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Editor's note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From college towns to good reasons to play hooky, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio neighbor booms as 4th fastest-growing U.S. college town, report says. San Marcos' population in 2000 was 36,120; in 2023 the population has nearly doubled to 70,372.

2. Curtains open on San Antonio music school's charming new community space. Sage Music recently finished construction on a beautiful building in Midtown, inserting modern practice spaces and a concert stage.

3. San Antonio International Airport relaxes into rating as the 5th least stressful U.S. airport. Factors that helped determine SAT's rank include the percentage of delayed flights and cancelled flights as of 2022.

4. San Antonio golf course scores title from Texas Monthly as one of the state's best. What sets this course apart, according to editor in chief Dan Goodgame, is its rich history and the challenges it provides for avid golfers.

5. Comedian Adam Sandler chooses San Antonio as only Texas stop on new tour. He played Austin, Houston, and Dallas last February as part of his "Adam Sandler Live" stand-up tour, but they're not getting his new tour.

SA Yacht Club/Instagram

San Antonio's Grayson Street development docks with 4 restaurant and shopping concepts, plus more top stories

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Editor's note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From the migration of monarchs to the migration of restaurant concepts, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio's Grayson Street development docks with four restaurant and shopping concepts. In addition to hosting two vacation rentals, the complex will contain four businesses.

2. San Antonio swerves to No. 4 spot on new list of deadliest cities for Labor Day driving. San Antonians got a reminder to drive safe last weekend thanks to a concerning new report.

3. San Antonio sees monarch butterflies off with pre-migration festival. It's still a little far out, but people who want to plan their monarch costumes will have plenty of time to get their orange and black on.

4. Here are the top 7 things to do in San Antonio this weekend. Tap into your expressive side with a blend of performance art, classical art, and more at venues around the city.

5. This is how much more San Antonio residents earn with a graduate degree than a bachelor's. The average cost of a master's degree is $65,134, so it's important to consider the financial benefits.

Photo courtesy of Sage Music

Curtains open on San Antonio music school's charming new community space

Play On

Musicians love learning on YouTube, and that's never going to change — until the next most accessible thing comes around, anyway. But one San Antonio music school that's been contributing to those online resources for a decade now has a stately new space in the city.

Sage Music, an award-winning music school, is celebrating the grand opening of its new San Antonio location on September 9. The school invites locals to stop by and get to know the space or even receive free lessons.

Founded in New York City in 2009, Sage Music sacrificed having a brick-and-mortar teaching space to relocate its headquarters to San Antonio during the pandemic, after founder Jason Sagebiel fell in love with the city. The school recently finished construction on a beautiful building in Midtown, inserting modern practice spaces and a concert stage into a charming semi-traditional home.

Sage Music San Antonio exteriorSage Music's new digs.Sage Music/Google reviews

"We've always focused on giving excellent music lessons and client service, but we've been missing the community our brick and mortar locations provided," said Jason Sagebiel in a press release. "We're so grateful to have a new home so we can invite more great people into our musical community."

Hosting both in-person and online music lessons, Sage Music's goal is to instill a lifelong passion for music by fostering self-motivation, community building, and an understanding that fulfillment stems from the act of creating itself. The school understands the never-ending artistic journey, encouraging students to celebrate small successes while appreciating the iterative creative process.

Most private instruction is customized for the students' needs, but Sage takes a more methodical approach: Prospective students can complete a quiz so instructors can tailor their classes, whether mastering advanced techniques or learning new songs. Lessons are customized to help each student play the music they want and develop their desired skills.

Sage Music San Antonio interiorA view of the communal space inside of Sage Music.Sage Music/Google reviews

Since Sage Music's San Antonio soft launch in May, the school has earned rave 5-star Google reviews for its unique approach to learning and practicing music. The proprietary music education curriculum at Sage Music, called Arpeggio (stylized ARPEGGIO), strives to empower students to reach their full potential on their instrument of choice.

Arpeggio, developed by founder Jason Sagebiel, is key to the school's success. This method applies principles of neuroscience, psychology, and motor learning to musical instruction. Sagebiel created Arpeggio after re-learning guitar himself following a traumatic brain injury he suffered as a U.S. Marine Scout Sniper in Iraq.

According to the release, students have travelled from as far as Australia to study at the flagship New York school. The school's clientele ranges from beginners to professional musicians.

Sage Music's grand opening event on September 9 starts at 10 am at 209 W. Poplar St., featuring opportunities to tour the school, watch student and teacher performances, and receive free introductory music lessons. RSVP at sagemusic.co.

Photo courtesy of the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival

San Antonio sees monarch butterflies off with pre-migration festival

Bye-bye Butterflies

It sounds like the setup for a joke, but monarch butterflies and bees do have something in common, besides being some of the cuter insects that people gravitate toward. Both are important pollinators, and both need people's help to thrive in the increasingly urban areas in Central Texas.

Rounding up bipedal supporters of these winged friends, the eighth annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival is returning to San Antonio's Brackenridge Park on October 7. It's still a little far out, but people who want to plan their monarch costumes will have plenty of time to get their orange and black on.

The free all-ages festival focuses both on fun and education. Two event partners join in: Blooming with Birdie, which makes all-ages immersive educational experiences, will translate some of inherent lessons of pollinators for kids; and the Brackenridge Park Conservancy, which works in park advocacy and preservation.

It's not just passive learning: The festival aims to foster hands-on connection between visitors, the environment, and by extension some local pollinators like bees, bats, and hummingbirds. (This "extension" is because we, of course, do not want hands-on experience with wasps, even though they are also great pollinators.) Guests will learn something but also become more deeply in touch with nature in their figurative backyard.

More than 30 educational partners will be onsite, managing the experience of an expected 3,500 attendees. Some of the activities will include monarch tagging for a citizen science project; planting trees; honoring the butterflies' return to Mexico with a Día de los Muertos altar; and embodying your favorite pollinators through costumes, face painting, dance, and an obstacle course.

San Antonio was the first Monarch Champion City in the United States, as declared by the National Wildlife Federation. Mayor Ron Nirenberg makes an annual pledge to keep helping the monarchs; This year's items include issuing a proclamation about declining numbers and the need for a habitat, planting milkweed for the butterflies to eat, and converting vacant lots to monarch habitats, among many things.

The Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival will take place on October 7 from 9 am to 1 pm. More information is available at bloomingwithbirdie.com.


This is how much more San Antonio residents earn with a graduate degree than a bachelor's

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One of the biggest decisions new college graduates face after earning their bachelor's degree is whether to continue their education with a graduate degree or enter the professional world without one. The Education Data Initiative reports that the average cost of a master's degree is $65,134, so it's important to consider the financial benefits depending on an individual's chosen field of study.

In a metro area like San Antonio-New Braunfels, a graduate degree would mean a resident earns $14,459 more than if they only had a bachelor's degree, according to a new study by SmartAsset.

The average annual income of a San Antonio resident with a bachelor's degree is $57,689, the study says, with graduate degree earners making $72,148 per year.

The average annual pay in San Antonio for someone with a graduate degree is slightly greater than the national average of $72,000. The study further determined that on a national scale, a graduate degree nets individuals $16,000 more per year — a slightly greater increase than in San Antonio.

"Amid the high expenses of education and ever-changing job markets, it’s important to weigh the opportunity costs of a graduate degree with the additional earning potential," the study's author wrote. "A graduate or professional degree nets an extra $484,000 over a career, on average... This assumes a 30 year career in a medium or large metro area."

SmartAsset's study used 2021 U.S. Census Bureau 1-Year ACS S1501 data to determine the income for individuals aged 25 and older with varying professional degrees in 281 of the biggest metropolitan areas.

The Texas city where a graduate degree nets a resident the most amount of money is Midland, with a massive $24,394 difference between graduate degree and bachelor's holders. Average graduate degree pay in the West Texas city is $90,559 versus a bachelor's degree pay of $66,165.

The metro that landed at the top of the national ranks is San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California. A bachelor's degree holder makes an average salary of $102,214 in the area, whereas a graduate degree holder increases those earnings more than $48,000, totaling $150,281.

The full report and its methodology can be found on smartasset.com.

Photo courtesy of San Antonio Light

Main Plaza Conservancy presents The Chili Queen Forum

Main Plaza Conservancy will present The Chili Queen Forum, where visitors can have the chance to connect with fellow chili enthusiasts.

At this forum, city leaders, residents, and stakeholders will discuss new ways to highlight the critical role Chili Queens played in San Antonio and in the History of the United States. The event will begin with an informal discussion at the A/C Marriott Hotel, where panelists will include representatives from the World Heritage Organization San Antonio-City of Gastronomy Initiative, Casa Navarro, the Spanish Governor’s Palace, and more.

Afterwards, guests will enjoy a free sample of Frito Pie, provided by 1 Watson rooftop bar overlooking Main Plaza. Beverages will be available for purchase.

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UTSA outpaces progress of every other school on U.S. News' best Texas colleges list

go roadrunners

The University of Texas at San Antonio has massively improved its high-quality educational experiences for students, earning it the highest increase of all public universities on U.S. News and World Report's just-released list of the Best Colleges in Texas for 2024.

The home of the Roadrunners claimed No. 16 in Texas, and had an incredible 92-place leap from the previous year into No. 280 nationally for 2024. The public institution had an undergraduate enrollment of more than 29,600 students in fall 2022. The school, which costs $10,580 in tuition and fees for in-state students each year, ranks No. 151 for "Top Public Schools" by U.S. News.

In a release celebrating these latest rankings, UTSA President Taylor Eighmy explained some of the ways the university has strived to improve its student experience and success.

“Over the last decade we have worked strategically to become a Carnegie R1 institution, to be eligible for National Research University fund status here in Texas, to be recognized for our immense progress in student success measures, to become a Seal Certified institution from Excelencia in Education, and to showcase how our students benefit from a UTSA education as they enter the workforce with low debt and high economic and social mobility,” Eighmy said. “These collective efforts have been noticed and we are grateful for the recognition.”

U.S. News' profile of UTSA says the university prides itself for its research opportunities for all students, including first-years.

"A focus on learning outside the classroom challenges Roadrunners to apply knowledge and skills acquired in their courses to hands-on, real-world situations, preparing them for success in competitive job markets," the site says.

The university also boasts a diverse campus culture that encourages students to broaden their worldviews.

"Our students come from diverse backgrounds, and each has their own unique goals and dreams," the site says. "With 45 percent of undergraduates being the first in their families to attend college, UTSA is recognized as a national model for first-generation and transfer students."

Ahead of UTSA in the ranking is Texas State University in San Marcos, which also ranked No. 280 nationally.

Just behind UTSA is the University of the Incarnate Word. The private institution placed No. 17 in the Texas rankings and No. 296 nationally.

U.S. News' top 10 best colleges in Texas in 2024 are:

  • No. 1 – Rice University, Houston
  • No. 2 – University of Texas at Austin
  • No. 3 – Texas A&M University, College Station
  • No. 4 – Southern Methodist University, Dallas
  • No. 5 – Baylor University, Waco
  • No. 6 – Texas Christian University, Fort Worth
  • No. 7 – The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson
  • No. 8 – University of Houston
  • No. 9 – Texas Tech University, Lubbock
  • No. 10 – University of St. Thomas, Houston

The full rankings can be found on usnews.com.

Online home searching platform Compass buys top San Antonio-based brokerage

real estate news

National residential real estate agency Compass has acquired Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio, in a move that will expand its position as the leading national firm and its growth in Texas by more than 600 agents.

Although the sale price was not disclosed in Compass' announcement, the local brokerages completed $5.24 billion sales just in 2022 alone.

Compass added that the Austin and San Antonio leadership will have direct oversight of daily operations as part of the terms of the acquisition. Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio co-founder Yvette Flores maintains that she and her leadership team will strive for a "seamless transition" into the national firm that respects the home-grown culture they have created.

Realty Austin was founded in 2004 by Flores and Jonathan Boatwright, and has grown through the years to become one of the most innovative brokerages in Central Texas and beyond. The company expanded its operations to San Antonio in 2021.

Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio CEO Gabe Richter said in the release that Compass' leading-edge technology will help his agents foster greater successes, particularly in one blossoming San Antonio category: luxury real estate.

"Our agents have consistently set records with remarkable achievements," Richter said in the release. "Now, by aligning with Compass, they gain access to a transformative technology platform that enhances efficiency and elevated resources that empower them to secure even more luxury listings."

Compass was founded in 2012 as the largest real estate brokerage in the U.S., and preserves its stronghold as the No. 1 brokerage in Texas thanks to its milestone acquisition. The national brokerage has already surpassed $10 billion in sales in Texas in 2023, according to the release.

“With this acquisition, we've positioned ourselves as Austin's leading brokerage — our commitment to setting new standards and inspiring innovation for all our exceptional agents remains the top priority while honoring what Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio has built," said Compass Texas President Rachel Hocevar.

Fantastic visuals and original story make The Creator a must-see sci-fi film

Movie Review

In the relatively risk-averse world that is modern Hollywood, getting an original story is a rarity. The vast majority of potentially blockbuster movies these days are ones that have a connection to some kind of existing intellectual property that already has a well-established track record. So anytime something interesting arrives that’s not a sequel/reboot/remake/commercial for a product, it deserves to be celebrated.

And that goes double when it’s done as well as the new sci-fi film, The Creator. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world in 2065, 30 years after a sentient artificial intelligence detonated a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. Joshua (John David Washington) is an American soldier who for years worked undercover alongside A.I.-enhanced robots, many of which are fitted with clones of human faces, to try to find their reclusive leader, Nirmata, in a part of the world now called New Asia.

A personal tragedy sends him into exile, but he’s recruited back into service by Colonel Howell (Allison Janney) to seek out and destroy a weapon that may turn the tide in the war for good. Turns out the weapon is a robot in the form of a child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), and when Joshua discovers that fact, he finds it impossible to carry out the mission. Instead, he does everything he can to protect the girl he calls Alphie, with the military hot on his tail all the while.

Written and directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One) and co-written by Chris Weitz, the film is astonishing in a number of ways, but mostly for its ability to draw the viewer in visually. The CGI is amazingly believable, making it easy to immerse yourself in the storytelling. From a foreboding super-weapon in the sky called NOMAD to the futuristic landscapes to the whirring metal cylinders that appear to be the brains of the robots, the film is full of fantastic details that make it a feast for the eyes.

The concept of A.I. is increasingly being used as a storytelling tool, and here the filmmakers seem to try to play both sides of the fence. Many people in the film fear its capabilities, especially given the nuclear event. But by literally putting human faces on many of the robots, it becomes more difficult to see them as pure evil, a dilemma that’s at the core of the problem for both Joshua and the audience.

Washington, who’s fast becoming as reliably good as his father, Denzel, is the star of the film, and he does a great job in that role. But stealing the show every second she’s on screen is Voyles, who delivers a debut performance the likes of which hasn’t been seen in many years. She is utterly convincing and heartbreaking as Alphie; while the story may have worked with a lesser actor, she helps take it to completely different level.

Also putting in great work are Janney, who proves herself as badass and fearsome a military leader as any man; Mark Menchaca as her No. 2; Ken Watanabe as an A.I. robot; singer-turned-actor Sturgill Simpson as a friend of Joshua; and Gemma Chan, redeeming herself after the misfire of Eternals.

John David Washington in The Creator
Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

John David Washington in The Creator.

The Creator could’ve earned praise simply by giving us an original sci-fi story. But by accompanying it with awe-inspiring imagery and performances that elevate the story immeasurably, Edwards and his team have made a film that will likely be remembered for years to come.


The Creator opens in theaters on September 29.