Library and Parks & Rec re-opening

By Brayley Payne

After a long season of quarantine through the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Waco is finally re-opening its doors. This includes restaurants, coffee shops, and other Waco favorites — the Waco-McLennan County Library and various Parks and Recreation services in the Waco area.

The library, at all four locations, is set to open Monday, June 15. The hours will be limited, Monday through Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.. Visitors will be able to browse like usual and check out items. While there will be browsing, there will be no public seating in the library at this point.

“We are taking this phased approach because the situation is fluid and plans need to be flexible so we can make changes as information becomes available,” said Library Director Essy Day.

Social distancing will be encouraged throughout the libraries. The computers will also be six feet apart, and time will be limited to one hour per day for each user. After a user leaves, the staff will clean the computer area. The library recommends using the outdoor drop when returning items in order to effectively quarantine the previously checked-out items. Visitors are encouraged to wear face masks.

Waco Parks and Recreation has created modified programs for the summer, but they will still be fun! The RECess! summer program has already begun, and it aims to provide a fun alternative to the camps that have been canceled due to COVID-19. This program will be virtual for daily, at-home activities. Check the department’s Facebook page each day for updates.

The department’s outdoor pavilions, indoor facilities, and park areas are now available for rental! On June 15, Bledsoe-Miller, Dewey, and South Waco community centers will reopen. The new hours will be: Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; and Saturday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m..

June 15 is also the start date for organized sports and competitions on city property and in city facilities. Riverbend Park will reopen for games and use on June 15, as well. Waco Mammoth National Monument has opened its trail and picnic area for use. The dig shelter tours, however, are still on hold to reopen, and park buildings will remain closed for the time being.

Brayley Payne is an Act Locally Waco intern from Denver. She’s studying professional writing and religion at Baylor University and entering her senior year. She has worked in the Baylor University Writing Center the last two years.

From Zoom rehearsal to stage, Waco’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ to premiere

By Trent Sutton

“All the world’s a stage.”

Though we aren’t performing those particular words of Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, those words have truly been put to the test as we have prepared this performance. 

Wild Imaginings had planned to launch our Summer Shakespeare series this summer anticipating it being a big community event that would become annual fare for years to come. Much like the rest of the world, all of those plans were brought into serious question in the midst of the rise of COVID-19. 

We felt, however, that we ought to press ahead, even in the face of uncertainty. We’re an arts organization after all, and limitations are nothing more than creative boundaries.

With this in mind, we held auditions for the show via Zoom and proceeded to have rehearsals for the show via Zoom. I can’t say it’s something I recommend. I think we all got really tired of one another’s faces on our computer screens. But despite the fact that we couldn’t plan our movement for the show, we worked through the script as best we could while online. 

And truly, through this process, we have discovered that all the world is indeed a stage. Even virtually speaking. Sometimes we came together not just from different homes but from different cities and even different states. And all the while, we prepared, we worked through the text, we developed our characters, and when it was finally safe to rehearse in person, we dove in head-first, ready to put it all together. And in just a couple short weeks, we have had to transfer everything we learned via Zoom to the real in-person world. 

The third commitment which Wild Imaginings holds in its value statement is “cultivating a willingness to explore, experiment, and otherwise push the boundaries of what performing arts can be and the impact they can have on the community.” And you know, the world in which we currently find ourselves has put that commitment to the test.

We have explored the depths to which we can connect through online platforms; we have experimented with different ways of rehearsing and learning together; and we continue to push the boundaries of what performing arts can be, as we figure out ways to move from Zoom to my living room to finally Common Grounds. 

And as far as impact on the community goes, we hope that this will be every bit the community event that we hoped it would be, albeit with smaller numbers of people. We are fully committed to the safety of our audience, which is why we’ll be working with Common Grounds to limit seating per state guidelines.

So to help navigate this challenge, we’ve decided to record a performance so that people can buy “tickets” to the recording. 

Our goal from the beginning in launching this Summer Shakespeare production has been to make it accessible to anyone who wants to come. We believe ART IS FOR EVERYONE. In our efforts to maintain this desire, we want to be sure it remains accessible, even for those who may not yet be comfortable venturing out. 

We cannot wait to share this with the Waco community. A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been such fun to work on, despite the challenges we faced. I’ve had the privilege of working with an amazing cast, and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to see them perform, because it’s definitely worth it. 

Love triangles, angry fathers, fairy magic, mischief, and even a play within a play (I think that’s called playception). This is a Shakespearean work of art that you’re going to want to make sure is a part of your summer.

Tickets can be found at http://wildimaginingswaco.com/shakespeare/.

And even if you can’t make it, you can purchase a “ticket” to the video recording when we have it or else just make a donation. We need your help to make Summer Shakespeare something that we can share with the Waco community for years to come.

Trent Sutton is founder and artistic director of Wild Imaginings, a newly formed performing arts nonprofit here in Waco. He has recently graduated from Truett Seminary with his Master of Divinity and has already made Waco his home. He is passionate about the arts and believes them to be the best way in which he can contribute to the city he has grown to love so much. He believes Wild Imaginings is uniquely positioned to truly bring a different flavor of art to Waco, and he is excited for what this new adventure will bring. His desire is that this community be limited only by the scope of their imaginations. His favorite thing is sharing dreams and ideas and working together to bring them to life. So don’t hesitate to reach out.

(Ahmaud Arbery) I Don’t Want to Know Your Name

By Dr. Peaches Henry

Ahmaud Arbery, I don’t want to know your name,
Because knowing your name means your mother is grieving your unjustifiable death.
Knowing your name means you are an unarmed Black man who died at the hands of a white man—
A white man who thinks that he has the right to police your body
Whether or not he is a cop,
Whether or not, if he is a cop, you have committed a crime,
Whether you were simply living your best life,
Snacking on Skittles and iced tea,
Playing your music loudly while pumping gas,
Sitting on your couch eating ice cream,
Sleeping in your own bed,
Settling into a daily run,
Living while Black.

Ahmaud Arbery, I don’t want to know your name.
Because knowing your name means I must add you to that heartbreaking, breath-stopping, stomach-wrenching, always growing, never-ending catalog of murdered Black men, women, and children.
That did not begin with Emmitt Till nor end with Trayvon Martin or Eric Garner or Michael Brown or Tamir Rice or Freddie Gray or Sandra Bland or Philando Castillo or Alton Sterling or Bootham Jean or Breonna Taylor or George Floyd or countless more.
Yet knowing your name means to honor your life.
To say your name is the first step in the journey toward justice for you.
Knowing your name means to protest anti-Black violence,
To scream “Black Lives Matter” in the futile hope that the loss of your life matters.

Ahmaud Arbery, I don’t want to know your name.
Because knowing your name turns my mind to my own twenty-five-year-old son.
Like you, each day he goes for a jog in a predominately white neighborhood.
His neighborhood.
So Ahmaud Arbery, to know your name terrifies me
And causes me to double over in a silent wail of agony every morning,
And to breathe again only when the door opens to reveal my Black Eagle Scout, dean’s list, not-safe-at-home law student.

Ahmaud Arbery, I don’t want to know your name.
But I will learn your name.
I will memorialize you by ritually reciting your name in perpetuity.
I will remember it, because like Emmitt, Trayvon, Eric, Michael, Tamir, Freddie, Sandra, Philando, Alton, Bootham, Breonna, and George you deserved to live in obscurity unknown to me
Not killed by a white man’s bullet or knee on your neck.
I will stand with your mother, uphold your memory, and fight for justice,
Because my son jogs too.


Peaches Henry is an English professor at McLennan Community College. She is currently teaching online and sheltering in place with her eight-month old black Labrador puppy and her son who has returned home from law school.

Transformation Waco selects new principal for G.W. Carver Middle School

NEWS RELEASE

Transformation Waco has selected Isaac C. Carrier as the next principal of G.W. Carver Middle School. Dr. Carrier is a career educator with over 25 years of experience as a teacher, high school assistant principal, middle school principal, central office administrator, and educational consultant. 

“I am both honored and blessed to have the opportunity to lead G.W. Carver Middle School as its next principal,” Carrier said. “I will put forth my best effort to ensure the success of the students and staff of the school and will be of the greatest service and support of the community we serve. Great things are ahead as we ‘Commit to Panther Excellence.’” 

While serving as principal in Aldine ISD, Carrier led his school to earn numerous awards and the state’s highest accountability ratings. In his role as executive director in Dallas ISD, he was instrumental in receiving national awards, and he also supervised four schools that ranked in the top 100 high schools in the nation. 

Carrier earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture and his master’s degree in educational leadership from Stephen F. Austin State University; in 2017, he graduated from Texas A&M University with a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on urban schools. Most recently, he co-authored “The Disestablishment of African American Male Compliant Ambiguity: A Prison Pipeline Essay” in the journal Intersections: Critical Issues in Education. 

“We are delighted to bring Dr. Carrier onboard,” Transformation Waco Chief Executive Officer Dr. Robin McDurham said. “His wealth of experience as an educational leader will serve the students and staff at Carver well. He has devoted his career to ensuring that every child is provided equitable learning opportunities and access to a high-quality education.” 

Carrier will begin his tenure on July 1. He is taking over the leadership role at Carver from Phillip Perry, who tragically passed away in March from complications of COVID-19.