Midtown: Community

Checking in on Midtown folks

Journey with me, please. Let’s take a quick look back.

Names changed

The Mary Circle at St. Paul’s Christian Church isn’t just spinning its wheels.

Just last month, we peaked into the legal and logistical complexities of the Montagnard Name Change Project, work the women’s ministry took on to help the congregation’s Montagnard families reclaim their family heritage – and one name.

Already, it’s official!

On Nov. 8, at the Wake County Clerk of Courts Office, the St. Paul’s Montagnards legally adopted last names that connect them to their family heritage: Sui and Rocham. Today, during St. Paul’s 10:55 a.m. service, the Montagnard families – 15 men, women and children – will celebrate the mission accompli with a Name Blessing.

Before now, these Montagnard families had three last names. Some Vietnamese governments don’t recognize indigenous Montagnard family names or statuses. So, while men claimed family names on official immigration documents, wives and children who arrived here under government sanction were assigned last names of “A” for male and “Y” for female.

During the celebration, the Siu and Rocham teenagers will share the importance of their family names, and the Montagnard women will share a prayer they wrote in Sunday school, said Cathy Cralle Jones, the wife of St. Paul’s pastor, the Rev. Phil Jones. She’s also an attorney who tackled the legalities of the project.

Now come the hurdles, again both logistical and financial, of changing documents to reflect the new names.

“We still have a lot to do,” Cralle Jones said. “We’ve started this ball rolling, but we’ve got more balls to roll.”

Mission Possible

It seems I got back in touch with Christopher Terrell in the nick of time.

Back before the Nov. 6 election, Terrell kicked off the first Raleigh Arts Festival; a two-day loop of art, music and fine cuisine. He also announced an app that links us to First Friday Raleigh, and his hope to house his Obama Art Museum at the Raleigh/Durham International Airport.

Now, Terrell adds to his list a twice-weekly opportunity to teach art at Torchlight Academy, a charter school in Midtown that hasn’t had a formal art program in about a decade, he said.

“It’s like I have an artist’s apprentice – only I have 40 or 50 of them,” Terrell said, obviously beaming.

“Art is what gave me wings, my saving grace,” said Terrell, reminding me of his story of turning his art into lunch money in elementary school. “I want kids to have an option.”

The curriculum explores the fundamentals of various genres of art, from pop art and cubism to impressionist and realism. Terrell created it for Hustle & Flow School of hip-hop, R&B and art, which is primarily for after-school, track-out and summer instruction.

“God is good,” Terrell said of the expanded venue for his instruction. “I just might be able to help one kid, like me, who can pass that along, like me.”

It’s un-pink-able!

A project imagined and led by a seventh-grader at Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy led to a $950 donation to breast cancer research – and a couple of teachers with pink locks.

It’s a real-world example of what principal Teresa Pierrie described about the county’s first all-girls public school during a September roundtable with St. Mary’s Head of School Monica Gillespie and Lynne Thomson, principal of St. Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School near Perth, Australia.

“We are part of this very unique learning environment that challenges us to figure out how we can give back as individuals and as a school community,” Pierrie said.

In honor of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, WYWLA student Meagan Ferrell asked to raise money for Pretty in Pink, a foundation that assists uninsured or underinsured individuals diagnosed with breast cancer.

Teachers James Di Carlo and Sue Kelley agreed to be crowned Pink Out Prince and Princess and have their hair dyed pink – as long as students raised at least $500.

Well, by the time another student added her donation from a sale of pink awareness ribbons and students got wind of the teacher challenge, the donation nearly doubled.

Meagan’s dad, Phil Ferrell, said his daughter’s Pink Out bubbled up as simply as her donation of hair to Locks of Love when she was much younger. “From something very simple to something that’s going to make a big difference,” he said, “it was a very positive experience.”

Oh, and for the record, Meagan and her classmates did it all in a mere, ahem, six days!

“Anything is possible,” said Meagan, 12. “You just have to work for it.”

In case you missed the full columns updated here, you can find them at www.midtownraleighnews.com/columns/lori_wiggins.