Criswell named interim Paradise superintendent

Former Paradise ISD Superintendent Robert Criswell has been tapped to take over as interim superintendent following Monty Chapman’s departure.

Robert Criswell

Chapman’s contract runs out June 30, and Criswell will take over again July 1.

Board of trustees President Homer Mundy said Criswell will likely be the interim superintendent for six months or a year, until a candidate is selected to take over permanently. He will also lead the search for Chapman’s permanent replacement.

“We’ll let him look inside the district and outside the district. He’s more experienced and knows a lot more people,” Mundy said. “He knows the district very well and I feel it was a very good thing to do.”

Criswell was PISD’s leader for a decade, from 1999 to 2009, when he retired and Chapman took over. Chapman was Criswell’s assistant superintendent at the time. Until July 1, Criswell is acting as a consultant.

“I’m excited about being back,” he said. “I told the board I still bleed green and this is my district. I love it.”

Criswell comes in as budget season gets underway. Munday said the board faces challenges in figuring out funding solutions for fixing an ailing roof and buying buses.

Criswell said he is looking forward to being a part of the process again, comparing it to a bicycle he’s getting to ride again. That said, he still likes retirement and plans to make it permanent.

“Retirement is good. I recommend it for everybody,” Criswell said. “It’s still hard for me to get up and go to a job when I’ve been going to a golf course and to the deer lease.”

Criswell was integral to the process of building up the district’s campus to what it is now.

“It’s changed and it’s a good thing,” Criswell said. “We have a great thing going here.”

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Panthers finish in 6th

The Paradise Panthers cut 13 strokes off their first-round total Thursday to move up two spots and finish sixth at the 2A University Interscholastic League golf championships.

ON THE RIGHT LINE – Paradise’s Lucas Heathington attempts a putt during the first round of the Class 2A tournament Wednesday at Roy Kizer golf course. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

The Panthers tallied a 343 in the second round at Roy Kizer Golf Course in Austin to finish in the top half of the tournament.

“They played better [Thursday],” said Paradise coach Terry McCutchen. “We ended the first day in eighth. Our goal was not to go backward. We edged on a good note.”

The Panthers fired a 366 in the first round and were three strokes back of District 9-2A rival Brock and seven behind Kermit.

Four of Paradise’s five players cut strokes in the second round. Colton Wells gained 12 strokes going from an opening 96 to an 84. Brandon McCutchen went from a 92 to an 84. The team’s lone senior Lucas Heathington turned in an 89 after his opening 95. Hayden Barkley cut four strokes from a 99 to 95.

Colton Horton, who had the team’s best score-169 – was the lone player not to improve in the second round. He shot an 86 after his opening round of 83.

“He hit the ball OK but just didn’t score as well as he could have,” the Paradise coach said. “He hit the ball really good the first day. [Thursday] he couldn’t make a putt.”

Terry McCutchen said as a whole the team had a few too many strokes around the green.

“Everyone came off the final green disappointed but we played as good as we could have in our first trip to state,” he said.

“All but one are back. They are already talking about what to do to get back and improve.”

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Paradise Intermediate gets new principal

Paradise Intermediate School will have new leadership next year, as school counselor Kristin Gage will take over as principal.

The school board held a special meeting Monday night to make the selection. They unanimously agreed to give her a two-year contract.

Gage has been in education for 19 years, 15 of them in PISD.

The district began searching for a new intermediate school principal earlier this month when current principal Terry McCutchen announced his resignation.

According to Superintendent Monty Chapman and McCutchen, he was leaving PISD for personal reasons and had not yet lined up another job.

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Traveling club: Panthers make debut at state

A year ago, Brandon McCutchen made a solo trip to Stephenville for the regional golf tournament after the Paradise Panthers finished a distant third at the District 9-2A tournament.

This year, McCutchen will be heading farther south – with plenty of company as the Panthers play in the Class 2A University Interscholastic League state golf tournament. Paradise will be one of 12 teams vying for a state title Wednesday and Thursday at Roy Kizer Golf Course in Austin.

Reading the Green

READING THE GREEN – Paradise golfers (from left) Hayden Barkley, Colton Horton, Brandon McCutchen, Colton Wells and Lucas Heathington will compete for a Class 2A state title Wednesday and Thursday. The Panthers finished third at the Class 2A Region II tournament. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“This is the goal we set at the beginning of the season,” said Colton Horton.

Over the past year, the five members of Panthers team that also includes Lucas Heathington, Colton Wells and Hayden Barkley have dedicated themselves to the sport, spending hours at the course.

“I come here and spend six hours per day,” said Heathington, who gets out of class early.

The rest of the team joins him after class for a couple of hours of hitting balls or playing a few holes.

“They also play on the weekend,” said the Paradise coach Terry McCutchen. “They’ve really worked hard. We actually had 12 boys in the program this year. It’s a credit to all of them. They’ve made each other better.”

Barkley beat out a couple other players to earn the fifth spot on the squad.

“Hayden got more consistent at the end of the year,” the Paradise coach explained.

The Panthers started playing tournaments in the fall and by the spring started challenging Brock and some of the other top teams in the region.

Paradise finished second at the 9-2A tournament to earn a spot at regionals. At regionals, the Panthers fought their way into contention for a state spot. They were in second after the first round.

At the close of the second round, Terry McCutchen thought the team had a state spot in hand, but Whitesboro ended up tying the Panthers at 723.

“We were told, ‘Get your clubs, we’re going to a playoff,’” Heathington recalled.

Wells described the one-hole playoff with a state spot on the line as “nerve-wracking.”

He turned a birdie on his hole. Brandon McCutchen had a double-bogey, and Heathington a bogey. Horton sank a par putt, which turned out to be the winning shot, locking down the state berth.

“Everybody has a part. It’s not just one person. Everyone counts,” Heathington said.

As the lone senior, Heathington said it’s been fun playing with the younger guys and to get this opportunity to play for a title.

“It’s pretty special,” he said.

Off the course, the group enjoys giving each other a hard time and staying relaxed. Wells said they try to stay loose on the course.

“We just have fun and play,” he said. “We’re all pretty good friends.”

Horton leads the team in scoring average, despite not having as much length off the tee as Brandon McCutchen and some of the others. He fired rounds of 86 and 88 at regionals.

“I have a good short game,” he said. “I can’t hit greens. That’s why my short game is good.”

Playing on the state stage for the first time, the Panthers are hoping for two solid rounds and to make a respectable showing.

“We’re hoping for top five,” Heathington said.

That would be definitely worth the trip.

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Panthers secure 2nd place

Nine straight Panthers reached base in the top of the fourth inning as Paradise piled up seven runs on their way to a 10-3 win over Ponder Tuesday.

Landry Norwood started the fourth-inning hit parade with a single to right and came around to score. Paradise sent 12 batters to the plate in the frame.

The Panthers (19-6-1) clinched the second playoff seed out of District 9-2A with the win, moving to 8-3 in the league.

“The district turned out to be real competitive,” said Paradise coach Mike Fehler. “Peaster played really good defense, and Ponder hit the ball better than expected. It really made it a challenge.”

As the second seed, Paradise will open the playoffs with a bi-district series against the 10-2A third seed Whitney May 2-3 at Fort Worth All Saints. Game one will be at 7:30 p.m. May 2. The second game will be a 2 p.m. May 3 and the third game, if necessary, will follow.

Fehler expects his team’s pitching depth behind ace Dillon Meadows to be a benefit in the playoffs.

“We have a good amount of arms. We have a lot of kids that throw a lot of strikes and can get people out,” Fehler said. “We’ve also been hitting well the last few games.”

Paradise pounded out 13 hits against Ponder. Jarret Holt, Meadows, Skylar Black, Norwood and Tanner Valentine had two hits each. Meadows collected a double for the Panthers’ lone extra-base hit.

On the mound, Holt limited Ponder to three runs on five hits over five innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. Austin Hogan worked a scoreless two innings in relief.

Paradise looked to close the regular season on a high note Friday, taking on Millsap at home.

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Godley rallies past Paradise

The Paradise Lady Panthers took a lead in the top of the eighth inning against the District 10-2A champion Godley Lady Wildcats.

STRETCHING OUT – Paradise second baseman Allie Rutledge hauls in a fly ball during the Lady Panthers’ loss to Godley Thursday. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

But they couldn’t hold on as Godley squeezed across a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth – the last after a dropped third strike – to score the 6-5 win in the Class 2A Region II bi-district game at Weatherford College Thursday.

The loss ended the Lady Panthers’ season at 17-11. Paradise beat Peaster twice – in the regular finale and one-game playoff – to make the postseason as the fourth seed out of 9-2A.

“It was a crazy ending,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “I am so, so proud of the way my kids fight when the pressure is on them. We had three must-win games. Two of them, they were victorious, and the third went an extra inning. My kids believe in each other and the team. They fight until it’s over.”

Playing the top-seeded Lady Wildcats, Paradise did not back down. The Lady Panthers scored a pair of runs in the first after singles by Allie Rutledge and Jett Preather, who both came around to score.

After Godley scored three in the bottom of the first, Paradise came right back and scored two in the top of the second to take a 4-3 lead. Bailey Higgins worked a walk and scored. Rutledge garnered her second hit and scored on an error. She went 2-for-5, scoring two runs.

Godley tied the game at 4 in the bottom of the fourth and it remained tied until the top of the eighth. Paradise took a 5-4 lead after Darla Walterscheid was hit by a pitch and then stole second. She scored on a Godley error.

In the bottom of the eighth, an error and a single put two runners on for Godley. The two runners came around to score on a sacrifice bunt and dropped third strike.

Paradise pitcher Reagan Taylor limited Godley to six runs – three earned – on nine hits. She struck out nine and walked five.

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Gary and Linda Potts

Gary and Linda Potts of Paradise celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary March 29, 2014, with their family and longtime friends at the home of their daughter and son-in-law, Shawnea’ and Carl Smith, in Jacksboro.


Gary and Linda Potts

Gary and the former Linda Berry were married March 21, 1964, in Bridgeport by the Rev. James H. Stiles. They were high school sweethearts and graduates of Bridgeport High School.

They have two daughters, Shawnea’ Smith and husband, Carl, of Jacksboro and Shellie Read and husband, Reggie, of Paradise. Grandchildren are Riley Smith attending Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., Allie Smith, attending Texas Christian University, Reese Read, attending and playing baseball at Vernon Junior College, Ryhan Read, attending Bridgeport High School, and Carli Smith, a student at Jacksboro Middle School.

Gary worked for Mitchell Energy and retired after 35 years of service. Linda worked for NGPL and Mitchell Energy prior to Devon’s buyout and retired from Devon Energy in 2011.

They are lifetime members of the American Quarter Horse Association and Oklahoma Racing Association, raising, racing and selling horses for more than 40 years.

They are members of the First Baptist Church of Paradise.

Throughout the course of their marriage, Gary and Linda were active in school functions and various community, county and charitable boards. Activities include coaching in the first Paradise girls softball program, Paradise school board, Park Board president, Bridgeport Historical Society president and Water Board and Improvement District No. 1 director. Both served as directors on the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce, and Linda served as a United Way of Wise County director for 15 years.

The couple enjoys spending time with their family, traveling to new places and spending time at their home in Alto, N.M.

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Leia Makayla Lee Caudle

Leamon and Chasidy Caudle of Paradise announce the birth of a daughter, Leia Makayla Lee, on April 22, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and was 18 inches long.

She has one sister: Cadence Morris, 6.

Grandparents are Jim and Cindy Clayton of Paradise and Gary and Teresa Decker of Boyd.

Great-grandparents are Ray and Martha Clayton of Paradise and Edward and Mildred Strowed of Boyd.

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Paradise ISD extends teacher contracts

The Paradise school board opted to extend the contracts for all teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses during Monday night’s meeting.

The contracts were extended for one year and will be up for review again in spring 2015. The board also agreed to use Superintendent Monty Chapman as an independent contractor after his current contract ends in June.

Chapman recently resigned to take a job at Weatherford Independent School District, but has agreed to help the board and the next superintendent with next year’s budget, which will include planning for other big-ticket items like a wastewater treatment facility.

Non-contracted employees will see a pay raise. The board approved a 2.5 percent raise from the midpoint, which would mean a larger raise for employees on the lower end of the pay scale and a smaller raise for those on the high end.

In other business, the board:

  • adopted textbooks recommended by Patti Seckman; and
  • agreed to seek a waiver from the Texas Education Agency for an additional bad weather day due to all the ice last winter.

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Paradise blasts Peaster; Taylor throws two-hitter, homers in 11-1 win

The Paradise Lady Panthers staged a dramatic four-run comeback in their final at-bat Friday to knock off Peaster and force a play-in game for District 9-2A’s final playoff spot.

Paradise pitcher Reagan Taylor made sure Monday’s play-in game featured no-such drama.

SILENCING BATS – Paradise’s Reagan Taylor tosses a pitch early in her two-hitter against Peaster Monday in Brock. Taylor and Paradise won the play-in game 11-1. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Taylor held Peaster to two hits and came one out away from a six-inning shutout as the Lady Panthers throttled the Lady Greyhounds 11-1 in Brock to claim a postseason berth.

“This feels great. We’ve worked so hard for this,” Taylor said.

Paradise moves on to play District 10-2A champion Godley in a 2A Region II bi-district series. No date or site have been set up for the series.

Taylor split her previous two decisions against Peaster, allowing 16 runs – three earned – on 14 hits in 12 and two-thirds innings. Monday, she didn’t allow a runner past second until the sixth inning when Peaster’s Bailey McKinzie hit a soft single into left field with two outs to score Tyler Kennington from second base.

Taylor then struck out Hailee Rutledge for her fifth strikeout to end the game.

“I just knew I had to come back, get them and throw hard,” Taylor said about the effort. “Our defense has been working hard. I’m really thankful for them.”

Behind Taylor the Lady Panthers defense was flawless.

“Everyone made plays,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “[Reagan] also put the ball where she needed.”

The Lady Panthers gave Taylor plenty of margin for error, pounding out eight hits and drawing six walks off Peaster pitcher Morgan Robinson. The Peaster hurler also hit three batters.

“Everybody hit. They believe they can hit and play, and tonight they did,” Essig said.

Peaster also committed four errors. One in each of the first two innings led to Paradise runs. Shelby Lavigne doubled to right to score Taylor, who reached on an error in the top of the first.

Taylor helped her own cause, leading off the top of the third with a blast over the center-field fence. Along with her gem in the circle, Taylor went 2-for-4 with the homer, two RBIs and scored three runs.

After a hit by pitch, walk and RBI-single by Alyssa Munoz, Darla Walterscheid broke the game open with the Lady Panthers’ second homer of the third inning – a three-run shot to center field that put Paradise up 7-0.

Paradise went scoreless in the fourth and fifth before putting the game away with a four-run top of the sixth in which it sent 10 batters to the plate. Munoz provided the big shot with a bases-clearing, three-run triple to the left-field fence.

Munoz finished with four RBIs and joined Taylor, Lavigne and Walterscheid as Lady Panthers with multiple hits.

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Baseball Roundup: Samples puts Bulls into three-way tie in 9-3A

The Bridgeport Bulls scored four runs in the third inning including one driven in by Alex Samples in a 5-3 victory over Gainesville Friday.

Samples finished with a pair of RBIs, going 1-for-4 as the Bulls secured a share of second place in District 9-3A with Krum and Decatur.

Jared Huff added a RBI for the Bulls.

On the mound, Samples held Gainesville to three runs – one earned – on five hits. He struck out nine and walked one.


Dillon Meadows fanned 14 and held Peaster to two hits in a complete-game 7-0 shutout against Peaster.

The Panthers (18-6-1, 7-3) moved a win away from securing the second seed in District 9-2A. Paradise took on Ponder Tuesday and will close the regular season against Millsap at home Friday.

Skylar Black homered and drove in two runs, going 3-for-3 against Peaster. Jarret Holt added two RBIs on three hits. Austin Hogan also had three hits.


Kalan Johnson drove in four runs and Tyler Melton three on two doubles as the Chico Dragons hammered Bryson 17-7 Friday.

Chico (18-5) moved to 10-3 in District 9-A. With a win Friday in the regular season finale, the Dragons will secure second place in the league.

Hagen Davis added three RBIs against Bryson. Jerico McGuire knocked in two runs.

Chase Riddles and Jaston McBree each tripled.


Brandon Hardee tripled and Anthony Spinelli doubled and scored a run as the Boyd Yellowjackets were tripped up by 9-2A champion Brock 14-1 Friday.


The Alvord Bulldogs fell to 2-9 in District 9-2A Friday with a 14-0 loss to the playoff-bound Ponder Lions.

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Staging a classic: Story adapted by PHS troupe plays well at UIL contest

Staging a classic: Story adapted by PHS troupe plays well at UIL contest

Required reading and a close inventory of talent sent the One-Act Play team at Paradise High School on a different kind of adventure this school year.

“We graduated tremendous talent last year, a lot of our male actors,” said Karen Bohmfalk, PHS drama teacher and One-Act Play director. “We knew we wanted a play with powerful women’s roles, but in just about everything we came across, the story made the woman the victim. So we chose our own path.”

Community Play

COMMUNITY PLAY – Paradise High School will perform the One-Act Play “The Hiding Place,” written by two of its students and its director, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, and 5 p.m. Sunday, April 27, at the PHS cafeteria. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Bohmfalk, along with seniors Cimmiaron Alvarez and Katy Skogberg, wrote an adaptation of “The Hiding Place,” a book PHS sophomores read for their English class.

And despite the challenges the three faced in doing something not many schools do, their efforts advanced the school’s One-Act Play team to area competition, garnering a slew of honors along the way.


What started as a group of students meeting during the summer eventually dwindled to just Bohmfalk, Alvarez and Skogberg.

From July until mid-October, the playwrights gathered before and after school for up to three hours, three or four times a week to comb through every word of the book.

Honored Cast

HONORED CAST – At One-Act Play district competition March 19, judges named (back from left) Janae McMurry to the All Star Crew; Daniel Alexander, best actor; Katy Skogberg, best actress; Hope Dennie, All-Star cast; (front) Julianna Smith, Honorable Mention All-Star cast; and Cimmiaron Alvarez, All-Star Crew. At area competition April 8, Dennie and Skogberg made the All-Star Cast, and Alexander and Smith received Honorable Mention. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“We just started picking the parts that impacted us the most as we read it and then filed it down into an actual script,” Skogberg said. “That was the process. We went from the beginning of the book to the end.”

Set in Holland and Germany before and during World War II, the story is about the ten Boom family – father Casper and his unmarried daughters, Corrie and Betsie.

During the invasion of Holland, the Christian family holds steadfastly to their beliefs, helping the Jews hide from the Germans.

“They start taking the Jews in, and, of course, they develop the hiding place to protect them,” Skogberg said.

The German soldiers discover their operation and take the family to a prison – and later, a concentration camp.

“Father and Betsie both die in the process, and Corrie is the only one that makes it out,” Skogberg said. “So she’s the one that carries the message to the rest of the world.”

With this adaptation of the book, Paradise students aid in the spreading of the message, which students describe as “powerful.”

“We wanted something that was going to impact on a great scale, not just for One-Act Play, but beyond that,” Skogberg said. “This message and this story was something that a lot of the students could relate to because they read it in class, and is something they can take with them.

“That was the biggest thing – being able to do a story that left people with something.”


But that same ambition may have been the writers’ biggest challenge.

“We knew this story has subject matter that isn’t very popular these days and that we might land on some judge who found its message was trite,” Bohmfalk said. “We didn’t know how judges would take it … Some people just shut down or aren’t involved if it’s spiritual.”

“The message of the Holocaust, too,” Skogberg added. “There are a lot of people who still don’t like that either. But I think it was a risk worth taking.”

That subject matter is key to the story.

“That was the center of the show for the two women,” Bohmfalk said. “You really can’t write the show without it.”

“Their spirituality is what kept them from becoming hard, like a majority of other people did during the concentration camps,” Alvarez added. “They stayed true to themselves and true to their faith. That’s why it was so powerful.”

As a compromise, the writers made a concerted effort to limit the number of Bible verses included.

“That was a difficult part in writing, to make sure we didn’t put a million Bible verses in there,” Skogberg said. “We didn’t want it to be a sermon. We used the title verse and two others. But mostly in action instead of words, we wanted to create the story.”

As they crafted that story, the writers ran into other roadblocks. Although they preserved as much of the book as possible, modifications were made for the sake of time.

“We tried to take as much original dialogue as possible,” said Alvarez, who is also the OAP stage manager. “That wasn’t possible in all cases, so we had to create some of our own.”

The writers also merged characters and eliminated subplots to speed along the main story line.

“But we never change the message,” Bohmfalk said. “We change who said what and where they were when that happened.”

“Overall we get the message across,” Skogberg added. “We get mad at some movies whenever they change from the book, and then we started writing and realized why they do it. I have a whole new respect for that.”

The three also agreed it was a challenge to stay on track while writing.

“I wanted to follow the pattern, the mono-myth of the hero journey to an extent,” Bohmfalk said.

But it wasn’t until the writers overcame the obstacles and completed the script that they faced the ultimate challenge.

“What if it was bad? What if nobody likes it?” Bohmfalk said they wondered.

“All of the other plays have been performed before, so you know they have to be good somehow,” Skogberg said. “We didn’t know if this would appeal to anyone at all.”

But the ladies soon found out that it did.


As a matter of fact, it appealed to many – from officials with the UIL to the students who auditioned and the judges at competition.

After finishing the script, Bohmfalk spent more than a month polishing it before submitting it to the UIL for approval in late November.

“It took a long time to polish the stage directions and all that tedious work,” Bohmfalk said. “It was rough. We didn’t have any stage directions other than what we conceived ourselves. There wasn’t anything in a book. We had to create all the movement.”

With a go-ahead from the UIL, the director continued with casting in December.

“If nobody likes the story, they don’t come audition,” Bohmfalk said. “Fortunately, we did have kids come audition.”

After months of rehearsal, the cast and crew took their 40-minute production to contest, where they received their most telling affirmation yet.

At district competition March 19 in Graham, the Paradise show was one of two that advanced to area.

Judges also picked Skogberg as best actress and Daniel Alexander as best actor. Hope Dennie was named to the All-Star Cast while Alvarez and Janae McMurry were named to the All-Star Crew.

Juliana Smith received Honorable Mention All-Star Cast.

“It was good to get affirmation, to know that we’re not crazy,” Skogberg laughed.

At area competition last week, the play was named an alternate to regionals.

Skogberg and Dennie were named to the All-Star Cast while Alexander and Smith received honorable mention.

“It’s ended up nothing like we expected but everything that we wanted, which is really cool looking back now from the time we wrote,” Skogberg said. “Originally we had in mind a play that was focused on just the hero story, just that one character. In the process of all the cast members coming in and all the ideas that we’ve thrown out, we’ve really developed not just one person’s story, but a lot of people’s stories in the background.

“It’s developed into something that’s hit home for lots of different people,” she continued. “It doesn’t just fit to one specific person in the audience. We’ve morphed it into something that a lot of people can relate to. There are several key messages that really resonate with people. There are lines that go through my head when I’m not on stage and when I’m not thinking about One-Act Play.

“It’s not what any of us expected, but we like it. And we’re proud of it.”


  • Paradise One-Act Play will stage its adaptation of “The Hiding Place” in two community performances this month:
  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, at Paradise High School cafeteria, sponsored by the Paradise Historical Society and Paradise Chamber of Commerce.
  • 5 p.m. Sunday, April 27, also at the PHS cafeteria.
  • Both shows are free.


  • “The Hiding Place”
  • adapted from the book “The Hiding Place”
  • By Corrie ten Boom
  • With John and Elizabeth Sherrill
  • Play by Cimmiaron Alvarez, Katy Skogberg and Karen Bohmfalk

Cast – Daniel Alexander, Hope Dennie, Katy Skogberg, Lainee Hasty, Drake Young, Austin Medlin, Andrew Alexander, Faith Blankenship, Garrett Schneck, Devan McAsey-Perez, Alyssa McCutchen, Austin Ketchum, Michael Hasty, Julianna Smith, Kaitlynn Godwin

Crew – Cimmiaron Alvarez, Kyndal Baker, Heather McDuff, Janae McMurry, Jennifer Welch

Alternates – Cheyeanne Alvarez, Jamie Talley

Directors – Karen Bohmfalk, Georgia Headley, Megayla O’Rear

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Council to consider rates, contract

Topping a short agenda for Monday’s Paradise City Council meeting is consideration of an increase in the rate the city charges telecommunications providers for right-of-way access in the city.

The Public Utility Commission adjusts the rate for inflation every year. Last year, the city of Paradise opted not to raise the rates. This year, the PUC is allowing cities to raise the rate by .78 percent due to inflation – but again, the council can choose to retain the old rate.

If the council approves, the rates would increase from .15 cents to .24 for residential customers; from .36 cents to .45 for non-residential; and from .55 cents to .68 for point-to-point customers.

City officials will also:

  • consider extending a contract with USW Utility Group for water services;
  • as the planning and zoning commission, consider variance requests by Rusty Mann;
  • hear from Linda Turpin about a lack of supervision during fundraisers on Main Street;
  • proclaim May 9 as Butterfield Stage Days Karl Klement RAM PRCA Rodeo Pink Night and recognize April as National Safe Digging Month; and
  • consider the March meeting minutes and financial reports.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

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Trustees consider teacher contracts

The Paradise ISD board of trustees will look over and possibly approve teacher contracts during its regular meeting Monday, April 21.

Contracts slated for review also include librarians and nurses.

The board will consider possible pay increases and changes to pay grades for non-contract district employees, according to the meeting agenda posted Friday afternoon.

The board also plans to discuss applying to TEA to get an additional bad weather day waived that was left out of the original application.

Other agenda items include budget amendments, textbook adoption and a health education notice related to State Senate Bill 283.

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Paradise earns spot in state; Panthers outlast Whitesboro on 37th hole of tourney

It took a 37th hole, but the Paradise Panthers earned a trip to the University Interscholastic League’s 2A state golf tournament.

Finishing tied at 723 with Whitesboro after the second round for third place, the Panthers went out to hole eight to battle for the final state spot. Paradise’s top four players went double bogey, birdie, bogey and par on the hole.

When Colton Horton’s par putt fell into the cup, Paradise locked down the state spot.

“It was really exciting. I didn’t know how anyone else did,” Horton said. “When I made my putt for par, everyone was celebrating.”

Horton fired rounds of 86 and 88.

Lucas Heathington, the team’s lone senior, shot rounds of 91 and 89.

“We kept playing how we know how,” he said. “After the playoff, everyone was clapping, high-fiving and shaking hands..

“I’ve dreamed of [making it to state] since my freshman year. It’s a good achievement.”

Salado claimed the 2A Region II title at Legends Country Club in Stephenville with a 658. Brock, the 9-2A champion, finished second at 719.

After their opening round of 358, Paradise was second. Despite playing in strong winds, the Panthers managed to put up a solid score.

“The first day was rough,” Heathington said. “The wind was blowing hard and dried out the greens.”

The Panthers team – Colton Wells, Brandon McCutchen and Hayden Barkley along with Heathington and Horton – continued to play solid in the second round, shooting a 365.

Wells fired rounds of 90 and 94. Barkley shot 108 and 99, and McCutchen 91 and 94.

“Through the whole day, I knew it was going to be close with us and Whitesboro,” Horton said. “We had to make putts and stay consistent.”

In the playoff, Wells made a birdie to help the Panthers finish with a two-stroke edge on Whitesboro.

“The boys played pretty consistent,” said Paradise coach Terry McCutchen. “I’m extremely proud of them. We’re still on cloud nine.”

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Lady Panthers secure area crown

The Paradise Lady Panthers last week captured their first district title on the track since 2001.

Wednesday, they added another trophy to the case.

After earning medals in all three relays, including a gold in the 4×200, the Lady Panthers captured the Class 2A 9/10 area title at Boyd’s Yellowjacket Stadium.

“I’m very proud of them,” said Paradise girls coach Johna Ford. “They’ve worked hard. It was a team effort. Even the girls who didn’t qualify gave their all and scored the points to help us.”

Mikaela Beck, who ran on a pair of qualifying relays and won the long jump said, “We’re starting a legacy.”

The 4×200 squad of Carressa McCasland, Bailey Sides, Taylor Richards and Aliya Read scored 20 points toward winning the title with its victory. The quartet ran 1:49.72, holding off Whitney, which finished in 1:49.96.

“We knew it would be a close race,” Sides said.

Read added: “We’re still undefeated.”

The Lady Panthers finished second in the 4×400 to Alvord. In the 4×100, Godley edged Paradise. Beck nearly caught Godley’s anchor leg, crossing the finish line in 51.27. Godley won the race in 51.22.

“If I’d had five more feet, I’d have caught her for sure,” Beck said. “Beating them is doable. It’s not like they smoked us.”

Beck was joined by Kyndall McCasland, Sides and Richards on the 4×100.

Beck finished second in the 100 to Grandview’s Lyric Jackson, running a 12.4. She also won the long jump with an effort of 17-1.25.

“Coming out of prelims, I was in last place,” Beck said about her long jump win. “On my first jump of finals, my mark was finally on.”

Winning Pass

WINNING PASS – Alvord’s Savannah Williams passes Paradise’s Mikaela Beck near the finish line of the 4×400 at the 2A 9/10 area meet in Boyd. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt


Another impressive chapter was written Wednesday at the area meet in what has turned into the county’s hottest rivalry on the track this season – the girls 4×400.

In a race that was neck-and-neck into the final meters, Savannah Williams, the area 800 champion, passed Paradise’s Mikaela Beck to give the Lady Bulldogs a victory. Alvord also beat Paradise at district.

At area, Alvord’s team of Lauren Hart, Jessica Gillespie, Marissa Schedcik and Williams turned in 4:13.12. Paradise’s quartet of Bailey Sides, Aliya Read, Makala Neighbors and Beck finished in 4:13.5 for second.

Beck led Williams after the final turn as the two raced toward the finish line into a strong wind.

“When she kicked, I was worried,” Williams said. “It was brutal with the wind. I just tried to push.”

Williams’ winning quarter followed her 2:24.68 in the 800 that included a strong kick to put her at the front of the pack and back to regionals.

“I tried to be comfortable,” Williams said. “I didn’t want to lead the pack. [My kick] is what I turn to and rely on.”

Williams’ teammate Hart finished second in the 300 hurdles, running 47.77.

“I ran my best time. I’m trying to get better each week,” Hart said. “[Running in the wind] was like hitting a brick wall. I thought I was going to blow away.”


Boyd’s Qualynn Wells flew out of blocks and around the curve to win the 200 area title Wednesday on his home track.

Wells ran 22.3 to claim his team’s lone gold medal of the meet. Even with the win, he expects to be faster at regionals.

“It could’ve went better. I bet I can get down to 21,” he said.

Boyd hurdler and pole vaulter Dalton Stidham won three silver medals. He ran 15-0 in the 110 hurdles and 40.49 in the 300s. The 300 hurdles ended into the brisk wind.

“The wind was terrible,” Stidham said. “Other than that, I felt good over the hurdles.

“I’m getting to regionals and running another day. It’s my last year, and I want to see how far I can go.”

Stidham finished second in the pole vault, clearing 11 feet.

Boyd freshman Lindsey Thorpe earned a silver medal in the girls shot put with a throw of 34-2.75. It was her best throw of the season.

“Coach [Phillip] Thornton has been working with me a lot since I’ve advanced from district,” Thorpe said. “We’ve been working on kicking the door open and doing all the little things right.”

Close Finish

CLOSE FINISH – Boyd’s Marco Martinez finishes just in front of a diving David Pearson of Paradise in the 1600 Wednesday. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt


With wind gusts above 30 mph, Alvord’s Clara Breashears and Boyd’s Marco Martinez fought their way to regional berths with third-place finishes in the 3200 races.

Breashears turned in a 13:02.48 for the bronze medal and third straight trip to the 2A Region II area meet.

“I actually like the wind,” Breashears said. “It makes me think of other things.”

In the boys race, Martinez raced out to an early lead but couldn’t hold off Whitney’s Trevor Montgomery and Keene’s Luis Tique. Martinez held on to take third in 10:34.21.

“I tried to put pressure on them early,” Martinez said. “I wasn’t surprised they caught up. I knew they were good.”



100: 1. Lyric Jackson, Grandview, 12.0; 2. Mikaela Beck, Paradise, 12.4; 8. Carressa McCasland, Paradise, 13.6

200: 1. Lyric Jackson, Grandview, 26-0; 4. Aliya Read, Paradise, 26.9; 6. Olivia Singleton, Boyd, 27.6

400: 1. Sarah Rattan, Peaster, 59.85; 5. Caitlyn Lynch, Alvord, 1:05.16

800: 1. Savannah Williams, Alvord, 2:24.68; 6. Makala Neighbors, Paradise, 2:36.98

1600: 1. Pamela Marquez, Keene, 5:31.23; 5. Brooklyn Mitchum, Alvord, 5:47.76; 6. April Coursey, Paradise, 6:02.21; 7. Jessica Colbert, Boyd, 6:07.2; 8. Angela Powers, Paradise, 6:13.66

3200: 1. Mayte Arredondo, Whitney, 12:00.49; 3. Clara Breashears, Alvord, 13:02.48; 5. Brianna Smith, Paradise, 13:29.08; 6. Emily Corbin, Paradise, 13:55.58; 8. Jessica Colbert, Boyd, 14:28.32

100 hurdles: 1. Jordan Nash, Grandview, 15.2; 4. Amber French, Paradise, 16.7; 5. Linsey Chancelor, Boyd, 17.6; 6. Stormi Lamb, Paradise, 17.9; 7. Kyndall McCasland, Paradise, 18.4

300 hurdles: 1. Jordan Nash, Grandview, 46.46; 2. Lauren Hart, Alvord, 47.77; 4. Bailee Luttrell, Boyd, 49.72

4×100: 1. Godley 51.22; 2. Paradise: Kyndall McCasland, Bailey Sides, Taylor Richards, Mikaela Beck, 51.27; 5. Alvord: Katie Claborn, Brianna Ponder, Emily Edge, Marissa Schedcik, 53.53; 7. Boyd: Amber Montgomery, Taylor Ragsdale, Olivia Singleton, Bailee Luttrell, 53.89

4×200: 1. Paradise: Carressa McCasland, Bailey Sides, Taylor Richards, Aliya Read, 1;49.72; 4. Alvord: Lauren Hart, Marissa Schedcik, Jessica Gillespie, Savannah Williams, 1:50.99; 7. Boyd: Bailee Harris, Amber Montgomery, Kyndal Crisman, Olivia Singleton, 1:56.01

4×400: 1. Alvord: Lauren Hart, Jessica Gillespie, Marissa Schedcik, Savannah Williams, 4:13.12; 2. Paradise: Bailey Sides, Aliya Read, Makala Neighbors, Mikaela Beck, 4:13.5

High jump: 1. Ashlyn Ellis, Grandview, 5-4; 3. Linsey Chancelor, Boyd, 5-0; 6. Brianna Ponder, Alvord, 4-10

Pole vault: 1. Reagan Mabery, Tolar, 11-0; 5. Jade Moore, Boyd, 8-6; 6. Carlen Smith, Boyd, 8-0; 6. Haley Rector, Paradise, 8-0

Long jump: 1. Mikaela Beck, Paradise, 17-1.25; 4. Brianna Ponder, Alvord, 16-2.75; 5. Bailey Sides, Paradise, 15-5

Triple jump: 1. Jaci Smith, Godley, 35-2; 3. Taylor Richards, Paradise, 33-5.5; 4. Brianna Ponder, Alvord, 33-4.75; 8. Emily Edge, Alvord, 31-11

Shot put: 1. Hailee Rutledge, Peaster, 36-2.25; 2. Lindsey Thorpe, Boyd, 34-2.75; 4. Kaely Beaver, Alvord, 33-4.75

Discus: 1. Sierra Romero, Grandview, 116-6; 3. Deanna Walterscheid, Paradise, 103-1; 5. Lindsey Thorpe, Boyd, 101-1


100: 1. Pearce Flemins, Maypearl, 10.7; 4. Austin Hogan, Paradise, 11.2; 5. Joe Randall, Alvord, 11.3; 6. Luke Gage, Paradise, 11.31; 7. Kristoff Pewitt, Paradise, 11.32

200: 1. Qualynn Wells, Boyd, 22.3; 4. Austin Hogan, Paradise, 23; 8. Cash Preather, Paradise, 23.8

400: 1. Zachary Williams, Godley, 49.98; 4. Robert Norvell, Paradise, 53.65; 5. Joseph Tate, Boyd, 55.4

800: 1. Colt Jones, Tolar, 2:03.81; 8. Colby Dial, Paradise, 2:16.25

1600: 1. Trevor Montgomery, Whitney, 4:42.97; 4. Marco Martinez, Boyd, 4:52.81; 5. David Pearson, Paradise, 4:52.87; 8. Omar Martinez, Boyd, 5:04.07

3200: 1. Trevor Montgomery, Whitney, 10:24.82; 3. Marco Martinez, Boyd, 10:34.21; 5. David Pearson, Paradise, 10:42.48; 7. Omar Martinez, Boyd, 11:08.18; 8. Aaron Hammett, Boyd, 11:09.32

110 hurdles: 1. Ben Thomes, Grandview, 14.6; 2. Dalton Stidham, Boyd, 15; 3. Cody Carmichael, Paradise, 15.4; 6. Brett Martin, Alvord, 16.5

300 hurdles: 1. Ben Thomes, Grandview, 39.96; 2. Dalton Stidham, Boyd, 40.49; 4. Austin Cozby, Boyd, 42.57; 5. Cody Carmichael, Paradise, 43.45; 7. Bryce Miller, Paradise, 44.72

4×100: 1. Maypearl 43.78; 3. Boyd: Shay Dodson, Xavier Kyle, Jackson Basting, Qualynn Wells, 44.27; 5. Paradise: Austin Hogan, Luke Gage, Nick Loney, Robert Norvell, 44.85

4×200: 1. Tolar 1:33.53; 5. Alvord: Brett Martin, Heath Walker, Jonathan Musgrave, Joe Randall, 1:36.82

4×400: 1. Godley 3:29.52; 4. Boyd: Joseph Tate, Shay Dodson, Austin Cozby, Dalton Stidham, 3:32.96; 7. Alvord: Logan Watkins, Heath Walker, Andrew Nichols, Josh Malone, 3:46.31

High jump: 1. Trenton Wallace, Grandview, 6-4; 6. Austin Cozby, Boyd, 5-10; 7. Colby Dial, Paradise, 5-10

Pole vault: 1. Trae Jones, Rio Vista, 11-0; 2. Dalton Stidham, Boyd, 11-0; 3. Zildjian Brooks, Paradise, 11-0

Long jump: 1. Walker Shelter, Tolar, 21-7.75

Triple jump: 1. Garrett Winston, Tolar, 44-11; 4. Cash Preather, Paradise, 41-3.5; 5. Tanner Valentine, Paradise, 40-2.75; 8. Xavier Kyle, Boyd, 37-3.75

Shot put: 1. Tavaris Owens, Whitney, 53-1; 5. Taylor Edwards, Paradise, 43-3.5

Discus: 1. Kendell Wimberly, Whitney, 160-06; 6. Sequoia Smith, Boyd, 119-0; 7. Blake Brown, Paradise, 116-3

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Burt signs letter with Northern Oklahoma

For four years, Makenna Burt dominated the paint for the Paradise Lady Panthers.

Despite facing double and triple teams, the senior averaged a double-double of 14.8 points and 11.3 rebounds for the Lady Panthers on the way to getting to the area round of the Class 2A playoffs and winning 24 games.

She was named District 9-2A and All-Wise County Offensive Player of the Year.

Now, Burt will take her game to Northern Oklahoma College-Enid. Burt signed her letter of intent to join the Jets program Thursday.

Signing On

SIGNING ON – Paradise’s Makenna Burt inks her letter of intent Thursday to play basketball at Northern Oklahoma College-Enid. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

“This means a lot,” she said. “It’s exciting to know I have somewhere to play and to get school paid for.”

She picked the campus in Enid over Seminole State College, also in Oklahoma.

“I liked that everything was there in town [in Enid],” Burt said. “I also have family up there. It was a better option.”

Burt expects to step in and compete for playing time at the post right away. She said coaches have told her she may also get some minutes on the wing.

“It’ll be a challenge, but it’ll be OK,” Burt said. “I definitely need to learn some post moves to get around some girls.”

Paradise coach Kevin Pope said Burt will face girls bigger than her in college – a rarity for the 6-footer in high school.

“She won’t be able to just overpower girls at the next level,” Pope said. “Every game she plays, there will be someone as tall as her. She’ll have to adjust to that.”

Pope acknowledged Burt’s contributions to the Paradise program over her four years and added that she earned this opportunity.

“When you can go to the next level, especially from a small school, it’s a big accomplishment,” Pope said.

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Chapman to leave Paradise ISD job

Paradise ISD is looking for new leadership as Superintendent Monty Chapman resigned Monday night during a special meeting.

Chapman’s last day with Paradise will be June 30. He has accepted a position with Weatherford ISD as the executive director of human resources.

Chapman has been with PISD 20 years, five of those as superintendent. He was assistant superintendent for six years under Robert Criswell and high school principal nine years before that.

Chapman let PISD staff know about his resignation soon after the Monday meeting ended.

In his resignation letter, Chapman wrote that working in Paradise had been an honor and would always hold a special place in is heart. He said the employees would always be his family.

WISD offered Chapman the job last Monday and made it official via vote Thursday night during the regular Weatherford board of trustees meeting. Chapman said it will be quite a change from running PISD.

“WISD has about 930 employees,” he said. “It will be a big job with a lot of responsibilities. I’ll have a staff with me dealing with benefits, payroll, hiring and working on contracts.”

Chapman said he and his wife are close enough to Weatherford for him to commute for now but will weigh their options on whether or not to move closer to his new job.

“It’s hard thinking about making a transition after being in one place for 20 years,” Chapman said. “I like to stay in one place and build and see the progress you make over the years.”

Chapman recognized the big job that lies ahead for the next superintendent. He said he believes PISD will be in good shape budget-wise but faces challenges with the school’s aging wastewater treatment facility and other larger expenditures – like buying buses and making some building repairs.

“I’ve looked at the budget for next year, and there is definitely a way to balance it,” Chapman said. “We’ll have to be pretty conservative and figure out some concerns with capital expenses.”

His replacement might have a steep learning curve in certain areas as few school districts have their own wastewater treatment facilities.

“Most districts don’t have to provide that,” Chapman said. “There are a few in the area, like Peaster and Brock, who do.”

Chapman has offered to continue consulting with the board, and his replacement, moving forward with PISD’s budget concerns, if needed.

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Hall earns ‘distinguished’ honor from university

A Wise County teen has received Angelo State University’s top scholarship.

Kayli Hall, 17, of Paradise has been awarded a Distinguished Carr Scholarship to begin attending the university in the fall. While Carr Scholarships range from $1,000 to $15,000 a year, Kayli’s scholarship will pay $18,000 a year, or $72,000 for four years, because she has been accepted into the honors program.

SCHOLAR – Kayli Hall was awarded Angelo State University’s Distinguished Carr Scholarship, the school’s most prestigious scholarship for academic achievement. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The Distinguished Carr Scholarship is limited to six incoming students per year. To be selected, students must score at least 32 on the ACT or 1400 on the SAT, maintain a high school cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.5 and interview with ASU administrators.

On Monday, Kayli and her family met with representatives from the university for a signing ceremony at the Bridgeport Public Library.

Kayli said she will study biology and pre-med.

“I’m not sure if I’m going to go to medical school, but I do want to do some mission work – helping people in different areas,” she said.

She’s following in her father’s footsteps. Galen Hall studied pre-med at ASU, and in fact, the department chair, Dr. Russell Wilke, was a college friend.

Both of Kayli’s parents, including mom Brandy, attended ASU, and both also received Carr Scholarships.

Kayli said she liked the fact that she was home-schooled.

“I really enjoyed it because it meant I could work at my own pace,” she said. “It meant I could excel and get ahead in school.”

“There were some years she (advanced) two grades in a year,” Galen added. “She was able to take the courses that appealed to her. Another advantage is we tried several different types of curriculum, and everyone has their own learning style. With homeschooling, you can pick a curriculum that focuses on the learning style of the student.”

Family Ties

FAMILY TIES – Kayli Hall of Paradise signs her letter of intent with Angelo State University. She was joined at the signing by family members (from left) brother Kaleb, mom Brandy, brother Jalen, dad Galen and brother John. Galen and Brandy also attended ASU. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Galen said Kayli was offered full-ride scholarships to both Oklahoma University and the University of Houston, but ASU offered certain advantages.

“The biggest thing about Angelo State, we felt there was a commitment to teaching and the hands-on, smaller class sizes,” he said. “I went through this pre-med program, and I felt very prepared for the world when I got out of there.”

Kayli said she will live on the San Angelo campus in an honors wing of a residence hall.

Carr scholarships are funded by a $100 million endowment from the Carr Foundation’s namesakes, Robert and Nona Carr, who bequeathed their interests in oil and gas properties in West Texas. Three out of 10 students who now attend ASU receive some level of Carr Scholarships.

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Paradise edges Brock to win academic meet

Paradise High School won the District 9-2A UIL academic meet March 24-27 with 386 points, just 14 points ahead of second place.

The Panthers edged out the Brock Eagles, who were hosting the meet, 386 to 372.

Although Paradise had only one first-place winner, Cimmiaron Alvarez in persuasive speaking, the team earned 30 top-six finishes en route to the district title.

It will send 10 individuals and its current issues team to the regional meet May 1-3 at Tarleton State University in Stephenville.

Also competing in District 9-2A were Alvord, placing fifth with 85 points, and Boyd, finishing in sixth with 40 points.

Alvord will send its first-place spelling and vocabulary team, led by Mira Patel who placed first individually, to regional competition. The Bulldogs secured a second-place team finish in current issues.

Paradise placed second in the calculator applications, computer science, literary criticism, number sense and speech team competitions.

Boyd High School’s science team placed second, led by Alston Limerick, who took second in science and first in physics.


Paradise … 386
Brock … 372
Ponder … 334
Peaster … 255
Alvord … 85
Boyd … 40
Millsap … 6


*denotes regional qualifiers

Accounting – 1. Kayli Baker, Alvord*; 5. Miracle Petree, Alvord

Calculator Applications – 5. Austin Medlin, Paradise

Current Issues – 4. Jonathan Musgrave, Alvord; 5. Cody Peterson, Alvord; 6. Colin McBride, Paradise

Computer Applications – 2. Blake Bryant, Paradise*; 4. Christian Steinhauer, Paradise; 5. Hunter Anthony, Paradise

Editorial Writing – 2. Katy Skogberg, Paradise*; 5. Jessica Meeks, Paradise

Feature Writing – 2. Sarah Nichols, Alvord*; 4. Katy Skogberg, Paradise; 6. Deanna Walterscheid, Paradise

Headline Writing – 2. Avery Caddell, Paradise*; 3. Jamie Talley, Paradise*

Informative Speaking – 3. Jennifer Welch, Paradise*; 6. Tanner Aberl, Paradise

Literary Criticism – 5. Janae McMurry, Paradise

Number Sense – 3. Carlos Powers, Paradise*; 6. Caiden Berry, Paradise

News Writing – 3. Avery Caddell, Paradise*; 5. Katy Skogberg, Paradise; 6. Sarah Nichols, Alvord

Persuasive Speaking – 1. Cimmiaron Alvarez, Paradise*; 2. Angela Powers, Paradise*; 6. Austin Medlin, Paradise

Poetry Interpretation – 3. Haley Horne, Paradise*; 4. Faith Blankenship, Paradise

Prose Interpretation – 3. Stacy Fernandez, Paradise*; 5. Richard Brown, Boyd; 6. Devan McAsey, Paradise

Ready Writing – 2. Julianna Smith, Paradise*; 3. Jennifer Welch, Paradise*; 5. Cimmiaron Alvarez, Paradise

Science – 2. Alston Limerick, Boyd*; 6. Braden Thomas, Boyd

Physics – 1. Alston Limerick, Boyd*

Social Studies – 6. Zack King, Paradise

Spelling and Vocabulary – 1. Mira Patel*, Alvord; 4. Sam Robinson, Paradise; 6. Michaela Causey, Alvord*

A feature on Paradise High School’s one-act play will run in the weekend Messenger.

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