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Thumbs of the Week: Students, leaders get high accolades

Staff Reports • Updated Jun 23, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Thumbs up to several personnel and students with Wilson County Schools, who were honored Monday by the Wilson County Commission. The group honored Mt. Juliet High School’s Rodney Parks and principal Mel Brown, as well as Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright, for their accomplishments. Parks heads Mt. Juliet’s theater department, which consists of nine classes, beginning with theater I for beginners and theater IV for advanced students. There are about 250 students involved in the school’s theater classes or productions, which allows the department to present productions year round. The group welcomed upcoming senior Amanda Dowswell. Dowswell, who played the lead female role in the school’s recent rendition of “Phantom of the Opera,” sang two songs for the group, including “God Bless America.” Commissioner Frank Bush led the honoring after he said Commissioner John Gentry boasted about the Mt. Juliet High School production. The commission also honored Brown, who was named principal of the year by the Tennessee Association of Secondary School Principals. Brown has served as Mt. Juliet High School principal for 13 years, beginning in 2004. The commission also honored Wright after the Professional Educators of Tennessee, a nonpartisan statewide association of Tennessee teachers, named Wright its superintendent of the year for 2016.

Thumbs up to Wilson Habitat for Humanity, which celebrated the dedication of a new handicapped-accessible home for a local family Sunday afternoon. Ron and Leigh Anne Ankney and their three sons were joined by several friends, family members, fellow Providence United Methodist Church members and people from the community to mark the completion of the home. According to Wilson Habitat for Humanity Director Tory Tredway, the event was particularly special because the home is handicapped-accessible, which will benefit 11-year-old Noah Ankney. 

Thumbs up to an award-winning documentary film from Mt. Juliet cinematographer Jimmy Cooper that follows American veterans returning to Northern Iraq and is set to play June 30 at the Full Moon Cineplex. Showtime will be at 7 p.m. with a question-and-answer session to follow.Filmed in Iraq and Syria, “The Longest Road” follows retired Army Sgt. Richard Campos, Vietnam veteran Stan Rapada, and Gold Star father Kevin Graves as they head to the front lines of combat to see the atrocities that ISIS has committed firsthand. But this isn’t just a sightseeing tour. Campos and his team of veterans, turned humanitarians, are now giving back to those who have suffered immeasurable loss at the hands of the enemy. Cooper, a Mt. Juliet resident, made three trips to Iraq to serve on the film in two years. While in the Middle East, the production befriended a Muslim heart surgeon who shares her story in the film. Dr. Nemam Ghafouri, a former refugee herself, brought the finished film to London and Sweden, where it played to packed theaters filled with diverse crowds. The filmmakers were even invited to attend a meeting at Swedish Parliament to discuss the current refugee situation in the Middle East.

 

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