Following an eventful week with James Reston, the LEAP Ambassadors were eagerly looking forward to the first Saturday in October. What were they anticipating with such eagerness you might ask? Well, none other than Huntsville’s 43rd Annual Fair, better known as Fair on the Square, of course!
This year, over 350 booths livened up the streets with countless treasures, ranging from antiques to apparel, and the main attraction of the fair, food! As the festivities approached, shoppers find this event handy to come out and hunt for some holiday gifts and decor. Every year, approximately 15, 000 shoppers from all around Huntsville and from out-of-town attend the fair, and the LEAP Ambassadors were no exception.
We started our morning off with excitement on such a joyous day, as this year, the LEAP Ambassadors decided to reach more people by volunteering at two different booths. Some ambassadors gladly assisted at the Walker County Republican Party Booth by giving out free shirts, pins, and a variety of bumper stickers to passers-by.
At the crafts booth, we were tasked with helping children enjoy their day with free projects including decorating cards and creating their own flamboyant bracelets.
Scattered throughout the park were other fun activities including: a petting zoo…
…a monster slide, and numerous games; of course, feeding the animals and pony rides were popular among the kids…
….and to be honest, we were even temped to get a ride! Sadly, none of us weighed less than the permitted sixty pounds. Nonetheless, watching kids and even adults have so much fun, brought us back wonderful childhood memories.
Time flew by and as our shifts ended, we joined the crowd in the search for unique treasures.
Once again, the long-awaited Fair on the Square had come to a successful close, and we all look forward to volunteering again at such a high-spirited event next year!
On an unusually warm night for late October, dressed-up men and women were gathering at the beautiful Gaertner Performing Arts Center. However, this wasn’t your typical style of late October costumes; instead of Halloween mummies and vampires, patrons arrived in their finest attire, for it was the night of the Art Department’s annual Gala. The building buzzed with the sound of people joyously conversing with old friends and new acquaintances alike. Each passing moment brought more excited people inside as they all prepared for the night’s festivities to begin.
After finding their seats, everyone began to chat with those seated around them. The members of the LEAP Center as well as members from the Pre-Law Society found themselves sharing a table with Professor Mike Yawn and Ms. Stephanie Fors, as well as former mayor, Mac Woodward and his wife, Leanne Woodward. Conversations at the table ranged from the upcoming internships at the capital, to the Memorial Museum’s chickens, famous for roaming the grounds of the campus. Dr. Michael Henderson, Chair of the Art Department, acted as the night’s host, thanking people for coming out and officially kicking off the night’s proceedings.
Following a wonderful three-course meal, the awards ceremony began. The first to be presented the award for Outstanding Alumna was Ms. Emily Peacock. A 2006 graduate of Sam Houston, she has developed a career around “snap shot aesthetic” photography. Peacock mainly focuses on her own family, and she photographs the private aspects of life one rarely gets a glimpse of. Her works have been featured throughout Texas, New York City, and Europe, as well as being in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
The next award for Outstanding Alumna was given to Ms. Cynthia Reid. After completing her degree in Art Education at Sam Houston, she taught for Conroe ISD, while also earning two more Masters degrees from Sam. She is well known for her work with water colors as she tries to capture the ever-changing sea into a single scene. She currently teaches at Sam Houston and coordinates the Angel Show Holiday Market in Huntsville.
The recipient for Outstanding Supporter of the Arts award was Mr. David Adickes.
Perhaps famous to most in town as the sculptor of the giant Sam Houston statue, he is also famous for his quick-witted humor and as the savior of Huntsville’s old high school (for, as he says, “how can someone tear down the place where you learned to jitterbug”). His works have been featured in solo shows throughout Texas and have received top honors at many competitions. His impact in the field of art, especially in Huntsville, is undeniable. It must be mentioned that regardless of his life-long accomplishments, he has not let the success go to his head as he is still as down-to-earth and fun loving as anyone. He even took time after the ceremony to pose for a goofy picture with the members of the LEAP Center and Pre-Law Society.
After the formal conclusion of the gala, guests once again mingled about, congratulating the recipients of the awards. On the way out the door all guests were presented with their “swag bags” as a last parting gift before stepping out into the night, which had gotten much cooler during the preceding events.
On day 5 of our West Trip Tour, we gave one last look at Marfa to say our goodbye before proceeding our journey home. We had a chance to visit the Chinati Foundation again, and we posed for some photos amidst his minimalist art…
…with Beatriz, in particular, getting into the spirit of things…
We made a quick stop at Ft. Davis, where we stopped for some well-deserved ice cream at Herbert’s Caboose Ice Cream Shop. It was an interesting ice cream stop since it was in an actual old, green caboose.
Balmorhea State Park, by Beatriz Martinez
Moving on from our small stop at Ft. Davis, we headed over to the Balmorhea State Park. A 3.5-million-gallon freshwater pool, this natural spring was first created by FDR’S New Deal during the Great Depression in order to create new jobs. It was a one of a kind opportunity to swim, not only “like a fish,” but also among them.
With the goal of finding a turtle or two, we jumped in.
Everyone got to show off their varying swimming skills, from Brian and Christina not straying from the pool’s edge… to Kaitlyn and Beatriz jumping from diving board into 30 ft. deep water.
It was a fun place, and a different experience.
Ellen Noel Museum, Kaitlyn Tyra
After the Balmorhea State Park, we hurried off to the Ellen Noel Museum of Art in Odessa where a special exhibit on Andy Warhol was being displayed. The museum featured a gallery of permanent pieces, a sculpture garden, and two rotating exhibits. The first gallery we viewed was a special exhibit by Herb Williams.
The exhibit we saw utilized crayons as the medium. Immediately as one walks into the gallery room, they recognize the fragrant aroma of new crayons. Herb Williams’ goal in choosing crayons was to provide creativity and imagination to children, but also to bring back the childhood memories and likeness often forgotten among adults as a potential creative outlet.
Herb Williams used crayons to remake famous pieces of art. “H is for Hokusai”…
…“I is for Indiana”…
“O is for O’Keefe”, and “W for Warhol” all were included in the series. Each piece of art was created using crayons to illustrate the color and texture. Of course, the Ambassadors could not pass up the opportunity to take a picture with William’s remake of Robert Indiana’s LOVE. We admired the unique art and moved into the Andy Warhol exhibit.
A temporary exhibit at the Noel Museum of Art, the Andy Warhol exhibit took visitors from the beginning of his art career throughout the end showing the variation of Warhol’s style and art. Interestingly, we learned that Andy Warhol’s real name included an extra letter (Warhola) which he eventually dropped to create his “persona”. Of course, we saw Warhol’s famous Campbell’s soup can paintings, Marilyn Monroe portraits, and Elvis Presley portraits. We also saw some of Warhol’s more thoughtful works, such as his modernization of Venus from Boticelli’s “Birth of Venus” painting.
Warhol’s ideology of painting images that “meant nothing” gave his art style and made a statement in the art community. More than thirty years after his death, Warhol’s impact and influence is still visible in much of today’s art. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to photograph the exhibit, but we did enjoy Warhol’s artwork.
Next, we wandered outside to the sculpture garden. Numerous sculptures were displayed, but we immediately recognized three Jesus Moroles granite sculptures. One sculpture, “Musical Steele” made music similar to a xylophone. We made our own music by running our car keys up and down the sculpture. Another unique Moroles sculpture was titled “The Portal”, this piece was built onto the exterior wall of the art museum and was different from a traditional Moroles sculpture because it was not freestanding. We admired each sculpture before departing to our next destination!
Stonehenge, by Brian Aldaco
After viewing one of art history’s most enigmatic artist, we visited one of history’s most enigmatic ruins: Stonehenge. Now although we did not travel to the United Kingdom, we were able to find a replica in Odessa, Texas.
This rendition of the famous ruins is located on the campus of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Although we are uncertain as to why someone would want a replica of Stonehenge, it provided us with a side adventure as we neared the end of our West Texas Tour.
While climbing on the stones, which are apparently 14% shorter than the original ruins, we decided it was prime time to take some photographs.
Along the way to Perini Ranch Steakhouse, we took a little stop in Midland. As we got off the freeway we steered into a quiet neighborhood. With houses of no extravagant facades but merely the marks of middle-class America, we neared a home who’s previous owner would have seemed unexpected.
Located on “Easter” Street due to its pastel houses, we found the George W. Bush Childhood Home a perfect location to take a photo-op.
Although we were not able to take a tour of the home, we did feel proud to visit the previous home of this Texas-raised president after visiting the home of a Texas-born Vice President a few days before.
Dinner at Perini Ranch Steakhouse, by Christina Perez
Our last stop of the day was the one we anticipated the most. Hungry and ready to get out of the car, we arrived in Buffalo Gap and headed for Perini Ranch Steakhouse. Kaitlyn had been here before after a moot court trip but for the rest of us it was sure to be a treat. We started with two appetizers: the quail legs and Jalapeno bites. Braitlyn (Brian and Kaitlyn) ordered the Ribeye with potatoes, Professor Yawn ordered the ribs, Beatriz tried the filet, and Christina ordered the award-winning burger. We all attempt to be adventurous with the menu items and usually enjoy it, but dessert was a different story. We tried the Jalapeno cheese cake which was not our favorite. We each had a bite and made a sour face. Don’t worry, the Leap ambassadors will not be deterred from trying new things in the future, even if it does cause us to make sour faces! With that last positive thought we retired for the day to prepare for tomorrow.
With an initial rocky start of forgetting to pick up Brian from Willis, and having to turn back at Conroe which caused a delay of 25 minutes to our trip, we finally headed for Big Bend. To mark the first day of our West Texas Tour, we joined Mark Burns in Houston’s Hermann Park. What brings us to Hermann Park when our destination is Big Bend Canyon, you ask? In the middle of the entrance rotunda of the park, as some may remember from our previous Hermann Park visit, stands a statue of a horse-mounted General Sam Houston (created by Enrico Carracchio) that greets all visitors into the park.
To honor the statue of this great Texas hero, Mr. Burns decided to photograph its grandeur.
Standing a few feet behind the camera-wielding Burns, we captured his photographic process through still and motion photography.
This we will do along the trip as we continue to record Mr. Burns at his craft for his documentary.
During his photo session, he explained to us how he framed the shot, pointing out different factors in the scene that could beautify his subject.
He also mentioned how he was waiting for the perfect lighting conditions in the cloudy sky.
After a few shots, we cleared the area, but not before taking some striking footage of Mark Burns. Mr. Burns soon finished his photoshoot in Hermann Park, and after showing some of his impressive photographic instruments, we climbed into our vans and headed towards San Antonio.
Along the way, however, we decided to soothe our grumbling stomachs with a short stop in Columbus, Texas. This quiet, quaint town, located about an hour west of Houston, is home to Keyser Market. Among other things, it is also home to an architecturally impressive courthouse. Even though we were unable to explore much of the town, we did enjoy a delicious sausage and chicken meal from Keyser. With our hunger satisfied, we got back on the road.
Soon, the country-land of vast pastures gave way to a network of highways; we had made it into San Antonio. On our first stop was the McNay Art Museum, located on the northeastern side of town.
Before we began our trip, we learned that the McNay had recently acquired a Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture. Excited, we entered the museum with the plan to pose by this LEAP favorite artwork. But more on that later.
As always, we went through the museum’s exhibits identifying artists that we were familiar with. In the first room of artworks we were amazed with an art piece by Alexander Calder. Snake on a Table, is a bronze, snake-like sculpture designed by Calder that balances on a table top while standing upright. The physics that makes this possible are incomprehensible to us as the snake balanced precariously on the edge of the round table. Nonetheless, the beauty in balance was just as inspiring. In the room, we also noticed pieces from other LEAP favorites such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, and Diego Rivera.
We also saw work by a recent LEAP favorite, Jim Love…
Moving on to the next room, we noticed two Pablo Picassos, Crouching Woman and Portrait of Sylvette. Acknowledging the impressive pieces, we decided to commemorate the artworks by LEAPosing for a photograph.
Every artwork had its own beauty, but the two that called our attention were a Pablo Picasso from his “blue period” and a non-minimalist Piet Mondrian. These artworks that differed immensely from their typical paintings, demonstrated the versatility of the artists. As LEAP offers eclectic opportunities to its students, we like to think that we are also versatile. Weather our varying talents include photography, you will have to judge our photos throughout the trip to answer this question.
In the meantime, we continued to explore the museum’s awe-inspiring collection. Before heading off to the sculpture garden on the grounds, we took a quick look at the south-western exhibit. We found the warm colors in the pieces to be soothing. Within the exhibit, we also marveled at a few artworks by Georgia O’Keeffe.
With the indoors artwork all viewed, we wondered onto the sculpture garden in search of LOVE, or at least Robert Indiana’s sculpture of LOVE. We explored the grounds and noticed some impressive sculptures that captivated our imagination. One sculpture by Joel Shapiro captured our attention with its gravity-defying qualities. However, we still had not found the sculpture that prompted our visit to the museum. It was with great dismay that after walking through the entire garden and coming back to where we started, we found a rectangular cover made up of panels. With trepidation, we neared the plaque at the foot of the enclosure. The plaque read “Robert Indiana, LOVE.” We learned that the museum is in the process of installing a new exhibit. To prevent certain sculptures from being damaged during the installation, some outdoor artworks had been covered, consequently denying the view of the public. With sadness, and feeling little love, we still posed in front of the covered sculpture with the determination to leave with a photo.
As we were sure that no one was left behind (including Brian), we climbed into our van, eager to continue our adventure.
The Alamo, The Saga, and Mi Tierra, by Christina
After exploring some San Antonio art and scouting out potential photography areas–including the Alam0…
…we headed to dinner at the Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia. Since there were many Hispanic/Mexican among the group, we wanted to make it as authentic as possible. That is how we ended up in the Mexican Historic Downtown Market. As we walked into Mi Tierra, we could see colorful piñatas hanging from the ceiling and with each room that we passed the walls differed in colors. It was hard to decide on what to eat because everything sounded delicious. Brian ordered The Sonora Special, which included beef tips with ranchero salsa smothered on top. Brian is (or so he likes to think) our authentic Mexican food specialist. The others chose a wide variety of Mexican dishes including the Mole and guisado. While we waited for the food, we even had some mariachi sing the “Caminos of Guanajuato”, For dessert, we all shared some exquisite flan and it was scrumptious!
After dinner, we arrived at the San Fernando cathedral for “The Saga”, which is a light show that electrified the audience with its mesmerizing scenes. It told the story of San Antonio from the Alamo to the present day. To accompany the lights in the storytelling, there was also a collage of songs to represent the different changes of time.
The show lasted about 25 minutes. We decided to walk off our food and since Beatriz had never been to the river walk, we decided to take a stroll along the river walk. Finally, after getting lost a couple of times, we headed back home for some rest and to get ready for the early start tomorrow.
The LEAP ambassadors welcomed the fall semester by throwing a party–but not the normal party college students have the reputation for sponsoring. Rather, it was an ice cream mixer filled with delicious ice cream, scrumptious cookies, cold sweet tea, and many different prizes, just what everyone needed some to sweeten up their day, especially with Hurricane Harvey still affecting many of SHSU’s students.. Our annual prize wheel included school supplies, t-shirts, political science bags filled with candy, and sun visors.
As college kids of course, all prizes would be useful and therefore the wheel was very popular!
Many students, freshman and senior, came not only for the goodies but also to get the inside scoop on what the Center for Law, Engagement, and Politics is and does, as well as to participate in the Pre-Law Society meeting happening right after. The ice cream mixer gave everyone time to mingle with LEAP Ambassadors and Pre-Law Society members.
It was also an evening of catching up with school friends after a long summer break. Roughly around 60 students throughout the night stopped by!
However, it wasn’t only the students that were drawn in by the promise for ice cream. Many of professors and staff stopped by to grab a bowl of ice cream as they waited for the elevator.
Right afterwards, we all headed downstairs for the first pre-law meeting of this year. The meeting was a short one, designed simply to cover what the Pre-Law society had in store for its members and to encourage for the students to sign up for the Mock LSAT happening in September 30th. It was great to be able to greet old friends and meet new faces. The LEAP ambassadors are looking forward to this upcoming fall semester, hopefully with more sweet things to come!
Although SHSU has been closed for the weekend, and classes are cancelled for (at least) tomorrow, LEAP Ambassadors found ways to be productive.
Saturday night involved extensive scrapbooking, a task that we undertake 2-3 times a year to catalog our 140 or so events per year. There was a festive aspect to this, inasmuch as several LEAP ambassadors had birthdays this month. Because many of our members are Hispanic, we had tortas, tres leches, and horchata, along with feaux-Mexican decorations.
But we also got work done, cataloging events from January through July, events consisting of a presidential inauguration, a visit from the Texas Supreme Court, travel throughout the Gulf Coast Region, book-signings, and various volunteer events.
That productivity was repeated on Sunday morning, even as Huntsville, TX was flooding.
We hunkered down at Stephanie’s house, with our “team mom” offering a menu of egg-related options.
And, again, we undertook a three-hour planning session for the fall semester’s events.
Our fall schedule includes a trip to Austin, a trip to Washington, DC, and a trip to Caddo Lake. It also includes volunteerism for non-profits and city offices. And, of course, it includes our normal retinue of film showings, guest speakers, multi-week programming, Moot Court, and other educational opportunities!
As LEAP Ambassadors, we contribute to the travel costs of our own trips. This contribution is an investment in our own education, and while part of our money goes for trip t-shirts, conference registration and museums, our money also goes to fun activities that we engaged in on trips. And that applied today, when we had a chance to go parasailing!
Only one member of our group had ever experienced parasailing and the rest of us were excited to embark on this new adventure. While making our way to deep waters (in every sense of the phrase), one of our tour guides helped the first pair into their harnesses. First up were Christina and Makayla, followed by Ryan and Beatriz, and ending with Mike and Stephanie. With the sun shining down on us, we were anxious for the adrenaline rush the thrill of parasailing elicited. The release from the boat was very smooth…
…and as we climbed higher into the Biloxi sky we began to understand why people love to parasail. It was a very peaceful 10 minutes, with a breeze and even sightings of dolphins!
While a pair was up in the sky, the other four took advantage and enjoyed the boat ride filled with music and the occasional splash of salty water. Probably the happiest of the para-sailors were Beatriz and Ryan, both of whom were productive while air-sailing.
Ryan filmed the entire 10-minute ride…
…while Beatriz waved her arms and kicked her feet in excitement!
The view from the sky was amazing, with the boat looking tiny.
It’s amazing to have these opportunities as undergraduates, and we had a great time in our rarefied adventure!
Hibachi Dinner, by Makayla Mason
For dinner, we decided on going to Kyoto Japanese Cuisine. Beatriz had never experienced a Hibachi style dinner so we happily made our way to the flat top grill. We made our decisions quickly with Beatriz and Makayla sharing the Hibachi Chicken and Shrimp, Ryan and Christina shared the Rock’N Roll Sushi and noodles, and Stephanie and Mike split the Hibachi Chicken and Lobster. We told our Chef, who was a very humorous man, that Beatriz had never experienced a Hibachi Grill, so he invited her up to cook for us. Beatriz did not last long as our Chef. We experienced an onion train with fire, steam, and sound effects, and then we watched our dinner being skillfully cooked. Beatrix also tried lobster for the first time, she enjoyed it! We left Kyoto with full stomachs ready to dance it all off at the conference’s “Missouri Night” gathering.
Missouri Kick-Off Party, by Christina Perez
After dinner, we headed to the 2018 Missouri Kick-off reception. Each year, the state who is hosting the following year (in this case, 2018’s Conference) gives a preview of the conference by hosting a night full of their state favorites. Although the states work together, there is no doubt they are a bit competitive, and the states try to provide as much fun as possible to “show off” their state.
When we arrived, we were greeted with goody bags which contained goodies from Missouri companies, and an entry way that was clearly Missouri made!
We took a group photo and headed for the dance floor. Although some of us were too shy to show off our groovy moves (Ryan), others did not waste a minute. We danced to hit songs from famous artists such as Michael Jackson, Gloria Gaynor, The Isley Brothers, and many more–alongside legislators from 15 states, including at least one Speaker of the House! Makayla expressed her enthusiasm of how she had enjoyed dancing to one of her favorite songs, Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson. Interestingly, for the first time ever, the LEAP Center Ambassadors are on tape “dancing”….
But this was not the last time! As a special treat, we also danced in a conga line while holding onto the mascot for the St. Louis Blues.
According to Missouri’s Speaker of the House (Todd Richardson), the purpose of the event was to allow everyone a great time, and we think the “show-me” state did its job well!
In order to work off the food, the Leap Ambassadors parted ways to see the seashore while exercising. Professor Yawn and Ryan went on a gator excursion, where they fed gators and got to “pet” them. The girls, however, went a much simpler route by doing a variety of safer alternatives.
The first of which was, of course, shopping. Being at Beau Rivage, we decided to, briefly, get a glimpse at the casino. Being that not all of us were of age, we moved on to the shops and away from the casinos.
Along the way we happened to chance upon a face painter and of course Christina and Beatriz got their face painted.
Later, after touring the rest of Beau Rivage, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our next excursion.
Part of the city of Biloxi’s recreational/ tourism efforts were incorporated in a bicycling program that you could use in order to cycle across most of the city of Biloxi. The three of us: Makayla, Christina, and I, took advantage of this opportunity and used it to ride 4 miles along the beach.
Part of Biloxi’s charm are the sea-themed sculptures along the shore. Made from trees damaged in Hurricane Katrina, the community brought in artists to turn the dead trees into beautiful art.
It’s a classic case of making lemonade from lemons, and we enjoyed the sculptures (Galveston adopted this program after Ike).
After more than 1 hour on the road, we headed back to the hotel to prepare for another night of fun.
Family Night, by Makayla Mason
With a beautiful sunset and perfect weather luring us into the Southern Legislative Conference’s Family Night, there was excitement in the air. To start the night with a hit, Jackson State University made a grand entrance.
The crowd was cheered with approval as we all enjoyed their enthusiastic dances and electric music.
Their balance, elegance, and strength were amazing!
For the rest of the night, we enjoyed a picnic-on-the-beach style dinner with many items to choose from such as hamburgers, corndogs, nachos, cotton candy, and s’mores!
While enjoying our tasty dinner, we enjoyed live music by Steve Azar.
Steve Azar, a Mississippi man, fully hit the country scene in 2002. His song “I Don’t Have To Be Me til’ Monday” was the first single to reach #2 on the national country radio charts.
We were lucky enough to sing along with him as he played that very same song that is still popular on the radio today.
As the night grew late, we played a few beach side games. We even played a tournament of bean-bag toss.
Playing Horseshoes in the dark was interesting. Half the fun was trying to find where the horseshoes had buried themselves after we had thrown them. Makayla was the only one to get a ringer but Ryan had a few close throws.
We were sad to leave the Fun Zone, but it was off to get sleep for the next day’s adventures.