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Current Issue
January 30, 2011






Clubs and Such

BNI (Business Network International) - Cedar Creek Professionals - meets every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. at Comfort Suites, located at U.S. Hwy. 175 and TX 198 in Mabank. For more information, call Larry Williams (903) 887-2847 or
Boy Scout Troop #398 meets at the Cedar Creek Bible Church from 7-8:30 p.m. each Tuesday. For more information, call (903) 498-5725 or (903) 498-3830.
Cedar Creek Art Society meets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the last Thursday of each month at the Mabank Volunteer Fire Department. A $3 donation per artist is asked.
Cedar Creek Domino Club meets each week on Wednesday at the Mabank Volunteer Fire Department. For more info, call (903) 887-6549.
Cedar Creek NAR-ANON meets at 8 p.m. on Thursday at 715 S. Hwy. 274, Ste. D in Seven Points. (903) 432-2405.
Cedar Creek Narcotics Anonymous meets at 8 p.m., Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, at 715 S. Hwy. 274, Ste. D in Seven Points. (903) 432-2405.
Cedar Creek 49ers Club meets every Thursday for fellowship and dancing. Doors open at 6 p.m. The club is located off Arnold Hill Road in Seven Points. Call for more information, (903) 432-3552.
Cedar Creek Lake Kiwanis Club meets at noon each Wednesday at The Jalapeno Tree in Gun Barrel City, except the second week of the month, when the club meets Thursday in conjunction with the area chamber of commerce luncheon.
Cedar Creek Optimist Club meets every Tuesday at noon at the Dairy Queen in Seven Points. For more info, call Danny Hampel at (903) 778-4508.
Cedar Creek Republican Club meets every fourth Thursday. For more information call (903) 887-4867.
Cedar Creek Rotary Club meets at noon each Friday at Vetoni’s Italian Restaurant. For more information, call Dee Ann Owens at (903) 340-2415.
Cub Scout Pack #333 meets at the First United Methodist Church of Mabank the second and fourth Monday at 7 p.m. For info, call Mary Harris at (903) 451-5280 or Tonya Capley at (903) 498-4725.
Disabled American Veterans Chapter 101 meets the second Monday of each month at the Senior Citizens Center on Hwy. 31 in Athens.
Girl Scout Troop #112 meets at the First United Methodist Church in Mabank on Fridays at 6:30 p.m. For more info, call GeriLeigh Stotts at (469) 323-7943, email,  or (800) 422-2260 or visit
Girl Scout Troop 2667 meets every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Aley United Methodist Church. For more info, call Suzann Smith at (903) 887-3889.
GriefShare Recovery support group meets at 7 p.m. each Tuesday at Cedar Creek Church of God, located at 142 Rodney Dr., Gun Barrel City. Call (903) 887-0293 for more information.
Gun Barrel Quilter’s Guild meets from 10 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Tri-County Library in Mabank. For more information, please call (903) 451-4221.
Kaufman County Republican Women’s Club meets the third Saturday of each month at the Farm Bureau Insurance Company, located at 2477 N. Hwy. 34 in Kaufman. For more info, call (972) 287-1239 or (903) 880-6770.
Kemp Kiwanis Club meets at noon each Thursday at La Fuente Mexican Restaurant in Kemp. For more info, call Dr. Jim Collinsworth at (903) 887-7486.
Lake Area Council of the Blind meets at 6 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month at West Athens Baptist Church.
Lake Area Democrats Club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at the Library at Cedar Creek Lake in Seven Points. Email  for more information.
Mabank Al-Anon Family Group meets at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays at Mabank First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. Families of alcoholics are welcome. Call (903) 887-2781 for info.
Mabank/Cedar Creek Area Lions Club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Tri-County Library in Mabank. Call (903) 887-5252 for info.
Mabank Garden Club meets at 1:45 p.m. at the Tri-County Library on the third Tuesday of every month (different times in May and December).
Oak Harbor/Tanglewood Crime Watch meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at the R.T. Beamguard Community Center in Oak Harbor.
Rainbow Girls, Masonic Youth organization meets on the second and fourth Saturdays at 10 a.m. at the Cedar Creek Masonic Lodge. For more information contact Donna Dean at
Roddy Masonic Lodge meets at 6:30 p.m. the second Monday each month. Call (903) 887-6201 for info.
RootSeekers meet at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of the month in the Tri-County Library in downtown Mabank.
Southeast Kaufman County Senior Citizens Center Board of Directors meets at 1 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the center, located at 300 N. Dallas Street in Kemp. For info, call (903) 498-2140.
Tamarack Ladies Club meets at 11 a.m. the first Wednesday of each month at the TLC Hall.
TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) meets at 9 a.m. each Wednesday at the First United Methodist Church of Athens. Call (903) 489-0563 or (903) 675-2600.
Trinity Valley Community College Band meets at 7 p.m. every Tuesday in the TVCC band hall. Group is open to any community member who plays an instrument. Call (903) 675-6222 for info.
Trinity Valley Singles Support Group meets at 7 p.m. each Monday at Athens First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall on Lovers Lane. This is a support group for singles of all ages. For more info, call Jean Love at (903) 451-4697 or Donna Stinson (903) 675-7270.









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Lake Life


KHS grad breaks new ground
Ryan Johnstone directs middle school in challenging new composition to honor mother’s battle with cancer
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Kemp High School 1997 graduate Ryan Johnstone, who began his career as a music educator five years ago, is in his second year as band director for Aledo Middle School, and has already distinguished himself and his students.
Aledo ISD is a 4A Division II school district about 20 miles west of Fort Worth. He and his students performed a challenging new piece of music Johnstone commissioned to be written as a memorial to his mother, Kemp resident Edith Marie Stovall Johnstone, who succumbed to cancer on Mother’s Day, 2009.
The 55-member band (side note: there are 180 students in the program, consisting of three different ability-based concert bands) rose to the challenge and pulled it off, beautifully.
In the process, these students, some only a little more than a year into playing the first notes on their instruments, connected musical performance to struggles of life and death.
“It wasn’t just another superficial student performance,” Ryan told The Monitor.
Ryan presented “Wrangling Wildfire” to his seventh and eighth grade students about two months before the December performance and asked them to think about the sound of a wildfire as it spreads, to think about how it would be put down in one place only to spring up again in another.
He asked them to think about dryness, summer heat and lack of rain, and how that creates the conditions for a wildfire to spread, to help his students tap into an emotional expression of the music, not just a technical execution of it.
“In one particular rehearsal when things weren’t clicking,” Ryan recalls, “I dropped the true meaning of the work on them. I told them, ‘this isn’t about battling a wildfire, it’s about fighting cancer.’”
Digesting that information made all the difference in the rehearsals that followed.
“This disease has touched nearly all of us. Knowing about the metaphor changed the way the students approached the piece,” Ryan explained. “I think they definitely understood what a big deal this was. They really worked hard and were able to pull it off.”
During the last week of rehearsals, the composer was able to come in and hash out the final technicalities.
“You could throw down anything in front of these kids in January, and they’re going to think they can do it,” composer John B. Hedgés, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s 2011-12 composer-in-residence, told his fellow classmate Ryan, after the students’ successful and inspired performance of his piece.
The two met while studying at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where several other Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra members have also attended.
“We had talked about this (composition) last year” soon after Ryan’s mother died of cancer, Ryan said. Although Ryan was unable to get the grant he hoped would pay for a commissioned piece, Hedges agreed to work on it in his down time.
Ryan recalls talking to his mother about a possible switch in job titles, from an assistant director at Aledo High School to being the band director for the Middle School, while she was battling and also quite ill with cancer.
“She jokingly cautioned me to reconsider by reminding me what I sounded like when I was in junior high,” Ryan said.
He took the middle school post for the 2009-10 school year. In early September of his first year as director, he and Hedges discussed the strengths and weaknesses of his band members, so he could “up the ante, based on what we were able to accomplish together in my first year as their director,” Ryan said.
“When we didn’t get the grant, we put everything on hold. I didn’t even know until August, 2010, that he’d really been working on the piece and wanted me to hear where he was so far,” Ryan said.
It was originally planned to be a three- to four-minute piece, but ended up as a seven-minute piece.
He described the music, which can be heard on, as “somewhat contemporary in sound.”
“It’s tonal, but does stray harmonically. It would fit in the academic circles that college bands will want to play. They’re always looking for the next big composer,” he said.
“At first, I wasn’t thrilled with the title John gave, until I understood it was a metaphor for battling cancer,” Ryan added. “That opened up a unique teaching opportunity and a rare challenge for a middle school to perform something that was not merely superficial, but a piece with depth.”
Ryan introduced it to the kids in October.
“It challenged them in a lot of ways, and there were times I wasn’t sure whether we would be able to pull it off,” he said.
“But once they learned its true meaning, this significance motivated them to work harder. It pulled more music out of them and more purity from each note,” Ryan explained.
“It redefines what middle school band students can do, if given the chance,” he added.
Since Hedges was involved, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra lent its support to promote the unveiling of the composition. Hedges plans to make education a major component of his residency with the orchestra.
The program also featured Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra hornist David Cooper, who an adaptation of the Franz Schubert Horn Concerto, Op. 8. The band opened the concert with “Seventeen Come Sunday,” from English Folk Song Suite, composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Fort Worth Symphony associate conductor Andres Franco wrote Ryan recently.
“I know the piece you performed was very hard both technically and musically and your group was able to pull off a performance of outstanding musicianship and, even more impressively, one that showed emotional maturity. This is obviously the result of your dedication, passion and talent,” Franco wrote.
Besides earning is bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute, Ryan graduated from Yale University with a master’s in music performance.
While Ryan has been an associate director under Joey Paul, the 4A-Div. II Aledo High School Bearcat bands have earned sweepstakes at UIL and invitational festivals all three years.
As a performing orchestral trombone player, Ryan has played with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, among several other groups.
He also started as a student at Southern Methodist University for two years. His primary teachers have been Jimmy Clark of the Dallas Opera and Dallas Wind Symphony; John Kitzman, a Dallas Symphony trombonist, Nitzan Haroz, principal trombone of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Scott Hartman, renowned soloist and chamber musician.
“Having been blessed with the opportunity to study and perform with some of the world’s finest musicians and teachers, it would be a travesty if I did not expose my students to some of these same resources,” Ryan said.
“My classmates all have symphony jobs. But, I don’t know of any of them who has had the privilege of leading a performance quite like the one I had with these middle school students in December,” he pointed out. “What irony! It’s unforgettable for me, my students and even the composer. It was a great experience.”
Ryan said he also keeps up with his high school alma mater.
“I’ve told Jimmy (Polk) I think the world of what he and Mr. Christy have done with the Kemp Band,” he said. “I had Don Harrell as my band director, and he was a big part of my success.”
Ryan said while he was in junior high, he was taught by Polk, who was interim director for a short time.
“The struggle in any developing program is that it is hard to bring the numbers and participation up, while simultaneously improving the quality of the program, but they’re doing it, and the community can be really proud of them,” he said.
Ryan is the first professional musician in his family, and he cites his parents, Edie and Bill Johnstone, for their love and support of him doing what he enjoyed doing most, which was music.
“I think had my mother heard ‘Wrangling Wildfire,’ she would have risen to her feet, along with everyone else, to applaud the performance and been touched by what it would have meant to her,” he said.






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