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.
There is a smell of pine as I sit outside of my favorite store drinking hot apple cider. I am waiting in anticipation for the clock to turn to midnight, and when it does, busting through the doors to get the best deals. This is what I love about Black Friday.
Many people say that Black Friday is too much commotion, but I think it is the next best thing to Christmas. After my family is finished stuffing our faces full of food during Thanksgiving dinner, we gear up to bear the crowd at the mall. I like to bring friends when we do this ultimate shopping, because it makes the experience more fun.
At first it is a bit frustrating trying to maneuver my way through the crowd, but when you actually get into the mall it is not that bad. I am so excited to hunt down deals this Black Friday.
Every Sunday, a group of talented young adults gather to celebrate their passion for playing music ang discovering its joys. These students are none other than the musicians of the Roanoke Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Founded in 1956, the RYSO offers a unique pre-professional experience for talented individuals ages 12 to 18. After auditioning, members of the orchestra rehearse weekly and perform in several concerts throughout the year. Additionally, an annual camp, the Summer Music Institute, intensively prepares all members of the RYSO for the upcoming musical season. Students play both classical and contemporary pieces, including movie scores.
Conductor James Glazebrook is in his 24th year of directing the orchestra. He’s also Associate Concertmaster of the professional Roanoke Symphony Orchestra
“The RYSO brings together students with a common interest around the region. It is an outlet for personal expression,” Glazebrook said. “Even those who don’t pursue music as a career still become musical board members and audience members.”
First year member Melissa Wu, sophomore at William Byrd High School, said she intends to return to the RYSO next season. “It’s challenging but fun,” the flute player stated. “It’s a mix of work and fun.”
In its ongoing 2013-2014 season, the RYSO had the unique opportunity to perform for the opening concert of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra’s 60th season on Oct. 7. The Roanoke Symphony Orchestra is directed by Maestro David Stewart Wiley, who has also guest-conducted for the RYSO in past concerts.
“Education has always been essential,” Wiley said, “and the RYSO represents the present and the future.”
Percussionist and Cave Spring High School Junior Samie Casauay said that the RYSO “does a good job of connecting with the community.” She added, “My favorite part about symphony is the different types of music we play.”
The RYSO is not simply an orchestra, but also an organization for the development of young musicians and artists. Each year the orchestra sponsors the Young Artist Awards, where members compete for a cash prize and a chance to solo with the RYSO. This year’s winner and concertmaster was Sage Wright, a homeschooled senior. Shedescribed the differences of playing in an ensemble and soloing.
“When playing in an ensemble,” the violinist said, “it’s important to listen and blend. When soloing, I can do more stylistic techniques.” Wright described the RYSO as “fun,” declaring her favorite aspect to be the selection of movie scores and classical music.
“The RYSO is very enjoyable,” Sarah Blevins, first chair oboe and Alleghany High School senior, said. “And it looks great on college applications.”
Not only does the RYSO provide participating members with the joy of music, it also reaches upwards of 2,000 grade-school students throughout the Roanoke region with its Discovery Concerts. Other outreach programs include the encouragement of young students to play and learn about the instruments that make up the Orchestra.
On Nov. 23, 1963, a little sci-fi show called “Doctor Who” was broadcasted in black and white on British Broadcasting Corporation for the first time.
Now, 50 years later that same show has become a beloved television series that is cherished by millions.
“Doctor Who” follows the adventures of a mysterious man called The Doctor. He is an alien who travels through time and space in his blue, 1960’s British police box-shaped TARDIS (that is, Time And Relative Dimension In Space). Along for the ride is a human companion, currently Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman), an “impossible girl,” and one the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith), just can’t figure out.
The Doctor has the rare ability to keep himself from dying by the process of “regeneration.” This process gives him a new body, which is why so many different actors have been able to play him in the past.
“I would absolutely recommend this show to everyone. It has helped my family connect through it, as well as my close circle of friends,” says Cody Prater, a junior at Hidden Valley High School. “It is a wonderful show, fit for all ages. It is, in my opinion, one of the best shows on television.”
This year, on Nov. 23, the show will have a 50th Anniversary special, featuring the 11th Doctor, the 10th Doctor (David Tennant), Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) as the 10th Doctor’s companion, and a previously unknown Doctor, played by John Hurt.
“I have to say I am most excited to see David Tennant return as the 10th Doctor. He is ‘my Doctor,’ the one I am most attached to and the one I hated to see go,” said Prater.
The “Doctor Who” fan base has grown from its British roots and is enjoyed by fans from over 75 different countries.
“I have only been watching ‘Doctor Who’ for a little under a year now, but it has already captured a special place in my life,” said Nishant Jha, a senior at North Cross High School. “While it is considered a ‘family show,’ the themes and topics discussed are really mature. It is because of how the show handles grief and hatred and love and friendship that I have such a fondness for it.”
When asked why he is excited for the 50th Anniversary, Jha answered, “I’m excited to marvel at, and be a part of, the celebration of 50 years of ‘Doctor Who.’ It’s going to be a great time to be a ‘Doctor Who’ fan!”
The 50th anniversary will be played Nov. 23 in certain movie theaters globally and on BBCAmerica. Learn more about “Doctor Who” and find out where you can watch the 50th anniversary at http://www.doctorwho.tv/.
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.
Shopping online is an addiction for many and is an easy way to get exactly what you have been looking for with just the click of a button. Discount websites, such as Gilt, can make a shopping spree even more tempting.
Gilt offers daily sales of up to 60 percent off of retail prices on popular name brand clothing, shoes, accessories, home decor and even hotel rooms at different vacation spots. You are also able to gain access to sales on items that are no longer sold in stores or were limited edition, and the website shows the most popular trends for the current season.
But, you have to act fast. Sales start at a certain time every day and items are available in a limited quantity. This is definitely one of the drawbacks to the site. The time constraint can leave you feeling rushed. It can also make you feel forced to buy a certain item just because it is on sale.
For the most part, items such as clothing and shoes sell out quickly after the sale starts if they are from a popular brand and are in high demand. Designer handbags from old collections that are not easy to find are also snatched up quickly.
If you’re interested in trying it out, there is a schedule of upcoming sales so you can be prepared to log on when they start. Gilt is the perfect place to get a good deal on your favorite brands.
Learning about cultures from around-the-world is important, and one’s own culture plays a vital role in portraying one’s personality, habits, and morals. Deena Habazi, a senior at Cave Spring High School, is a perfect role model for the current generation to spread their own culture.
On a Sunday morning most teenagers would be either sleeping or watching TV, meanwhile Habazi spends her Sunday mornings from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. teaching children the Arabic language, about the Quran (Islam’s holy book) and Islamic studies at The Arabic and Islamic School of Roanoke.
The children she teaches inspire her today. Habazi said, “I was actually approached five years ago by the principal of the school, who asked me if I could teach the students. I was 12 at the time, so I didn’t really think I was capable of teaching anything. However, after I got the hang of it, I realized how great of an effect I had on these children and how much they looked up to me. The fact that I was a role model to them, inspired me to be the best person I could be, so they could follow suit.”
Habazi’s first year was time-consuming as she had to prepare lesson plans and class activities, while also keeping track of grades and attendance. That was just the beginning, though, and Habazi said she now has a handle on the curriculum.
According to Habazi, “The school helps bring together the Muslim community in Roanoke and gives the students a chance to meet other students who share the same traditions and beliefs. In addition, since many of the students’ parents are immigrants from the Middle East or Africa, teaching students Arabic and Islam really helps them connect with their parents. For example, when I teach them how to say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ in Arabic, there are always a few students that shout, ‘I hear my Mom/Dad say that a lot!’”
The culture of a community gives people a character of their own; it shapes an individual’s thinking and influences his or her mentality. Teaching Arabic has impacted Habazi’s life by being successful to give back to the community.
“There are levels in the school. Level one is the most basic level, which I teach. Seeing my former students do well in the higher level classes show me that I successfully taught them the basics of what they learn in these later levels,” Habazi said.
It’s profound how a 17-year-old is impacting society by her teachings, allowing children to realize the importance of their culture.
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.