Mrs. Grundy tells all

Published 12:30 am Saturday, March 17, 2012

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I wondered at the beauty of the dogwoods and azaleas, which dominate all blooming things in the “Dimple of Dixie” this time of the year.

Miss Priscilla Primme, the English teacher; Miss Flora Covington, my neighbor, and I drove around the capital of Covington County this week and noted things in bloom – wisteria (like clusters of paper grapes), Indian hawthorne, red clover, white Dutch clover, yellow rabbit clover, verbena, Lady Bankshire roses, the Cherokee rose (Waco and Nina Taylor gave me my start), red top, tree azaleas (called tree honeysuckle by some; Mary Wilson used to gather bouquets of it from the woodlands this time of year), purity (almost hidden in the grass), iris, sloes (wild plums), fruiting pears, Bradford pears, button spirea, bridal wreath, South Carolina yellow jasmine, Indian cane, catalpa, dewberries, snowballs, flowering almonds, spiderworts and bluets.

What a wealth of loveliness!

Congratulations to all involved with the high-school production of Bye, Bye, Birdie, the musical, presented March 11 and 12 in the high-school auditorium.

I understand it was “on with the show” despite numerous, unexpected difficulties. For example, one of the principal players came down ill at the last minute and was replaced by the twins, Robert and Madison Copeland, graduates of Andy High and now college graduates and businessmen, who stepped in with their pleasant and willing attitudes and learned the part in just two days, each brother playing different scenes. Their mother told me that even she didn’t know from scene to scene if it were Robert or Madison, playing “Birdie.”

The lead male role was filled by Will Jones, son of Mr. and Mrs. Billy Jones, in the Sunday matinee (I did not see the Monday evening performance when the part was scheduled for a different actor). Will, only a sophomore, played with aplomb. I think he’s ripe for Broadway already.

The lead female role was played by Savannah Ricks, daughter of Ralph and Ronda Ricks, who came across as much older than her years. She was most convincing as a mature woman.

The main thought I had about the play was how fortunate the students were to have the opportunity to display and develop their talents. Our choral program was on the cutting board because of financial shortages, but was saved with the help of two Andy graduates and friends from the Class of 1965, Paula Sue Duebelt and Sue (Bass) Wilson (“Miss Sue”), who have been working for practically nothing but the love of music and their beloved alma mater. Mrs. Duebelt had already retired. They, along with Angie (Baker) Sasser, valedictorian of the Class of 1972 and currently a science teacher at AHS, directed the musical.

That afternoon of the first performance I could see Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Sasser at keyboards in the orchestra, along with Robert and Patty Meyer.

I guess a love of music runs in “Miss Sue’s” family. Two of her grandchildren, the brothers, Hampton and Steadman Glenn, had comical parts, admirably performed.

The performance was dedicated to the memory of Judy (Shaw) Armstrong, a retired, Andalusia teacher and one-time member of the orchestra.

Other leads were ably played by Megan Rogers (a typical teen); Catlin Jones, Kat Dean, Robynn Wiggins (who got more than her share of laughs), and Brandon Rogers.

A forum to discuss charter schools in Alabama was open to the public Thursday night, March 8, in the spacious and attractive fellowship hall of First Baptist Church on Whatley Street.

The meeting was sponsored by District 24 (Conecuh, Covington and Escambia counties) of the Alabama Education Association.

A two-hour session of speeches, questions, and answers was followed by a sandwich supper, hosted by Vivian Jones, AEA District 24 director, headquartered in Brewton.

The panel to lead discussion were Allen Woodard, attorney for the Covington County School Board, who served as moderator; Ted Watson, superintendent of the Andalusia City Schools; Willie Thomas, retired schoolteacher here in Andalusia; and Dr. Gregory T. Graves, the new (as of January) associate executive secretary of the AEA, moving to Alabama from Detroit, Mich.

I gathered from the speeches by the panelists and questions from the audience that AEA is opposed to the idea of charter schools.

(AEA’s influence and power would be greatly reduced by the institution of charter schools. Some think Republicans are pushing charter schools mainly to “conquer” AEA.)

From my scant understanding, it seems that charter schools, as of now, are just being considered for Alabama. No official bill has yet been introduced into the Senate, but one likely will be.

I called the governor’s office and was told he favors charter schools.

Republicans, in general, seem to favor charter schools; and Democrats (the unofficial party of AEA), in general, seem to oppose charter schools.

My understanding of charter schools is incomplete, but my first impression of charter schools is negative. I wondered how anybody in his right mind could favor charter schools. Then I ran into some highly intelligent, cultured citizens who are all for them. I thought at that point, “Well, charter schools can’t be all bad if these two are for them.”

I’ve been told conflicting “facts” about charter schools, so I’m confused.

Here are some “facts” I’ve been told – charters can pick and choose the better students, so the poorer students may be left in public schools; each charter student takes his share of public tax money with him to the new charter school, leaving the public schools with less money, thus, probably, fewer opportunities of numerous types, like the choral program and, perhaps, athletics; charter students can still play on public sports teams but charter seniors cannot be graduates of the Andalusia High School; parents must sign documents, obligating them to participate in the charter-school education, or, otherwise, have their child refused; the charter school will operate under a different board, not the elected public-school board; charter teachers may or may not be certified; and there may be several charter schools in Covington County, each taking students and money from the public schools.

It is my understanding that charter schools are private schools, using public money. Does that remind you of federal money for car companies?

It seems to me that charter schools are all about the love of money, not a child’s education.

The more I hear about charter schools, the more alarmed I am. Warning! With any change there are always unforeseen results.

It seems to me, at this point, that charter schools, once allowed in Alabama (and, thus, in Covington County), could be the death knell for Andalusia High School.

I am flabbergasted that such an idea as charter schools could reap supporters at this time of economic disaster in our nation. We don’t have enough money to run our schools as it is. Then, to take money from our schools to create a parallel school system, seems beyond belief!

I wish those who see the good of charter schools would write some letters to the editor and enlighten those of us who can’t see the good.

This is one subject about which John Q. Public had best express his feelings to our representatives and senators in the Alabama legislature.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Wear something green to avoid being pinched.

Today is also the last day to visit Selma for its pilgrimage, as well as the Mobile Historic Homes Tour.

The Eufaula Pilgrimage is set for March 30 – April 1.

I ate at Mama T.’s recently and found the food to be good home cooking, especially the fried bread. (Bobby Scott agrees.) Mama T.’s opened Feb. 10 for lunch, Monday – Friday. It soon began serving lunch on Sundays, too. The first time was March 4.

Mama T.’s is run by three siblings, Sandra Flowers, Desmond Flowers and Deionne Flowers. They named the new restaurant for their mother, Tiny Flowers, who sometimes helps out.

Educational representatives of District 24 (Conecuh, Covington and Escambia counties) of AEA assembled for their monthly meeting March 12 at Reid State Technical College in Evergreen.

Following business, L. D. Goldsmith served a supper of lasagna and peach cobbler, with soda provided by Adrian Hixon.

Jimmy Ponds, immediate past president of the educational employees of Covington County schools and District 24, as well as librarian at Straughn Elementary, was named to the district board, consisting of Jacqueline Earthly, president; Calvin McIntyre, vice-president; Joe Wingard, secretary; and Dianne McKenzie, treasurer.

The next meeting was set for April 9. New officers for AEA “locals” are to be elected and reported, such as those for the Andalusia Association of Educators.

Attending were Adrian Hixon, Eugene Smith, Dianne McKenzie, Jimmy Ponds, Joe Wingard, L. D. Goldsmith (chef), Jacqueline Earthly, Ethel Robertson, Vivian Jones (District 24 director for AEA), Rita Folmar, Calvin McIntyre, Derrick Lett, Jenelle Riley, Marilyn Simmons and Holly Tullis.

Please consider watching a new film of Great Expectations on public television April 1 and 8 on Masterpiece Theatre, in honor of its author, Charles Dickens, whose birth 200 years ago many are remembering this year.

This year is also the 100th anniversary of the birth of the movie cowboy, Roy Rogers, born Nov. 5, 2011.

Again, I ask that each citizen of Andalusia join the Covington Historical Society and pay its annual dues of $25 so as to help preserve the history of our county, whether you attend meetings or not. Mail to CHS, P.O. Box l582, Andalusia, AL 36420.

To commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States, let us return to this week 150 years ago.

President Lincoln removed Gen. George McClellan from his command as general-in-chief of the Union army, supposedly to give the general more time to concentrate on the Army of the Potomac, which was to protect Washington as well as attack the Confederates in Virginia. (Lincoln seemed almost paranoid about protecting his seat of government.)

General McClellan began what came to be known as the Peninsular Campaign, a military move up the Virginia peninsular, formed by the James and York rivers, to approach Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, from the south with the aim of conquering the city.

From what I have read of General McClellan, he was the perfect enemy, like a child who doesn’t want anyone else to play with his toy soldiers because that someone else might soil them. He is almost amusing. His decisions – or lack of them – worked to the advantage of the South more than once.

President Lincoln spoke in favor of financial compensation to slave holders. (Many in the North had slaves.)

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial and Mark Twain stamps.

For the seventh week no one has identified correctly the mysterian. Here is the clue-graph again – soft-spoken, quiet, professional, a bookworm, known for growing African violets in her windowsills.

Birthdays this week include those of Kate Greenaway, an English painter and illustrator, especially of children’s books.

Spring arrives officially Tues., March 20 – Carolyn Rankin’s birthday. Mrs. Rankin, once a teacher with Andalusia City Schools, used to say, “the older the bird, the brighter the plumage.” I learned more from her about teaching than from all the educational courses I took in college, put together.

Now, gentle reader, allow me to encourage each of us to be in his place of worship this weekend, Lord willing, if one can avoid sleeping through the time change, like the Portly Gentleman! Fare thee well.