Here it is, the day filled with eating food and seeing family is fast arriving, Turkey Day. It’s also the day of the big parade, and this year there will be Roanoke Valley locals in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
James Madison University’s marching band, the Marching Royal Dukes, is going to be playing through the streets of the city. The band includes six graduates from Lord Botetourt High School: Thomas Graham, Grayson Simmons, Josh Humphries, Kat Call, Erin Rizzo and Emilee Higgins. These Cavalier alumni will be marching in the parade on Thanksgiving Day and representing the Roanoke Valley in an event watched by thousands.
The band has an itinerary that is accessible at JMU’s band page, and the details include an open rehearsal at the Sheraton New York Times Square. The band departed yesterday, the Nov. 26, and will be rehearsing today for the event in the city.
Thanksgiving will be an early day for the band. The buses will pick up the marchers from their hotel at 1:30 a.m. and from then on it’s prep for show time. More information and details can be found at http://www.jmu.edu/mrd/macys.shtml. For your first look at the band, tune into NBC at 9 a.m. tomorrow and watch this Thanksgiving tradition.
Eight-hundred patrons poured into the Hotel Roanoke ballroom on Nov. 12 for an afternoon lecture on arts and the role of women in leadership by former First Lady Laura Bush. While the Patrick Henry High School Orchestra played background music, women and men of all ages sat down for the ninth annual Women’s Luncheon, which benefitted the Taubman Museum of Art.
As the guests enjoyed a salmon lunch, they settled in for an afternoon unlike any other as Bush took the stage to discuss her past and present projects. She began her lecture humorously, displaying a bobble-head modeled after herself on the podium as she gave an update on her family.
On the subject of her first granddaughter, the former FLOTUS said, “George just wants the baby to call him sir.”
Growing more serious, Bush spoke on her most recent projects. The George W. Bush Women’s Initiative raises the living standards of women and girls by providing leadership skills and health services for women in less-developed nations. The Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon movement offers breast and cervical cancer screenings and education for women in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. The former President and First Lady also provide help and services to women in leadership around the globe, especially for African-American First Ladies and oppressed women.
Bush also spoke on her love for arts and education. “Every child in America should learn to read,” she stated to a cheering audience.
One of her crowning achievements as FLOTUS was to inaugurate the National Book Festival on Sept. 8, 2001. A solemn Mrs. Bush recalled the events that transpired three days later. The incident on Sept. 11, 2001 sparked her Afghan Women’s Project, which provides leadership skills and networks for oppressed Afghan females.
“Women play a vital role in health, education, and prosperity worldwide,” Bush said. “When women are educated, their families are healthier and their children are in school.”
Following the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush threw the first pitch of the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium while Bush worried for her husband’s safety. “I held my breath and reminded myself that this was the job of every President and every American who is willing to take a stand,” she said. “This is America. It hangs on the proposition of democracy with the echoes of citizens.”
“She’s a wonderful woman who has been a great example with her grace,” said Roanoke Native Pat Wilhelms.
The luncheon raised a total of $225,000, compared to $40,000 the past year, through the ticket sales of admiring attendees.
The only thing written on everyone’s calendar for Nov. 21 should be the premiere of “Catching Fire.” If you’ve seen “The Hunger Games” then you probably share my excitement for the new movie.
“Catching Fire” is the sequel to “The Hunger Games,” based on the book series by Suzanne Collins.
I started the series for the third time to prepare for the 8 p.m. premiere on Nov. 21, and I’ve been counting down. I’ve only waited an entire year for this moment.
Even though I want it to be a six hour long, word for word movie, I know that’s not possible. The first film did a great job of following the book and I can only hope for the same with “Catching Fire.”
Now, if you’re like me then you probably get excited over anything relating to “The Hunger Games.” So, to help my excitement I’m going to see “The Starving Games.” It’s a parody of the movie that hit theaters on Nov. 8. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely against mocking anything about “The Hunger Games,” but it looks pretty hilarious
You should definitely be at the premiere; you wouldn’t want to miss something like this. If anyone is looking for me on Thursday night, I’ll be the one with the Mocking Jay pin and the tissues.
The scene doesn’t seem to fit the location, driving into the parking lot of Summerdean Church of the Brethren in Roanoke and then walking into the middle of a full-blown dance rehearsal.Entering the room, teenage girls are sprawled across the floor, stretching, as music blares from the speakers.
However, this is not an ordinary dance studio. This is Audience of One, a studio made to teach the art of dance with a Christian aspect.
Hannah Oakes, Rachel Beard and Ruth Beard are the three primary instructors for Audience of One. The Beard sisters helped found the program, which began in 2006 when they became more interested in ministry through dance. They had participated in other programs similar to Audience of One and wanted to try bringing it to their church.
“Audience of One has really helped me to see a new way of dance. I did dance in a studio that was more for show and more about having all the moves your costume just right,” Oakes said. “I loved that, but this has given me a new way of dancing and a new perspective on dance. It is a Christian dance ministry that focuses on worshipping Christ through dance and also focuses on modesty.”
The three young instructors strive to help their dancers grow and learn about Christ through dance. The studio helps improve dance skills but also does not place the dancers in an uncomfortable position for a performance. Several classes are held every Tuesday for various age groups.
“I used to baby-sit with Rachel and she mentioned it [Audience of One]. I got involved with it, really liked it, and thought my sister should join too so that’s what happened,” Emma Hughes, Virginia Western student, said.
Emma and Hannah Hughes both came to Audience of One with a dance background. Emma Hughes said that she had danced at a young age but the studio she had been a part of was too expensive, so she had to quit. When she heard about Audience of One, she decided to try it out and it soon became something she looked forward to every week.
“It’s really nice to be able to express myself through dance without compromising my modesty or my standards,” she said.
The staff of Audience of One wants to encourage youth to learn to dance and appreciate it. The three instructors realize that dancers are often turned away because of studio expenses, so they decided Audience of One should remain a non-profit dance studio. This means that the instructors are not paid, they simply volunteer their time for the love of dance. The only investment expected from the dancers is money for T-shirts and part of the cost for the venue.
“Emma came back home one day and told me about Audience of One. I’ve always been interested in dance and when she mentioned that it was basically free, I thought it would be a great idea to try it out,” Hannah Hughes said. “It’s more of a relaxed group, it isn’t so much about the performance, but instead is more about worshipping Jesus and spreading the word. I love it.”
Not only do the instructors teach dance to participants, they also have weekly a Bible study to help de-stress the dancers and form a community with their fellow performers. These sessions teach them to be confident in themselves and their appearance. The theme of the year for the studio is overcoming obstacles, whether they are internal or external.
“I started thinking about my appearance in ways that weren’t physical, I guess, and that was very helpful,” Hannah Hughes said.
The three instructors all agreed that the best part of remaining a part of the studio is teaching and interacting with youth who have a love for Christ and a want to show others.
“It gives me joy to watch the young dancers grow and love to worship Christ through dance. It’s so exciting to see young children with hearts for Christ and hearts that really want to glorify him and only him,” Oakes said.
Currently, Audience of One is preparing for its upcoming free performance that will be Dec. 7 at Lakeside Baptist Church. The show will begin at 7 p.m.
For many across the Roanoke Valley, Thanksgiving means more than just turkey and football. Thanksgiving is the day when over 10,000 running enthusiasts hit the streets of downtown Roanoke to take part in a special race, the annual StellarOne Drumstick Dash 5K. The race is a well-loved tradition in Roanoke. It attracts people of all kinds to run the streets to support a great cause, the Roanoke Rescue Mission. However, the race offers something distinctive to runners.
The Drumstick Dash course is flat, shaded from the sun and surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Roanoke’s historic downtown. These unique qualities are a rarity in the world of a runner, for 5k courses are often in open fields or deep woods.
“Running in the city is an awesome experience,” said Patrick Henry High School sophomore John Baldridge. This year’s race will traverse through the energetic and fan-filled streets of Roanoke.
Bands and performers cheer and create a pleasing experience for runners and race supporters alike. A trained runner can easily make exceptional times on this course with the right strategies. However, it’s also a nice course for beginners.
Jack Hitchins, also a Patrick Henry High School sophomore, gave some tips for a successful Drumstick Dash.
“The key to success on this course is pacing,” he said, “Know that the weather will usually be in your favor and the course lacks extreme hills or other obstacles. Do not hesitate to push yourself farther than you’re used to.”
The amount of participants expected to attend the upcoming race is in the thousands, so prepare to run in and out of large crowds. However, the crowds can also make for an enjoyable, social race.
A four-on-four soccer tournament will be held throughout the day on November 30 in the Patrick Henry High School stadium. Funds raised through this event, named 4v4 Eight, will benefit the Ndarugiriye Mariam Education Fund, which was created by the Star City Soccer Foundation to provide educational funding for a family of eight Burundi children.
These siblings have been living independently with the support from various friends throughout Roanoke since the tragic loss of their parents a year ago. The event’s motto is, “Community, Scholarship, Soccer.” Organizers hope that Roanoke community will come together to fund education for the refugees who have resettled in Roanoke through a day of competitive soccer.
The soccer exhibition will feature all levels of soccer players through several divisions based on age and competition level. Groups include U10, U12, U15, high school, open division, and 35 and older/coed. Matches involve four players on each team, but no goalie. Smaller goals will be used.
Grace Baldridge, a senior at Patrick Henry and a leader in organizing the event, said, “We are organizing the event to raise funds for an education fund for a family of eight from Burundi who recently lost their mother and father. The hope is this fund will provide money to help them with their educational endeavors. The event will be a lot of fun with great soccer, music, and food. So come out and support the community, scholarship, and soccer!”
For registration, emails including the each player’s name, a team name, player ages, sex, shirt sizes, email addresses, and cell phone numbers should be sent to email@example.com. Teams can include up to seven players and registration is $20 per participant. Also, tax-deductible donations in support of the event will be accepted from individuals and businesses.
Checks can be made out to Star City Soccer Foundation sent to 1110 Oakwood Drive, Roanoke, VA 24015 or brought to the event.
Concessions will be available in the stadium during the competition, and all participants will receive an event T-shirt. Further information can be found on Facebook by searching “4v4 Eight Soccer Tournament.”
Organizers of the 4v4 soccer competition include Landon Moore, Grace Baldridge and other Patrick Henry seniors inspired to apply their interest in sports to benefiting local refugee families. Sam Roller, a senior on the Patrick Henry soccer team said, “Playing soccer at PH has introduced me to some of the children in the family and I have built relationships with them so helping them out is something that is important to me.”
On Oct. 24th Patrick Henry High School and Community High School will be competing at the annual Virginia Theatre Association (VTA) conference in Reston, Virginia. VTA is a statewide theatre competition that brings student actors from all over Virginia to perform in front of judges and peers to see who will rise to the top.
Although it sounds like a cutthroat competition, it is more fun than anything else. After a school is done performing, students are free to take different workshops, watch other school’s performances, or simply walk around and meet new people. It is an amazing experience and there is nothing but happiness and bubbly attitudes throughout the entire four days of the conference.
Be sure to tell the participants from Community High and Patrick Henry to “break a leg,” and check back in November for an update on our local schools’ experiences.
During the third weekend of September every year, the National Book Festival, hosted by the Library of Congress, takes place on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
For book lovers, this festival is a heavenly convention, with book signings and presentations by famous authors, a large book sale where you can purchase already autographed copies of your favorite books, and this year, even the President of the United States and the First Lady were in attendance.
“The whole place is teeming with bookworms,” said 13 year old Linda Ma, a first timer at the festival, “It’s great to talk to other people who love books.”
By 10:30 a.m., the festival was in full swing. The National Monument (surrounded by scaffolding, still being repaired from a 2011 earthquake) stood tall in the overcast sky, overlooking the Mall.
The festival features an abundance of popular authors in various genres.
When asked which author she would love to see come to the festival someday, Emily Zhang of Richmond responded, “Oh, that’s a tough one. Probably J.K. Rowling. I’d get her to sign my face.”
Immediately after arrival, a mad rush begins to complete as many events as possible. People are everywhere, carrying books and orange Library of Congress bags, which were given out for free to everyone in attendance. The excitement is contagious.
Zhangfound the festival experience to be intense, saying it made her feel panicked.
She said, “We had to run to get to the Holly Black line because we got here at, like, 11:30 [a.m.]. So far, it’s really cool.”
Riding the underground metro into the city, picking up a brand new, signed copy of a popular novel, meeting authors face to face, and racing for cover when it suddenly starts to rain all contribute to a fulfilling and unforgettable event. The festival is crowded and lines to meet authors can be long and slow moving, but it’s all part of the experience.
On Sept. 14 at 10 a.m., with the sun high in the sky and the smell of burnt kettle corn wafting in the air, 60,000 people crammed into Main Street, Salem as Olde Salem Days went into full swing.
People come from all around Roanoke County and join in with thousands of other visitors to buy homemade gifts and merchandise on Salem’s busiest day of the year.
This festival was started by the Salem Rotary Club 32 years ago and is more popular than ever.
The event features over 400 artists and vendors, with an antique car show and a food court in the Salem Farmer’s Market.
The experience is dizzying, with the already small streets filled to the brim with people of all ages and ethnicities. You can find unique gifts from independent crafters, eat locally grown food, and stop by the Salem Public Library for the annual book sale held inside.
My favorite part of Olde Salem Days is riding my bike down to Main Street and seeing all the old cars at the antique car show. You can talk to the owners and have them share their stories on how they got them and how they fixed them up. You can really see how passionate they are about the cars that most people would simply send to the junkyard.
For many, Olde Salem Days is an enjoyable time for the whole family, and you can even bring your dog.
In Greek, “ney” means yes. Despite the rain, many people said “yes” to free entertainment and attended the eighth annual Roanoke Greek Festival. The three-day festival was held Sept. 20-22 at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Roanoke. It was a joyous celebration of Greek culture with authentic Greek cuisine, live music and dance performances.
Andrew Gentiluomo and his son Nicholas of Roanoke were some of the many repeat visitors at the festival. They also volunteered at the event.
When asked about his thoughts on the number of attendees at the event, Andrew replied, “The attendance so far has been pretty good. It would have been better if the weather had been nicer.”
Nicholas said that his favorite thing at the festival was the food. He specified, “The pastichio, dolmades, and loukoumades.”
Other attendees included the Meredith family from the New River Valley, who came to the festival for the first time, and the Billos family of Giles County, who attend the event yearly. The Greek Festival has something for everyone to enjoy and it’s a great place for teens to volunteer.
If you missed the festival this year there is always next year. Mark your calendar for next year’s event, which will be held Sept. 19-21, 2014.
The Edge is a weekly page produced by teens from Roanoke and New River valleys during the school year. It publishes every Wednesday in The Roanoke Times' Extra section, and features stories, photos and illustrations by area teenagers. The Edge is led by two Roanoke Times staffers and the group meets once a week in the newsroom. This blog is a companion to the printed page.