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Cooking Up a Nutritional Change at RUSD

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By Ashley Jones

In July 2012, Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) began to implement major improvements to their nutritional programs in hopes of promoting better nutrition and reducing childhood obesity. The inspiration behind these new changes came from First Lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids (HHFK) Act of 2010. RUSD currently serves 43,000 students and has 47 school sites.

Prior to these impactful changes, RUSD’s Nutritional Services Director, Rodney Taylor, sought to find a leader to head the Catering Department and support RUSD’s vision to promote better nutrition for students. Mr. Taylor selected Chef Ryan Douglas.

Chef Douglas came on board in 2008 and currently serves as the executive chef and catering supervisor at RUSD. His functions include supervising the production of administrative meals for the school district and overseeing food preparation for the Catering Department. Prior to his employment with RUSD, he served as the culinary operations manager at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), where he supervised total day-to-day culinary operations for residential restaurant.

Douglas received his education and training from the United States Air Force (Denver, Co), Culinary Institute of America (Napa Valley, Ca and Misawa AFB, Japan) and the Effectiveness Institute, Inc. (Riverside, Ca).

Over the past four years, Douglas has seen notable changes in students’ health, which can be attributed to RUSD’s recent healthy initiatives. “I can directly affect change in the way kids in our community eat especially in the African American and Hispanic communities. As a professional chef, I have a positive influence on changing the perception of school food,” said Douglas.

In June 2012, Douglas had the honor of meeting First Lady Obama as one of the guest chefs invited to the White House to help launch Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign to end childhood obesity. As many as 500 chefs from 37 states participated in the event held on the South Lawn of the White House. The participants were challenged to help children make healthier choices.

In addition to the special task of helping children make healthier choices at RUSD, Douglas is also working locally with the Riverside County Department of Social Services to produce a video program that aims to help low income families enrolled in CalFresh to prepare healthy meals for their loved ones. CalFresh is the federal food stamp program.

“RUSD Nutrition Services had the opportunity to Partner with Riverside Department of Public Social Services to produce 7 cooking videos for CalFresh recipients. All of the nutrition classes and cooking videos were produced by RUSD high school students featuring myself. The filming of the videos was very exciting. Not only was it a live production set, but the interaction with the kid actors was great,” said Douglas.

Douglas’ mother inspired him to become a professional chef. “I learned to cook from my mom. She is no doubt and by far the best cook I have seen, and I have seen cooks and chefs from all around the world,” said Douglas.

Douglas grew up in Pasadena with his four siblings: Rodney (his twin brother), Russell, Eric, and Orin. He met his wife Lisa when they were in the military. They have been married for 27 years. They have three children, Magen, Nichole and Ryan Jr. and four grandchildren, Jeremiah, Julian, Kyrie, and Brooklyn (twins). Douglas and his wife serve as a deacon and deaconess to their church.

An Evening With Brian McKnight

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Riverside - Bill Malone, operator of the Fox Performing Arts Center is thrilled to announce an additional show to its spectacular Fall line-up, R&B superstar Brian McKnight in An Evening With Brian McKnight - An Intimate Solo Concert on Saturday, September 29 at 8pm. Tickets for An Evening With Brian McKnight: $27 - $67 plus limited VIP best seating at $77. The Box Office is open Monday - Friday from Noon to 6:00 PM, Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and on all show days from 10:00 AM to Show Time. The Box Office Phone number is: 951-779-9800.

As an artist who needs no introduction, McKnight has earned himself a spot in contemporary music history. He has released 14 albums to date, 7 of them have gone platinum, with several going 2 and 3x platinum, and he has sold over 20 million albums worldwide. McKnight is also a multi- instrumentalist who plays nine instruments including piano, guitar, bass, drums, percussions, trombone, tuba, flugelhorn and trumpet. In an industry known for a constantly revolving door of artists, McKnight has easily established himself with an enviable record of chart consistency, has toured successfully for over a decade, and has collaborated with performers across every genre including Quincy Jones, Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey, Diddy, Christina Aguilera, Rascal Flatts, Nelly, Vanessa Williams, Willie Nelson and Kenny G.

Born in Buffalo, New York, McKnight’s musical career began in childhood when he became a member of his church, NY choir and a bandleader for his high school, Sweet Home High School. By the age of 19, he signed his first recording deal with Mercury Records subsidiary, Wing Records. In 1992, his self-titled album “Brian McKnight” was released followed by “I Remember You” (1995) and “Anytime” (1997). Anytime sold over two million copies and was nominated for a Grammy. In 1999, McKnight released Back at One on Motown Records, which sold over three million copies.

Along with several Grammy nominations, Brian McKnight has been the recipient of American Music Awards, Soul Train Awards, NAACP Image and Blockbuster Awards, and Billboard Songwriter of The Year. He has crossed the boundaries of EVERY medium. He has hosted "Soul Session Countdown with Brian McKnight" on BETJ. In addition, "The Brian McKnight Morning Show" on KTWV the Wave Smooth Jazz radio station, was a Top 5 rated show 2 years running. In 2009 Brian started hosting his own radio show "The Brian McKnight Show" which ran in over 60 markets and was syndicated through ABC Radio. Brian also hosted his own nationally syndicated TV show "The Brian McKnight Show".

McKnight has also used his vast industry knowledge as a red carpet host for Extra! and in 2007, McKnight stepped into Broadway with a successful run as Billy Flynn in Chicago. Brian was also a contestant on the Donald Trump hit show "Celebrity Apprentice" and toured nationwide in the musical play "Cheaper to Keep Her" with Vivica A. Fox.

2011 saw the release of Brian's 14th album, entitled "Just Me" along with a worldwide tour and live DVD. Brian made it a family affair and was joined on tour by his brother Claude McKnight and sons BJ and Niko also known as "BRKN RBTZ" (broken robots), for what has been spectacular one-of-a kind show.

In 2012 Brian and his sons started their own record label; Trif3cta Records. Brian is looking to create a haven for true singer songwriters and artists who want to have control not only in their music, but in their careers in general. Brian and his sons are also producing other artists under the name “C.A.T.S” an acronym for Care About The Sound. 2012 will also see the launch of his McKnight 360 Foundation to help raise awareness and provide solutions for the lack of funding for musical programs in schools across the country.

Cirque Du Soleil Presents Dralion in Ontario Seven performances only from October 24-28

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Ontario - Cirque du Soleil is pleased to announce that the critically-acclaimed touring production Dralion will perform in Ontario at Citizens Business Bank Arena from October 24 - 28, 2012 for seven performances only. Advance discounted tickets for Dralion are available now online exclusively to Cirque Club members through August 9. Cirque Club membership is free and benefits includes access to advance tickets, special offers and exclusive behind the scenes information. To join, go to www.cirqueclub.com. Tickets for the general public will be available starting August 10 at www.cirquedusoleil.com/dralion or by calling 1-888-9AXS-TIX.

Thrilling more than 8 million people worldwide since the show premiered in 1999, Dralion is the fusion of ancient Chinese circus traditions and the avant-garde style of Cirque du Soleil. The name Dralion (pronounced “Drah-lee-on”) is drawn from its two main symbols: the dragon, representing the East, and the lion, representing the West. Dralion derives much of its inspiration from Eastern philosophy with its perpetual quest for harmony between humankind and nature. The international cast features 52 world-class acrobats, gymnasts, musicians, singers and comedic characters.


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The Blue Jay Jazz Foundation is proud to present world renowned Grammy Award winner Latin band leader and master percussionist Poncho Sanchez back by popular demand in Blue Jay. The concert will be held August 2, 2012 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Rite-Aid Center venue located at 27177 State Highway 189, Blue Jay California 92317. Tickets are $20.00. Tables and tickets available at www.bluejayjazz.com Children under 12 free with adult.

Making his fourth appearance at the annual ‘Jazz in Blue Jay Summer Concerts’ series, Poncho is not only legendary but a local favorite. More than anything else Poncho Sanchez is a storyteller. And as a leader of the most popular Latin jazz group in the world it’s his congas that spin vivacious tales that pay homage to the glories of Afro-Cuban jazz merged with bebop. “Its music from the heart that hits you right between the eyes,” said Chris Levister, President of the Blue Jay Jazz Foundation. The wildly entertaining King Brothers are on tap August 9 for an evening of “gut-bucket blues”. The King Brothers’, unique passion and visceral interpretation of the blues attract fans from all walks of life. Rather than relying solely on tried and true blues styling - which the Kings inherited naturally from second-cousins and blues legends Freddy and Albert King - Sam and Lee King are cutting a new standard.

"It's danceable, it's rock-flavored, funk-flavored, gospel-flavored," explains Lee of the King Brothers' music. "I don't know a damn thing about picking cotton; I don't drink whiskey; I don't dip snuff; I don't fit any of those blues-man stereotypes. We just ‘dig’ it for the art form, and we're taking it where it needs to go."

The Blue Jay Jazz Foundation is an all volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to building the jazz arts community by advancing education, promoting cutting edge performance and developing new audiences.

BET Awards 2012: An Evening to Remember

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By Lea Michelle Cash

Los Angeles, CA—It was a brief few moments in time, which stood still as a magnificent voice of a mother, Cissy Houston sang tribute to her late daughter, Whitney Houston as an emotional highlight on Sunday, July 1 at the BET Awards held at the legendary Shine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Whitney’s brother, Gary, Brandy, Monica, Mariah Carey and the cast of Waiting to Exhale graced the stage as well to remember Whitney, but the stage belonged to Cissy.

She sang Simon and Garfunkel’s unforgettable song, Bridge Over Trouble Water and by the time, she had reached the lyrics, “Sail on silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine, all your dreams are on their way. See how they shine…” tears from those in the audience and backstage were falling everywhere. A beautiful performance was rendered from a heart not yet healed regarding a precious daughter gone too soon. This emotional moment will go down in time as a Black Entertainment Television classic.

Actor Samuel L. Jackson hosted the three- hour telecast this year. There were performances by Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Pusha T, Big Sean and several others. The show remembered the late Don Cornelius and Dick Clark. Chante Moore performed a short medley of Donna Summer’s hits in remembrance of her as well. Kanye West and his G.O.O.D music collaboration kicked off the show. The first award of the night, for the Best Group went to Jay-Z and Kanye’s The Throne. This year’s Humanitarian Award presented by State Farm went to Reverend Al Sharpton.

The electric star-studded evening produced another highlight—the honoring of Frankie Beverly and Maze. This was a musical tribute long overdue. Maze received the Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Award. The telecast premieres a video montage of the legendary performer’s forty-year career with Tyrese, Joe and Faith Evans singing the soul groups’ classics. After receiving their award, and acknowledging a member of the group “McKinley “Bug” Williams” passing on, they then took over the stage and performed two songs.

Many awards were passed out to deserving Black entertainers as the evening featuring old school, Hip Hop, gospel and R& B music took center stage. The winners were: Best Group — The Throne (Kanye West & Jay-Z); Best Actor — Kevin Hart; Best New Artist – Big Sean; Best Male R&B Artist — Chris Brown; Best Collaboration — Wale ft. Miguel; Best Gospel — Yolanda Adams; Best Female R&B Artist — Beyonce; Best Female Hip Hop Artist — Nicki Minaj; Video Of The Year — “Otis” by Kanye West & Jay-Z; Viewers’ Choice Award –Mindless Behavior; Video Director of The Year — Beyonce & Alan Ferguson; and Fandemonium Award — Chris Brown.

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BVN National News Wire