​SUD Leak Insurance to Provide $1,000 Coverage; New Leak Adjustment Policy

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“Five hundred dollars in additional coverage is a lot for just 15 cents more a month,” observed Charlie Smith, president of the Sewanee Utility District (SUD) at the May 25 meeting of the board of commissioners. The board concurred, approving SUD’s enrollment in the ServLine insurance program at a level providing customers with $1,000 of leak insurance at a cost of $1.30 per month. The board also approved a new Leak Adjustment Policy.
The lower level of coverage offered by ServLine, $500, would have cost customers $1.15 a month—15 cents less. Commissioner Art Hanson pointed out the additional fifteen cents only amounted to $18 in 10 years. “If a customer made a claim and was reimbursed once in that period, they’d be very grateful for the added coverage for such a small cost,” Hanson said.
The insurance will pay the amount of the customer’s bill, above their average bill, resulting from leaks outside or inside the home that are not “readily apparent, such as leaks that are underground, within walls or under floors” or leaks occurring “when occupants are away from the premises.”
The program goes into effect Aug. 1 with customers automatically enrolled. Customers will receive an information packet from ServLine in the coming weeks and can opt out of the program at any time. For customers who opt out, SUD will not adjust high water bills resulting from leaks. Customers will need to show proof the leak is fixed when making a claim. The insurance does not cover the cost of making repairs.
Customers will have 30 days from the disputed bill’s due date to make a claim. The customer can recover the cost of water leaked over a two-month period, but not beyond that, with a limit of one claim per year. SUD’s former adjustment policy only allowed one claim every three years. There is no lifetime limit on the number of claims a customer can make.
At the suggestion of commissioner Hanson, the board agreed to include a clause in the Leak Adjustment Policy stipulating, “no penalties for a high water bill will accrue during the period when the bill is under dispute.”
As is the case now, SUD will continue to consider qualifying customers for a no-interest payment plan if they have high water bills that do not qualify for an adjustment. The policy also provides for adjustments under exceptional circumstances such as “man-made or natural disasters.”
“High sewer bills resulting from leaked water are not covered by the insurance plan,” SUD manager Ben Beavers stressed. Beavers will draft a Sewer Adjustment Policy and present it to the board for review at the next meeting on May 23. Beavers recommended a policy similar to the present policy that stipulates if the leaked water does not enter the sewer, the customer’s bill will be adjusted in keeping with the past 12-month average.
In discussion about other policies under review, Beavers said he researched the Ethics Policy question and learned the SUD board adopted the TAUD ethics policy in 2008.
Reporting on operations, Beavers said that in spite of heavy March rainfall, 6.79 inches, SUD experienced “no sanitary system overflows,” indicating SUD’s lift station rehabilitation work has been successful. Beavers will ask the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to revoke the moratorium banning SUD from taking on new customers in the Alto Road area until the sewer lift station problems were remedied.

​Ensembles Offer Multiple Performances

The arts at Sewanee continue a lively presence through the conclusion of the academic year. There’s something for everyone and all events are free.

The Sewanee Symphony Orchestra and the University Choir join forces in a joint concert today (Friday), April 28 at 7:30 p.m. in All Saints’ Chapel. The concert includes the seasonally appropriate Pomp and Circumstance of Elgar and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” The University Choir will perform choruses from Handel’s “Messiah.” Faculty members Jessica Usherwood, soprano, and University Organist Geoffrey Ward are featured soloists in the concert.
On Saturday, April 29, the Mountaintop Musicians will present the annual Sewanaroo from 2–7 p.m. at the Women’s Center, and the Gospel Choir will sing their season finale at 6:30 p.m. in St. Luke’s Chapel. A joint student recital offers an entirely different experience at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 30. Alyson Carr, soprano, and Huiqi (Sherlock) Xu, piano, will present “An Afternoon of Romantic Lyricism.”
The University Choir will sing the final Evensong of the year at 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 2, in All Saints’ Chapel.
The Sewanee premiere of Live Music Sound Nation, with supporting artists Easy Honey, performing the music of film composer Hans Zimmer live in a multimedia rock spectacle will take place at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 3, in Guerry Auditorium.
Also on Wednesday, May 3, at 6:30 p.m., the Folk Music Collective sings their last concert under the direction of James Carlson, visiting professor of music, who leaves Sewanee this year. Cricket & Snail, the ensemble composed of Carlson and his wife, Lucie, will perform a farewell concert at 3 p.m., Sunday, May 7, in St. Luke’s Chapel.
The student a cappella groups will take the Guerry stage at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 4. The three ensembles, Cambiata, Cadence and Key of D, will join together in this performance. See page 10 for more arts events.

​History of the News in Sewanee

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Just over 50 years ago, on March 9, 1967, the newspaper that evolved into the Sewanee Mountain Messenger published its first issue. The Sewanee Civic Association had decided the community needed a vehicle for “people to know what was going on,” said Phoebe Bates, editor of the publication created to satisfy that need, The Sewanee Siren. Ellen Webb, who previously worked at the Sewanee Review, joined Bates in the effort, with Webb handling the business end of the undertaking. The Civic Association gave the two women $300 seed money for the first three months, and after that, selling ads provided the only revenue.
“I didn’t have any experience,” Bates insisted, modestly dismissing her degree in English from Carleton College, where she edited the school newspaper and an assignment producing a summer program’s newsletter for the University.
“People sent in news items, but I usually had to rewrite them to accommodate the space available,” Bates said. The number of ads determined the paper’s size which ranged from eight to 14, 8 and a half by 14 inch mimeographed pages stapled in the upper left hand corner.
Bates used a closet in her home for an office. The College Board had an on-campus presence and printed the publication gratis for the first couple months. A fee-based arrangement with the University Public Relations Office followed until a new director objected to the work load. Bates and Webb bought a mimeograph machine and Bates’ husband Scott took over production, but “we kept getting shunted from place to place,” Bates said. “For a while, we were in the basement at Convocation Hall. It was so damp the pages stuck together.”
“A team of kids” supervised by circulation manager Louise Cross helped with collating, and bowing to 20th-century technology, The Siren invested in an electric stapler. The University donated the paper. Available at select locations free of charge, The Siren offered delivery by mail to paying subscribers. “We tried door to door delivery by the Cub Scouts, but there were too many dogs,” Bates concedes.
Many of the features in today’s Sewanee Mountain Messenger originated in The Siren. Scott Bates, professor of French at the University, selected the poems and wrote the film reviews and Nature Notes. Jean Tallec, a former illustrator for Newsweek, illustrated the ads and, along with Anne Oliver, did the proofreading.
“We didn’t pay much,” Bates said. “If we had a good year, there might be an end-of-year bonus.” Volunteers and quasi-volunteers too numerous to mention left their mark on The Siren over the course of Bates’ 18-year reign as publisher. Children’s books’ author Joan Balfour Payne designed the masthead; Pixie Dozier helped with ads; Jane Flynn served as editor when Bates and her husband spent a year in France.
Asked about the publication’s name, Bates laughs. “Sewanee had a volunteer fire department. When the fire siren went off, everyone turned out, and we’d be standing around in our nightgowns gossiping.”
The Siren eventually moved into an office on University Ave. in the backroom of Kathy Dudley’s beauty parlor. But after 18 years as publisher, Bates decided to step down. “I wanted to be free,” she confessed. “The Siren took up all of my time.”
The University, Civic Association, and Sewanee Woman’s Club joined forces in the search for someone to carry on the community newspaper tradition.
“I thought I was applying for a position as editor,” said Geraldine Hewitt Piccard who responded to an ad in The Siren. Charged instead with creating a new entity, Piccard was thrilled. “It touched all my buttons. I wanted to honor Phoebe and Ellen for giving an organ to the people’s voice.”
“I asked myself ‘what is it I’m going to do?’” Piccard explained when asked how she came up with the name The Sewanee Mountain Messenger. “It was important to me to include all our people on and off the Mountain and bridge gaps in the town and gown cultures.”
The newly dubbed Messenger began offering news about the Alto, Cowan, Monteagle, Pelham, Sherwood and Tracy City communities, as well as Sewanee. Waring McCrady designed the masthead and a logo featuring the mythological reincarnation symbol the Phoenix emerging from flames. As a tribute to The Siren, the epitaph read, “Ex Cineribus Sirenis”—from the Siren’s ashes.
“I was standing on Phoebe’s shoulders,” Piccard said in gratitude. “She was always there for me.” Piccard cites it as fortuitous the first issue appeared on “the day of love,” Feb. 14, 1985.
It was also the week of the infamous ice storm—“It was insanity trying to put out a paper,” she concedes, “especially since it was an entirely new experience for me.” Previously Piccard worked in the Development Office at the University and then Public Relations at St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School.
She set up an office in her home using a computer and dot matrix printer. The University press photocopied and collated the manuscript pages she delivered, providing printing free of charge. As in The Siren days, ads provided the only revenue.
“I was hired to do the job of five part-time people, with a projected salary of $12,000 annually.” Piccard laughs. “The first year we made $4,500, and $6,500 the second year with the assistance of $2,000 from the Civic Association.”
A friend insisted she begin requesting $10,000 annually from the Community Chest, the Civic Association’s funding mechanism, to help with expenses. “I’m not a beggar,” Piccard said. “It was the hardest thing I had to do each year.”
She plowed her inheritance from her great aunts into the business, building a publication celebrated both on and off the Mountain. In the early 1990s, the Messenger moved to an office on University Ave.
When the property changed hands the rent doubled. “I was freaking,” Piccard said. Vaughan and Nora Frances McRae offered her a small house with “dirt cheap rent” on St. Mary’s Lane. The former thrift shop houses the Messenger to this day.
“I had the pick of the crop,” Piccard crowed rattling off the names of the many talented people who worked for her during her 26 years as editor and publisher.
“If my husband John hadn’t gotten sick, I’d probably still be doing it,” she said. “But, I wanted to be with him.”
Peg Palisano served as editor during Piccard’s husband’s illness, but she wasn’t interested in the position on a permanent basis. For the past 15 years, Janet Graham had worked for the Messenger selling ads and eventually doing layout. “Geraldine talked about closing the paper. I was worried,” Graham said.
“I wanted someone to take over who understood the people of our community,” Piccard insisted.
Piccard and Graham ultimately approached Laura Willis, who’d served for the past 10 years as director of the Community Action Committee, the nonprofit providing free groceries to the underprivileged in Sewanee and the surrounding vicinity.
“It was my dream job,” Willis said. Like Graham, Willis had a degree in journalism. The two women decided to purchase the paper together, with Graham responsible for ads and circulation and Willis responsible for content.
Graham had worked as advertising director at the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, and Willis served as editor of the school newspaper at Baylor University and after graduation went to work for the Dallas Morning News.
“Geraldine left things in great shape,” Willis said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I had to start from scratch.”
But after five short years, Willis and Graham decided to move on.
“I was nearing retirement age, and my husband Tim and I wanted to travel,” Graham explained.
An opening as the first director of the South Cumberland Community Fund snared Willis’ attention—“I love getting things going, the challenge of a new job and the energy it has.”
“The biggest change I brought to the paper,” Willis said, “was expanding the number of columnists. I wanted there to be lots of different voices. The paper belongs to the community. The editors are just caretakers.”
With that criterion in mind, finding their successor proved easy for Willis and Graham. Kiki Beavers’ Sewanee ties dated back to her student days at the Sewanee Academy, and she’d already proved herself in the newspaper business, serving the Messenger in the capacity of reporter as well as filling in for Graham when she was on vacation and acting as editor when a book tour called Willis away.
“Geraldine nearly killed herself trying to do both jobs,” Graham said, “but advances in technology have made it possible to combine the two positions. I knew Kiki could handle it.”
Beavers also had business experience as owner of Shenanigan’s restaurant, and in college as a journalism major she worked for the school paper.
“I freak out if we don’t have a byline news article on the front page,” Beavers admits, committed to the Messenger being a true newspaper not just a community bulletin board.
“Owning the local newspaper is something I always wanted to do,” she said. In graduate school, she wrote a paper about purchasing the Messenger and running it as a for profit business.
After the University press closed, the University continued to make a financial contribution to offset the cost of printing and an annual donation from the Community Chest covers the remainder of printing and circulation expenses. Through these donations and the support of advertising revenue, the Messenger carries most of its own weight these days
Many popular features dating back to the Siren years still grace the pages—movie reviews, Nature Notes, poetry, church news, the Community Calendar—and it’s still free!
Trivia quiz: who’s making the poetry selections for Bard to Verse? Answer: Phoebe Bates, 50-year veteran of news on the Mountain. As the Phoenix logo suggests, the immortal tradition of the Sewanee Mountain Messenger is here to stay.

​Trustee Community Meeting

The Trustee Community Relations Committee will be in Sewanee on Thursday, April 27. It will meet with the Sewanee Community Council, who will update the trustees on topics of interest and concern to our community.

The community is invited to a meet and greet with a casual supper prepared by IvyWild at 5:30 p.m., April 27, at the American Legion Hall in downtown Sewanee. For planning purposes, please email Tanner Potts at <tlpotts@sewanee.edu> with your name and number in your party by today (Friday), April 21.

​Community-Wide Yard Sale

The Sewanee Community Center is coordinating the community-wide yard sales from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, April 29.

To participate, submit the registration form and the $15 registration fee. This fee will be used to print maps highlighting the sales that day, print an official yard sign for your venue and run advertisements in the surrounding community newspapers.
Deadline for registration is today (Friday), April 21.
You can participate by either having a sale at your home or join up with others at the Community Center where booth space will be available.
For more information, email Rachel Petropoulos at <rpetropo@gmail.com>.

​‘Light Fare for Spring’

The Sewanee Chorale presents a concert of women’s voices, “Light Fare for Spring” at 7:30 p.m., today (Friday), April 21, at Otey Memorial Parish Church. The concert is free and open to the public.

The concert includes works by Vivaldi, Mendelssohn, Purcell, Lassus, Dawson and others. Zixin (Alex) Ding, a student at the University of the South, will accompany the concert with guest conductor, Caroline Carson.
Carson has taught music for 19 years, most recently as conductor and professor of music at the University of New Orleans and assistant conductor of the New Orleans Civic Symphony. Carson is currently a postulant for the priesthood and seminarian at the School of Theology.

​Highlander Hoedown on April 22

Ever wanted to step back in time to the 1940s? University of the South student Tori Hinshaw wanted to bring alive the spirit of the historic Highlander Folk School site in Monteagle, and with the help of professor Margo Shea, who is supervising Hinshaw’s independent study in historic event planning, she has done just that. This Saturday, April 22, from 5–8 p.m., Highlander will take you back in time to a Saturday night in the 1940s.

The event includes a potluck dinner, music provided by the Sewanee Folk Collective, original labor skits and short stories from 1940s Highlander workshops, and square dancing with David Worla cueing. It is free and open to the public, and will be held rain or shine.
The Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tenn. (1932-1961), was known for being a center for folk music, political activism, the Civil Rights Movement and community engagement.
Please bring a side dish or a dessert for the potluck; the main course is provided. Dress from the 1940s is encouraged but not required. Contact Margo Shea at <mmshea@sewanee.edu> for more details.
The Highlander Hoedown is sponsored by Collaborative for Appalachian Studies and the Department of American Studies at the University of the South, and by the Grundy County Historical Society. This event is taking place at the former site of the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, and is not organized by the Highlander Research and Education Center located in New Market, Tenn.

​31st Annual Fourth of July Celebration

Planning continues for the “May the 4th Be With You” celebration. The next planning meeting is at 5 p.m., Monday, May 8, at the Sewanee Senior Center.

Food Vendors Wanted
The Fourth of July committee calls for food vendors to provide a varied menu for our events. Food vendors are welcome at the street dance on Monday, July 3, during the day on Tuesday, July 4, and that evening at the fireworks. Any interested vendors can contact Charles Whitmer at <charles.whitmer@gmail.com>.
For the Children
The Fourth of July committee requests volunteers for the children’s games. If you can do face painting, fortune telling for the children, or if you are available to help run one of the games, please contact Nancy Mann at <nancy.mann@sewanee.edu>. We are also working on rebuilding some games and building new ones, so if you are a handy-man or -woman and would like to help in that regard, contact Nancy.
The Fourth of July committee asks for your monetary help for this year’s festivities. Although some activities charge a small fee, covering the cost of the day, especially our fantastic fireworks show, requires extra funding from the community. If you would like to donate to support your Fourth of July celebration, contact Louise Irwin at 598-5864 or Tracie Sherrill at 598-0040 for more information.
If you have any questions regarding specific information about the Fourth of July, contact Jade Barry at 636-9829 or <jademcbee@gmail.com>.

​Workshop Offers Tools for Fighting Fake News

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

Three Sewanee librarians provided insights into detecting fake news during a public workshop on April 18 at the Jessie Ball duPont Library.
Following a well-attended workshop in March, only a few people stepped out into the rain to attend the encore. But, as they munched on cheese and strawberries, attendees learned tools to weed through nefarious information on the Internet.
Fake news sites make money from advertisers based on clicks and often provide misleading information as part of scams or for political, social or other reasons.
“It’s not just about spotting fake news, that’s only half of what we want to do; the important thing is we want to find reliable news,” noted Dann Wigner, instruction and information literacy librarian.
The library’s website on fake news, <library.sewanee.edu/fakenews>, offers plenty of resources, including a list of more than 900 fake news sites, a graph on media source biases, and numerous fact-checking tips.
Amanda Sprott-Goldson, learning and access librarian, noted that fake news is not a new concept and cited the Great Moon Hoax of 1835, where “The Sun” newspaper in New York City printed articles featuring outlandish claims of life on the moon like man-bats, unicorns and bi-ped beavers. She said false information in print seems to have spiked in the 19th Century.
“Things like transatlantic and transcontinental cables, linotype and high speed electric presses coupled with a larger population and a larger reading population created this perfect storm for lots of fake news,” she said. “There was an appetite for fake news and they had the technology to carry it out.”
The presenters summarized the top three checks for spotting fake news, including a “visual check” for fakes with questions like: Is the website poorly designed? Are there ads for products not easily recognizable? Does the headline use all capital letters and provoke strong emotions?
The second check is to “site check” by looking for Internet addresses similar to popular news outlets, but not the same. For example, <nbc.com.co> is meant to mimic <nbc.com>.
“The imposter news sites are probably the most insidious,” Wigner said. “They look like real news sites and are usually pretty deep into the concept until you say, ‘I’m not sure about that.’”
Also, the librarians recommended reading the “about us” section on websites and considering who wrote the article and if it is biased. They recommended doing a Google search on authors.
The third is to “fact check,” which includes checking other reliable sources on the same issue and finding out if other sources are even covering the story; if not, then the article is likely fake.
Another tip from presenters included researching pictures from an article; some fake news sites will swipe pictures from other sources. Right-click on the image and choose “search Google for image.”
Also, check the dates for old stories that are not current to relevant events and utilize experts like librarians and established fact-checking websites, they said.
Another important aspect is for someone to consider their own biases and whether they believe a story only because it supports their views.
Heidi Syler, instruction and information literacy librarian, said there are several reasons why people believe and share fake news. Some of those include being in an echo chamber, where a person reads only the types of news that support their views, which are shared among friends of similar views and fed to them constantly because of website algorithms.
Another reason Syler said fake news becomes believable is through repetition and information overload, as well as avoidance of news that doesn’t satisfy what people want to believe.
Jump Off resident Marianna Handler, who attended the workshop, said she prefers the lighter side of social media, like puppies and kittens.
“There’s just so much stuff I’m not sure about,” she said. “There’s obviously a lot of fake news around and I usually trust my instincts. I have found that you click on something and it takes you to something totally different, like ‘Trump is getting a divorce.’”
Workshop organizers, in addition to identifying fake news with a darker purpose like click bait, hoaxes and imposter sites, also pointed out that satire websites such as “The Onion,” publish fake news as humorous entertainment.

​SCA Honors O’Donohue and Ingle

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“Kathleen O’Donohue’s background in community building spans decades in diverse organizations and settings,” said Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) President Lynn Stubblefield at the April 19 meeting lauding O’Donohue as the recipient of the 34th annual Community Service Award. High praise also went out to Summa Cum Laude Award recipient Carol Ingle who has served as the Community Chest treasurer for 37 years.
O’Donohue’s 25-year career as a licensed Physician’s Assistant made her particularly well suited to assume the role in 2009 as founding director of Folks At Home, a unique Sewanee nonprofit dedicated to assisting elderly community members to continue to live safely and comfortably in their own homes. But O’Donohue’s care-giving roots go much deeper. O’Donohue is a longtime board member of the South Cumberland Regional Land Trust whose stated purpose is to preserve area forest lands. And more recently, O’Donohue signed on to serve as a founding board member of Arcadia, the Sewanee senior living facility initiative. Others know “Kat” as their Tai Chi instructor or through her work on the boards of the Sewanee Community Center and the Cumberland Center for Justice and Peace.
The SCA has only twice before honored community members with the Summa Cum Laude Award, applauding dedicated and longstanding service. In presenting the award to Ingle, Stubblefield said, “Carol Ingle is the unsung hero of this organization. She keeps up with all Community Chest checks, pledges, payroll deductions, stock sales, and PayPal donations. The Community Chest awards on average $100,000 annually to more than 25 organizations. Carol knows to whom every one of the $3.7 million dollars has been allocated and who donated the money.”
In the business portion of the meeting, Community Chest steward Susan Holmes said the fundraiser was $2,200 short of reaching its ambitious $116,850 goal, which will fund 26 community organizations this year. “This is the largest Community Chest goal ever,” Holmes said urging those who hadn’t yet donated to do so by sending a check to PO Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375 or visiting . All donations are tax deductible. The projects earmarked for basic needs funding include elder care, food, books, housing, scholarships, Sewanee Elementary School, recreational spaces, and spay/neuter programs for animals.
Reporting on the SCA Parks Program, Director Stephen Burnett said Joseph Sumter would take over from Rob Matlock, conducting the required periodic inspections of Elliott Park, a recent SCA project.
The SCA Parks Program is developing a business plan and mission statement to coordinate rehabilitation of the Sewanee Ballpark, Burnett said. In the most recent crisis, the roofs blew off the dugouts. Burnett speculated the University would offer assistance, but “they’d like to see an entity coordinating the effort.”
Stubblefield expressed “heartfelt gratitude” to Doug Myers and Kiki Beavers who were retiring from the board. Myers volunteered in the capacity of Sewanee Classifieds director, coordinating the SCA’s online community messaging service. Praising past president Beavers, Stubblefield said, “We would not be where we are today without her leadership, wisdom and persistence.”
The SCA elected the following slate of officers to serve in the coming year: Lynn Stubblefield, president; David Michaels, vice-president; Megan Roberts, secretary; Diane Fielding, treasurer; and Aaron Welch, member at large.
The SCA does not meet during the summer.

​SSMF Offers Pre-Season Ticket Sales

The 61st annual Sewanee Summer Music Festival (SSMF) will begin on Saturday, June17, with nearly 200 students arriving for four weeks of instrumental lessons, classes and performance opportunities. Students from across the country and around the world participate in the festival.

The Sewanee community has always been an enthusiastic audience for the festival. Last year’s very popular pre-season ticket offer will be repeated this year. As incentive to attend multiple concerts, SSMF is offering a limited-time opportunity to purchase a season ticket for only $70. Season tickets are available from April 20 through May 10; after May 10, the price will be $90. Tickets may be purchased through the website <ssmf.sewanee.edu>, or by check made out to SSMF and mailed to 735 University Ave., Sewanee, TN 37383. SSMF is unable to accept orders placed by email or phone.
Admission to a total of 12 concerts is included in the price of the season ticket. The concerts include seven Faculty Chamber Music Concerts, four Sunday afternoon orchestra concerts, and the Jacqueline Avent Concerto Competition. Individual tickets may be purchased in advance for $15 each or $20 at the door.
The Sewanee Summer Music Festival, a program of the Music Department of the University of the South, offers music students in high school through graduate school a month of rigorous music study, rehearsal, and performance opportunities in two orchestras and chamber ensembles. For more information about the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, visit <ssmf.sewanee.edu>.

​Community Egg Decorating Event

On Saturday, April 15, college students, professors and community members are invited to an artistic learning experience from 2 to 6 p.m., in St. Mark’s Hall at Otey Memorial Parish. This is the second year for the event, which is sponsored by the Mellon Globalization Forum and Otey Memorial Parish, with Sewanee Dining generously providing hundreds of eggs.

Last year, Chef Rick Wright and his team provided more than 360 eggs—most steamed, plus several dozen boiled in onion skins for Polish drapanki. Drapanki is an elaborate method that involves delicately scratching off the dye with a needle to reveal the white of the egg.
Eastern European traditions will be taught by Justyna Beinek, who serves the University as the Mellon Globalization Forum Director and Visiting Associate Professor of International and Global Studies and Russian, and her colleague from the Russian department Yuliya Ladygina. Beinek, originally from Wroclaw, Poland, and Ladygina, from Kyiv, Ukraine, taught drapanki and batik methods of egg decorating last year. Batik involves several repetitions of drawing designs with melted wax using a special stylus, then dipping the egg in a successively richer dye. At last, the wax designs are melted away from the egg to reveal the colors beneath the wax. This year, Beinek plans to add a table with ribbons and lace.
The event was well attended by college students and local families last year. Taylor Yost, then a senior majoring in Russian IGS and politics, said, “The event fostered an environment where many community members could come together and learn from each other. I had a fun conversation with an international student about Easter egg hunts, which were new to her. She told me about Easter practices in her culture. It also brought a lot of different people across campus together. I saw at least three of my professors with their children and many other families, too.”
Everyone is invited to decorate eggs using the supplies provided, or bring your own eggs and supplies. Some people bring hollowed egg shells so their masterpiece will last longer. Others choose to dye eggs for the community egg hunt offered by the church, and only take home a special egg.
On Easter Sunday, Otey Memorial Parish will offer the community three age-appropriate hunts for children up to 12 years old. Saturday’s hand-decorated eggs will be hidden along with hundreds of candy-filled eggs – and, of course, a prize egg for each age group.

​School Board Discusses RCE College-Readiness Program; Will Vote on Middle Schools in May

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“We can’t wait until high school to start talking to them about college,” said Franklin County school board member Christine Hopkins, applauding Rock Creek Elementary’s (RCE) No Excuses University.
“My hat is off to you, your team, your school, and Dr. Lonas for doing something way overdue in our county.” At the April 10 board meeting, RCE principal Celina Benere provided an overview of the pilot college-readiness program implemented at RCE at the request of Director of Schools Amie Lonas.
In the continuing debate about how to remedy the county’s aging middle schools, the board declared its intention to vote on a capital building program at the May meeting.
At the core of the No Excuses University program is the belief, “There’s no excuse when it comes to a child’s education,” said Benere. “Every student has the right to be educated in a way that prepares them for college.” Benere cited her own experiences as a high school teacher whose students “knew nothing about financial aid” and as a child whose parents didn’t attend college. “In my entire elementary school career, the only mention of college was by my teacher in third grade,” she said.
Benere and her team of four teachers who attended the No-Excuses training, passed along the strategies and techniques they learned to instill “a culture of universal achievement” at RCE. Armed with souvenirs and memorabilia donated by colleges and universities, teachers model their class’s college of choice with door decorations and the class’s college graduation year proudly on display. Next to the door hangs the selected college’s flag. A “Where are they now?” bulletin board honors the achievements and post-secondary education of RCE alumni, while the library sports flags and pennants representing the nation’s Ivy League schools.
The No Excuses University program focuses on four-year institutions at the elementary level, community colleges in middle school, and trade schools at the high-school level, Benere explained. “If you spend five minutes a day talking about college that averages out to 15 hours a year. If you start in kindergarten, the child has 135 hours of college awareness experience by the ninth grade. If you don’t start until the junior year, the child’s experience is limited to 30 hours.”
“We’re a Title 1 school,” Benere said, “serving children with rough home conditions and many with parents in jail. They’re not getting college conversation at home.”
Copying Westwood Elementary in Manchester, another No-Excuse school, RCE actively promotes positive character traits and students who represent them. “Our whole approach to disciplinary procedures changed,” Benere said. “When a child misbehaves, we ask, ‘what character trait did you violate?’”
“There’s a push at the state level for early post-secondary emphasis,” Lonas said, “but nothing this comprehensive.” She hopes the program spreads to the other county elementary schools.
Turning to the middle school capital building program, Lonas said the board needed to reach a decision before June in order to finalize the budget.
Four options are under consideration: renovating the existing schools, a single consolidated school, building two new schools, or building two new schools, but not concurrently. The cost ranges from $35 million to $55 million.
Sewanee school board representative Adam Tucker said he wanted information on the cost of “ideal programming and staffing” before a voting. “Bricks and mortar is probably only 15 percent of the picture,” Tucker insisted.
Lonas will compile a list of the state approved middle school Career and Technical Education programs.
Updating the board on financial consideration, Lonas said refinancing of the high school bond, which will be paid off in 2021, could result in savings as great as 10 cents on a dollar, possibly offsetting the need for a tax increase to fund the middle school building initiative.
The board will vote at the May 8 meeting. The board meets for a work session on May 1 at North Lake Elementary.

​Prom for Students with Special Needs Touches Hearts

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

The invitation with white and gold lettering came home in backpacks and notebooks, and some parents cried.
The card read, “Franklin County High School cordially invites you to A Time to Shine,” a prom for students with special needs. Attached was a letter, essentially saying, “At no cost, what do you need? A tuxedo? Dress? Shoes? Hair and makeup?”
And on the night of April 1, clad in tuxes and fancy dresses, beautiful kids with challenges made their way onto the red carpet and into the back lobby of the school, where sparkling lights cascaded from the ceiling over friends laughing, parents pinning boutonnières, and photographers snapping photos, all amidst music and dancing—so much dancing.
“It was such a cool environment,” said Maddie Rhoton, one of the organizers. “I didn’t feel like anyone was judging anyone for what they were doing and we were all just dancing. It felt like it was just a bunch of people having fun.”
Five high school seniors, Ivy Limbaugh, Jace Smith, Anna Limbaugh, Drake Shull and Rhoton, organized the event after they learned about the idea at a Josten’s Renaissance Conference last year.
After all the work leading up to the event, they said the night was perfect.
“We all felt even, on the same level, disabilities didn’t matter,” Anna said. “Problems didn’t matter; we all felt together.”
In addition to students from FCHS, organizers invited students from special needs programs at Huntland and South Middle School, as well as home school kids.
Lee Brannon, FCHS senior class guidance counselor, estimated about 50 students with special needs attended the event that he called “refreshing.”
“Time to Shine prom gave our community a chance to join forces and be selfless,” he said. “It helped to give a different meaning to why we do what we do. We were all created by the same God and regardless of our different circumstances we all need each other.”
Plenty of students and staff members volunteered to dance, spin tunes, decorate and chaperone to make the event magical.
“A Time to Shine put a smile on my face and joy in my heart,” Brannon added. “I am so thankful for the opportunity I had seeing others smile.”
Prom king and queen were selected via a drawing among high school students and Laurie May and Austin Norris won the crowns.
“I was happy,” May said on April 7.
The prom queen said this was her first dance and she enjoyed it, but didn’t like dressing up.
“When Austin started blowing kisses to the crowd that was probably my favorite part of the night,” Ivy said. “That was just so funny, and I was really glad it was him.”
Area businesses donated to the festivities, including tuxedos and dresses, beauty services, food, water and other items. Organizers called the community support “overwhelming” and said the prom will be an annual event, with upcoming seniors taking the reins.
“We never lost sight of what we wanted to happen,” Ivy said. “We were just so pushed to make it happen.”
Her sister Anna added, “I wanted to feel like they got their night; it could be all about them. I feel like they don’t always get that.”
Some of the attendees talked about their prom experience the following week in Kari Myers’ comprehensive development class (CDC) at FCHS.
“Just watching them have a good time was the best part. It was fun,” Myers said. “A lot of them haven’t been to dances before. It brought tears to my eyes seeing them all dressed up in their tuxes and dresses.”
Ninth grader Mason Martin said “slow dance and break dance” were his favorite parts of the prom.
His classmate Jacob Gamble, a big Luke Bryan fan, said the food was his favorite part, especially the chicken. Trenton Haley said he is a pretty good dancer and it made him feel good to wear a tux.
Megan Hartwig said she liked dancing and really enjoyed the song “Honey Bee” by Blake Shelton.
Tenth-grader Cozy Metcalf said taking pictures with her friends was her favorite part of the prom, and classmate Austin Johnson said he had fun and plans to go back next year.
Several of the five main organizers said they had more fun at this prom than the traditional prom last year.
“I just wanted them to have the same experiences that we have,” Smith said. “A lot of times I found myself just sitting back and watching and it didn’t get old, just watching the look on their faces.”
Organizers said in addition to having fun, they wanted to promote relationships between students in special needs classes and other students.
Grateful parents showed their appreciation after the prom.
“I had multiple parents hug me, crying, congratulating us on how well it turned out, and thanking us for making it possible for their child,” Anna said.

​Sewanee Spoken Word Presents ‘The Strange, the Crazed, the Queer’

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

David Landon, a theatre legend in Sewanee, will perform “The Strange, the Crazed, the Queer” at 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 18, at Sewanee Spoken Word in the Blue Chair Café & Tavern.
Landon, who recently retired after more than four decades as a Sewanee theatre professor, first developed and directed “The Strange, the Crazed, the Queer”—featuring the poetry of Tennessee Williams—with a group of professional actors in New York City.
“I have long been an advocate and admirer of Williams’ poetry, believing that Williams—like Shakespeare—was first of all a poet, and that the poetic power of his
language is essential to his greatness as a playwright,” Landon said. “Audiences will recognize in his poetry many of the qualities of his work as a playwright: the rich, extravagant flights of language and powerful rhythms in which his characters articulate their situation.”
Williams, whose grandfather attended The School of Theology, left the rights of his plays, poems, letters and other works to the University of the South.
A veteran of professional and university theatre, Landon, 78, is very familiar with Williams’ work. He appeared in the world premiere of Williams’ autobiographical play, “The Parade,” in Provincetown, Mass., as well as performing in several productions of “Hotel Plays,” an evening of Williams’ one-act plays, in Provincetown, Sewanee and New Orleans. His other Williams’ roles include “Big Daddy” in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the University of Virginia, and “Mitch” in “Streetcar Named Desire” at the University of South Carolina.
Landon will also direct a production of “The Strange, the Crazed, the Queer,” at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival this September on Cape Cod.
Brooks Egerton, one of the organizers of Sewanee Spoken Word, praised Landon’s work, and said his performance is part of the overall mission of the bi-weekly event.
“We want to stimulate and showcase writers and spoken-word performers in the Sewanee area,” he said. “There is so much talent here, on campus and off. An example of off-campus talent: residents at Rivendell Writers’ Colony, who come from all over the country, have performed to raucous applause at some of our recent gatherings. I’m on that organization’s board and hope to see more such cross-pollination.”
Sewanee Spoken Word, former known as Sewanee Poetry Night, has been a fixture at the Blue Chair for more than two years.
“We changed the name because great writing comes in so many shapes and sizes,” Egerton said. “We’ve recently heard terrific excerpts from novels, plays and narrative nonfiction in addition to poetry and short fiction. Poetry remains central to what we do.”
The event is free. For more information or to join the roster of readers, email <FogPoets@gmail.com>. Open mike follows the scheduled performances.

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