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Thumbs Up! - Feb. 6, 2012

When Alice Coachman, former Albany resident, went to the 1948 London Olympic Games, it was against all odds. A young, black female from south Georgia in the Olympics? Coachman jumped every economic, social, gender and racial hurdle -- all the way to the top. When the games ended, Coachman came home as the first black female gold medal winner. This high jumper broke ground previously undisturbed and the world took note. A new children's book, "Touch the Sky" by Ann Malaspina, depicts the trials and triumphs of Coachman's path to the gold. The subject of the is story made an appearance at the school bearing her name in Albany last week. Children at Alice Coachman Elementary not only met the legendary athlete but were also given a copy of the book. What a great way to jump start Black History Month.

In its rookie season, Empty Bowls sold out all 200 of the $20 tickets for the event hosted by and for the benefit of the SOWEGA Council on Aging (Meals on Wheels) and the Albany Area Arts Council. The tickets sold out within a day and a half after a front page story ran in this newspaper. In Lee County, tickets for the Daddy-Daughter Dance have become the hottest items in town. Last year, even with a second dance event, tickets sold out. This year, a third dance time was added. A sellout, any sellout, is newsworthy and it is refreshing to see where the priorities of many south Georgians lie, especially in tough economic times.

Since 1994, more than half a million Americorps volunteers have served with thousands of non-profit organizations, public agencies and faith-based organizations. The volunteers provide a wide range of services from cleaning parks to serving as mentors to building homes. Locally, every Monday and Wednesday this month, volunteers will offer homework assistance from 4-5 p.m. Students will find the volunteers ready and waiting in the community room at William Binns located in the 700 block of Whitney Avenue.

When Kinney Construction Co. workers begin the task of building a new elementary school in Lee County, it will be with much care that the live oak trees on site be spared. There will be no clear cutting on the 40-acre space. Energy Specialist/Special Projects Manager Johnny Golden reports that 90 percent of the live oaks will not only be spared but will become an integral part of the landscaping and educational program at the school. The historical trees, bearing the names of presidents, will offer lessons in plant science, history, conservation and more, all the while providing a luxurious shade

The Albany Herald wished to extend a thank you to Dougherty County Clerk Barbara Engram for nearly 22 years of service. Here's wishing you happiness, peace and good health in your retirement years!

A story ran last week about exploding volcanoes at Lake Park Elementary School, the end of which deserves a second look. Fifth grade students in Janna Fretwell's science class works on produced projects that demonstrated things like geysers, earthquakes and volcanoes. More than 15 volcanoes were allowed to erupt as Joy Houldrige's kindergarten class observed (and cheered and laughed). It seems the two classes have partnered throughout the year as "Discovery Pals" which has allowed the younger students to have hands-on experiences -- with the help of the 'older' students. Perhaps this is a program that goes on in every school, but if not, it should. To the teachers and students involved in Discovery Pals, thumbs up to you!

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board