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Sandy Duncan has a smile for everyone

Acclaimed singer, dancer and comedian Sandy Duncan will take center stage at Shelton School November 8th, 8:45 am., when she’ll share personal and professional stories with Shelton’s high school theater and choir students and their parents.  Duncan, one of America’s longtime favorites of stage and television, is best known for her performances in the Broadway revival of Peter Pan and in the sitcom The Hogan Family. She has been nominated for three Tony Awards, two Emmy Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards.  Most recently, on Broadway, Ms. Duncan performed the lead role of Roxie in the hit musical Chicago.

Duncan was raised in Tyler, Texas, where she began dancing at age five.  No stranger to Dallas, her career was launched at age 12 on stage with the Dallas Summer Musicals’ production of The King and I.  Since that time, she’s charmed Dallas audiences numerous times over the decades. 

Duncan’s connections to Shelton are unique.  She is a longstanding friend of Anné Hughes, Shelton’s Director of Fine Arts.  Tom Hughes (1931 – 1994), Anné’s husband, who was the face of the Dallas Summer Musicals for 33 years as producer and managing director, is the one who first saw Duncan audition for The King and I.  He recognized her standout talent and cast her in her first role.  Some seven years later, he furthered her career when he escorted the 19-year-old Duncan to New York City and introduced her to new casting directors and agents.  That led to four summer performances around the country, which truly launched Duncan’s career and crystalized her decision to make theater her life’s work. 

The rest is history.  Duncan will share that story with Shelton students, including highlights of her career. 

Duncan figures prominently in the book My Life with Tom Hughes: A Personal Story of the “Musicals Man” of Dallas, published this past year by Anné Hughes.  Duncan will autograph copies of the book that will be available following her presentation. 

“We’re so excited for our aspiring students to share this time with Sandy Duncan,” says Shelton Executive Director Suzanne Stell.  “Her Texas roots, down-to-earth nature and passion for her artistry will be an inspiration to all of us.  It’s especially nice that we are connected through her relationship with Anné and Tom Hughes.”

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It's my first day at Shelton

The temperature wasn’t the only thing hot the last two weeks.  Shelton School’s campus heated up with back-to-school spirit as soon as students entered the door for a Meet the Advisor event on August 19th and for the first day of school on August 20th

Shelton started the year with 929 students from 100 different zip codes, 259 faculty and staff from 82 zip codes, and a Class of 2019 comprising 77 seniors. 

Spirit wear sales in The Corral school store were the highest ever, and selfie photos were all the rage.  Fall classes began, as did special activities, including book picnics, band and drumline recruitment, first sports scrimmages and games, and more.

Shelton Parents’ Association and the Shelton Dads’ Group held their first gatherings to announce a fall lineup of activities, including a dinner for new parents, tailgate parties, a golf tournament to raise money for tuition assistance, and a campout for dads and kids at Sky Ranch in East Texas.

The school held its first good neighbor event by hosting a community affairs informational meeting for Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s (DART).

“We’re off to the races, and the finish line is nowhere in sight,” said Suzanne Stell, Executive Director.  “On every front, all systems are ‘go’ for an exciting 2019-20 year. It’s great to feel all the excitement when we have students, families, faculty and staff, and community coming together in one space.”

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Shelton Charger cheerleaders and Sunny, the mascot

The Charger Cheerleaders from Shelton School took numerous honors at the recent National Cheerleading Association’s Cheer Camp at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX.  Twenty students participated in the four-day June event.

“We received a record ten nominations for All-American,” said Shelton faculty member and cheer sponsor Meredith Mathews. 

Sunny, one of Shelton’s mascots, was awarded All-American Mascot and Most Improved Mascot.

The entire team was awarded Most Improved, Safety Spotting Award, a Spirit Stick, and a Technical Excellence Award for Motions.  In addition, the team received an invitation to NCA Nationals to be in Dallas February 1 – 2, 2020.  Mathews and co-sponsor Britt Mitchell say the team is gearing up for fall events, when spirit will be high on Shelton campus.

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SPARK 2019 & SPA.jpg (L to R) Emily Touchstone, Quarrell Whittington, Sammie Johnston, Tina Graves, Margaret DeTullio, Clare Stein, Joni Harris, Jessica Slaven

Six employees from Shelton School are the recipients of the 2018-2019 Shelton Parents’ Association Recognition Kudos (SPARK) Award.  This is the fourth year for the award to be presented by Shelton Parents’ Association (SPA).  All were recognized May 29th at the year-end staff appreciation luncheon, where each awardee received a SPARK crystal award and a check for $500.  Honored were Joni Harris (Lower School), Margaret DeTullio and Clare Stein (Upper Elementary), Tina Graves  (Middle School), Sammie Johnston (Upper School) and Quarrell Whittington (at large).    On hand to present the awards were Emily Touchstone and Jessica Slaven from the SPA. 

Quarrell Whittington also drew the lucky number and was prizewinner to drive a vehicle from Goodson Acura of Dallas for the summer.

“These six exemplify Shelton’s tagline of engaging, enriching and empowering students, said Head of School Linda Kneese at the luncheon, “and we are pleased to celebrate these well-deserved accolades.”

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Val & Sal 2019 copy.jpg Evan Antich (L) and Etan Cohn

Shelton School held numerous year-end awards assemblies, culminating with the Class of 2019 senior graduation on Saturday, May 26.  Sixty-six seniors received their diplomas, turned their tassels, and tossed their caps in front of a cheering audience of some 1,500.  They have received acceptances to 111 colleges and universities, and together been awarded $5,856,028 in merit scholarships. 

Valedictorian was Evan Antich, who will be attending Dartmouth College and majoring in English.  Salutatorian was Etan Cohn, who will attend Carnegie Mellon and major in statistics. 

Commencement guest speaker was Dallas resident Rick Sapio, founder and managing partner of Mutual Capital Alliance, Inc.  Sapio, an author and entrepreneur who has founded more than 20 companies, encouraged students to do as he had done – recognize that creatively coping  with childhood learning differences and obstacles may one day be the foundation to successfully dealing with business and personal setbacks. 

“Today the entire Shelton community celebrates our 66 seniors and their success,” says Executive Director Suzanne Stell.  “We’re also receiving news of college graduations from Shelton alumni, and we share pride with them as well. This is what gives joy and meaning to the word,
'commencement.' "


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Hawila shows tools of the weatherman's trade

“April showers bring May flowers,” as the saying goes.  April also brought WFAA Channel 8 News meteorologist Jesse Hawila to Shelton School’s Lower School Primary classes.  Hawila spoke to first and second grade students about different types of weather.  

Shelton students got all the answers right when asked to identify pictures of various cloud formations. Hawila gave students high marks and told them that he speaks to middle and high school students who cannot correctly identify the clouds.  He then spoke about the water cycle and how to measure weather using the thermometer and water gauge.  

He showed students how to be safe during a storm and involved them in demonstrations on stage.  Hawila is a storm chaser, and he shared some photos of storms and stressed that everyone should respect Mother Nature. He talked about lightning and thunder.  Using time lapse photos, he discussed how we see lightning and later hear thunder.  

Shelton students enjoyed the program and learned that they had sharp Weatherminds, just like Jesse, the tv weather guy.

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Shelton student delivers group toast-making process to class

Everyone hears about “designer” sunglasses, shoes, or jeans.  Over 50 high school juniors and seniors at Shelton School learned about a different designer concept – that of designing software.  Designer toast and concepts beyond were the topics brought to class by AT&T personnel who visited Shelton’s campus March 20. 

“If you can work together and design how to make toast, you might be on your way to designing a car, or designing software,” said Andrea Sutton, Vice President of Design Technology with AT&T.  Sutton and her AT&T colleague Lead Chief of Staff Nate Zager engaged students with an exercise to explore the process of making toast, ultimately moving the students from their individual ideas to a group think-tank collaboration that resulted in a refined process.  Discussions about toast were all over the map:  what kind of bread to buy, how many steps it requires, how long to toast the bread.  Most students talked about using a toaster to cook toast, but one lone ranger preferred a skillet.  Some students mentioned butter and jam for condiments; others liked cinnamon sugar.

“You cannot build software on your own,” said Sutton.  “You’ll find that your ideas expand when you talk with other people, just like they did with the toast-making exercise.”

Recognizing that she was in the largest school worldwide for intelligent students with learning differences, Sutton immediately connected with them on a personal level.  “I’m a world champion dyslexic who was not diagnosed until age 20,” said Sutton. “I used to be embarrassed by how long it took me to read, and I did things differently. I found a unique way to get out my ideas by drawing my notes, putting the central idea inside a circle.  I used to hide my drawings, but somewhere along the way, I learned that this was a part of my creative side.”  Today she reads 70 books a year, using assistive technology.  She still uses a notebook to draw her notes.

Sutton told Shelton students that AT&T needs employees who do things differently, and that the way they think is a valuable asset in today’s work environment.  She leads a team of 50 software designers. “We need people like you who can think outside the box as we tackle gnarly problems, improve products, and build better customer relationships.  Big companies are not designed for change. My job today is just to move rocks out of the way, so that change can happen.”    

Having fun with the toast exercise was the first interaction between AT&T and Shelton students, and both parties hope to create future experiences, including AT&T internships for Shelton high schoolers, summer jobs for Shelton students, and an ongoing presence by AT&T on Shelton’s campus. 

The AT&T collaboration originated with Ryan Stafford, parent to Shelton eighth-grader Ben Stafford and AVP Human Resources Business Partner for AT&T.  He connected Shelton’s administration with AT&T, which also led to involvement with The University of Texas at Austin’s Doreen Lorenzo, Assistant Dean, School of Design and Creative Technologies Professor of Practice.  Shelton faculty members handled logistics and communication for the Shelton campus visit.

“We love working with AT&T,” says Shelton Executive Director Suzanne Stell.  “We seek and value these partnerships for our students, because some of our sharp Shelton graduates will be working for them in leadership roles in the near future.”

AT&T has some 250,000 employees, 100,000 of whom drive around in trucks to customers’ homes to hook up equipment.  The process used to require seven devices, and now it just requires one app on a mobile phone.  Team collaboration made possible the improvement.

Once mentored by people who saw her potential, Sutton says, “Now it’s my turn to do for others, especially women entering the STEM arena.  I design momentum for others, and, at this stage in my career, I look to see how I can give it away.”

Asked one student of Sutton, “So, how do you like your toast?”  No answer was given, but it might just involve the lone ranger who made a different kind of toast in a skillet, instead of in the toaster.

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Quiz Bowl team displays trophy

Shelton School’s Quiz Bowl team took highest honors in the 20th annual Texas Quiz Bowl Association State Championship (Division II) hosted at Greenhill School in Dallas on March 30.  Eight teams competed, including Dallas International School, Fort Worth Country Day, Tompkins High School and Houston Memorial (Houston), two teams from Lamar Academy (McAllen) and Jasper High School (Jasper).

Shelton played 10 rounds undefeated to emerge as Division II State Champions. The team comprised Shelton seniors Evan Antich, Etan Cohn, Sean Heffernan and Kaitlyn Waters. Upper School faculty member Rosanne Brooks is the team sponsor.  Shelton students have participated in Quiz Bowl for six years.

“We love to see our students take a win,” says Head of School Linda Kneese, “and Quiz Bowl provides a great outlet for learning and team-building.” 

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Josie Hostin's self portrait

There’s no better feeling for teachers than to see a student’s creativity in full bloom.  That’s clearly the case with Shelton junior Josie Hostin. She’s an artist, a musician, and she has a technically creative side to her brain as well.

Josie’s art was especially noticed in February 2017, when she presented a framed sketch of President Abraham Lincoln to teacher LuAnn Dolly.  She and Mrs. Dolly had a thing about American history.  “Mrs. Dolly is passionate about American history,” said Hostin, “and I guess I caught it from her.”  Hostin made the sketch expressly for her teacher.  “I knew she would love it.”  Said Dolly, “I’ve had many wonderful gifts from students over my 26 years, but this one is truly precious to me.”

Josie, who studies art at Shelton and also privately at an art academy, says she started drawing at age three or four.  The same Lincoln sketch was one of 24 Shelton student artists whose work was showcased on Presidents Day 2017 at a private exhibit hosted by the Addison business, GlobeRunner.

This year Josie attended the regional Texas Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE) and won gold for her self-portrait oil painting titled The Colors of My Creativity. She’ll pack her bags for state competition in San Marcos in late April.

Josie also has musical talents.  She sings in Shelton’s choir and has studied voice privately with Blair King, Shelton’s vocal music instructor.  Says King, “Josie is developing an agile and powerful voice with an unusually high range for such a young singer, and she is successfully performing classical arias and arts songs that few high school singers have the range, agility, or breath control to attempt.”

In February Josie participated in the annual vocal solo competition offered by the Texas Private School Music Educators’ Association (TPSMEA).  Josie’s performance of Handel’s Care Selve ended on a high note, with Josie’s receiving a top rating and qualifying for state competition later this spring. 

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Shelton students welcome attendees

Shelton School presented its 19th Annual Ethics Symposium on February 6th.  High school students from six schools attended the day-long event, held for the second year at the Davidson-Gundy Alumni Center at The University of Texas Dallas, in partnership with UT Dallas’ Naveen Jindal School of Management.  Activities included guided discussions, small group exercises, and panel discussions with guest presenters. Keynote speakers and panelists engaged students with lessons learned from real-world professional experiences.  Each panelist came prepared with an ethical dilemma to share for dialogue with students.

Clint Bruce (CEO of Hold Fast and co-founder of Carry the Load Foundation) gave the charge for the day and spoke with students about finding their North compass point through ethics.  Keynote speaker was Bryan Kelley.  Denied parole 13 times, Kelley says he today sits on the other side of the fence as Chief Empowerment Officer with Prison Entrepreneurship Program.  Students resonated with his message about changing directions in life to become part of the solution, instead of remaining part of the problem.  Kelley shared with attendees his passion and commitment to restorative work with former felons.  

On the panel lineup were: 

ETHICS AND MEDICINE – Bill Henry (CEO, MHBT), Robert Kaiser (Clinical Prof. Healthcare Leadership and Management, UT Dallas) and Mari Lu Correa (Family Care Coordinator, Southwest Transplant Alliance).

ETHICS AND TECHNOLOGY – Theresa Brown ( Experience Director), Eric McGehearty (CEO, GlobeRunner) and Kalen Nelson (Quality Assurance Tester, Bottle Rocket).

ETHICS AND RELIGION – Heather Mustain (Minister of Missions & Advocacy, Wilshire Baptist Church) and Father Joshua Whitfield (Pastoral Administrator, St. Rita Catholic Community).

Zac Ladd, dean of students with Shelton’s high school, coordinated other activities led by Shelton ethics instructors Mary Bashara, Wil Matthews and Tobin Knox.

Says Shelton executive director Suzanne Stell, “I look forward to this event each year. I am always inspired to hear such in-depth discussion by our youth as they examine the choices required to develop ethical decision-making skills.  We were pleased to partner again with UT Dallas this year, since we are close neighbors and place a mutual emphasis on ethics with our curriculum.” 

Now in its 43rd year, Shelton has had an ethics curriculum and program since 1997.