Cyfair Texas Community Blog

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Catching Up with Rachel McNeill

Cy-Fair ISD alumna and KPRC anchor covers local news at national levels

Written by Gail G. Collins| Photography courtesy of Rachel McNeill

Rachel McNeill wasn’t born in Texas – in fact, she was born in Jamaica. Her family moved to the U.S. when she was 4 years old. The local gal spent many of her early years preparing for a career in broadcasting: playing talk show host and asking hardball questions on the playground at Moore Elementary; researching a ninth-grade study skills assignment on schools, skills, and salary at Cypress Creek High School; and earning an inevitable broadcast journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin. The KPRC Channel 2 anchor pushed forward the old-school way, working markets from Midland to Raleigh and New Orleans before coming home to Houston in 2001.

Copy of Rachel McNeill 2010 Headshot

Cy Creek graduate Rachel McNeill now works as an anchor on KPRC Channel 2

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How To Be a Cy-Fair Football Mom

Managing the busy schedules that lead up to Friday Night Lights  

Written by Marysabel Cardozo | Photography by Sara Isola

1. Get Organized
Once the fall season arrives, football moms know it’s time to buckle up for a ride. In order to ease the stress of it all, Kay Routh’s family use the Cozi calendar to keep everyone organized and aware of each other’s schedules. “The key is to plan ahead, be flexible, and communicate with everyone in the family frequently,” Routh says.

2. Focus on Priorities
Moms also have to make sure their sons are tackling their goals in the classroom and not just the field. Cotrina Matthews admits her family’s schedule can be hectic due to the high expectations for her son, Carrington, a sophomore at Langham Creek. Apart from Lobos football, Carrington is very active in his church and community, maintains a part-time job, and has earned a spot on the distinguished honor roll. “I must give it my best to prepare for the real world,” Carrington says.

CFM_F_14_football moms_Katy Routh, Cotrina Matthews, and Tiffany Thaxton_by Sara Isola (1)

All moms agree that trusting the coaches and trainers is important; no son wants a “momma bear” running onto the field

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Honoring Nicole

After losing our only child Nicole to lung cancer, we began a non-profit organization that educates and assists others affected by the disease

Written by Colleen Dumas | Select photography by Sara Isola

Cypress, TX News - We were a normal family, or so we thought. My husband and I grew up on the west side of Houston, got married in 1982, and moved to the Cypress area in early 1999. We envisioned raising our daughter in the Cypress community until retirement, many years down the road, when suddenly life changed overnight.

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Making Men of Honor

Men of Honor, an organization at Cypress Springs High School, mentors young men to become respectable role models of the community

Written by Marysabel Cardozo | Photography courtesy of Cy-Fair ISD

Cypress, TX News – When Antonio Briones, a class of 2014 graduate, walked into his first Men of Honor meeting, he never thought it would change his views, values, and way of life. Coming from a family of divorced parents, an absentee mother, and a father who was always working, Briones had no one to confide in. “Growing up, I never had someone telling me what’s right,” Briones says.

Despite joining the wrestling team, Briones didn’t fully find a sense of belonging until he became an active member of Men of Honor. It was the first time he didn’t feel alone. There was someone to ask him, “What’s wrong?” and a chance for him to let go of the anger he had held onto for so long. “[There’s] no judgment, no hate, no discrimination.” Briones says. “You go into a room, and you are brothers.”

CFM_F_14_Men of Honor_Cypress Creek sophomore Emil Dillon meets Cedrick Young of Crane Worldwide Logistics during Thousand Guys in Ties_submission

Cy Creek student Emil Dillon has the opportunity to meet Crane Worldwide Logistics executive, Cedrick Young, at a Men of Honor event

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Joshua’s Amazing Transformation

Cypress Ranch High School graduate, Joshua Weissman, lost over 100 pounds after he discovered the Paleo diet and documented his dramatic transformation

Written by Lorrie Crow Kimble | Photography by Candace Cook

Cypress, TX News  - Joshua Weissman was picked on verbally and physically because of his weight. But it got more intense when classmates, who he thought were his friends, began pinching, pushing, grabbing, and laughing at him during class. The teacher did nothing about it. “Eventually, I lost my cool and yelled at one of them, and then that kid said he wanted to fight me,” remembers Joshua. His classmates started berating him for yelling and called him lame. Joshua put his head down on his desk. He started tearing up, and he didn’t want anyone to see. “This wasn’t the first time I was humiliated, but it was one of the worst,” says Joshua.

After being repeatedly bullied about his weight, Joshua Weissman changed his lifestyle, lost over 100 pounds, and became the author of his own Paleo-inspired cookbook

After being repeatedly bullied
about his weight, Joshua Weissman
changed his lifestyle, lost over 100
pounds, and became the author of
his own Paleo-inspired cookbook

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Raising Readers

How Cy-Fair parents can foster a love of reading in their children

Written by Clare Jensen 

Cypress, TX News – Cy-Fair is well-known for its high-quality education. Sometimes, the academic rigor can be intimidating for parents and students, but there is a tried-and-true method that has proven over and over again to help prepare kids for academic success – and it has nothing to do with expensive tutoring or competitive pre-school or rigorous scholastic drills. Cy-Fair experts all agree, the magic technique is making time to read with your children.

“Children need to see their parents reading a variety of text. They should see you reading a book for pleasure, reading the newspaper and discussing current events, and reading materials to gain information,” says Cypress Christian School librarian Amy Mitton. “Even asking your child to read the grocery list aloud while in the store is helpful for them. We want to surround our children with reading so that it becomes second nature to them.”

Cypress Christian School believes that reading is the foundation for all other areas of learning

Cypress Christian School believes that reading is the foundation for all other areas of learning

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Tampa Bay Buccaneer Russell Shepard Jr.

Former Cy-Ridge Ram finds success as a wide receiver in the NFL

Written by Kirsten Cornell | Photography courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cypress, TX News – If you have ever walked the halls of Cypress Ridge High School, you have heard these words of their mission statement: “We will embrace challenge and welcome it as the opportunity to make a difference; we will face a world of change and envision the possibilities for growth.” It was this commitment to success that encouraged Cy-Ridge Ram Russell Shepard Jr., a star athlete who went on to compete in the NFL. “Cy-Ridge opened the doors for a lot of guys. It was definitely a great program,” Shepard says of his alma mater. “Growing up in Cy-Fair kept me focused. I was able to give my all, especially in high school football.”

Shepard, a Cy-Ridge High School alum, is currently playing football as a wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Importance of Education
Shepard knew at an early age that football would be a lifelong passion for him. “Growing up in Texas, it has always been my dream to grow up and be in the NFL,” he laughs. “It’s surreal; my dream has come true.” Shepard loved growing up in Cy-Fair and the opportunities it afforded him, particularly being a member of the Cy-Ridge -Ram brotherhood. “One of my best memories was being considered the underdogs, and we went on to compete in the playoffs that season,” he says. Shepard adds that he still keeps in touch with many of his Ram teammates.

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Making a Big Impact on Little Lives

Local non-profit assists families caring for kids with disabilities

Written by Clare Jensen | Photography courtesy of Big Little JC Association

Cypress, TX News - Not many phone calls have as much impact as the one Franz and Yvette Carstens received following a routine ultrasound appointment. Their doctor informed them that their baby boy was unlikely to live through the pregnancy, and that if he did, he would be born with severe disabilities. Today, that phone call echoes a blessing in the lives of many due to the Carstens’ initiative in founding the Big Little JC Association.

Big Little JC Association is a local non-profit organization that assists families with
special needs children

A Birth and a Beginning
Following the doctor’s prognosis, the Carstens family prepared themselves for the challenges ahead. When Jesus Carstens was born on September 1, 2010, he was diagnosed with acampomelic campomelic dysplasia syndrome, severe scoliosis, tracheobronchomalacia, and a gene mutation never before reported. Most people require a medical dictionary for understanding of these terms, but for Jesus and his family, they became part of everyday life.

With these conditions came financial challenges in addition to the emotional ones. Family, friends, and even strangers helped the Carstens through these difficult times, but Yvette began to reflect that other families were not necessarily as blessed by these “angels.” These experiences inspired her to found a non-profit organization to help other families caring for children with severe disabilities. The result was the Big Little JC Association. (more…)

A Wake-up Call for Women

Two Cy-Fairians with heart disease remind females of the risks and symptoms

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

Cypress, TX News – Veronica Sanchez didn’t know she had a problem until she was admitted to the hospital with a heart attack. The 51-year-old had recently passed her annual check-up, when she woke in the night with chest pressure and nausea. She crawled to the bathroom, and then, watched some television, hoping to feel better. When Sanchez’s left arm went numb, she alerted her husband, who took her to the emergency room. There, she learned that most women don’t wake up during such an episode, and this saved her life.

Sanchez and Sowa encourage other women to make their annual heart check-ups a priority

Heart History
In 2010, Pam Sowa had an accident that required rotator cuff surgery. This revived some unresolved heart history. Nearly 60 years old by then, she’d received conflicting information for decades from doctors about how to handle a congenital heart problem – bicuspid aortic valve. She had only two, instead of the usual three valves. That diagnosis came during her fourth pregnancy, after she had been treated for a viral infection.

Over the years, Sowa was on and off medication, suffering episodes of plummeting blood pressure and struggling to catch her breath. Eventually, tests concluded she had developed valvular heart disease and congestive heart failure. Her health failed so rapidly, Sowa was added to the heart transplant list.

As a bridge in 2011, she had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted, which assured a regular heartbeat with resuscitation, if required. Sowa surprised everyone however. She improved quickly, and now often spends time playing with her grandchild. She is thankful for every day. (more…)

Students Fighting for Freedom

Cy Woods High School teens work to educate and donate to causes combatting human trafficking

Written by Gail G. Collins | Photography by Candace Cook

Cypress, TX News - Students at Cy Woods High School rev up a gym packed with an audience of high schoolers. Multiple performers take to the stage, including the talented vocalist, Holly Tucker, from the hit show, The Voice. It would be easy to think it is just teens groovin’ to the tunes. This is a benefit event, hosted by an abolitionist group with a mission to inform, fundraise, and contribute to combatting human trafficking. Ironically, these students could be exploited by the trafficking trade in another set of circumstances.

Cy Woods Freedom Club sponsored this benefit and previous concerts to draw attention and educate the public regarding this violation of human rights. This year, Freedom Club sold 135 tickets and raised $2,100. Love 146 chair rep Derielle Keiser says, “We work to fundraise and bring awareness to organizations such as Love 146, Free the Captives, A21, and As Our Own. It is important that our members are passionate about our cause – ending human trafficking.”

Members of the Cy Woods High School Freedom Club Derielle Keiser, Ryan Lucker, Rachael Hearn, Drishti Wadhwa, and Kristen Stubbe

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Raising Twins

How to navigate the twists and turns of parenting and celebrate each child’s unique gifts.

Written by Lorrie Crow Kimble | Select photography by Sara Isola

Kira Fisher, mom of 7-month-old twins Blake and Jade, says the difference in having twins is that she does everything twice. “I change two diapers, put two babies in their car seats, make two bottles, and get two babies dressed,” she says. But Fisher admits there are some things she was able to do with her first child Luke, 3, that she couldn’t do with both of her twins – like hold them both when they eat or hold them both for an extended period of time.

Although twice the effort can be a challenge, Fisher says, “I don’t know of many feelings better than the one that comes from waking up to two wiggly, happy babies smiling up at you from their crib. The work may double, but so does the love.”

Kira Fisher admits that having twins means twice the work, but the love is also multiplied.

Kira Fisher admits that having twins means twice the work, but the love is also multiplied.

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Healthy Posture at Work

Several factors contribute to poor posture-most commonly, improper spinal alignment, stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, abnormally tight muscles, and high-heeled shoes. In addition, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment, incorrect working posture, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can also contribute to poor body positioning.

How to sit properly:

• Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor.

• Don’t cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees.

• Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.

• Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.

• Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use a back support.

• Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.

• Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time. (more…)

Teacher at Sea: Q&A with Cy Lakes’ Denis Costello

Teacher at Sea: Q&A with Cy Lakes’ Denis Costello
Written by: Cy-Fair ISD

On Sunday, May 11, Cypress Lakes High School chemistry teacher and team leader Denis Costello will embark on a monthlong research cruise aboard the R/V Melville to study ocean acidification in the Pacific Ocean. Costello’s exploits can be followed through his Twitter feed, @SoCalCostello, or on his blog at http://socalcostello.blogspot.com. Prior to leaving on the National Science Foundation-sponsored cruise, Costello answered a few questions about the journey:

When most people hear the word “cruise,” I don’t think they picture a Scripps Institution of Oceanography vessel like the R/V Melville. Describe your new home/office for the next 25 days.

Living and working at sea is very different than doing so on land. First off, we all live and work together in the same confined space. Secondly, due to the constant rocking of the vessel, seasickness can make the job much more difficult.

My living space will be a small room that I will share with another scientist. It’ll be about half the size of a college dorm room and mostly likely not have windows.  Each “berth” is a mounted bunk bed.

My office is pretty much the entire ship. I’ll work on deck to collect samples and move indoors to test our samples. Many of the lab spaces are common areas, so we will have a flurry of activity going on most of the time.

When the work is done for the day, I’ll either watch a movie with the group in the ship’s lounge or head to the back deck to gaze at the night sky.

Cypress Lakes chemistry teacher and team leader Denis Costello leaves for a 25-day National Science Foundation-sponsored research cruise on Sunday to study ocean acidification in the Pacific Ocean.  Photo Courtesy of Cy-Fair ISD

Cypress Lakes chemistry teacher and team leader Denis Costello leaves for a 25-day National Science Foundation-sponsored research cruise on Sunday to study ocean acidification in the Pacific Ocean.
Photo courtesy of Cy-Fair ISD.

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Social Media- Cy-Fair, Tx

The Social Media

Important advice and tips Cy-Fair parents should know about how teens are using social media and what they’re using it for.

There are two things we can count on in this world: The sun will always shine, and social media is not going away any time soon. More than ever before, today’s digital-age teens are immersed in social media as a means to connect with their friends, share their photos and videos, and express their feelings and opinions. To make it even harder for parents, there are newer, more sophisticated social media venues sprouting up all the time. How are Cy-Fair parents supposed to keep up with all of it? Cy-Fair Magazine’s editorial team shares our best advice for how to be a social media savvy parent.

Click Here For Our Article On Social Media

Click Here For Our Article On Social Media

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Notes & News Cy-Fair, TX

Tidbits from around the Cy-Fair community.

Northwest Harris County Heart Walk
More than 2,500 people participated in the walk to support the American Heart Association’s annual 5K held at Lone Star College-CyFair and Towne Lake. Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital set two records with the number of walkers to attend and the funds raised – more than $24,000. Cy-Fair ISD and Caldwell Companies each generated over $10,000.

Northwest Harris County Heart Walk

Northwest Harris
County Heart Walk

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Family Fun Activities in Cy-Fair, TX

Cy-Fair offers many opportunities to keep your family from missing out on those delightful days. We have prepared a list of activities that are sure to make this season a memorable one.

Written by Kennan Buckner

Great Play
11808 Barker Cypress Rd.
281-246-7529
greatplay.com/cypress
Check out Great Play’s winter camps during Christmas break, or enjoy New Year’s Eve day celebrations like a super hero party or championship day.

The Dance Factory
17619 FM 529, Houston
281-859-9383
dancefactoryhouston.com
Children as young as age 2 can begin their dance training at The Dance Factory. Take classes in jazz, tap, hip hop, and more! The Dance Factory’s competition team will be performing at Disney World in the summer of 2014.

Second Baptist Church Cypress
8877 Barker Cypress Rd.
713-465-3408
second.org/cypress.aspx
Your little ones will enjoy big fun at Second Baptist’s TeamKid on Sunday mornings.

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Healthy Family Tips 2014

Cy-Fair Magazine speaks to local parents and experts to bring Cy-Fair families our top 14 tips for 2014.

Written by Cy-Fair Magazine’s Editors 

1. Be a Fire Smart Family
Does your family know where to go and what to do if there is a fire or emergency? Pick a location (like a mailbox or a stop sign at the end of the street) where you will always meet if there is a house fire or other crisis. Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do if they hear them. Also, remind them where the exits are and never to hide during a fire. Consider visiting a fire station and letting your kids meet real-life firefighters to see what their uniforms look like so they won’t be afraid of them should they need to be rescued in an emergency.

2. Know Names, Phone Numbers, and Addresses
Teach children to memorize their parents’ phone numbers, street address, and names (not just “mom” and “dad”). As soon as children are verbal, they can learn this. Use fun, creative ways to teach them such as songs or by playing games. You can have them practice calling you and quiz them often to make sure they have the information correct.

3. Practice Hand Washing and Sneezing Basics
One of the easiest ways to avoid viral illness is to get your kids, and yourself, in the habit of washing hands before eating, sleeping, and after using the restroom – no exceptions. Young children often suck their thumbs or pick their nose at bedtime, so late night hand washing is important as well. Another great habit to teach is to sneeze into their elbow. Model these good habits, and your cuties will pick up on them in no time.

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School News- Cy-Fair, TX

Celebrating the students, teachers, and community supporters of Cy-Fair area schools.

Click for more School News

Cy Woods District Cross Country
The Cypress Woods High School boys’ and girls’ cross country teams both placed first in the District 17-5A Cross Country Championships at Spring Creek Park.

Cy Woods District Cross Country

Cy Woods District Cross Country

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Cy-Fair Texas Birthday Party Fun!

Cy-Fair parents know that planning the perfect birthday party is no small task. Themes, decorations, games, and refreshments are all important details that will help make your cutie’s birthday a blast. Make party planning fun for the whole family by letting the birthday boy or girl choose a theme or a favorite snack to serve, and check out our list of some great Cy-Fair area birthday party venues. For additional birthday resources, visit our Birthday Parties page.

Aerodome Ice Skating Complex
8220 Willow Place Dr. N. Houston
281-847-5283

All-Star Martial Arts
14405 Telge Rd.
281-373-5425
allstarma.com/birthday-parties

Boomers!
17190 Texas 249 Houston
281-894-9791
mountasia.com/Houston

Build-A-Bear Workshop
2000 Willowbrook Mall Houston
281-890-8882
buildabear.com

Cy-Fair Music & Arts
7103 Glen Chase Ct. Houston
281-855-8855
cyfairmusicandarts.com

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Easter Services & Celebrations

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

Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church
April 19 at 8:30 p.m.
April 20 at 7, 9, and 11 a.m.
11511 Huffmeister Rd.
Houston
ctrcc.com

Community of Faith
April 18 at 7 p.m.
April 19 at 4 and 6 p.m.
April 20 at 8:30, 9:50, and 11:30 a.m.
16124 Becker Rd.
communityoffaith.tv

Cypress Bible Church
April 18 at 7 p.m. Good Friday Service
April 20 at 8:15, 9:30, and 11 a.m.
11711 Cypress N. Houston Rd.
cypressbible.org

Cypress Crossing Christian Church
April 20 at 7, 8:15,  9:30, and 11 a.m.
15751 Cypress Rosehill Rd.
cypresscrossingscc.org

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Leading by Example

Hairgrove Elementary principal Darynda Klein demonstrates a great love for her students and her school

Written by Kirsten Cornell | Photography by Sara Isola

Cypress, TX News - A shining example of educational excellence, Hairgrove Elementary School was named for Jewel Roper Hairgrove, an award-winning educator who began her career in Cy-Fair ISD in 1966. “As soon as you walk in the door at Hairgrove, you can feel the family atmosphere,” says Darynda Klein, Hairgrove’s principal. “Our students know that we care deeply about them and that we have high expectations of them, both academically and behaviorally.”

Darynda Klein has been at Hairgrove Elementary for nine years, serving as principal for four

Visible Passion
Having been in education for 22 years, Klein exhibits a passion for her school that is felt by students and administration alike. Whether greeting staff with a smile as they arrive at the school, or reading with students in classrooms, Klein aims to be actively engaged. “I am visible,” Klein says simply. “I let them know they are the most wonderful people in the world and how much they mean to me.” Klein epitomizes the school’s motto, “I love myself, and I love my school.”

“I want students to love themselves because when they do, they will study and work hard on their academics. When they love their school, the will treat each other with respect,” explains Klein. “They will work hard to represent their school correctly wherever they go.” (more…)

Girls Above Society

Lauren Galley’s non-profit empowers and inspires teenage girls

Written by Liza Winkler | Photography courtesy of Girls Above Society

Cypress, TX NEWS - Since Lauren Galley was 13 years old, she made it her mission to bring awareness to an almost silent epidemic plaguing schools today – bullying and lack of self-confidence in tween and teenage girls. Galley, now 18, is an honor student at Lone Star College-CyFair, balances school work, extracurricular activities, a social life, and her role as founder and president of the non-profit organization, Girls Above Society. With wisdom beyond her years, Galley seeks to make a difference in the world, one girl at a time, through motivational speaking.

When she was 13 years old, Lauren developed a nonprofit organization to encourage self-esteem in young women

First-hand Experience
Galley is able to relate to the girls she meets because like them, she too experienced the pressures of middle and high school, which are difficult at times. She was introduced to the world of online bullying first-hand in middle school while using social media. Galley remembers a girl from thecheer team wrote a lengthy, harsh online post about her using name-calling and degrading, false information. (more…)

Tony Oller

Cy-Fair High School’s own makes his move in the music and movie scene

Written by Alex Byrd | Photography courtesy of James Dimmock/TeenNick

Cypress, TX News – With roots in Cypress, musician and actor Tony Oller has taken his talents to the Pacific and abroad by changing the tempo of movie and music scenes internationally. Even as young as age 9, Oller knew a career in entertainment was his dream.

“I was always intrigued by movies when I was younger. As I watched, I would wonder, ‘Who is the person on the other side of the screen and how are they making me feel through their portrayal of the character?’” Oller says. “I was also always surrounded by music.”

From comedic antics of crib escapism as a toddler – to Oller’s inspirational pursuit of dreams as a 22-year-old, his combination of humor and focus continues to delight his parents Mary Anne and Jeff.

“Tony mostly viewed us as a team of three – as buddies – even to the point of wanting to go with us to every wedding anniversary dinner until he became a teenager,” Mary Anne shares. “For so many reasons, he is the blessing in our lives.”

GIGANTIC

A graduate of Cy-Fair High School, Tony Oller has played characters in both Disney and TeenNick series, as well as several movies

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Kindergarten, LEP Preregistration scheduled

Kindergarten preregistration for 2014-2015 classes will be held at all elementary schools on March 26 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m.

Written by Joel Weckerly, Cy-Fair ISD Communication

A child must be 5 years old on or before Sept. 1, 2014 to be eligible for the full-day program (with no exceptions). To register, parents must provide the school with the following documents:

  • a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate from the Bureau of Vital Statistics;
  • a current immunization record;
  • proof of residency (e.g., a lease agreement or a gas, electric or water bill);
  • a photo ID; and
  • a social security card for each child, if available.
  • (more…)

Strong and Brave

After Raelyn was dealt a devastating diagnosis, Jenni Cutbirth realized that her daughter could teach her more about life than she ever thought possible

Written by Jenni Cutbirth | Select photography by Candace Cook

Cypress, TX News - Like many women, I always dreamed of being a mother. Little did I know what a challenge it would be to conceive a child. After many years of trying, I was gifted with a beautiful baby girl. From the time she was born, she would wake up excited and ready to experience the joys of life. There was no way to know that by Raelyn’s second birthday, her life and ours were going to change forever.

Amidst the visits to and from the doctor Raelyn still wears a smile

Amidst the visits to and from the doctor Raelyn still wears a smile

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Horses and Healing

Local therapeutic equestrian center brings hope and happiness to people with special needs

Written by Liza Winkler | Photography by Hallie Garrett

Cypress, TX News - As a young child, Lauren Igler had difficulties with depth perception, coordination, and balance due to cerebral palsy, which affected her mobility in early development. She began speech therapy at 18 months of age. At 8 years old, she could still only say about 10 simple words and communicated primarily with an electronic communication device. But a horse would change all of that.

Igler was born with cerebral palsy, which affects her coordination and balance

Igler was born with cerebral palsy, which affects her coordination and balance

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Danielle Bradbery: from Cy Ranch High School to Center Stage

Season four winner of The Voice enters the music scene with a bang

Written by Kennan Buckner

Cypress, TX News -  Cy Ranch teen Danielle Bradbery took the world by storm as she transformed from a fan of NBC’s The Voice to its season four winner in front of a live TV audience. “Before I was on The Voice , I was always a big fan of it,” says Bradbery. “I told everybody, ‘Oh my gosh, if I was on The Voice, I’d be on team Blake. He’s so awesome.’”

It all started after three of the show’s judges turned their chairs around during her blind audition performance of Taylor Swift’s “Mean.” Soon, an on-stage duel over whose team Bradbery would pick broke out between Adam Levine and Shelton. “I chose Blake’s team, and I couldn’t have made a better choice. He was always so sweet and wanted to help with every aspect. We still keep in contact,” Bradbery adds. “He is amazing.” Under the coaching of Shelton, Bradbery proved that they both made the best choice when she took home the coveted microphone trophy.

Danielle Bradbery is looking forward to touring with country music sensations Brad Paisley and Chris Young Photo courtesy of Big Machine Records

Danielle Bradbery is looking forward to touring with country music sensations Brad Paisley and Chris Young
Photo courtesy of Big Machine Records

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Education: Eric’s Legacy

Following the tragic loss of their son, the Bassett family started a foundation to give other students the opportunity Eric never had

Written by Lorrie Crow Kimble | Photos by Margaret Chapman Photography

CY-FAIR (CFM) – Eric Bassett Jr. was a Cy Falls High School linebacker, a player for the school’s baseball team, and a master guitar player – but if you ask the people who knew him best, they will also tell you that Eric was a friend to everyone he knew. The Cypress community was deeply affected by Eric’s tragic passing in an automobile accident on Dec. 2, 2007 at age 17. Just a few days after the accident, friends approached his parents, Eric Sr. and Ana, about a memorial scholarship in Eric’s name.

Within a few weeks, the Bassetts received various donations, mostly through word of mouth and their church, Christ the Redeemer. “We received contributions from all types of people,” says Eric Sr. “Our intention was to try to create an endowed scholarship of $20,000. We realized we needed to raise some money, so we decided on a golf tournament fundraiser – the Eric Bassett Memorial Scholarship Fund Golf Tournament.”

Andrew, Ana, and Erik Bassett Sr., along with Tiffany and Michael Baker, have kept Eric's legacy alive through the Eric Bassett Memorial Scholarship Fund

Andrew, Ana, and Erik Bassett Sr., along with Tiffany and Michael Baker, have kept Eric’s legacy alive through the Eric Bassett Memorial Scholarship Fund

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Groups: Battle Red Wagon Tailgaters

Local award-winning group impacts community while cheering for the Houston Texans

Written by Liza Winkler | Select photography by Marisa Hugonnett

CY-FAIR (CFM) – Decked out in red, white, and blue attire, the Battle Red Wagon Tailgaters set up a tent at Reliant Stadium each week during the Houston Texans’ football season to cook meals, cheer on the team, and share a common love for football. These local tailgaters are unlike most other football-loving groups. This award-winning tailgating team has made an impact on Cy-Fair through community outreach by being involved with various local non-profit organizations for over 10 years.

The Battle Red Wagon Tailgaters are two-time winners of the prestigious title, "Tailgater of the Year"

The Battle Red Wagon Tailgaters are two-time winners of the prestigious title, “Tailgater of the Year”

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People of Passion: Prodigy for Parodies

Cy Creek graduate and YouTube sensation Jon Cozart shares his creativity behind his ingenious spoofs 

Written by Clare Jensen and Kennan Buckner | Photos courtesy of Jon Cozart

CY-FAIR (CFM) – Jon Cozart’s music video parody of what happened after the Disney princesses’ “happily ever after” took him to the world of videos gone viral. The self-created video titled “After Ever After” was once featured on the Yahoo homepage and the flick has over 15 million views. It’s been fitted with subtitles in French, Italian, and Spanish. As a 2011 Cypress Creek High School graduate, Cozart balances a YouTube career with his film major studies at the University of Texas.

Cy Creek graduate Jon Cozart's Disney princess parody, "After Ever After," has over 15 million views on YouTube.

Cy Creek graduate Jon Cozart’s Disney princess parody, “After Ever After,” has over 15 million views on YouTube.

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People: Christ Through Comedy

Christian comedian Bob Smiley shares his messages of faith through laughter

Written by Kirsten Cornell | Photography by Brian Braun

CY-FAIR, TX (CFM) – When Bob Smiley was first deciding what he wanted to be when he grew up, he leaned toward elementary education. In high school, he witnessed a growing trend of children growing up without father figures in their lives which influenced his choice. “I thought that maybe God could use me as a positive male role model for kids,” Smiley recalls. “Plus, I figured the classes in college would be easy because I already knew most of the alphabet.”

When the opportunity came to participate in a stand-up competition at Smiley’s alma mater, Abilene Christian University (ACU), he participated in it for the prize money, but the results would forever change the course of his career.

Originally pursuing a degree in education from Abilene Christian University, Bob Smiley discovered a talent and passion for comedy that he simply could not walk away from

Originally pursuing a degree in education from Abilene Christian University, Bob Smiley discovered a talent and passion for comedy that he simply could not walk away from

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People: Meet Kayla Conn

A rising country singer/songwriter from Cypress reaches new heights with her iTunes-charting music, performances with Scotty McCreery, and aims for country music stardom

Written by Lorrie Crow Kimble | Photography by Micah Kandros

CY-FAIR, TX (CFM) – Kayla Conn is a busy teenager. Her debut album, Kayla Conn - EP, soared to the Top 40 on iTunes’ country album chart; she writes songs and records in Nashville, has toured with American Idol country sensation Scotty McCreery – all before her 16th birthday.

At age 3, Kayla Conn was already showcasing her musical talent, and her parents have been encouraging her to chase her dreams ever since

At age 3, Kayla Conn was already showcasing her musical talent, and her parents have been encouraging her to chase her dreams ever since

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Cy-Fair People: Kelechi Osemele

Langham Creek graduate and Baltimore Ravens tackle shares about life before and after the Super Bowl

Written by Kirsten Cornell | Photography by Shawn Hubbard

CY-FAIR, TX (CFM) – Being drafted into the National Football League (NFL) is the dream of every pee wee football player that steps onto the Astroturf. Dreams of cheering crowds, packed stadiums, and carrying the name of professional teams they watched when they were young inspire them to train hard and stay on top. The culmination of these dreams would end in a championship, namely, the Super Bowl.

For Langham Creek football player Kelechi Osemele, those dreams proved more viable than he had ever imagined when he was chosen as the second round 2012 NFL draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens. Osemele now finds himself at the beginning of a whirlwind success.

Osmele thanks God for his success just moments after the Ravens were declared the winners of the XLVII Super Bowl in 2013

Osmele thanks God for his success just moments after the Ravens were declared the winners of the XLVII Super Bowl in 2013

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Miss Cy-Fair Houston

Recently crowned Elizabeth Medina will compete in the Miss Texas 2013 Pageant

Written by Kirsten Cornell |  Photos by Mike Kass and Epic Event Photography

CY-FAIR, Texas (CFM) –When discussing pageantry, the image often conjured up is rows of glittering dresses, radiant smiles, and crowns adorned with dazzling gemstones. But as any contestant will tell you, it entails hard work, dedication, education, talent, and passion. “Preparing for a pageant is exactly like preparing for a job,” explains current reigning Miss Cy-Fair Houston Elizabeth Medina. “As a contestant, you are essentially asking for the job as the local or state titleholder. It’s important to remember that.”

Blaire Pancake is the co-executive director of the Miss Cy-Fair Houston Pageant and believes that having this local pageant highlights beautiful, educated, and serviceminded young women that today’s youth can look up to. “We have so many outstanding young women and future leaders in our community,” Pancake says proudly. “These women let the rest of Texas, and potentially the entire country, know about how great the Cy-Fair area truly is and the caliber of young women we have living and going to school here.”

As Miss Cy-Fair Houston, 17-year old Elizabeth Medina will proudly represent the Cy-Fair area in the Miss Texas Scholarship Pageant

As Miss Cy-Fair Houston, 17-year old Elizabeth Medina will proudly represent the Cy-Fair area in the Miss Texas Scholarship Pageant

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Cy-Fair High School

A historical look at Cy-Fair’s original high school

Written by Leigh Ann Mitchell | Select photography courtesy of Cy-Fair ISD

CY-FAIR, Texas (CFM) – Nestled on the side of a busy highway, Cy-Fair High School is enriched with pride and tradition. It all started in 1884 when a one-room school was built and named Big Cypress School House. At first, students of all ages attended this tiny school, but as the population grew, accommodations had to be made. The original one-room school was completely destroyed by the hurricane of 1900, rebuilt, and destroyed again by the storm of 1915. An empty house allowed students to continue classes. Big Cypress School House was eventually renamed Lamkin Elementary.

Cy-Fair High School received national acclaim after being dedicated by then first lady Eleanor Roosevelt when it first opened

Cy-Fair High School received national acclaim after being dedicated by then first lady Eleanor Roosevelt when it first opened

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Heart & Health Ministries International

This Cy-Fair non-profit brings medicine and joy to developing nations

Written by Gail G. Collins | Photos courtesy of Heart and Health Ministries

CY-FAIR, Texas (CFM) – When nurse practitioner Angela Okotie-Eboh’s childhood friend died of a massive heart attack in her home country of Nigeria, Angela reacted with sorrow – and  etermination. Her friend’s death could have been prevented with basic medical care, so Angela began a practical campaign to help prevent substandard medical care in places  like Nigeria. The friend was the same age as Angela, only 42 years old, and her senseless death really hit home. ForAngela, where she now lives in the U.S., a place where people often take their medical care for granted, and in her birthplace of Africa, where people in remote locales don’t even have Tylenol to relieve pain.

Cy-Fair resident Shelly Gregurek assists a woman in a leper colony

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