The Future Teachers Association’s 1st Annual Masquerade Ball

The Future Teachers Association’s masquerade ball was held on October 7th, 2017 in Eagle Hall. This is the organization’s first major fundraising even in their efforts to attend of teacher conference in Boston, Massachusetts in the spring of 2018. It was a night of dancing, laughing, and revel. Eagle Hall was blacked out with the sparkling lights adorning tables and the stage area to offer a tone appropriate for the occasion- the romantic and mysterious lure of a masquerade ball.

Black, white, and gold streamers fell to the floor as you entered Eagle Hall. Plenty of tables with Pinterest worthy center pieces with dimly lit candle pieces, black bejeweled trees, and sparkles covering the tables, revealed the hard work put into this affair.

The dessert bar had fudge, cake pops adorned with tiny masquerade masks and sprayed painted gold, a variety of cookies, and fruit. The main attraction of this dessert selection was, of course, the cotton candy machine. The younger guest took advantage of this feature!

The girls worked through Friday night in order to prepare Eagle Hall. Everything was color coordinated, organized, and presented in a fashion that could only be done by the coordination of teachers. Everyone joined in on the dancing, even the professors who came to show support. The turnout was successful for the organization’s first major fundraising event at the college.

Their silent auction had many bidding wars occurring on popular items such as the metal crafted sign, movie baskets, and sunglasses donated from Texarkana Eye Associates. Everything was sold and the organization appropriately gave kudos to their donators, even having water bottles labeled with a thanks to their sponsors.

This was an event that will hopefully happen again next year. If it does, be sure to go support the Future Teachers Association that work hard to bring events like this to our campus.

Come Home to A&M-Texarkana!

October 9-14 Texas A&M-Texarkana Eagles gear up for Homecoming 2017! There will be plenty events for students, faculty, and community members to take part in.

Preliminary voting for Homecoming Court opens Monday, so be ready to cast a vote for your favorite nominee! Our 2016-2017 Homecoming King Brian Huynh described opportunities he had during his reign by quoting Michael Jackson’s famous lyrics, “I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life. It’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference…” Throughout the year he was presented with different opportunities to represent our university in positive light. He ended the statement with “Go vote for Homecoming Court!”

Tuesday there will be a Homecoming Spirit Banner Competition. This event is an opportunity for organizations on campus to show their school spirit. Banners will be judged based on creativity, originality, appearance, and relation to soccer and homecoming.  The organization that wins will be awarded a pizza party during one of their meetings. Judging is at 12:00 p.m., so get your creative juices rolling!

Wednesday will consist of “Rally on the Lawn” and “Chalk the Walk” from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on the University Center Lawn. Come hungry, because there will be Chick-Fil-A! Wax hands, air brush tattoos, and bubble soccer will also be open to students. Organizations and individuals can compete in chalk the walk, and all materials will be provided. During the rally, your 2017-2018 Homecoming Court will be announced.

On Thursday, Homecoming King and Queen voting will open. That evening, we will also welcome back Eagle Alumni to our University at the “Eagle Round Up Distinguished Alumni and Faculty Celebration.” Wear your jeans and cowboy boots, and be sure to brush up on your two stepping! We will feature a live band and BBQ. At 8:00 that night, our seniors will have their bonfire and torchlight parade.

Friday night, Invisible Man will be showing at 6:00 p.m. in the U.C. Lounge, and there will be a Homecoming Glow Run at 8:00 p.m. beginning on the U.C. Lawn. Don’t worry, you don’t have to run it if you don’t want to. Wear as much white as possible, because you will be sprayed with color throughout the course.

Saturday wraps up the fun-filled week of events with a chili cook off beginning at 9:00 a.m. The women’s soccer game begins at 3:00 p.m. and the men play at 5:00 p.m. Between games, your new homecoming king and queen will be crowned.

Don’t miss out on these festivities! Student Life Coordinator Michael Stephenson says, “We have had an increase with participation in the banner competition and I hope this is foreshadowing for the upcoming week. This is a great opportunity for us to come together and celebrate the Eagle family and rally up to support our soccer team.” Check your ace mail for more information on how to register for events.

Masquerade Ball

The Future Teachers’ Association will be holding a Masquerade Ball on October 7th, 2017 at 6:30pm-10:00pm in Eagle Hall. Tickets will be $15 per person/$25 per couple, and all are welcome. Formal dress attire is encouraged. There will be a silent auction featuring items such as jewelry from Micah’s, Racquet and Jog merchandise, and local gym memberships.

In addition, there will be a buffet of light refreshments, including a dessert bar. Come dance and get a photo from the photo booth for a selfie! It is the perfect place to take a date or meet new people. This is a major fundraising event for the Future Teachers Association; they have had various fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for a teacher’s conference taking place in Boston, Massachusetts on February 2018. The funds raised will go to registration and travel expenses.

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A silent protest with a loud message

Dallas Cowboys team and owner lock arms in moment of silent protest on Monday September 25. Photo from ESPN.

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick drew nationwide attention for not standing during the national anthem before games. His silent protest was against the oppression of people of color in light of events of police brutality. This form of protest has gained more attention since Sunday, when more players were shown with arms linked, kneeling on the field, sparking a debate over what the players are protesting and whether they should be able to protest at all.

On Monday September 25, the Dallas Cowboys team and its owner, Jerry Jones, linked arms and knelt on the field before the national anthem was played amidst jeers from the crowded arena. Jason Garret, Dallas Cowboys head coach, said in an interview with NFL Total Access they chose that moment to demonstrate for a reason.

“The biggest thing for us was to show support and to demonstrate, but do it in a way that didn’t involve the American flag and the national anthem, and everybody was behind that,” said Garret.

“The reason that I’m particularly proud of this team and the coaches that coached them, is because we all agreed that our players wanted to make a statement about unity and we wanted to make a statement about equality,” said Jerry Jones.

Jones is not the only owner to kneel with his team. Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons and Dan Snyder of the Washington Redskins also kneeled with their teams. Donald Trump has spoken out against the NFL, urging for a rule that forces the players to stand for the anthem and sees kneeling as a sign of disrespect on the United States rather than a silent protest for social equality. He shared his opinion through a series of tweets.

Many Americans agreed with his statements. Taya Kyle, widow of ‘American Sniper’, Chris Kyle, shared her thoughts about the issue in a letter to the NFL on Facebook. In the letter, she claims the NFL’s job was to “bring people together and heal the world” and feels that their recent protests go against that.

“You are asking us to abandon what we loved about togetherness and make choices of division,” Kyle said.

Not all Americans feel the same way as President Trump and Taya Kyle.

Olivia Okoye, freshman, also supports the players kneeling. “It’s their right to kneel. If they feel that they should do it, it’s their right.”

“I think they are standing as a team no matter what race they are because it affects all races. There are all races in the NFL,” said Arlena Lightsey, freshman.

Zane Watson, freshman, was on the fence about the issue.

“It’s their right as human beings to represent their opinions, but those opinions can reflect badly on the organization,” he said.

Nowhere But Up!

It is hard to believe that there are seven billion people in this world yet somehow, we are all connected in some way. I can’t fully explain this connection, but obstacles are placed before us in which some people overcome, share their stories, then someone, somewhere, somehow is able to personally relate because they too experienced a very similar situation. There are some things in life that many of us will never endure and it’s easy to judge a person when their social norm is different from ours. It is during these times that we should get to know them.

Monday, September 25, 2017, I had the opportunity to have a sit-down interview with one of the residents at the Randy Sams’ Outreach Shelter in downtown Texarkana, TX. Tommy Aubrey, 40, is one of those residents. Growing up Mr. Tommy was the oldest of three and suffered from dyslexia along with a speech impediment. As a child, he imagined that one-day he would grow up to go into the Marines he was fascinated with law enforcement, and forensics was something that interest him most, but challenges were forced upon him and life takes him on a detour. He settled back in Texarkana, AR after moving away from Oklahoma, he quickly explains that the reason it’s been hard the last two years is because he had a hard time asking for help when he needed it most. “If I can’t get it on my own, it was meant for me not to have it,” Aubrey says.

He went on to describe what the first night was like for him being homeless, he says “It was hard, because I have a lot of pride issues and I believe in myself so much that sometimes you try to hide things until you get it together, I didn’t want anyone to know I was homeless.” Mentally he felt hopeless, but quickly understood what it felt like to sit and sleep on the sidewalks. Aubrey says, “It made me understand, and gave me an idea of what those people were going through. It’s kind of hard to understand a homeless person unless you are put in that situation.” Despite everything he went through he has no regrets, he went on to describe them as “growing pains” he says that “this experience allowed me to understand where I can survive at and let me know where I am weak. The weak part is I can’t do everything on my own.” He was quick to make light of the situation by telling me how he would’ve never known what it was like to camp out had he not been homeless sleeping in the woods.

I couldn’t help but to wonder, ‘how is Mr. Tommy able to remain so positive and hopeful that everything will one day work out?’ He responded, “I believe in the self.” Both his grandmother and mother taught him to not feel sorry for himself, to stand tall in the midst of any storm and he has done just that! Mr. Tommy emphasized on being a risk taker, trusting the decisions you make for yourself, and not being afraid to go with the unknown. I learned that not everything is going to be easy in life but as he said, “I believe everyone has to go through something in order to know where they are going.” Now being 40 years old he has experienced enough of life to know that the things he cared about when he was younger just don’t matter anymore. He has truly inspired me in a way that will always leave this lasting impact on my life. That day, he taught me that everything truly does happen for a reason even if we don’t understand the reasoning at that moment. I’ve always wondered and questions the obstacles of my life, why was I of all people handed certain stumbling blocks while others seem to have it a lot easier than myself?

Mr. Tommy taught me that as “bad” as your life may seem, there’s someone dealing with a struggle that you may not ever endure in a lifetime. I learned that we all go through tough situations but you must learn that struggles are necessary in order to get to where you are going. Society should be less judgmental of people who have less than them and that life don’t have favorites, that at any given moment the life you have now can be taken away and you could be in the position that you said you would never be in. So, the next time you see a homeless person let me tell you now, they are humans and they have feelings.

Local Church Does Million Dollar Remodel

On August 27th, 2017 more than two thousand people, members and non-members, gathered at First Baptist Texarkana. Their newfound curiosity? A sanctuary with a renovation ringing up a whopping 1.4 million dollars.

The campaign “To the King” began in February 2017. After worshiping in the same room for 32 years, leaders of First Baptist agreed it was time to bring the room up to date. The carpet in the church was frayed and pulled up in multiple areas, the pews had carvings in the wood, and the paint was old. The church made a bold statement that honoring God included taking care of “His House,” which meant fixing what looked unpleasant. This would involve a new sound system, new flooring, stadium style seating, added railing in the balcony for safety, and fresh coats of paint. To do it right, the church had to raise 1.4 million dollars in donations. After several weeks of prayer and offerings, the total sum amounted to $1,535,408.

Members had the opportunity to stake a claim to one of the old pews if they wished, and those not claimed were donated to churches in need. A day was also dedicated for people to sign their names and write thoughts and prayers where the new flooring would be laid. In a sense, they had the opportunity to leave their mark on history.

The overhaul took 83 days, and a few changes had to be made for this to happen. Sunday morning service was held in three different areas of the church. As if this wasn’t hectic enough, these rooms still didn’t have the capacity to hold the usual Sunday crowd. So, there were two different times offered for services.

Without a baptistery accessible, no weekly baptisms were held. However, FBC made the best of it and hosted a summer celebration. Everyone who had been saved during the summer renovation was baptized outside on the church softball field. A little untraditional, but hey, there was free food and sand volleyball! While it was interesting to have a change of venue, members were glad when everything settled back down to normal. An anonymous member even joked “It’s nice to be back in the sanctuary. I just hope people know I hold season tickets to this row of seats.”

All in all, First Baptist Texarkana did a wonderful job. Even though they updated the room to give it a modern feel, the original stained glass is still intact. If you have a Sunday morning free, you should add making a visit to your list of things to do. Deacon Bill Gordon says, “While the remodeled sanctuary is truly beautiful, it is only so because it honors God”

For some, visiting a church might not be a priority. If that is you, there is a YouTube video to check out that is worth watching. You will feel like you are a part of the action.

Stepping Up: Arkansas High Theater

Allison Hall

Arkansas High, of all things, is probably least known for its theater program, but I have a feeling that that is about to change. In 2014, a new instructor was introduced and he couldn’t be doing a better job. Since the arrival of Mr. Hamilton, set design, casting, cast and crew chemistry and much more has blossomed. The most recent production, performed four times from April 21 to April 24 by both a white cast and a red cast, blew my mind having one of the most energetic casts I have seen in a while. I attended the white cast performance only, yet it is clear to see that there is a lot of new and eager talent moving up the theatrical ladder at Arkansas High.

Harvey, an original 1941 piece, was performed amazingly by the white cast. Upon entering the student union at Arkansas high, the audience was swept away by melodic notes of what is assumed to be songs of the era. The atmosphere was great. Sitting in eagerness, the audience is greeted by a very vivid and optically pleasing set as the curtains open at seven. Differently than typical shows, the music didn’t stop. It continued and followed a light footed maid around the set. The really cool thing about the set was the fact that it was double sided and rotate friendly. The curtains never closed. While scenes changed music played and the audience got to experience the creation of a new area, which, to me, added to the elegance of the show. Everything ran so smoothly and gracefully. Even the characters seem completely natural.

Speaking of characterization, the cast was phenomenal, particularly James Hodges playing as Elwood P. Dowd and Semaj Harris who played Judge Omar Gaffney. Hodges did exceptionally well in creating this quirky, smooth, and lovable Elwood that made the audience chuckle and aw at his innocence. Elwood came across as this pure child-like man and the audience fell in love. It really worked in contributing to the idea of the imaginary bunny (sort of an imaginary friend that a kid would have) and the thought of Dowd actually being mentally unstable (kind of a coping mechanism for whatever the issue may be). Spoiler alert, in the end Elwood is fine, but Hodges’ use of swift arm gestures and naturalized interaction with a rabbit that’s obviously not there kept the audience guessing. It felt magical. Mr. Harris was a different story. The audience had love for him, but for completely different reasons. His over the top stereotypical judge persona and use of a typically authoritative klutz accent sent the audience over the edge. It was funny. And I don’t mean funny like I just heard a joke about the economy and chuckled. I mean funny like I just saw another flying lawnmower video pared with random music and laughed until I cried. His timing is impeccable. This added so much to the comedic vibe he put off. He paused at just the right moments to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Venturing from these two, the entire cast was really incredible.

In the end, Harvey was fun and family-friendly and actually entertaining. I’m still in awe. I can’t wait to see the next show in the fall. I urge that you do the same!

Alcohol at Chuck-E-Cheese

Hope Hawley

As some of you may have heard, the local Chuck-E-Cheese has put in an application  to serve beer and wine at its location at Central Mall in Texarkana. I wanted to write about this from the perspective of a college student.

First let me just say I do not have kids but I do have nephews and nieces whom I love to take to Chuck-E-Cheese, so with that being said, I say not just no but Hell no. Chuck-E-Cheese is not designed for adults; it’s known as “A place where a kid can be a kid.” How are you supposed to be a kid if you have a drunk parent running around? This just puts the establishment, employees, and other customers in danger. Now I know people are saying, well, beer and wine isn’t hard alcohol; you are correct, it is not, but it is to light- weights who can’t handle it or who can’t cut themselves off. Chuck-E-Cheese is simply not a place for adults to be drinking. I mean, why would you want to, anyway? If you are bringing your children there, it should be about their having fun, not you. As a college student I understand the struggle of having nothing “fun to do” in Texarkana but as a mature adult I also have enough common sense to know that mixing alcohol with a kids establishment is just flat out crazy.

There are plenty of places for adults to go and have a drink around town. Multiple restaurants, bars, clubs, and even the bowling alleys serve alcohol. At the bowling alley you can have fun bowling and drinking, which makes far more sense than playing games at Chuck-E-Cheese with two- and three-year olds running around while you’re sipping on a Budweiser. Some places that you may want to look into to have a good time while drinking that are adult friendly: Fat Jacks, Holiday Bowl, College Bowl, Stages, Buffalo Wild Wings, AppleBees, Electric Cowboy, Club Primetime, etc.

Yes, this is just the opinion of a college student and a young adult who likes to drink. Even I realize how crazy it would be to have a drunk person running around at Chuck-E-Cheese. Their slogan has always been “A place where a kid can be a kid,” but when you mix alcohol in, it’s taking that completely away. There are not many places in Texarkana where young kids can simply run around and be a kid so don’t take one of the few spots that are still around.

Officers At Sea

Richardson Rutter-Reese

The U.S. Coast Guard is one of the five armed branches in America. The Coast Guard is unique in that it falls under the Department of Homeland Security, while the other four branches fall under the guidance of the Department of Defense. The Coast Guard was the first armed force created by the United States as a nation, then known as the Revenue Cutter Service. The job of the service was to deter smugglers and to ensure that taxes were being paid by sea-going merchants. Over the centuries other agencies and duties have been created and absorbed, including the Life-saving service, the lighthouse service, the ice breaking service, the aids to navigation service, the radio service, the humanitarian service, the intelligence service, the law enforcement service, and the immigrations service. All these services and more have been combined to form the multi-directed mission that the modern U.S. Coast Guard performs today.

From a historical perspective, the Coast Guard has been involved in every American conflict, notably Vietnam, World War II, and the War on Terror. During World War II the Coast Guard performed minesweeping operations, operated watercraft during beach landings, collected intelligence, kept traveling routes clear of ice, and performed anti submarine operations. It was a during a beach rescue operation that Signalman First Class Douglas Munro was killed after volunteering to make multiple trips to get all the Marines off the island, including a Marine who would become General Chesty Puller. He was shot on the way back to the ship after making the last trip. He remains the only Coast Guardsman to receive the Medal of Honor.  During the Vietnam War the Coast Guard patrolled the shoreline ensuring the Vietcong would be cut off from supplies and reinforcements. They would also transport troops.

The Coast Guard is the only military branch authorized to perform law enforcement action. This is becuse it falls under the Department of Homeland Security. A Coast Guard vessel may at any time inspect, board, or question any vessel in U.S. waters or our Allies’ waters. There are no rights to privacy on the water as on land. All petty officers in the Coast Guard are federal law enforcement officers, and able to carry subpoenas, detain suspicious individuals, and make arrests. Due to the dual military and law enforcement nature of members in the Coast Guard, there is confusion on how far the rights of a petty officer go. Technically, as federal law enforcement officers, petty officers can carry weapons across the fifty states.  Some state police disagree with this and will still arrest members carrying weapons. This is still an ongoing issue in the courts.

On the topic of members of the Coast Guard, it has consistently been the smallest service since its creation. At the height of its force, the New York Police Department outnumbered the active duty members of the Coast Guard. It has always been a service that prides itself on doing more with less. It receives the lowest budget out of the five services, it has one of the oldest fleets in the world, and consistently uses older technology from the Navy. Many swathes of water go unguarded due to their not being enough funds to patrol all the areas of the coastline.

Even with these problems, people are not deterred from the Coast Guard. It is the most competitive branch to enlist into. The reenlistment rate is above 90%, the only service to have this claim. The Coast Guard administration had to create programs to phase non-performing members out to create space for other sailors to advance. Through the ages, members of the Coast Guard stay with their service. The Coast Guard is a unique service in America, and although its numbers are small, it provides a large impact for the safety and protection of the American people.

Seeing No-bunny

Allison Hall

Have you ever wanted to be involved with a seemingly insane man and his imaginary bunny? Well has Arkansas High got the show for you! Coming this spring, a carefree and charming, family friendly comedy about a high society man and his 6 foot tall mystical companion named Harvey hits the stage of Texarkana’s own Arkansas High School. More specifically, Harvey (1941), written by Mary Chase, is the second show of the year for Mr. Wyatt Hamilton, Arkansas High’s theater director, and his students. This show is centered around a Mr. Elwood P. Dowd, played by James Hodges and Victor Vargas, and focuses on a central message of wholesome friendship, or, as Mr. Hamilton puts it, “love your friends for who they are and all of their quirks”.

For this 2015-2016 school year, Mr. Hamilton has chosen to run with a fall drama and spring comedy as opposed to Arkansas Highs prior fall play, spring musical due to lack of male interest of the musical form. Even the smallest of theatrical musicals require an abundance of strong, dedicated, and interested patrons. In addition, Hamilton has chosen to employ two full casts for a sum of four shows as opposed to the prior two. He believes that not only will this open up more opportunity for show attendees, but also for performers in being able to have 21 students involved in a 12 role script. The push for this show seems to be individual creativity and involvement, which will promote positivism and encouragement, a good note for the modern age teenager or anyone else for that matter.

Among things that are remaining the same are ticket prices, show times, location, and concession. Tickets with be on sale at the door for five dollars and concessions with be available, namely sodas, chips, and brownies, at varied prices. The play will take place in Arkansas High’s Student Union (a.k.a cafeteria) from April 21-24 with a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday showing at seven o’clock p.m. and one Sunday showing at two o’clock p.m. Harvey is expected to run approximately two hours, including a 10 minute intermission. It is also worth noting that the Arkansas High theater department plans on more fundraising for show support. If you have any questions or ideas for fundraising endeavors, you can contact Wyatt Hamilton at (870) 774-7641 or email him at Wyatt.Hamilton@tasd7.net.

All in all, Harvey will be a great experience for people of all ages and worth a viewing. You can’t beat five dollar entertainment. If nothing else you will get a good laugh, and who doesn’t need that from time to time?