Katy, Texas Blog (June 7, 2017) – Free breakfast and lunch will be provided to all children ages 18 and under at no cost this summer. Dates and locations below.

Breakfast served from 8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. | Lunch served from 10 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

  • Morton Ranch Elementary 
    June 12-16, 19-22, 25-29, and July 5-7.
  • Mayde Creek Junior High
    June 12-16, 19-22,25-29, and July 5-7.
  • Raines High School
    June 12-15, 19-22,26-29, July 5-7, 10-13.
Courtesy of Katy ISD

Courtesy of the USDA

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Katy, TX Blog (June 5, 2017) – Seven Lakes High School graduate Caitlin Ricketts is now traveling the world modeling for top name brands

Written by Debbie McDaniel 

As a young girl growing up in Katy, Texas, Caitlin Ricketts only dreamed of the life she’s now living as a model for the Wilhelmina Agency in New York City. “I love being from Katy and I’m so happy I have all of my family still in Katy to come home to,” she says. She grew up in Katy ISD, attending Roosevelt Alexander Elementary School, Beckendorff Junior High School, and Seven Lakes High School. “I have lived in New York City for years now, but Katy will always be my home and a place to bring me back to reality.”

A Big Break
Ricketts was introduced to modeling at a young age. “I started modeling when I was a baby for brands like Foley’s and Palais Royal and stopped when I was about 5 years old. It wasn’t until I was 14 when my older sister Chelsea convinced me to try it out again and go to an open call for Abercrombie.” Ricketts shares how she ended up booking the job, and saw that she loved it. “I realized then how much fun and exciting it was!” The Abercrombie job jump-started her career. “It just took off after that,” she adds. Ricketts went on to sign with the New York agency Wilhelmina Models when she was 16. She moved to NYC and has been there five years now, modeling full time. “Since then, I’ve worked for brands like CoverGirl, which was one of my big dreams, Maybelline, and Garnier, and have had the opportunity to live in so many amazing countries such as South Korea, London, Japan, and Australia,” she says.

Traveling, People, & Projects
She shares that while traveling is one of the most exciting parts of her job, it can also be one of the most challenging. “I’m thankful for the chance to travel the world, and even though it can be hard to be gone for months at a time, I wouldn’t change a thing about it,” says Ricketts, who has been to 26 countries in the last few years. “My next stop is Iceland and I can’t wait.” Another fun part of her career are the people and projects. “I have had the chance to work with so many talented people like Bruce Weber and Bobbi Brown. I also had the pleasure of being a part of so many fun ads for brands such as LeSportsac and Kendra Scott, and magazines like Glamour and Shape.”

A career in modeling may seem glamorous, but Ricketts still embraces the Texas girl she truly is. “I love Tex-Mex, burgers and fries, and of course, some good ole’ Texas barbeque,” she laughs. “I grew up going to the rodeo every year and spent Friday nights dancing with my high school drill team during football season. I still cheer on the Texans from NYC and am a big fan of JJ Watt.”

Ricketts says she treasures her family, and also loves a glass of red wine and an episode of Game of Thrones. A great sense of humor is vital in her life and industry, and she recalls one of her most embarrassing moments. “I embarrass myself daily, but one memory that sticks out the most is when I dropped a shampoo bottle in a store and it busted open. I then ended up slipping in the mess and falling on my face right in front of the checkout line.”

Being looked to as a fashion icon isn’t always easy, but she describes her style as a mix of being very feminine and girly one day, to being very tomboy and gothic the next. “My style is ever-changing,” she adds. Ricketts encourages other young women to embrace their dreams and go after them no matter how big or small they might seem. She says her favorite quote has always been, “Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.” KM


  • CoverGirl
  • Glamour Magazine
  • Seventeen Magazine
  • Maybelline
  • Shape Magazine
  • Garnier
  • Kendra Scott
  • Abercrombie
  • LeSportsac
  • Marie Claire Magazine
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Katy, TX (June 1, 2017) Katy ISD recognized 88 high school seniors who were chosen by their campus administration for their dedication, perseverance and achievement during the 2016-2017 school year. Alongside each one of them, an outstanding teacher, who was selected by the student, was also acknowledged for having a profound impact in that student’s life.

These students are the finest example of the character and commitment of the Katy ISD community. Their passion for excelling embodies the Katy ISD mission and vision to prepare and inspire each student to live an honorable, fulfilling life….to create the future.

“The accomplishments of this senior class are outstanding,” said Superintendent Lance Hindt during the ceremony. “It is gratifying to know that Katy ISD will be well represented in colleges, universities, the military and the work force throughout our nation.”

Congratulations to the Class of 2017 Awards of Excellence winners!

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Katy, TX Blog (June 1, 2017) – Today is National Donut Day. Go nuts with donuts at these local shops and restaurants:

Shipley Do-Nuts
1135 S. Mason Rd.
20077 Katy Fwy.
27110 Cinco Ranch Blvd.
3811 N. Fry Rd.
Get a free glazed donut with any purchase.

Dunkin’ Donuts
3061 N. Fry Rd.

Free classic donut with the purchase of any beverage.

Tom + Chee
21788 Katy Fwy.

Grilled cheese donut sandwiches are $2 all day.

The Grove Do-Nutz & Deli
815 Plantation Dr.

One free glazed donut with any purchase. One per customer while supplies last.

More Katy, TX Donut Shops

Best Donuts
811 S. Mason Rd.

Daylight Donuts
5160 Franz Rd.
6191 Hwy Blvd.

D’ Lux Donuts & Kolaches
4327 S. Front St., Brookshire

Donuts Delight
23945 Franz Rd.

Donut Shack
21411 Clay Rd.

Fluffy Donuts
6078 N Fry Rd.

Fresh & Best Donuts
1619 S. Fry Rd.

Glaze Doughnuts
5815 Franz Rd.

House of Donuts & Kolaches
3030 Falcon Landing Blvd.

Just Glazed Donuts
6840 S. Mason Rd.

Katy Donuts
23222 Kingsland Blvd.

Mr. Donut & Kolaches
8945 S. Fry Rd.

Riley Donuts
550 Katy Fort Bend Rd.

Simply Splendid Donuts & Kolaches
1797 N. Fry Rd.

Snowflake Donuts
1316 Pin Oak Rd.
1443 FM 1463

Southern Maid Donuts
5508 S. Peek Rd.
5929 FM 1463

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Katy, TX Blog (May 10, 2017) – We’ve got something for every kind of Katy kid!

Written by Kennan Buckner and Katy Magazine’s Editors

Take a look at these area summer camp offerings to find the perfect camp connection for your Katy kid. Regardless of what your child is interested in, there’s a camp available for making summer memories last a lifetime.


Becky’s Academy of Dance
2501 S. Mason Rd.


Becky’s offers day camps for kids kindergarten through sixth grade, as well as dance and drill prep camp for junior high and high school students. Connolly Dance Arts 22760 Westheimer Pkwy. 281-693-1232 connollydancearts.com Dancers kindergarten through sixth grade can attend dance intensives. Dance and drill team prep is also offered for junior high and high school students.

The Conservatory of Music
23922 Cinco Village Center Blvd. 3719 N. Fry Rd.
832-437-4511 | 832-321-3382

Guitar camps are held July 10 through14. Camp A is designed for the camper with no prior knowledge of the guitar for ages 8 to 12. Camp B is for ages 13 to 15. The camps are two hours daily, Mon through Fri. Camp guitar materials and camp T-shirt included in price. Call for details.

A Painting Fiesta
16734 Westheimer Lakes N.

Campers can choose to attend a full-day or a half-day, but either way they are going to have a great time getting their hands dirty and learning some great painting skills. Snacks and materials are included in the cost.


ESN Health
Healthy Kids Camp
2770 FM 1463
Kids ages 8 to 12 will participate in daily fitness games, make fun crafts, and assist in preparing healthy snacks in the ESN Healthy Kitchen. Camp runs June 19 through June 22 from 12 to 3 p.m.

Circle Lake Ranch
1102 Circle Lake Dr.

A horseback adventure awaits your animal loving campers ages 6 to 12 at Circle Lake Ranch’s horseback riding lesson camps. Learn riding and horse care. They have an fantastic indoor classroom, too! Camps are held 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. weekdays. The camps run through August. Register early.

Club SciKidz
700 S. Westgreen Blvd.
CrossPoint Community Church

Outstanding week long science and technology day camps for first through eighth graders. Kids love their themed programs like space engineer, emergency medicine, programming, special effects, video game maker, grossology, chemistry concoctions, jurassic, quadcopter aerial robotics, and more.

Citizens for Animal Protection
17555 Katy Fwy.

Kids & Kritters camp is the place for future veterinarians in third through sixth grade. Campers will enjoy games and crafts as well as hands-on animal experiences. Enroll early!

Spanish Learning Castle
5024 E. 5th St.

A unique Spanish immersion summer camp with themes like safari adventure, dramatic play, and two weeks of under the sea adventure. Camps are offered through July 24 for ages 18 months to 7 years old from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with extended hours available.

Listo Translating Services & More
830 S. Mason Rd. Suite B2-A

A terrific way for kids ages 3 to17 to learn Spanish while enjoying summertime fun. Listo offers three different camps: Children’s Spanish immersion summer camp, bilingual art camp, and summer AP language camp. Visit the website for more information.

Montessori Kids Universe
2004 S. Mason Rd.

Kids will be able to stamp their passports as they travel around the world this summer. Students kindergarten and up will “visit” several interesting countries exploring the culture through activities and hands-on projects and themed traveling fun.

Camp in the City
Multiple Locations in Katy

Camp in the City is Pine Cove’s summer day camp programs that are offered at local churches. Kidsentering first through sixth grade will enjoy bungee trampolines, water slides, and climbing walls. Camps held at Grace Fellowship UMC (July 10-14), and The Fellowship (August 7-11).

Vacation Bible School
Multiple Churches in Katy

Numerous churches are having fun, themed camps for school-age kids. These are usually held in the mornings for a few hours a week. Check with your local church.

Katy Kips Gymnastics Club
923 S. Mason Rd.

Children ages 5 and up will enjoy jumping, bouncing, and tumbling at Katy Kips’ annual summer fun tumbling camp. All day classes are available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Weekly camps held all summer.

Double T Hideout
Typhoon Texas

Weekly day camp starts with a swim lesson followed by games and activities galore. Offering both full-day and half-day camps for school-age kids. Camps run through August 11, but space is limited so register early.

Aqua-Tots Swim School – Fast Track Swim Camp
1542 W. Grand Pkwy. S.

Fast Track Swim Camp gives children a jump start on their swimming because they receive 10 continuous days of swim lessons. Classes are offered at different levels based on the student’s needs. The courses are aimed at children who need to learn to swim or improve their swimming techniques.

Katy GT Academy
21020 Highland Knolls Dr.

Offering innovative camps like public speaking, young chefs, debate, chess, mental math, origami, critical writing, and many more, Katy GT Academy has something for every kind of advanced learner.

British Private Prep School
Multiple Locations in Katy

Make memories at one of British Private Prep’s summer camps. Themes include lights, camera, action; science adventures; and lions, tigers, and bears! Camp is for students kindergarten through age 12. Includes a camp T-shirt and water carrier.
Kids R Kids
Multiple Locations in Katy

Kids R Kids offer a 10-week summer camp series, where kids explore their hidden talents, passions, and interests. Each boy and girl will experience art and cooking, engineering, community service, and everything in between! The full-day program is open to ages 5 through 12.

Primrose Schools
Multiple Locations in Katy

These fun-filled, age-appropriate themed camps for ages 2 through 12 include basketball, flag football, soccer, cheerleading, art, robotics, science, drama, fashion design, and more. Camps will be running all summer.

Discovery Schoolhouse
4900 Falcon Landing Blvd

Programs are offered for children Pre-K through 13 years old which can be attended either three or five days a week. Children will experience field trips, charitable events, arts and crafts, and so much more. Educational activities include learning a new language, participating in a spelling bee, visiting the public library, and reviewing math skills.

Foundations Academy
20817 Westheimer Pkwy.

Students will build a time machine and visit cavemen, dinosaurs, gladiators, outer space, and more. Plus field trips, science experiments, team challenges, cooking, and splash pad play will have your kids wanting to go back each day. Camps run through Aug. 18 for kindergarten through sixth grade.

The Goddard School
24025 Cinco Village Center Blvd.

5220 Ranch Point Dr.

Get ready for some great field trips, STEAM activities, splash days, sports, and games galore. Also, fun mini-camps with cheer, dance, music, and cooking are available. Chose Preschool camp (ages 2 to 5) or Kids Club (K-5th grade.)

Kiddie Academy 
Multiple Locations

CampVentures, for ages 2 to 12, features age-appropriate programs, plus field trips, special visitors, and more. Day campers will create, explore, construct, design, investigate, and invent!


Monty Ballard YMCA 
15050 Cinco Park Rd.

Nestled in a woodsy park-like area, YMCA’s Camp Cinco offers exciting activities like archery, ropes courses, swimming, and more. It’s held at the 200- acre Camp Cinco behind Creech Elementary and features sports fields, a basketball pavilion, misting stations, and a brand new playground. Camp is held from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for campers ages 6 to 15.

Camp Willow Fork
21055 Westheimer Pkwy.

Campers will receive training in tennis, golf, and soccer. Includes a tennis racket, T-shirt, snack, and lunch. There are eight week-long sessions for ages 6 to 12. Camps run through August 4.

Falcon Point Country Club
24503 Falcon Point Dr.

The Club offers PGA Junior Golf half-day camps that run weekly through August 11. Two full-day camps will be held on June 27-30 and Aug. 8-11. Tennis camps are also offered. Call for details.

Golf Club at Cinco Ranch
23030 Cinco Ranch Blvd.

Weekly half-day golf camps run through July 31. School-age kids will learn fundamentals of golf, as well as participate in friendly competitions, games, and more.

Katy Volleyball Academy Camp
2211 Porter Rd.

Get ready for fall tryouts or just hone your volleyball skills with evening camps held four nights a week from 6 to 9 p.m. Various camps for fourth through 12th graders are held through
August 10. Call for details.

Stampede Basketball Camp
Camps held at Taylor High School

A camp for second through eighth graders to learn basketball techniques from top coaches in a fun, positive atmosphere. Camps are held June 5-8 and July 10-13.

Katy Youth Football

Offering both conditioning camps and tackle camps for first through sixth graders. Camps are held July 11-14 and July 18-21 respectively. Camps are held in the late afternoon and evenings.

Tiger Rock Martial Arts Taekwondo
625 S. Mason Rd.

5757 Katy-Gaston Rd.

Offering martial arts trick camps where students learn flips, twists, kicks, and master the jump track. They also have a camp of champions, and a combat sword camp for juniors and teens (green belt and above). Led by skilled masters, camps run various weeks June through July. Call for details.


FFPS British Soccer Camp
FFPS Soccer Complex
George Bush Park
800-828-7529 ext. 101

Camp for ages 6 through 16 will be held July 10-14 and will cover dribbling, moves, passing, shooting, and more. Coaches use a positive approach and are British certified.

Pro’s Katy Indoor Soccer
1005 Airline Dr.

They have a great summer camp program for ages 6 to 12. Campers will learn the sport of soccer with trainings and scrimmages and play a game or two of dodgeball all while staying cool in their indoor facility. Camp runs June 5 through August 11, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Register in person at the facility.


Katy Blazin’ Red Camp
Held at Katy High School

This track and field camp has two sessions Mon. through Thurs. 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for kids ages 3 to 12. Choose June 5-29 and/or July 6-16.

Katy Tennis Academy
Camps held at Beckendorff JH or Seven Lakes HS

Weekly camps cover areas like stroke technique, drills, singles and doubles, match play, serving, and more. Beginners, intermediate, and advanced players welcome. Ages 5 through 17. Camps run through Aug. 11.

Texas Rugby Kids

Multiple Locations

Five fun-filled days of non-contact rugby fun for boys and girls,ages 3-14. Weekly camps run Mon- Fri 9 am-noon throughout June and July. Teamwork, physical activity, and coordination for the little ones; skill development, off-season training, agility work and game play for our older ruggers.

American Robotics Academy
700 S. Westgreen Blvd.
(CrossPoint Community Church)

Their mission is to excite, inspire, and motivate youth about the fun, importance and impact of robotics technology in today’s world. Their classes teach students to understand “how things work” through hands-on activities that demonstrate the principles of simple and motorized machines. Offering both morning and afternoon camps. Camps run through August 11.

Spotlight Acting Academy
The Villagio Town Center
22758 Westheimer Pkwy.

Offering summer camps, classes, and workshops for ages 3-18 including the Triple Threat Workshop and the Never Grow Up Preschool Camp. Be part of the High School Musical, Jr. performance. Providing excellent theatre instruction through fun activities for thespians of all ages.

The Lifelong Learning (LLC) Summer Camp
1701 East Ave
(346) 387-6955

Their summer camp specializes in youth and adults ages 12-22 with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Weekly activities consist of arts and crafts, cooking shows, field trips, game days, and much more. KM

Got a camp? Email editor@katymagazine.com! Call to confirm individual camp sessions and prices.
Visit our Katy Magazine Summer Camp Facebook page!

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Katy, TX Blogs (May 5, 2017) – “After 26 years in international education, one of the things I have enjoyed the most has been the rich, diverse and rewarding discussions with colleagues around the world. One of the common themes across Nord Anglia Education in recent years has been, how do we educate our students for their future?

Part of that discussion has been increasingly around the design of school buildings and learning environments. How can we expect to develop learning to meet the needs of 21st century learners when the buildings we work in still follow the same ‘industrial’ concepts used for years?

So, imagine being given the opportunity to be part of designing, building and opening a brand new, state-of-the-art, ‘school of the future’. Along with the Nord Anglia Corporate Development team and lead architect, Ed Schmidt, that’s exactly what we just did in Houston.

The basic premise was quite simple, instead of building a school around a standardized model of education and the requirements of teachers and teaching, what happens if you build it around the varied and personal needs of learners and their learning?

The usual concept for school buildings has traditionally been classrooms, each belonging to a teacher, all connected by corridors. Students move from room to room either based on their age or based on the subject they are being taught at that time. Rooms, furniture, displays are usually fixed. Of course, this model matches the traditional, industrialized and standardized model for education that has been in place for many years. In addition, rectangular boxes, joined by straight corridors are cheap and easy to build.

But, the real world does not work in isolation and we know that learners do not learn best in isolated classrooms. Connectivity is everywhere and modern schools must be willing to adapt.

Imagine the conversation with our teachers a few years ago. It went something like:

We are going to have a new campus (lots of cheers).

But, teachers will not have their own classrooms (fewer cheers).

There will not even be offices for individual administrative staff (even fewer cheers).

There will be no teacher’s desks, teacher’s white boards or even fronts to rooms (deafening silence and obvious shock in the room).

I have to give full credit to our staff. They have been incredibly open minded, hardworking and willing to try new ideas. This transition could have been very tough without such a team and they deserve a great deal of the credit.

Our new 275,000 square foot campus opened this summer. Spanning 34 acres and accommodating over 2000 students, the school features an array of facilities and exciting learning areas that enrich the student experience.

General Concepts:

  • The entire campus was designed and built around the varied and personal needs of learners and their learning
  • All learning spaces are variable and flexible
  • Teachers are not assigned to a specific room. Instead the campus is built in ‘neighborhoods’ to which teachers are assigned
  • Each neighborhood has eight learning spaces, with flexible and moveable furniture
  • Learning environments within neighborhoods can be adapted, changed and developed to support teacher and student needs
  • Many teachers allow the students to design the learning environment most appropriate for the learning at that moment
  • The interior is mainly glass, very transparent and very light
  • Each neighborhood has a variety of floor to ceiling collaborative writing walls, interactive projectors as well as large screen TVs
  • All projectors and TVs are connected wirelessly via Apple TVs; this 1:1 environment allows any student to project their work in any place at any time

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is that every time I walk around the building the layout is different. The neighborhoods change every hour, depending on the needs of the learners.

Architectural Learning Concept

In his book ‘From the Campfire to the Holodeck: Creating Engaging and Powerful 21st Century Learning Environments,’ David Thornburg talks about the need to create a balance in spaces such as caves, campfires, watering holes and mountain tops. Each has a particular learning function, from quiet reflection to research, discussion, collaboration and presentation.

Similarly, every area in our school purposefully has possibilities.

The center of the building is the Agora, the Greek ‘Market Place’ where anyone can come to share ideas, research and collaborate. This is the heart of the building, from where you can see the whole school in motion. The glass allows visibility in to all learning spaces and sometimes I just like to sit here and observe.

At any time in the Agora you will see younger children reading, older students researching, a class being taught, teachers lesson planning and a few parents chatting over a coffee, all at the same time. You will also see several administrators working, since this has become the chosen ‘office space’ for the leadership team. It’s a great place to be easily found.


While we need more time and a larger study to measure the full impact of the new learning environment, some things have been immediate and obvious. We have had many visitors come in the new facility since it opened and everyone seems to have the same feedback: students in all year groups are highly engaged and move around the building with a high level of purpose and ownership of their learning.

This is very clear to all of us who work in the building on a daily basis. We need to study it in more detail, but we believe it has a lot to do with the fact that the entire building is built for learners; it is their school. In this school, learning is not something that is done to students. Instead, it is something that we empower our students to embrace and nurture, encouraging them to take responsibility for their individual growth on every level.

I have to say that this project has surpassed our expectations in many areas. We learned so much from our NAE colleagues around the world and from visiting other schools, so we would like to warmly invite anyone who is in the area to come and take a look. We never get tired of showing people around.”


Courtesy of Andrew Derry, BISH Principal

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Katy, TX (April 20, 2017) –  As the Houston Rockets continue to lead in their playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Academy Sports + Outdoors is taking 20% off all Rockets gear (including clearance items) at the Katy locations on Grand Parkway and FM 1093, as well as other Houston locations. The discount will last until Sunday, April 23, 2017.

Courtesy of Academy Sports + Outdoors
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Katy, TX News (April 19, 2017) – 2017 Prom Dates for Katy Area High Schools

  • April 22
    – St. John XXII College Preparatory at Dukessa
  • April 28
    – Strake Jesuit College Preparatory at Lakeside Country Club
  • April 29
    – Morton Ranch High School at Hilton Houston Post Oak
    – Tompkins High School at the Westin Galleria
  • May 12
    – Houston Christian High School
  • May 13
    – Faith West High School at the Clubhouse at Firethorne
    – Katy High School at Four Seasons Hotel Houston
  • May 20
    – Cinco Ranch High School at The Westin Galleria
    – Mayde Creek High School at Hilton Houston Post Oak
    – Seven Lakes High School at The Citadel
    – Taylor High School at The Corinthian
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Katy, TX Blogs (April 19, 2017) – Elena Carlberg and her husband David have been best friends since they met over 20 years ago when she was just 18. Today, she’s mom to their 11 biological children and counting her blessings one by one. Katy Magazine caught up with Elena to compile some of her best advice for other Katy supermoms.

Written by Kennan Buckner

1. Less is More
Since organization has never been one of Elena’s strengths, she relies on minimalism to keep things running smoothly. “I have 13 of everything in the cupboard,” she says. “Thirteen white plates, 13 white bowls, and 13 cups.” And in her hall closet, there are 13 towels. “Each child has enough clothes for two weeks’ worth of school, and that’s all,” she says.

2. Have Humor
Elena is always making her family laugh; whether it’s by talking in her silly Marilyn Monroe voice or encouraging Arya to use her English accent. “I don’t know if I’m funny, or if my husband and kids are just easily amused,” she laughs.

3. Do Something for Yourself
Being a mom doesn’t usually lend itself to time alone. Her guilty pleasure is recording episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful and binge-watching them later. She also plays bunco and has joined her mom in her home décor business. She adds, “I spend a few hours a night designing items after the kids go to bed.”

4. Stay Calm
Elena describes herself as calm, but not quiet. The couple’s laid-back style reflects in their children’s natures, too. “People are usually shocked at how well-behaved our children are, and we quite often get complimented on it.”

5. Work as a Team
When it comes to the nighttime routine, they divide and conquer. “David and I tackle it together and high-five each other when they’re finally all in bed. It’s like completing a marathon,” she says. Her husband’s support doesn’t end there. “When I’m having a rough day, I can always count on him to try to make me feel better,” she adds.

6. Get a Support System
While she would tell her younger self to accept advice, she says not to take to heart every opinion. Elena finds balance by getting support from those who matter most. “I couldn’t do it without my family – especially my mom,” she says. “She’s been through this journey with me every step of the way.”

7. Plan Ahead for Meals
“We order our groceries online and use the pick-up service. This new option has been life-changing for us,” she says. Every night’s dinner has a theme. Monday might be breakfast for dinner and Tuesday is Italian night. The following week, they just change up the menu items but still follow the theme.

8. Everybody Helps
With more kids come more messes, but also more help. Alec and Aidan do laundry and take out the trash. Andrew and Abby are the sweepers, Adam is the duster, and Ashton cleans counters. Addison and Adrian are in charge of getting everything off the floor. “Annie keeps an eye out for me, ensuring everyone is doing their job properly,” says Elena. Annie, who has cerebral palsy, is also in charge of their music and the family agrees that she has amazing taste. They often listen to John Williams, The Beatles, or Prince.

9. Celebrate Victories
“There’s no such thing as a little victory in this house,” Elena says. “Anything that was achieved through hard work gets met with a huge cheering section.” Last year, Andrew came in last place in a race during field day. This year David trained with him, and he placed first. The whole family called to congratulate him. “You’d think he was just elected president,” Elena boasts. “He couldn’t stop smiling for days.”

10. Focus on Relationships
Elena says David uses any spare time to play with or teach the children new things. “David listens intently when the kids talk,” she shares. As a result, the kids shower him with love, devotion, and sincere affection. “When you focus on the individuals you’re around, rather than just the things that need to get done, the result is deeper relationships. What you get out of a relationship is dependent upon what you put into it,” she adds.

11. Count Your Blessings
Counting her blessings comes easily for Elena. “I’ve been blessed with getting to stay home with my kids and having the best role models in my mom, grandma, and aunts,” she says. “I’ve been blessed in having a husband who always puts us before anything else. I’ve also been blessed with 11 of the most kind-hearted, unique, and gracious children in the world.” KM


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Katy, TX (April 3, 2017) – Katy Summer Academic Term (KSAT) is a seamless extension of the academic school year which provides Katy ISD students differentiated learning experiences and opportunities to earn original and restoration credit. See below for locations, registration information, and schedules.

SEMESTER 1:  June 13 – 27, 2017 

SEMESTER 2:  June 28 – July 13, 2017

Original Credit & Credit Recovery
Seven Lakes High School
9251 S. Fry Rd.
7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

EOC/TAKS Remediation Clinics & Summer Testing
Taylor High School
20700 Kingsland Blvd.

High School – Original Credit Courses

1 Semester Courses2 Semester Courses
US GovernmentMath Models
EconomicsIntegrated Physics and Chemistry (IPC)
HealthWorld Geography
Professional CommunicationsPre-AP World Geography
PE: Foundations of Personal FitnessGeometry
PE: Individual & Team SportsPre-AP Geometry
Digital Arts & Animation



High School – Credit Recovery Courses

Algebra IEnglish IIIProfessional Communications
Algebra IIEnglish IVSpanish I
Aquatic ScienceGeometrySpanish II
BiologyHealthUS Government
ChemistryIntegrated Physics & ChemistryUS History
Economics FEMath ModelsWorld Geography
English IPE: Foundations of Personal FitnessWorld History
English IIPhysics


Register online at katyisd.org.


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Katy, Texas (March 22, 2017) – Officer Luis Santiago with the Katy ISD Police Department delivered 20 “Teddy Cop” Bears to some of our students today! Their goal is to give every PPCD, ECAP, YCAP, Lifeskills & TIP child in our school district a Police Officer Teddy Bear … specialized with a uniform and Katy ISD Police Officer badge!

In the first 5 months since the program was started, they raised over $11,000 to purchase 497 bears for students at 23 KISD elementary schools. They still need to purchase about 600 more bears for 14 more of the KISD elementary schools.

We are asking for your help to PAY IT FORWARD! Please consider making a donation for this wonderful program! You may send donations to the NCE front office. We will accept cash or checks (payable to Katy ISD), or you may purchase a gift card from the Build-a-Bear Workshop at Katy Mills Mall where the bears are made.

Here are a few pictures from this morning! More pictures can be seen by visiting the Nottingham Country Elementary School Official Facebook page.

Thank you in advance for your help, and thank you Katy ISD Police Department for the bears!!

Courtesy of Katy ISD

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Katy, Texas – The top five ailments to watch for in Katy this year

Written by Lana Timbs

Being sick is no fun for families, and is often inevitable. Katy doctors and pediatricians see certain illnesses often. Learn more about some of these common diagnoses and how to protect your family.

1. Ear Infections

Ear infections commonly occur when fluid behind the eardrum, or in the middle ear, becomes trapped due to inflammation and becomes infected. Colds, sinus infections, throat infections, or even allergy attacks can cause the inflammation. Symptoms include ear pain and fever.

  • Treatment
    Ear infections are commonly treated with a seven to 10 day prescription of oral antibiotics. Some patients do not require antibiotics, as the ear infection can heal without them. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help reduce fever and alleviate ear pain. Chiropractic care can also be used to treat certain illnesses, such as ear infections.
  • Prevention
    Nose health is important in the prevention of ear infections. Keep your nose as healthy as possible by using nasal saline daily when well, or several times a day when experiencing allergies, a cold, sinus, throat, or ear infection.

2. Strep (Streptococcus) 

Streptococcus bacteria, commonly called strep or strep throat, has been a prevalent illness among children and families. These contagious bacteria can cause chills, headache, stomachache, vomiting, fever, and sore throat – many of which are flu-like symptoms. Anyone can get strep, but some are more susceptible to it. Families with multiple children may have one child that gets strep more often than any other children in the family.

  • Treatment
    Strep throat has to be treated, not only because it is contagious, but also because if left untreated, it could be dangerous, causing rheumatic heart disease or an autoimmune disease. Pediatricians often prescribe regular antibiotics or even a strong antibiotic given as a shot in the office. Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help with fevers. Gargling with salt water and drinking warm drinks can help soothe the throat and relive some of the pain.
  • Prevention
    Try to not let little ones share drinks or food, as that’s a very quick way for another child to get strep throat. Keep the sick child or person isolated as not to spread the bacteria. Hand washing and keeping the house and living areas clean also helps with not spreading the strep bacteria.

3. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is very common in childhood. This is a contagious, viral disease, originating from the coxsackievirus. Symptoms include a pimple-like rash around the mouth, soles of the feet and on the palms of the hands. Sores can occur in the back of the throat causing pain, and most children will refuse to eat even their favorite foods. There will also be a low-grade fever, around 101 to 102 degrees.

  • Treatment
    Hand, foot, and mouth disease is most contagious during the first week, but can stay in the body for up to a month or longer. The virus is a self-limiting virus, meaning the body fights it on its own. Once the rash begins to scab over, usually after two to three days, it is safe for children to return to school or daycare. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be administered for the fever and mouth pain; popsicles, pudding, and ice cream can also help soothe the throat.
  • Prevention
    Hand, foot, and mouth is more prevalent in the summer months. Prevention includes hand washing with soap and warm water, wiping toys and play surfaces with disinfectant wipes or sprays, as well as trying to isolate the child from other children during the first few days of the illness.

4. Impetigo

Impetigo is a skin rash, seen commonly in preschool and school-aged children. The rash is caused when streptococcus (strep) or staphylococcus (staph) bacteria get into a cut or abrasion or an area that is already irritated, like under the nose after blowing it a lot. The rash causes sores that resemble blisters that ooze fluid and look crusty. There is no fever with impetigo, and the rash is contagious. Scratching can cause it to spread from one area to another.

  • Treatment
    Impetigo is typically treated with a prescription-strength local antibiotic ointment. If there are a lot of lesions, an oral antibiotic can be prescribed. There is no fever or pain typically associated with impetigo. Cool compresses can help relieve itching.
  • Prevention
    Impetigo is seen most commonly in early fall months. Keeping sports equipment clean (close-contact sports), hand washing, and keeping the lesions loosely covered are all ways to help prevent the spread of impetigo.

5. Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

Conjunctivitis, commonly called pink eye, occurs when the eye conjunctiva, clear tissue lying over the white of the eye, becomes inflamed. There are two types of pink eye, infectious (either bacterial or viral) or non-infectious (due to allergies). The infectious type of pink eye is a common illness in younger children. Symptoms include redness and discharge in one or both of the eyes, and sometimes swelling of the eyes and eyelids.

  • Treatment
    A physician can determine what type of pink eye it is, and according to the type, can prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment. Viral conjunctivitis is self-limiting, and the body will heal itself of that type. Warm or cool compresses can be used to relieve swelling or any eye pain.
  • Prevention
    Pink eye is contagious, so precaution should be used to not spread the illness. Hand washing and reducing hand-to-hand contact with others while infected are both important in reducing the spread of the bacteria or virus. Pink eye can last a week or longer, and can still be contagious even after beginning drops or ointment. KM
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Katy, TX (March 10, 2017) – Has the “stomach bug” hit your household? It might be the highly contagious Norovirus. Read on for some information and tips from Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

What is norovirus?

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes acute gastroenteritis. Following introduction of rotavirus vaccination, norovirus has become the most common cause of gastroenteritis in adults and children. Viral gastroenteritis is an infection that can cause diarrhea and vomiting. It happens when a person’s stomach and intestines get infected with a virus. Both adults and children can get viral gastroenteritis. The Center for Disease Control estimates norovirus to be responsible for 19-21 million illnesses, including 50,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations as well as 570 to 800 child deaths every year in the U.S. alone. Anyone can get infected with norovirus and become sick.

How do kids contract it?

Your child can become infected with norovirus by accidentally getting vomit or stool from infected people in their mouth. While that may sound weird, this usually happens by: consuming contaminated food or drink, touching contaminated surfaces or objects then putting fingers in the mouth or having contact with someone infected with norovirus. Typically, norovirus outbreaks happen when infected people spread the virus to others. Outbreaks can occur in numerous institutional settings including schools, child care centers and colleges because it lives on surfaces and is resistant to many common disinfectants.

Someone with norovirus is most contagious when they are sick and the first few days after they recover.

What are the symptoms of norovirus?

The most common symptoms of norovirus include; diarrhea, throwing up, nausea and stomach pain. Other symptoms can include; fever, headache and body aches.

These symptoms usually appear within 12 to 48 hours of being exposed to norovirus. For most people, norovirus illness is not serious and they get better in one to three days. A person may become extremely ill and throw up or experience diarrhea multiple times a day which can lead to dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include; decreased urination, dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up. Young children who are dehydrated may cry with fewer tears and usually are sleepy and fussy.

How do you treat norovirus?

Unfortunately, there is no specific medicine to treat people infected with the norovirus illness. Norovirus cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is a viral – not bacterial – infection. If your child has the norovirus illness have them drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from throwing up and diarrhea to help prevent dehydration.

What’s the best way to prevent Norovirus?

These tips will help protect you and your child from norovirus.

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water before eating, preparing or handling food and especially after changing diapers or using the restroom.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables and cook seafood thoroughly before preparing or consuming them.
  • Do not prepare foods or care for others when you are sick and for at least two days after symptoms stop.
  • Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. You should handle soiled items carefully by wearing gloves and washing your hands after.
  • Clean and disinfect any surfaces thought to be contaminated.
    • The CDC recommends using a chlorine bleach solutions with a concentration of 1000-5000 ppm; about 5 to 25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water.
Courtesy of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and Dr. Stan Spinner
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Katy, TX (March 9, 2017) – Everybody loves a freebie now and then. We’ve tracked down all the places in Katy to get a free product, service, or meal. Take a look!


Applebee’s – Get one free birthday entree.

Arby’s – Diners get a free small shake with any purchase on their birthday.

Auntie Anne’s – One free birthday pretzel.

A&W Restaurants – Get a free root bear float on your big day.

Baskin Robbins – Get one 2.5 oz ice cream scoop on the house for your birthday.

BJ’s Restaurants – Birthday boys and girls get a free pizookie dessert.

Buffalo Wild Wings – Free snack-size wings.

Camp Bow Wow Katy  – All birthday dogs will get a free bath, a “Happy Birthday” bandanna, and a photo on their Facebook page. No credits – baths must be given on your dog’s birthday. (Dogs must pass all camp requirements.) Visit campbowwow.com.

Chuck E. Cheese – Birthdays get 100 free tickets.

CiCi’s Pizza – One free buffet with the purchase of an adult buffet and a regular drink.

Corner Bakery – A free cookie or bakery sweet.

Denny’s – Their Grand Slam Breakfast is free on your birthday.

Fuddrucker’s – $5 off your check, and kids receive free burgers on their birthday.

Great American Cookies – Get a slice of cookie cake at no charge with the purchase of a regular drink.

Grimaldi’s – Get a large, one-topping pizza for free on your birthday.

IHOP – Birthday diners get a free stack of Rooty Tooty Fresh N Fruity pancakes.

James Coney Island – Enjoy a cheese coney on the house on your birthday.

Jason’s Deli – Receive a $5 discount on your check.

La Madeleine – Get a free pastry on your special day.

Landry’s Seafood House – Choose from a complimentary appetizer or dessert with the purchase of an entree.

Marble Slab Creamery – Receive a free small cup or cone.

Marco’s Pizza – Anyone celebrating a birthday can get a free medium, one-topping pizza.

Nothing Bundt Cakes – Free Bundtlet cake on your birthday.

Olive Garden  – Get a free app or dessert with the purchase of two adult entrees.

Panera Bread – Get any bakery item at no charge on your birthday.

Rainforest Cafe  – Birthdays get a free appetizer with purchase of an entree.

RedBox Movie Rental – Complimentary Blu-Ray or DVD rental.

Red Lobster – Go in on your birthday and receive $5 your check with the purchase of two entrees.

Rita’s Italian Ice – Get a free regular Italian ice on your big day.

Schlotzky’s  – Redeem one free sandwich on your birthday.

Smashburger – Enjoy a hand-spun shake on the house with the purchase of an entree.

Smoothie King – Birthdays can purchase a 20 oz. smoothie for only $2.99.

Starbucks – Free hot or cold drink, bottled beverage, or food item on your birthday.

Taco Cabana – Birthdays get a free flauta plate that includes three chicken flautas, rice, beans, pico de gallo, sour crea,guacamole, and two tortillas.

Texas Roadhouse – Chow down on a free appetizer or sidekick of ribs with the purchase of an entree on your birthday.

Which Wich – Redeem a free small sandwich on your birthday.

Wing Stop – Enjoy a free order of large fries on the house.

Zaxby’s – Birthdays will receive a free Nibbler sandwich.

Zoe’s Kitchen – Enjoy a free entree on your special day.

NOTE: Please visit individual websites for more details – as most offers are valid only through e-mail subscriptions or app downloads. 


Barnes & Noble – Teachers get a 20% discount on qualifying purchases when they are a part of the B&N Educator Program.

Leafology Tea Lounge Katy – Katy ISD teachers and faculty will receive 25% off a menu item when they present a valid ID. Visit leafologytealounge.com.

McDonald’s – Katy ISD teachers and faculty will receive a free small McCafe coffee when they present their school ID during the 2016-2017 school year. (Participating locations – see our blogs page for details.)

Katy Budget Books  – Teachers will receive 20% off in-store pick-up or school delivery when they order new books for their classrooms. They also have a Used Book Credit Account that has been donated to public school teachers for the purchase of used books for the classroom. Visit katybooks.com.

Michael’s – Teachers can get 15% their entire in-store purchase.

Peter Chang Restaurant – Katy ISD teachers and faculty can receive 10-50% off in January and August. Visit peterchangtx.com.

Texas Roadhouse – Teachers can get 10% off their meal every Tuesday with a valid school ID.

Verum Vi CrossFit Katy – Full-time teachers and students receive 10% off of their membership.


24 Hour Fitness – Active, reserve, and retired military and dependents receive 10% off their membership, and free workouts on Memorial Day weekend.

A&W – Active military can present valid military ID for a special discount at their Katy store. Details vary by location.

Aeropostale – Active, retired, and reserve military and their dependents get 20% off their purchase at any store nationwide.

Anne Taylor Loft – The Katy Mills Mall location offers 15% off full-priced items for active, reserved, and retired military and their dependents.

AT&T – Active, reserve, and retired military as well as veterans will receive a 15% government discount with a valid military or VA ID. Veterans must show a copy of your DD214 at all Katy locations.

AutoZone – Offers free shipping for online orders for any FPO or APO address for active, retired, and reserve military. Check with individual Katy stores for additional military discount programs.

Banana Republic – Their Katy Mills location offers 10% off in-store purchases on the first Monday of every month for active, retiree, reserved, veterans, and dependents.

Bass Pro Shop – From the 15th to the 22nd of every month, active, retired, reserve, veterans, and dependents can receive a store-specific discount when they present active military ID or DD214. Discount does not include reels, electronics, firearms, ammunition and reloading equipment, scopes, bows, arrows, taxidermy, gift cards, Tracker boats, Mercury motors, or ATV’s.

Camp Bow Wow – All military personnel receive 10% off all boarding and day camps, and 5% off of retail services. Just show proof of employment for the discount to be applied. (Dogs must pass all camp requirements.) Visit campbowwow.com.

Country Park Portraits– Active military personnel can receive a complimentary portrait session and 8 x 10 photo when they present a military ID.

Eddie Bauer – Active, retired, and reserve military and their families can receive 10 – 15% off in-store purchases. Must ask about veteran discounts at your location.

El Pollo Loco – Military service members receive 15% off of their order.

Goodwill – Offers 30% discounts to first-responders and their families every Friday.

Lowe’s Home Improvement – They offer a 10% military discount to active military, retired veterans, and immediate family. Must present a valid DD214 or other proof of service. Personal purchases only.

Michael’s – Military and immediate family can receive 15% off their entire in-store purchase when they present a valid military ID.

Peter Chang Restaurant – Police officers can get discounts in  April and October, family members of military in the month of May, and firefighters (regular, volunteer, and family) in the month of September. Discounts range from 10 – 50 percent and valid occupation ID is required. Visit peterchangtx.com.

Texas Roadhouse – Military members get 30% off their meal every day.

Verum Vi CrossFit Katy – Police, firefighters, EMT, and active military receive 15% off of their membership. Veterans receive 10% off of their membership.

WellPet Center Veterinary Hospital – Pets of active or veteran military and public service members get 15% off of their service.

Applebee’s – Diners aged 60 and up can get 10 to 15% off their meal at certain locations.

Burger King – Ages 60+ receive 10% off their order plus additional discounts on coffee and soft drinks.

Carrabba’s Italian Grill – AARP members get 15% off their entire meal.

Denny’s – Most locations offer 15% AARP members who are 55 and older.

Dunkin’ Donuts – AARP members get a free donut with the purchase of a large or extra large coffee.

El Pollo Loco – Seniors 60 and over receive 10% off their order.

Fuddrucker’s – Get 10% any senior platter if you are over 55 years old.

IHOP – They offer special pricing on breakfast items for diners over 55.

Office Depot/Office Max – AMAC members get 10% off office products.

Stein Mart – Shoppers over the age of 55 get 20% every Monday.

Please call to verify these deals and offers, as some vary by location or require an app download or coupon to redeem. 
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Katy, TX (March 7, 2017) – Katyites can pack up the family vehicle and embark on a spring break adventure without ever leaving Texas.

Written by Kennan Buckner

Make special memories with your kiddos as you make new friends, both human and animal, at these spring break hot spots. From cooling off by a lake to sipping drinks poolside, vacationers are sure to have fun they’ll never forget at these Texas destinations.


Visit the Austin Aquarium for a close-up with sharks, stingrays, corals, and a giant Pacific octopus. You might even see a mermaid on weekends. Buy tickets online and save $3.

Inside Zilker Park, you’ll find your own oasis at Barton Springs Pool, fed from underground springs with an average temperature of 70 degrees.

Bring your fishing reels for shoreline fishing and a picnic basket for lunch beside beautiful Lake Travis. Thrill-seekers can visit Austin Outdoor Zipline Adventure to zip through the trees and over

the water. Lodging is also offered.

KM_Feb March_17_Lake Travis Zipline Adventures(2)



After a day at the sandy beach, head over to the Hurricane Alley Waterpark which offers everything from a lazy river and water slides to a kid’s cove with mini slides and a swimup bar offering kid-friendly beverages.


Resting in Corpus Christi Bay is the USS Lexington, which served as a carrier during World War II. Take a self-guided tour of the ship or visit the museum, virtual battle stations, or the 3D mega theater.


Touch and feed stingrays at the Texas State Aquarium or make friends with sea turtles at Tortuga Cay. Families will also enjoy the underwater view of a 125,000-gallon exhibit featuring an entire ecosystem. Save $3 on weekday tickets online.

KM_Feb March_17_Texas State Aquarium



Trot the globe without ever leaving Texas at the Dallas Zoo. From elephants to penguins, visitors can embark on a fun day of discovery. The children’s area features friendly goats, pigs, and other farm animals.


Go from swimming and splashing back to your wolf denthemed room or premium suite without ever having to get in your car. The Great Wolf Lodge offers endless indoor water fun, character appearances, dining, shopping, spas, and more – all under one giant roof.


A LEGO lover’s dream, this one-of-a-kind experience offers a LEGO factory tour, 4D cinema, and adventures like the Merlin’s apprentice and kingdom quest rides. Visitors can also build and test their own LEGO car or explore the Star Wars miniland model display.

Coffee Shop exterior



Ride the Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry from the mainland to Bolivar peninsula. The free trip, which sails 2.7 miles, lasts about 18 minutes. Then visit the peninsula’s lighthouse built in 1852. It’s survived the 1900 and 1915 storms and Hurricane Ike.


Have an educational adventure while exploring Moody Gardens. The Aquarium Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid, Discovery Museum, and 3D and 4D theaters immerse visitors in a tropical paradise. Adventurers can also try the five-tier ropes course or zip line over Palm Beach.


Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark opens March 4 and features indoor family fun on the Boogie Bahn surf ride or amid the 70,000 square feet of slides, pools, kids’ area, and secluded beaches. Open daily March 11 to 19 for spring break.

KM_Feb March_17_Travel Spring Break Destinations_Sclitterbahn (3)



Visit the Lone Star State’s historical landmark where the first stone for the Spanish mission was laid in 1744. It’s open year-round and entrance is free. Last July, archaeologists discovered an adobe wall about 23 inches below the flagstone surface.


Shopping, dining, art, and river taxi rides await along the San Antonio Riverwalk. Visitors can walk the Riverwalk all the way from the hip Pearl District to the Shops at Rivercenter, Tower of Americas, and the Mission Reach.


Meet Jack Hanna during the family favorite “Wild Days” taking place March 4 to 26 when SeaWorld brings you brand new shows, rides, and attractions. Or get up close with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, beluga whales, and sea lions during an interactive swim at Discovery Point. KM

KM_Feb March_17_San Antonio Riverwalk(2)

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Katy, TX News (March 2, 2017) – Are you and your family headed out to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this year? We have great news! You can get carnival ticket packs for half-price if you order by Saturday, March 4, 2017.

$10 Carnival Pack ($34 Value)

  • 1 Fun Card with 22 tickets for rides and games
  • 4 refreshment coupons
  • one free game coupon
  • $5 off show merchandise

$50 Carnival Pack ($133.50 Value)

  • 2 fun cards with a total of 150 tickets for rides and games
  • 9 refreshment coupons
  • 2 free game coupons
  • 2 free rides (Ferris wheel or fun house)
  • $5 off show merchandise

$20 Carnival Food Card ($30 Value)

Half-Price Carnival Packs may be used during the WCBBQ from March 2 – 4, 2017, and a show from March 7 – 26, 2017. Order online at rodeohouston.com/carnivaltickets.

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Katy, TX News (March 1, 2017) – Katy ISD is sharing information about the State, district and your child’s campus as part of our obligations under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). An information letter, along with a copy of the 2015-16 Federal Report Cards for the State, district and individual campuses are available for review online at tea.texas.gov.

An optional notification letter in English and Spanish is available if you choose to use this method of communicating. This is not a requirement. It is not necessary to send the Federal Report Card home with students.

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Katy, TX (February 20, 2017) – Childhood cancer survivor and Seven Lakes High School graduate, Samantha Loos-Polk, goes back to where it all began.

Written by Anna-Catherine Rose | Select Photography by John Glaser


The afternoon Samantha Loos-Polk was training at the gym was like any other. In preparation for an upcoming Taekwondo tournament, the then 13-year-old freshman at Seven Lakes High School and second-degree black belt was performing strength and conditioning training. But when she swung a dumbbell as part of a squat exercise, she immediately felt pain in her back and knew something wasn’t right. The events that followed, and the diagnosis that awaited her, would change the course of her life forever.

KM_Feb March_17_Samantha Loos-Polk_Photos by John Glaser (5) copy

More Than a Routine Injury
Aside from sore muscles following her injury, Samantha was also unusually fatigued. Accustomed to a rigorous schedule with her studies, choir, and martial arts, she suddenly wasn’t able to keep up. “I was exhausted all the time, and it was difficult to walk from class to class,” she remembers. She also began to develop bruises on her legs, along with tiny red spots on her wrists and eventually throughout her body.

Concerned and on a mission for answers, she and her parents, Margaret Loos-Polk and James Polk, visited a battery of doctors, and she eventually underwent blood tests. Around 4 a.m. the morning after her tests, Margaret received a call instructing them to take Samantha to a hospital immediately. Her platelets were extremely low, so much so she could have bled to death.

Samantha and Binx

The Diagnosis
Samantha was eventually taken to Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH). It was here, in room one on the ninth floor of the West Tower, her symptoms were given an official name: acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She soon underwent 10 days of intensive chemotherapy. And while the treatment effectively fought the cancer, it wreaked havoc on her immune system.

When Samantha was eventually released, she was very weak and in constant pain. A few days after being home, she developed a fever and was rushed back to the hospital. After a series of tests, doctors determined she had acquired a rare type of fungal infection called Fusarium. It was prevalent in her blood, in and around her lungs, kidneys, left eye, and skin. From here, Samantha endured eight eye and four nose surgeries over the course of a nine-month stay at TCH. To date, she is the longest-known survivor of this type of infection.

KM_Feb March_17_Samantha Loos-Polk_Photos by John Glaser (8) copy

Destiny Determined
Samantha’s journey nurtured a passion within her to help others with similar obstacles. So inspired by the level of care she received from the nurses at TCH, she set her mind on achieving a nursing degree, with a specialty in pediatric oncology, from University of St. Thomas. She reflects, “I knew I wanted to pursue a career that made a difference in people’s lives prior to my diagnosis, but I didn’t know what exactly that would look like until I survived cancer and the fungal infection. From that point on, I knew the superhero I wanted to be was a nurse.”

And now, from the very place she was diagnosed and treated, the ninth floor of the West Tower of TCH, she cares for and comforts young patients facing cancer. “I know I can help others in their battle because of my personal understanding of what they’re going through. My unique perspective enables me to treat patients holistically and ensure their families are provided much needed support,” she says.

When asked about her greatest source of encouragement during her toughest times, she credits her parents, who were by her side every minute of every day. She is also grateful for several organizations that ministered to both her and her family, including Harley’s Helpers Angel Ministry, Snowdrop Foundation, and B.I.G. Love Cancer Care. These groups supplied parking tokens, gas and gift cards, groceries, laundry baskets, blankets, and regular visits. In fact, Samantha was awarded three scholarships from two of these organizations.

Ryleigh and Sam at BIG Love Cancer Run

The Path Ahead
Samantha is now a five-year cancer survivor. She undergoes yearly checkups at TCH, along with regular assessments by her ophthalmologist. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and boyfriend, Ryleigh; snuggling with her cat, Binx; reading; and watching movies. She also serves as co-secretary of St. Thomas’ Sigma Theta Tau International nursing honor society.

Her story is one of struggle, determination, perseverance, and triumph. It’s also a poignant reminder that adversity, when met with hope and a fighting spirit, can be an unexpected but most impactful teacher. KM

ANNA-CATHERINE ROSE lives in Katy and is a firm believer that struggle is what connects us and is always accompanied by a purpose.

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Katy, TX (February 6, 2017) – With a brand new music video, “The Real Me,” out and an EP on the horizon, this Seven Lakes High School senior is headed for stardom.

Written by Ashley Lancaster

Ever since attending her first concert with her father, Greg Conklin, at the age of 4, Taylor Thi has been consumed with a passion for performing and songwriting. “We saw James [Vernon] Taylor, and I was so amazed by all the cheering that I turned to my dad and asked him why everyone was making noise. He said, ‘See that man up there? They’re clapping for him.’ Ever since then I’ve wanted to be a singer.”

KM_Dec Jan_17_Taylor Thi_Taylor_Brown6380_photo by David Gaona
Photo by David Gaona

Drawing Inspiration
Although she began formally training at the age of 15, she considers her sixth-grade performance her official debut. “I performed ‘Material Girl’ by Madonna at the Beckendorff Junior High pop concert,” she says. And she has been strategically placing herself in local gigs in order to build a following ever since.

“The rush of adrenaline is unexplainable; you can walk on stage and be whoever you want to be. You can be confident, a completely different person and just let loose,” she adds. “You forget everything and just feel free in that moment.” Thi spends hours at a time writing notes and lyrics. “Every song I write has a special meaning to me because I never want to write about something I don’t mean or feel.”

KM_Dec Jan_17_Taylor Thi_3_photo by David Gaona

Wildest Dreams
The young songwriter finds strength to pursue her dreams close to home. “My family has always been my biggest supporters no matter what. I’m extremely family-oriented and they are the ones I show all my music to first. Everything I do, they see or get to hear before I announce or release anything,” she says.

Thi comes from a family not afraid to pursue their wildest dreams, and credits her father for giving her the courage to try. “He was from a small town, lived on a farm, and grew up being told by everyone he knew that he would never achieve his dream of being a pilot. He has now been a pilot for 41 years. Every time someone tries to tear me down, I think about my dad, and I know I’ll prove them wrong.”

Thi recently directed her own music video for her original song, “The Real Me,” which received over 20,000 views on YouTube. “It was such an amazing experience,” she says.

Armed with a notebook full of material, Thi plans to continue working on singles and eventually produce her first EP. But her future plans also include receiving an education. “I would love to go to college for audio engineering or songwriting,” she adds. “I’m still deciding, but I’m positive I’ll be around music no matter what.” KM

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Katy, TX (January 17, 2017) This year seven Katy ISD high school students earned the highest possible ACT composite score of 36.  On average, less than .1 percent of all test takers earn the top score.  Only 2,235 out of the nearly 2.1 million students who took the ACT in 2016 earned a composite score of 36.

“Your achievement on the ACT is significant and rare,” says ACT Chief Executive Officer Marten Roorda, in a letter recognizing the students’ exceptional achievement.  “While test scores are just one of multiple criteria that most colleges consider when making admission decisions, your exceptional ACT composite score should prove helpful as you pursue your education and career goals.”

The following Katy ISD students earned a perfect score on the ACT:

Seven Lakes High School

  • Luis Alfonso Pabon Madrid, 11th grade
  • Dora Cecilia Gurfinkel, 12th grade
  • Clio Sun, 12th grade
  • Justin Zhang, 12th grade

Cinco Ranch High School

  • Russell Ku, 11th grade
  • Samuel Shenoi, 12 grade

Taylor High School

  • Richard Liu, 12th grade

The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science, each scored on a scale of 1-36.  Exceptional scores of 36 provide colleges with evidence of student readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.

Courtesy of Katy ISD

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Katy, TX – January 6, 2017  Katy ISD is pleased to announce the establishment of an Athletic Hall of Honor to recognize the efforts and contributions of former student athletes, athletic teams, coaches and special merit individuals who have brought distinction, honor and excellence to themselves and to the District.


Nominations are now being accepted through March 15, 2017.  Submissions will be reviewed by the Katy ISD Athletic Hall of Honor Honorary Board and voted on by the Katy ISD Athletic Hall of Honor Committee. Once submitted, a nominee’s application will remain active for five years with the Honorary Board. Due to the sheer volume of alumni worthy of such an honor, nominations will be accepted annually.

The Hall of Honor Committee has already selected the following four state championship teams to be honored in the inaugural class of the Athletic Hall of Honor:

  • Katy High School 1959 Football State Champions
  • Katy High School 1997 Football State Champions
  • Taylor High School 1997 Tennis State Champions
  • Taylor High School 1998 Tennis State Champions.

Individuals and state championship teams will be honored at a 2017 fall banquet and a Katy ISD football game. State championship teams will continue to be added to the Athletic Hall of Honor every year.  For more information and access to the requirements and nomination form, click here.

Courtesy of Katy ISD
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Katy, TX – January 4, 2017 Katy ISD is one of 433 school districts in the United States and Canada being honored by the College Board with placement on the 7th Annual AP® District Honor Roll for increasing access to Advanced Placement (AP) course work while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.

Since 2015, the number of Katy ISD students participating in AP exams increased by 16 percent, and the number of students receiving a 3 or higher increased by 11 percent.

To be included on the 7th Annual AP District Honor Roll, participating districts must:

  • Increase participation/access to AP course work by at least 4 percent in large districts, at least 6 percent in medium districts, and at least 11 percent in small districts;
  • Increase or maintain the percentage of exams taken by black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native students who scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam; and
  • Improve or maintain performance levels when comparing the percentage of students in 2016 scoring a 3 or higher to those in 2014, unless the district has already attained a performance level at which more than 70 percent of its AP students are scoring a 3 or higher.

For more information on the AP District Honor Roll, visit the College Board website.

Courtesy of Katy ISD Communications Department

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Katy, TX – January 4, 2017  Students who have not received a high school diploma because they did not meet the passing standard on sections of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) Exit Level will have the opportunity to retake the necessary subject area tests in March, 2017.  The TEAMS and TAAS tests are no longer being offered; however, individuals eligible to take TEAMS or TAAS will take the appropriate part of the TAKS Exit Level English language arts and/or mathematics tests.

Students currently enrolled in school who need to retest are automatically registered; however, those who are out of school must register online by 5 p.m., February 10, 2017. Individuals will need to register online for the TAKS test by accessing the website at www.TexasAssessment.com/taksoos. The registration process will be online only. The online submission, beginning December 12, 2016, must be completed by 5 p.m., by February 10, 2017. Online registrations received after this date will not be processed. Test-takers can register at a participating campus on the day of testing, if the campus can accommodate them. All test-takers should arrive at the test site 30 minutes before the designated testing start time of 7:30 a.m. Test-takers must present picture identification (such as driver’s license, DPS ID, military ID, school ID or resident alien card) to test.

The 2017 March TAKS tests will be administered online only on the following dates:

  • March 6, 2017                      ELA
  • March 7, 2017                      Mathematics
  • March 8, 2017                      Science
  • March 9, 2017                      Social Studies

Katy ISD is offering the March Exit retesting at Miller Career and Technology Center located at 1734 Katyland Dr. For additional information, contact Dr. Christy Gregory in the Katy ISD Department of Research, Assessment and Accountability at 281-396-2128.

Courtesy of Katy ISD Department of Communications

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Katy, TX – November 10, 2016

The Cinco Ranch High School Chapter of Future Business Leaders of America got together for their annual Halloween Katy Christian Ministries Can Drive. While Halloween commonly holds the American tradition of people of all ages receiving candy and joy from others, the Cinco Ranch Chapter of FBLA decided to take a refreshing reverse and give to others rather than receive. Members went above and beyond spending a round trip of as long as 6 hours placing flyers on their neighbors’ doors and then returning the next day to collect cans to donate to KCM. With the combined effort of hardworking and generous members, the Cinco Ranch Chapter of FBLA was able to collect a grand total of 1316 cans with Daniel Gaw donating the most at an impressive count 325 cans! Following the collection, they had a spooky social decked out with all kinds of creative costumes including teabags, snapchat filters, zombies, magicians, and much more! After dinner, the members gathered to participate in an exciting costume contest by competing against one another for the best costume on the runway! After a couple hours of fun and games, the winner was declared: Haylee Giang won the contest with her “tea-rrific” costume! Special thanks to PDQ for providing FBLA with a nice location and amazing food for this year’s “Scare Away Hunger” can drive and Abby Rooney’s dad for providing a large truck to transport all 1316 cans to KCM. The Cinco Ranch High School Chapter of FBLA had an enjoyable time making awesome memories and helping out in the community.


Courtesy of Angela Young, Cinco Ranch FBLA Reporter
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Katy, TX – October 27, 2016 The Katy ISD Partners in Education department is once again inviting the community to support families in need this holiday season.  Food for Families is an annual campaign that provides $50 grocery gift cards to Katy ISD students and their families. Principals from every Katy ISD campus identify students in need of assistance, and the gift cards are given to those students before winter break.  Last year, our Katy ISD community raised $25,000 to support students and their families during the holidays.  Since its inception in 2002, this initiative has blessed over 3,000 Katy ISD families thanks to the generous support of our community.

Those interested in participating may contribute cash or check by Thursday, Dec. 8.  Donations of any amount are welcome and will be accepted by Partners in Education in person or by mail:  Katy ISD ESC, 6301 South Stadium Lane, room 1520, Katy 77494.  Please make checks payable to “Katy ISD Food for Families.”

Food for Families, a Katy ISD Partners in Education yearly initiative, unites our Katy ISD staff and community in holiday support for select students and their families.  To learn more, visit Partners in Education under the “Community” tab at www.katyisd.org or contact Tammy Stringer, 281-396-2645, tammyrstringer@katyisd.org.



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Katy, TX – October 26, 2016 The Cinco Ranch High School FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition Team 624 (CRyptonite) recently collaborated with the Houston chapter of Sewa International to organize a science event at the Katy ISD Robert Shaw STEAM Center (RSC) to foster interest in science and technology among children. The event was devoted to youth involved in ASPIRE – a Sewa program that provides education and mentoring services after school for young refugees and immigrants.


Over 30 children arrived at the RSC to engage in numerous hands-on activities set up by CRyptonite students, ranging from robot demos and lab tours to mini-experiments that explored topics such as air pressure, force, and elasticity. The trip also included a presentation on robot design and testing to introduce the basic principles of robotics.

After the success of this event and a previous partnership involving robot demos in an underserved neighborhood, CRyptonite and Sewa International look forward to future collaborations to help provide fun science-based activities for ASPIRE children and share the FIRST robotics mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders.


“We hopefully plan on doing this for many more years to come,” CRyptonite Team President Alyssa Wu said. “It was amazing to see these kids all hyped over our science activities and it’s really heartwarming to see our effect on their lives. I hope they continue to be this happy when working with science.”

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Growing up in Katy was one of the best things my parents could have done for me. I was raised a Winborn Eagle, A Katy Tiger, and a member of girl scouts, KYF, and more. Although I didn’t get to fulfill my dream of being a Katy Tiger, I was still able to appreciate everything Katy had to offer. However, besides a great education and amazing town experiences from little league games to the Katy Rice Harvest Festival, my most favorite treasures are my friends.

College station
Diane Winborn Eagles to Texas A&M Aggies
(Left to Right: Ashley McElmurry ’15, Brecklyn Gordon ’15, and Stephanie Ellis ’15)

At the age of four years old, my parents enrolled me in Williamsburg Country Day School and it was there that I met some of my best friends. Soon after, I began my six years at Diane Winborn Elementary, and met some of the best friends that I still have today.

Growing up in Katy made it easy to grow with these friends. We all did girl scouts and attended local town events. We joined the community and participated in almost everything together, even leaving home. Fast forward through high school, and we have arrived at June 2011. We all graduated from High School and were ready to leave Katy. Most of us went to the same place, the place I have called home for the past four years.

One by one, we all traveled to College Station. Some of us went straight to Texas A&M and some of us enrolled at Blinn in hopes to one day be an Aggie. With all these people here, the transition was supposed to be easy. However, I found myself missing home. I started going home a lot, and taking advantage of all of my childhood experiences. I went and rode the rides at the Rice Harvest Festival, sat at Starbucks in La Centerra, and walked around Katy Mills Mall as if I was 13 again. Although this was fun and all, I knew I had to let go, and fully immerse myself in this Aggie town. Lucky for me, I still had a few of my best friends left with me to make these past couple of years easier.

As my roommate and hometown best friend was receiving her ring the other day, it dawned on me that I had to do something I have never done before. I needed to stop and appreciate everything my hometown has done for me. It brought me friends for life and as we all realize that we are permanently connected through the Aggie Network, we acknowledge the fact that we are connected from our hometown roots as well.

Now as a senior in college, I can say that it is time to come home. When I graduated high school I thought I was ready to leave my little home called Katy, Texas. Now, as a more wise soon to be college graduate I can say that I finally appreciate home. So from Katy to College Station, and back home again I go.

By Ashley McElmurry

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Five difficult conversations parents need to have with their kids, and how to know when to have them

Written by Kirsten Cornell and Katrina Katsarelis

Talking to our kids is usually an enjoyable experience, but there are some topics that make many parents uneasy. Should you be the one to bring up these topics or wait for your child to approach the subject? Here are some of the most common tough talks as well as tips from the experts to help guide you.

Body Parts
From as early as infancy, kids are interested in learning about their own bodies. They may notice the differences between boys and girls and be naturally curious. According to the experts, the best way to address this topic is to take a matter-of-fact approach. Use the correct names for body parts and answer questions openly and on the child’s level of understanding. “Children will often take their cues from adults,” says Katy child psychologist, Abigail Langan, MD. “If you feel uncomfortable discussing a topic and avoid it or dismiss it, your child will feel embarrassed to ask you for information. Therefore, they will look elsewhere – like friends or the Internet.” David Dotson, a licensed professional counselor with Houston Center for Christian Counseling, says he encourages parents to use correct names for body parts. “For years we referred to our boys’ private parts as their‘business.’ But once when they were told to, ‘Keep their nose out of other people’s business,’ they were grossed out and completely confused,” he laughs. “We used correct anatomical terms after that.” Dotson says it’s important to establish comfort when talking about our bodies from an early age but in an appropriate way. “When children are younger, ages 3 to 4, bath time affords a simple opportunity to talk about hygiene concerning body parts. As they get older, ages 4 to 7, the topic of modesty is a natural subject.”

The Sex Talk
One of the most feared topics of all is definitely the dreaded s-e-x talk. Starting from a young age, children will give you many opportunities to discuss this topic. Something as simple as a preschooler asking, “Where do babies come from?” or a first grader wanting to know “how does a baby get out of mommy’s tummy,” can lead to a discussion. Although it can be very uncomfortable for parents, it’s important to answer questions honestly and in an age appropriate way. “If, as parents, we are able to foster a sense of security in our children, a feeling that they can ask us anything without feeling embarrassed or ashamed, many difficult topics can be covered,” says Langan. Later, as a child begins junior high and high school, discussions will go deeper and address topics of importance such as abstinence, birth control, relationships, sexually transmitted diseases, and other vitally important topics. Many parents avoid discussing these for fear they will encourage teens to become sexually active, but statistics show the opposite may be true. In fact, providing accurate information before young people begin to have sex has been shown to help teens abstain from sex. There are many helpful books on this topic to assist parents in these difficult conversations, but parents should always read the book first before giving it to their child to read. Karen Jaggers, a counselor at Stokan Jaggers & Associates in Katy, suggests giving teens a book to read in private, but telling them you would like to discuss it together afterward. “If children are too embarrassed to ask questions, you can ask them to write down their questions and answer them later.”

Death and Loss
Death can be as difficult to explain as it is to understand. Whether you have to discuss with your child why their grandmother is in the hospital or the loss of the long-time family pet, it is important to be honest and encourage questions. Let them know you do not have all the answers, but create an environment of comfort and openness. Send the message that there is no right or wrong way to feel. “I believe grieving is an intentional process,” says Dotson. “We hear the saying, ‘time heals all wounds,’ but not addressing a painful situation with your child can actually create a wound. We need to walk along side our kids through grief by showing affection, asking them how they are doing, praying with them, or even helping them take action.” Dotson points out that culture often discourages kids from attending funerals. “A funeral is a powerful ceremony that can be a tool in the grief process. It helps us see we are not alone in our grief and gives us an opportunity for a solemn and respectful farewell,” he adds. When dealing with the loss of a pet, if you have to use euthanasia, be cautious about saying the animal went “to sleep” or “got put to sleep.” Young children sometimes interpret events literally, so this can conjure up scary misconceptions about sleep, surgery, and anesthesia. If the pet’s death is more sudden, calmly explain what happened, be brief, and let their questions guide how much information you provide.

Drugs and Alcohol
Discussing drugs and alcohol with your child may not seem like the highest priority when they are young, but how your child approaches alcohol and drugs can have life-long effects and serious consequences. Studies have shown that children ages 12 and 13 are most commonly exposed to this type of peer pressure, however some evidence now shows that they are being approached much younger. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 19% of high school students admitted to drinking more than a few sips of alcohol before the age of 13. When asked if they’d had at least one drink of alcohol in their lifetime, that number jumps to 66%. Hands-on parenting is often seen as the most effective approach. Frequently discuss your family’s values and then make sure you are serving as their role model. Children mimic their parents’ behavior at an early age, and look to them in order to determine what responsible behavior is. “If your son or daughter is feeling peer pressure about drugs or alcohol, tell them that you are going to start randomly drug and alcohol testing them,” suggests Jaggers. “It’s a great deterrent and for the kids who truly aren’t interested but are being pressured. It usually only takes one ‘I can’t. My parents drug test me,’ to have them never asked again.

Divorce and Separation
As soon as you are certain about your plans, start discussions with your children about your decision to live apart. Keeping the news hidden will only build unnecessary tension. If possible, have both parents present for this conversation. It’s important to try to leave feelings of anger, guilt, or blame out of it and not share your adult issues with the children. Practice how you’re going to tell your kids so you don’t become upset or angry during the talk. “A primary goal should be to establish yourself as someone who is safe to talk to about anything,” advises Dotson. Don’t feel like you have to pour out every detail about difficult subjects all at once, but create an on-going atmosphere of safe conversation.” Although the discussion should be tailored to your children’s age, maturity, and temperament, be sure to convey that what happened between mom and dad, is not their fault, and that both parents still love them. Most kids will feel they are to blame even after parents have said that they are not, so it’s vital for parents to keep providing reassurance.

Be Ready for Teachable Moments
It’s important for parents to prepare for these conversations and fortunately, there are many resources available. “Seeking reputable sources and arming yourself with knowledge should help to remove some of the embarrassment or discomfort some parents feel when discussing certain topics with their kids,” says Langan. Kids need straightforward facts and most importantly need to feel comfortable coming to you with embarrassing questions. “The best times to touch on these subjects are when life presents them to you,” advises Dotson. “Parents should capitalize on teachable moments.” KM

KIRSTEN CORNELL is a lead associate editor for Katy Magazine. She wants to thank these Katy experts for taking time to help parents better navigate tough talks with their kids.

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Katy, TX – The word is out! At 12 midnight, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo released the long-anticipated 2015 concert lineup. Many are saying this is the best performance schedule in rodeo history. With chart-topping artists from various genres, this year’s rodeo is sure to be a hit for everyone.

Performing artists include Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Hunter Hayes, John Legend, Fall Out Boy, Tim McGraw, Ariana Grande, Billy Currington, Blake Shelton, Pitbull, Brad Paisley, and Zac Brown Band.

For a full list of entertainers, and for ticket information, visit www.rodeohouston.com/concerts.

Happy Rodeo Season, Katy!


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Tommie Cross-Holmes, a Mayde Creek graduate, is accomplishing his dream of modeling in New York City

Written by Cherri Northcutt | Photography courtesy of Tommie Cross-Holmes

Growing up as a student at Mayde Creek Elementary, Tommie Cross-Holmes never imagined that he would one day live in New York and have a successful modeling career. “As a kid, I was always playing outside with friends,” Tommie remembers. “My mom even got walkie-talkies so she could let me know when to come in for dinner. The only problem was, I had to stay within range,” he says.

“Tommie loved to read and play football,” his mother, Denita Holmes shares. In fact, his love of sports led him to Katy Youth Football where he met some of his lifelong friends. His dad played golf, so Tommie started playing in seventh grade. Tommie adds, “I also played football and ran track through junior high and high school.”

KM_DecJan_14_Tommie Cross-Holmes_Editorial shot by photographer Phyllis Lane
Tommie Cross-Holmes, a graduate of Mayde Creek High School, is making a name for himself as a model in mainstream editorial after moving to New York City

Dreams of Broadway
At Mayde Creek High School, Tommie was also active in choir. “He performed in Kantori and Encore choirs, and played the Beast in Beauty and the Beast his senior year,” Denita says. An active, good-natured young man, Tommie had dreams of playing for the NFL and singing on Broadway.

After graduating from Mayde Creek in 2009, Tommie was accepted into the musical theatre program at Sam Houston State University. While there, he also found time to play intramural football, basketball, soccer, and kickball. He was on the rugby team for the university as well as a camp counselor for incoming freshmen in his sophomore and junior years at college. “I like to meet people and be active,” Tommie says.

Getting the Callback
For years, Tommie’s mother and several of his friends encouraged him to give modeling a try. “I said, ‘That’s not for me,’” Tommie recalls. “Finally in 2010, I decided to give it a shot.”

Page Parkes in Houston was the second agency Tommie went for a meeting. “The only pictures we had were my senior photos from high school,” Tommie admits. After meeting with Parkes, the agency signed him that day. “They set me up with my first test shoot,” Tommie remembers. “I felt like a superstar in my own way.”

“We were drawn to Tommie’s sweet nature, cool look, and we loved the hair,” says Erik Bechtol, agency director at Page Parkes. “He’s always happy and has a love of the business that makes people want to be around him.”

At an agency review, Tommie showed off his modeling and acting talents for other agencies and clients. “I was so nervous,” he recalls. “At home later I was freaking out that I wouldn’t get a callback.” He did not need to worry. The next day Tommie learned that he had callbacks for eight modeling opportunities and 10 callbacks for acting. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy,” Tommie says. He began modeling under the name Tommie Cross.

The Move to NYC
In August 2011, Tommie went to New York to test the waters. In his first few days, he went to casting calls and met potential clients. He then booked his first campaign for Off Broadway Shoes. A few days later he booked a TJ Maxx advertisement. Jobs with Seventeen Magazine and GQ quickly followed. “I thought that if it was going to keep going like that, I’d better find a place to live,” Tommie says.

Three weeks into his trip, Tommie found an apartment, and he’s been in New York ever since. Tommie’s “trial run” has turned into a permanent move.

Last February, Tommie met his goal of getting work with a national modeling agency when he signed with Wilhelmina Models in New York and Los Angeles. His proudest moment as a model so far was a recent commercial for Sony. “I did a Sony campaign with video game characters of me that played on the billboard in Times Square,” he says. “That was a great moment.”

Calling Katy Home
Tommie enjoys occasional visits with his family and to his hometown. “New York is just go-go-go, 24-7,” Tommie shares. “I love coming home to Katy to just chill and relax.” In Katy, he still loves playing football with old friends and watching his little brother Samuel grow up. Samuel is now a freshman at Mayde Creek High School. “I like to go back to Mayde Creek and talk to Coach Carter,” Tommie says. “I miss driving instead of always taking a subway everywhere.” Tommie also enjoys reconnecting with his childhood friends in Katy. “I’m still the same person. I don’t let success go to my head.”

Remember Your Roots
Tommie believes in setting goals. In the future he says, “I want to get the acting side of things going. In three years I want to shoot a TV pilot and in five years I want to be on my first feature film.” This January, he will be in Los Angeles working with Wilhelmina, LA. Tommie believes that the attitude you display determines how successful you will be
in the industry.

“Modeling isn’t for everyone,” Tommie admits. “You have to get used to rejection.” Even so, he encourages people to stay positive. “Don’t be scared; get out of your comfort zone. Get out there and try.” He encourages others to not be afraid, and to remember their roots. “No matter how successful you get, don’t forget who you are, where you came from, and the people who were with you when times were hard.” KM

CHERRI NORTHCUTT has lived in Katy with her husband and two daughters for over 14 years.


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Katy, TX News (December 16, 2014) – Bo Levi Mitchell, a 2008 graduate of Katy High School, recently led the Calgary Stampeders to a 20-16 win against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and took home the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award during the 2014 Grey Cup Canadian Championship Football Game.

Bo Levi Mitchell

The 2014 Grey Cup win adds to Mitchell’s impressive list of athletic awards including the Katy High School State Championship in 2007; a National Championship at Eastern Washington University in 2010; and the 2011 Walter Payton Award, which is given to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.

Click here for more information on the 2014 Grey Cup.


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Katy, TX News (December 6, 2014) – The Katy ISD Communications department has issued a letter regarding the tragic deaths of Terra Kubala and Trent Weber:

“Dear Parents and Guardians,

The faculty and staff of Seven Lakes and Cinco Ranch High School are deeply saddened to learn of the deaths of  two students who tragically lost their lives in a vehicle accident over the weekend. We ask that you please join us as we extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathy to the families as they mourn their loss.

Grief counselors will be on campus on Monday to help our school community deal with this loss. We will be doing everything we can to help your child and our staff through this heartbreaking experience.

Over the next few days, you may wish to encourage your child to express his or her feelings and listen attentively. It will be helpful to recognize the various steps that we all go through in the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

If you have any concerns regarding your child’s reaction to this loss, please contact your child’s teacher, school counselor or any member of the administrative staff. Thank you for your concern and support during this difficult time.”

Katy ISD

*Katy Magazine would like to express their deepest sympathies for the families of these students, and send wishes for comfort and healing in this time of incredible loss. 

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There are times when you can’t believe you just did that. Katy parents reveal some of their most embarrassing parenting secrets.

Missing Something
“When my twins were infants, I was in a constant state of exhaustion. One day they had their 2-month-old check-up. As usual, I got them ready in the carriers and put them by the garage door so I could grab my purse and get everything loaded in the car. Without even thinking, I jumped in the car and headed out. When I got to the end of the street, I realized I had forgotten something very important – the babies! I drove home as fast as I could and swung open the door. My little ones were fast asleep in the carriers with no idea that mommy had forgotten them.” – M.C.

Early Preparation
“My mom used to have us get dressed in our school clothes the night before, after bath time, so she wouldn’t have to fight with us in the morning about what to wear.”- N.M.

Misplaced Milk
“One time, I was looking for Charlotte’s bottle of breast milk I had just pumped. I knew I had pumped, but it wasn’t in the fridge. Hours later, I found it in the kitchen cabinet with the glasses – because that’s where breast milk belongs. I was clearly sleep-deprived. But I laughed for days.”  -K.M.

Neighborly Visit
“I never set an alarm on the weekends. There’s no need to. My alarm comes in the form of a 5-year-old and 3-year-old twins. One Saturday, I woke up to see my 5-year-old not only awake but dressed in a hot pink skirt that was at least one size too little and a turquoise tank top. When asked her why she had gotten dressed, she nonchalantly said, ‘We walked over to the neighbors.’ I’m freaking out. I can’t believe my ears. About that time, our neighbor was knocking on the door. Her hubby told her they went to her house, and she was checking on them. Not my proudest parenting moment. I bought a lock that is higher on the door. My 5-year-old’s response to that was, ‘I’ll have to get a chair to reach it now.’”
– S.C.

Gummy Bear Secrets
“Being a working parent is hard with medication and fever policies. So I have to confess, on occasion when my daughter has woken up with a slightly elevated temp, and I know what’s causing it (usually ear infection – not contagious), I slip a couple of chewable Ibuprofen in her gummy bears at lunch to keep her from being sent home. She takes them at home, I give her specific instructions not to share, and it saves me from the call and more importantly the 24-hour stay-home policy.” – D.R.

Emergency Measures
“When my oldest, 4, declares she needs to potty after I have already buckled all the car seats and it is an ‘emergency,’ I will grab a diaper from the baby’s bag and put it on her so I don’t have to unload and drag everyone to the public bathroom.” – N.M.

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Katy ISD parents Vince and Pam Zinnante speak out on the Katy 2014 Bond Election

Written by Pam Zinnante

Katy, TX News –  We have lived in Katy for 35 years, and have seen multiple bond issues approved to relieve overcrowding in schools. My husband and I were pleased to vote in favor of the bond that provided relief to the south side of Katy when there was an outcry that Cinco Ranch High School had hit over 3,400 students and would grow to almost 3,800 students by the time Seven Lakes High School was due to open. Within a few years, fast growth indicated the need for yet another high school serving Katy ISD south of I-10, and a community that should not take sides rightly voted in favor of another school and additional improvements and spaces to benefit all students district-wide.

Both Morton Ranch and Katy High School are hoping for relief from the expected growth in the Grand Pkwy. corridor. Those who think new buildings are unnecessary may be unaware that Morton Ranch High School is severely overcrowded. Lunch hours have to be expanded in order to be able to feed all of the students, and extra time between classes is needed to make it to outdoor temporary villages through halls too packed to navigate. How does that impact the education of students? Every minute of educational time lost matters!

So, my husband and I ask our friends and neighbors in Katy ISD to not abandon the needs of those students who would benefit from the changes suggested in the bond. This is not about a vote for a new stadium, but about the recognition that all students in Katy ISD, regardless of feeder pattern, have a need to be educated in a safe environment where the focus can be on curriculum. Thank you for voting in favor of the 2014 Bond Package, Build a Better Tomorrow Together, and supporting the education of our kids. KM

Vince and Pam Zinnante have lived in Katy for 35 years and have watched their three daughters graduate from Morton Ranch and Katy High School.

Katy Magazine would like to thank the Zinnante’s for offering their opinion on such an important issue. For information on the Bond package, visit katyisd.org.

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Spotlighting the students who transform Katy’s Friday nights

Written by Ashley Lancaster and Kirsten Cornell | Select Photography by Craig Moseley   

Katy, TX News – The stands fill with fans of all ages donning their school colors and faces painted with their favorite players’ numbers and armed with pom-poms, foam fingers, and signs. Athletes who have trained for years grind their cleats on the soft AstroTurf as they stare down the 120 yards to the goal line. Dozens of anxious students polish their instruments and fluff their plumes as they go over the spirit numbers one more time. It can only mean one thing: It’s Friday night, and the game is about to begin.

KM_F_14_FNL_SLHS_11_ASC_4003_PSE-3388449824-H_photo by Craig Moseley
Mascots are responsible for learning stunts, cheers, and getting the crowd going on Friday Night

A Winning Mindset
While every football program has its own strategies, the coaches and players at each school will tell you that preparing to take on an opponent takes more than just physical strength. “The coaches will begin preparing right after the previous game by watching video of what our next opponent does and how they do it,” says Don Clayton, athletic director and head coach at Cinco Ranch High School. “The players will do the mental work in meetings and video sessions, as well as on their own with study of the scouting report and with opponent video that is available to them.”

Physical preparation is accomplished during weekly practices, which averages about eight hours per week. While as many as 450 students try out for football each season, only about 85 will end up playing varsity under the stadium lights on a Friday night, something that each player looks forward to. According to Taylor Jiral, team captain and student at Cinco Ranch High School, Fridays
are synonymous with football. “All I can think about is the game. After school we go straight to the meeting room and prepare as a team for our games. We get in the zone and focused for the task ahead of us.”

Taylor Mustang Eddie Schwarz is looking forward to competing with this teammates and winning this season. “We will be making new traditions this year with Coach Herrmann and the coaching staff. I can’t wait to go all out for them and for all of our supporters.”

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Traditions run deep in Katy ISD football, and fans look forward to games each season

Sounds of School Pride
In the moment before kick-off, it wouldn’t be a football game if there were no drum roll or music to lift the spirits of the fans in the stands and players on the field. That is why the high school band plays such a huge role in encouraging the athletes and keeping the crowd on their feet.

“The band is one of the integral components of the football game that helps cultivate the environment and
create excitement in the stands,” says Michael Ary, newly appointed band director at Taylor High School. Without the dedication and hard work of the band programs, like the eight-hour practices during the weeks before school and regular practices throughout the week, Friday nights at
Rhodes Stadium wouldn’t be nearly as exciting.

“Our Katy fans are really spirited,” adds Katy Tiger Nathaniel Hebert. “They make up chants and scream them during the game. They know all of the spirit songs.”

KM_F_14_FNL_SLHS_11_DSC_7153_7x17_pse-3388450573-H_photo by Craig Moseley
Half-time wouldn’t be the same without the carefully choreographed performances of the band and drill team

Rallying the Community
The cheerleaders, mascots, and drill team members boost school spirit with more than their presence at a game. They help rally the community to support their team. “They are responsible for so much more than just sideline cheering,” says Seven Lakes cheer coach Amy Weaston. “We go to Red Ribbon Week, pep rallies, store grand openings, public relations appearances, birthday parties, and homecoming decorating – anything that reminds the public of who we are and what school we represent.”

This involvment in the community is what keeps people filling the stands to root for their school on a Friday night. The drill team members are in charge of decorating players’ lockers to boost morale during the week and practice their half-time routine for hours each day, right up until the moments before they perform.

Darby Boyd, dance instructor and drill team director at Taylor High School, shares what it’s like to watch her team perform on game night. “I love seeing a dance evlove from initial conception, then to teaching it, casting it, and finally perfecting it. It all comes to fruition in the moments the Pacesetters are on the field,” she says. “I am always nervously excited and incredibly proud.”

Student participation is the lifeblood of the crowd, and you can feel their excitement build throughout the game. “We will have a new student section this year nicknamed ‘the Jungle’ that we are really excited about,” explains Ryver Kirk, a cheer captain on the Katy High School varsity squad.

“The THS crowd always loves the chants where we have them repeat after us, getting louder and louder,” says Taylor High School varsity cheerleader Nicole Phillips. “They also seem to love the cheers that include our stunts, which take a lot of practice. And I can’t go without saying they love tumbling. All of our varsity cheerleaders are great tumblers.”

Chloe Rasch - Cinco Ranch HS 3
Varsity squads spend time each week preparing spirit signs and cheers for the game

All for the Fans
Each group plays an important role in encouraging school spirit, but without the fans there would be no one to rally. Lorraine Eberly, cheer coach at Morton Ranch High School, remembers one fan in particular who touched her heart. “There is a little girl named Brittany that comes to every Morton Ranch game. She wears a cheer uniform and sits in the top section, brings posters and noise makers, and leads the 50 yard line crowd during the whole game. She comes down at every game to say, ‘Hi.’ How much sweeter can it get than that?” It’s safe to say that even Katy’s littlest fans love their football.

“I love being on the field and cheering for my team and the people who come out to support us,” adds Mayde Creek spirit
officer Amanda Sprague. “I couldn’t ask for a better squad. They are my family.”

Without the combined efforts of each group and the dedicated fans, Friday night football wouldn’t be able to live up to the hype. Katy High School head football coach and athletic coordinator Gary Joseph sums it up when he says, “It takes the coaches, players, school, athletic administration, teachers, student body, band, drill team, cheerleaders, parents, fans, and loyal supporters to have a successful program.” KM

ASHLEY LANCASTER is the Editorial Assistant at Katy Magazine and loves to watch her youngest brother and cousin play football for Katy High School.

Kirsten Cornell is the lead associate editor of Katy Magazine and she’s excited about wearing her spirit shirts to Friday football games this season.

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A look at the dangers of too much screen time and how Katy families can find the right balance for connecting and socializing with family

Written by Katy Magazine’s Editors

Katy, TX News – Go to any restaurant and you’ll see it: an entire family, silent, all looking down at their devices instead of talking with each other. Some “hip” new restaurants are even offering media-inspired entertainment at the table to keep everyone occupied throughout the meal. As we spend more and more time checking Facebook, Instagram, and playing Candy Crush Saga, we are spending less and less time connecting as a family.

With the ease of access to the Internet and the constant feeling of being in-touch with friends through social media, many Katyites, from kids to adults, admit to being tempted to be “on” digitally all hours of the day. Teens aren’t the only ones glued to their smart phones. Parents are also facing attention-span issues between their tablets with games, movies, work emails, app notifications; and the cries of young children that are pacified by handing over the device. But experts say this attempt to socially multitask is actually leaving negative imprints in families as they struggle to find ways to connect.

Escaping Real Life
“I think that families are learning to escape from the stress of life behind their iPhones and tablets. We are learning that instead of looking at a sunset, it is more enjoyable to scroll through our Facebook feed,” observes certified Katy counselor Susan Sowell, MA, LPC-S. “We have exchanged the blessing of connecting with our loved ones with disconnecting in front of a screen. It is an easy trap to get into and robs the family of having true community.”

Lack of Engagement
The first step is to recognize the problem and admit if you or others in the family are getting a little obsessed with your digital devices to the detriment of real-life human interaction. “I see the problem as being not just kids who are spending too much screen time,” says George Jolliff of Faith West Academy. “Parents are often guilty of spending too much time checking smartphones and email when not on the clock.”

Dinner with the family used to be a time for bonding, connecting, and discussing everyone’s highs and lows, but today everyone seems to be on their own screen. “When you go out as a family leave the devices at home and be present with those who are around you,” advises Darlene Rankin, director of instruction innovations for Katy ISD.

We’ve all been in a conversation with a friend, when they look down and check their phone. You suddenly sense how unimportant your conversation must be. Imagine how a child feels when mom is listening with one ear, but looking down at the cell phone instead of looking in his or her eyes. Who knows what the long-term detrimental impact on today’s children will be?

“What we are creating is a generation that is far more comfortable talking via text than talking in person. What is being lost is the art of personal relationships,” adds Jaggers.


Setting Digital Boundaries

“We implemented a ‘no-electronics rule’ during family meals so we can focus solely on each other,” says Tony Rivera, a Katy father of two. The Riveras recently returned from a long road trip where they actually turned off the DVD player and played license plate bingo together. Other Katy parents never allow kids to have phones or tablets at mealtimes, homework time, or bedtime. Collecting kids’ and teens’ cell phones at the end of the day is a standard in many Katy homes.

Forming New Habits

“If we want our children to form new habits, then we need to take the lead,” adds Sowell. “We need to be willing to put our phones down when we are spending time with them.” She suggests waiting to respond to text messages, emails, and even phone calls when you are engaged in spending time with your children. “As parents, we need to lead by example and that means limiting our screen time as well,” she adds.

Katy mom Angie Waller helps her family avoid experiencing technology overload by balancing her childrens’ screen time with face-to-face socialization. “For my younger ones, ages 8 and 10, they have to play outside either at the pool or just with friends in the yard before Internet time,” says Waller. She also makes sure they’re involved in extracurricular activities and clubs. Waller says they are in “either a club at school, sports, or music. I have a football player and guitar player and a theater student.”

Families may even want to challenge themselves to a “media fast,” where they take a break from their normal digital routine to help them form new, healthy habits.

The Deeper Issue
As a family, you may need to evaluate why you are spending excessive amounts of time on and behind the screen. For example, is it simply a bad habit or could you be escaping from stressful situations or issues within the family that need to be addressed?

“Evaluating why we do what we do is a great place to start,” says Sowell. “The next step is to make a decision to make a change. Discuss this as a family and brainstorm together.”

You may find that your children would rather spend time with you participating in a fun family activity, or you may realize that you need to invest more in your child so that they will be more excited about wanting to spend time together as a family.

Technology’s Rightful Place
Limit Internet time at home, and insist on family time. Area mom India Smith says her children have responded well to a point system where they earn screen time by reading. “The length of reading determines how much video game time that [my son] is allotted,” says Smith. “For instance, 30 minutes of reading equals 15 minutes of technology, one hour equals 30 minutes and so on.” Smith also finds that scheduling screen time for the latter part of the day keeps the family more in tune with each other and ensures more face-to-face time earlier in the day.

“Children of all ages learn by watching what their parents do with their time. Model to them that you are not ‘glued’ to your devices,” Sowell suggests.

“In our schools, we use the ‘red light, green light system,’ and parents can easily incorporate this,” says Rankin. “Green means full access to devices, yellow means at parents’ discretion, and red is no access.”

Technology is a wonderful tool, but as with anything, it should be used in moderation and not as a replacement for
one-on-one socializing. Sit down as a family and discuss your rules for digital devices, how you will use them, and what the limitations are. As parents, be sure you are following the rules as well, setting a strong example for your children to follow. You will all be thankful for the memories and conversations you will create together. Jaggers adds, “In the end, no one will look back on their life and say, ‘I wish I had spent more time online.’” KM

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These local leaders share how they keep their teams energized and motivated to achieve victory on the field, in the classroom, and in life

Written by Kelly Boldt|Photography by Anetrius Wallace

Katy, TX News – Football coaches aren’t just drill sergeants. They are also mentors, counselors, motivators, and strategic planners. Each one of Katy ISD’s head football coaches has a different approach to their team, but a common thread is woven into each of them – their families. They are described as patient, tolerant, and understanding. The most important message is that behind every good coach is an amazing Katy family. Here is a quick glimpse of our Katy area high school coaches (in alphabetical order).

Don Clayton – Cinco Ranch High School

Cinco Ranch head coach Don Clayton loves working with and helping to develop athletes. “It’s not a job; it’s a calling,” explains Clayton, who has been with the Cougars since their first football season in 2000. “I love the way football mirrors real life. You work hard to succeed and also learn along the way that you will get knocked down, but you have to get right back up and get after it again.”

Discipline is also important for Clayton, as is intensity and a high level of commitment from his players and staff. This undertaking is not limited to the field. “We are here to supplement and reinforce what parents do in raising their children,” says Clayton. “We try to be a positive influence to keep them on the right track.”

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Coach Clayton has been Cinco Ranch’s head coach since it’s opening in 1999
His wife Rhonda is a teacher at Randolph Elementary

Gary Joseph – Katy High School

After 32 years at Katy High School, coach Gary Joseph appears to have found the formula for success. He says it’s discipline. Known as a tough, straightforward leader who works at developing trust with his players, Joseph also realizes the importance of being a mentor to his team. “Leadership is important,” Joseph explains. “The biggest thing with our staff is developing trust with the kids. The players have to believe in what we’re saying. If they don’t believe in anything or anybody, they’re not going to be committed to anything in life.”

The Katy Tigers hope to continue their legacy of seven state championship wins. Joseph says, “I am proud to have helped build the great traditions at Katy High School over the years.”

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Coach Joseph has had 11 state championship appearances, six as head coach

Lance Carter – Mayde Creek High School

The first word Mayde Creek head coach Lance Carter uses to describe his program is “tough.” That’s their style of practice, what he expects his players to bring to the field, and how his team plays on game day. “There are lots of other details, but what really drives us is our love for the game,” Carter says. “Off the field, I have loved watching young men grow into their futures.”

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Coach Carter’s wife, Emma, is a history teacher at Cinco Ranch High School

Carter also believes that coaches play an important role in other facets of their players’ lives. “So much of this game is a mentality,” he says. “You’ve got to be very driven to play football, and we have the opportunity to use football to teach them drive and motivation that may last a lifetime.”

Dave Meadows – Morton Ranch High School

Coach Dave Meadows believes he can be described as intense, thorough, and caring in his role as head football coach at Morton Ranch High School. “Our workouts are intense, and we work on things that are applicable to what the kids have to do on the field,” says Meadows.

Physical training isn’t the only aspect of being a good coach for Meadows. “We hold our players to a higher standard,” he says. “They may not live up to them all the time, but we want them to understand that there are consequences if they make a bad decision. We are all part of this together.” Meadows believes the Mavericks are ready for the new season. “What we are doing here is what suits us best. It may not work for everybody, but it works for us.”

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Coach Meadows’ has had four state championships, three state runner-ups, and 293 wins in his career

Lydell Wilson – Seven Lakes High School

In his third year at Seven Lakes High School, coach Lydell Wilson is working hard to achieve his goal of building a state champion-caliber team. Part of his strategy is to get involved with the kids. “I can relate to them, and they tend to respond to that,” explains Wilson. “I try to get individual guys to understand that winning is important. Everybody has to sacrifice something for our
team goals.”

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Coach Wilson won a 4a division I state championship in 2007 at Lamar Consolidated

For example, Wilson sacrifices his personal time and encourages the players to make sacrifices for the betterment of the team as well. Wilson says, “Every second counts, and we want to make sure they put their all into everything they do.”

Trey Hermann – Taylor High School

Head Coach Trey Herrmann will be taking over the reins at Taylor High School this year. Herrmann is a graduate of Mayde Creek High School and was previously part of the coaching staff at Mayde Creek and Seven Lakes high schools. He was named the 20-5A Coach of the Year in 2010.

Herrmann believes his hard work and commitment to the program will demonstrate the strong work ethic he expects from his players. “I am honest and work hard to be clear about expectations,” says Herrmann. “But toughness has always been the most important part of what we do. Not just the physical part, but we want them to develop the mental strength to overcome obstacles.”

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All three of coach Hermann’s sons are currently in Katy Youth Football

Each program has its strengths, and Herrmann considers the off-season work by his players to be the cornerstone of his program. Herrmann adds, “We find that when players buy into it, that translates into better performance on the field during the season.”

Tony Tademy – Tompkins High School

As the head coach of the newest Katy ISD football program, Tony Tademy at Tompkins High School knows he and the players have a special connection. “We are learning together, growing together, and every day is a new day for us,” says Tademy. He says the team is ready for game time. “We have a plan, and every day we stick to that plan.” Organization, attention to detail, and being honest with the athletes are all important components of Tademy’s leadership style.

“We try to always do what’s best for the kids and be as consistent as we can,” says Tademy. “My coaches and I want them to know that we want to see them succeed.”

KM_F_14_coach profiles_Tompkins HS_Tony Tademy (7)_photo by Anetrius Wallace
Coach Tademy is a former TCU linebacker coach and was also a defensive coordinator at University of Louisiana, Lafayette

Kelly Boldt is a freelance writer and Katy mother of three teenagers. 

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Katy ISD campuses discuss the importance of this anti-bullying campaign

Written by Kirsten Cornell | Photography by Anetrius Wallace

Katy, TX News – The No Place for Hate initiative, which launched in schools in 2001 by the Anti-Defamation League, provides educators and students with the resources to ensure that anti-bias and diversity education are an integral part of the school curriculum. “Our campus made the decision to pursue the No Place for Hate campus designation because we felt it was important for all students to feel accepted, valued, and respected for their individual differences,” says Doreen Martinez, assistant principal at Morton Ranch Junior High. “We also wanted to provide an opportunity to bring attention to bullying and help educate students on the negative effects of teasing, ostracism, intimidation, and rumor spreading.”

Morton Ranch Junior High No Place for Hate representatives Betsy Irwin, Doreen Martinez, Amanda Lara, Vanessa Whitehead, Mark McCord, Cindy Lamm, and Jordan Bates

Earning the Designation
The Anti-Defamation League asks that designated campuses hold meetings to discuss the initiative with the students and discuss active ways in which they can participate. “Students sign a resolution of respect and in doing so, they commit to ensuring that our school is a No Place for Hate campus,” explains Cimarron Elementary counselor Elizabeth Kratz. “Children spend most of their time with us, and we are the guiding factor in their lives. We want to make sure they understand differences not only in themselves, but in others as well.”

Stephens Elementary planned a “mix it up” at lunch where students were encouraged to invite students they didn’t know to sit and eat with them. “The goal was to make sure every student was included and felt welcome,” says Stephanie Vaughan, the school’s principal. Their culminating activity to-date has been a school-wide diversity concert, including a repertoire of songs representing different cultures.

At Morton Ranch, their No Place for Hate (NPH) Club meets at the beginning of the year to select three activities that will address appreciating differences, respect, kindness towards others, and anti-bullying efforts on campus. This year, the NPH club chose to have a Bullying Awareness Month which included a Unity Day where the entire school wore orange in support of bringing an end to bullying.

Club members also utilized technology to research various celebrities who had been bullied as teenagers during their Celebrity Bully Quotes event. “Students designed graphics with celebrity names and quotes about their personal experiences,” explains Martinez. “The goal was to help students understand that even famous celebrities had experienced, and were able to overcome, the negative effects of bullying.” The students also plan to create a multimedia presentation about how bullying impacts a student’s life.

Stephens Elementary antibullying advocates Yvette Sylvan, Caitlyn McCollum, Timothy Park, Stephanie Vaughan, Gabriel Santana, Samantha Boyer, and Alejandra Huerta

The Scarring Truth
According to the National Education Association, it is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. “Schools need to be a safe place for students and staff. No one should feel like they don’t belong,” says Saneé Bell, Cimarron’s principal. “Bullying excludes others and is damaging emotionally. It can take years to heal the scars that occur from acts of bullying, and it is important that we eradicate it from our schools.”

Children who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. Martinez believes that because bullying can take on various forms, many students experience bullying in some way. Morton Ranch’s goal when working with students who are experiencing bullying is to help them understand that the bully has the issue, not them. “I want our students to feel confident in themselves and take a more assertive position by taking the appropriate steps to stop bullying,” adds Martinez.

Vaughan understands that what her students are learning in elementary school impacts how they will behave in the future and interact with others long after they have left the Stephens campus. “Young children are very impressionable, and they emulate what is modeled,” she says. “It is our responsibility to educate our students about acceptance and model it.” She adds that students know that bullying and disrespectfulness will not be tolerated, “We continue to have high expectations for how our students and staff treat one another.”

Cimarron Elementary students with their No Place for Hate leaders Holly Heiman, Brooke Foreman, Elizabeth Kratz, Saneé Bell, and Tanya Hughey

United Against Bullying
Part of preventing campus bullying is providing outlets for students to report incidents or discuss any issue they may be having in a safe environment. “Safety Net” has been utilized at several Katy ISD campuses and proven effective. “The safety net box is located in the library and students can fill out a form and drop it off. It is then checked by the school counselor,” explains Vaughan. “Students are encouraged to tell any adult that they are most comfortable confiding in as soon as possible.”

Campuses have noticed a significant difference in the atmosphere since accepting the NPH Challenge. At Cimarron, Kratz notes that children feel more free to talk to others and communicate their needs when they need assistance. “It has created a positive environment. Our students are very accepting of others and seek out help when they feel that someone is not being treated with respect,” she says. “Since this is our fifth year of being a NPH campus, we can see the difference in the level of respect and acceptance of individual differences and backgrounds,” adds Vaughan. Stephens Elementary has plans to expand their diversity book club and continue with programs that celebrate diversity through fine arts and in the classroom.

Martinez maintains that is important for students to know how to be proactive in addressing negative behavior by finding peaceful solutions and relying on staff to help keep them safe. “We have seen an awareness of the NPH club at Morton Ranch. Our students know that we are united with the campus to put an end to bullying,” she adds.

“Cimarron is a family, and we want all of our children to feel safe when they come to school. If students do not feel safe, they will not learn,” explains Kratz. “By teaching students that hate is not tolerated and that kindness is the right thing, students are more likely to have positive attitudes about themselves and others.” KM

KIRSTEN CORNELL is the lead associate editor for Katy Magazine. She has seen the effects of campus bullying and applauds Katy ISD for taking an active stand against it.

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Local students are giving back to others here at home and around the globe

Written by Holly Leger

Katy, TX News – As a teenager, it’s easy to get caught up in the world of adolescence. But these Katy teens received a reality check after going on mission trips – some around the world, and others in their own hometown. Katy Magazine reached out to these young men and women to hear their inspirational stories.

Parkway Fellowship students on a mission trip in Diepsloot in northern Johannesburg, South Africa
Photo courtesy of Parkway Fellowship

A World Apart
Johannesburg, South Africa may look like any other large, well-to-do city, but as the youth group at Parkway Fellowship discovered, the outskirts of the city are the polar opposite. The teenagers walked through squatter camps, performing door-to-door ministries.

Parkway student pastor Chris Sedgwick says the camps have very small square footage, yet house hundreds of thousands of residents and refugees. “It’s very hard conditions,” Sedgwick says. “It’s a maze of shacks. You have to walk sideways in between houses.”

Skylar Station and Tanner Clark playing a game with the children of Diepsloot Photo courtesy of Parkway Fellowship
Skylar Station and Tanner Clark playing a game with the children of Diepsloot
Photo courtesy of Parkway Fellowship

Seeing True Joy
The youth group split into groups of four, each one assigned with a translator, and walked from hut to hut to help others, share the story of Jesus, and pray.

Skylar Station, a 17-year-old youth member, says that although she was shocked by the poverty she witnessed while in South Africa, she was just as surprised by the level of pride and joy the people showed for their homes and family. “Even though they’re in these horrible conditions, they’re still happy,” Station says. “They haven’t lost sight of hope.”

Teen mission groups often spend time teaching Bible classes in village schools
Teen mission groups often spend time teaching Bible classes in village schools

Building Relationships
Traveling with the student organization at Second Baptist Church, 17-year-old Ansley Harris went to Belize City, Belize to help make renovations on a local Catholic school during her spring break.

While Harris and her fellow youth members were painting, the children at the school would periodically come outside during their breaks.

Harris says, “That’s when we would stop our work, go build relationships, and get to know the kids.” Harris reached out to the parents, too. A mother came to bring her children lunch each day, and Harris said she bonded with their family the entire week.

“Each day, I got to hear more of her story and tell her more of mine,” Harris says. “It was neat to pray over her and tell her why I believe what I believe. She was already a Christian, but we went into depth. It was a cool experience, and to talk to her kids about it, too, was neat.”

Harris says the experiences she had in Belize, as well as others she’s had this year while doing local mission work, helped her learn the world doesn’t revolve around her. Instead, she realized she is on Earth to serve, just as Jesus did. “For me, it was kind of a news flash and a slap in the face,” Harris explains. “Like, ‘Hey, Ansley! What are you doing to serve others? What are you doing to share the gospel?’ It was a super humbling experience.”

Second Baptist Church teen Ansley Harris hands out gifts to children in the village

Close to Home
If you double dog dare 18-year-old Josh Corley to do something, he doesn’t back down. That is, if it’s a dare at Grace Fellowship United Methodist Church.

In 2013, Josh applied for Grace’s Double Dog Dare Grant, which offers money to members who would like to plan a mission project. For Josh, that mission plan was easy: help the homeless men and women in the Katy area.

His mother, Dora Corley, says she was not surprised by her son’s decision. “Josh has always had a heart towards homeless people,” Dora says. “I’ve asked him why, and he replies, ‘You see them all the time, and they’re real people. But we’ll never know who they are, because we just drive by them.’”

Assisting the homeless was just part of Josh’s plan, though. He has Asperger’s syndrome and wanted to do the mission project with other special needs families at The Bridge, a ministry offered at Grace.

Lache Monroe and Jimmy Richardson washing clothes for some women at the community watering spot
Photo courtesy of Parkway Fellowship

Building a Bridge
The Bridge provides services for approximately 50 individuals. Josh said he knew a big group like that could make a big impact, as well as prove to others what they’re capable of doing.

“The special needs kids can actually do stuff,” he says. “We’re not just sitting around.” With the $500 Josh received from the grant, he bought Ziploc bags, toiletries, and other essentials. When the project was completed, Dora asked Josh what he thought of the day’s work. “He said, ‘I feel great inside.’” KM

HOLLY LEGER is a freelance writer who was constantly reminded during this story what a great spiritual gift serving can be.

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By Cadet Staff Sergeant Faith

From start to finish, food to fun, and work to rides, Thunderbird cadets had a great time volunteering at the Cajun Invasion Festival at Katy Mills Mall. May 16 – 18 was a bright and sunny weekend, perfect for the carnival. Thunderbird Composite Squadron was invited by Katy Mills Head of Security to assist as a response team, perform trash pick up, and patrol the inner and outer perimeters of the festival. “We looked at it like a mission,” said Senior Member 1st Lieutenant Torre LoDolce, who was in charge of the cadets for the weekend. Cadets were split into teams and given radios to communicate. A tent was set up as headquarters. It served as a place for visitors to come and ask questions about the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Many people, as well as vendors, were very impressed by the cadets performance around the carnival and came to inquire about CAP. Members of CAP always have opportunities to participate in events and activities similar to the Cajun Invasion Festival because volunteer service is one of the most important core values for the organization. The festival offered a great opportunity to explain as well as demonstrate what CAP is all about.

Thunderbird cadets

Many Cadets and Seniors volunteered throughout the weekend so that the work was distributed evenly. Everyone had a chance to enjoy the rides and games. There were several live performances including  Kimberly Caldwell, Katy native. She was the seventh place finalist on American Idol. As she invited children up to the stage, cadets  Zach Lexa and Truitt LoDolce jumped into the group. The two jammed out on stage with the pop star.

Every cadet enjoyed volunteering at the festival. “It was a fun experience,” said Cadet Technical Sergeant Zach Lexa. “Sure we cleaned up, but we had fun doing it.” Katy Mills Mall was pleased with Thunderbird’s performance and welcomes them back.

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Click Here For Our Prom Resource Guide!
Click Here For Our Prom Resource Guide!

What’s in. What’s hot. What’s fun!

• Bright Colors
• Bold Patterns
• Mermaid-style
• Hi-low Skirts
• Beaded Bodices
• Flowing Skirts
• Short Gowns

• Side Ponytails
• Messy Braids
• Loose Updos
• Sleek Waves
• Tousled Buns
• Fishtail Braids

• Bold Lip Colors
• Natural Eyes
• Bronze Cheeks
• Lash Extensions

Sweet Rides
• Classic Cars
• Party Buses
• Limos
• Hummers

Ways to Ask
Ask early! Your date has a lot to buy and plan.

• Spell it out in rose petals
• Have it written in icing on a cake
• Hang a large sign in the school
• Team up with friends for a singing telegram
• Light votive candles spelling “Prom?”
• Write it on her Starbucks order

To advertise, call 281-579-9840 or email sales@katymagazine.com

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Beck’s Student Discovery Contest
Julia Yang recently won Beck Junior High’s first Student Directory Cover Contest. The theme was “Just Think.” As part of her prize, Yang received a Beck Junior High hoodie and a decal. Pictured is Yang with principal Carra Fleming.

Beck's Discovery Contest
Beck’s Discovery Contest

Rachel’s Challenge at Beckendorff JH
Larry Scott, the uncle of Rachel Scott who was the first student killed at Columbine High School in 1999, shared with Beckendorff Junior High students about the program Rachel’s Challenge. The challenge is based on five ideas: look for the best in others, dream big, choose positive influences, speak with kindness, and start a chain reaction. Pictured are PTA vice president of programs, Amber Willingham; Larry Scott; principal Mindy Dickerson; and PTA president Ashley Vann.

Rachel's Challenge at Beckendorff JH
Rachel’s Challenge at Beckendorff JH


CRHS Concerto Winner Ethan Le
Ethan Le, a sophomore at Cinco Ranch High School recently won the Clear Lake Symphony 2014 Youth Concerto Competition. As the winner, he will be performing the first movement of Beethoven’s “Violin Concerto in D major” at the Clear Lake Symphony on March 21 at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.

CRHS Concerto Winner Ethan Le
CRHS Concerto Winner Ethan Le

Seven Lakes Gives Quilts to Texas Children’s Hospital
The Seven Lakes High School fashion design class donated their lap quilt creations to the Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. Pictured are Katy Williford, child life specialist; Jordan Groth; Samantha Gautier; Krista Caballero, child life specialist; Kaitlyn French; Emily Grass; and Sarah Rowe, child life specialist.

Seven Lakes Gives Quilts to Texas Children’s Hospital
Seven Lakes Gives Quilts
to Texas Children’s Hospital

Cinco Ranch Robotics Team Invited to Texas Bowl
For the second year in a row the Cinco Ranch High School Robotics Team 624 “CRyptonite” was invited to the Texas Bowl. The team represents the For Inspirations and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics, showcasing their Frisbee shoot robot, Thor. Pictured are Johnny Goforth, Shayan Baig, Dylan Bray, and Justin Kleiber.

Cinco Ranch Robotics Team Invited to Texas Bowl
Cinco Ranch Robotics Team Invited
to Texas Bowl

Mission Possible at Taylor High School
The Taylor High School student council partners with school staff to help raise funds for the Stephen and Stephanie Poss family. Both Stephen and Stephanie work at Taylor High School and recently had a son, Beckham, prematurely. Taylor students and staff have raised over $5,000 to go towards the family’s rising medical bills.

Mission Possible at Taylor High School
Mission Possible at Taylor High School

Beck JH Welcomes Principal
Beck Junior High welcomes their new principal, Carra Fleming from Holland Elementary School where she also served as principal. Former Beck principal Jeff Stocks now serves at Taylor High School. Pictured are seventh-grade assistant principal Dan DeYoung, eighth-grade assistant principal Marsha Dufner, Beck PTA president Maggie Boyle, new Beck Jr. High principal Carra Fleming, and sixth-grade assistant principal Kevin Webber.

Beck JH Welcomes Principal
Beck JH Welcomes Principal

KYB Owls Meet Rice Lady Owls
The KYB Owls basketball team recently got to do a clinic with the Rice University Lady Owls. Included in the meet-up was Rice’s No. 40, Megan Palmer, a Cinco Ranch grad.

KYB Owls Meet Rice Lady Owls
KYB Owls Meet Rice Lady Owls


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Donned in tiaras and cowboy boots, the Katy Cowgirls celebrate over 70 years of tradition

Written by Ella Hearrean | Photography courtesy of Katy Cowgirls

Katy, TX News – Carla Fisher was in fifth grade when she watched the Katy Cowgirls perform for the first time and told her parents, “I want to do that.” Eight years later, as a senior line captain of the mounted drill team, the Katy High School junior says, “I’ve learned leadership skills, gained friendships, and I feel proud carrying the flag during parades and performances.”

Katy Cowgirls Carla Fisher, Addy Alucema, Gretta Brong, and Jennica Davis

Representing the Community
This year, the organization of Katy ISD student horse-riding performers marks over 70 years of representing their hometown and school district at community events. Its 27 riders, whose ages range from 8 to 17 years, don their trademark tiaras and hats and present choreographed patterns at events like the Katy Rice Harvest Festival and Special Children’s Day. The culmination of their hard work is the annual presentation of the flags at the Katy Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Anita Mancini, director of the Katy Cowgirls for the past 11 years, attributes the success of the group to the diligence of its members. “These girls are the cream of the crop. Most are in advanced academic classes and are involved in other school and social activities, but they are dedicated to their horses and to each other. They are learning to be leaders.”

Working as a Team
The Katy Cowgirls accept girls of all skill levels, which Mancini says distinguishes the group from other team sports. “We want them to simply be able to walk, trot, and lope a horse with a flag in hand. We’ll take on someone with basic skills and a horse.”

The differences in abilities help the girls work as a team. “Their talents are different. Without each person’s position, the performance isn’t right,” says Mancini. Nine-year-old rider Faith Mancini agrees. “When I’m scared of holding the flag or steering the horse, the older girls make me feel comfortable and confident,” she says.

Their challenges strengthen the team as well. “The horses are spooked by the flags at first, so we have to teach them,” says Mancini. “They are also large animals that will misbehave. The girls learn to discipline them with respect.” Fisher adds that working closely with friends can sometimes be difficult. “Sometimes we have arguments and have to work them out, but Miss Anita always helps us. These girls are my best friends. They are like family.”

The team relies on the support of others, including five cowhands who prepare horses for rides and watch for the girls’ safety. “These are strong, capable young men who are always available,” says Mancini. She adds that parents are critical to the group’s success. “They show support by driving the girls and helping them reach their goals. Their commitment is awesome.”

The Katy Cowgirls team is comprised of Katy ISD students

Spreading the Love
Their camaraderie is evident in fun group traditions such as smashing cupcakes in birthday girls’ faces and going on annual alumni trail rides. It is also evident in their ability to come together to meet goals, such as exceeding their goal to support the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Mancini says, “Their horse rides, bake sale, and collections from family and friends raised over $7,000. I was so proud of them.”

Mancini’s close relationships with her current riders, as well as her 400 alumni riders, are reflected in their nicknames for her: “Miss A,” “Barn Mama,” even “Nana” by her granddaughter Faith – one of the youngest on the team. “I get to know each girl and what is going on with her so I can help her reach her goals,” she says. “They are such a blessing in the way they love me back.”

Ushering a New Season
The team is gearing up for its annual membership tryouts at the Katy ISD rodeo arena, where newcomers are judged on basic skills and where veteran members interview for spots as captain. Mancini is confident the new season will hold wonderful adventures. She shares, “I just can’t say enough about these girls. I can’t do them justice.” KM

ELLA HEARREAN is a Katy-area writer and editor.

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We’re taking a closer look at the bond shared between identical twins through the eyes of local Katyites

Written by Kirsten Cornell Photography by Lindsey Shelburne

KATY, Texas (KM) –  As the crowd cheered and the dust settled, 8-year-old Christie Mewis took to the plate and readied her bat wanting to win another hometown softball game. Back in the dugout, her twin sister Carol suddenly grabbed her cheek, jumped to her feet, and shrieked, “Ouch!” Seconds later, Christie was struck in the eye by the pitch.

The connection between twins is unique and undeniable. There have been stories about twins feeling emotional and physical pain even though they were separated by miles, states, or even oceans. They enjoy a type of closeness beyond what most siblings experience. “We get closer each year that passes,” shares Christie. “I appreciate that she always there for me. No matter the situation or the time of day, I can always depend on her support.”

A Special Bond in Katy, Texas
For 9-year-old twin sisters Amorie and Mackenzy Meadows, being in tune with each other and their feelings is nothing new. “Once when Amorie was in Meixco and I was in Texas, I knew she did not feel well and was crying so I asked my mom to call and check on her. I was about 4 years old,” recalls Mackenzy.  “She was so sure that something was wrong so I called and sure enough, she was crying,” confirms mother Bethany Geiman. “It was strange because she had not spoken to her at all that day yet she knew.”

Mackenzy (purple) and Amorie Meadows at their home in Katy by Lindsey Shelburne-2Amoire and Mackenzy Meadows

Deanna Wygal, mother of 13-year-old twins Devin and Dylan, remembers an instance when she was downstairs with Devin watching a TV program about twin telepathy which prompted her to ask him if he knew what Dylan was thinking who was upstairs. When he replied no, she asked him what he was thinking about. “He told me ‘donuts’ and we just laughed about it,” Deanna says. A few minutes later when Dylan headed downstairs they told him about the program and asked him what Devin had been thinking about. “He just said I was crazy,” laughs Deanna. “When I asked him to just guess he replied, ‘I don’t know mom, donuts.’ Devin’s eyes just went wide, donuts was such a random word and had no meaning to Devin.” Devin had been sitting with his mom the entire time and had no contact with his brother prior to the conversation.

DevonandDylanatCincoRanchHighSchoolbyLindseyShelburneofLindseyLouisePhotography-6Devin and Dylan Wygal

Some twins often experience Idioglossia or “twin talk”, as it’s commonly referred to. A seemingly secret language understood only by the twins themselves. “When we were younger, we made up code words and a secret language just to pick on my mom,” shares Carol Franklin with a laugh. “The more confused she got, the more fun we had with it.” Even when mirror twins Carol and Christie tried to let their mom in on their conversation, she still found it difficult to understand and was unable to participate.

“We are always on the same brain wave,” shares Christie. “We can tell what each other wants to do or say without speaking a word. It is actually weird sometimes – I can just give her a head nod and she knows exactly what I’m talking about.” Carol agrees saying that with simple eye contact, she can understand exactly what Christie is feeling in that exact moment. “Now we have a sort of unspoken twin language. We can read each other from a pause in conversation, a tiny sigh, or a sarcastic comment. It drives my husband crazy when we’re together,” she says.

Carol Franklin and Christie Mewis at LaCenterra by Lindsey Shelburne-19Carol and Christie

Deanna also remembers when her boys were younger, they would babble back and forth seemingly in intense conversation understanding perfectly what the other was saying. “They are very close and we can see that they have a special bond,” she shares.

Double the Fun in Katy, Texas
In addition to double the toys and a person to share closets with, identical twins relish the fact that they always have a pal they can count on nearby. “I always have someone to hang out with, we are best friends,” shares Dylan. Both students at Cinco Ranch Junior High School, the boys enjoy football, basketball, fishing, paintball, share the same tastes in music, and run with the same circle of friends.

“Being a twin is awesome. There are more clothes, more candy, and less work,” says Mackenzy. “We both love to play outside, visit our grandparents, and play with our baby brother Coby,” Amorie adds.

Being look-alikes can certainly pose its advantages, especially when it comes to sharing in a good-natured prank. “We tricked our teachers one year on April Fool’s Day by switching classes,” Dylan says with a grin. “They didn’t even notice until they were told what we had done.”

For Christie and Carol, their hands-down favorite thing about being a twin was being born with their best friend already in place. “I always have a partner in crime,” shares Christie. “She always has my back and is my number one protector.” Besides having someone she could depend on, Carol appreciates the fact that her sister drove her to be a better person. “She pushed me to go outside of my comfort zone and to accomplish things that I was scared of doing.”

Challenging Comparisons
Being treated as an individual often poses a challenge twins. People often compare them and lose sight of the fact that they are not a match set, but a pair of individuals defining their own paths.  “Many times, I would have to really sit back and contemplate if I wanted to do something because I really wanted to, or because Christie did,” says Carol.

“It can be difficult when one of us does better at something than the other,” says Devin. “And when people compare us,” adds Dylan.

Carol remembers being asked questions such as Are you the pretty one or the ugly one? Are you the smart one or the dumb one? Are you the good twin or the evil twin? “I would politely answer that I was the smart, good twin,” she says. “Christie would say that she was the pretty smart, evil, athletically gifted twin.”

Competition amongst them, while somewhat healthy, often proved stressful at times. “We turned everything into a competition,” says Carol, admitting that they still do although it is much friendlier now.  “It helped us excel in sports but it was also very tiring. No matter what I accomplished, I always felt like she outperformed me, it was difficult to handle at times.”

“As a twin it is a challenge to make sure that we are both happy and equal,” shares Christie. “Although I always know that she would be happy for me, I also want her to feel like we have the same opportunities to be successful in our lives.”

Unbreakable Bond in Katy, Texas
Beyond the built-in playmate and despite double the clothing to put away on laundry day, all agree that growing up as twin is a unique experience providing tremendous benefit. “We appreciate that we are always there for each other,” Devin and Dylan agree. “If one of us is having a bad day or has a problem, we are always there to help each other get through it.”

“My sister is willing to stop whatever she is doing in my time of need. But I most appreciate the fact that just lets me be me,” says Carol. “I am always there to defend her, protect her, cheer for her, and love her.”

“I can always make her laugh when she is having a bad day,” Christie says with a smile. “And she would drive around the world and back just to make sure that I am happy.”


KIRSTEN HAM is the associate editor for Katy Magazine and has always been fascinated by twins, especially her fraternal twin cousins, Rebekah and Courtney.


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How to decide whether or not to give into your Katy teen’s pleaing

Of course, my husband and I had to hear about the cell phone many months before we actually deemed it a need instead of just a want, and gave in and bought it.  My twelve-year-old son, Jovanni, is in a little hurry to grow up.  Are all kids like this now?  They want Facebook profiles (he hasn’t won that argument yet!), laptops, cell phones, ipads… I was happy with a notebook and pen at his age.  That’s all that was readily available when I was his age!  (Oh, did I just date myself?)

What to do?  Well, my advice, even if you don’t want it, is to NOT give in to all the requests, whines, or demands for the newest, most expensive “thing” on the gadget market.  Ask yourself, is this something my child really needs right now?  Is peer pressure a factor in their pressing “need” for this item?  Would this purchase create more problems for society situations (i.e. bullying, sexual predators, etc.)?  If so, then maybe, just maybe, it is not the best purchase idea for your child at this time.

If the purchase is a good idea, then I highly recommend that a purchase for your tween or teen come out of their own pocket, either partially or fully.  They are getting closer every year to springing the nest, and if they get the idea at home that whatever they want, they can get with no investment on their part, the value of that item is immediately diminished.  They are better off if they have to save for part – or all – of it, because they will value it more having waited and planned for it.  They also watch to see if you put it on “the card.”  If your child gets the idea that what you want, you get now, they are not able to realistically deal with the idea of credit later in their lives.  They don’t see that you are paying for that item later, and paying more, a lot of times, than the original price.

In our house, my son has to use his own allowance for his cell phone bill.  We felt that this would create a sense of responsibility in him, and he would treat his “toy” better for it.  Sure enough, he has not lost the phone, it hasn’t been broken, and I love that I can run to the post office and call him to check in on the way home!  The peace of mind that this gadget gives me, and the fun that texting his cousins and friends back home gives him, is worth every dime.

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Katy parents say ‘Goodbye’ summer and ‘Hello’ school

We had every good intention of getting up at six o’clock a.m. this week, in preparation for the new school year, but those good intentions went out the same window that our good summer intentions of re-slathering the sunscreen every hour and a half went out of!  My twelve-year-old son had to wake me up at eight o’clock a.m. this morning, so we obviously haven’t been wasting our time practicing for up and at ‘em!  Shoulda,  woulda,  coulda…  Ok, I have set the alarm for a good old-fashioned try at it tomorrow morning, 6:00 a.m.  It’s that time of year again!

Almost gone are the lazy summer days of freedom and too much sun.  So many friends over and too much swimming.  So little chores to do, so much sleep to get!  Almost gone are the days of hanging out with friends until too late, since the kids don’t have to be anywhere anyway!  Almost gone are the endless popsicles, ice cream truck runs, and late night neighborhood walks.

Here again (almost!) are the days of school and schedules, sports and homework, appointments here and there.  Back to the family hubbub of activities, classes, church functions and dance meets.  Here again is curfew and time limits, running late and running around, the general hustle and bustle of back to school.  Time to put into place the family message center, meal plan and calendar.   Here’s another chance at organizing your entryway for the shoe changes, sports equipment, and dance costumes.  Have you gotten everything the kids need for school supplies, or, even more importantly, their fashion needs?  Welcome to the end of summer and everything slow paced and comfortable…school starts August 23rd!

So as we moms kiss summer goodbye for another school season, we take a deep breath together and embrace the change!  As for me, I might hit the snooze button in the morning just a couple of times, who needs to practice for getting up earlier, anyway?! 


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Katy makes it easy to help ensure the safety of your child

Make sure your child is protected by getting a Child Identification Card

The Katy Police Department offers a service to help locate lost or abducted children. The Kid ID  program provides parents with a photo ID card for their children. But this is no ordinary photo ID card.

Sergeant J. L. Field, the police officer in charge of the program for Katy Police Department, says that this card is connected to a national database, which can be accessed by any police department in the U.S. Once all identifying information about your child is collected, it is sent to the KidID.org along with the card information.

My daughter and I had my granddaughter go through the ID card process at the main police department. It took all of 20 minutes. During the process, Sgt. Field took two photos of my granddaughter – one facing the camera and a profile photo. He also took a photo of my daughter (granddaughter’s mom) facing the camera. Mom’s photo and the profile photo do not appear on the card, but are attached to the profile which is uploaded to the KidID.org data bank.

Sgt. Field took digital fingerprints of my granddaughter’s thumb and forefinger on both hands. Field said the digital fingerprints are much clearer than the old ink and paper method for obtaining prints. In fact, they are considered American Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) quality prints. Sgt. Field also collected identifying information including: my granddaughter’s name and address, names of her mother and father, and contact numbers for people to be called in case she is located. He also recorded my granddaughter’s physical description – height, weight, age, birthday and birthmarks.

All of the information, photos and fingerprints are now uploaded to the KidID.org site, and my daughter has attached her personal password to the account by signing in online as soon as she got home. Sgt. Field printed out two ID cards, one for each parent, that shows my granddaughter’s photo and physical description on the front and has the KidID.org site information on the back. Should she get lost or kidnapped – God forbid! – we simply have to present the card to the police officer and he can use KidID.org to help locate her.

The Katy Police Department purchased all of the equipment (computer, digital camera, digital fingerprint attachment, and card printer) a year ago for around $16,000 and have been putting it to very good use since then.

 The ID cards cost nothing – except about 20 minutes of your time for each child. We were able to walk in and get it done on the spot. If you family has 3 or more children, however you may want to make arrangements with Sgt. Field in advance.

The Katy Police Department main station is located at 5456 Franz Road in downtown Katy, about a quarter mile from the Mary Jo Peckham Park. They can be contacted by phone at 281-391-4848 or by E-Mail at kpd@katypd.com.

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Katy kids get ready for Senior Prom

I recently went to Katy Mills Mall and noticed so many young ladies and young men shopping for their upcoming prom. There were alot of young ladies that were shopping with excitement for that special dress that they would be wearing for prom and not to mention those special accessories as well. Many of them debating whether to have a knee length dress or a long length dress. Many of the girls showed themselves different colors of dresses and wanted to know each others opinion. Many of the young men looked for that perfect suit to fit for that special night as well those perfect shoes. This was going to be a special night with so many memories to be remembered for their entire life.
Many of the young ladies and young men were talking about their budget. They each had a different budget to spend for many of those items to be bought for prom. So that is when I remembered my budget when I was shopping for my prom. So many things have increased in price back when I was shopping for my prom. So how much money should we give our children to budget for their prom? Is their a limit on how much to spend? Should we start a prom account just for them? These are so many questions I ask myself because soon my child will be a senior in high school and will be getting ready for his prom.  I find myself excited for them because it brings back memories of when I went prom. I still remember all the fun we had with our friends shopping for that special dress, accessories, getting hair done and nails done just for that special night. Do you still remember that day? What was your memories of your last prom? Do you encountered yourself also being excited for your child by shopping for their prom? Please share your insights with me.
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Katy Mom wants to know what age is appropriate

I have a 6yr old  and 11yr old and they both been asking me when will they get their own cell phones. I have been debating what age should I start giving them cell phones. I didn’t give my 15 yr old a cell phone until he was 13yrs. Did I start too early or too late? I decided to give him one because of all the extra curricular activities he was in. The one thing that I am concerned about is too much phone usage. Are we ready to hear those rings and what about those text messages? What cell phone plan would benefit them? Should I get them on a texting plan? Also what phone would be best? These are some of many questions that come to mind.
I have seen children as young as 9yrs of age with cell phones in their hands. A cell phone can always be handy in an emergency when needed especially if they have to stay after school or attend extra curricular activities. This has came in very handy for me with my 15yr old. 
 I love the family plans that some cell phone carriers have. Have any of you taken advantage of them? Or should we limit them on how much they can talk on the phone, like prepaid? Oh lets not forget that we need to educate them on how they need to use the cell phone too. Can a 6yr old understand how to use a cell phone?  I never knew shopping for that right cell phone or phone plan could be so hard. It’s almost as hard as shopping for shoes for me by selecting the right ones that fit comfortably. So my Katy parents have you encountered my issue? What have been your past experiences?
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One Katyite mom has found a way to relieve dinner stress

I believe in the power of family meals every night.   I do not particularly care for processed foods, nor do I always have the time to make something fresh and fabulous each night.

So, if I am generally opposed to easy-to-prepare processed foods but I don’t have time to cook healthful meals, what do I do? 

I meal swap.

Meal swapping is an idea that a few friends and I came up with to better answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?”  Each month, I prepare 2 home cooked meals to share.  I triple the recipe and feed one portion to my family that night.  The other two portions I package up in freezer safe containers, label the top of the container with the name of the meal and the last minute preparation instructions, and put it in my freezer. 

Once a month, my two girlfriends and I meet up with our ice chests and kids in tow and swap our meals.  They’ve each come with 2 portions of two separate meals, and we dole them out: each of us gives away our four meals and each of us receives four new meals.  It is a very good return for my time investment: I cook huge portions twice and in return I get 4 meals that are almost completely ready for me to serve. 

Most often, the meals need to be defrosted and baked, neither of which takes much effort.  And a major plus to this way of cooking is that I don’t have to come up with a creative menu item four times each month.  My girlfriends have already done that for me!

A few helpful hints if this seems like something you’d be interested in doing:

*Try to recruit people with roughly the same family size as you.  It would be unbalanced for a family of 2 to be cooking for a family of 6.

*I’ve found that 3 people in the group is ideal.  It can be done with fewer, but tripling a recipe takes a lot of work and cooking more than that may make the hard work in the kitchen too much to handle.

*If you’re unable to find a group to meal swap with, consider doing this on your own.  Double or triple your family’s favorite recipes and freeze them for your own use throughout the month.

*Some recipes freeze better than others.  Avoid using recipes with heavy cream or other ingredients that may curdle when reheated.

*It’s best not to triple a new recipe until you know how it will end up.  I always do a trial run of a new recipe on my family the month before I triple it to make sure it turns out.

*Experience is your best ally.  It took me a while to figure out which recipes were cost-effective, easily frozen and reheated, and worth the effort of tripling them.  Play with your favorite recipes and soon you’ll have a set of delicious, healthy meals at your disposal.

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How Katy Parents Can Manage Cell Phones And Teens

March 23, 2010 – Katy, Texas – Sign Up Features- Many cell phones and cell phone providers offer features such as texting,video, and camera options. The privacy of the child is always at risk when they are allowed certain freedoms they don’t exactly know how to manage. As a parent, instead of offering your child the unlimited cell phone plan, request the text and call only plan or call only plan. The child’s privacy is protected to a greater degree and you’ll be saving more on a monthly basis.

Check The Cell Phone Daily– Although as parents you may feel the need to warrant a certain leniency towards your children, when it comes to a child’s public protection sometimes what seems like a “breach in privacy” is nothing but a parent being a parent. Checking the child’s cell phone for suspicious texts or videos or pictures at times can be a viable option when it comes to evaluating whether or not the child is responsible with something you as a parent had purchased.

Helping With The Purchasing Of Mobile Phones– Most children after a certain age will independently choose to buy products. The parent should always be with the child in the purchasing of any product that seems controversial. The child most likely is not business savvy and will need assistance in determining what features, rates and plans are economically and personally reasonable.

Prepaid Phones- Many retail stores sell prepaid mobile phones that feature text and call only options. These phones are inexpensive and are easy enough for teens to buy ($50-$70 per phone) without parental concern for their child’s well being.

Although this focuses on children transitioning into the teenage years, these tips can be used to help any parent with a child of any age.  When it comes to privacy and protection, as a parent you are in control not vice versa. 

Do you have any tips on managing your child’s cell phone?  Please comment below.

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Photo by Katy Magazine

Katy Seniors Gear Up for this Special NightFor four years students wait anxiously for the wonder that is their senior prom. The first school to experience this memorable event: Mayde Creek. They plan to revel in the magic on April 17, 2010 from 8 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Next is Katy, scheduled for April 24, 2010 from 8 p.m. – 12 p.m. at Brisco Hall. Their theme is an ode to the late Michael Jackson, Remember the Times, with the colors red and black.

The following day holds Seven Lake’s prom, April 25, 2010 from 8 p.m. – 12 p.m. They will dance the night away at the Intercontinental Hotel.

On May 1, 2010, Taylor will enjoy the splendor at the Houston Club from 8 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Then Morton Ranch High School’s prom will take place at the Omni Hotel on May 8, 2010 from 7 p.m. – 12 p.m. The class song is Michael Jackson’s “I’ll Be There” and the theme encompassing the dance is Fairyland, with emphasis on the colors pink, white, and silver.

Cinco Ranch’s theme is Take My Breath Away, with the colors black, white, and aqua. They will be holding the dance at Omni River Way on May 15, 2010 from 8 p.m. – 11 p.m. Olivia Davis, a senior student at Cinco, says “I’m so excited to buy a prom dress! I feel like a Barbie.”

© Katy Magazine 2010, photo and story

Do you have a funny prom story? Post it in the comments below.

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Teens & Tweens