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Roses and thorns: 5/18/13




A rose to East Mississippi Community College, which has made good on its pledge to renovate the former Columbus Country Club when it purchased the property out of bankruptcy in October. The project, which cost EMCC $279,000, is all but complete. By all accounts, the results are impressive, particularly the renovations in the ballroom. The walls have been covered in 36-inch panels of cypress wainscoting. The plain ceiling has also been coffered with cypress, and chandeliers have been added to make the surroundings more elegant. The carpet has been replaced with a rust, green and gold motif, and the valances are now covered in gold fabric. The net effect is a beautiful ballroom that illustrates EMCC's commitment to making their new acquisition a showplace we can all take pride in.  




A rose to the Mattox sisters of Starkville. We'd like to offer a special bouquet to Walker Mattox, who would be the best 3,200-meter runner in the state if she were the best 3,200-meter runner in her own home. The 10th-grader at Starkville High School finished second in the 3,200-meter run at state track and field championships last week. Her kid sister, Kate, just an eighth grader, won the 3,200 and the 1,600 as well. Given their prowess as runners, you might expect some sibling rivalry in the Mattox household and there is, but it's a rivalry built on mutual love, encouragement and pride. Their attitude and success are rose-worthy indeed. 




A rose to Angela Nash, whose mentoring program for at-risk students began with a handful of girls in her New Hope living room four years ago but will be expanding to accommodate as many as 50 students when the program, now a registered non-profit organization, moves into the Townsend Community Center in the fall. Too often, parents and others are content to sit on the sidelines when students struggle. Nash, who admits she has a "heart for children" proves that there is a more active role to play for people who aren't on the school payroll. Nash's program, "A Chosen Generation" matches volunteer mentors with at-risk youth as identified by teachers, school counselors and parents, and seeks to improve their performance in school and discuss problems the students are experiencing outside the classroom.  




A thorn to the Columbus Municipal School District, for allowing Darcel Gardner to remain on the payroll nine months after the Columbus High School special education teacher was indicted on four charges linked to a Praxis testing scandal in Memphis. At a time when we are told the district is paying careful attention to every taxpayer dollar it spends, it's incomprehensible the district would continue to pay Gardner, especially when other teachers in other districts who were caught up in the cheating scandal were terminated upon their initial arrests.  




A rose to all of the high school graduates in the Golden Triangle, most of whom participate in commencement exercises this weekend. We encourage all our graduates to view graduation from high school not as an end to their education, but a transition into a new phase of learning, whether it be in college or trade/technical school. To compete in the job market, a high school diploma alone is rarely sufficient. So congratulations, take a break and move forward. 




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