Published Sunday, February 17, 2013

Black History Month: 'Celebrating a Prestigious Heritage' at Madras

By REBECCA LEFTWICH

rebecca@newnan.com

Madras Middle School students should remember that “challenges are necessary to development” by guest speaker Reginald L. Goff, Sr., who talked to them about education, using their gifts and the future at the school’s annual Black History Month program.

Goff, president and CEO of Wilson Goff Construction, used the story of George Washington Carver’s life to illustrate how many successful people came from humble beginnings. Goff encouraged students to repeat key concepts as he spoke.

“Say it with me: I recognize that the gifts in me will make room for me,” he said. “My money or lack thereof do not determine how great I can be.”

The school’s “Celebrating a Prestigious Heritage” program also gave students and staff the opportunity to recognize Marie Geter and Loretta Whitlow, winners of Madras Middle’s Sixth Annual African-American Service Awards.

Geter, one of the first nurses placed in Coweta County Schools, worked at Madras for 12 years and retired last spring. She graduated from Central High School – now Central Educational Center – and earned her nursing degree at Carroll Tech. The mother of two children, Geter now works at Cambridge House and attends Trinity Life and Worship Church, where she is actively involved in community outreach programs.

Whitlow, who also retired last spring, began working at Madras in 1999 after moving to Carrollton when her husband, Earnest, retired. She served as attendance secretary as well as nurse at Madras.

Whitlow has two children and works as a greeter/usher at the Fox Theatre as well as being actively involved with her church and working with senior citizens.

Other highlights of the event were music by Kevin Walker and guest ensemble; the Madras Chorus; the Madras Jazz Ensemble; and the Sixth Grade Believers’ Team, which sang and signed “I Believe I Can Fly.” Madras students portrayed influential characters in honor of their contributions.

Personal essays on civil rights were presented by Tyler Byrd, Hailey Thain, Elizabeth Sebastian and Ashton Northrop, and the incomparable Ms. Ivera T. Grundy – played by Tracey E. Pitts – dropped by to say a few words in her unique way.

“Ms. Grundy” dragged along her supposedly shy and inexperienced voice student, Madras eighth grader Anna Kathryn Escoe, in a skit that first elicited chuckles and then cheers as Escoe belted out Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know?” – much to Ms. Grundy’s shock.

In a serious moment, Pitts’ character urged students not to overlook the past as they move forward.

“We’re in a position finally to know we’re making history together,” she said.

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