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Young Hands, First Notes, Endless Possibilities: A Musical Petting Zoo




The inaugural “Young Hands, First Notes, Endless Possibilities: A Musical Petting Zoo,” held at Lifeway Fellowship Church in Killeen, offered participants an enriching and exciting experience. 

Tina Cole, event organizer and co-chair of the ACE Baylor Links Digital Media Program, cultivated the idea to commemorate the memory of her son, Jarin Cole. Known as JC Stringz, he was passionate about music and giving back to the community. He passed away on Aug. 2, 2023, at age 22. 

JC was a student at the Berklee College of Music, a private music college in Boston, Massachusetts. At his memorial service in Killeen, Dr. Emmett Price, the inaugural dean of Africana Studies at Berklee, announced that a scholarship in his name would be awarded to a student at the school annually.

The musical petting zoo offered a unique experience for youth and adults, as well, said Waco Central (TX) President Sandra Forsythe. She adds that the process of learning and playing an instrument increases brain power and functionality, which may result in a boosted IQ and improved concentration. 

“Music has been shown to accelerate brain development for children. It can also enhance fine and gross motor skills, and sensory development.” Forsythe said. “I can't wait until the next time we can share this musical opportunity with even more individuals.”

Mia Moody-Ramirez, co-chair of the ACE Baylor Links Digital Media Program, said we are grateful to Mrs. Cole for sharing her vision with our Links chapter and ACE program participants. 

“The musical petting zoo is significant because JC did so many things with his music to give back to the community,” she said. “I saw him perform many times.” 

ACE Director Marlise Thomas said the field trip experience opened a window of opportunities for the ACE program. 

“Our students were so amazed and excited to experience the Bell County Youth Orchestra,” she said. Mr. Clarkson and his students were wonderful. Being able to touch and learn about each instrument was awesome for the HISD/CISD ACE students. Educating our students while exposing them to life outside of ‘their’ norm will broaden their outlook on life by giving them more options that they never would know were/are options to them.”

ACE Baylor Digital Media Program is sponsored by the Waco Central (TX) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and the Baylor University Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media, both dedicated to providing opportunities for growth and development. 

It is an honor to keep the memory of Jarin alive through this incredible event, said James Clarkson.

“Our Lord blesses us in ways we never expected. Knowing JC and being able to share his love and passion with others is such a gift,” Clarkson said. “Thank you indeed for allowing our program to take part! More to come.”

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