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Chapel Hill Seniors paint parking spots for 2019-20 School Year

When Chapel Hill High School starts classes on Tuesday, almost 60 seniors will do so in style with personalized parking spots.

Some high school seniors, with help from family and friends, set up shop Saturday morning in the school’s parking lot to paint their senior parking spaces.

Themes were as diverse as the students painting them. Designs included cityscapes with sunsets, cows, giant lemons and more. Several students also included their name, class year and a quote that was special to them.

Senior Head Drum Major Roni Railsback pulled inspiration from the quote “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” incorporating a giant yellow lemon in her design. She said she interprets the quote as meaning “get what you can while you’re here” and looks forward to the experiences she’ll have in her senior year.

Chapel Hill High School Assistant Principal Karen Bender said having the seniors paint their own parking spots raises morale and funds for their class.

“It is a spirit thing for the seniors ...” Bender said. “We want them to feel special and this is one of the ways we can do that ... and it’s just fun and makes that bond in the classroom as well.”

The tradition started about three years ago. This year, nearly 60 parking spaces will be painted, each senior paying $20 to personalize their spot. Bender said those funds will be used to support different activities for the senior class in the coming 2019-20 school year.

TWITTER: @Tylerpaper

Update: Sheriff's Office confirmed missing Chapel Hill girl found dead

The investigation continued into the death of a 3-year-old girl found in a Smith County pond on Sunday.

Madison Williams, who had been reported missing Sunday morning, was found dead in a pond near the 6400 block of County Road 210 in New Chapel Hill, according to a spokesperson for the Smith County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the area about 10 a.m. Sunday regarding a missing child.

They learned from the girl’s mother that Madison had possibly been missing since about 7 a.m.

The Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies spent most of the day searching the area for the girl, using drones, scent-finding K-9s and ATVs.

Search parties located her in a pond behind the property just after 4 p.m. She was pronounced dead by Smith County Justice of the Peace Judge James Meredith.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Larry Christian said Sunday the investigation was ongoing.


Five Questions with Kevin East of The Mentoring Alliance

Kevin East is a man who probably everyone involved in faith and education in the Tyler area knows or knows of. He is the leader of The Mentoring Alliance, a ministry that includes Gospel Village, the Boys and Girls Clubs of East Texas and Rose City Summer Camps.

Before becoming the president and CEO of The Mentoring Alliance, he was the executive director of ministries for the faith-based Pine Cove Camps.

Loving children and building them into adults able to fulfill a life full of purpose is key to who he is and what he does. East is married to Stephanie and has a big family, with six children and many more they have fostered and mentored over the years.

Last week, The Mentoring Alliance moved into its new headquarters near downtown Tyler, from which they will expand programs in the area and begin formulating plans to launch into a new market by Fall 2022.

The Tyler Morning Telegraph recently interviewed East for its weekly Five Questions series. You can learn more about Kevin East and his journey on his blog,

What does faith mean to you?

What we’re trying to promote in faith is following God even when you don’t understand where he’s leading you. It’s trusting in Him. It’s stepping out into the unknown, trusting Him for the future.

What’s next for Mentoring Alliance?

We’re looking to open a new market. So, we’ve defined our current market of East Texas as a 15 miles radius from this current building, that includes Whitehouse, Lindale, Chapel Hill, Bullard, Tyler, Brownsboro and the Chandler area. We’re looking at cities like Waco, we’re looking at cities like New Braunfels or Midland. We don’t know (where yet), but we’re looking for a similar size market to expand into and begin doing Gospel Village and Rose City Summer Camps (type ministries) there as well.

What do you do to center yourself?

One is my family, I just love my wife and my kids. Honestly though, it’s time with the Lord and time with good friends who know me and can speak truth into my life. That community of friends and family are very important to me.

Who is someone you greatly admire?

(Jim Rayburn) The guy who started a ministry called Young Life. The faith to follow God into something that you don’t even know what it’s going to be, that speaks volumes to a guy like me. I came to something that was very small here and I just trusted the Lord to continue to grow it and be more impactful in the community. Guys like that inspire me, seeing what’s become an international ministry.

So for us, (saying) Lord you do what you want to do with The Mentoring Alliance. People like that, who follow God into the unknown, inspire me to do the same.

What advice do you give to mentors and employees?

New mentors we talk to them about, ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint.’ We tell them, ‘You’re not trying to change someone; this is a mutually transformative relationship.’ You’re not just trying to impact the child, you’re saying, ‘God impact me in this relationship.’

For our staff we talk about how we’ve committed to love deeply those we currently serve and at the same time we’re compelled to impact many, many more.