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Mustang Elementary wins fourth consecutive prize

smaug 1

By Traci Chapman

Two years, four wins. That’s the record held by Mustang Elementary art students.

It was announced Tuesday the group won their fourth consecutive Made by Milk contest. With the win came a prize of $1,500 students would dedicate to purchasing gym equipment, teacher Kent Hathaway said.

“John Wooden could not have said it better, ‘It takes talent to be a champion, but it takes Character to remain one,’” Hathaway said Tuesday. “Mustang Elementary students have shown that they have the talent, and character to remain a champion among the nation’s most talented students.”

Sponsored by Evergreen Packaging, officials there were “overwhelmed” at the students’ latest creation – “Smaug” from Lord of the Rings.

“The creativity from Mustang students and faculty thoroughly impresses us year after year. Their dedication to collecting and recycling thousands of milk cartons for the Made By Milk contest showcases their ongoing commitment to sustainability and teaching their students the importance of environmental responsibility.”

Students previously won for their visions of a coral reef, Golden Gate Bridge and, most recently, a space shuttle. They can now add the tally of their winnings at $16,500 on behalf of the school, Evergreen representatives said.

It was yet another honor for Hathaway, who was named both Mustang Elementary and Mustang Public Schools district teacher of the year. He said while the honors are wonderful, the best thing is helping the school and bringing art to students – while teaching them about other things, as well.

“That’s the most exciting part – that everyone gets affected by what all of us as teachers are trying to do,” he said. “It’s even more exciting when you think about the fact that most of these students are 10 years old.”



Partnership ‘cleans up’ county

RCC Keep OKC beautiful 2

Redlands Community College and Federal Bureau of Prisons El Reno recently teamed up for a grassroots program aimed at cleaning up sections of Canadian County.

As part of the 2014 Great American Cleanup, RCC and FCI El Reno worked on a cleanup of areas of El Reno, as well as along historic Route 66 west of that city. Great American Cleanup in Oklahoma was sponsored by Keep Oklahoma Beautiful and Devon Energy.

“The Federal Correctional Institution was happy to assist with the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful project,” said Joel Rogalsky, FCI public information officer. “Eight of our minimum security inmates and three staff members picked up trash and other debris on Route 66 from Reformatory Road west to Interstate 40.

“We look forward to our continued partnership with Redlands Community College and the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful project,” he said.

The Great American Cleanup is touted as the “nation’s largest grassroots community improvement program,” according to its website. Redlands President Jack Bryant said it was important for the college’s faculty, students and staff to take part in the effort.

“I am extremely proud of the students, faculty and staff that participated in the cleanup day,” he said. “We are glad to provide service opportunities that benefit our community.”

GAC is a “call to action” for communities to work toward beautification as well as green energy, recycling and other measures, said Jordan Scott, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful projects director.

“Service to the community is the ultimate demonstration that you love where you live,” Scott said. “Participating in the GAC can become the foundation for uniting Oklahomans in activities that create long-lasting effects.”

In 2013, more than 66,000 volunteers and participants took part in GAC events across Oklahoma, collecting 5.2 million pounds of litter and debris, along with cleaning 14,300 acres of parks, public lands and open spaces, Scott said.

Friends of animal shelter kick-starts its efforts


By Traci Chapman

Friends of the Mustang Animal Shelter is gearing up to help animals in need.

The organization’s first step is a public meeting, set for 7 p.m. on May 28 at Mustang Police Department’s community meeting room.

We will be introducing the goals of the organization to the community, connect with residents that are interested in helping animals, and opening a line of communication with the city council about the problems facing the city in regards to animal welfare and propose solutions that our organization can spearhead,” Friends member Shawna Bostick said.

The effort comes as city officials ask for more volunteers to help man the municipal animal shelter. While one volunteer recently started at the shelter, in his May 16 report, City Manager Tim Rooney asked council and staff members to spread the word about the need for assistance.

There are several ways to contact the shelter’s friends organization, Bostick said. Online, the group’s website is; it’s Facebook page is located at and friends’ members can be contacted at, she said.

Mustang Masonic Lodge will also a fundraiser breakfast for the group, from 7 a.m. until noon on July 26, Bostick said.

To learn more about volunteering, call 376-2488.

Father Joe leads Holy Spirit into the future

father joe

By Traci Chapman

For the first time in more than 17 years, Mustang’s Holy Spirit Catholic Church has a new voice and a change in its spiritual leadership.

Father Joe Jacobi was transferred to the Mustang parish in January. He took over a congregation led by Father Jim Greiner, who recently retired after more than 17 years at Holy Spirit.

Jacobi himself has extensive experience, not only in his service but in his travels. But, although he has traveled throughout the world since his invocation, Jacobi said it’s gratifying that he really has remained close to his roots. It was there his parents first instill a faith that would grow to become the primary passion and meaning of his life, the father said.

“My parents are people of deep faith who planted the seeds,” Jacobi said. “We also had lots of good friends who were priests and who came to the house often – I saw what they did and how they helped others.”

Jacobi’s journey began in Lone Grove, Okla., where the soon to be 50-year-old priest grew up. The oldest of five, part of Jacobi’s earliest inspiration came from his twin sister, Maureen, who died when the children were five years old.

“She has always been with me, always been an inspiration,” he said.

Although he was faithful in those early years, it wasn’t until he was a sophomore in college he first decided to pursue the ministry.

“I went to the seminary when I was about 20 or 21,” Jacobi said. “It was there – in the classes, the formation, I realized the chance to serve.”

It was a nine year process, Jacobi said. Part of that included an internship at Christ the King in Oklahoma City, where he met someone who had been part of Holy Spirit’s past – Father Gerald Mayfield, who was Mustang’s pastor in 1996-1997, Jacobi said.

“I knew him really well and that would later come back to me when I came to Holy Spirit,” he said.

Ordained in 1991, Father Jacobi has served at several parishes in the metropolitan area. While the church is his primary focus, lessons learned from his parents – now living in Norman – are still a large part of his life. And not just where his faith is concerned, he said.

“My mom was a PE director and by 8 or 9 I knew just about every sport,” Jacobi said. “I enjoy sports a lot – that was my mom’s gift to me.”

As he gets to know his Mustang parishioners and settles into a routine here, he is looking very much toward the future – something that is very bright and full of changes for Holy Spirit, he said.

“There is, of course, the matter of the church building – money has been raised for that and we are looking at plans and how we want to move forward with that,” Jacobi said. “We hope to be into a new building in perhaps three to five years.”

The new building is something literally 30 years in the making. Built in 1986, Holy Spirit’s long-time home was built as a temporary church, which became permanent. With more than 600 families attending Holy Spirit, it’s time to seriously look at new quarters, Jacobi said.

“We want to do more, to reach out, and having more space is an essential part of that,” he said.

Reaching out is a large part of the father’s philosophy, something exemplified by Holy Spirit’s incorporation of Spanish masses. Fluent himself in Spanish, part of Jacobi’s travels included two months in 1989 he spent in Monterrey Mexico, learning the language. Now, all of these years later, he believes making sure Spanish-speaking parishioners feel at home and invested in the church is essential.

“That’s something about Holy Spirit I really liked from the start – everyone is very friendly, they welcomed everyone and both the English and Spanish speaking parishioners know this is their spiritual home,” Jacobi said. “There is a harmony.”

That harmony will help Jacobi and his parish move beyond Holy Spirit’s building and its walls to fulfill the church’s true mission, he said – to help others and share their faith.

“The church is meant to reach out to people, instead of maintaining what we have we are meant to share our gifts,” Jacobi said. “We need to expand our social action ministry and continue to welcome people to our church and to our community.

“It’s an exciting time and I am thankful to be a part of it,” he said.

Holy Spirit Catholic Church is located at 1100 North Sara Road in Mustang, 376-9435. More information is also available online at

Nightriders end year on high note

nightriders 4web

By Patrick Osborne

The Mustang High School Nightrider Band reeled in the awards and achievements all year long, making school history in the process.

The Nightriders started the year placing fourth at the Moore Outdoor Marching Festival after completely restarting their show the Tuesday before the competition. They were then selected as a finalist at the Renegade Review Marching Festival where they placed fifth overall and second for in-state bands.

(Photos/Traci Chapman)

The Nightriders made school history competing for the first time in the 2013 Bands of America Grand National Championship in Indianapolis, where they placed 34th, just missing out on Grand National semifinals. They finished the year in fifth place out of all 32 Class 6A schools.

The band also had many firsts and achievements throughout the year, receiving superior ratings in marching, concert, sight-reading and jazz bands. Wind Ensemble and Symphonic band both earned Sweepstakes in Class 6A, the OSSAA’s highest level of concert band evaluation. Jazz Ensemble 2 earned a superior rating from all the judges at the OSSAA Jazz competition, where they placed fifth out of all 6A schools. Director Ryan Edgmon said this added the prestigious Accent Award to their Sweepstakes plaque, making them the only school in the state of Oklahoma to have a double Sweepstakes award with Accent. The band also boasts the privilege of having the reigning state champions for Jazz Combo in the Open Class Jazz Combo division.

Individually, the band had 44 students perform at the prestigious OSSAA State Solo and Ensemble competition. Of the 44, 38 earned superior ratings at the highest level of individual competition in the state. Out of all 230 students the band boasted an overall GPA of 3.45, with 107 earning better than a 3.5. More than 60 percent are enrolled in at least one college level course, with many taking up to four.

The band looks toward next year looking not only to continue to improve on an impressive and successful year but also grow. The band is set for a second consecutive year of Grand National competition, heading to St. Louis in October. With 348 sixth-graders set to join band this next year, that takes the band number from grades 6-12 to more than 940. Combine that number with the multiple classes that will be offered, the band staff will see more than 1,000 Mustang High School students each day in the 2014-2015 school year. With so much growth under the leadership of the band staff, the Mustang High School Nightrider Band is set for continued success in the upcoming years.





Tobacco-free burgers better, coalition says

Burger Day Coalition

“Burgers taste better without tobacco,” was the message Canadian County Against Tobacco (CCaT) Coalition wanted to share with festival-goers at El Reno’s Burger Day May 3.

The group set up a game tent in the Kids Zone area and handed out burger-shaped stress balls and other prizes for visitors who correctly answered questions related to the dangers of tobacco and the marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. The coalition wanted to bring awareness to not only the negative health effects of tobacco use, but also the positive things that happen when a person quits, such as an improved sense of taste, said Jenny Kellbach, tobacco prevention coordinator.

Studies have shown that nicotine can affect taste by reducing taste sensation and even blocking taste centers in the brain, Kellbach said.

“Many smokers experience dulled senses of taste and smell and even decreased blood supply to taste buds,” Kellbach said. “The decrease in these senses typically goes unnoticed until a person quits using tobacco.”

For the first time, Burger Day had tobacco-free areas in both the food court and Kids Zone, Kellbach said.

“Main Street takes pride in providing a fun, family-friendly and safe environment for festival-goers,” El Reno Main Street Director Debbie Harrison said. “Restricting the Kids World and food court areas to a tobacco-free zone was an easy decision that benefited attendees.”

The coalition also offered free resources to festival-goers who were ready to kick the habit. Throughout the day, 15 individuals registered for the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline and received a quit kit to help them get started and stay motivated while trying to quit.  Although the tobacco industry works hard to keep people smoking, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is a great resource for anyone age 13 and up who wants to quit.

“The tobacco industry spends millions of dollars advertising to Oklahomans and uses bold flavors to appeal to kids,” CCaT member Kim Baker said. “It’s important to counter those messages with truthful ones about the negatives of tobacco use, even if it’s as simple as ‘Burgers taste better without tobacco.’”

Canadian County Tobacco Prevention Program is a community-based program working to reduce tobacco use and promote prevention of tobacco initiation in youth. Canadian County is funded as a Community of Excellence in Tobacco Control through the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET).

For more information on CCaT, contact Kellbach at (405) 262-0042. For free help to quit smoking, contact the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800 QUIT NOW or visit

An inspiration, an adventure

reyes family

By Traci Chapman

It was the kind of news that could bring anyone down, but for Kenny Reyes being told he had Multiple Sclerosis became just one more challenge.

It’s the way he’s lived his whole life, say his friends, co-workers and family – and in the process, he’s helping a lot of people who share a disease that can cripple the soul as much as it can the body.

Kenny Reyes has what many people would call a “dream” life – married to Allison for more than 12 years, the couple has two daughters, Haylee and Sydney. Kenny is a Nichols Hills firefighter and has been for 13 years; Allison is a teacher at Mustang Trails Elementary. The 36-year-old coaches both of his daughters’ soccer teams, plays soccer himself and is active in the family’s church, The Bridge in Mustang.

In July 2011, a lot of things changed, but yet, the changes were not as far-reaching as one might expect, Kenny said. It was on July 4 of that year he noticed some numbness in his legs. A trip to the doctor first garnered a diagnosis of a pinched nerve, but with the numbness spreading to the rest of his body, Kenny was referred to a neurologist. It was the beginning of a long series of tests and trials.

How to help: Visit Kenny Reyes' Walk MS page -

How to help:
Visit Kenny Reyes’ Walk MS page by clicking above

“In July and August of that year I had four MRIs and they found a legion on my spinal cord,” Kenny said. “It was on Sept. 1 I got the results – I learned a bunch of new words at that time.”

Those words were Multiple Sclerosis and all of the long words associated with it, the names of medications and treatments designed to keep him healthy. An unpredictable and often disabling disease of the central nervous system, MS interrupts the flow of information with the brain and between the brain and the body. Symptoms can range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis.

For Kenny, the symptoms abated with a regimen of daily injections and frequent tests to monitor his condition. It was news to a man in his mid-30s that could cause depression, desperation – what it brought out in Kenny Reyes was determination, Allison said.

“He’s always been upbeat, a happy person, and this hasn’t changed that,” Allison said. “He’s been a rock, but more than that, he’s inspired people.”

It was early on Kenny received some inspiration of his own – from people involved in Walk MS, an annual event held across the country aimed at increasing awareness about Multiple Sclerosis and raising funds for research. In the metro area, the walk was historically held at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

For two years, Kenny and his family traveled to the zoo to be part of the MS Walk. It was a time to meet others battling MS, lend and gain support and help others understand what the disease was all about. Kenny said it was an eye-opening experience.

“These people, they are so brave and some of them are facing so much,” he said. “I’ve been so blessed and fortunate because I’ve had no reoccurrences since 2011, but not everyone has been that lucky.”

Luck wasn’t really the determining factor in Kenny’s success so far, his family said. His commitment to staying physically active, positive attitude and the fact he went to the doctor quickly and got a fast diagnosis were all factors working in his favor, they said.

“We were so blessed because I had great doctors who didn’t give up and followed through until they figured out what it was,” Kenny said.

Through their journey, the walk was an annual reminder of those blessings, Kenny said. This year, Kenny and Allison moved from participants to organizers, when the walk needed a new home. Suggesting Mustang, the couple was part of the team that visited the city and discovered it would be a “perfect” place for the event, set for May 3.

“We’ve had the largest team the last two years, but it’s especially exciting for the walk to be held here, in Mustang,” he said.

Check-in will begin at 9 a.m., with the walk starting at 10 a.m. May 3. There will be two routes, Kenny said – one 0.6 miles and the other 1.3 miles, both winding through the park. Walkers must be pre-registered to participate.

“Our number of walkers are a bit down from last year right now, but we’ve heard donations are slightly up,” Kenny said. “I think some of that is to be expected with a change of venue, but we’re excited about the donations.”

According to Kenny’s Walk MS page, his team has raised more than $1,400 this year, and he hopes to go much higher. He also hopes to let people know about the disease and how much their contribution can help through the walk, he said.

“I don’t see it as a handicap or anything bad like that – I see it as an adventure,” Kenny said. “God’s put me in this for a reason, and I intend to make the most of it and do the most I can do.”



How to help:




Students bring Smaug to life

smaug 1

By Traci Chapman

It was anything but desolation in Mustang Elementary’s art room last week, as Smaug from the Hobbit book and film series came to life.

Led by teacher Kent Hathaway, the giant dragon and his treasure were made completely of milk cartons. It’s the fourth project completed by the school for the Made by Milk contest. Hathaway and his students have won the last three contests they entered with creations of a coral reef, Golden Gate Bridge and space shuttle.

On Friday, Hathaway introduced students to the Hobbits’ story. With full voice impersonations, props and a “Gollum” move or two, the Mustang Elementary “artist in residence” made the characters real to groups of elementary schoolchildren.


Pictured with Smaug:


Miguel Lara

Olivia Scott

Lauren Johnson

Gracelyn Higgens

Trajen Williamson

Cadence Keller

Tritan Santillan

Mason Lake

Truit Barnes

Cameron Bell

Lane Hartwick

Hudson Hague

Hunter George

Tyson Wilson

Jaelyn Barker

Jett Preston

Jackson Jones

Brett Shannon

Casey Woods

Emily Yates

Teacher Kent Hathaway

Paper Clover proceeds to help fund memorial

Jesse Don Gorbet

By Traci Chapman

Some of this year’s proceeds from a national 4-H fundraising campaign will go toward the memorial of an area teen killed earlier this year.

The 4-H Paper Clover Campaign is in its fourth year of partnership between National 4-H Council and Tractor Supply Company. The two have combined forces to raise funds for 4-H in communities where Tractor Supply has a store.

This year, fundraising will be different, after 4-H’ers lost one of their own, officials said. Fifty percent of all funds raised from bake sales held as part of the event will be donated to the Jesse Gorbet Memorial. Gorbet and fellow El Reno High School student Karson Baker were killed in a March 2 automobile accident.

County 4-H teen leaders will hold two bake sales – one from 1:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 28 in El Reno and the other in Mustang on Saturday, May 3 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Both sales will be held at the community’s respective Tractor Supply stores.

The other 50 percent of funds raised will be used to purchase Paper Clovers.

The Paper Clover Campaign runs through May 4. Shoppers at El Reno and Mustang Tractor Supply stores may purchase paper clovers for $1 or more at checkout. Funds go to benefit local 4-H programs and fund everything from camps and after-school programs, to scholarships and other activities, officials said.

Gorbet, an El Reno High School sophomore, was a member of Extreme 4-H Club from 2006 to 2011. He showed sheep at the Canadian County Livestock Fair, as well as junior livestock show and jackpot shows. He also participated in Farmhand Olympics, Share-the-Fun and several bake sales to raise funds for the Oklahoma City Ronald McDonald House.

The Paper Clover Campaign nationwide has raised more than $3.3 million, national 4-H officials said. Seventy percent of funds go back into state and local programs, officials said.

“Our Paper Clover efforts are one of the key ways our stores can give back to the community,” said John Wendler, Tractor Supply senior vice president of marketing. “By providing essential funding for hundreds of thousands of 4-H young people, we are able to support local organizations that are important to both our customers and our team members.

“We’re proud to help improve the many communities in which we have stores through our partnership with 4-H,” he said. “That is what Tractor Supply is all about.”

Mustang teen leader Brandy DeVous said the Tractor Supply Clover Campaign is a great way to support county 4-H programs.

“This year the Teen Leaders wanted to give back to the community, a bake sale is a great way for us to be able to give back to a cause that was a part of our 4-H family,” she said. “4-H teaches us so much about helping others and we are honored to be able help by giving back in the name of Jesse Gorbet.”

Donated funds will be tracked online and recorded by state and individual stores, Wendler said. For more information or to view the donation tracker, go online to

Donated funds will be tracked online and recorded by state and individual stores, Wendler said. For more information or to view the donation tracker, go online to


MHS Relay for Life raises more than $73,000 for cancer research

relay best 3 web

By Traci Chapman

It was a time to remember, a time to rejoice, a time to raise awareness. And it was a time to walk, in the process raising more than $73,000 for cancer research.

Friday’s Relay for Life brought together hundreds of Mustang students, teachers and residents, all working toward a common goal – raising funds to stop cancer once and for all. While that accomplishment might lie somewhere in the future, the dedication of 33 teams and more than 400 participants was evident as they gathered on the Mustang Broncos football field, gearing up for a night walking the track.

(Photo/Traci Chapman)

Leading them was a group of local survivors, people who have battled – and won the odds – against cancer. Their battles inspired students, they said, who followed the group during the first relay laps. For others, it was the people who they had lost to cancer who inspired them. No matter what the reason, one thing was clear – according to Mustang’s Relay for Life website, the combined fundraising effort topped $73,576 this year.

“That doesn’t include all of the funds, we’ll still have money straggling in for several weeks or so,” said Mel Rogers with American Cancer Society.

Mustang has taken its relay efforts very seriously, as the event has grown “dramatically in recent years,” Rogers said. Mustang High School students are the driving force behind the effort. Students like Sara Wojcak, Ali Sylvester, Addison Riggs and many others worked tirelessly to pull the annual event together, Rogers and Mustang educators said.

“It’s amazing how much effort these kids put in – all of the hours, all of the hard work – they really have a lot to be proud of,” Rogers said.