OK’s History Trail

With the conference part of the trip over, we embraced the more relaxed portion of the trip by learning of Oklahoma, strolling through luscious gardens, and venturing into the icy realms of ice skating. First however, we drove a few miles off of downtown looking for the capitol building.

Oklahoma State Capitol (Kaitlyn)

As we reached the domed structure, we admired the artwork surrounding the capitol building…

OK Capitol, SHSU, LEAP Center

…and then wandered inside the massive structure to find a large construction zone.  Unfortunately, the visitor’s center was closed because it was Veteran’s Day, so we proceeded through the capitol exploring on our own. We started on the first floor admiring the rotunda and the State Seal of Oklahoma. The state motto of Oklahoma: “Labor Omnia Vincit” (Labor Conquers All Things) was beautifully showcased within the seal and the dome was impressive as well.

OK Capitol Dome, SHSU, LEAP Center

Although we did not think the Oklahoma State Capitol was as grand as Texas’s State Capitol, we did consider it more artistic than ours. Notably, we saw many paintings of Wilson Hurley, a native Oklahoman, depicting the different landscapes of the state. We learned about native Oklahomans such as, Will Rogers, Jim Thorpe, and Sequoyah, whose portraits hung on an upper level of the State Capitol, and even Mickey Mantle, whose portrait was on the ground floor.

Mickey Mantle, OK Capitol, SHSU, LEAP Center

A short distance away, we visited the Senate Chamber. The House of Representatives was closed today, but we still learned about the organization of the legislature. We made the best without a tour guide and enjoyed our morning of exploration!

OK Capitol, Murals, SHSU, LEAP Center

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (Brian Aldaco)

Embracing the Okie spirit, we continued our Oklahoma City tour by visiting the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. As we crossed the front entrance, our sight was instantly drawn to the end of the hall. Against a magnificent window wall, filtering a warm sunny glow, stood a colossal Indian mounted on a horse both carved from white stone which embraced the outside light.  With a look of defeat and a horse at mid-stop, James Earl Fraser was able to sculpt his subject’s vanquished spirit in “The End of the Trail.”

We posed for a photo with Fraser’s work…

James Earle Fraser, End of the Trail, SHSU, LEAP Center, OK City, Western Heritage Museum

We actually got a second photo with the sculpture as well.  Our trip-themed t-shirts feature the Fraser piece, so we have our backs to the camera to make that connection….

James Earle Fraser, OK Capitol, LEAP Center, SHSU

Fraser’s talent was also evident in his Lincoln sculpture which stands overlooking the main hall from his east wing repose.

James Earle Fraser, Abraham Lincoln, OK City, Western Heritage Museum, LEAP Center, SHSU

Following the scope of his solemn gaze pointing westward, we trailed down the west wing of the museum as searchers of the Western Performers Gallery.

Upon entrance to the gallery, we were greeted by the awe-striking statue of none other than President Ronald Reagan (a former western movie actor).

Ronald Reagan, OK City, Western Heritage Museum, LEAP Center, SHSU

As we ventured into the exhibit, a distinct jolly smile caught our attention. Nearing this Norman Rockwell portrait, we rejoiced as we had found the gallery portion dedicated to the acclaimed Walter Brennan.

Norman Rockwell, Walter Brennan,, OK City, Western Heritage Museum, LEAP Center, SHSU

Along with him, other great western actors were commemorated such as Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Harry Carey Jr, and of course, the immortal, John Wayne.

John Wayne, OK City, Western Heritage Museum, LEAP Center, SHSU

But from western inspired performers to true performers of western legend, demonstrated by exhibits on taming conquering of the west, Native Americans, and even a small scale Old Western town (akin to a film set), the museum was filled with inspiring artifacts of the west. Our only regret was that we had not much time to look through the entire museum, but our expedition had to move on as the Myriad Botanical Gardens awaited us…

Buffalo Bill, OK City, Western Heritage Museum, LEAP Center, SHSU

Myriad Gardens  (Sadie)

It’s not every day that we get to experience a mini-tropical paradise in the middle of Downtown Oklahoma City, but the Myriad Botanical Gardens gave us just that opportunity. Entering the greenhouse, we were greeted with a large variety of foliage…


…and the sound of a rushing waterfall, much like an oasis in the middle of the city.

Myriad Botanical Gardens, OK City, LEAP Center, SHSU

Like explores trailing through the jungle, we discovered many new plants and even encountered plants that smelled like goods such as root beer and cinnamon!

For some, true delight came in discovering the wildlife inside the greenhouse and around the Garden property. Inside we discovered butterflies, finches, a parakeet, and even a very friendly, talkative parrot.

Myriad Botanical Gardens, OK City, LEAP Center, SHSU
One of the More Approachable Birds in the Myriad Botanical Gardens

After going through the inside garden and walking across an interior bridge…

Myriad Botanical Gardens, OK City, LEAP Center, SHSU

…we stepped outside onto the grounds where we had the opportunity to watch swimming koi and a variety of waterfowl, including some of our neighbors (Canadian geese), as well as pose near the foliage.

Myriad Botanical Gardens, OK City, LEAP Center, SHSU

We were so grateful to take a few moments to enjoy the beauty and peace of nature in the midst of our busy day.

Myriad Botanical Gardens, OK City, LEAP Center, SHSU

But after the botanical stroll, we synchronized our watches and bid Mitchel, Sadie, and Ashley goodbye, as they would go their own way and tour the Oklahoma City University School of Law.

Oklahoma City University School of Law (Mitchell)

Before we began our tour, we first had to be dropped off on the Oklahoma City University campus. On our way into Sarkey Building, we discovered that our tour would be held in another part of town where the law school was located. Fortunately we ran into Dr. Farmer, the chair of the Oklahoma Political Science Association conference, who was generous enough to drive us downtown to the School.

Upon the completion of our short trip we were greeted by Lisa Lee, Administrative Assistant for Admissions, as she took us to the admissions center where the tour began. Billy Thomas and Zac Morgan, L3’s (3rd year law students), led the LEAP group (composed of Ashley, Sadie and Mitchell) on the informative tour across campus.

Along with Dr. Farmer, other professors that had attended the conference also joined our tour group. As we learned, the building was built in 1910 and was one of the first high schools in the state of Oklahoma. Walking through the grand rooms and halls was a treat, especially when every step was filled with the state of Oklahoma’s rich history.

The historic importance of the building was put into perspective when Mr. Thomas informed us of the building’s role after the Oklahoma bombings. The FBI used the building to head all rescue operations for the disaster. It is impressive to note that the building was undamaged after the bombing but for a few windows that were shattered. Mr. Morgan and Mr. Thomas then took us by the headquarter for the Innocence project. It was a pleasure to actually see the inter-mechanisms of the project, observing the busy law students studying papers and files. We toured the library along with an overview of the research tools available for students.

We also had the privilege to visit the J. William Conger Courtroom.

OK City University School of Law, LEAP Center, SHSU

To finally wrap up the tour we viewed a couple of class rooms which were from 25 seat to about 70 seats. The classroom size was very similar to the rooms at Sam. We made our way back to the admissions center where we had final discussions with Lisa, Billy and Zac about the school and Oklahoma City itself. The tour gave us great insight to the law school, university, students and Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma History Center (Kaitlyn)

With some ambassadors touring the Law School, others headed over to the Oklahoma History Center to learn about the diverse subject matter relating to the state of Oklahoma. Upon entering, the gleam of Wiley Post’s airplane (which hung from the ceiling) greeted us better than any friendly smile.

Wiley Post, Winnie Mae, OK History Center, SHSU, LEAP Center

Wiley Post, an Oklahoman, was one of the first pilots to experiment with flight, but ultimately crashed near Alaska where him and acclaimed Will Rogers died. Due to Post’s contributions to space travel, developing a pressurized suit that would serve as the prototype for those worn by astronauts, part of the first floor was dedicated to Oklahoma’s connection to the Space Program. After glancing at the interstellar artifacts, the LEAP Ambassadors transitioned to the first exhibit covering the different Native American Tribes. The exhibit taught us of their culture, homes, careers, languages, and traditional clothing. We were thankful that the museum provided a unique way for us to learn about Native American culture.OK City, Oklahoma History Center, LEAP Center, SHSU

Upstairs, we were greeted with a beautiful Allan Houser sculpture of an Indian woman. Earlier this morning, we saw his work outside the Oklahoma State Capitol. His works are prominent across the state for their beautiful depiction of Native Americans. It was neat to see his artwork in two places within the same day!

The next exhibit walked visitors through the history of Oklahoma starting with the era of the Sooners and ending with a then and now comparison of various qualities of everyday life such as life expectancy, income, and population.

OK City, Oklahoma History Center, LEAP Center, SHSU

The exhibit was comprehensive because it covered the political and cultural history of Oklahoma. Observing the various artifacts of the state’s history, we found ourselves running out of time as we were in need of picking up our fellow LEAP comrades. After a short trip to the bookstore, we traveled back to regroup with our fellow LEAPsters and continue on with our afternoon. Although our tour was short, we enjoyed learning more about the history of Oklahoma!



Art and Food in OKC

While our primary purpose in traveling to OK was to attend the OPSA, our goal is to explore fully the places we visit.  With this in mind, we set out to sample some of OKC’s art and culinary offerings.

Snacking at Pinkitzel, by Sadie McLaughlin

Following our fun and informational day at the Oklahoma Political Science Association’s Annual Conference, we looked forward to a sugary snack. As soon as we walked into Pinkitzel, we knew we had come to the perfect place of much welcome relaxation. The bold, eclectic sweets shop was fully decked out with giant cupcake décor, a hot pink horse, and suits of (pink) armor, along with other various and unique decorations. Most importantly, there was a large display of all kinds of gourmet cupcakes and other sweets.

We enjoyed unique cupcake flavors such as pink lemonade, cookies and cream, and double chocolate truffle, complemented with coffee and even specialty hot chocolate! Additionally, we also had the opportunity to try macarons. Not only did some of us get to try this delicious snack for the first time, but we also learned the difference between a macaron and a macaroon. A macaron is in essence a French meringue cookie, while a macaroon is a Southern sweet made of shredded coconut and condensed milk.

Image result for macaron or. macaroon

While some of us are still debating the macaroon v. macaron enigma, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and the perfect fuel to hold us through our pre-dinner adventure at the Oklahoma Museum of Art.

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art, by Ashley Allen

By the time we had finished our delicious desserts, we found the sun setting atmosphere bearing on us as became more lighthearted and relaxed. To me, visiting the museum was the perfect way to spend the evening after hearing  speeches and presentations from the panels. Furthermore, I was extremely excited to finally visit the largest and most revered exhibit at the museum, the Dale Chihuly exhibit.

Dale Chihuly, LEAP Center, SHSU, OK Museum of Art

Chihuly’s specialty is glass blowing—an art from that I was familiar with before the trip, but never thought that it was possible to create such a variety of sculptures.

Dale Chihuly, OK Museum of Art, LEAP Center, SHSU

No two pieces were identical, not even when Chihuly was following the classic style of his Persian sculptures. On this note, one display that really caught my attention was the “Oklahoma Persian Ceiling.” It is almost impossible to describe due to the fact that I have never seen anything like it! We walked along a white corridor and above our heads were many different glass pieces fitted together in disarray, different shapes, loud colors, and intricate designs. A lot of his pieces seemed other worldly, belonging in a place of dreams and imagination. Chihuly’s style is so enchanting that the fifty-five feet tall “Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick Tower” at the entrence created a general feel for his talented and daring glassmanship.

Dale Chihuly, LEAP Center, SHSU, OK Museum of Art

There were other paintings and sculptures we browsed through. As we toured the rest of the museum, we saw works by well-known artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, John James Audubon, Andy Warhol…

Andy Warhol, LEAP Center, SHSU, OK Museum of Art

…and many more. We learned a lot of history behind different displays and their significance.

One story I found interesting was about the painting “The Laughing Indian” by Fritz Scholder. Scholder fought against the stereotypical Americanized version of Indians, who were stoic and romanticized, and placed them in a light of humanized nature. He did this by exaggerating certain characteristics forcing his subjects to look more awkward and out of place, which subliminally correlates to Native Americans’ history in America.

Overall the Oklahoma City Museum of Art taught us many things and exposed me to a lot of different styles of art. My only regret is that we didn’t have more time to examine each display to compare and contrast them. It was a wonderful opportunity to attend such a beautifully diverse accumulation of paintings and sculptures.

Evening Fun, by Sadie McLaughlin

As we finished up our tour of glass heaven, we decided that it was time for dinner. Our final culinary adventure for the day took us to Norman, Oklahoma. Here we arrived at the Greek House where we were treated with abundant plates of delicious Greek food across the street from the University of Oklahoma. We all greatly enjoyed generous servings of gyro meat, pita bread, and tzatziki.

Greek House, Gyros, SHSU, LEAP Center

Just when we thought we could not possibly eat more, we managed to fit in a few bites of baklava, a rich layered pastry filled with honey and nuts. With happy hearts and full stomachs, we attempted to walk off our calories with an expedition through OU campus.

As we neared campus, the dramatic architecture of OU campus instantly grasped our interest. The majestic gargoyles embedded at the buildings’ facade, lighting that accentuated the lines and curves of this historic buildings, and sculptures scattered around the campus took hold of us and enticed us to immerse ourselves deeper into the campus.

Speaking of immersing ourselves, we tried our hand at telephone  stuffing, a 1950s fad that we wanted to revive…

Telephone Booth Stuffing, LEAP Center, OU Campus, SHSU

OU has six telephone booths, brought in as an homage to the booths across London when OU’s President, David Boren, spent time at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.  They provide a bit of nostalgia, class–and fun–to the OU campus.

Eventually we found ourselves inside the library, a dichotomous building indeed, as part of the facility was modernized (with imacs, cutting edge study rooms, cutting edge vending machines, etc.), while the other part was the historic library. This latter part of the building was what interested us the most, as the massive scholarly study rooms, bountiful amount of antique books, and luxurious design was unlike anything we had ever seen.

After going through the fields of OU, finding sculptures by James Surls…

James Surls, LEAP Center, University of Oklahoma campus, LEAP Center, SHSU

…Jesus Moroles, and Robert Indiana…

Robert Indiana, LOVE, SHSU, LEAP Center, Oklahoma University campus

…along the way, the clock tower struck its 10 pm chimes. With this solemn ring filling the campus, its echo had a near melancholy tone as if it were sad to see us go.

But by that time we were more than ready to hit the hay after a near overstimulating day of political science panels, amazing food and art, and our improvised expedition of the beautiful OU campus. Now it was time to go to sleep and get ready for tomorrow’s adventure in the Capital of Oklahoma City.

Double, Double, LEAP & Trouble: Scare on the Square

By Christina Perez

Ring after ring flew from their hands, aimed at the point of a witch’s hat. Three at the floor, one hitting the mark, and one hitting a human hotdog. But alas, at least one hat had been hooped around by the ring and was merit for a prize of chalk or bubbles. Why so much scary, carnival fun at the square? Why, it was the annual Huntsville Scare on the Square.

Scare on the Square, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Huntsville Main Street

Last Saturday the LEAP Center hosted a booth at Scare on the Square. Scare on the Square is an annual Halloween event sponsored by The Huntsville Main Street Program. About 40 different businesses, schools, and local organizations host games and activities for community children. Scare on the Square is sponsored by local businesses and it is a safe atmosphere for families to enjoy themselves.

Scare on the Square, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Huntsville Main Street

If you are creative and wear a costume it will spare you from having to pay the entrance fee of one dollar. Embracing this costume-wearing practice, the LEAP students arrived in a variety of costumes themselves from Minnie Mouse to Charlie Chaplin.

Scare on the Square, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Huntsville Main Street

With weeks of anticipation prior to Scare on the Square, the LEAP center engineering team (aka a few of the LEAPsters) designed a game built to increase levels of happiness to the maximum. In the end, we created the “Witch’s Hat Ring Toss.” Similar to a bean bag toss, it required the competitor to loop hat dressed cones with a pool ring. Let’s just say that hand-eye coordination was important in order to successfully master this enchanted game.

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With smiling faces, all the children (and even some LEAPsters) patiently waited in line to play, ready to ring one or two witch hats.

Scare on the Square, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Huntsville Main Street

We had a few future athletes who knew at exactly what angle to throw the rings. Yet even more children measured wind speed, warmed up their best throwing arm, made their marks, and walked right up to the cones to place the ring into the hat.

Scare on the Square, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Huntsville Main Street

In between handing out rings and giving out candy, we amused ourselves by noticing the creative Spidermen, Pikachus, Elsas, Super Girls (we even had our own superwoman!), as well as some actually frightening costumes.

Scare on the Square, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Huntsville Main Street

But even more rewarding was the look on their faces when they looped a hat (without cheating).

With the LEAP center’s 1800 pieces of candy gone, we packed our tent and witchy game satisfied with the 400 plus jolly children that had visited us. We are grateful for the sponsors and coordinators of these events that allow us to interact with the community!

Scare on the Square, LEAP Ambassadors, SHSU, Huntsville Main Street

A Future in Law: Moot Court Scrimmage, Day 2

By Alex Galvan

“Sam Houston State vs Baylor” blared the speakers.  But this wasn’t a football game.  Instead, it was a Moot Court playoff round, albeit still in the scrimmage stage.

The teams made their way up towards the front of the room for a coin toss to let fate decide whom they would represent, the petitioner or the respondent.  As our team members–consisting of Austin Taylor and Kristyn Couvillion–won the toss, they chose the petitioner role.

About three hours prior to that coin toss, our alarms blasted, and we rose from bed to hastily get ready for our exciting second day of the UNT Invitational Moot Court Tournament.  This invitational is especially helpful to the new team members as it provides them a chance to see and experience a real tournament.  Additionally, it prepares them for the regional competition which will take place on November 18th – 19th at Texas Tech.

While navigating the inner streets of Dallas, Kristyn Couvillion and Austin Taylor began mentally preparing for their competition of the day. Their hard work and dedication had paid off as they had made it to the top 32! Kaitlyn, Bryan, Beatriz and I were excited to support our advancing team in their competitive endeavor of the day.

When we arrived at UNT Law school, we checked in, and went up to the meeting room where all of the other schools waited in anticipation for the rounds to be announced. Each round would consist of two teams pinned against each other from the top 32 teams that were announced the day before, Kristen and Austin included in those teams.

Moot Court, UNT Invitational, LEAP Center, SHSU

We sat in anticipation waiting for the three judges to arrive so that the round would begin. We observed and quietly rooted for our team members while they argued their case with passion and quick mindedness. By watching both of the teams, we also gained skills.  After the judges had scored both teams and offered their advice, we rushed back to the meeting room and waited in agony for the results to be announced. The round was decided in a 2 to 1 split decision, in favor of Baylor.

Even though we had no further advancements in the Invitational, we stayed to watch Josue and David, two students whom we had befriended at our Boot Camp. During the competition, we were impressed by the poise and arguments of the opposing team from the Air Force Academy. Sadly, Josue and David did not advance, but the team which they were against actually ended up placing first for the entire competition!


After the round we decided that it was time to bid UNT farewell and ease into dinner. After much arguing (and still more to decide on dinner) we finally decided to visit a small sidewalk café, the Veracruz Café. With a motto to “Celebrate life,”  the restaurant adequately captured the Veracruz spirit of amazing cuisine and beautiful vistas. Consisting of various herbs and spices, there was a myriad of flavorful dishes to be tasted. The Café brought to us a little bit of Veracruz with food ranging from MesoAmerican, Mayan, Huasteco, and Aztec cuisine. Everyone chose their preferred food choice. Dishes ranged from an enormous fajita plate to a spicy chile relleno, from crunchy flautas to cheesy quesadillas. Every single dish as scrumptious as the other.

After we finished our lunch at the Veracruz Café, we decided to go explore the variety of shops that lined along the Bishop Art District. Chairs lining an old gas-station-turned-furniture-store, people milling around, enticing smells, and interesting window displays worked like a hypnotic swirl of curiosities that compelled us to immerse ourselves deeper into the street. Among the stores was an art gallery which we visited called the Ginger Fox Art Gallery.

A West Texas native, Ginger Fox was a self-taught artist disciplined in painting murals, trompe l’oeil, grisaille, and replicating the masters. Her style of magical realism was reflected on her canvases which meshed real and imaginary dimensions together with the purpose of invocating thoughts of how we, as humans, can better coexist with the natural world. We got to see various of this style in the art gallery. One in particular caught our attention.

Moot Court, SHSU, LEAP Center, Bishop Arts District

There was a picture of Queen Elizabeth made entirely of blurry paint chips, making it almost impossible to disambiguate the painting. However, when looked at through a camera, the pixelated image grew into sharper focus.

We the wonderful art gallery as our last stop we decided to end our trip and head on home. After a long day of tiresome litigation, exotic eatery, and mind boggling art, nothing compared to the quiet, peaceful ride down I45 back to Huntsville.


A Future in Law: Moot Court, Day 1

By Beatriz Martinez

124 competitors. All impeccably dressed in suits. All vigorously trained. All eager for the challenge ahead. All vying for that one top prestigious position. All gathered at the University of North Texas College of Law where the beginning of something intriguing and educational was about to commence.

On October 21st, participants arrived at their very first Moot Court Scrimmage of the year. More than 13 different schools from all over the region had come to partake in this unique event. In the midst of all of this was the SHSU Moot Court team, comprised of Kaitlyn Tyra, Alejandra Galvan, Austin Taylor, Kristyn Couvillion, Bryan Rodriguez, and Beatriz Martinez. Since the beginning of the school year, these future attorneys have been preparing for an extremely challenging competition. Not only would they have to prove their worth to their opponents, but also to the law students, lawyers, and other experts in judicial procedures that would be serving as judges.

Moot Court, SHSU, LEAP Center

“Being in the moot court is very tough and challenges its competitors in ways most would otherwise not experience until they attend law school,” noted Mooter Kaitlyn Tyra.

The competition lasted for two days, whereupon each round included two moot court teams (comprised of two people) that presented in front of a panel of judges and argued on both sides of the problem case at bar. After the end of the first day, only the top 32 teams would go on to the next day for their second set of rounds.

Students spend much time reading case briefs, analyzing them, preparing their arguments, and presenting them in practices. Moot court helps enhance public speaking (which is most people’s worst nightmare), increasing confidence, time management, literacy improvement, and other essential qualities to succeed in law-driven career. It also enhances a student’s law-school resume.

Moot Court, UNT, SHSU, LEAP Center

Having arrived a bit early, SHSU’s six moot court members decided to go over their arguments a bit more before the competition began. After their diligent preparations, the SHSU students decided to go eat at the local Italian restaurant, Porta di Roma. A local favorite among the UNT students, this quaint, little restaurant offered succulent Italian dishes. Known for its amazing pizza, many of the students decided to try the special of the day. Others were a bit more adventurous and tasted the lasagna.

As 1 pm approached, the SHSU students headed back to the UNT campus to wait for the real adventure to begin. Each team was destined to go through three different rounds, competing against different teams during each round.  Judges evaluated each speaker on the basis of their knowledge, argument organization, forensic skill, and response to questions.

When the last round ended, everyone met back at the common area of the UNT campus and waited anxiously for the results to come in.Most of us ranked near the middle of the pack, in the mid-50s or mid-60s, but Austin Taylor ranked among the top third of students, coming in at 38th (out of 124 participants).

Then the results everyone had been waiting for arrived. Out of 62 teams, only 32 could advance to the second day. One of our SHSU Moot Court teams made it onto the Round of 32! Austin Taylor (one of the first-year students) and Kristyn Couvillion (a second-year student) made it to the second round. Our team let out a great victorious whoop (customary if one of your teammates manages to advance).


Finally, the end of the day arrived and everyone went home to rest after a day full of challenges. That is except for Austin and Kristyn, who had one more day of suits, challenges, and a day of tantalizing victory for the number one spot.