Opera Visits Ernest Ward and Carver/Century With Paintball And ‘Chuck Norris’

March 29, 2008


It was like DIY, build it yourself, fill in the blank opera Friday at Ernest Ward Middle School and Carver/Century K-8 School when the Pensacola Opera presented “(Your) Opera in a Trunk”.

The traveling opera minstrels hit the stage with little more than a backdrop, a small wardrobe and a trunk full of assorted props. After a musical introduction to each voice style — the soprano, mezzo, tenor and bass — the Joker begins the one of a kind show. The Joker, who is a cross between a storyteller and a game show host, leads the audience in choosing the star of the show, the character names and the plot for the improvised opera.

“Incorporating audience suggestions, spontaneity and chance, improvisational performance truly explores the unknown. No two performances are the same as no two audiences are alike. Improvisation is cutting edge art where not even the performers know quite what is around the next corner or how the show will end,” said David Charles, creator, writer and director of the opera.

operagunn.jpg“It was real exciting; it was not like I thought it was going to be,” Ernest Ward seventh grader Kaitlyn Gunn (pictured left) said. “I really liked it. I thought it was going to be boring, but it wasn’t.”

Students at Ernest Ward first decided where their opera would be set. They had a choice of a paintball field, a busy New York street or a deserted island. They picked the paintball field… the Chuck Norris Paintball Field to be exact. Singers then chose the names of two students in the audience as their character’s names…Isaac and Rachel.

They chose for Rachel to be paintball ninja over being Chuck Norris’ number one fan or an itchy gymnast. Isaac was cast as the Paintball Ninja of Chuck Norris Paintball Field.

Then students were given the opportunity to name their “(Your) Opera in a Trunk”, and the winning name was “Splat!”. The mezzo singer was cast as Nancy the Ninja, which was picked by the students over Petunia the Paintball Referee and “Chuck Norris as a lady”. The soprano was cast as Rachel the paintball cheerleader, who later saw a pickpocketing monkey. “No one knows…the monkey is my secret,” she sang.

In the end, good of course triumphs over evil. Along the way, the action stops for the Joker to explain various opera terms to the audience, terms like aria, libretto and cadenza. They learn to say “brava” to applaud a female performer and “bravo” for a male performer.

Because the opera is improvised, this was “the very first and the very last time ever in the world this opera will be presented,” the Joker Timothy Kennedy said. The Ernest Ward performance was also the last time this group of performers will hit the stage together. All of the them except the maestro (the pianist) are from out of town, places like New York City and Chicago. They have been performing together since January at schools across the region.

“The Pensacola Opera holds auditions in Des Moines, Iowa, and New York City for these performances,” Kennedy said. “Most of them end up here from the New York auditions.”

In the production at both Ernest Ward and Carver, the performers were : Anna Steenerson, soprano; Dawn Pierce, mezzo; Todd von Felker, bass; Zechariah Baker, tenor; and Melissa Gilbert, the maestro.

Baker told the students he began singing opera just four years ago. He was serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq when someone sent him a Three Tenors CD, and he found that he was able to sing in a similar fashion. His commanding officers encouraged him to sing more, and “I decided then to become an opera singer,” he said.

One EWMS students asked if an opera star could break a glass. Kennedy explained that it was possible, but very few singers were able to product the pitch necessary to do so.

Friday’s performances were sponsored by a variety of private businesses and groups like the National Endowment for the Arts, the Arts Council of Northwest Florida and the University of West Florida.

For more photos from both the Ernest Ward and Carver/Century performance of “(Your) Opera in a Trunk”, click here.

Pictured above: The performers in “(Your) Opera in a Trunk”. Pictured below: Students at Carver/Century K-8 enjoy the Pensacola Opera. Ernest Ward photos are NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge. Carver/Century photos were submitted by the school.


Florida Special Olympics Torch Begins 1,500 Mile Journey In Century

March 29, 2008


About 20 officers from the Century Correctional Institute along with law enforcement officers from the Florida Highway Patrol and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department kicked off a 1,500 mile torch relay for the Florida Special Olympics at the Alabama/Florida state line.

The run proceeded from the state line south for three and a half miles along Highway 29.

Law enforcement officers from over 300 Florida agencies (police departments, sheriff’s offices, Florida Department of Corrections, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Customs, Air Force Police and Marine Patrol) all participate in the state-wide torch run to benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Florida. Each year, over 3,000 officers carry the torch on a 1500-mile relay through more than 60 counties in Florida.

Funds are generated through contributions from individuals and businesses along the way and through sales of the popular Torch Run T-shirts and caps.

This event is held each year prior to Special Olympics Florida State Summer Games. The intrastate torch relay will last the entire month of April and culminate at the Opening Ceremonies. Officers from around the state join together to bring the “Flame of Hope” into the stadium.

For more photos from the torch run in Century, click here.

1,200 Participate In Annual Northview High FFA’s Food For America Program

March 28, 2008


About 900 elementary school students from nine schools attended the annual “Food for America” program Thursday at Northview High School , with about 1,200 people total either attending or working with the program.

The program sponsored the National FFA Organization and conducted by the Northview FFA gave the students a chance to learn about agriculture firsthand as they got up close and personal with farm animals, farm equipment and more. The students even had the opportunity to make their own butter and enjoy it on crackers.

The Northview FFA has participated in the program for 13 years, placing second in the state last year. Northview has placed in the top five in the state for the last ten years.

Click here for a complete NorthEscambia.com photo gallery with over 100 pictures from the event.

About 120 FFA students from Northview and Ernest Ward Middle School conducted the program, with about 1,200 people total either attending or working with the program.

Schools scheduled to attend the Food for America program today at Northview were Bratt Elementary, Byrneville Elementary, Carver/Century Elementary, Holm Elementary, Jay Elementary, Lipscomb Elementary, Molino Park Elementary and Pensacola Beach Charter Elementary.

Participants in the FFA’s program included: the Florida Department of Agriculture Honey Inspector, local bee keepers, Escambia River Electric Cooperative, Pine Ridge Farms, theniversity of Florida, the Florida Division of Forestry, the Escambia County Farm Bureau, Hendrix Tractor Company, the Walnut Hill Volunteer Fire Department, NHS FFA Alumni and Friends, the Florida FFA Association, Northview 4-H/Farm Safety, the Escambia County Extension Agency the National Resource Conservation Service, Stewart Grist Mill and Escambia County Parks and Recreation.


Brush Fire Thursday Afternoon Near Lake Stone

March 28, 2008


Three fire departments and the Florida Division of Forestry responded to a brush fire near Highway 4 and Killam Road Thursday afternoon.

The fire was reported behind a residence on Highway 4 about a mile west of Lake Stone about 3:00. A Division of Forestry pilot flying over the scene initially reported that several residences along Killam Road might be threatened by the fire. The Century Volunteer Fire Department, McDavid Volunteer Fire Department and the Flomaton Fire Department joined at least two Forestry tractors in containing the fire.

Firemen on the ground said that it appeared structures were threatened to the pilot in the air due to drifting smoke, but actually the structures were not in immediate danger.

The Forestry tractors were used to create a fire line around the fire, containing it in an area estimated to be about seven acres. The fire was declared under control about 4:15, with the fire departments returning to their stations and Forestry remaining on scene.

Preliminary information indicated that the fire began when the wind carried embers into the woods from a brush pile being burned behind a home in the area.

There were no injuries reported in association with the blaze.

Pictured top: A Forestry tractor breaking out of the woods creating a fire line. Pictured below (scroll down to see all pictures): Fire trucks staging on Killam Road, a burnt area behind a home on Highway 4 and a look at the fire burning several feet into the woods. NorthEscambia.com exclusive photos, click to enlarge.




Learn About Getting A Habitat For Humanity Home Tonight In Molino

March 27, 2008

Pensacola Habitat for Humanity will be hold an orientation seminars for prospective homeowners at 7:00 tonight at Aldersgate Methodist Church in Molino.

Habitat for Humanity hopes to build six homes for deserving people in the Molino area, with the first Habitat family possibly moving into their new home by Christmas. And you can learn how to get a Habitat home tonight at a meeting in Molino.

Janet Westlake, Habitat’s volunteer in charge of church relations, told NorthEscambia.com that the first house, the “Methodist House”, will be a joint project of Aldersgate, Cottage Hill, Allen Memorial, Lathram Chapel, McDavid and Farm Hill United Methodist churches.

“We are using church groups to sponsor building the first house in Molino,” Westlake said. “Six Methodist churches will together pay to build this house.”

A Habitat home is not a free handout; home recipients must have the ability to repay a small mortgage payment each month. That money goes into the program to build future Habitat homes.


Qualification is based upon three primary criteria: the ability to pay the mortgage, the need for adequate housing and the willingness to partner with “sweat equity” of 300 hours of volunteer time in the construction of their own home or in community service with another community organization. Income guidelines are in the table to the left.

For more information on Pensacola Habitat for Humanity, visit www.pensacolahabitat.org or call 434-5456.

The homes will be located on donated lots on Schaag Road off County Road 95A in Molino.

Pensacola Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit Christian ministry whose purpose is to build homes and improve communities in partnership with low and very low income families in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties.

Home Invasion Reported Late Wednesday Night In Century

March 27, 2008

homeinv.jpgThe Escambia County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a home invasion that took place in Century late Wednesday night.

Just before midnight, five white males forced their way into a home on Alger Road east of North Century Boulevard. The five males knocked at the door, and when the resident answered, three of them entered the home while two held down the victim, according to Sgt. Shedrick Johnson of the sheriff’s department.

“They roughed the guy up a little bit,” Johnson said, but his injuries were “just some minor scrapes” and were not severe.

The three that entered the house “were looking for things”, and they took some prescription medication,” Johnson said. They suspects were believed to have fled the residence on foot. Multiple deputies were on scene just minutes after the home invasion was reported.

Tracking dogs from the Century Correctional Institute were brought in to aid in the search, as was the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department helicopter. The helicopter was reported to have landed in the Whataburger parking lot on North Century Boulevard for a short time just after midnight.

The tracking dogs lost the suspects’ scent near a service station on North Century Boulevard, the sergeant said, and it is believed that they fled the area in vehicle.

“The victim had an idea who they may be,” Johnson said. The investigation is continuing.

Northview Television Students Take Top Honors At State Competition

March 27, 2008


Rock, paper scissors. That’s how the major decisions are made before shows are taped at NTV — Northview Television at Bratt’s Northview High School.

When NorthEscambia.com visited Sascha Blackburn’s television production class Wednesday morning, the students were playing rock, paper scissors to decide who would run sound, who would anchor and who would do the other jobs needed to produce the announcement program to air early Wednesday afternoon on the school’s closed circuit television station.

“That is how they make their decisions,” Blackburn said. “It may seem a bit odd, but it usually works.”

The decisions for the Florida Scholastic Press Association were perhaps a bit easier in a recent competition that saw three of Northview’s TV production students receiving high honors for news segments.

ntv26.jpgPhillip Mayhair and Olivia Bryan’s (pictured left) broadcast segments were rated “All Florida”. Josh Holder received a rating of “Excellent” on his piece. The “All Florida” rating goes to segments that demonstrate the best of high school journalism across the board, while the “Excellent” rating is just a small notch below.

Mayhair’s segment was on the recent Major James Ross Memorial Run, a “package” that Mayhair said he enjoyed producing in his television production class taught by Blackburn.

“This is something I have always enjoyed,” he said. “Mrs. Blackburn has taught us a lot this year about making packages, so I give a lot of credit to Mrs. Blackburn.”

Holder’s entry in the FSPA competition was on Northview football star Nakita Myles.

“I enjoyed doing it because it allowed me to talk to someone I don’t normally speak to,” Holder said. He has enjoyed the television production class so much that he plans to continue broadcast studies in college, with the ultimate goal of becoming a weather person. But not just any weather person.

“I want to be one of those people that goes around and reports from inside the storms,” he said, “like those guys that stand out in the hurricanes.”

Brown’s All Florida award piece was about a high school radio program that she and other students do on Tuesday afternoons on WNSI in Atmore.

“I was interesting doing a story that I was part of, “Brown said. “It was difficult to do the story and get footage of myself.”

“Television is nice creative outlet,” she said. “It is nice to make something and express creativity.” She said she plans to major in marketing with a minor in communications when she gets to college.

Click here for more photos from Northview Television.

Pictured above: Northview television production teacher Sascha Blackburn (left), Eric Ickeringill and Phillip Mayhair work in the control room to produce the announcement show on Northview Television. Pictured below: Cody Parker (left) and Josh Holder play a game of rock, paper, scissors to determine who would go first in reading the announcements Wednesday on NTV’s announcement show. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.


Banker To Students: Humility Is Key For Business Success

March 27, 2008


Do your best, and do it always. That was the message that Rob Faircloth, senior vice president of the First National Bank and Trust of Atmore, gave Future Business Leaders of America students at Northview High School on Wednesday.

“Somebody is watching you in business all the time,” Faircloth told the group. “Don’t miss the opportunity to do a good job all the time.”

Leadership, integrity, responsibility, determination, personality, courage, dedication and commitment were just some of the qualities the students said were needed to be successful in business.

faircloth11.jpgFaircloth (pictured left) added “humility” to the list.

He had two students, Ashley Snow and Katelyn Roley (pictured top of page) role play a situation were one was an obnoxious customer and the other was working behind the counter of a popular fast food restaurant.

“If you are working behind that counter, if they have a dollar, they can humiliate you,” Faircloth said. “You will be humbled by somebody; you will have to perform will humility.”

Urgency is also important in business, he told the FBLA students.

“There is competition everywhere,” he said. “If you don’t have a sense of urgency, somebody else will take your business.

Pictured above: Rob Faircloth, senior vice president of the First National Bank of Atmore, FBLA President Ashley Snow and Katelyn Roley role play a humiliating business situation. Pictured below (scroll down to see all photos): FBLA students listen to Faircloth Wednesday.




Tate Grad Killed By Train

March 27, 2008

A 19 year old Tate High School graduate was killed when he pulled into the path of a train in the Cottage Hill community about noon Wednesday.

Friends say Matt Byrd probably was unable to see the oncoming train due to high brush in the area when he pulled out of a driveway and into the path of the train.

The crossing near Highway 95A and McKenzie Road has no crossing arms or warning lights, just a wood railroad crossing sign.

The accident is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. They say no charges will be filed.

Fire Destroys Ambulance

March 26, 2008


An ambulance operated by Atmore Ambulance was destroyed by fire on Highway 21 north of Atmore Wednesday afternoon. Atmore Ambulance contracts with Escambia County to provide ambulance service in the 327 telephone exchange of the North Escambia Area.

Atmore Ambulance operates two more ambulances that respond in the Walnut Hill, Bratt, Oak Grove and Davisville areas. When they are unable to respond to a call in the North Escambia area, an Escambia County EMS unit from Century or Molino usually responds.

There were no patients in the 2001 model ambulance at the time of the fire and no injuries. For more information on the fire, see AtmoreNews.com. Click photos to enlarge.


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