Living Large - March 2016
Historian Charles Gray Tapped for Top State Award
In a letter to Gray announcing the honor, Elbert Hilliard, Secretary-Treasurer for the statewide organization, commends Gray for his outstanding lifelong contributions to state history. The award itself is named for Dr. Dunbar Rowland, the first director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and long-time secretary of the Mississippi Historical Society.
Gray moved to Bay St. Louis in 1985, becoming the seventh member of the Hancock County Historical Society, helping build it into an organization that maintains one of the most extensive online collections of local historical information in the country.
Read more about Charles Gray’s extraordinary contributions in this November 2014 Cleaver feature.
World Premier for Rheta Grimsley Johnson
Author and veteran syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson now has another bright feather in her literary cap: playwright. Johnson and John M. Williams co-wrote “Hiram: Becoming Hank William,” a musical which had its world premier on February 26 in Alabama, the music legend’s home state.
The opening night was a sell-out at the Pell City Center for Education and the Performing Arts (CEPA), with more than 400 people attending. Among them was Jett Willams, the daughter of Hank, who wrote one of the songs for the musical.
According to the CEPA website the play-writing team wanted to “explore the musical and life influences that ‘made Hank's music immortal,’ territory they felt was eclipsed by all that's been written about Williams' dramatic death.
"The play centers on Hank Williams' younger life as Hiram, growing up in Alabama and… the influences on his real-life character and his genius. Williams was influenced by the church music of his childhood, the blues of a street singer called Tee-Tot and the "hillbilly" songs he heard on the radio. When Hiram decided he'd make his living by singing, he donned a cowboy hat, renamed himself ‘Hank’ and the rest is history.”
In addition to the world premier on Friday, two additional performances drew enthused crowds. The play was directed by Kathy McCoy, director of the Pell City Players.
“We could not have asked for a better play,” said McCoy in a phone interview with the Cleaver this week. “It took on a life of its own… the people were wild. Clapping and singing along with the old-timey songs in the play. Let me tell you, Hank was in the house.”
McCoy noted the audience gave standing ovations for all performances, attributing much of the play’s success to writers John Williams (no relation to Hank) and Johnson.
“Rheta has a great passion for Southerners. She knows the South and she loves it. She just gets it. Plus, she’s a lot of fun.”
Johnson, a past Pulitzer Prize nominee, lives part of the year in Pass Christian. She has published seven books, and her 40 year career as a newspaper columnist has made her one of the most well-known writers in the South. Pass Books will be hosting the national launch of her latest book, "The Dogs Buried Across the Bridge,” on April 5th. Click here for a review of the book and full event details. Johnson also writes the “Across the Bridge” column for the Fourth Ward Cleaver.
Bay Waveland Teachers Selected as Rotary's Teacher of the Month
Two teachers with the Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District were recently named teachers of the month by the Rotary Club of Bay St. Louis.
Bay High's Tarah Herbert was honored as January's Teacher of the Month, and Gina Pepperman with Bay Waveland Middle was chosen for February. Herbert teaches Digital Media Technology and Graphic Design courses at the high school level and was recently named the district's Teacher of the Year. Pepperman taught social studies for many years at Bay Middle and now teachers computer courses and is the technology chair.
Rotary selects a Teacher of the Month from a local school based on their commitment to excellence in education and dedication to engaging students and encouraging high performance. From the monthly honorees, the Rotary Club will select a Teacher of the Year in late spring of 2016.
Creative Bay High Students Place in Statewide Art Competition
Bay High students were recognized at the monthly meeting of the Bay Waveland School Board in honor of their top submissions to the Scholastic Art & Writing Program. Out of 1800 submissions, local students received four top regional awards in various categories. Pictured here are (L-R) Tarah Herbert, graphic design teacher at Bay High, Grace Powell, winner of the prestigious Gold Key Award in oil painting; Landon Brady and Marion Pohl, both Honorable Mention winners in Photography; and Bay High art teacher Lauren Bernard. Not pictured is Alyssa D'Bonaventura, who was awarded a Silver Key regional award for her painting entitled “Dreamer”.
Bay St. Louis, MS – Seven Bay High art students were recognized for their creative work during the 2016 Scholastic Art & Writing Program. Chosen from over 1800 entries statewide, four of those students were awarded top awards, including prestigious regional awards.
Bay High sophomore Grace Powell's “It's been one of those days” was named a Regional Gold Key Winner for Oil Painting. Silver Key Winner was Alyssa D'Bonaventura, whose painting “Dreamer” took a top award in the painting category.
Bay High also had two Honorable Mention Winners for Photography – Marion Pohl and Landon Brady. Fro Participation in Painting, senior Abbey Riley was recognized for “Confounded”; Participation in Photography, Damian Crawford for “Simplicity”; and Participation for Painting, Jaime Hirstius for “Jelly Reef”.
Gold and Silver Key Winners art will be on display in the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackon through March 13. Currently, their work is being considered for national recognition. National medalists will be announced on March 14 and will be exhibited in Carnegie Hall in New York City.
The students were recognized at this month's school board meeting, along with their art teachers Lauren Bernard and Tarah Herbert.
“We celebrate our amazingly talented students,” said Dr. Rebecca Ladner, Superintendent of the Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District. “In our district, we feel that art is an important component in education – a means for expression, growth and creative thinking. We live in an arts community and strive to encourage the appreciation of the arts at each grade level for our students.”
Since 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have recognized and encouraged artistic talent in all areas of creativity – from fine art and poetry, to filmmaking and video game graphics. Thousands of teens in grades 7 through 12 apply annually in 29 different categories of art and writing, leading some to scholarships and careers in the arts.
Attorney Brehm Bell announces new scholarship for a promising future lawyer
“If you are absolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself,” Abraham Lincoln once said, “the thing is more than half done already.” It's this kind of determination that local attorney Brehm Bell is hoping to encourage by offering a new scholarship to a Hancock County, MS graduating senior.
The Brehm Bell Future Lawyers Scholarship is a $1000 one-time award to a high school senior who is planning on pursuing a law degree. Both public and private high school seniors are asked to submit applications no later than April 1, 2016.
A practicing attorney in downtown Bay St. Louis since 1995, Bell focuses his practice on personal injury cases and helping people who are overwhelmed or frustrated with the legal process. “Our legal system and insurance processes are hard for people to navigate sometimes,” said Bell. “We need bright, compassionate minds to enter the field of law to continue helping people have a voice.”
Bell put himself through college, working as a deckhand on tugboats in order to pay for his education at the University of Southern Mississippi followed by University of Mississippi's Law School. He graduated in 1989 and began work as an attorney in Meridian. After five years, he decided to move his family back home to Hancock County and build his personal injury practice here.
“The practice of law is a noble profession that allows you make a living helping people in their search for justice,” said Bell. “It is my hope that these funds will assist a young person in their dream to make this world a better place."
To be considered, seniors should obtain an application from their school counselor – the form has been provided to Bay High, Hancock High, St. Stanislas and Our Lady Academy for distribution. Or applicants may pick up a form at Bell's office, located at 544 Main Street in Bay St. Louis. A minimum GPA of 3.0, a letter of recommendation from a faculty member and a brief 200-word essay are required.
Please submit application in full by the April 1, 2016 deadline by emailing email@example.com or by mailing to:
544 Main Street
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520
Jaimee Dorris Wins Big!
Director’s Choice is chosen by the pageant director and given to the contestant who embodies the spirit of the pageant, is most enthusiastic, and turned in all documents on time. Top Ad Sales is given to the contestant who sells the most ads for the online pageant program.
The Mrs. Mississippi Pageant focuses on the beauty and accomplishments of married women. Pageant judges look for contestants who are not only beautiful, but articulate, and well rounded. Whether her days are focused on family, career, civic duties, or a combination of all, the new Mrs. Mississippi is the most beautiful and best representative of the married woman of today.
“A sweet, beautiful lady from Tupelo, Ashley Buse, won the crown this year,” stated Dorris. “She is stunning and worked hard for the title. All of the winners deserved their titles. It was a pleasure getting to know each of the contestants. I’m honored to have been part of this wonderful group of women.”
Mrs. Mississippi 2016, Ashley Buse, will continue on to compete in the Mrs. America Pageant this Fall in Los Vegas.
Learn more about Jaimee and what’s next at www.jaimeedorris.com.
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