Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

August 19, 2013

JEF “Evening With Our Stars” honors local standouts

JACKSONVILLE — The generosity of the Jacksonville Education Foundation has helped to make learning an ongoing event in their lives, two women told a crowd gathered at The Castle on The Lake during a Thursday mixer that served as JEF's campaign kick-off.

The recipient of the JEF Salutatorian scholarship, 2010 JHS graduate Mikaela Villavisencio recalled how the announcement of the bequest surprised her, because it was not expected.

On track to graduate college with a degree in aerospace engineering in December 2014, the young woman assured JEF supporters, “this scholarship has been a huge help (in my) getting college degree.

“I hope this scholarship will continue for a long time so that some other student really appreciated for their academic accomplishment is getting some financial aid” to help them realize their goals, she added.

East Side Elementary educator Rhonda Parker described how a $1,000 foundation grant awarded last year for a Reading Garden on the campus was learning experience in and of itself for students who put the project together.

“They researched everything from the planting zone, the angle of the sunlight throughout the school year and all these different things,” she said. “The children had a wonderful opportunity to go before our superintendent and our board and present what they had (discovered) … they were so excited.”

Best of all, she added, future generations of students will benefit from the innovative project.

“It is a project that will continue; it didn’t just end when we finished the (project) – it’s going to go on. It really did plant a seed in our students; an interest in nature, a place to go outside to read and write and listen … (this) outdoor classroom really expands their opportunity to learn,” Parker said.

The mixer – “Evening with Our Stars” – honored JHS Accomplished Alumna Sissy Phillips Austin and JISD basketball coach John Alexander, who are serving as co-chairs for the foundation's membership drive.

They also were to address the crowd gathered at Friday's convocation at the new JISD Gymnasium, located on the former Lon Morris College campus.

“John will probably talk about basketball, and I’ll probably talk about how I caught (husband) Jeff,” Austin quipped during the mixer.

Smiling, Alexander said he and Austin are “proud of our schools. And we're proud of what the foundation does for our schools and we’re proud of all these people that take interest in education.”

JEF's mission is “to support academic excellence in Jacksonville public schools through a variety of scholarship and classroom grant programs,” according to foundation mission statement.

Also during the mixer, Austin's husband Jeff shared a letter from fellow alum Margo Martindale, last year's foundation “Star” who is now a successful actress. She and Austin grew up together, with Martindale describing her “generosity and faithfulness as a friend.”

“I’m not sure she knows this, but her wisdom and example have guided me through challenges and decisions in my life,” Martindale wrote, thanking Austin “from the bottom of my heart for all these years of abiding friendship. Sissy, you are and always will be, my most Influential Indian.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Christian Rapper 0419.tif Local rap artist spreads the 411 on Jesus

    "I have seen things in my life that would make Dr. Phil crazy," Jacksonville native, ordained minister and aspiring rap artist Stephen I. Crow Jr. said with a laugh. "That's why I don't label my music specifically as "Christian rap" -- yes, Christians who love rap can listen and hopefully be uplifted, but I truly want and am trying to bring the word and Jesus' message to people who may never have heard it or don't believe it's for them.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tomato Bowl flushed to bottom of priorities

    The historic Tomato Bowl, built in 1940, stands strong on the outside, but according to some people the inside needs a lot of work in order to not be an eyesore.

    April 19, 2014

  • Cherokee County arrest: April 8-14

    The Daily Progress will publish a list of arrests from the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office on a weekly basis.

    April 19, 2014

  • Jacksonville College, high schools team up to offer dual credit program

    Jacksonville College is currently offering qualifying high school juniors and seniors attending Jacksonville and New Summerfield ISDs and The Brookhill School in Bullard the opportunity to get head start on their higher education.

    April 18, 2014

  • JISD board members to consider district strategic plan

    The Jacksonville ISD Board of Trustees will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 21, to discuss a district strategic plan and consider buying new band uniforms.

    April 18, 2014

  • 2 men arrested after standoff in grocery store

    Two men were arrested early Wednesday morning after a standoff at the B&B Foods in Alto.
    According to Alto Police Chief Jeremy Jackson, a person reported seeing two black males at the store just before 3 a.m. Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014

  • Some area entities closed for holiday

    Many area offices and businesses will be closed Friday in observance of Good Friday and Easter.

    April 17, 2014

  • Dispatcher Enge 0416.tif JPD dispatcher killed in wreck

    A dispatcher for the Jacksonville Police Department was killed Monday on her way to work, according to officials.
    Amber Enge, 35, of Whitehouse was pronounced dead at the scene of a one-vehicle wreck Monday afternoon on CR 2177 in Whitehouse.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • CR speed limit changes, E-filling fee top agenda

    On Monday, Cherokee County commissioners set April 28 to hold public hearings concerning the changing speed limits on two county roads.

    April 16, 2014

  • Catherine look.tif Religious lines drawn: Protesters met by members of Church of Wells

    Other than a few community members' voices that rose above the crowd, the protest Saturday against the Church of Wells remained peaceful.

    April 15, 2014 3 Photos