story by kathryn schiliro - file photos
Family of Caleb Sorohan reflects on a year of lobbying and education
It's been a little more than a year since state Senate Bill 360 – the "Caleb Sorohan Act for Saving Lives by Preventing Texting While Driving" – went into effect on July 1, 2010.
A Morgan County native, Caleb lost his life in December 2009 in an accident that involved his texting while he was driving through Hard Labor Creek State Park in Rutledge.
Not intending Caleb's death to be in vain, by the end of the following legislative session there was a bill, Caleb's Law, that made it illegal for drivers in the state of Georgia to text while behind the wheel. Largely due to the lobbying efforts of Caleb's family and friends – students from Morgan County High School – it passed through both the state Senate and House of Representatives, was signed into law by then-Governor Sonny Perdue and went into effect within six months of Caleb's death.
Difficult as the passage of Caleb's Law was, family and friends knew the hardest part wasn't over.
"I think when we left the capitol...I remember Ms. Saylor saying the hard part came when we had to educate," Alex Sorohan, Caleb's sister, said.
Since the passage of the bill, Alex and nine other MCHS students were part of an anti-texting while driving presentation. They created it themselves.
"We all spoke to all these students on different points of view about it, about texting while driving and how it can affect you in different ways," Alex said. "Jonina Frische (another MCHS student), her mother was in the car Caleb hit, so she talks too. We use our stories to try and have an impact on teens."
The presentation uses pictures, statistics and videos to help drive the point home.
Compiled by Kathryn Schiliro
Photo by Angelina Bellebuono
On Wednesday, the county's school-aged children packed up their bookbags, left their homes and took to the bus (or car, or their own two feet) to begin another school year. They were greeted by many familiar faces, but also some that were unfamiliar.
There are ten teachers new to the Morgan County School System this year and, dear readers, we'd like to help in making introductions.
MCHS band director Scott Ellis is surrounded by students during his final week. Ellis has taught at MCHS for 26 years.
Text by CHRISTINA SANTEE • Photo by ANGELINA BELLEBUONO
For the past 26 years, Morgan County High School Music Director Scott Ellis has taught students the ropes of playing music that soothes the soul, but now he’s leaving his conductor’s wand to rest while he pursues a less-directed lifestyle.
Retirement will bring forth a new and untold chapter in Ellis' life, though his memories of teaching some of Morgan County's most promising musicians and singers will remain an ever-existent and heartwarming recollection. His hard work and hunger to teach will stay with most.
“It’s been the most incredible career that I think anybody could ever have,” Ellis said. “To be able to work with the kinds of kids that I’ve worked with and have the success that I’ve had with them, but more importantly just to be a mentor to [them] and see the people that they become and be so proud of what they’ve done—I don’t see how anyone could ever ask for any better than that.”
Ellis has been involved with music his entire life. Coming from a large family of music enthusiasts, he was destined and more importantly, encouraged to express himself through songs and instruments.
Ellis can’t recall why it is he wanted to become an instructor, only when and where the epiphany occurred.
“I can remember being in a music production in second grade where we did some marching and stuff on stage,” Ellis said. “From that point on I have always wanted to be a high school band director and that’s all I’ve ever [done].”
photos by Angelina Bellebuono
text by Christina Santee
How Morgan County High School students and faculty recognized one student among all others—Nicholas Walker—for his random acts and words and of kindness.
If words could describe Morgan County High School special needs student, Nicholas Walker, chances are “inspiring,” “selfless” and “bighearted” would only attempt.
A 16-year-old sophomore, Walker sets the bar for how students should treat one another, as well as the MCHS faculty.
Without doubt, his benevolent demeanor and appreciation for his peers have touched the hearts of all whom he has met. It was only appropriate that the same warmth be repaid to Walker, but in a remarkable fashion.
The idea for his incomparable acknowledgement arose amongst the thoughts of two students, peers of Walker’s who at the time had only witnessed his altruistic nature—juniors Tyler Buckalew, 17, and Jared Needham, 17.
“We see Nick everyday,” Buckalew said. “He’s the first person at lunch, always opening the door and he’s the last one to eat after everyone’s through. Jared [Needham] actually went into the lunch room and he heard Nick tell the lunch lady, ‘Thank you for blessing me with this food,’ and to have a wonderful day and that’s one of the things that sparked it. We already wanted to do something because he’s just a great guy, but that’s what kicked off the idea.”
Fri. & Sat. • June 3 & 4
8am - 2pm
Variety of items
Fish plates for sale
"The Few, The Proud, The Amphibians"
Text by Jamie Miles • Photos by Joe Cardwell
Dr. Mark “Doc” Wilson doesn’t waste time and energy worrying about problems. Throughout his tenure as Morgan County High School principal, problems merely present opportunities to bring people together for a solution – no matter how unconventional the answer.
Last August, Wilson and wife, Lisa, hosted a swim party and cookout for the incoming senior football players. Amidst playful roughhousing poolside, he noticed one young man standing alone, hugging against the house. Wilson approached the student, Bill Payne, and asked if anything was wrong. Gesturing toward the water Payne confided, “Doc, they are going to try to throw me in.” It was then Wilson remembered Payne planned on joining the Marine Corps after graduation. Doc realized the young man had one huge hurdle to overcome. “Bill, this is a problem. If you’re going to be a Marine, you have to know how to swim.”
“Connecting people is an important part of my job,” said Wilson last week. “When there is a need, I like to find persons who can do something about it.” This May, six graduates plan on joining the Marines. As a requirement of basic training, Marine recruits must pass a timed swim test of 500 meters. If MCHS places a high priority on preparing students for their chosen path, adding a swim class to the curriculum seemed a practical solution. “It’s always exciting to come up with concrete ways to prepare our students for their goals in life.”