By Kathryn Schiliro I Photos by Angelina Bellebuono
Ask Lydia Cuyler how to get to Carnegie Hall, or at least to the Morgan County Middle School cafeteria stage.
"I practiced the lyrics, I stayed after school and practiced, I practiced in front of the mirror," Cuyler said. "I got on people's NERVES practicing."
But her practice paid off. Last Tuesday night, Cuyler was chosen from six other students as the overall winner of Morgan County Idol.
"When I got up there, I was real scared," Cuyler said. "When I heard myself singing, I thought, 'Wow! That's a grown woman singing.'"
She chose "Yesterday" by Mary Mary to perform in the competition. "It's a church song," Cuyler, who has been singing in church since she was 5 years old, said. "I'm better at songs I sing at church than regular music."
Cuyler's biggest challenge, she said, was stage presence. She practiced in anticipation of that, too. "I sang in front of my mom who acted like a judge," Cuyler said. "She told me what I do and don't need to do."
When she found out she was the next Morgan County Idol, however, stage presence went out the window.
"I didn't stop hollering," Cuyler said. "I jumped up and down and ran across the stage."
And Cuyler doesn't think her career as a singer will end on the cafeteria stage.
"When I turn 18, I want to go to Atlanta and audition for 'American Idol,'" Cuyler said. "For my career, I want to be a culinary artist. My second choice is [that] I want to sing and record my songs."
Coleman Mitchem, the top seventh grade performer, went a, well, different route with his song selection.
By Kathryn Schiliro i File Photo
Despite the deluge last Thursday evening, about 15 Morgan County residents (the vast majority of whom are currently employed by or affiliated with the Morgan County School System) attended the ELOST IV Informational Session led by Superintendent Dr. Stan DeJarnett.
Through the aid of a digital presentation, DeJarnett lectured the intimate group about ELOSTs – what the tax is and the history of ELOSTs in the county – before delving into ELOST IV's proposed projects and answering questions posed by the audience.
For Morgan County Citizen readers who couldn't make it to the meeting, consider this your ELOST IV primer.
What is an ELOST?
An ELOST, which stands for "Education Local Option Sales Tax," is a form of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). According to the Georgia Department of Education Web site (doe.k12.ga.us), ELOSTs were established in the state in November 1996, when Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment that "allows LBOEs (local Boards of Education) the option of calling for a referendum to ask their voters to approve a SPLOST."
ELOST is a one percent sales tax; i.e., one penny of every dollar spent on goods and services within Morgan County goes to the local Board of Education.
Funds raised through the tax can only be used for facilities, technology and transportation; they cannot be used for personnel or supplies.
An ELOST cannot last more than 20 calendar quarters, which equates to 60 months or five years. The tax ends when the five-year deadline is reached or when the amount proposed is collected, whichever happens first.
By Kathryn Schiliro
Photos by Angelina Bellebuono
Morgan County Middle School seventh grade Life Science teachers Sharon McCullough, Ashley Potter and Marie Bryans have plans for their students to get dirty this year.
Tired of looking at the blank green space visible from all of their classroom windows, the teachers have taken it upon themselves to create and, with the help of their students and landscape designer Trey McMichael of Piedmont Designs, construct a pollinator garden and outdoor classroom.
The garden and outdoor classroom, which will be made available to all classes regardless of grade level (the outdoor classroom should seat 30), figures into the Life Science curriculum through "the study of ecosystems, habitats, environmental changes and species interactions," according to information provided by the teachers.
"The garden will feature host plants for specific butterfly species as well as providing habitat resources for other organisms," the literature states. "Our long-term plan will include a water feature to improve drainage in the courtyard, benches for instructional space and flower beds and feeders for wildlife observation." In addition, the teachers plan on certifying the garden through Monarchs Across Georgia
(monarchsacrossgeorgia.org) and the National Wildlife Federation (nwf.org).
The garden will measure 90 by 100 feet, and is set to cost around $30,000. The money won't come in all at once; the teachers are steadily applying for grant money to fund the project. In fact, many of the grants apply to very specific parts of the project; for instance, one grant the teachers are applying for applies solely to the development and installation of labels for each of the plants in the garden.
Story by Meg Ferrante
Elementary school parents worried about flu epidemic this fall can rest assured their kids’ principal has been up at night thinking about it too.
“I just kept wondering what we could do to have the children wash their hands more frequently,” says Jean Triplett, MCES principal, “so we can be proactive with anything that comes up in the flu season. I thought maybe if we make a big deal of it… Get everyone involved… And what if we have one of those huge bottles of hand sanitizer in every classroom? Get the kids in the habit. It’s there, so let’s use it.”
Armed with enthusiasm and the desire to protect the kids, Triplett took her idea to her staff. And the staff has responded like a germ warfare specialty team: with a multi-front attack.
Coaches Dusty Hawkins and Kathy Hubbard are beefing up their hygiene lessons in health class. Students will have an opportunity to run their hands in dust and view the dirt under a black light to see what germs look like.
Art teacher Laura Rice is using the Smart Boards to create a bacteria and virus presentation, showing shapes and colors and having students draw their own colorful germs. She created a new slogan-- "Drown a Germ: Wash Your Hands”--which students are using to illustrate their own flu-fighting reminder bookmarks.
Music teacher Kathy Ellis has a group of kids working on anti-germ ditties to popular songs. One favorite: "Who Washed the Germs Out?" (to the tune of Who Let the Dogs Out?). Several students will have an opportunity to act in videos to be used on the morning news as a reminder to cover coughs and wash hands afterwards.