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BEST OF FORT BEND — 2014


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BEST THEATRE CELEBRATING 25 YEARS –
“FORT BEND THEATRE”

Fort Bend Theatre commemorated its 25th anniversary with a season-finale performance of Les Miserables, the award-winning musical based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 epic novel. This was the perfect performance for such a special anniversary because opportunities to see this show are very limited. “It has rarely been allowed to be produced in North America since it is almost always on Broadway or in limited professional tours, so though many have seen the movie and everyone loves the magnificent score, not everyone has ever seen it live, and if they miss this show, they might have to wait years to see it again,” says Tarra McCain, the Theatre’s Executive Artistic Director.

Frank and Karen Letts established Fort Bend Theatre back in 1989 to promote dramatic arts in the community, and provide families with the opportunity to participate in theatrical performance. In 2000, the couple departed Texas, and Tarra, the Theatre’s Education Director who had been with the theatre since 1991, was named Executive Artistic Director. Under Tarra’s leadership, Fort Bend Theatre has continued to thrive. Both Tarra and the Theatre have won many awards over the years and several of the actors have gone on to earn professional contracts.

Staying true to its mission, the theatre offers numerous educational opportunities to the community, such as classes, workshops, camps, and trips to prestigious theatrical competitions. The Theatre has also raised funds and awareness for several nonprofit organizations. Since its inception 25 years ago, Fort Bend Theatre has produced more than 500 shows and entertained over 500,000 patrons.

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 Ryan-Brophy--Shakespeare

BEST FORT BEND THEATER STUDENT – RYAN BROPHY

Ryan Brophy, a theater student at Fort Bend ISD’s Clements High School, was named a National YoungArts Foundation Finalist in theater for his monologue performance at the 33rd annual YoungArts Week in Miami, Fla. Ryan was among 171 finalists chosen from more than 10,000 students across the U.S. to participate and compete at the event.

Based on his participation in YoungArts Week, Ryan was named one of 60 finalists for the 2014 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts. Twenty winners were named and each received an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., to perform at the Kennedy Center and attend an awards ceremony at the capital in May.

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BEST PROGRAM DESIGNED TO ASSIST DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION – 2015 MAIN STREET CITIES

Rosenberg has been named one of two 2015 Main Street cities by the Texas Historical Commission. It will now join 88 other active Main Street cities across the state, in the program designed to assist with downtown revitalization through organization, design, promotion, and restructuring.

“Rosenberg’s selection as a Main Street city represents not just the viability and importance of our historic downtown to Rosenberg and the surrounding area, but also the dedication of our downtown community to preserve and improve the heart of our city,” said Rosenberg Mayor Vincent M. Morales, Jr. “Being selected a Main Street city allows us to celebrate the many great things that have occurred in the downtown to-date, and to look to the future to make our community’s vision for downtown become a reality.”

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 carol scott

BEST HERO FOR CHILDRENNAMED IN FBISD – CAROL SCOTT

Carol Scott, a Fort Bend ISD volunteer, has been selected as a 2014 Hero for Children. She is among 15 Texas individuals to receive the award in recognition of their commitment to volunteering their time, talents and skills to help improve the public schools in their communities. She was nominated by Eileen Graves, a fifth-grade teacher at Colony Meadows.

“Carol Scott is an outstanding example of volunteerism in action throughout the Colony Meadows Community,” said Eugene Dupont, principal at Colony Meadows Elementary School. “Even though her children have moved on to middle and high school, she continues to work on all three campuses with excitement and fervor. She is warm and knowledgeable and an inspiration to everyone she meets.”

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Poster submitted by Division 11st place winner, Ella Chen of Colony Meadows.

Poster submitted by Division 11st place winner, Ella Chen of Colony Meadows.

BEST BUS POSTER WINNER – ELLA CHEN OF COLONY MEADOWS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Ella Chen of Colony Meadows Elementary School was the First Place Winner of the poster contest. Fort Bend ISD recognized the District’s dedicated and hardworking transportation workers during “National School Bus Safety” week this past October. The annual observance helps spread awareness about the importance of bus safety to the entire community. This year’s theme was “My stop, U stop!”

FBISD’s bus drivers drive an average of 25,140 miles each day, making sure students arrive to school and then back home safely. To show appreciation, each year the District hosts breakfasts for the drivers and monitors at the Lake Olympia and Hodges Bend Terminals.

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 Starflightrocks

BEST YOUNG ROCK STARS – ZOE AND MOLLY FLORES

Four years ago, Rosenberg siblings Zoe and Molly Flores played the game RockBand at their babysitter’s house. Emulating her drummer dad, Molly tackled drums, Zoe took the guitar, and they never looked back. Serious about performing, the girls got on stage publicly for the first time at the 2011 summer Camp Jam. “That’s when they really got the rock n’ roll fever and have been jammin’ ever since,” says their father.

Zoe, now 14, is the lead vocalist, guitar player, bass player and songwriter. Molly, 13, is a vocalist, drummer, percussionist and songwriter. Together they make up StarFlight Rocks and their sound is often compared to bands like The White Stripes or The Black Keys. StarFlight Rocks won Wharton’s Got Talent, and also won The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo’s 2013 Rodeo Rockstar competition.

The girls haven’t slowed down yet, landing some big performance opportunities such as opening for Hoss Mayfield and Silverado at The Old Trading Post in Booth, Texas and appearing in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Parade. The love of music runs deep in their family, and they are having fun sharing their passion with the world. They are also writing their EP – an extended play musical recording containing more than a single but less than a full studio album.

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(L-R, front row) Ari Phillips, Connor Phillips, Scout Rey, Rue Hough, Dutchess Duncan, Benji Chen, Charlie Favre, Luke Rossi, Maggie Rossi; (back row) Kate Phillips, Matt Phillips, Claire Phillips, Becca Phillips, Mary Rey, Christina Hough, Ben Hough, Curtis Duncan, Rebecca Chen, Carl Favre, Shelby Bastin, Louie Bastin, Sydney Rossi, Raegan Rossi, Melanie Rossi, Jared Rossi and Katherine Rossi.

(L-R, front row) Ari Phillips, Connor Phillips, Scout Rey, Rue Hough, Dutchess Duncan, Benji Chen, Charlie Favre, Luke Rossi, Maggie Rossi; (back row) Kate Phillips, Matt Phillips, Claire Phillips, Becca Phillips, Mary Rey, Christina Hough, Ben Hough, Curtis Duncan, Rebecca Chen, Carl Favre, Shelby Bastin, Louie Bastin, Sydney Rossi, Raegan Rossi, Melanie Rossi, Jared Rossi and Katherine Rossi.

BEST FUN RUN WITH YOUR DOG – FORT BEND CARES DOGGONE FUN RUN/WALK

On Saturday, April 12, dogs and owners of all ages and sizes gathered in Memorial Park Sugar Land to walk, run or race to benefit underprivileged youth in Fort Bend County at the first annual Fort Bend Cares “Doggone Fun Run/Walk.” There were two events, a 5K run and a 1-mile Run/Walk (with or without dog). Medals were given for age group winners of the competitive 5K run, as well as prizes for the best in show winners in the “canine costume competition”. Fun and entertainment was had by dogs and owners alike as they ran or walked along to DJ music, gathered great tips from a local dog trainer and enjoyed the canine kissing booth.

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Chikezie Johnson.

BEST GPA – CHIKEZIE JOHNSON

After graduating from Dulles High School in 2010, Chikezie Johnson (also known as C.J.) went on to Stafford Houston Community College to increase his GPA. In fall 2012 he was admitted to the University of North Texas, where he is majoring in Tele­vision/Film with a minor in creative writing. He committed himself to always improving and continued to work hard.

Chikezie ended the Spring 2014 semester with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, which earned him a place on the President’s List. Only students carrying a semester course load of 12 or more hours can earn this distinction. C.J. also created a Public Service Announcement video on teens driving while texting while he interned at PAC TV and has received accolades from his teachers for his fiction stories. He spent the summer volunteering with the Houston Area Urban League, and is a part-time videographer.

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cole caruthers

BEST OFFENSIVE LINEMAN NAMED TO PRE-SEASON ALL AMERICAN – COLE CARUTHERS

Cole Caruthers, University Of Central Arkansas Offensive and a 2010 graduate of Clements HS has been named a preseason first-team FCS All-American by College Sports Madness. Caruthers, a senior tackle from Sugar Land, was a second-team All-Southland Conference selection in 2013 after helping the Bears’ offense average 452.9 yards per game. Caruthers is a two-time All-SLC selection and one of 17 seniors on the UCA squad heading into the 2014 season. He is the third Bear to earn preseason All-American honors in 2014, joining Jatavious Wilson and Jonathan Woodard, who were both named to the 3rd team by The Sports Network.

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BEST RECORD-SHATTERING MONEY GENERATED FROM ART AND LIVESTOCK AUCTIONSFORT BEND COUNTY FAIR

The 2014 Fort Bend County Fair will be remembered as the year of broken records. Over the fair’s 10­-day run 200,000 people attended. “It was great to see so many people enjoying our fair, that’s what it is all about,” said 2014 Fort Bend County Fair President, Vickie Todd Autrey. Most impressive were the records shattered in money generated from the combined Art & Livestock Auctions. For the first time in the Fair’s 78 years the Jr. Livestock market passed the million-dollar mark. The Art Auction, Commercial Heifer Auction, Freezer Sale and the Jr. Livestock Auction totaled over $1,600,000 for county youth. Fogle Manufacturing, Land United Surveys, The Main Event and Texas Direct Auto were among the top bidders of the Jr. Livestock auction.

Winners in the BBQ and Culinary Cook-Off event: Grand Champion Culinary, Bulldog Mountain Cookin Crew; Grand Champion BBQ, Murillo Smokers. Reserve Champion BBQ, Brotha From Anotha Motha Cookers. 1st place in Beef: Murillo Smokers; 1st place Chicken, Brotha From Anotha Motha Cookers; 1st place Ribs, Tejas Cookers; 1st place Fajitas, Brotha From Anotha Motha Cookers; 1st place Chili, Midnight Mavericks BBQ Cooking Team; 1st place Gumbo; Bulldog Mountain Cookin Crew; 1st place Beans, It’s Goin Down Cookers; 1st place Stew, Worms Cooking Team. 1st place Showmanship, It’s the Pits Cookers; 1st place BBQ sauce, Bulldog Mountain Cookin Crew.

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Couture for the Cause top sponsors include (front row, l-r) Dr. Nicole Fleming, MD Anderson Sugar Land; Mike and Toni Baches; Rick and Tara Ray of presenting sponsor Wealth Design Group; John and Nancy Durham; Susie Goff, Johnson Development; (Back row) Alysse Harrison, MD Anderson Sugar Land; Jay Walker, Redi-Rock; co-chair Jill Gibson; Brett Henery, Redi-Rock; co-chair Amy Johnson; Keith Garver, Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille; co-chairs Scott and Cari Middaugh, co-chairs Scott and KK West; Lawren Eckhardt, Johnson Development.

Couture for the Cause top sponsors include (front row, l-r) Dr. Nicole Fleming, MD Anderson Sugar Land; Mike and Toni Baches; Rick and Tara Ray of presenting sponsor Wealth Design Group; John and Nancy Durham; Susie Goff, Johnson Development; (Back row) Alysse Harrison, MD Anderson Sugar Land; Jay Walker, Redi-Rock; co-chair Jill Gibson; Brett Henery, Redi-Rock; co-chair Amy Johnson; Keith Garver, Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille; co-chairs Scott and Cari Middaugh, co-chairs Scott and KK West; Lawren Eckhardt, Johnson Development.

BEST FASHION SHOW – AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY COUTURE FOR THE CAUSE

“A Night in Versailles, Masquerade Style” was a fun and chic fashion show held at the home of KK and S. Scott West. Produced by Lenny Matuszewski, the event featured couture fashions from Dillard’s Post Oak. The top sponsors included Wealth Design Group, The Durham Families, Toni and Mike Baches, Westin Homes, Johnson Development, Massage Heights, and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Sugar Land.

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BEST OPERA SINGER/MURDER WRITER – PAMELA CRAMER

Sugar Land resident and mezzo soprano opera singer Pamela Cramer added a new novel to her list of impressive accomplishments. In her first murder mystery, Murder at the Frankfurt Opera, she has written about a subject she knows very well (the opera, not murder.)

Murder at the Frankfurt Opera is an engrossing story of intrigue, danger and opera. It follows the glamorous life of Myra Barnett, a young American woman who has relocated to Frankfurt to join a well-respected opera group as a chorus singer. Singing opera, speaking a foreign language and solving murders are all in a day’s work for Myra. When a colleague is mysteriously killed in an onstage accident, Myra is determined to prove it was not an accident, but murder.

Murder at the Frankfurt Opera is the first book in a series called Murder She Sang and the next novel will be Murder at the Berlin Opera. When she is not writing she has been teaching voice for 20 years in the Fort Bend area and judging for UIL vocal competitions.

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shashank vura

BEST SAT SCORE – SHASHANK VURA

Dulles High School student Shashank Vura earned a perfect score of 2400 on the SAT test as a junior and on his first attempt. Shashank is currently enrolled in the Math and Science Academy at Dulles.

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BEST TALENTED AUSTIN HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE – JASMINE ROGERS, SUGAR LAND SUPERSTAR

After working her way through the June and July rounds, her beautiful voice and stage presence helped Jasmine Rogers claim the best vocal title. The judges were blown away by Jasmine’s rendition of “Listen” from Dreamgirls, and so was the audience as they texted in their votes.

Jasmine has performed at the Fort Bend County Fair Talent Competition, the Coffee House (Choir showcase at Austin High), Fort Bend Theater and Inspiration Stage. She is a member of Austin Playhouse and the International Thespian Honor Society.

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BEST “HAUNTCERT” – FORT BEND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

The Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra brought out goblins and ghouls for its first concert of the season on Sunday, Oct. 26, in the Stafford Centre. The “Hauntcert” is a Halloween tradition for many families.

When the lights go down, costumed characters take over the orchestra seats. There are holiday-themed surprises throughout the concert, including a costume contest at intermission, with prizes awarded in youth and adult categories. Little ones are invited to meet the musicians and perhaps do a little trick-or-treating at the same time.

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(L-R) Dr. Javier Villarreal, FBISD assistant superintendent; Deidra Lyons-Lewis, Hodges Bend Middle School principal; Dwight Howard; and Kimberly Bloom, Hodges Bend math teacher.

(L-R) Dr. Javier Villarreal, FBISD assistant superintendent; Deidra Lyons-Lewis, Hodges Bend Middle School principal; Dwight Howard; and Kimberly Bloom, Hodges Bend math teacher.

BEST AT “BLOCKING OUT VIOLENCE” – HODGES BEND MIDDLE SCHOOL

Houston Rockets Center Forward Dwight Howard made a special visit to Hodges Bend Middle School to announce the school as the 2014 Junior High School winner of the D12 Block Out Violence Campaign. Hodges Bend earned the award after implementing the most creative and impactful “Block Out Violence” campaign that generated school-wide participation in promoting non-violence, anti-bullying and acceptance of others.

Howard hosted an hour-long rally at Hodges Bend that included an award presentation, performances by the Rockets Launch Crew and Power Dancers, “Block Out Violence” trivia, dance competitions and group photo. Howard congratulated the Hodges Bend students on implementing a successful campaign.

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Poet Maddie Salinas (right) with her teacher, Nicole Frazier, at the Abydos Literacy Learning awards ceremony.

Poet Maddie Salinas (right) with her teacher, Nicole Frazier, at the Abydos Literacy Learning awards ceremony.

BEST FIRST-TIME POET – MADDIE SALINAS

Maddie Salinas loves to sing. But she also likes to write and figured writing poetry was like writing the lyrics to a song, only without the music. She got her chance when Nicole Frazier, Maddie’s seventh-grade English/ Language Arts teacher at the FBISD Gifted and Talented Academy, gave the class the opportunity to enter the Abydos Literacy Learning, Dana Kay Barber writing contest.

Maddie wrote her poem, “Synesthesia” based on a rare neurological condition she learned about from reading one of her favorite books, “Out of My Mind” by Sharon Draper. Synesthesia is a condition where two or more senses intertwine. It’s an involuntary and consistent perceptual condition of mixed sensations. For instance, a day of the week, say Tuesday, is always green. Maddie was fascinated by this condition and spent hours researching it.

By deadline Maddie turned in her work, proud of what she produced, but quickly moved on to her other commitments. In fact, she didn’t think about the poem again until a month later when Ms. Frazier received an email with the contest results – Maddie had won first place in the poetry division.

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BEST “RIDE OF A LIFETIME” – MD ANDERSON
REGIONAL CARE CENTERS

MD Anderson presented the MD Anderson Regional Care Centers Ride of a Lifetime event in the CITYCENTRE plaza. This event was unique in that it was the first time a cancer institution has partnered with a fitness center to actively encourage Houston and surrounding communities to get into fitness. In partnership with the LIFE TIME, MD Anderson created a high-energy fitness event that included a two-hour, 300-person cycling class, followed by a one-hour Zumba celebration. Participants enjoyed a laser light show, motivational words from cancer survivors, and the interactive Strikeout Cancer Wall. Gabe Canales, a prostate cancer survivor and founder of the Blue Cure Foundation, was the emcee for the evening. Information about how a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of cancer was shared with 800 participants and 2,000 spectators.

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clements-high-school-boys-soccer-team-wins-uil-5a-texas-state-chmapionship

BEST BOY’S SOCCER TEAM –
CLEMENTS HIGH SCHOOL RANGERS

The Clements High School “Rangers” boys soccer team celebrated a victory after competing in the UIL 5A Texas State Soccer Championship in Georgetown, Texas. The Clements Rangers defeated the defending champs from Coppell High School, 3-0, to win the state title.

Team players are Daniel Acevedo, Daniel Namani, Olivio Palermo, Jose Hernandez, BJ Karpenko, Alejandro Saez, Gabe Costa, Jacob Warner, Tyler Hubert, Santiago Padruno, Trinidad Luna, Dawda Faye, Brad Rivenes, Tommy Ling, Kevin Matthews, Jacob Ruiz, Graham Duncan, Nick Fillip, Agustin Rodgriguez, Ladi Akintunde, Dami Onadeko, Nash Cole, Cameron Moussavi, Brandon Delgado, Efe Umaka and Ramey Araissi. Coaches include Head Coach Todd Ericson and assistants Gerald Garcia and Dallas Killingsworth. Also providing support during the season were Head Trainer Glen Stroech, students trainers Sophie Gray and Aliya Hamilton, and student managers Doy Napattaloong, Anthony Rafael and Andrew Jones.

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The 22 grant recipients and Fort Bend Cares Board of Trustees..

The 22 grant recipients and Fort Bend Cares Board of Trustees..

BEST GRANTS FOR KIDS – FORT BEND CARES

More than 20,000 disadvantaged children and youth in Fort Bend County will be helped in some way through $160,110 in grants to 22 area nonprofits. Fort Bend Cares assembled the charities, volunteers, and key sponsors for its annual grant reception on June 9 at Silver Eagle Distributers in Rosenberg to give out the awards. Everyone also celebrated Fort Bend Cares’ work the last 10 years in the community, ultimately granting just over $1.2 million since its inception.

Some of the local nonprofits that received grants included Pooh’s Panda Special Needs Academy for summer camp and childcare for children with special needs and their siblings, and Knowledge First Empowerment Center for its drop-out prevention program and GED prep classes for those who have already dropped out of school. The Rosenberg Railroad Museum was awarded the Founders Grant. It will help the museum provide free educational programming and field trips for Title 1 schools in Fort Bend.

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Manny Ramirez.

Manny Ramirez.

Russell Okong

Russell Okong

BEST FORT BEND ALUMNI IN THE SUPER BOWL – MANNY RAMIREZ & RUSSELL OKUNG

Two former Fort Bend ISD football players competed in Super Bowl XLVIII. Manny Ramirez, an offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos, graduated from Willowridge High School in 2002. Russell Okung, a 2006 graduate of Bush High School, currently plays as left offensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks.

Ramirez was a first-team All-District 20-5A selection during his final two seasons at Willowridge High School. He entered the NFL in 2007 and played as a back-up guard for the Detroit Lions before becoming offensive lineman for the Broncos.

Okung was named to the Dallas Morning News’ Top 100 Squad as a senior in high school and received first-team All-Greater Houston and All-District honors. He entered the NFL in 2010 and two years later participated in the National Football Conference (NFC) Pro Bowl in 2012.

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BEST GIRL’S SOFTBALL TEAM – 10U MISCHIEF TEAM

The 10u Mischief team coached by Chris Thompson and David Reid were the First Place Champs of regular season play in the 10u division during the 2014 Spring Season at Sugar Land Girls Softball Association (SLGSA). The team also went on to win the End of Season Tournament in the 10u division at SLGSA and beat out the Blast in the final championship game, 5-2. The team had an overall record of 11 wins and 3 losses. In addition to the girls pictured, the following players are Allstar qualifiers: Ashley Hakimzadeh, Kellan Ton, Nora Thompson and Jessica Paquette.

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“Capitalism at Work” ,, measures 22 x 19 inches

“Capitalism at Work” ,, measures 22 x 19 inches

BEST PAPERCUTTING ARTIST – CATHERINE WINKLER RAYROUD

A small pair of nail scissors forever changed Catherine Winkler Rayroud.

Growing up in the Swiss Alps, Winkler Rayroud remembers watching a television program about papercutting with her grandmother. “She told me that she always wanted a papercutter, but couldn’t afford one,” she re­called.The thoughtful young girl ran into her grandmother’s bathroom where a pair of small, curved nail scissors hung on the wall.

“I decided that it couldn’t be that complicated, and so I cut my first little papercutting out of some black paper she had,” Winkler Rayroud said. “The first image I cut was of a small tree with a few birds. I just drew the picture. It was a very clumsy piece, and I gave it to my grandmother. A few weeks later, she asked me if I could make a bigger one and I did. After that I was hooked.” The Fort Bend County artist has won numerous awards. Her art has hung in museums and galleries in the US and Europe and has been published in European magazines as well as The New York Times.

Her small hometown of Chateau-d’Oex, located on the French side of Switzerland, is nestled in the cradle of the papercutting tradition.

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kiana-farokhpour

BEST MILITARY ACADEMICS MEDAL WINNER – KIANA FAROKHPOUR

Kiana Farokhpour, an Ensign in the Air Force JROTC program at Clements High School, was the recipient of the National Society United States Daughters of 1812 military medal for 2014 at Clements. At the time of the award, Kiana was a Junior and serving as Platoon Commander in her unit, a member of the Armed Drill Team, Color Guard, and Academics. She received an Academics medal for the highest academic score upon graduation from the Beaumont’s Leadership Academy for NJROTC. Upon high school graduation, she plans to attend UT Austin under the NROTC scholarship majoring in chemistry and then to later attend Baylor College of Medicine to become a pharmacist.

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BEST KICKBALL TOURNAMENT – SKEETERS KICKBALL CLASSIC TOURNAMENT

More than two dozen teams participated in the Skeeters Kickball Classic tournament at Constellation Stadium benefiting Deacon’s Dugout Foun­­dation, which raises funds to help local disadvantaged youth in the area. More than $11,000 was raised to benefit children through educational and healthy activities.

Participants had a great time dressing up and playing ball with their teams. “The Glam Slams” team from Johnson Development was presented with the “Best Costumes” award from Cynthia Bartholomew. Team members are: Cody Radley, Carolyn Williams, Sherry Fuller, Linda Riddle, Cherie Loren, Michelle LeBlanc, Mike Nilsen, Kate Nilsen, Trey Reichert, Kyle Crochet and Doug and Susie Goff.

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(L-R) Eco-artist Grant Manier with his mother, Julie Coy Manier, Darla Farmer, and the “Heroes” artwork he created for this year’s Strike Out Autism auction. The work contains more than 2,500 puzzle pieces.

(L-R) Eco-artist Grant Manier with his mother, Julie Coy Manier, Darla Farmer, and the “Heroes” artwork he created for this year’s Strike Out Autism auction. The work contains more than 2,500 puzzle pieces.

BEST AUTISM AWARENESS EVENT – STRIKE OUT AUTISM

Last April, Hope for Three joined ranks with the Sugar Land Skeeters to “Strike Out Autism.”That community gathering of families and baseball athletes was such a great success, it became clear that it was destined to be an annual tradition in Fort Bend County.

Presented by Rangeland Energy, the second annual Family Fun Day was held on Sunday, April 27. Strike Out Autism once again partnered with the Sugar Land Skeeters, Honorable Judge Bob Hebert and local Fort Bend mayors in support of April as Autism Awareness Month. Activities included a silent auction, parade, two-hour buffet and a social hour for the parents. As an extra special treat, the kids were invited to run the bases at the end of the baseball game.

Notable artist Grant Manier participated in Strike Out Autism by showcasing and donating a custom piece of his remarkable “EcoArt” exclusively for the Strike Out auction.

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(L-R) FBISD officers as The Village People are Charles Villoutreix, James Edge, Chief David Rider, Howard Hastings, Buddy Boone, Kenneth Perry and Mike Harvey.

(L-R) FBISD officers as The Village People are Charles Villoutreix, James Edge, Chief David Rider, Howard Hastings, Buddy Boone, Kenneth Perry and Mike Harvey.

BEST SPAGHETTI COOK-OFF CHAMPS – FORT BEND ISD POLICE OFFICERS

Fort Bend ISD Police officers are two-time champions in the Annual Sugar Land Exchange Club’s Spaghetti Cook-Off. The officers won the Best Presentation award this year for dressing and performing as The Village People during the cook-off. In 2013, the officers received the Best Presentation award for dressing as the cast of Duck Dynasty. The team credits their win to Austin High School Principal Mary Ellen Edge and her school’s Theater Department for the costumes, Austin art teachers Nancy Dunlevy and Cayeleigh Drake for decorations, Chef Clint at the Ol’ Railroad Cafe in Rosenberg for donating sauce ingredients and kitchen space, and Clements High School PALS for volunteering as servers. Having won two back-to-back Best Presentation awards, the team is already working on an idea that will win them a Best Presentation “three-peat” to be held in 2015.

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Christina-Martinez-Benetiz

BEST BAND DIRECTOR/ LATIN GRAMMY WINNER – CHRISTINA MARTINEZ-BENITEZ

Christina Martinez-Benitez, during her second year as the director of Bands at Wessendorff Middle School, went to Las Vegas to receive the Latin Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album. Martinez-Benitez and her husband Noé were the producers of “¡Fántastico!”, a collection of songs for young people performed by the Los Angeles-based indie rocker Lucky Diaz. Their vision for the album was to create a way to connect generations. “I want kids to listen to our songs and share it with their parents,” she explained. “I hope it starts a dialogue that might otherwise go unspoken.”

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BEST YOUNG SCIENTIST – NITHIN PARSAN

Nithin Parsan loves everything about science. It was that love for science, along with an interest in space, that called him to join forces with three of his sixth-grade friends at Fort Settlement Middle School. They entered the University of Houston’s Mars Rover Competition, designed and built a rover model, and ultimately won first place!

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Shelby-kasberger

BEST PRESIDENT’S VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD WINNER – SHELBY KASBERGER

Shelby Kasberger was honored for her exemplary volunteer service with a President’s Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of time to service their communities and country.

Throughout her middle and high school years, Shelby provided her time and energy to multiple organizations and efforts, including fostering sick and/or injured dogs through Houston Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SBCA); and assisting with cooking, serving food, cleaning, and helping the nurses at Omega House, a residential hospice for individuals affected by the late stages of HIV/AIDS. As a member of Youth in Philanthropy (YIP), Shelby worked with high school students in Fort Bend County to participate in monthly service projects that focus primarily on beautification. As a student council member at Calvary Episcopal School and College Prep, Shelby also participated in annual week-long mission trips where students work at the Beacon cooking and serving food for the homeless, doing laundry and organizing shower schedules.

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David Crockett Middle School staff members with Robotics and Engineering students.

David Crockett Middle School staff members with Robotics and Engineering students.

BEST MS ROBOTICS TEAM – DAVID CROCKETT MIDDLE SCHOOL ROBOTICS

In only its first year of existence, the David Crockett Middle School Robotics and Engineering Program earned top honors at the Texas A&M Engineering Competition, which included hundreds of students from across the state in elementary, middle and high school divisions.

Crockett students placed first in the Rocket Design Contest and a received a second and third-place finish in the Oil Rig Design. The students also earned third-place recognition in the Roller Coaster event.

Participants are: Nawal Aden, Jane Akwitti, Samantha Alarcon Alverez, Seth Cager, Kelly Chau, Chi Chu, Ian Cornejo, Michael Duran, Ava Eckhardt, Mercy Galdmez, Kayla Gonzalez, Laya Hamadeh, Eric Herrera, Emily Hesidence, Nhi Huynh, Nicholas Le, George Liang, Mit Mehta, Sudesh, Jeffery Moisant, Chinonso Okezie, Tolu Thorpe, Jonathan Williams and Steven Yeung.

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BEST SPELLING BEE BENEFITTING THE LITERACY COUNCIL – GREAT GROWN-UP SPELLING BEE

Teams of three adults were provided a list of words to study prior to the Bee. Also offered were spell-agains, mulligans and stingers for strategic teams to purchase to assist with any difficult words.

For only a $500 team entry fee, a team of three spellers won a place in the “Honey Hall of Fame” and the bragging rights as the “Best Grown-Up Spellers in the County.”

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travis-high-school-triathlon-team

Travis Triathlon: (l-r) Reed Hulsman, Billy Imming, Jay Rivera, Staff Sponsor Mat Yelvington, Taylor Davenport, Jake Polansky, Tyler Deiss, Jake Prep, Travis Cooper, Hunter Barrows.

BEST TRIATHLON TEAM – TRAVIS HIGH SCHOOL

Members of the Travis High School Triathlon team competed in the Springs Back Triathlon in Fulshear. The course included a 400-meter swim across an open lake, a 15-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run. In addition, several students completed an advanced “Olympic Distance” course which included a 1,500-meter lake swim, 26-mile bike ride and a 6-mile run.

The following students placed in the 15-19 age group division: Olympic Distance: Justin Rose, 10th-grader, 2nd place; Gavin Horrocks, 10th-grader, 3rd place. Sprint Distance: Ericka Wheatley, 12th-grader, 1st place (female division); Taylor Davenport, 10th-grader, 2nd place (female division); Travis Cooper, 11th-grader, 2nd place (male division).

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BEST “SUPERINTENDENT FOR THE DAY” – ANNIE PHAN

Annie Phan, a fifth-grader at Walker Station Elementary School, was selected to be “Superintendent for the Day” after submitting an essay to Carole Brown, who won the “Superintendent for the Day” live auction item at the Fort Bend Education Foundation Gala. The Package, which also included a smart tablet, was donated by Dr. Charles Dupre, FBISD Superintendent of Schools, and the NWN Corporation. Brown’s daughter Trudy Onofrey, who teaches Annie’s fifth-grade class, asked her students to submit essays explaining what they would do if named “Superintendent for the Day”. Brown and her husband reviewed each essay through a blind selection process, which culminated with naming Phan the winner.

Annie was able to join Dr. Dupre and the District administrators at the monthly Administrative Team Meeting.

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BEST GOLD AWARD RECIPIENT – SASHA ASTHANA

Sasha Asthana, senior at Clements High School and member of Monarch Colony Troop 465, successfully completed her Girl Scout Gold Award. This is the highest and most prestigious award within Girl Scouts, and involves more than 80 hours of work and planning. Inspired by the work of the Fort Bend Family YMCA and wanting to leave a long-term impact on the community, Sasha built and installed two outdoor park benches at the location on Cartwright Road in Missouri City.

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Quilt made by a Coastal Prairie Quilt Guild member.

Quilt made by a Coastal Prairie Quilt Guild member.

BEST LOCAL QUILT SHOW – THREADS THROUGH TIME QUILT SHOWCASE

Coastal Prairie Quilt Guild presented Threads through Time Quilt Showcase in September 2014. Hundreds of judged quilts were on display, along with a vendor market, demonstrations, raffles and more. The Coastal Prairie Quilt Guild Of Texas (CPQG) was founded in 2008 by a group of women who already enjoyed the comradeship of their quilting bee. Feeling the need for a centrally located guild, they decided to meet near the junction of two major freeways allowing access to quilters all over town. They were pleasantly surprised when interest in membership was abundant. With much excitement as well as hard work, the first scheduled meeting of the Coastal Prairie Quilt Guild was held on Aug. 21, 2008, and 107 members joined. A diverse range of programs and specialty classes are offered to meet the varying skill levels and interests of members.

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BEST VOLUNTEERS OF THE YEAR – JANE AND LES KRANCHER

Jane and Les Krancher were honored at the 33rd Annual Lamar CISD Special Olympics Invitational as Volunteers of the Year. For the past 16 years, the couple has worked the grill at the Special Olympics, cooking hot dogs and hamburgers for volunteers, athletes and coaches.

When they aren’t volunteering, Jane is a teacher at Bowie and Les works for Centerpoint. Les also accepted a plaque on behalf of Centerpoint, thanking them for their years of service to the Lamar CISD Special Olympics.

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BEST HIGH SCHOOL COMPUTER WHIZ – SUSHAIN CHERIVIRALA

Sushain Cherivirala, a Dulles High School student at FBISD’s Math and Science Academy, thrives on hard work and results. His “results” list is long and impressive, but he also has a great passion for helping others. While attending Drabek Elementary he decided to start a computer science club in hopes of increasing computer literacy in the young students. He developed a curriculum that introduced fifth-graders to modern web development fundamentals and, after the club’s first year, Sushain dubbed it a success and plans to continue the program next year, with a few changes based on student suggestions and his own observations.

Sushain has been just as helpful to his middle school, Quail Valley. For instance, he took a very specialized computer program he developed last year for his high school math club’s competition and renovated it to fit the needs of the middle school. Gwen Curtis, a math teacher at Quail Valley, was impressed and asked Sushain if he would renovate the program to fit the needs of a Texas Math and Science Coaches Association (TMSCA) regional meet her school was sponsoring. He agreed and the end result was a product that efficiently registered, scored and ranked 400 kids at the tournament.

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(L-R) Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center Capital Campaign Committee Co-Chair Charlene Pate, Children’s Museum of Houston Executive Director Tammie Kahn, Union Pacific Railroad Director of Public Affairs Raquel Espinoza, Brenda Mainwaring, and Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center Capital Campaign Committee Co-Chair Rachel Leaman. They are standing in front of a historic photo depicting how Union Pacific railroad ran through the Imperial Sugar mill site at one time

(L-R) Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center Capital Campaign Committee Co-Chair Charlene Pate, Children’s Museum of Houston Executive Director Tammie Kahn, Union Pacific Railroad Director of Public Affairs Raquel Espinoza, Brenda Mainwaring, and Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center Capital Campaign Committee Co-Chair Rachel Leaman. They are standing in front of a historic photo depicting how Union Pacific railroad ran through the Imperial Sugar mill site at one time

BEST CHILDREN’S DISCOVERY CENTER DONATION BY ICONIC COMPANY – UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD

Union Pacific Railroad donated $10,000 to the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center project capital campaign to help keep the project on track to continue its scheduled summer 2016 opening in the Imperial Development. Mirrored after the award-winning Children’s Museum of Houston, the Fort Bend Children’s Center will be housed in a 10,000-square-foot repurposed historical building on Highway 90 in Sugar Land. Union Pacific Railroad is one of four, Class I, original rail lines to continue to operate in Fort Bend county since the 1900s. It helped set in motion the county’s historic sugar mill boom.

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Best of Corelli

BEST AUTHENTIC ITALIAN STYLE PIZZA – CORELLI’S ITALIAN GRILL IN SUGAR LAND

For over 17 years Corelli’s has served up fresh traditional recipes to its patrons in Fort Bend County. While their pasta dishes are excellent and always tempting to order, you may not have tried their pizza. The 10” pizzas are made with fresh ingredients and topped with mozzarella, provolone and romano cheeses. Create your own or try the Corelli’s Special which has Canadian bacon, pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and olives. Located on Hwy. 6 in Sugar Land.

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BEST GOURMET COUNTRY DINING – RAY’S GRILL IN FULSHEAR

Ray’s “field to table” concept allows the neighborhood bar and grill to feature creations based on seasonal availability of organic fruits and vegetables, certified natural meats and fresh seafood. Among unique dinner menu offerings are venison loin, chicken fried ostrich, roasted beets and sauteed kale. Try the Braised Lamb Shank served with Red Skinned Mashed Potatoes and Natural Jus & Frizzled Spearmint. Located on FM 359 in Fulshear.

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Tuyet Duong and Thuy Pham, owners of the Sugar Land Nothing Bundt Cakes shop.

BEST (AND PRETTIEST) CAKE TO GIVE AS A GIFT – NOTHING BUNDT CAKES

The search for the perfect gift is over thanks to a sensational bakery in Sugar Land, Nothing Bundt Cakes. This unique establishment offers delectable cakes in a warm and inviting atmosphere that calls to mind small town bakeries of the past. The bakery is owned and operated by close friends and Fort Bend residents Thuy Pham and Tuyet Duong.

Each delicious cake is baked onsite every day from recipes using quality ingredients such as fresh eggs, real butter and rich cream cheese. Fortunately, they are as pretty as they are tasty. They look trendy and cool, adorned with flowers, bows, and ornaments to celebrate whatever the occasion. They make for a stunning display on your table, or a whimsical gift for someone special. That is, of course, if they last that long once you get them home. They offer 10 Bundt flavors and 40 unique cake designs in a range of sizes.

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BEST FISH TACOS – RUGGLES GREEN IN SUGAR LAND

The Spicy Fish Tacos (grilled or fried tilapia) are hard to beat. Presented on corn tortillas, the tacos are topped with green and red cabbage, pico de gallo, roasted pepper herb aioli, cilantro, queso fresco, and spicy peach chipotle sauce. A house-made habanero hot sauce comes on the side.The restaurant has the distinction of being Houston’s first Certified Green Restaurant.They offer the freshest local, organic and all natural ingredients, a large selection of vegetarian dishes, wood-fired organic pizzas, and daily specials that feature produce from local farmers. Located in Sugar Land Town Square.

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BEST NEW BEER AND WINE BAR – WHOLE FOODS IN SUGAR LAND

The Sugar Shack Beer Bar in the Sugar Land Whole Foods is a fun place to enjoy a glass of craft beer or wine. Some of the featured beers are Sam Adams Rebel IPA, Four in Hand Nut Brown Ale, Wells Banana Bread Beer and New Planet Gluten Free Pale Ale. If you are a red wine lover, try the Bubo Cabernet Sauvignon which is fruity and juicy with a touch of green pepper in the finish.

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Best of Tierra del Fuego

BEST ARGENTINIAN CULTURAL EXPERIENCE – TIERRA DEL FUEGO IN SUGAR LAND

This distinctive restaurant located in Sugar Land Town Square features authentic food, traditional music and weekly Tango dancing in a unique Argentinian setting. Their grill and “asador” were designed and built in Argentina, and feature an open-fire rotisserie.“Asados” is their simplistic yet flavorful approach to grilling in which food is prepared on a wood and charcoal “parrilla” or slow-cooked over an asador. Try the Bife del Fuego. It’s a hand-cut selection of Texas beef seared over “Quebracho” charcoal and wood on an authentic Argentine grill. With their partnership with Nolan Ryan, they offer all-natural beef with no artificial ingredients or preservatives.

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BEST NEW “SUPERFOOD” SKIN AND HAIR CARE LINE BY LOCAL WOMAN – CHIA DERM+

Fort Bend County resident Kelley Walker introduced a new skin and hair care line, CHIA DERM+, featuring “superfood” chia seeds. The Houston-based company introduced two products, the CHIA DERM+ Serum and the CHIA DERM+ Balm.

The serum is one of the only products on the market containing 100 percent pure chia seed extract, and the balm is comprised of chia seed extract and other pure and natural elements such as bergamot, a rare Italian citrus fruit extract, beeswax, honey and royal jelly extract to increase emollient properties. “The chia seed has long been recognized for its amazing healing properties and we are proud to bring this miracle ingredient to the beauty market,” Kelley says.

Co-founder and CEO of the Chia People, LLC, Steven Jefferies, first discovered the health benefits of chia seeds while searching for a “superfood” ingredient to help sustain him through his intense schedule of law school and jujitsu training. In a casual conversation over dinner, Steven introduced Kelley, his aunt, to the health benefits of chia seeds, including antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids, protein and Biotin.

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BEST NEW COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECRUITS – FBISD HIGH SCHOOL NATIONAL SIGNING DAY

Nearly 50 Fort Bend ISD football players representing eight high schools were honored at a National Signing Day Ceremony last February at Wheeler Field House. Hosted by the District’s Athletic Department, in conjunction with the Professional Football Player Mothers Association (PFPMA), the event gave family members, coaching staff, principals, FBISD administrators and other supporters the opportunity to congratulate the athletes and witness a mock signing of their National Letters of Intent, sealing their commitment to play for college and university football teams next year.

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BEST HIGH SCHOOL THEATER PRODUCTION – 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE

Clements High School received four nominations for the 12th Annual Tommy Tune Awards for its theater production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Developed by Theater Under The Stars and named for Houston native Tommy Tune, the Tommy Tune Awards honor musical theatre excellence at the high school level. After reviewing and evaluating the 44 participating Houston-area high school productions throughout the 2013-14 school year, a team of 33 Houston-based theater professionals made 151 nominations in 15 categories (including Best Leading Actor, Best Director and Best Scenic Design). An additional committee considered 51 potential scholarship recipients.

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BEST MS SCIENCE BOWL TEAM – FORT SETTLEMENT MIDDLE SCHOOL

The Fort Settlement Middle School science bowl team earned second place at the Regional Science Bowl at Texas A&M University. The team included seventh-graders Rafay Ashary, Gilbert Fan, Sameer Rajesh, Abhijith, Eric Wu and Coach Karen Staley. This was the team’s first year to compete in the Science Bowl, which welcomed more than 30 school teams.

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BEST THEATRE CELEBRATING 25 YEARS – FORT BEND THEATRE

Fort Bend Theatre commemorated its 25th anniversary with a season-finale performance of Les Miserables, the award-winning musical based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 epic novel. This was the perfect performance for such a special anniversary because opportunities to see this show are very limited. “It has rarely been allowed to be produced in North America since it is almost always on Broadway or in limited professional tours, so though many have seen the movie and everyone loves the magnificent score, not everyone has ever seen it live, and if they miss this show, they might have to wait years to see it again,” says Tarra McCain, the Theatre’s Executive Artistic Director.

Frank and Karen Letts established Fort Bend Theatre back in 1989 to promote dramatic arts in the community, and provide families with the opportunity to participate in theatrical performance. In 2000, the couple departed Texas, and Tarra, the Theatre’s Education Director who had been with the theatre since 1991, was named Executive Artistic Director. Under Tarra’s leadership, Fort Bend Theatre has continued to thrive. Both Tarra and the Theatre have won many awards over the years and several of the actors have gone on to earn professional contracts.

Staying true to its mission, the theatre offers numerous educational opportunities to the community, such as classes, workshops, camps, and trips to prestigious theatrical competitions. The Theatre has also raised funds and awareness for several nonprofit organizations. Since its inception 25 years ago, Fort Bend Theatre has produced more than 500 shows and entertained over 500,000 patrons.

The Best of Fort Bend 2014


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