The semester hasn’t yet begun, but that makes this the perfect time to get some pre-semester work, activities, and learning in. With that in mind, we partnered with the Freshman Leadership Program, and we undertook a tour of Huntsville and SHSU.
Although we’ve been on a few tours of Huntsville and we know the community pretty well, we wanted to learn some new things, and we wanted to be on hand should any of the FLP students want a student’s perspective on things.
Our tour itinerary involved: (1) a trip to Arnaud’s Food Truck court, (2) the avenues, (3) Eastham Thomason Park, (4) Sam Houston’s grave, (5) the District Attorney’s office, (6) downtown area, the Richard Haas murals and the Old Town Theatre, and (7) the prison, and (8) Austin Hall.
We began with designer lemonades from Arnaud’s, and the general consensus is that we would be returning!
With an idea of encouraging students to shop local, the many offerings of Arnaud’s food trucks opened up a variety of culinary options to students.
The FLP students seemed intrigued by the Dan Phillips’ homes, and several were even already familiar with the Boot and Cowboy Hat homes. Downtown, we learned more of the Richard Haas murals, with a lesson on how the architecture of the DA’s office…
…was used to help craft the design of the Smither Building’s art murals. Haas repeated the arch motif, used paint to mimic the color of the bricks, and through trompe l’oeil managed to recreate some of the relief elements on the DA’s office. And, of course, all this was done while visually celebrating Sam Houston’s history in Huntsville.
We also had a chance to see Haas’s work at the Old Town Theatre, where Morgan also works, and where all the LEAP Ambassadors have volunteered.
We even got to go in the theatre and learn about their programs!
And as a sort of bookend, we discussed Sam’s Table–another of the LEAP Ambassador’s favorite restaurants–with the incoming freshmen.
In the last leg of the tour, we learned more about TDCJ and the Huntsville Unit, including the difference between “Death Row” and the Execution Chamber, which are different entities in different locations. We also discussed a different prison issue: bats. Driving past the TDCJ warehouse (which is filled with bats) and the “Bat Houses” (which are not filled with bats).
And with a final drive around the University and Austin Hall–the oldest educational building west of the Mississippi–we and the FLP returned to our cars, dorms, and other retreats to prepare ourselves for the new semester.
We returned with a lot more knowledge and the community than we left with!