Select Page

Michelle Lewis

4-H…Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders

When you think of 4-H, the first image that pops into your mind is probably a cow, right?  Same thing happened to me until I got to know 4-H better.  Now when I think of 4-H, the image that pops into my mind is the U.S.  Capitol building, where our nation’s biggest challenges and issues are debated. North Carolina 4-H has a very strong, deliberate focus on community service, citizenship, public speaking, and leadership training.  For example, every year North Carolina 4-H hosts “Citizenship Focus,” an opportunity for 100 to 150 4-H teens to meet with legislators in Raleigh and identify opportunities for teen engagement in the political and governmental life of North Carolina.  Prior to attending Citizenship Focus, the students are required to learn more about the issues in their communities.   At the conference, each student develops a community-based citizenship action plan to implement after he/she returns home.  4-H also helps students develop leadership skills through elected positions on 4-H youth councils at the county, district, and state level.   You probably are wondering how these students from all over the county, district, and state get to know each other well enough to make the elections meaningful.  Well, 4-H does a great job of offering events throughout the year at the various levels.  Students get to know each other at presentation and public speaking competitions, livestock competitions, teen retreats,...

Read More

"You Gotta Go" To PlayMakers This Week

You definitely need to go to PlayMakers this week, not only to see Tony award-winning “Urinetown: The Musical,” but also to see the Tony award-winning actors and actresses of the future.    “Urinetown” – winner of the Tony award for Best Musical — is an edgy, witty satire about a society in which 20 years of drought have led to truly draconian water restrictions, like laws requiring people to relieve themselves in public, pay-per-use facilities.  People who don’t obey the law are arrested and treated like criminals.  It is a tightly-controlled society.  But what if the people rebel?   Ah, now you have what the New York Times calls “simply the most gripping and galvanizing theater experience in town, equal parts visceral entertainment jolt and lingering provocation.” PlayMaker’s performance of “Urinetown” this week (July 19-22) will star up-and-coming actors from PlayMaker’s Summer Youth Conservatory.  The conservatory provides talented high school students the opportunity to work with professional directors, choreographers, and musical directors.  I went to see a rehearsal of “Urinetown” this week and was impressed with the quality of the acting and singing, as well as with the grittiness and intrigue of the plotline.  CHHS senior Adrian Thornburg, as Bobby Strong in PlayMakers Summer Youth Conservatory production of Urinetown “‘Urinetown’ is easily one of my favorite plays,” says Adrian Thornburg, a Chapel Hill High School senior who plays romantic lead...

Read More

The Ackland – Education and Enjoyment for Us All!

The Ackland Art Museum, one of the incredible nonprofit organizations in our community, educates and enriches the lives of adults, students, and teachers. Not every college town is lucky enough to have a world-class university art museum, but since we all have one – with free admission – right in our own back yard, we can take advantage of all the ways that it can both educate us and provide us with great enjoyment. For adults, the Ackland offers diverse opportunities to engage with art. Yoga instruction and drawing classes take place right in the Museum’s galleries, allowing participants to be inspired by the art surrounding them. Through lively group discussions, Art and Literature in the Galleries broadens appreciation for and explores the relationships between the art on view and specially selected books. Tea at Two and Art for Lunch programs bring in scholars who provide inspiration and information about works in the Ackland’s collection. The Ackland Film Forum, a collaboration between the Ackland and various departments at UNC-Chapel Hill, screens art films, narrative films, and documentaries at the Varsity Theatre on Franklin Street. More information about all of these programs can be found at: www.ackland.org/Visit/AdultPrograms. For the younger set, the Ackland’s programs for K-12 students are exceptional.  Ackland educators talk with teachers ahead of time to present an interactive, interesting program that will engage students. One 3rd grade...

Read More

Transforming Lives… and Africa’s Future

ABAN’s headquarters are here on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, but its mission is in Ghana, Africa.  Founded by UNC student Callie Brauel, and kick-started into high gear by a $15,000 Carolina Challenge Grant in 2010, ABAN is an example of the strong international social entrepreneurships being born right here in Chapel Hill.  ABAN is an organization working to solve two problems with one united solution. Every day, over 40 tons of plastic waste is thrown onto the streets of Accra, Ghana. Every night, over 30,000 children fall asleep on those same streets. ABAN works with 20 street girls...

Read More

Life…The Ultimate Gift

Jason Ray was full of life. This was evident as his amazing energy transformed a simple costume into a jumping, pumping, running Rameses that made Carolina crowds cheer, wave, and shout.  But Jason’s life was cut short when he died in a hit-and-run accident while at the NCAA Basketball Regionals in March 2007.  That did not stop Jason, though, from accomplishing his goal of sharing his energy, his optimism, and his love of life with others.  Jason was an organ donor. Jason’s organs have helped over 50 people with the gift of life.  Jason’s friends, family, and UNC fans know, though, that Jason would have wanted to do more.  So they are working to raise over $1 million for the UNC Center for Transplant Care.     Donations will be used to benefit patients who have undergone solid organ transplantation at UNC Hospitals.  When the $1 million goal is reached, the Clinic at the Center for Transplant Care will be renamed in Jason’s honor. You can help. This Sunday (April 29th), the Jason Ray Foundation is hosting a fundraising brunch and auction at The Carolina Club, featuring terrific food, music by The Clef Hangers, UNC Cheerleaders, emcee Ron Stutts and, of course, Rameses.  The keynote speaker for the event is UNC Women’s Soccer Coach Anson Dorrance.  Jason’s parents, as well as Dale Folwell, Speaker Pro Tempore of the North Carolina...

Read More

When You Need A Helping Hand

When troubles arise – e.g., a kitchen flooded by a broken appliance hose, a broken leg that makes it impossible to get to the grocery store, etc. – most of us simply write a check, call the insurance company, or, depending on the circumstances, call on friends to help.  But some people do not have the resources to fix things so easily.  Some people are shut-ins who do not have a network of family or friends on which they can rely for help. A nonprofit foundation recently has been established to provide workers to help others when they do not have the resources to help themselves.  The SWEEPS Foundation matches local college students with deserving local people and charities for one-time or ongoing needs.  The SWEEPS Foundation pays the college students for their time if none are willing or able to volunteer. Individuals, families, groups, nonprofits, and anyone else deserving are eligible to receive free or discounted hours on a case-by-case basis.  It is an ideal solution for temporary surges in need such as clean-ups after severe weather or staffing of special events.  Also, it is a terrific solution for providing help to those who are disabled or otherwise require assistance.  The SWEEPS Foundation is seeking: · Passionate SWEEPS Foundation leaders and ambassadors (preferably with nonprofit experience); · Individuals with experience in nonprofit start-ups; · Recommendations of organizations and...

Read More

Smith Math Whizzes Rock State

Can you imagine having your school day come to an end and then rushing off, happily, to Math Club so you can do even more math (and don’t forget that there is still your math homework to do)? Well, this may be difficult for many of us to imagine, but if you ask the 70 talented students who joined Smith Middle School’s Math Club last fall, they will look at you quizzically and say, “You mean you don’t love math?” Boyd Blackburn, a math teacher at Smith Middle School, leads this group of intrepid math whizzes through challenging, twisting, and downright despicable math problems during the afternoons when other kids are kicking balls on the field or kicking back at home, resting. You know the kind of problems I mean – e.g., if one train started in Vicksburg at 10:23am and another train started in Chantilly at 9:47m and the train from Vicksburg made two stops, each lasting 7 minutes….. I won’t torture you anymore, but that’s one of the easy ones! Smith Middle School’s Math Club is one of the biggest in the state. The 70 students who joined in the fall met once a week, after school, to tackle diabolical math problems. A competition was held at the end of November to identify the strongest 15 students. These 15 students became Smith’s Math Team, ready to compete...

Read More

State Jazz Band Honors

Mia Morrell and Avery Logan of Culbreth Middle School have been selected for the North Carolina Honors Jazz Band. Avery was selected as the band’s sole drummer, and Mia will play first chair alto saxophone. Mia also was selected for the NC Honors Jazz Band last year. The NC Honors Jazz Band will perform on April 13 and 14 at the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham. Mia Morrell also was chosen for the North Carolina Honors Concert in a separate audition. This is her second year being selected for the Honors Concert. She competed against the best alto saxophone players in the state and was selected as 2nd chair for this band. She will be performing May 4-6 at UNC-Chapel Hill with the best middle school players in North Carolina. Sam Berryhill is Culbreth Middle School’s music teacher and band leader, “Mia and Avery are excellent musicians,” noted Berryhill, “I am not at all surprised that they have been selected to these state-level bands.” Berryhill has been Culbreth’s music teacher band leader for ten years. He enjoys “helping kids fall in love with music.” “Music can be a vehicle to take them places, both figuratively and literally. It helps them connect with their emotions and the human spirit,” explained Berryhill. Avery, an 8th grader, has been playing drums for two years. Prior to playing the...

Read More

Red Hot Evening for a Cool Cause

The UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center is hosting a “Fire + Ice Ball” – a “red hot evening for a cool cause” on April 14th at the Chapel Hill Country Club.  “Chill out with great food and drinks in the Ice Lounge,” bid on the “smoldering hot” auction items, and dance to “cool” music from DJ Minor.  Definitely sounds like one hot night! The cool cause is one we all know – the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center.  UNC Lineberger is a nationally recognized leader in cancer research, treatment, prevention and outreach, and is also the only public cancer center...

Read More

Smith Middle School Math Team Wins!

On Saturday, February 11, 2012, at Athens Drive HS in Raleigh, the Smith Middle School MathCounts Team won their MathCounts Chapter Competition coming in 1st out of 28 teams.  MathCounts is the most prestigious national middle school math competition.  Smith has consistently fielded strong teams in the past (Top 10 in the State for six of the past seven years), but this was the first time they had won their Chapter Competition. Smith was led by 6th-grader Stas Kuzmenko with a near perfect score of 45 (a perfect score is 46) that earned him 2nd place among all individuals.  Other very high scores for Smith included Veronica Kim and Matthew Dai with 43, Jennifer Zou and Andrew Zhang with 42, and Sarah Wu and Vijay Dey with 41.  Seven of the top 16 students were from Smith, including four 6th graders.  Vijay was also the champion of the Countdown Round.  The team is coached by Boyd Blackburn with help from Jaclyn Arnson. The win qualified the Smith Team for the State Finals to be held at the NC School of Science and Math in Durham on March 16. This year Smith had over 70 students participate in the MathCounts program which is run as an after-school club meeting once per week starting in the Fall. Back in November, Smith had also done very well in the AMC8 Math Competition,...

Read More
Translate »