Thumbs Up! - Dec. 12, 2011

Members of the Westover Comprehensive High School chapter of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) participated in the Knowledge Bowl last month in Atlanta. The team was named in the state's top three after the first level of competition and defeated teams from other states to advance to level four. The group, coached by FCCLA Advisor Lorraine Montague, will now compete at the national level in Orlando next summer.

While many, if not most, high school students were enjoying the freedom to sleep late on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, students from Monroe Comprehensive High School's SkillsUSA chapter were up bright and early. The young people arrived both mornings at the Southern Harvest Food Bank to help prepare food boxes to be distributed to nearby counties. The students did not stop work until all the available supplies was packed for a total of 801 boxes containing 12,000 pounds of food.

Students from Merry Acres Middle School's Junior Beta Club work throughout the year to give to others. Last month, club members made a donation of toys, clothing and school supplies to Open Arms, the local non-profit that offers support to child abuse victims. A second delivery is scheduled for mid-December, just in time for Christmas.

Mt. Zion Baptist Church is well recognized for its mission projects. The church believes also in teaching children early in life to give through community service and kindness. It was this belief that brought about a recent partnership with Magnolia Elementary School children and the church's Willing Workers group. Donations from the students of candy, cookies and fruit made it possible to assemble gift baskets for residents in need right here in Albany.

Liberty House is the non-profit that serves victims of domestic violence, their children and families in 17 Southwest Georgia counties. The needs of those served often are simply for the basics, including shoes, clothing, and hygiene items. A school-wide service project was conducted last month at Radium Springs Middle Magnet School of Arts by members of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). The Liberty House was the proud recipient of the much-needed items as well as a check the help with other expenses.

A truckload of non-perishable food items made its way to the Salvation Army recently. The Northside Elementary School Student Council sponsored the food drive. Competition between classes to donate the most items was fierce with the second grade class of Jessica Edwards making the largest donation.

Through the World Vision Program, Albany High School senior Kenterrious Brooks-Mims has spent at least part his recent summer breaks at the national summit in Washington, D.C. meeting other youth from all across the country. In November, Brooks-Mims attended an orientation for the National Youth Advisory Council in Los Angeles. This young man will be a six-month participant in a leadership training program which prepares future adults to act as advocates for local communities, with national representation.

Live Oak Elementary students wrote letters to troops stationed outside on the United States. As a part of The Bert Show's "Big Thank You" project, the letters were sent to the soldiers for Thanksgiving. The goal was to have each of the more than 383,500 soldiers get a personal letter of thanks. Students in kindergarten through the fifth grade at Live Oak contributed over 200 letters.

The activities listed above are just the tip of the good news iceberg in the Dougherty County School System. Every day, little kids and big kids (and staff members) are learning to help others through giving and simple kindness. Students are excelling in academics and clubs and organizations are completing numerous community service projects. Congratulations on individual and group accomplishments and, if no one has taken the time to say thank you, consider this "Thumbs Up" one of much gratitude!

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board