July at Christmas
story compiled by kathryn schiliro • photo by angelina bellebuono
MCHS students remember what they accomplished over their last major school holiday
The difference may only lie in the temperature.
Many Morgan County High School students didn't spend their summer holiday relaxing in front of the TV; instead, they were out and about, keeping themselves just as busy as they are during the school year. So, the Citizen asked these students to tell us a little bit about what they did the months before this school year started.
As we bundle up and prepare for another holiday, time spent away from school and work, let's look back on what these students accomplished when the weather was much, much warmer.
Courtney Boswell spent 11 days in Washington, D.C. this summer with her sister. In addition to seeing the sites, they went in to New York City where she took a dance class. "While I was there, we went to Arlington Cemetery where we saw the Changing of the Guard. Along with the tourist attractions, I experienced some local culture by listening to jazz music in the park. One day, my sister and I took a charter bus into New York City, NY. We were in the city for (seven) hours, thus experiencing as much as possible. I took a contemporary dance class at Broadway Dance Center. By being there, I was able to meet new people from all over the world and dance on the same floor that many famous dancers have danced on," Boswell writes.
how did you grow from this experience? I learned a lot about city life and how it differs from the small town of Madison. In my dance class, I was able to learn new techniques that I was able to share with my studio here. I also learned how to meet and interact with people that I have never met.
what would you tell others about this activity? I believe that everyone should travel to Washington, D.C. to gain a sense of how our country is run and experience the history. Traveling to New York City was an amazing experience because you are enriched with different cultures just by walking down the busy streets. If you go to New York City, you should visit Central Park. It is amazing to be in the center of a green, peaceful park when you know the chaotic city scene is just feet away.
Laura Margaret Burbach spent four weeks at the Governor's Honors Program in Valdosta, where she studied as a Social Studies major and Math minor.
how did you grow from this experience? I interviewed for the opportunity to major in Social Studies. We learned about everything from social media and its implications in political revolutions (the class was called #howtostartarevolutionin140charactersorless) to microfinance (class: Ending poverty with $23). We also completed a research project, for which I compared "The Communist Manifesto" to Soviet communism.
After arriving at GHP, I selected my minor as Math. I took classes that studied the history of math in ancient cultures, logic in Lewis Carroll poetry, and the Pythagorean theorem in music. On Fridays in minors, we would play card games. I learned how to play Shanghai rummy and bridge.
Also, the RAs taught optional seminars after classes that featured everything from admissions information about that RA's college to placing Disney characters in the different levels of Dante's hell.
My favorite part of this four-week experience was that we never stopped learning. There were no TVs, there wasn't internet in the dorms, and, quite often, there were no cell phones. Without those distractions, we spent all day talking (or debating) with our peers about current events and classical literature and mathematical theorems.
what would you tell others about this activity? I would encourage everyone who wants to go to college or seek a career in one of the major areas to at least interview for GHP. Even if you are not selected or choose not to attend, the interview experience alone exposes you to a whole new variety of skills that you just aren't accustomed to honing in a high school setting.
Lauren Cagle went to Georgia 4-H State Congress this summer.
how did you grow from this experience? I grew as a person by meeting new people and learning new things... I came back from the trip with better people skills.
what would you tell others about this activity? I would encourage everyone to participate in the 4-H program. It provides you with opportunities that you wouldn't have otherwise!
Reagan Collins attended the week-long Georgia Girls State at Georgia Southern University.
how did you grow from this experience? This camp was all about government (local, state and federal) and the processes of election and responsibilities of any given office. I learned a lot about how the process of elections work, as well as what I would be interested in as potential leadership positions and political offices in my future.
what would you tell others about this activity? I would strongly suggest other girls (going into their senior year) to take part in this camp! It's an educational experience, as well as very fun! You meet other girls from all over the state who are also future leaders of America.You gain a chance to bond with them and make friendships that last beyond the week at Georgia Southern! (One of my friends from Girls State is potentially my roommate for next year!) I would advise anyone who is chosen to go to this camp to really get involved and run for as many offices as you can throughout the week. If you don't get involved, then it's just a week of meetings, but if you take part and use the camp to its full potential, it's a life-changing and amazing week that you'll never forget!
Thomas Hughes went to the 46th annual North Georgia Youth Music and Worship Arts Camp, a week-long camp sponsored by the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, at the campus of Emory University's Oxford College in Oxford, Ga.
how did you grow from this experience? We spend the week learning different songs that fit that camp's theme for that year. For example, last summer's theme was "A Closer Walk" and the camp clinician picks five or six songs to sing that are about that theme. We learned to work to together as a group to learn each of those songs by the end of the week. And it's not only singing songs all week. Students select classes to take in the afternoon after morning rehearsals. Those classes are Guitar, Art, Musical Drama, Handbells, Instrument Ensemble, String Ensemble, and others. I learned from that experience that you have to work together to get everything done by the week's end.
what would you tell others about this activity? There have been many Madison residents that have attended the camp over the years. This summer, Madison resident Alyssa Alsbrooks will serve as the camp-elected President. Former Madison resident Christopher Powell is currently a counselor at the camp. I would recommend this camp to musicians that serious about learning music in one week. There's no room (for) slacking during the week. The camp is open to rising seventh graders to rising freshmen in college. It is a great experience for all musicians and it (was) one of the best weeks of my life.
William Prior took part in Georgia Boys State, sponsored by the American Legion, held at Georgia Southern University.
how did you grow from this experience? Not only was this a place where I made many new friends, I also learned about what it means to be a leader and how to lead.
what would you tell others about this activity? If you are ever invited to this camp, my advice is take it. There are great counselors, great people, and great/fun activities that you will enjoy every day. One important thing to remember is to stay involved in everything. New positions constantly open up, and the more you participate, the more fun it is. And, as a bonus, you get to have the experience of college life on a beautiful campus.
Alex Sorohan spent her summer working with MCHS teacher Amy Saylor on a presentation they gave at a Savannah conference of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. The presentation, about the dangers of texting while driving, was based on her experience after losing her brother, Caleb, to a texting while driving accident and the subsequent legislation that she and other MCHS students and teachers saw go through the state legislature and be signed into law.
how did you grow from this experience? This was my first presentation that was about 45 minutes long, and I learned a lot from this experience. I learned about public speaking skills and the importance of interacting with people to keep everyone safe. I also learned that if you put yourself out there, people will support you and help you pass on your message to other people because they find it important also.
what would you tell others about this activity? I wish everyone could know that if you work hard enough and set your mind to doing something then it is possible to achieve your goal. It may be very difficult but at the same time you learn from the difficulty and good result will come out of it.
The fun doesn't stop here, though. Dr. Mark Wilson, principal of the high school, sent the Citizen a few more notes about students' summer accomplishments.
• Alyson Curry, McKinlie Ramsey and Ellen Wilson attended the Hugh O'Brien Leadership Program, also known as HOBY.
• Rachel Shanklin and Jake Miles joined Reagan Collins and William Prior at Girls State and Boys State, sponsored by the American Legion.
• Amelia Collier and Cody Bailey went to Rotary Youth Leadership Assembly (RYLA).
• Patrick Bolton went on a church mission trip.
• Reed Padgett journeyed to Haiti for six weeks.
• Ashton Prior attended the National Thespian Festival.
• In a trek up and down the east coast, Adarius Journey went to Disney World in Orlando, spent the Fourth of July in Virginia Beach and tripped to Six Flags twice in one weekend.
• Alyssa Alsbrooks joined Thomas Hughes at the 46th annual North Georgia Youth Music and Worship Arts Camp at Emory University's Oxford College in Oxford, Ga.
• Jessica Bailey represented Morgan County Middle School Drama Troupe 88801 at the International Thespian Conference in Lincoln, Neb.
• Victoria Cagle, Cole Rolader and Stephanie Pincus joined Lauren Cagle at state 4-H Congress.
• Angela Armstrong went to youth camp at Pigeon Forge and worked at a nursing home.
• Reagan Collins also went to MDA Camp.
• Chrissy Mitchell attended horse camp at Auburn University.
• Jacob Harrington enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps in June and "contracted" in August. He's now in the USMC Reserve until he graduates; then he will leave for basic.
• Brittany Jenkins went to U.S. Army basic training.
• Jacob Pendergraft traveled to France in June and visited Normandy. He attended a memorial service there and toured the D-Day landing beaches.
Printed in the December 22, 2011 edition