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Thumbs Up - April 22, 2013

Editorial

Lee County High School seniors took an interesting ‘field trip’ recently. More than 400 members of the Class of ‘13 donned their graduation caps and gowns, loaded up on school buses but never left the county. The soon-to-be-graduates took a walk down memory lane visiting the Pre-K program and then the elementary schools each had attended. The walk back through time was fun for the seniors, but not just for them. At the elementary schools the younger children and former teachers lined the hallways as the visitors paraded by, offering up enthusiastic clapping and cheering. The Graduate Parade was a success by all measures, as are those about to receive diplomas.

While it doesn’t always happen that the burden of an unplanned teen pregnancy falls on the mother, most of the time that is the case. The Gamma Omicron Lamda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. works with middle school boys to stress their roles in pregnancy prevention as well as the consequences and responsibilities of becoming a father. A recent retreat at Kolomoki Mounds State Park provided a fun and safe place for fraternity members to mentor the young fellows allowing for plenty of questions and answers not readily available elsewhere for many of those attending. This marked the 29th year of the retreat which also included information about drugs and alcohol, AIDS and self-esteem-building exercises. Not every young man, once equipped with the tools to make wise decisions, will remember the lessons learned and put them to use. But, the trip was well worth everyone’s time and effort because some of the boys will remember and act accordingly.

Parents of children with developmental disabilities are cut from a separate cloth than most. The children are extremely limited as to just how far they progress in areas other parents take for granted. Special needs can include total care but all need special care and supervision. Caregivers, especially parents, are on-call 24 hours a day for the duration of the child’s life. Regardless of a parent’s incredible strength and dedication, everyone needs (and deserves) a break now and again. Megan’s House is just the ticket. The facility, a respite home, came about after the death of Carol and Wayne Hollomon’s special needs daughter died a few years ago. The two created TIME, Inc. (Together in Megan’s Eyes) as a nonprofit to serve children like their beloved Megan. Most recently, TIME, Inc. has acquired a handicapped-accessible van so the children in respite care can be transported on outings during their stay. What a great asset the Hollomons and all the supporters of their visions are to this community.

Popular or not, the decision has been made to close Sylvester Road Elementary and Dougherty Middle Schools while repurposing Magnolia Elementary School. Now the Dougherty County School System is making every effort to make the process as easy as possible for the students and parents involved. Not one, not two, but nine meetings are scheduled to address any questions about enrollment, transportation and more. Each meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. starting today at Alice Coachman. The remaining schedule: April 23 (Live Oak), April 25 (Merry Acres), April 29 (Albany Middle), April 30 (Radium Springs Middle), May 2 (Southside Middle), May 6 (Jackson Heights), May 7 (Turner) and May 9 (Radium Springs Elementary). Interim Superintendent Butch Mosely and the school board are to be commended (once again) for making the best, though difficult, decision for the students of Dougherty County and its taxpayers.