Seabourne Creek Nature Park. on the front lawn of their home at the corner of Willow and Lamar drives. Parents Bill and Beth say the boat was left over Christmas decorations cluttering the garage. They encouraged the children to find inspirational and fun quotes or word puzzles on the Internet and share them with passersby. “A lot of people — walkers or riding bikes — stop to read the messages,” Meghan said.
Photo by Scott Reese Willey | The Odom family of the Kingdom Heights neighborhood in Richmond enjoys a hike through Seabourne Creek Nature Park. From left are dad Kurt, Wyatt, 9, a third-grader at Frost Elementary School, Kyla, 12, a sixth-grader at Wertheimer Middle School, and mom Kristin.
by Scott Reese Willey | Patricia Castro and daughters Aly, 9, and 3CreekPhoto Lea, 8, tag along behind dad who took off on a brisk jog at Seabourne Nature Park.
20 • Pecan Grove Monthly
Photo by Scott Reese Willey | Lilyhana Loredo, 9, is all smiles when 5out-paced mom Maria takes her bike riding at Seabourne Creek Nature Park. Lily mom who hiked the bike and nature trails with the help of a hiking stick.
Photo by Scott Reese Willey | Johnathan Quiroz takes his dog Demi for 6enjoying a walk through Seabourne Creek Nature Park. It was hard to tell who was the walk more. by Scott Reese Willey | Buddies Reid Rodriguez, 20, of Richmond, 7onePhoto at left and Andrew Vasquez, 19, of Rosenberg, spent a couple of hours Friday afternoon fishing at Seabourne Creek Nature Park. They were
getting bites off the pier at the wildlife pond but hauled in some bass at the lake.
by Michele Pettigrew | The Blue Angels swept past George 8Photo Memorial Library in Richmond in May.
ouston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital has reopened its diagnostic imaging, physical therapy, procedural and surgical schedules that had previously been restricted due to coronavirus-related guidelines and Governor Abbott’s Executive Order. The ramp-up is in response to the state’s order allowing the resumption of non-COVID 19 medical procedures. Houston Methodist Sugar Land has continued to perform emergent surgeries during this time and has now resumed performing elective surgeries as of May 1. “We were fortunate to have time to prepare for COVID-19 in our community, and our team carried out that preparation efficiently and effectively,” said Chris Siebenaler, regional senior vice president and CEO of Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital.“Because our COVID19 population has stabilized in Fort Bend, we can begin to expand the number of necessary procedures performed that we previously delayed out of an abundance of caution.” Siebenaler said the hospital staff’s response to COVID-19 has been guided by compassion and a calling to serve. “Throughout the past several weeks, our physicians, nurses and staff members demonstrated again and again that they are fully committed to their roles as caregivers,” he said.“Their willingness to help wherever needed and their expertise and skill were evident to all.They are the true champions of our COVID-19 response. Because of their efforts – and the community’s commitment to social distancing – we are once again ready to begin seeing patients with other health care needs.” To protect both patients and employees, Houston Methodist Sugar Land has implemented several new protocols: • Modified in-car check-in and waiting process for outpatient services • Screening everyone upon arrival with temperature checks and exposure questionnaire • Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment while providing patient care
Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital ramps-up services
• Implementing additional sanitation processes to disinfect all equipment and surfaces • Implementing virtual waiting rooms and staggered appointment times to minimize contact with others • Requiring masks for both patients and employees • Restricting visitors to only essential people needed to support or assist a patient The facility’s HVAC system also plays a role in protection. The air in the hospital is constantly refreshed from the outside, and special filters in the air handlers help block contaminants. In addition, patients being treated for COVID-19 are kept in a dedicated unit –preventing the spread of the virus – and caregivers assigned to those units do not interact with other patients. “We already had a robust health and safety program in place prior to the introduction of the coronavirus in our community, and we’ve strengthened many of our processes to further protect our patients and staff,”said Janan Sackllah,senior infection preventionist at Houston Methodist Sugar Land. “We are taking every precaution and will continue to do so.” Siebenaler said the Houston Methodist hospitals remain in constant contact and coordination with each other and with COVID-19 responders across the country, sharing best practices and staying on top of developments. “That level of communication enables us to implement the most up-to-date patient care processes and adapt quickly as new information becomes available,” he said. “We’ve learned and are continuing to learn a great deal, and I’m extremely proud of the way our team has responded with such dedication and compassion.” To learn more about Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, visit houstonmethodist.org/sugarland or our Facebook page at fb.com/ methodistsugarland for the latest news, events and information.
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Getting your annual mammogram is still important.
During the coronavirus pandemic, we are:
Screening all patients when scheduling appointments and upon arrival.
Houston Methodist can see you safely.
Getting your annual mammogram is one of the most important steps you can take to stay healthy. Thatâ€™s why our Breast Care Centers are taking every necessary precaution during the coronavirus pandemic to keep you and our staff members safe.
Implementing additional sanitation processes to disinfect all equipment and surfaces.
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HOUSTON METHODIST BREAST CARE CENTER AT SUGAR LAND
Wearing masks and other personal protective equipment while providing patient care.
EE TW AT E
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Redesigning waiting rooms and check-in procedures to ensure social distancing.
Visit houstonmethodist.org/breast-care or call 281.436.9513 to schedule your mammogram today.