Author Archives: aetaylor7

Meet your neighbor: Melvin George

COLLEGE PARK -WEST BOULEVARD

By ANN ELISE TAYLOR

neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

When Melvin George stands at the front of a classroom, he commands it.

In his class on Thursday, May 2, George’s voice, clear and warmly rounded with age, filled the space with energy. The 75-year-old strolled across the length of the classroom and read animatedly from a packet of papers in his hands. Occasionally, he leaned forward on his desk towards the students and peered over his large, silver-rimmed glasses to emphasize a point. When he made a joke, his students erupted into laughter.

Although it was the second to last week of classes at MU, George’s students seemed entertained and engaged — quite a feat for any professor competing against laptops, cell phones and warm weather for students’ attention. But after 52 years of working as an educator, George has learned a few things.

“I think the secret to success is to like students,” George said “If you sincerely like students, it’s pretty easy to show that. I think students respond positively to people who really enjoy them, respect them and understand them. I think that’s the key to it.”

George said his passion for students and learning is what has kept him working in academia since his first regular faculty job as a professor in MU’s mathematics department in 1960, just after he graduated from Princeton with his doctorate degree in mathematics. Since then, George has held a myriad of positions ranging from presidencies to deanships at the University of Nebraska, St. Olaf College, University of Minnesota and MU. Continue reading

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Russell Boulevard secretary buys new mascot costume in memory of her father

COLLEGE PARK-WEST BOULEVARD

By ANN ELISE TAYLOR

neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

Inside a closet in the front office of Russell Boulevard Elementary School, a wide-eyed, oversized raven perches atop a shelf filled with spare paper, pens and highlighters.

Mary Lamberson, Russell Boulevard’s secretary, pulled it off the shelf carefully. She ran her hand over the orange beak and patted the black feathers down a bit. She held up the head of the raven costume.

“So this is Rusty Raven,” Lamberson said. “It’s our new mascot costume.”

Lamberson looked at the bird and smiled. “We’re going to have a lot of fun with it here,” she said.

Until this year, Russell Boulevard had never had a costume for its raven mascot, which has represented Russell since 1985. However, when Lamberson’s father, Martin Mahula, a former principal and teacher, died at the end of December, she knew exactly how his memory should be honored.

“I had been looking at these mascot costumes for the school for quite a while,” Lamberson said. “But they were pretty expensive. Anyway, my sister and I decided that with his memorial money, this is what we would get.”

Lamberson said the purchase was fitting, as making children happy was a particular pleasure of Mahula’s.

“He was a big kidder and joker,” Lamberson said. “And Russell was just a big part of his life. My kids went here, and I work here, so my folks came to Russell activities with my children and me. …. He would like that the raven makes children laugh.” Continue reading

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Unity Center of Columbia to host screening of Globalized Soul

COLLEGE PARK-WEST BOULEVARD

By ANN ELISE TAYLOR

neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

The Unity Center of Columbia will host one of the first screenings of “Globalized Soul,” a documentary celebrating the ideas of peace, equality and harmony in the global community, later this month.

The film, which is part of the Unity Center’s Spiritual Cinema series, will be followed by a group discussion with the documentary’s maker, Cynthia Lukas.

“Globalized Soul” took three years to make and includes commentary by religious leaders including the Dalai Lama along with footage from five continents.

The messages the film communicates are universally important, Unity Center Senior Minister Kristin Powell said.

“I think that learning about the diversity of opinions from different religious leaders is important,” Powell said. “The film is about coming together to contribute meaningful solutions to world issues, honoring different religions and their own unique beliefs and finding common ground among different groups so that everybody isn’t working in isolation.”

The screening will be held on Friday, May 20, at 7 p.m. and will cost $10 to attend. It will be held in the Unity Center’s sanctuary, 1600 W. Broadway.

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West Boulevard Elementary’s Diversity Night teaches students to accept others

COLLEGE PARK-WEST BOULEVARD

By ANN ELISE TAYLOR

neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

The sound of children singing a Zulu folk song echoed down the halls of West Boulevard Elementary School on Thursday, April 28, coupled with the gentle percussion of parents clapping.

Next came a Japanese tune. Then a melody from the West Indies. By the end of the night, Brazil, the Middle East and Mexico had joined the mix, each sung by the smiling group of students.

It was Diversity Night at West Boulevard, an annual event that teaches students to accept and embrace the cultural differences of themselves and their peers.

Music teacher Rachel Blomquist has been preparing her students for the show since early February.

“I thought it went really well,” Blomquist said. “The kids seemed happy. There were some sound issues, but that’s okay. That’s elementary school performances for you.”

Fifth-grader Carey Bass, one of the students in the show, said she has enjoyed learning about other cultures.

“There’s a lot of different cultures at our school, and so I think it’s a good thing that we celebrate it,” Carey said. “We’re all different people, but we all are friends, and we have the same heart.” Continue reading

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‘Three Piggy Opera’ teaches first-graders about theater, song

SCHOOLS: RUSSELL BOULEVARD

By ANN ELISE TAYLOR

neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

First-graders swarmed the stage inside Russell Boulevard Elementary School Friday afternoon, April 22.

A blue backdrop on the far wall, made by the children onstage, was painted with flowers, birds and a large, red ladybug. Parents snapped pictures and waved at their sons and daughters. The children, who wore pink paper hats shaped like pigs’ faces, squirmed and chattered, weaving among one another to find their assigned places on the bleachers at either side of the stage.

A piano sounded, and the show began.

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Trinity Presbyterian Church to hold Love Seat Furniture Drive

COLLEGE PARK-WEST BOULEVARD

By ANN ELISE TAYLOR

neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

Trinity Presbyterian Church’s Mission Committee made the decision this week, the week of April 18, to sponsor a new philanthropy that aids families struggling with crises and poverty.

The Love Seat Furniture Drive, which will be held on Saturday, May 14, will serve as an opportunity for members of the community to donate unwanted furniture to Love Seat, which will then provide the items to Columbians in need. Love Seat is a branch of Columbia philanthropic organization Love INC.

“We’re asking people here to take their furniture they don’t need and share it with those who really need it,” Trinity Presbyterian Pastor Rim Massey said. “We’re just trying to help Love INC do what they do.”

According to a church bulletin, collecting beds and dressers is the drive’s first priority. However, smaller household items such as linens, dishes and small appliances are welcome. Donations must be in good condition.

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Family Bingo Night raises money for cancer research, brings families together

COLLEGE PARK-WEST BOULEVARD

By ANN ELISE TAYLOR

neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

Thursday night, April 21, Russell Boulevard Elementary School’s gym was silent as 300 students and parents waited with bated breath.

Emily Costello, a second-grader at Russell, stared intently at the bingo card sitting on the table before her.

“I-25,” Julie Duncan, the announcer standing at the front of the room called out. “N-44…O-71…”

Emily gasped and marked her card with the orange crayon in her hand.

“I only need one more,” Emily whispered.

Suddenly sound began to fill the gym. First it came from the back, near the basketball goal.

“Bingo!” a boy in a red shirt yelled out.

Then it came from the front of the room.

“Bingo!” the deeper voice of a student’s father shouted.

Soon, the gym was alive with animated cries. Children ran to the front of the room to trade their winning cards in for prizes, and excited chatter began to fill the gym.

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