Roses and thorns: 4/15/12

April 14, 2012 9:55:44 PM



A rose to the Columbus High School students who wowed us with their talent during Thursday night's second annual Falcon Showcase. The Columbus Jazz Band kept toes tapping, third-year Spanish students flaunted their linguistic skills and McKellar Culinary Arts students prepared and served the evening repast. 


Too often, negatives overshadow positives. In the Columbus Municipal School District, budget woes and discipline issues have dominated headlines this year. But that's just a small part of another picture -- a high school packed with talented students eager to learn.  


We weren't surprised to learn most of the seniors onstage have scholarship offers from colleges across the nation. Spend five minutes with these young achievers and you'll believe them when they say they're going to conquer the world. We hope they do. And we'll be waiting in the wings to cheer them on.  




A rose to Mississippi University for Women, which is gearing up for homecoming next weekend, celebrating its 128th year of educating women and its 30th year of educating men. A full agenda is planned April 20-22, including a free Frank Sinatra Tribute Concert Friday night.  


The campus has been a beehive of activity over the past few weeks, with employees making sure every surface shines and every flower is picture-perfect. Over the next few days, alumnae will pour into Columbus from places near and far, and we welcome them home with open arms.  




A rose to Renasant Bank Senior Vice President Bobby Harper, who recently was appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority's board of directors.  


The waterway's impact on the Golden Triangle is tremendous. It is expected to bring $1 billion of new industrial development to the state this year, and 3 million people will use it for boating, fishing and other recreation, bringing nearly $150 million to the state.  


Columbus is unique with its vast land reserves, plentiful and cheap power, low cost of living and plethora of transportation choices, from the airport to the railway to the seaport. Repeatedly, we hear major industrial leaders tout these qualities as the primary reasons they located in the Golden Triangle.  


As one of the appointees on the waterway's board of directors, Harper will be in a key position to champion our regional interests and bring more dollars to local coffers. We wish him well and look forward to seeing the fruits of his labor.  




A rose to Mississippi State University's music department for keeping music lovers happy with three free concerts and a host of other events this month.  


Today, at 2 p.m., the Starkville/MSU Community Band, the Symphonic Band and the Campus Band will perform at McComas Hall. At 5 p.m., the Wind Ensemble will follow. And Tuesday, at 4:30 p.m., an outdoor band concert will be held on the Drill Field in front of the chemical engineering building.  


MSU Associate Band Directors Cliff Taylor and Craig Aarhaus will direct two of the concerts, and MSU Band Director Elva Kaye Lance will direct the wind ensemble.  


If you've ever heard these groups play, you know this is an auditory treat well-worth paying top ticket prices. The chance to hear these talented bands perform, free of charge, is music to our ears, and we hope people take advantage of the gift these talented musicians are offering. 


And while you're checking your calendar, go ahead and pencil in the 17th annual Howlin' Wolf Memorial Blues Festival, slated for Aug. 31 at Mary Holmes College in West Point, and the Prairie Arts Festival in downtown West Point Sept. 1. 


It's going to be a jam-packed summer of music, art and culture, so get your comfy shoes, blankets and lawn chairs ready, because they're going to see a lot of use over the next few months.  




A rose to Mayhew beekeepers Mark and Keri Lewis, along with Heritage Academy Visual Art Instructor Cary Haycox and art students, who teamed up to beautify the landscape and celebrate the wonders of nature.  


Mark Lewis built bee boxes and supplied paint, and the students took over the decoration. They were free to execute their creative vision as they saw fit, with sometimes comical, sometimes beautiful results. Designs ran the gamut from team logos to fish to honeycombs and curly-tailed pigs. And, of course, there were a few paintings of bees, just to let them know their new homes were open for business.  


We'd like to see more creative collaborations between community members and students. It's good for the generations to mingle in fun, educational activities, because they gain a new perspective and open sometimes surprising dialogs.  


As poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Every man I meet is my superior in some way, in that I learn from him." We suspect the adults gained as much from the experience as the high-schoolers.  




A rose to members of the Columbus chapter of 100 Black Men, who organized an elegant and thoughtful program Friday night for their 15th annual Protégé Banquet. The group works to improve quality of life for black men and youth by providing education, economic opportunities and mentorship.  


Through weekly meetings and monthly events, young black men -- protégés -- get the chance to learn from black role models like Dr. John Robinson, president of the local 100 Black Men chapter, educators like Ezra Baker and James Covington, businessmen like Andy Stewart and Thomas Lee, attorneys like Wilbur and Scott Colom, and ministers like Eddie Longstreet.  


Local female leaders deserve a rose as well for starting a Columbus chapter of 100 Black Women to provide role models for girls. It wasn't surprising to see Currie Fisher, a board member with the Columbus Municipal School District, and Alma Turner, a former board member for the district, be among the first to offer their support.  


Many children are blessed with positive role models, but for those who are not, a good mentor can mean the difference between a successful life and a difficult path too often marked by poverty, abuse and crime. Even when mentors have children of their own, somehow their hearts are big enough to accommodate more.  


A mentor's impact is immeasurable. Everyone needs that one person who will push them to be more, do more. Everyone needs that one person who believes in them with such unshakeable faith that failure is not an option. Everyone needs that one person who loves them -- even when they don't love themselves.  


To the men and women who have dedicated their lives to this purpose, we offer a bouquet of roses and enduring gratitude. By making one child's life better, they improve the community that child inhabits, and we are all richer for the experience.