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And a child shall lead them

By Randy Garrison

One of the things I truly miss about working with the newspaper is all the time I was able to spend in the schools, I miss seeing the students weekly and sharing stories about them from pre-K all the way to seniors in high school. I always enjoyed the first day of school from either kindergarten to later pre-K and then photographing the seniors as they moved across the stage, received their diplomas and went forward to conquer the world. Also, mammas were crying on the first day of school and as the seniors walked across the stage as well.

Well, I do still get invited on occasion to visit the schools, speak to classes and participate in various activities at taking place at the schools in our city. Last week I was invited to interview fourth graders at Crestline Elementary. The students were applying to serve as ambassadors for their school. I am assuming the ambassadors will serve as representatives of the school for visitors, greeters for special events and other various jobs that may come up doing the school year. When Ms. Penrod sent a message asking if I would participate I was happy to spend the time on this project and work with Crestline’s future ambassadors.

Last Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, a current Crestline teacher, a retired Crestline teacher and myself interviewed between 20-25 young ladies and gentlemen for the position of ambassador. I am not sure of the total that will be selected, but after scoring them on various points from reading aloud to eye contact and several others, I know the final decisions to be made will not be easy.

Students were interviewed in groups of 3-4, depending on the schedule that had been set. To make them feel at ease they were asked to state their name and tell a little something about themselves. Most shared how many siblings they had, pets, favorite subject in school and even how long they had lived in Hartselle. We did have a few interesting revelations, apparently some families really like to clean, and just because you just moved here from Tennessee does not mean you are a Vols fan. 

Each applicant was also asked to read a passage from a book just to see how they projected and how they would deal with reading aloud in front of other people. Just for information, informercial is not a word, fourth graders have seen, nor did many even know what the word represented. I was impressed with the reading skills of the young folks and one young man even maintained eye contact as he read his passage. Each student had also answered a series of four questions on their application and one of the four was asked again during the interview. I was impressed most answered the question orally in much the same way as they did the written version.

Several of the students really made an impression on me, including a group of three boys who were very supportive of each other during the interviews. It was almost as if they were working to help the other succeed. Others were so excited to share and tell why they wanted to serve you were touched by their answers, many being to help other students, especially new and younger ones.

I can’t imagine going through this process as a fourth grader, but these group signed up and agreed to go through the process. We can look forward to great leaders from this group of young folks now and in the future. They may be young but they have big hearts and servant souls. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the process and best of luck to all.