HBCU Round-Up SWAC; Baseball Recap: March 1

Stephen F. Austin 14, Texas Southern 0


HOUSTON, Texas – Texas Southern was shutout in its 14-0 loss to Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday.

The Tigers would be unable to solve Stephen F. Austin’s pitching, as TXSO totaled just five hits in the contest.

Left fielder Jose Cabreja would go 2 for 3 from the plate. Gerrick Jimenez would go one for two from the batters box, including one double in the loss.

Ryan Hawkins would throw three and one third innings, allowing no runs on no hits, and striking out two for the Tigers.

HBCU Round-Up: SWAC Softball Players of the Week: March 1

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama State has swept the weekly softball honors as third baseman Kendall Core and pitcher Vanessa Bradford were recognized by the Southwestern Athletic Conference as softball players of the week for games occurring from Feb. 21-26.

Hitter of the Week

Kendall Core

3B | Sr. | 5-3 | Benicia, Calif.

Core powered the Alabama State offense at the plate this past week with a pair of home runs and nine runs batted in. The senior finished the week hitting .333 (4-of-12), and she had two games with four or more runs batted in this week. The senior knocked in five runs in a 12-3 victory Tennessee State with a three-run home run, and knocked in another four against Belmont with her fourth home run of the season. Thus far, Core is the league leader in runs batted in with 18 on the year.

Pitcher of the Week

Vanessa Bradford

RHP | Fr. | 5-9 | Atlanta, Ga.

Bradford made two starts, winning her third game of the season in a 12-3 victory over Tennessee State. For the week, Bradford logged 10 innings, allowing seven runs (six earned) and striking out six. In the victory this week, Bradford logged five innings and allowed just three runs (two earned) on six hits and five strikeouts. Bradford is 3-3 so far in her maiden collegiate season and stands third in the SWAC with 23 strikeouts.

Baltimore City Public Schools students who participated in summer academic program from Young Audiences avoided summer learning loss

— Low-income Baltimore City Public Schools students who participated in a new arts-related summer academic program from Young Audiences avoided summer learning loss and, in many cases, gained ground on their national peers in standardized testing, according to evaluations released Tuesday. The new findings showed potentially groundbreaking progress in tackling summer learning loss, a chronic challenge facing public schools.

The results, confirmed in two separate studies involving nearly 800 students, are significant because summer learning loss – particularly among students at or below poverty level – is among the most difficult challenges facing the Baltimore school district and other high-poverty schools across the country. During summer, students typically fall below where they ended the previous grade, setting them back as they start a new school year. In fact, a 2013 National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) survey of 500 teachers found that 66 percent reported the need to spend three to four weeks re-teaching students course material at the beginning of the year. Another 24% reported the need to spend five to six weeks doing the same.

“City Schools has enjoyed a great partnership with Young Audiences, not only during the school year but also the past two summers,” said Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises, chief executive officer of Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools). “During the summer, Young Audiences reinforces key math and reading concepts through the arts and creative activities – and we’re pleased with the results we’ve seen. When students participate in summer learning programs that help them move ahead or reduce learning loss, they start the school year off stronger.”

The Young Audiences Summer Arts and Learning Academy (YA Academy), run by the Baltimore-based arts-education non-profit Young Audiences of Maryland in partnership with City Schools, was free for students and held at four sites across the city: Gardenville Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Elementary/Middle, William Pinderhughes Elementary, and Fort Worthington Elementary/Middle. Eighty-eight percent of the participating students were from high-poverty Title I schools.

“These results were a pleasant surprise given that we generally expect that students will lose ground over the summer,” commented Dr. Marc L. Stein, Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, who conducted a separate program evaluation for Young Audiences which looked at participating students’ academic skill and social-emotional development. “The Young Audiences summer program combines many of the best practices of summer learning programs and appears to be a promising model. These findings deserve to be investigated more rigorously to find out how and for whom the program appears to be working.”

“This is not your typical summer school program,” said Stacie Evans, Executive Director of Young Audiences. “We taught literacy and math through the arts every day and instruction was collaboratively taught by teaching artists and teachers specifically trained in arts-integration methods. If you walked into one of our classrooms, you might have seen students using hip hop music to help solve word problems in math, or creating dances to summarize and sequence main events in a story.”

The Baltimore City Public Schools evaluation found:

• For math, statistically significant results showed that students in grades 3-5 who regularly attended (defined as attending at least 75% of the program) the YA Academy improved 1.8% percentile points in national student rankings on i-Ready standardized testing from the spring of 2016 to the fall of that year. That compares to a decrease of 2.8% percentile points for city schools students who did not attend any summer programming.

• In reading, YA Academy students in grades 3-5 with regular attendance fell only .8% percentile points while students who did not attend any summer programming fell 2.1 percentile points upon returning to school in the fall.

• Results for all grade 3-5 students regardless of attendance rate showed Young Audiences attendees falling just .3% percentile points in math and .7% in reading. These were significantly smaller losses than students with no summer programming (down 2.8% in math, down 2.1% lost in reading).

• In literacy, only 3% of the students in grades K-2 attending the YA Academy did not meet their benchmark goal (the empirically derived target score that represents adequate reading progess1) on the standardized DIBELS assessment in the fall after returning to school compared to 8.1% of students not attending any summer programming not meeting the benchmark.

Young Audiences external program evaluation participants found:

· 79% of students who attended at least 75% of the program and who took pre- and post-tests had a positive change from the first to the last week of the program on a curriculum-based measure of mathematics.

· Approximately 60% of students who attended at least 75% of the program and who took pre- and post-test writing prompts showed positive change in their structure and content of their writing.

· 71% of students who attended 75% of the program and were administered pre- and post-assessments showed growth in at least one out of three social-emotional competency areas over the course of the program. The social-emotional competencies studied were relationship skills, self-awareness, and goal directed behavior.

“The arts offer an extraordinary opportunity, particularly during the summer, to reignite the joy of learning and to set young people on the right course to start the school year strong. These impressive results from Young Audiences mirror findings of the landmark Wallace Foundation study showing that elementary school students with high levels of attendance in high-quality, voluntary summer learning programs can experience benefits in math and reading,” commented Matthew Boulay PhD, National Sumer Learning Association founder and interim CEO.

Eric Harrell, father of 9 year-old Summer Arts Academy participant, Aria Harrell, said “Before this academy, I could tell that my daughter was struggling in math. By using the arts she was able to learn math in a different way-a way that worked for her. She has so much more confidence in her math class.”

1 “Dibels Next Benchmark Goals and Composite Score, “ Dynamic Measurement Group, Inc. (December1, 2010). https://dibels.uoregon.edu/docs/DIBELSNextFormerBenchmarkGoals.pdf

Links to complete City Schools and Young Audiences Evaluations:

YAMD evaluation:


City Schools evaluation:


About Young Audiences/Arts for Learning Young Audiences is the nation’s largest arts-in-education provider and started in Baltimore in 1950. As a Young Audiences affiliate, Young Audiences/Arts for Learning (YA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to enriching the lives and education of Maryland’s youth through educational and culturally diverse arts programs for more than 65 years. Each year, YA reaches more than 190,000 students through over 7,000 arts learning experiences by partnering professional artists from all disciplines with schools throughout Maryland for hands-on arts learning experiences. We envision a Maryland where the arts are valued for their capacity to transform lives, and where every student is immersed in opportunities to imagine, to create, and to realize their full potential through the arts. For more information, contact YA at 410-837-7577 or visit yamd.org.

Snapchat said to be valued at nearly $24 billion

— Even concerns about Snapchat’s slowing user growth aren’t stopping investors from clamoring for its stock.

Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, priced its initial public offering at $17 a share on Wednesday, according to multiple reports. It had previously proposed a range of $14 to $16 a share.

At that price, Snap would have a market value of nearly $24 billion, making it the largest U.S. tech IPO since Facebook.

Reps for Snap did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The demand for the Snap IPO has been very, very strong,” says Jeff Zell, an analyst with IPO Boutique, a research firm. “Even the original naysayers and detractors from the deal have pretty much softened their negativity.”

Snap is scheduled to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

The young company saw user growth slow to a halt in the final months of last year, according to its original IPO filing last month. The slowdown coincided with Facebook’s Instagram launching a Snapchat copycat feature.

Snap’s sales are growing at a fast pace, rising to more than $400 million in 2016 from just $58.7 million in 2015. Most analysts expect Snap to report around $1 billion in sales this year.

But Snap continues to struggle to make money — and it signaled a profit may not be coming soon. The company suffered losses of $515 million in 2016, up from a loss of $373 million the year before.

Some of the IPO demand can be chalked up to Snapchat being a well-known consumer brand — and one of the only billion-dollar tech startups going public.

“It’s going to be bringing a different type of investor to the table,” Zell says. “Everyone has heard of it.”

The company will take in more than $3 billion from the public offering. Those funds will give Snap greater ability to compete for talent and acquisitions against larger Internet companies like Facebook.

“We may also use a portion of the net proceeds to acquire complementary businesses, products, services, or technologies,” Snap said in its filing. “However, we are not contemplating any material acquisitions at this time.”

The Snapchat app launched in 2011 and set itself apart from other messaging services with a focus on disappearing messages. It initially developed a reputation as a service for sending salacious pictures, but has since moved far beyond that.

Snapchat’s success has forced larger tech services like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to clone its features, with mixed success. Facebook famously tried to acquire the company for $3 billion in 2013.

The sum sounded outlandish at the time — now, not so much.

Ugba named SWAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week: March 1

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) has recognized Grambling State forward Avery Ugba as the SWAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for his outstanding performance during week 16 of the regular season.

Avery Ugba

Grambling State

Jr. │6-7│ F │Silver Spring, Md.

Ugba scored 24 points and had 13 rebounds in a 78-58 win at UAPB this past Saturday and followed up that performance by scoring 25 points with 12 rebounds in 84-80 loss at Mississippi Valley State on Monday.

The junior averaged 24.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game for the week and leads the conference with double-doubles with 10.

The forward ranks 12th in the conference in scoring (13.3 points per game) and ranks first in rebounding (10.0 per game), which is two rebounds per game better than any other player in the SWAC. He also is third in field goal percentage (.554), 10th in steals per game (1.3) and is eighth in steals per contest (0.7).

Where to get hip in Palm Beach

At first glance, the words “Palm Beach” and “hip” might seem like strange bedfellows.

There are still plenty of prim restaurants that empty out by 9 p.m., a nod to the city’s reputation as a well-to-do retirement community. And now there are political crowds heading to the new Weekend White House two miles away at Mar-a-Lago.

But there’s also a burgeoning food scene in downtown Palm Beach that’s drawing Floridians from Jupiter to Boca. Locals are getting into new and exciting contemporary art venues, online companies doing pop-up stores and haute couture duds for under four figures.

It may get even busier in town when a sleek train service called the Brightline debuts this summer, shuttling travelers between nearby West Palm Beach and Miami.

Still, locals and visitors might not be so eager to rush out of town to their glitzy neighbor to the south. Here’s why.

Where to chow down

Buccan (350 South County Road), the American tapas restaurant, gets much of the credit as the buzziest establishment in town. But it’s actually its sister restaurant, imoto (also at 350 South County Road), which doesn’t even have a sign, where those in the know go to dine.

With the vibe of a Japanese speakeasy, serves top-notch, inventive nigiri (delicate slabs of rice topped with raw fish and wood-fired vegetables). At the bar, the chef — if you ask — will serve diners omakase style, a tasting menu of surprising small bites.

A chic Mediterranean restaurant on the top floor of the Esplanade shopping complex, Costa (150 Worth Avenue, #234) opened in January and is the perfect spot to recover after scouting out endless floors of high-end retail. Excellent agave-sweetened margaritas, an open, airy bar and unpretentious wait staff and vibe are just the tonic.

Luca Moriconi, the 35-year-old chef at Jove Kitchen & Bar (2800 South Ocean Boulevard) in the Four Seasons is challenging the “bad hotel restaurant” stereotype with contemporary Italian food served in a sleek atmosphere. One of the best Italian restaurants in South Florida, much of the produce is sourced from a nearby farm.

The kale and ricotta stuffed pappardelle is life-affirming, as is the roasted white chocolate mousse made by pastry chef Bashar Al Shamali.

Renowned Canadian chef Laurent Godbout’s first restaurant outside of Canada, Chez L’Épicier (288 South County Road) opened in Palm Beach in mid-2015. He takes his traditionally haute cuisine casual at this laid-back bistro. The avocado tartare is not to be missed, but reservations are recommended on the weekend to enjoy it. Chez L’Épicier also serves a discounted — not a word usually heard in Palm Beach — happy hour.

Where to shop, shop, shop

While shopping in Palm Beach can feel like a who’s who tour of luxury brands, smaller boutiques from independent and lesser-known brands are emerging. In November, Marco Cimmino (209 Worth Avenue), a 35-year-old Neapolitan, opened his eponymous store on Worth Avenue. He handpicks all of his clothing from Italy, some of which he designs himself, like purple and blue sparkly alligator sneakers. (They sell out quickly.)

A few blocks up the street is Socapri (235C Worth Avenue), the brand’s only location outside of Italy. The bright, airy boutique sells contemporary resort wear — think less Lilly Pulitzer floral patterns and more bright, chic, finely woven Italian fabrics.

Two recent Harvard graduates started Margaux (33 Via Mizner), an online startup that specializes in custom flats in 2015 and opened their first pop-up storefront in Palm Beach this year. (It’s in the Via Mizner courtyard until April 29th.)

Their women’s shoes don’t scrimp on quality, but don’t break the bank (prices range from $125 to $295). Around the corner is Poeta (21 Via Mizner), a small boutique that opened last season and sells its own well-priced label, meaning that a Jackie O-inspired cropped blue blazer retails for around $300. They also sell fashionable cult favorites like J. Brand jeans.

Where to find the next great artists

Lisa Brintz was tired of selling old masters (read: dead white guys) like many of the other galleries in Palm Beach so she opened Brintz Gallery (375 South County Road) in 2014 to showcase contemporary works. A recent exhibit, “Numinous,” featured three midcareer artists, Udo Nöger, Jaq Belcher and Carol Prusa, exploring the idea of “the holy.”

Late last year, she expanded her footprint with another space, County (350 South County Road #105), across the street that is dedicated to showcasing younger and emerging artists, such as John Philip Abbott and Annie Vieux. This month, County has a group show focusing on scale that will feature smaller pieces.

Where to sleep

While the Breakers is many things, cool was not necessarily one of them. But the Flagler Club — with its in-house Tesla for guests, sprawling terrace overlooking the city, Jo Malone products and sleek décor — is starting to change that reputation.

Outside the confines of the club, in the main hotel lobby, there’s more. The glamorous lounge and restaurant HMF, known for its knock-you-off-your-feet cocktails and menu that resembles food truck stations, serves everything from onion rings to line-caught swordfish souvlaki.

By breaking some longstanding Palm Beach dictum, even the Four Seasons Hotel (2800 South Ocean Blvd; high season, December to April, nightly rates start at $659) has become a hip place to stay. The hotel is shaking off a stuffy Palm Beach vibe with touches like weekly clambakes, morning yoga classes, two in-house cars, a zen-like spa focused on destressing and surf and paddle board lessons.

Guests don’t even have to leave for lunch, which no longer has to be a formal, multi-hour affair with a white tablecloth. The hotel offers a pop-up chirashi bar and fresh coconuts that can be eaten poolside — which has become the epitome of new Palm Beach chic and very ‘grammable. There’s also the hotel’s boutique, Swell, that sells of-the-moment fashionista brands like Missoni and Aquazzura.

With all this fun, who needs Miami?