Our weekly roundup of Toasts & Roasts:
Congratulations to Jayland Jones, who excelled during a two-week AgriTrek program at Tuskegee University in Alabama. The summer program offers numerous educational opportunities to any student interested in a career in agriculture. Jayland plans on becoming an ag engineer and getting a degree in equine science. The Central High School junior returned to East Texas having won multiple awards for his work on several research projects. One lab was an essay for the World Food Prize. Jayland won a Borlaug Scholar award for his essay on the country of Togo and its international trade. Another research project included a group project on how farmers can stop overproducing products and what consumers would like to see come out of Tuskegee. He and his group won third place and the George Washington Carver Research Award. His peers also chose him as the winner of the Booker T. Washington Leadership Award. Jayland said he spent his time doing a variety of activities, both educational and fun. ‘‘I made a lot of friends. When I got there, I didn’t know what to expect, but the energy around was pretty welcoming, friendly and nice.” He said the leaders of the program told him to keep in touch and they could help him get into a program and fund his tuition.
Congratulations also are in order to another group of Central students. A team from Central Junior High became one of five junior high teams in the nation to win the NASA WEAR competition. The students created a helmet and suit designed to combat deep space radiation and to assist with the moon to Mars mission. The students will be taking an all-expenses-paid trip to Langley Research Facility later this month. The students spent several weeks designing their helmet and suit, and they created a design and a video advertising their work. In a Facebook Live event naming the winning teams, the leaders of the competition called Central Junior High out specifically, congratulating them on their video and its special effects. Teachers and students were surprised by the honor. “I was shocked to hear our name,” team co-sponsor Shonda Kelsey said. “It feels weird for a small-town school going to a big place like Langley,” eighth-grader Callie Kelsey said. Ninth-grader Carson Bashaw agreed, ‘‘It feels unreal.’’ To view the team’s video, visit https://youtu.be/W5tYQLnij7U.
A toast to the members of Central Church of Christ, who spent a recent Sunday morning giving a facelift to Stranger’s Rest Cemetery. Youth minister Dan Grenier said he would like to see several churches collaborate in the upkeep. One of the helping hands, Victor Bruce, said part of the church’s mission statement is to “relentlessly follow Jesus Christ.” He said that once a month the congregation will have a brief Sunday morning service and then spend the rest of the day helping out in various ways in the Lufkin community. “Anytime you’re helping a neighbor, you’re doing good,” he said. “You’re doing what Jesus wanted you to do. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
A toast to CASA of the Pines, which was one of 13 CASAs to receive a $10,000 contribution from the 2019 Texas Inaugural Committee. Texas first lady Cecilia Abbott invited representatives to attend tea with her at the Governor’s Mansion, and spent more than an hour at the dining room table speaking with them about the issues affecting each regional program. None of the representatives knew they would be receiving a contribution that day, Thornton said. At one point during their conversation, the first lady told them they would be getting $10,000 from proceeds left over from the inaugural fund. “We just didn’t have any idea at all,” CASA of the Pines executive director Natalie Thornton said. “That’s a sizable donation. It’s something we can really make a difference with. We always have needs.’’ For more information about CASA of the Pines, visit casapines.org.
And finally, we would encourage Angelina County residents to support Wendy’s Misfits Animal Rescue, which is in the running for a grant from Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation called Rescue Race 2019. Wendy’s Misfits is a locally run foster-based rescue that focuses a lot of its efforts on providing reduced-price spaying and neutering for pet owners in Angelina County. The rescue will have a chance to win $20,000, $15,000, $12,500, $10,000, $7,500 or $5,000 based on votes collected between Thursday and July 25. “It’s not one vote per day; it’s one vote per person, so we need every warm, breathing body to vote,” Briley said. “We’re in the running for up to $20,000 that we would really love if we could get enough votes. We’ll take anything — we’re not picky — but it would be super amazing to get $20,000.” To vote, visit healthypawspetinsurance.com/rescue-race starting Thursday.
Editor’s note: Is there a person or organization you’d like to nominate for either a Toast or a Roast due to a recent accomplishment, event or incident? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 631-2618. You can also contact us anonymously through our online news tip page at lufkindailynews.com/tips.