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Pre-K Center welcomes spring with fun, games

Kylee Sue Johnson during tug-of-war.Jaxon Echols in the relay race.Principal Bonnie Jones drives the ATV-powered train full of children.

Children at the Prek-Kindergarten Center welcomed back spring last week at the school’s 2013 Spring Fling, a day of games, music and snow cones with parents and teachers.

Groups of children rounded the various stations — tug of war, sack race, bounce houses and others — while fast-paced music pumped from speakers and parents snapped photos of their kids playing. The annual event took place on March 28 during the last week of school before spring break.

A perfect marriage: the letters Q & U

Students at the PreK-Kindergarten Center recently conducted a marriage of sorts in which kindergarteners Isabella Gray posed as the letter “Q” and Connor Miner as the letter “U.”

Other students from the classes of kindergarten teachers Cori Wilkes and Jenna Smith served as the choir and all the other letters of the alphabet during the ceremony.

“It keeps it fresh in their minds that ‘Q’ and ‘U’ are always together in the English language and they make a unique sound,” said Ms. Wilkes, a second-year teacher.

The perils of ‘spit tobacco’

Rick Bender, mouth cancer survivor.This week students at the middle and high schools are getting a closeup look at the effects of smoking and chewing tobacco as part of a national campaign that culminates with the 18th annual Kick Butts Day on March 20.

Nationally known anti-tobacco speaker Rick Bender — a survivor of mouth cancer he attributes to using chewing tobacco as a teenager — shared his story with groups of middle schoolers on March 18 and high schoolers the following day.

Mr. Bender, who started using “spit tobacco” at age 12, opened one session at the middle school on Monday by asking the students if they’ve ever tried the product.

Only a few hands went up. But when he asked if they knew anyone who used dip regularly, nearly all the students raised their hands.

Mr. Bender of Sarasota, FL grew up in California and played baseball in high school, which was part of the reason he started using a couple of cans of dip per week. He said his aversion to cigarettes and peer pressure also contributed to his habit, which increased to one can every other day by the end of high school.

By 1988, Mr. Bender, then in his mid-20s, was up to a can a day. That’s also about the time he noticed a little sore on the side of his tongue, which was nothing new. Similar sores, appearing as white bumps or rough patches of white tissue in his mouth, had been coming and going for years.

But this time the sore didn’t go away, and instead grew rapidly to the size of dime on his tongue.

“You want to talk about hurt, this thing hurt. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t eat. It was rubbing across my teeth,” Mr. Bender said.

He consulted a family physician who couldn’t diagnose the sore. He was directed to another doctor, who biopsied the growth that proved to be cancer — an undifferiented squamous cell carcinoma to be exact.

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Varsity Hi-Q sweeps district tourney

Varsity Hi-Q team with the district championship trophyBaker County High School’s varsity Hi-Q team swept the district tournament this week, topping teams from Columbia and Union counties on its way to another district trophy.

The academic competition pits two teams of four players each against one another in a quiz show-like game using buzzers to quickly answer questions for points on variety of topics from science and math to geography and literature.

The varsity line-up of Sarah Harrell, Reagan McKendree, Megan Anderson, Chase Brannan, Kailey Murphy, Kaitlyn Corder and Forrest Elledge secured the title in the final match against Union County, scoring 175 points to 130 for their opponents.

Winning by a wide margin is nothing new for the team, which has been on a roll since the season began in October. Varsity players entered the tournament undefeated at 6-0.

“We kick butt and take names,” Ms. Anderson said after her team was presented with the district trophy at Christian Fellowship Temple in Macclenny shortly after noon on November 27.

The varsity squad beat Columbia County by 75 points for an appearance in the final match.

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