August 2022

Texarkana Magazine

AUGUST • 2022

TEXARKANA MAGAZINE August | 2022 | Volume 3 | Issue 8

60. THE MONTHLY MIX Back-to-School Style 62. TXK ROOTS Jonathan Jones

10. BUSINESS Wisdom and Rubies 14. POLITICS The Difference One Day Can Make



50. ENTERTAINMENT Good Evening TXK 54. LIFE What a Rush!



22. COMMUNITY The Kings of Liberty-Eylau 26. CULTURE Through the Eye of a Tiger 34. SPORTS Friday Night Lights



Class of Texarkana Magazine ...




SHELBY AKIN Most Friendly

LEAH ORR Best Candidate for the CIA



ANNI BISHOP Most Beautiful

LINDSEY CLARK Most Optimistic

LIZ FLIPPO Best All-Around

BAILEY GRAVITT Most Likely to be Famous

TERRI GRAVITT Most Encouraging



FRED NORTON Most Likely to Succeed




TEXARKANA MAGAZINE 903.949.1460 OFFICE 911 North Bishop Street Building C • Suite 102 Wake Village, Texas 75501 MAIL 2801 Richmond Road #38 Texarkana, Texas 75503

“IT IS SO HOT!” That is the only thing coming out of anyone’s mouth these days. I am counting down the hours until school starts back. We thrive in the routine, and it is too hot to keep these kids entertained any longer. My boys have attended two camps, played more holes of golf than I can count, stayed up late, and done all the summertime things. I am ready for them to return to school, reunite with friends, and get back to learning. My oldest son will turn 12 this month and start middle school! I do not even know how this is possible. He is most excited about having a locker. I remember starting middle school and being just as enthusiastic about mine. My first locker had a small mirror and a dry-erase board. I don’t know if kids do this anymore, but having a boy, I doubt I have to worry much about locker accessories. In previous years, we would be looking forward to the start of flag football, but


my boys have shifted their interest to golf. You can still count on us being extremely enthusiastic about watching all the football we can, but I know my husband is rejoicing that he will not have to coach a team and coordinate practices for the first time in years. It is fun, but it is a lot of work. For the past two years, this Friday Night Lights issue has been a fun one for us to put together. We have had the privilege of meeting so many talented athletes and students in the community. Imagine being the cheerleader we ask to do a back tuck, back handspring, heel stretch, or some other skill repeatedly so we could get the shot. Bless their hearts! We did that... and they did that. Everyone turned to stare as the football boys were asked to give us their most intimidating yell so we could get the right look for an intense picture. We asked for the same type of things from the drill team girls, band members, and color guard, and not one of them complained. The final product was worth all the hassle. This issue could not have been a success without the help of great team members. Kara Humphrey scheduled everything and directed poses. Matt Cornelius nailed these shots with incredible lighting. Our fantastic contributors help bring all the pieces together every month. I could go on and on. Every month, I could fill this page with words of gratitude for every person on our team. Terri Sandefur and Leah Orr have known me since I was 21 years old and have walked with me through A LOT of stages of life. Britt Earnest and I became friends in a Sunday school class many years ago, and I love that our journey has led us here. And speaking of our team, we are excited to welcome our newest member, Shelby DeMuth Akin! We are so excited about all she will add in the months ahead. As we all get back into the routines of the school year, I hope you enjoy this month’s issue of Texarkana Magazine , and I hope it helps get you as excited as we are about Friday night football! We wish all our teachers, coaches, administrators, students, and athletes a wonderful 2022-2023 school year!






Texarkana Magazine is a multimedia publication showcasing the Texarkana area and is designed and published by Cardinal Publishing, LLC. Articles in Texarkana Magazine should not be considered specific advice, as individual circumstances vary. Ideaology, products and services promoted in the publication are not necessarily endorsed by Texarkana Magazine .




I t was easy for Solomon to opine about the value of knowledge, experience, and good judgment. He was not worried about the source of his next meal, a safe and comfortable place to lay his head, clothing to keep him protected from the elements, or the cost of college for Rehoboam. It is good to be the king. As for the rest of us, wisdom may be better than rubies, but wisdom will not pay the rent. That is the inspiration for this column, and in the paragraphs which follow here (and in the months ahead) it will be my intention to inform, encourage, and perhaps occasionally entertain you as I share my perspective on preparation for an unpredictable future. We are going to die—all of us—and what we do between now and then will have a lasting impact on everyone we leave behind. What will be your legacy? A well-planned exit with an intentionally seamless transition of your worldly belongings to the people and causes most dear to you, or a thoughtless departure necessitating the mother-of-all scavenger hunts to find your stuff and likely ending in its haphazard disposition? The wisdom of prescient decision- making should not preempt collection and use of the rubies required to get the job done. Professional assistance in sorting out your affairs and putting your material house in order is well worth the cost. Your loved ones, your congregation, your alma mater, your community—those “objects of your bounty”—will thank you for it, and best of all, you can revel in the confidence that you had the final word and circumvented a legal feeding frenzy. Here are some simple suggestions to help you get started... IDENTIFY YOUR OBJECTIVES You spent a lifetime working to accumulate what you have. Deciding where and to whom you want it to go and on what terms is not a task to be taken lightly. Think carefully about your ultimate goal. Families are complicated, and the death of a beloved member can be traumatic. Worthy objectives might include multi-generational preservation of assets, minimization of tax consequences, and elimination of strife among relatives after you are gone. (Note to

self: Be the beloved member who is dearly missed and charitably remembered… not the sorry, selfish SOB whose seat is subject to a bidding war at the next family reunion.) INVENTORY YOUR POSSESSIONS Take stock of what you own. Only then can you decide who is to get what. Your “estate” includes it all—real property (land and improvements to it like buildings and fences), personal property (clothing, jewelry, furniture, vehicles, bank accounts, and investments), and intangible property (patents, copyrights, licenses, and other rights generally difficult or impossible to physically hold). Do not be offended that what you might consider to be an “heirloom” may not be cherished nor perceived as such by others. ASSESS YOUR VALUES Just what is it you wish to accomplish with your plan of disposition? Is there a particular impact you wish to make or memory you wish to preserve? Some people place a priority on providing educational opportunities, while others may choose to focus on home ownership. What do you value most and how might you want to make that available to those you leave behind? BEHOLD YOUR BENEFICIARIES Should you choose not to make an estate plan, know that the state wherein you reside when you depart the premises will make one for you. Each state has its own “statute of descent and distribution” which prescribes your “heirs at law” and then dictates how your estate will be divided among them. So long as you are satisfied with that determination, there’s nothing more you need to do. If that is not acceptable, you must take affirmative action to name those parties (persons and programs) you wish to benefit from your estate and in what amounts or percentages. USE YOUR TOOLS This is where the rubber meets the road, and the estate plan comes into existence. Most often the plan includes one or more of a Will, a Living Trust, and beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement plans, or financial accounts. Additional legal instruments


Wisdom is better than rubies. —Proverbs 8:11




which offer valuable estate and health care assistance are powers of attorney for both business and medical purposes, living wills or directives to physicians, and declarations of guardians in the event of future need. KNOW YOUR RESOURCES If all of this is beginning to sound a little daunting, well, it is. Do not make the mistake of being penny-wise and pound-foolish. This is where your rubies will mean the most, and finding competent and compatible professionals—financial and legal—to guide you through the process will determine your degree of success in attaining exactly what you want to accomplish. Getting the right advice at the right time can help you avoid unintentional and unanticipated tax consequences, preserving your estate for those whom you truly intend to benefit (and pencil whipping the government—legally, of course—can also provide a unique sense of achievement if not unmitigated joy). REEVALUATE YOUR PLAN Completing your estate plan can be a fulfilling and relieving experience, but it is not something you can set and forget. Periodically, you should revisit it to confirm that it continues to comport with your goals and desires. In any event, you should always review and reassess your plan whenever you experience (i) a material change in the value of your estate; (ii) an interest in

changing your beneficiaries or any parties nominated to serve as personal representatives of your estate, trustees of any trusts, attorneys-in-fact, or health care agents; or (iii) a major change in the applicable tax laws. History reflects that Solomon’s legacy was not exactly what he expected. The author of “spare the rod and spoil the child” did not necessarily heed his own advice. When Rehoboam assumed his father’s throne, his behavior resulted in a rebellion so severe the kingdom was divided, and the future Solomon envisioned for his son and the monarchy was irrevocably changed. No amount of wisdom—or rubies—could reverse the damage. Planning for an unpredictable future, first with us and later without us, could not be more important. Good stewardship demands it, and our families deserve it. Acknowledging that wiser minds have failed at what we now seek to do, I suggest you hold on to your rubies. Keep them close and be prepared to use them generously when the opportunity arises. Freddy is an Assistan t Professor of Accounting at Texas A&M University- Texarkana and an attorney Board Certified in Tax Law and in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. His practice is limited to matters of federal and state taxation, wealth transfer and asset protection planning, probate and the administration of estates, and the formation and operation of business, professional and nonprofit entities. You may find him at




Five Bowie County and area school districts will implement a four-day week for the 2022-2023 school year. Fridays will be considered student holidays, and some Fridays will be used by staff for professional development and planning time. The districts implementing the four-day week view the new schedule as a potential solution to many issues public education is facing. The districts used the input of the community, parents, and staff before approving the four-day week.

New Boston ISD 1,200 students

Pewitt CISD 860 students

DeKalb ISD 800 students

Hubbard ISD 415 students

Malta ISD 212 students




Why move to the four-day week?

Will students following the four-day week format receive less time in the classroom? An average of 30 minutes per day will be added to Monday through Thursday instruction to ensure the required minutes in school. Texas requires 75,600 instructional minutes per year. DeKalb ISD will provide 77,500 (3.5 days over the minimum requirement) with a school day running Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Improve teacher recruitment and retention

Allow more time to meet state requirements for remediation and certification

Increase teacher

planning and preparation

Reduce teacher/ student burnout

Why are Fridays the chosen day to take off? Fridays are the lowest days of attendance in schools with the greatest need for substitute teachers.

What will parents do for childcare on Fridays? Districts implementing the four-day week will partner with community churches and childcare facilities to provide childcare at a low, affordable rate.

What are the financial benefits or costs? According to DeKalb ISD, their research states a district will save 0%-5%, and New Boston’s research stated .5%-5% savings. Districts voiced that they did not make the decision based on money.




Will districts provide food services for children who depend on the school for meals?

Through grant funding, DeKalb ISD will provide afternoon care (ACE), lunch, and transportation to students needing food and childcare. New Boston ISD will offer meals on Fridays for students who qualify for free and reduced meals and choose to participate. Malta ISD’s parent survey did not show great concern for childcare or food service. Malta ISD will continue to partner with a local program that sends food home to children in need on the weekends.

My hope is that the class periods will have enough extra time in them that the teachers and students alike will have more useful lecture and practice time for their subject matter. Anything new is scary and also exciting. I hope this is the best thing ever in the way of public school education. ”

Will extracurricular activities be cut? According to DeKalb ISD and New Boston ISD, extracurricular activities will still take place on Fridays and will not be affected.

—Ashleigh Wilson, Pewitt CISD Parent




What are people saying? DeKalb ISD surveyed parents, teachers, and students before bringing the decision to the Board of Trustees, and here’s what they found... 97% of teachers voted in favor of a four-day week.

100% of teachers voted in favor of a four-day week in Malta ISD.

76% of parents were either in favor of the four-day week or indifferent toward the change.

74% of students voted in favor of a four-day week, and 50% of students voiced they would seek a job, babysit, or volunteer on their Fridays off. 40/337 parents expressed concern for childcare.

90% of teachers voted in favor of a four-day week in New Boston ISD.

“We were attending a meeting with Commissioner Morath at the Region 8 Service Center last year. We were discussing topics like creative scheduling to increase teacher prep time, along with programs intended to entice more people to become teachers. That conversation sparked numerous conversations with local superintendents, and we began to research and brainstorm different ideas. Ultimately, the surveys internally of staff and our parents helped us make the final decision.” —Brian Bobbitt, New Boston ISD Superintendent

“Texas four-day week districts we have talked to reported higher morale, attendance, and better prepared staff by moving to a new calendar. Additionally, they have reported the families love the extra time with their kids and older students are able to work on Fridays providing them with a real-world learning opportunity.” —Chris Galloway, DeKalb ISD Superintendent

“I’m excited to see how the four-day week will work out this year. I am one who always tries to find the positive over the negative when it comes to big changes. I wasn’t sure in the beginning when thinking through the adjustments we would all have to make, but I believe the almost weekly break for the students and teachers will be beneficial for all. I guess we will wait and see exactly how it all plays out.” —Tera Barrett, New Boston Middle School Teacher

“Teachers were given the opportunity through a survey to show their support for or against (the four-day week). In fact, that is where we started. If we didn’t have buy-in from our teachers, we would not have pursued it any farther. I spoke with the Malta ISD School Board about the topic, and we decided to start with the staff to get their feedback. The support was overwhelmingly 100% in favor of the possibility of transitioning to a four-day instructional week.” —Stacy Starrett, Malta ISD Superintendent




A community, by its very definition, is a group of people living in the same place with common goals, interests, and attitudes. Growing up in Liberty-Eylau, Kendrick and Kayla King found a strong, supportive community of people who gave them the opportunities to succeed. The solid community Kendrick and Kayla experienced growing up inspired them to pour their hearts out to the current generation of children growing up in Liberty- Eylau. “We love that Liberty-Eylau is not just a school district,” the Kings shared. “We are a family and a community. We are always here for each other.” Kendrick was born in Kansas City and moved back and forth a few times during his school years, but was never gone for very long. Kayla has lived in Liberty-Eylau her whole life, attending and completing school as a Leopard. Kendrick and Kayla graduated together from Liberty-Eylau High School in 2011. Today, Kendrick is a fifth-grade physical education aide and bus driver for LEISD. Kayla volunteers for the LEISD leadership team while working full-time as an administrative assistant at Williams School. Growing up, Kendrick and Kayla had a dedication and fervor for sports. Kayla ran cross country and track in her middle and high school years. In 2010, the Lady Leopards won the State Track Championship with Kayla as a team member. “Although I did not make it beyond regionals in my individual events,” Kayla said, “it was incredible to be part of such an amazing group of student-athletes. I still share close friendships and memories with my teammates today.” Kendrick also participated in sports throughout middle school and high school. In middle school, he competed in football, basketball, and track. Kendrick spent his ninth through eleventh-grade years in Missouri, where he also played football, ran track, and wrestled. After moving back to Texarkana, Kendrick played football his senior year for Liberty-Eylau. Growing up as best friends, Kayla and Kendrick were married on June 18, 2016. The Kings have three children: Ashden King (10), Audrey King (9), and Destiny King (5), and they are excitedly anticipating the arrival of their fourth child. The Kings’ children inherited a passion for sports.





Ashden plays football and basketball, and Audrey plays volleyball, basketball, soccer, and softball. Destiny is a cheerleader and, without a doubt, a future basketball and volleyball player. In 2019, the Kings felt energized by their driving belief in the importance of sports in young people’s lives. They joined the Liberty-Eylau Youth Association (LEYA) to give back to their community. “I was looking for somewhere to coach youth football, and LEYA had an open spot for me, so I took it,” Kendrick shared. “I turned down multiple offers from other youth teams because I had an opportunity to sow a seed for generations to come with the Liberty-Eylau Youth Association.” In 2020, the Kings were named Program Manager and General Manager of the LEYA Board. “It felt easy and natural,” they shared. “We have a passion for building up our Liberty-Eylau community. Every year, every sport, every season, we are looking for ways to better our LEYA program.” Through multiple sports, they wanted a solid

and prepared for future athletic careers. Likewise, Kendrick has taken another step in preparing himself for future leadership within the district. He has decided to go back to school. “I had no intentions of attending college after high school,” Kendrick said. “My wife inspired me to apply to Texarkana College during a football game. We were attending a game at Liberty- Eylau High School, and I was yelling from the stands because the players kept making mistakes. My wife turned to me and said, ‘they can’t hear you because you aren’t

on the field.’” At that moment, with his wife’s statement, Kendrick chose to begin working on his credentials to become a football coach. He has graduated from Texarkana College with his associate degree and will graduate in December from Texas A&M University-Texarkana with his bachelor’s degree. “I must admit it has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” Kendrick said, “but I am almost there.” The Kings are an exceptional

Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much. ”

—Helen Keller

foundation for the future of Liberty-Eylau Athletics. Kayla shared, “It is important for kids to learn at a young age how to win, how to lose, and how to be part of a team. Youth coaches are not only teaching fundamentals, but also building up these young men and women and teaching them how to have good character. If we can keep our youth busy and active, there’s no time for trouble!” The Kings’ desire is for the LEYA program to continue to grow each year and to see the young LE student athletes active

testimony and example of the power of “together we can do so much.” “We know that our administrators and staff are working day in and day out to see our students succeed both academically and in their everyday life,” the Kings said. The Kings’ goal is for Liberty-Eylau to continue to thrive. The Kings do not simply hope, however. They get up every day and commit their dreams to action. “In case you couldn’t tell,” they jokingly and proudly shared, “the King family BLEEDS Leopard.”





T he Texas High publications program begins its work on Friday nights long before kickoff. During the summer, preparation and planning commence for fall sports coverage. “Each summer, the staff plans out coverage for all fall sports,” adviser Clint

Smith said. “We design score graphics for our social media and train students to be photographers, videographers, and editors.” Before the start of school, writers, editors, and photographers go through a boot camp, along with multiple workshops, to ensure their skills are polished and ready

to go for the upcoming school year. The boot camp is an opportunity for incoming “newbie” photographers to grasp the basics. “As soon as boot camp starts, we hit the ground running,” senior assignments editor Braylen Garren said. “We teach them ISO, aperture, shutter speed, camera




“Every picture we take captures a story, and whether it be a win, loss, celebration, or injury, we tell that story.” The staff also gets a chance to interact with the coaches and players while being on the field and snapping photos. “Interacting with the coaches and players is really fun for me,” senior podcast producer Braden McKinnon said. “I get to hear their side of everything going on, every play and moment, so I think that is cool.” Capturing emotions is as important as capturing action shots. Since football is high energy and filled with emotion, much detail goes into taking photos. “Photographers must have their heads on a swivel. Most of our awards come from telling the story of what happens off the field,” Smith said. “The best image that everyone is missing is hiding in plain sight because everyone is looking at the same thing.” Apart from the action on the field, the Friday Night Lights production continues up to the Grim Stadium press box. “Games from the press box are some of my favorite memories,” McKinnon said. “Usually, I can talk to some of the coaches, principals, or announcers about the game, and there is always tons of good food!” In addition to coaching and faculty access, there are other benefits to watching the game from so high up. “Writing up there is awesome because I can see everything going on, and it makes everything a lot easier to get the information,” McKinnon said. “Usually, with a roster provided, I learn a lot about players, and it makes writing the stories much easier.” For the publications staff, Friday Night Lights does not end after Grim Stadium locks up. After games, the media staff return to the school to finish production. “Finishing production is usually really hectic. Everyone is scouring through all the pictures and videos trying to find the best ones to put up with the story that night.” McKinnon said. “Usually, everyone gets to leave around 1 a.m., but it is really fun and good bonding from all of the staff.” Finishing the overall production of that week’s game takes effort from every section of the staff. “Photographers build galleries from their photos, writers and stat keepers build their story, videographers make highlight reels or archive footage for the next week’s advance stories,” Smith

mechanics, composition, and editing so that they can take usable photos by the end of July.” The camp is not all business, though. The newspaper and yearbook staff give the incoming photographers a chance to test their newfound skills at the end of the week. “Newspaper and yearbook students have a paint war,” Garren said. “The photographers treat this like an assignment, so they get real-time experience, and after that, they’re expected to know what to do and be trusted.” Shooting at fast-paced events, like a paint war, prepares the photographers and videographers for the upcoming sports season: football. Like most schools in the south, Texas High lives for its football program. “The culture for football is unmatched at Texas High. The student sections are always crazy, and the entrances are unreal,” senior videographer Jackson Haltom said. “You do not get a better experience; for me to get up close and personal with every aspect of the game is so awesome. I want to be able to show every person possible how great this game really is.” The importance of football across the student body makes the photographer’s job even more impactful. “Capturing moments on Friday nights are so important,” Garren said. “We capture the highs and the lows, the reactions, and the intensity of the game. We get to tell the game’s story from something as simple as a photo.” With a camera covering every inch of the field, the photography staff is always prepared to capture a moment and tell a story. “We, as photographers, deliver the experience of [Friday Night Lights] to the fans,” senior editor-in-chief Macy Maynard said.






said. “[At the end of the night,] our section editors publish the finished product to .” The photos and videos produced also mean a lot to the football players. “The players get to interact

Braylen Garren, Macy Maynard, Allyson Arnold, Lizzie Debenport, and Sydney Rowe made up the Texas ImageMaker team, a team of the top ten photographers in the state of Texas. Despite the endless hours of work, the media staff focuses on producing for their school. “It all is worth it to me to know that I am telling a story for our school, students, and school district,” Maynard said. “And all the hard work is shown in [what]

with the camera and photographer while having fun, but also playing the game they love,” senior varsity football player Cody Reese said. “It gives the players a sense of fame and gives them memories they will never forget.” The Texas High publications staff has earned multiple awards across the state and the nation. The photography staff won first place in the Sports Photography and Photojournalism categories in the Association of Texas Photography Instructors Top Program awards. Individuals won national awards, as well. “Our students won twelve individual achievement awards, more than any other school in the nation, in the 2022 Josten Photo Contest,” Smith said, “including awards in sports action, sidelines, and school spirit categories.”

we produce as a program.” Adviser Clint Smith focuses on two primary goals for his staff while they are a part of his program: teaching them to be good journalists and skills to use throughout their lives in aspects aside from journalism. “I would love for my students to become great journalists or media content creators of some sort,” Smith said. “However, I am happy if they learn teamwork, leadership, and build communications skills while in our program.”







Beaming stadium lights, the consistent beating of drums, and the smell of fall fills the air. Students dawn painted faces and spirit gear, still feeling the enthusiasm from the pep rally earlier in the day. Parents hold signs of support, and cheerleaders line the field to welcome the football team to the electrifying atmosphere. Half-time brings new entertainment as the band and drill team take the field to wow the crowd. Hours of practice from the week come down to just minutes. The scoreboard beams as our



Texarkana athletes take the field to fight for a win. These are the memories that make high school special. Students, parents, and players have waited over 250 days since the end of the last football season, and Friday Night Lights has finally arrived.



The Texarkana Arkansas School District Athletic Department welcomes new Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Trey Outlaw. From Monticello, Arkansas, Outlaw attended Arkansas State University. While attending Arkansas State University, Outlaw played football for five years and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education, a Master of Science in Educational Leadership, and an Education Specialist Degree in District Level Leadership. Outlaw is the former assistant head coach/defensive coordinator at El Dorado High School. Before coaching at El Dorado High School, Outlaw served as athletic director and head coach at Bearden High School, defensive coordinator at Wynne High School, defensive coordinator at Gosnell High School, varsity assistant at Brookland High School, and varsity assistant at Barton-Lexa High School. Outlaw is "very excited and humbled to be the athletic director and head football coach of a program with as much history and tradition as Arkansas High." His number one goal for this season and seasons to come "is to get the program back to where it was when it was the flagship program of Texarkana and the State of Arkansas." Outlaw is married to his wife, Brittney, a North Heights Elementary School teacher.





Cheerleaders get the full experience of Friday Night Lights. The atmosphere we get to experience is unbeatable. We get the band, the game, the fans, all of it. It’s impossible to stand still at games because all I want to do is jump around and scream because that’s the only time it’s acceptable, and everyone is doing it. Having a team to get behind and a community supporting it is what makes Friday nights so special. My favorite part personally is the adrenaline and excitement from everything going on around me. ” —Ava Keyes, Pleasant Grove High School Cheer





I can always hear my heartbeat when we get ready to go out on the field. As soon as the music starts, we skip on the field with the biggest smiles and pointed toes. Once the music stops and everyone in the stands claps, I suddenly feel like I am on top of the world. We come back for the fourth quarter. We scream and shout for the team no matter the outcome. When the game ends, we always line up with the football boys and cheerleaders on the track. We come together and wave our fingers in the air singing our alma mater. There is no greater feeling than Friday Night Lights! ” —Ainsley Richardson, Arkansas High School Redline






Pleasant Grove Independent School District welcomes Jay Sutton as the new director of bands. Sutton has ten years of teaching experience. As the assistant band director, Sutton began his career ten years ago in Texarkana Independent School District. Sutton has been the director of bands and fine arts department chair at Redwater High School for the past seven years. The Redwater High School Band earned multiple UIL Sweepstakes Awards under Sutton’s direction, including two-time UIL State Marching Band Championship finalists in 2019 and 2021. Sutton is a native of Texarkana and a graduate of Pleasant Grove High School. He was a Pleasant Grove High School Pride in Motion Band member. Sutton earned a Music Education Degree at Henderson State University. Sutton is married to his wife, Kim, and they have two little boys, Reid and Ben. Kim is a family nurse practitioner, a Pleasant Grove High School graduate, and a former Pleasant Grove High School Pride in Motion Band member. “I am extremely excited to be back home in Hawk Nation,” Sutton said. “There is no denying the incredibly high-achieving programs that Pleasant Grove ISD already provides. I am ready to push the band program to the levels of so many other things in this district. It is sort of a surreal experience to be back inside these walls that helped me develop my love for music and band, and I can not wait to get started in my new role here.” Sutton has high hopes this year and goals for the Pleasant Grove High School Pride in Motion Band to be seen as “one of the best in the state. “We have a lot of work to do,” Sutton said, “but I know with all of the support from our administration, faculty, staff, and community, we can definitely achieve that goal.”






The Texarkana Arkansas School District proudly announces new Head Band Director, Vincent Flieder. Flieder was previously the assistant band director and music teacher at Arkansas High School. “I am very excited to be taking on the director of bands position,” Flieder said. “It is a big task being the head of a program, especially one as renowned as the Arkansas High Razorback band, but it’s one that I am very honored to be trusted with. The staff I have are one of the best in the state, and the students are definitely top notch.” Flieder graduated from Texas High School and attended college at The University of Arkansas at Monticello. Before Flieder joined the Texarkana Arkansas School District, he was the band director and music teacher at Maud Independent School District. Flieder also served as the junior high band director, assistant band director, high school choir director at Hope Public School District, and high school choir director at Chapel Hill Independent School District in Tyler, Texas. “I plan to keep pushing forward to create even more opportunities for our students to learn, grow, and thrive,” Flieder said. “I also want to create a culture where our students know that we have a place for them to be themselves and be supported and loved. AHS (Arkansas High School) is already known for being a powerhouse with its programs, but I want to go further and make sure that there is no doubt that we are the top band program in the area.” Flieder is married to his wife, Bonnie, the theatre director at Texas High School.







M y queen, Oprah Winfrey, taught me how important getting an education is. My mom passed a plethora of Oprah quotes to me while growing up, one of the most important being, “Education is power.” These words of wisdom were only a tiny part of a more extensive lecture in my early high school years. After expressing my thoughts about possibly not going to college to my mom, she reminded me, “Education is power.” It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I have never forgotten that quote. I thought Oprah and I were finally on the same page as I walked up the steps to my first college class in the fall of 2016. But after I graduated from Texarkana College with my associate degree in the spring of 2019, I decided not to return to school. Yes, I suppose I let Oprah down. Fast-forward three ridiculously fast years later, and here we are. I have decided to take my first

steps toward redemption and further my education, one outrageously expensive textbook at a time. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) form was not as bad as everyone made me believe it would be, and that was an enormous weight off my shoulders. Everyone at Texas A&M University-Texarkana has been kind, helpful, and accommodating. Overall, it has been a relatively smooth process. I have so many dreams and goals set for myself. I quit school in 2019, believing that nothing in a textbook or an online course could help me achieve those goals. My dreams have gotten bigger, however. I work at Heritage Home Health & Hospice as their digital media manager. Who would have thought I would be in front of a computer screen all day? But I am creating, and creating, and hoping to make Heritage’s social media presence one of the best. I

am passionate about what I do, but I have ADHD, and I know getting my degree can only expand the possibilities of what I can accomplish. I used to think being a dreamer was much more a curse than a blessing. In first grade, I remember journal time. Instead of writing about my summer, I would draw cotton candy monsters all over the page. The monsters were pink and blue with creepy faces, and I wished SO badly they were real. I know I was not following the assignment’s instructions, but tapping into that creativity was therapeutic for me. I used to believe my imagination was repugnant; I was afraid of it and wanted to hide it because everyone around me was intelligent and articulate about the world around them. I always seemed to be looking past the here and now. In some ways, I am still that little first grader drawing cotton candy monsters all










Clayton Haas 1491 by Charles C. Mann

Magan Wisdom Emily in Paris on Netflix

Kristi Brown Transformative Principal with Jethro Jones

over the pages of my world. I am much wiser, though, and more readily accepting of reality. I remain optimistic enough to believe that there is so much more beyond what we can see. Rainy days can be opportunities to sit on a porch and watch the rain with friends. A moment of weakness where you lost your cool can be a moment to reflect on what triggered you to lose it in the first place. Quitting school to regroup your thoughts, explore your options beyond the typical, and find peace before making any big decisions CAN be a beautiful thing. So what if your story does not end with returning to school as mine did? Who besides God knows what tomorrow brings? I could

go back to school and completely fail. I could also go back to school and succeed. The best part about either of these outcomes is that I finally have the nerve to keep drawing cotton candy monsters despite the “assignment” in front of me. We are often encouraged to follow in the safe footsteps of our parents, leaders, or friends ahead of us. I have followed others closely. I have everything I need because of it, but I still yearn to see and experience more. I want to build, learn, and grow; finishing my education is part of that. So, I am going for it. If you can wiggle your way out of your comfort zone long enough to do the same, I think you will be amazed at how much you enjoy the free-fall.


LIVE MUSIC August 5 Haywire The Hideout, 9 pm August 6 Heather Linn & The Deacons The Hideout, 9 pm August 13 Rewind The Hideout, 9 pm August 13 Mike Mayberry and the Slowhands Whiskey River Country, 9 pm August 13 Teazur Redbone Magic Brewing Company, 7-10 pm August 20 Hudson Street Live Fat Jacks, 7:30 pm August 20 Mo Pitney at Pioneer Days T&P Trailhead Park, New Boston, 6 pm

August 1-5 TRAHC Music Camp Regional Arts Center, Grades 1-8, $135 August 3 Creative Writing at the Literacy Council 2-4 pm (Wednesdays), Grades 6-12, Free August 4 Premier High School Open House Grades 9-12, Arkansas and Texas August 4 Temple’s Drawdown and Casino Night Crossties, 6 pm August 6 Four States Home School Expo Heritage Church, 11 am-3 pm August 11-13 46th Annual Hope Watermelon Festival Hope, Arkansas, Times vary daily August 13 David Briggs Memorial Car Show 555 CR-2111, Hooks, Texas, 8 am-2 pm

August 13 Peak Fighting Arkansas Convention Center, 2 pm August 17-20 New Boston Pioneer Days Festival T&P Trailhead Park, Times vary daily August 19 Haunted Texarkana Ghost Walk Kress Gap, 8 pm August 19-21 Team Shelby Southern Plains Region “4 State Stampede” 246-mile cruise through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana Free for Shelbys and Mustangs August 23 1st Annual Hotdog Eating Contest Hopkins, 5 pm

For more events visit







They say we only get 18 summers with our kids.

If that is the case, I have ten summers left with my daughter at home and 15 with the brothers. I realize that statement is not a fact, but I appreciate the awareness it has brought for me to soak up the days my family is all under one roof. One of these days, Lord willing, I will be packing cars full of boxes and sending my babies off to college. High school was good to me. Really, all of my grade-level school was good. My childhood anxiety showed up like clockwork every night before the first day of school because I was worried I would forget something or get lost in a school I knew well. Luckily, every year of school got better. Thank you, Pleasant Grove ISD! And while I did not soar academically but sat comfortably in the upper-middle portion of my class rankings, I thrived in involvement. I was a Showstopper, in Student Council, Yearbook, PGTV, Keyettes, and Leadership. You name it, and I was likely in it. And I had the very best time being that involved. My decision to attend The University of Arkansas after graduation was easy. My parents are alumni, and I grew up going to Fayetteville and calling the Hogs. I never felt pressured to follow in their

footsteps; I was excited to make my own memories and leave with the tradition of having my name on the sidewalk amongst the rest of the graduates. I started my freshman year living in the same dorm as my mom had and enrolled in courses for a degree in broadcast journalism. The University of Arkansas is heavy in Greek life, so

photo by Matt Cornelius






with my natural preference for a sense of connection, I decided to go through rush and pledge a sorority. Because my mom was also in a sorority, I was considered a “legacy” in that particular one, therefore having some sort of “foot in the door.” However, Momma made it clear she wanted me to go through my own process and find a home that was best for me, even if that meant not pledging the same sorority as her. So, I joined hundreds of other girls on campus, going from house to house all week, meeting sorority girls passionate about their sisterhood, philanthropy, and placement on the University of Arkansas map. I will be the first to admit the process of going through rush, now called “recruitment” in Greek-life lingo, can sound incredibly silly and rather judgmental. Those going through it are hoping to make a good impression and find their place in a home full of girls who have studied you the weeks prior. The sororities know your name, your hometown, your reputation, and, unknowingly to you, may have even been looking at posters of you plastered on their bathroom mirrors or eating cookies with your name on them from your hometown’s alumna group during “work week.” At the end of every day, the girls going through rush make decisions to narrow down their preference sheets, therefore “cutting” those sororities with whom they felt less comfortable. At the same time, the sororities are making their own cuts to narrow their list down to girls they want as potential sisters. The two lists are combined to determine the next day’s round of visits. The optimal situation is for preferences to align and for girls to be invited back to their chosen sorority houses. Unfortunately, it does not always work that way. Girls are not always invited back to the sorority houses they liked, and the sororities find out one of their favorite girls chose not to come back. Feelings get hurt, and depending on the passion one may have






for their sorority, I have seen relationships significantly fractured, even damaged, by this process. As the week goes on, the lists get smaller, and ultimately everyone is crossing their fingers that who they like likes them back. Bid Day is the “big day,” and at The University of Arkansas, all the sororities, potential new members, family, alumnae, and others gather at the Chi Omega Greek Theater. Girls open envelopes to find out which sorority has offered a bid asking them to be a part of their sisterhood forever. I will never forget the BCBG one- shoulder green poncho I wore on the first day of rush. My emotions stayed on the highest roller coaster for the entire week, and I was thrilled and a little relieved to receive my bid from Chi Omega on Bid Day. Even though only one other girl from Texarkana lived in the house at the time, I listed Chi Omega as my preference because there was something about the girls there that made me feel at home.

Over the next four years, I went from not knowing anyone in my pledge class to serving as Pledge Trainer and later Chi Omega President. One year during Chi Omega’s work week, I set up tents throughout the sorority house to “Go CAMPing with LEAH” so my sorority sisters would remember the name of my top hometown girl going through rush that year (Leah Camp Orr). Pets were not allowed in the house, but Mom Sylvia, our house mom, always helped sneak in my boxer Palmer when my boyfriend, now husband, would come to town. It did not take long for me to change my degree from journalism to psychology, and I walked across the street to campus every day for class with my best friends. Chicken finger Friday, Ms. Margaret’s banana bread, and a whole lot of growth sprinkled with laughter happened at 940 West Maple. I remember seeing a quote once that said, “If you think I paid for my friends, I at least got my money’s worth.” And let me tell you, I got my money’s worth.

My sorority sisters are some of my favorite and closest friends, and I have Chi Omega to thank for that. I recently talked with a friend whose daughter decided to undergo recruitment at the University of Arkansas this fall. Naturally, she is a bit nervous for her daughter and wants to protect her feelings from any potential hurt. Her daughter is incredibly smart and kind, not to mention beautiful, with the world at her fingertips, but as a mom, I get it. It takes courage to be vulnerable and try to find your place in a new chapter of life. As I encouraged my friend about the excitement ahead, I realized I could be in her shoes before I knew it. If my daughter grows up and decides to pledge a sorority in college, I will support her all the way. And if she decides it is not for her, I support that, too. I have ten more summers to instill all my wisdom and goodness in her and her brothers. It’s a great big world we live in, and I have a big job to do.



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