Houston Ballet Student

Christian Arroyo, 15, performs during a Barbie Rhodes Dance Studio’s dance recital.

ACCLAIM

Even the most talented children are unlikely to make it to the top without the support of people who serve as the foundation of their growth.

Christian Arroyo of Freeport will participate with the Houston Ballet Professional after demonstrating his phenomenal ability on both a local level and at summer camps with the highly regarded ballet company. The 15-year-old will start this fall, training and rehearsing during the day and focusing on his studies at night while living on the academy’s campus.

Arroyo put in the work and passion necessary to achieve at such a high level, but if not for an afterschool opportunity at his elementary school seven years ago, he might not have found his path.

Kendall Goff, a teacher and former owner of Footsteps School of Dance, provided the lessons at O.A. Fleming Elementary in Freeport, Arroyo’s mother said. Arroyo discovered his love and talent for dance, and dance teacher Connie Marshall fostered his talents there.

When Footsteps closed in 2017, he moved to the Barbie Rhodes Dance Studio, where the teachers provided him with the tools to grow in the art. His new teacher, Mona Rhodes Schreiber, encouraged him to audition for the Houston Ballet Academy’s summer program; he did, and his talent stood out to the professionals running the program, Elva Arroyo said.

He became a year-round student in the academy, but he didn’t want to leave his teachers and fellow dancers at the Rhodes studio. His high school, the dance studio and the Houston Ballet Academy all worked together to foster his talent; his mother did too as she would leave work early to take him to his lessons in Houston.

It was a team effort, Elva Arroyo said, one that has her son pointed toward dance stardom. The area can be proud of Christian, who is as stellar a young man as he is a dancer. Congratulations to him and all those who have nurtured his natural gifts.

ACCLAIM

Kaotik event fills need

Shane Michael Lassetter can put himself in the category of people who saw a need and filled it.

Lassetter is a comic artist who found the opportunities lacking for self-described “geeks” to mingle and celebrate their shared passion. His answer was the Kaotik Freedom Celebration last weekend, a two-day event featuring cosplay, professional wrestling, voice actors and graphic novels.

It also incorporated Lassetter’s dedication to helping veterans, a bonus to his overall vision.

“We always hear about inclusivity and diversity in the media and everything, this type of setting is where it actually is,” he said.

The potpourri of attractions proved popular, and we hope it makes a return. Southern Brazoria County benefits when people like Lassetter take a chance to provide something the community needs.

A SHAME

State’s unfunded mandate unfair

When we talk about state government requiring something and not putting any money behind it, usually it applies to other government agencies. In this case, they did it to hard-working teachers.

Angleton ISD recently approved a $500 stipend to teachers who participated in the 12-month Reading Academy. The program is important as it gave educators better tools to get young students excited about reading.

The problem is teachers were expected to do the development training on their own time and own dime, essentially doing 60 hours of work without being paid for it. That was on top of all the other demands teachers face on a daily basis.

While the $500 is not a lot — it amounts to about $8.33 an hour — it is $500 per teacher more than the state kicked in toward the effort.

“We felt it necessary to reward them for their work,” Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Adam Stephens said. “It’s a testament to the superintendent and the school board for wanting to show continued support for their teachers because most districts across the state aren’t doing anything like this for the teachers.”

Think of it as an investment in both staff and students, one state legislators — sitting on billions of dollars in the state’s rainy day find — didn’t find it worth even a modest reward. Kudos to Angleton ISD’s leadership for recognizing the unfairness of the state’s unfunded mandate and stepping up with the local stipend.

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