Arts & Entertainment
story by kathryn schiliro
photos by jesse walker
Digging in the dirt in the raised beds outside their classroom, one Morgan County Elementary fourth grader jokes, "We wet the bed today."
Post-pun giggling and some eye rolling, from adults and students, ensues.
In all seriousness, 52 students in the Gifted program at the elementary school are learning about farming – the earth and life sciences that make up agriculture and human impact on the environment – first-hand, by establishing and tending raised beds outside their classroom.
The brainchild of MCES Gifted teachers Melissa Freeman and Molly Bonner, at the recommendation of Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett, they approached Brad Kelly of Kelly Products last November. Kelly and Christine McCauley, of the Madison-Morgan Conservancy, had previously approached Bennett about locally grown veggies making up a salad bar in the schools' cafeterias.
"When we heard about the [MCES] garden, we thought it was a great first step," McCauley said.
Kelly agreed to take on the project at the school and, after meetings with the Gifted teachers to work out the details, began by constructing raised beds, to become organic gardens, right outside Freeman's classroom. The construction of the beds, with the help of Larkin Merritt, took one February afternoon. The beds will allow the student-gardeners to bypass trying to grow their crops in the Georgia clay.
Raymond L. Robinson (top) is the fourth in his family to serve after Pledge Keeley (middle, left and bottom, second from left), Tamarcus Browning and Elaine Browning. photos contributed
Raymond L. Robinson represents fourth generation of service
Storyteller Renee Hannah jives with young audiences
Hanna said she has no discipline issues with the children.
“The reason why is because I give them ownership of the story,” she said. “They know that going in and help me tell it.”
She added that they make noise during storytime, from laughing to oohing, from groaning to sneezing.
Also, they run the gamut of emotions.
“When they walk out of there they have performed,” she said. “It’s their performance.”
A theatre student, Hanna said she knew nothing about storytelling when she began. She created a character, Auntie Clara, and went with it.
“The kids loved it, the teachers loved it,” she said.
Hanna then pursued formal training in Atlanta and learned more about storytelling. That is when she learned to develop characters based on classic books.
“Characters have to have costumes and they have to have props,” she said. Thus her story box and story box song were born.
Hanna explained that she does not read a book to the children. Rather, she shows them the story, whether it is a picture book, a folktale, or a fairytale.
“I let the children help me tell the story,” she said. “They may change it and it becomes our story.”
She stressed that when the children leave, they have a story of their own.
“It’s fresh and energizing every single time,” she said.
This process has worked for her for 18 years, she said. She has been all over the state from one end to the other.
story by stephanie johns
photos by jesse walker and contributed
Morgan Fund awards $35,000 to seven local nonprofits, one volunteer
Seven local non-profits and one dedicated volunteer were recognized last Tuesday during the annual Morgan Fund “Celebration of Community” event held at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center.
The Morgan Fund awarded $35,000 in grants to the following grantees: Action Ministries, Camp Twin Lakes, the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy, Madison Morgan County Caring Place, Madison-Morgan Conservancy, Morgan County Foundation (dba Madison-Morgan Cultural Center) and Steffen Thomas Museum and Archives.
Bobby Mackey and Kim Jackson emceed the event. Morgan Fund Advisory Committee Chair Chris Lambert said she likes to think of the event as the “Nonprofit Academy Awards.”
Recipients were given a chance to share their nonprofit’s purpose and how they plan to use the grant money.
The Rev. Jannan Thomas, executive director of Action Ministries Housing, said that this is the group’s fourth year in Morgan County. They serve homeless families with children for up to two years while the families pursue self sufficiency.
The group has a 96 percent success rate, she said, and they also have a new program for veterans.
Dan Mathews with Camp Twin Lakes explained how the camp offers kids and adults with challenges the opportunity to have a camp experience.
He added that the grant will help support a new program in which every fifth grader in Morgan County will be able to visit the camp twice, once in the fall and again in the spring.
Misuraca and Ramsey are both 2013 salutatorians
By Stephanie Johns
There will be three students speaking at the Morgan County High School (MCHS) commencement this May: valedictorian Morgan Hicky and salutatorians Jacob Misuraca and McKinlie Ramsey.
Last Wednesday seniors were called to the front of the school and made a path for Dr. Jim Malanowski, principal of MCHS.
Malanowski presented the seniors with their graduation speakers and encouraged the other students to look to the three.
“We just had a conversation about all their hard work that has gone into bringing them to this point,” he said. “Respect that hard work. Admire that hard work and set yourself to do that same kind of work yourself.”
He added that the three students had run through the finish line and encouraged the other students to watch them as role models.
The three students then piled into a limo where their parents awaited. A short ride later they arrived at Madison Chop House Grille for lunch.
Misuraca said that when he learned of his accomplishment, his thought was, “Oh, that’s cool.”
During the ride, though, the three shared smiles and laughs as well as future plans: all three will attend the Georgia Institute of Technology in the fall.