By Katie Walker | Photos by Jesse Walker
Ocho, nueve, diez. Maria Victoria whispers the numbers in English. Eight, nine, ten. She stares intently at the small netbook in front of her. She has come a long way to this small work table in the Morgan County Middle School library on a rainy Sunday. Maria, and nearly 20 other adult English language learners, are wearing headphones and whispering softly in accented English as thunder rolls outside.
“I lived [in America] for 15 years, no English. My American friend, she say, ‘Oooh, Maria, you lazy woman, no English!’ and I say, ‘I promise! I learning!’”
Maria came to America after her first marriage fell apart. She married a man in Mexico when she was 16 or 17 and had two children: Greg and Judith. Her husband was unfaithful, and they separated, leaving her to take care of their children. “I worked, 7 in the morning, to 12 midnight, two works, two jobs. My first job, tacos, the second, posoles, tamales. In Mexico, there’s so little money.” Eventually she was able to move her family to California, where she met her second husband, Manuel.
Several years ago, she moved with Manuel and their children to Morgan County, where Greg was enrolled in Sharon McCullough’s class at Morgan County Middle School. When Sharon found out that Manuel, a horse trainer, was struggling with the written portion of the U.S. citizenship test, she decided to help.
“I would go to the barn and work with him, every day, for a couple of months,” she said. Manuel studied diligently, and with McCullough’s tutoring, he obtained his U.S. citizenship.
Local Boys & Girls Club celebrates members’ academic achievements
The Madison-Morgan County Boys & Girls Club celebrated their high academic achievers with a first-ever Academic Honors Dinner at the Morgan County Elementary cafeteria the evening of Friday, March 29.
About 30 parents along with a busload of Club members were in attendance as those students passing all their subjects were called to the front and awarded a certificate by Karen Freeman, education coordinator of the Madison-Morgan Club.
"I appreciate what y'all are doing in school," Darrell Corder, club director, told the members present.
Almost 100 Club members were honored.
After the ceremony, a fried chicken dinner, complete with celebratory cake, was served.
CrossRoads students and Steffen Thomas Museum artists work together on art projects
by stephanie johns • photos by jesse walker
From pottery to drawings, from altered books to ceramics, from origami to multimedia works, students at CrossRoads have been exposed to a variety of art thanks to artists from the Steffen Thomas Museum of Art (STMA).
The STMA artists and students from CrossRoads collaborate on art projects every Wednesday for one hour.
Karen Strelecki, Department Director and Arts Outreach Coordinator, said the two groups have worked together in this manner for the past 12 years.
She complimented the students on their artistic abilities.
“A lot of them are just naturally creative because they think outside the box anyway,” she said.
Alvin Richardson, CrossRoads co-principal, had nothing but positive things to say about this program.
“It’s been a great asset for us to do with our kids,” he said. Speaking of the artists from STMA he said, “They’ve always just done a great job.”
Richardson said the STMA artists have a heart for the kids.
“They’re pros at what they do,” he said. “I can’t say enough about what they’ve done for us.”
Richardson also commented on the artists’ patience with the students as well as the wide variety of art they share with students.
story by stephanie johns • photos by jesse walker
A Funky Little Art Thing student art show draws nearly 700 to Cultural Center
usic from a live band – the One Morgan Band – greeted those who visited the annual art show highlighting work from local students, Kindergarten through 12th grade, from the Morgan County Charter School System.
A Funky Little Art Thing (AFLAT) offered a variety of work from pottery to foil relief, from acrylic to watercolor landscapes and more at last week’s annual event held at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center Annex.
In all, they had just under 700 people – that’s students, teachers, and family members – attend the opening reception, according to Deanna Lamar, membership, box office, visual arts, and front desk manager with the cultural center.
For a dozen years art teachers at the primary, elementary, middle, and high schools have selected student work and come together for what Morgan County High School Art Teacher Ty Manning called a celebration.
Morgan County Middle School (MCMS) Art Teacher Marjean Meadow noted that the event has grown bigger and bigger over the years.
Local celebs compete against fifth graders in TV-inspired fundraiser
by nick nunn
photos by jesse walker
story by nick nunn • photos by jesse walker
In the two years since Jeffrey Rowser has taken the reigns as the band director at Morgan County High School, he has initiated some big changes that altered the face (and dress) of the MCHS Marching Band.
Since last year, the band has taken part in three band competitions, two of them took place this year, and, in each competition, the band has earned a rating of "Superior" in each category while ranking highly in the event.
One thing is for sure – it isn’t the same band it was a few years ago.
“The band was not a competitive band,” said Rowser. “I’ve known Mr. Ellis about 15 years, and he just was not into it. And I think there was a little bit of an itch for it to happen.”
“I have always competed,” continued Rowser. “It makes rehearsals more purposeful. They understand why we are out there in that heat: that we are going to have a cool day to perform it at competition and it will pay off.”
“We call competition our payday; when we aren’t doing it just for the team or school spirit. It is about the ‘One Morgan,' the idea of us representing our school.”
Last fall, the band set out to show what it was able to do in a competition setting.
“We went to one competition, and started the new tradition of scoring Superior ratings in all categories: drum line, color guard, drum major, and band – and placing in a higher ranking; usually third or fourth. This year, we have broken into a new level by placing second.”
The trophies from the previous band competitions rest high atop the lockers in the band room as visual reminders for the tradition of excellence that Rowser hopes to begin.