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Heart Health Basics From Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital

Heart Basics Courtesy of Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital

The pulmonary artery carries blood out to the lungs, where it is oxygenated. The pulmonary veins transport the oxygen-rich blood back to the heart. The aorta then distributes this oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. Once depleted of oxygen, blood returns to the heart and the process restarts.

Methodist_Sugar_Land

 

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Fashionista Emelia Natalichhio

From Austin High School to a fashion design internship in New York and Paris, this Sugar Lander is making her dreams of a career in fashion design come true

Written by Kennan Buckner | Select Photography by Rebeca Cortes

Sugar Land, TX News (December 3, 2014) - Emelia Natalicchio landed an internship with fashion designer Wes Gordon in New York City in 2011. It was the chance of a lifetime for this young, dreaming designer. “Wes was a magnificent mentor and taught me so much about the industry,” says Natalicchio. “All the knowledge I gained from that internship, I apply every day as a fashion designer.”

SLM_F_14_ Fashion Designer Emelia Natalicchio by Rebeca Cortes (6 of 22)

Emelia Natalicchio is creating her own fashion label and hopes to announce it on social media

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Behind the Scenes with Jennifer Bauer

KPRC Channel 2 reporter and Sugar Lander shares how becoming a mother brought a new perspective to her life and career

Written by Gail G. Collins | Select Photography by Sara Isola

How did you get into television news?
I’d wanted to do TV since I was 12 years old, and I had a passion for writing. I used to set up my family’s video cameraand record fake newscasts. I earned a journalism degree from Michigan State University and have been in the business for 15 years. I bumped around from my home in Michigan to Florida and have been in Houston for four years now. KPRC is my fifth TV station.

INSET-JenniferBauerCityHall

Jennifer Bauer dreamed of becoming a TV reporter since she was a young girl

What do you love about being a reporter?
Every day is different. It is never boring; it’s one adventure after another. I love being at the scene of the story and meeting people.

What makes a good story?
My favorite stories are those that make a difference – people need help and call the station to resolve it. It may not even be complicated, butwe have the resources to connect. It makes for a good day.

What are some of the challenges you face?
I have those on a weekly basis. The tough stories involve children, crime on a family, or car accidents. I talk to the families, but it is important to
get the news out, and it can make for some long days and long nights.

SLM_F_14_Jennifer Bauer_submission SL Magazine

Bauer has won two Emmy awards for her excellence in reporting

What is an average day like for you, balancing motherhood and work?
I have a great schedule for a working mom. My husband, Mike Guerrieri, is hands-on and also works for Channel 2. He is at the station first thing, and I work in the afternoon and evening. An au pair takes care of the time in between. My daughter Aubrey is 18 months old, and we can sleep in, play and read, and I can feed her lunch before her nap. I wouldn’t trade my mornings with her for anything. Then, I get some breathing space before I head to the station. There, I attend an editorial meeting, where we talk about recent news, tomorrow’s big story, and prioritize. The stories are assigned, and we head out, but often, we’re rerouted for breaking news. Then, I do my live shot, and sometimes, I have an appearance around town.

Has becoming a mom changed your point of view in covering the news?
Before I had Aubrey, I used to get upset if people said, “You don’t understand, because you haven’t had children yet.” I do understand, now, how much priorities shift. I have more compassion for family stories.

How does your family react to you being on TV?
My larger family is used to it after all of these years, but it’s new to Aubrey. She points at the screen and says, “Mama.” On delayed broadcasts, I may be at home next to her, and she’ll look from the screen to me, confused.

SLM_F_14_Jennifer Bauer_submission by Katie Lee Photography BL1C8248

Bauer’s husband, Mike Guerrieri, also works at KPRC. Their daughter Aubrey sees her broadcasts and recognizes “mama”

What do you love about Sugar Land?
My husband and I adore everything about the area. We’d heard so much about the parks, community, and schools that three years ago we built a home in Riverstone. Weekends are spent hanging out at Sugar Land Town Square. There are movies, music, and lots to do. We’ve tried all of
the restaurants or get frozen yogurt. My daughter could sit in front of the fountain for hours.

Do you have any advice to anyone who wants to enter the news business?
You have to be passionate about it. The news is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It never stops. You will end up working holidays, but those who are passionate about it don’t mind. SLM

GAIL G. COLLINS has worked as a print reporter, and like Bauer, enjoyed meeting people and telling their stories.

Catching Up with Sugar Land

In celebration of our 10th anniversary and our final issue, Sugar Land Magazine caught up with a few inspiring Fort Bend people we’ve spotlighted over the years. Today, these individuals are living their dreams all while inspiring and empowering others to do the same

Written by Kennan Buckner

Marcia Holmes – Cancer Survivor
Marcia Holmes’ life has changed since she shared her story with Sugar Land Magazine in 2012. Holmes finds herself in a “new normal” as her battle with cancer has transitioned into a slow-moving recovery process. “During 2013, I had three reconstructive surgeries and went from wearing a wig to having very short hair,” says Holmes. “I was thrown into chemotherapy-induced menopause – which brings all sorts of changes.” She has come to accept that follow-up doctor appointments are a normal part of the survivor’s life. Today, she in cancer-free. “Whenever I begin to feel worried or overwhelmed, I just turn it over to God,” says Holmes. “He always gives me the hope and strength that I need to carry on-that is one thing that hasn’t changed.”

Marcia Holmes 3

Marcia Holmes is a cancer survivor and mother who shared her story with us in 2012

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Fort Bend’s Homegrown Educators

Local educators establish careers in their alma mater school districts

Written by Taylor McLaughlin | Photography by Sylvia Garza

Sugar Land, TX News - For Fort Bend ISD and Lamar CISD educators and school staff, a connection to their home district runs deep, and for those returning to their alma mater, the meaning of community and school pride resonates. These staff members love their schools both past and present and are eager to help build their students into the community’s strong leaders of tomorrow.

Lilian Mason
Head Dance Director
Stephen F. Austin High School
Class of 2008
It wasn’t that long ago when Lilian Mason graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School where she was a captain on the Austin Angels Dance Team. Her love for dancing began when she was 3 years old. She fondly remembers her senior year and their last performance alongside the band. “That final performance was absolutely incredible, and the feeling of dancing right next to my best friends is one that I will treasure for the rest of my life,” Mason shares. She briefly studied elementary education at the University of Texas, but quickly transferred to the University of Houston to pursue a degree in dance. While studying, Mason returned frequently to teach, choreograph, and hold clinics for the Angels.

 

Becoming the Director
In 2012, Mason followed in the footsteps of her most influential teachers, Betsy Heathcock and Kristina Tarman, replacing Heathcock after her retirement. It was no question that Mason would apply for the position once it opened. She explains that she “already loved everything about AHS – the faculty, the dance program, the traditions, and the students.” It was her first choice.

Now as the director, Mason collaborates creatively with other Fort Bend ISD dance directors. Although she loves to channel different aspects of the job, getting to know her students personally is what ultimately keeps her driven. “As their dance teacher, I get to know them in a more relaxed setting. They can talk to me about real life issues.”

“Every time the dance team takes the field now, I remind them that this opportunity is unique and special.” – Lilian Mason

 

Rhett Gray
Administrator for Truancy/Dropout Prevention
Lamar CISD
Class of 1978
For Rhett Gray the phrase “no place like home” is not just an old saying, but a daily reminder of why he chose to return to Lamar CISD after his 1978 graduation from Lamar Consolidated High School. Thirty plus years ago, Gray “saw a great opportunity to make a difference in young people’s lives.” He returned to the community that in his opinion “cares about one another and [provides] opportunities for all of us to be successful.” Although other offers came his way, none were as good of a fit as Lamar CISD. (more…)

Caring for Fort Bend County

Fort Bend Cares, a local charitable foundation, celebrates 10 years of service to disadvantaged youth

Written by Crystal Rawls

Sugar Land, TX News - The first Fort Bend Cares fundraiser almost didn’t happen. Threatening thunderclouds rolled in above the golf green that spring day in May 2005 and organization co-founders and fundraising novices Bob McLendon and Jim Rice considered canceling the event. But McLendon’s faith wouldn’t let the pair quit so easily.

“Bob and I held a brief discussion, and he said, ‘We need to step forward in faith and hold the golf tournament,’” says Rice. “The sky cleared up, and we held the golf tournament netting $15,000. We donated all of this money to the Boy Scouts.”

Local charities are recipients of Fort Bend Cares’ grants

 

An Act of Faith
In 2005, McLendon and Rice were simply two doting dads trying to do a little more to fund their sons’ Boy Scout troops. But after that first golf tournament, they realized their newly formed organization had the capacity to help so many more.

“As we continued our work, we realized there were many children who were not in Boy Scouts who also were in need in our community and decided that Fort Bend Cares’ mission needed to expand to fill this gap,” says Rice.

Filling the gap required rolling up their sleeves. Bob and his wife Gail spearheaded the organization’s growth, recruiting volunteers, planning fundraising events, and promoting the organization’s cause. Rice admits the early years were a difficult balancing act of raising a family, maintaining a full-time job, and growing a grassroots organization. But the late hours and time-consuming planning was well-worth the effort.

“[It] reminds me of the story of an older man walking along the beach,” muses Rice. “Presently, he came upon a young boy who was busy throwing [dying] starfish that had washed up on the beach…back into the ocean. The old man observed there were more starfish on the beach than the young boy could save and asked him, ‘Do you think you are making a difference by doing that?’ to which the young man replied as he threw a starfish into the ocean, ‘It made a difference to that one.’” (more…)

Chyna Wheatley

Miss Sugar Land 2014 brings healing and encouragement through Hands to H.E.A.R.T., utilizing art restoration therapy

Written by Gail G. Collins

Sugar Land, TX News - When Chyna Wheatley was crowned Miss Sugar Land 2014, she wore a luminous, asymmetrical, beaded gown with chandelier earrings and a winning smile. Winning doesn’t always come on the first try, though. Wheatley’s success was the culmination of experience and perseverance from entering six competitions prior. “It was exciting to win, and the previous pageants prepared me to compete,” Wheatley says. Winning Miss Sugar Land qualified her to vie for Miss Texas and Miss America.

Although pageant entrants are gorgeous, they are also well-rounded. They show off their fitness and their talent; they stun in gowns and stand on platforms. Wheatley’s talent is art, painting on stage, and creating images that reflect her faith in overcoming odds. This led to the creation of Heal and Encourage through Art Rehabilitation Therapy (H.E.A.R.T.) or Hands to H.E.A.R.T. Wheatley explains her aim: “Art has a greater purpose, and I am called to raise awareness for domestic violence.”

Wheatley’s art was self-taught, until winning acceptance to Mississippi School of the Arts. Her family is rife with athletes, but her grandmother, an avid gardener, taught 8-year-old Wheatley how to draw a flower blooming from a pot on an Etch-a-Sketch. The child practiced until she could do it perfectly. Then, she drew it on paper, painted it, and gifted it to her grandma. “That first picture is a metaphor for the grounding and growth required to sprout – no matter the circumstances,” Wheatley says. This same determination drives her art therapy program.

Miss Sugar Land Chyna Wheatley is using her passion for art and creativity to help others suffering
from domestic abuse through her
organization, Hands to H.E.A.R.T.

 

Performance Art
Wheatley moved to Sugar Land to be near family and attend the Art Institute of Houston. She graduates in December and is pursuing a degree in interior design. She wants to meld art and design to develop recovery shelters for those abused both mentally and physically.

While at the institute, Wheatley has played up her focus on domestic violence and art. Setting up an easel in the lobby, she invites people to place their painted hands on a blank canvas, which creates a natural exhibit. “These canvases have often become the background for other performance art,” Wheatley says. “In this way, so many people have participated in portraying this art and creating awareness.” (more…)

Billy Granville and Team

Former Texans linebacker shares his gameplan for a happy, healthy family

Written by Tonya Ellis | Photography by Sara Isola

Sugar Land, TX News - Billy Granville and his wife Gretchen of Sugar Land have always been sports enthusiasts. He played for the Cincinnati Bengals, and she ran the volleyball ministry for Athletes in Action, when they met after college. Little did they know that this interest in athletics would play a big role in how they’d run their family.

“Parenting, in a lot of ways, is like coaching,” explains Billy, who was the captain of his football team at Duke University. “If you coached each player exactly the same, your team wouldn’t be very successful. Each player is uniquely gifted, has specific strengths, weaknesses, and different ways they are motivated.”

Starting Lineup
Parents of six children ranging in age from 10 months to 14, the Granville’s days are action-packed to say the least. Life, 14, and Zoee, 13, attend Fort Bend Christian Academy, and Zion, 12, Macy, 10, and Maximus, 8, are students at Walker Station Elementary School. Champ, their 10-month-old, still stays home with mom.

“Each one of their personalities adds so much flavor to our family,” says Gretchen. “I cherish watching them interact with each other and encourage each other.”

Zion, Zoee, Gretchen, Billy, Life, Macy, Champ, and Max Granville work as a team to stay connected in their busy lives

 

Typical Days
The Granvilles take part in two sports or school activities each night of the week, with four activities on Tuesdays, so they generally have an early dinner. Afterwards, they have snacks, finish homework, bathe, lay out clothes, prepare lunches, and head to bed. The family, strongly rooted in their Christian faith, is also involved in their church. (more…)

Sugar Land Dining Al Fresco Style

Soak in the summer sun at some of Sugar Land’s delightful outdoor dining options

Written by Cherri Northcutt

Sugar Land, TX News - The lazy days of summer are upon us bringing a slower pace, a more casual attitude, and plenty of sunshine. It’s the perfect time to enjoy some great food and cool drinks with friends. What better way to do that than dining al fresco? Luckily, Sugar Land is home to a number of local eateries offering outdoor dining establishments where you can sample a variety of culinary delights.

The Livingstons take advantage of sunny summer afternoons and late sunsets, and enjoy al fresco dining

Bombay Pizza Co.
636 Hwy. 6, #100
281-242-1131 This local gem offers a unique fusion of Italian and Indian cuisine with pizzas you won’t find anywhere else. Owner Viral Patel says, “Summer is a great time to try the Gateway of India Pizza, with cilantro, mint chutney, tandoori chicken, and crab meat.” He recommends the Indian flatbread rolls. “It’s a party wrapped up in a piece of bread,” Patel says. Filling options include blackened chicken, veggie roll, sweet potato, or masala shrimp. The patio is a welcoming space for children and pets as well. Patel says, “We have a great view, and you can book the patio for parties.” (more…)

Healthy Families: Parent Talk

Sugar Land parents share tips on common topics we all face.

Need Advice? Have helpful tips to share? This section is where Sugar Land parents help each other out with advice and tips for common kid issues and childhood dilemmas.

How do you encourage your children to eat their vegetables?

“Start them on baby food veggies and different ones. Graduate to fresh veggies and never stop serving it. My grandson eats veggies more than meat.” – Lisa Simon Wimberley

“My 20-month-old eats anything and everything. But the 5-year-old and husband need to be tricked. I make things like cauliflower Alfredo, or mix a ton of chopped or pureed veggies into meatballs – or maybe margherita pizza.” – Lisette Womack (more…)

Raising Readers

How Sugar Land parents can foster a love of reading in children.

Written by Tonya Ellis

Ask an average kid what they most like to do in their spare time, and few will say read. Books have taken a backseat to video games, television, social media, and other distractions.

By 2020, reading levels needed to get a well-paying job and participate fully in society will be higher than they’ve ever been, according to the National Council on Teachers of English Standards for the English Language Arts. That’s why it’s important that our children work on their reading skills today, say Fort Bend literacy experts.

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We Love Our Scouts

Cub Scout Pack 1133 Collects Food for Needy
Cub Scout Pack 1133 participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring food drive to benefit Fort Bend families in need. This year, the boys collected 1,370 food items and donated them to the Bethel Ministry in Stafford.

Cub Scout Pack 1133 Collects Food for Needy

Cub Scout Pack 1133 Collects Food for Needy

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Notes & News

News from around the Fort Bend community!

Houston Methodist Staff Luncheon Celebrates Medical Heroes
Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital celebrated their unsung heroes of medicine – who keep the physician offices running smoothly and provide the first level of patient care. They also announced their expansion plans: a six-story patient tower, an emergency care center in Missouri City, and a facility campus for Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. Pictured are Fe A. Vicerra, Anna Ruiz, and Donna Mahoney with Methodist Diagnostic Cardiology of Houston.

Houston Methodist Staff Luncheon Celebrates Medical Heroes

Houston Methodist Staff Luncheon Celebrates Medical Heroes

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Fort Bend Wedding Guide

Find everything you need for a perfect wedding right here in Fort Bend County!

2014 Wedding Trends

GOWNS Blush gowns & textured fabrics
DÉCOR
Creams with gold & metallic
CAKES
Glitter, textured & unique shapes
FLORAL
Retro look with lots of greenery
FOOD
Late snacks & high-quality meals

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School News

Celebrating the students, teachers, and community supporters of Fort Bend area schools.

Click for more School News

Austin High School Science Olympiad
Students from Stephen F. Austin High School SciOly team recently qualified for the Texas Science Olympaid at Texas A&M University. As part of the competition, the team battled over 30 students from around the state. The team placed ninth and won four medals.

Austin High School Science Olympiad

Austin High School Science Olympiad

Baines Middle School Career Day
Some 500 students from Baines Middle School participated in career assessment tests to help them identify career fields that may be of interest to them. In addition to spending time with specialists in various fields of work, students were also able to play a game that involved being given a “salary” and having to pay expenses. (more…)

Fort Bend Birthday Party Fun

Planning a fabulous birthday party for your sweetie? Don’t forget to include the birthday boy or girl in the process, allowing them to pick a theme, a party game, or a favorite snack to serve. Choose a great venue and focus on making memories with your sweetie. Check out our list of recommended locations in the Sugar Land area to help you find the perfect party place.

Adventure Kids Playcare
4945 Sweetwater Blvd.
832-886-4153
adventurekidsplaycare.com

AMC First Colony
3301 Town Center Blvd.
281-277-5858
amctheatres.com

AMF Stafford Lanes
4919 S. Main St., Stafford
281-491-2856
amf.com

Athletic and Performing Arts Center
2 locations
281-969-7054
athleticandperformingarts.com

Build-A-Bear Workshop
First Colony Mall
16535 SW Fwy.
281-565-2327

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Sugar Land Summer Camps 2014

Now is the time to find the perfect summer camp for your Sugar Land sweetie. Fort Bend is filled to the brim with camps with many different themes, from education to the arts. Your child will be entertained while learning new things.

Written by Christen Wilson and Kennan Buckner

Athletic and Performing Arts Center
4502C Hwy. 6, Sugar Land 7746 Hwy. 6, Missouri City 281-969-7054 athleticandperformingarts.com
Campers ages 3 and up can learn cheer, dance, gymnastics, theatre, and tumbling at one of the Athletic and Performing Arts Center locations. This summer will feature eight weeks of camp, with a new theme each week. Camps run from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with extended care options available for an additional charge.

Forever Dance
4610I FM 723, Richmond 832-573-3734 foreverdancestudio.com
Children ages 3 to 18 are taught ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop dance styles by experienced instructors in a fun and nurturing atmosphere. Programs run June through July.

Fort Bend Music Center
12919 S.W. Fwy., #160 281-494-5885 fortbendmusiccenter.com
Certified music instructors teach children ages 7 and up to play various instruments including piano, guitar, or drums. Camp runs June through July, for one week at a time for two and a half hours a day, Monday through Friday.

Inspiration Stage
Summer Musical Camp 104 Industrial Blvd. 713-302-5329 inspirationstage.com
Campers ages 4 to 19 who are looking for a camp that will end with a spectacular performance in Sugar Land Auditorium should join the Inspiration Stage for summer camp. Camps offered weekly to various age groups and include theatre performances such as Jungle Book, Frozen, Sleeping Beauty, Annie, and more.

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Meet the Multifaceted and Multitalented Crystle Stewart

She stars in a hit sitcom on OWN, is a former Miss USA, and competed in the Junior Olympics. Sugar Land Magazine catches up with this versatile and talented Missouri City native.

Written By Tonya Ellis

Sugar Land, TX News - Since 2011, Fort Bend native Crystle Stewart has entertained audiences as Leslie, a character seeking love on the Tyler Perry sitcom For Better or Worse. Now, the former Miss USA is getting ready to begin her own real-life happily ever after with a Houston wedding set for Aug. 9.

Stewart met Tyler Perry in a restaurant; soon she was auditioning for a role while finishing studies at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles
Photo courtesy of Tyler Perry Studios

 

Put a Ring on It
Labor Day weekend, Stewart’s fiancé, Belgian model Max Sebrechts, staged a romantic proposal with her family’s help. She had no idea the helicopter they’d chartered for a Houston tour would land in her neighborhood’s Missouri City cul-de-sac. In front of a group of family and friends, Sebrechts dropped to one knee and proposed. A stunned Stewart playfully got her friends’ approval before she said, “Yes.”

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Oodles of Poodles

A Sugar Land couple finds the perfect pooch at Poodle Rescue of Houston

Written by Gail G. Collins | Select photography by Marisa Hugonnett

Sugar Land, TX News - When Beverly was rescued from a local Houston shelter, she was a brown, matted mess. Poodle Rescue of Houston (PRH) cleaned her up and two hours later, she looked like a fluffy, cream dream. The non-profit poodle haven assisted 800 distressed and homeless poodles last year alone. “Once we rescue dogs, we rehabilitate them and offer them for adoption to carefully screened families and individuals,” says PRH executive director Guinnette Peebles.

Peebles is a dog obedience trainer and owner of Prestonwood Kennels and has an affinity for poodles. When Bluebonnet Poodle Club asked for a volunteer for rescues, Peebles had the land for a dedicated facility as well as the know-how, so she accepted the job. The small-scale endeavor began in 1999 and grew quickly. PRH typically has 50 dogs in its program ready for adoption.

Poodle Rescue of Houston’s executive director Guinnette Peebles with poodle rescues Madison, Beverly, and Cash

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A Taste for Chocolate

Sugar Lander Annie Rupani’s sweet life as a chocolatier

Written by Crystal Rawls | Select photography courtesy of Jay Marroquin

Sugar Land, TX News - Chocolate has a way of soothing the nerves. Art expands the mind for unlimited expression. Combine the two, and taste becomes more than a sense – it becomes an experience.

It was this experience that changed the course of Sugar Land native Annie Rupani’s life. She had her goals neatly outlined and was on track to becoming a successful lawyer. But her life soon took a sweeter turn.

Annie Rupani’s life as a chocolatier is an extension of artistry and displays her talent for combining flavors with aesthetics
Photo by Deborah Smail

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Easter Services & Celebrations

Sugar Land, TX News - With Easter right around the corner, many of you may be looking for a way to join in community to celebrate such an important holiday. Sugar Land has many options to choose from when it comes to attending an Easter service. At Sugar Land Magazine, we want to wish all of you a happy Easter!

The Bridge Fellowship
April 20 at 9 and 11 a.m.
802 Brooks St.
thebridgefellowship.com

Calvary Church
April 20 at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.
12410 Sugardale Dr.
Stafford
calvaryhouston.org

The Church
April 20 at 9:30 and 11 a.m.
5500 Avenue N, Rosenberg
ilovethechurch.tv 

Christ United Methodist Church
April 20 at 8:15, 9:45, and 11:05 a.m.
3300 Austin Pkwy.
cumcsl.org

Crossbridge Church
April 20 at 9:00 and 10:45 a.m.
1049 Eldridge
crossbridge.cc

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Hightower Digital Media Academy

Fort Bend ISD program offers hands-on mass media opportunities to students

Written by Lorrie Crow Kimble | Photography by Chelsea Janacek

Sugar Land, TX News – Assisting a professional wedding photographer. Creating a video game. Designing business logos. Running a TV news broadcast and even planning a career as sportscaster for ESPN. These are a few of Hightower High School’s Digital Media Academy (DMA) students’ hopes for the future.

Open to all high school students in Fort Bend ISD, DMA is a two-program track academy that offers students the ability to work in both digital filmmaking and broadcasting, and digital graphics and 3D animation. Students meet every other day on a block schedule and earn college credit. Six students took time to share their academic experiences and future goals in digital media.

Hightower Digital Media Academy students Kennedy Miller, Kelsea Tanaka, Enoma Osakue, Robyn Marie Pereira, and Danielle Castillo

Hightower Digital Media Academy students Kennedy Miller, Kelsea Tanaka, Enoma
Osakue, Robyn Marie Pereira, and Danielle Castillo

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The Amazing Texans

Former Houston Texans linebacker and Fort Bend resident, Chester Pitts, competes on The Amazing Race

Written by Tonya Ellis

Sugar Land, TX News - When he retired from the NFL in 2010, former Houston Texans linebacker Chester Pitts thought his days of enduring physical trials in front of millions were over. Then his old teammate Ephraim Salaam asked him to be his partner on the 23rd season of The Amazing Race.

“I thought he was kidding,” Pitts says with his famous dimpled grin. “Five minutes later, I got a call from the show.”

The Amazing Race is an Emmy award winning reality TV series that pits 11 pairs of contestants against each other in a competition spanning the globe. Teams race to complete mental and physical challenges, traveling through four continents and nine countries. Each week, those last to complete the challenge are eliminated. The winning team receives $1 million.

Chester Pitts II and Ephraim Salaam were Houston Texans teammates from 2006 to 2009 and recently partnered together on CBS’ The Amazing Race Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Chester Pitts II and Ephraim Salaam were Houston Texans teammates from 2006 to 2009 and recently partnered
together on CBS’ The Amazing Race
Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS Broadcasting Inc.

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Frozen in the Mountains

Sugar Land resident battles blizzards and nearly loses his limbs during a trip to Nepal

Written by Rina C. John | Photos courtesy of Peter Fenelon

Sugar Land, TX News - Peter Fenelon and his college buddies were far away from the Texas heat when they got stuck in the mountains of Nepal during a blizzard in 2012. The snow slowed the hikers down and eventually forced them to stop at a remote rest area.

“The only heating we had was a small fire stove in the main room of a tea house,” Fenelon says. “The rooms were so cold that even a water bottle froze overnight.” The next day, the group continued their hike. “The snow completely covered the trails and continued to come down,” says Fenelon. “It was only going to get more difficult and dangerous as we continued up the mountain.”

What should have been an eight-hour hiking journey, ended up taking 15 hours. Fenelon says his feet went numb 45 minutes into the climb. When the group reached their destination, he removed his boots and noticed his socks were wet. “I took my socks off, and my feet were freezing. I had little pieces of ice on my toes,” he says.

Peter Fenelon (second from left) and his friends Chad Hutchinson, Jim Mazzo, and Thomas Owens fought blizzard conditions and frigid temperatures during their hike

Peter Fenelon (second from left) and his friends Chad Hutchinson, Jim Mazzo, and Thomas Owens fought blizzard conditions and frigid temperatures during their hike

He still wasn’t too worried because he didn’t feel any pain. “It wasn’t until the next morning when I woke up with swollen feet that I became nervous,” says Fenelon. (more…)

The Long Journey to Parenthood

The Morrises share their harrowing journey of becoming the adoptive parents of two beautiful girls

Written by Crystal Rawls | Photography by Tanya Radoff

Sugar Land, TX News - You never forget the date,” says Sienna resident Allyson Morris. “June 15, 2004.” She was eight weeks pregnant with her son, Elijah, and had gone to the doctor for a routine blood test. But there was something wrong. Either her body was treating the baby as an infection, or she had developed chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).

“I started screaming at the doctor. I was hysterical,” says Morris. For two weeks, Allyson and her husband, Trevor, anxiously waited for the results. “June 29,” she says. It was the date doctors gave her five years to live – and only if she had an abortion.

INSET SLM_W_14_Ella and Eva Morris by Tanya Radoff_09_for web

After the Morrises lost their son Elijah, they were inspired to adopt their two daughters, Ella and Eva

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Clements Global Studies Academy

Foreign studies program molds Fort Bend ISD students into world citizens

Written by Tonya Ellis | Photos provided by Global Studies Academy students

Sugar Land, TX News - Hola! Bonjour! Guten Tag! Ni Hao! Konnichiwa! You may hear these greetings as often as “Hi!” at Clements High School, home of the Global Studies Academy (GSA). Started in 2008 as the Global Language Academy, GSA’s mission is not just to teach students to speak to people of other cultures but to become world citizens. Students take part in a rigorous curriculum, volunteer in the community, and travel the world.

Five students from the program took time to talk about their experiences and future plans – today, GSA, and tomorrow, the world. “You hear people say all the time ‘I don’t know about this generation,’” says Anne Beckman, GSA program coordinator. “But when I look at this generation, I know that there is definitely hope for the years to come.”

Chris Dennis riding a camel while studying in Morocco

Chris Dennis riding a camel
while studying in Morocco

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Savannah Berry

This Sugar Land homegrown artist’s future holds more surprises than she ever imagined

Written by Michelle Johnson

Hometown Superstar
Sugar Land, TX  News – This Ridge Point High School graduate has come a long way from the Grand Ole Opry stage, and her performance four years later at the Sugar Land Town Square Superstar competition. Berry not only performed as a contestant on Team Blake on NBC’s The Voice, but she has also made her claim to fame performing a duet with country music superstar duo, Sugarland.

Shortly after posting her first singing video on YouTube at 12 years old, Savannah Berry’s talents were noticed by the Grammy Award-winning band Sugarland, and Berry’s life was changed forever Photo by Mark Guerro

Shortly after posting her first
singing video on YouTube at
12 years old, Savannah Berry’s
talents were noticed by the
Grammy Award-winning
band Sugarland, and Berry’s
life was changed forever
Photo by Mark Guerro

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MasterChef James Nelson

James Nelson of Bravado Spice tells Sugar Land Magazine about his experience making it to the top five on Fox’s MasterChef and where you can get a taste of this young entrepreneur’s zest for cooking

Written by Kennan Buckner

Sugar Land, TX  News – How would you describe your experience on MasterChef?
It was quite the life-changing experience. I learned a lot about what I’m capable of, and it reinforced my passion for food. What cooking challenge were you most proud about the outcome? I loved the crab-catfish elimination challenge. It felt great to win, obviously – but I loved that my flavors finally impressed everyone.

James Nelson, a top five finalist on Fox’s MasterChef, often sells his Bravado Spice products at Sugar Land Imperial Farmers Market, but fans can also get a taste of his pineapple and habanero hot sauce or San Patricio hot sauce by visiting bravadospice.com Photo by Greg Gayne

James Nelson, a top five finalist on
Fox’s MasterChef, often sells his
Bravado Spice products at Sugar
Land Imperial Farmers Market,
but fans can also get a taste of
his pineapple and habanero hot
sauce or San Patricio hot sauce by
visiting bravadospice.com
Photo by Greg Gayne

(more…)

Multiple Sclerosis: My Blessing in Disguise

Jessica Shockley shares how the disease has taught her to live in the moment

Written by Jessica Shockley | Photography by Sarah Crum Photography

SUGAR LAND, Texas (SLM) – In 2002, just three weeks before my wedding, I was told that I may have multiple sclerosis (MS). A week before the wedding, doctors confirmed it. MS is a disease whose course is unknown, and it affects each individual it plagues differently.

At the age of 26, my life changed forever. at year was one of the hardest of our lives. My husband and I had no idea what to expect. It is a testament to God that we made it through. I had visions of wheelchairs, canes, and walkers. The plans we had made for our lives would have to change. There was anger and sadness. There was fear, and years of plaguing myself with self-guilt as the disease began to run its course.

Jessica Shockley's family helps her cope with her multiple sclerosis

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Living Water

How one non-profit is bringing health and hope to thirsty people around the world.

Written by Susanna Donald | Select photography courtesy of Living Water International

SUGAR LAND, Texas (SLM) – It all began in 1990, when a group of 36 people from Sugar Creek Baptist Church went on a mission trip to Mombasa, Kenya, and saw firsthand how desperately the people needed clean water.

The team tried to drill a well, but they were unsuccessful. A group of three men – Harry Westmoreland, Gary Evans, and Gary Loveless – returned to Kenya, but there was still no water. When it seemed the project was destined to fail, Westmoreland made one final attempt, this time equipping Kenyan nationals to drill. The water that erupted from that borehole signaled the birth of Living Water International.

Living Water International is a non-profit organization based in Stafford that works to bring clean water to poverty-stricken countries and share the message of Christ

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Sensational Salads

Cool down this summer with fresh, crisp salads from these Fort Bend restaurants.

Written by Tonya Ellis 

SUGAR LAND, Texas (SLM) – Nothing’s better for dinner on a hot, summer day than a cool, crisp salad. Fort Bend restaurants take salads beyond the ordinary lettuce and veggies and make them sensational. We found seven you will definitely want to try.

Add chicken to The Cheesecake Factory's fresh vegetable salad for a filling and well-balanced meal

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Infertility The Second Time Around

Although fairly common, secondary infertility is rarely spoken about. After one or more successful births, many families find themselves unable to conceive. Courageous Fort Bend couples share their stories of overcoming the stigma associated with this perplexing diagnosis.

Written by Meagan Clanahan | Select photography by Taryn Burnett

SUGAR LAND, Texas (SLM) – Secondary Infertility infertility is a secret emotional and physical battle that millions of couples wage every year. It is the inability to get pregnant or maintain a pregnancy following the conception of other biological children. There can be numerous causes. “This is one of the most challenging problems that we face in our practice,” says Sugar Land ob/gyn, Dr. Lorelei Capocyan.

While discussions of primary infertility have become more commonplace, couples going through secondary infertility may feel more hesitant to speak out for fear of judgment. “We also have to be very compassionate with these women due to the psychological impact of the problem,” says Dr. Capocyan.

Jennifer and Jeff Dye had no trouble conceiving their son Andrew but suffered from secondary infertility before being blessed with their younger son, Thomas

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Unimaginable Loss

Bernice Dickey shares her story of returning to a joyfilled life after experiencing an overwhelming loss

Written by Bernice Dickey | Photography by Amanda Cortez

SUGAR LAND, Texas (SLM) – On Jan. 31, 2002, I woke up a wife and mother of two beautiful little girls. That evening, I was a widow and a single parent of one infant daughter. A car accident killed my husband my 10-year-old daughter and left my 1-year-old, Miriam, with second- and third-degree burns. I learned about this terrible tragedy by watching the 6 o’clock evening news.

 

Bernice Dickey learned about the tragic car accident that killed her husband and daughter from watching the 6 o'clock news

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The Difference of One

Dulles fourth-grader Sawyer Pennington launches toy drive for hospitalized children

Written by Jennifer Heath | Select photography by Rhonda Kuykendall

SUGAR LAND, Texas (SLM) – When 10-year-old Sawyer Pennington visited Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital, she noticed something unusual about all the games and toys in the children’s area of the hospital: They were all items the pediatric patients had to use and then give back. There was nothing the children could keep for themselves while they were being treated. Sawyer decided to change that.

Sawyer Pennington holds some of the toys she purchased for pediatric patients at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital

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