Sunday, December 05, 2010

Great things on Signal Mountain

     This past week has been full of great happenings on Signal Mountain. Last weekend the Mountain Arts Community Center Foundation, of which I am a member, sponsored "Home for ThanksGIVING" at the MACC. We had up to 75 people in attendance listening to great music by Joseph Decosimo, The Kathy Tugman Jazz Quarter and Halcyon Jazz. This event was sponsored by Alexian Village, who provided the chili dinner, Barnett & Co. and Pruett's. A great time was had by all and we raised over $1000 for the MACC!

The Kathy Tugman Jazz Quartet

     Continuing with the MACC theme, last night I attended the Christmas Tree Lighting at the MACC. There were performances by the Thrasher choir and the string students ensemble, featuring new Town Councilmember Dick Gee on violin! There were several craft workshops for making Christmas ornaments and cookies. Glenn Showalter, our newest MACC Board member did "thumb print" art for the kids and the night was completed with the lighting of the town Christmas tree and a carol sing. The new tree planted for this purpose is young and small but will grow and is a perfect symbol for the MACC. I feel obligated to report my disappointment that neither our Mayor nor Vice-Mayor found the time to attend either of these outstanding town events.


     Obviously I must mention the very exciting news that the Signal Mountain Eagles Football team are now State Champions! It was a very exciting game broadcast on WTCI television so we could all share in this significant event. This is the fastest any new school has become State Champions in the history of the State of Tennessee. It has been so exciting seeing the our new High School excel not only in athletics (with State Championships in football and also in volleyball and golf for two years in a row!), but in academic and artistic endeavors, also. Recent honors for SMMHS students include:

  * the Signal Corps Marching Band which took first place in their division at the Bradley Classic competition at Bradley Central High School. The color guard, and percussion also took home top honors.

* our team of middle school students which competed 5/10 in the Chattanooga State Middle School math contest. SMMHS had the most winners of all participating schools with Jackson Swiney placing 1st overall in 6th grade, Cameron Youngblood placing 3rd overall in 6th grade and Matthew Lamsey placing 1st overall in 7th grade.

* Ten students from Signal Mountain Middle School who attended the 2010 National TSA Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The students placed in the top ten in the nation in 9 of the competitive events. The chapter received The Chapter of Excellence award. Their advisor, Steve Seymour won the Advisor of the Year award. (By: Hannah Peterson from the website).

*Michael Holloway won First Place and a $500 scholarship in Theatre Stage Design at a recent conference this fall. His design was from this fall's theatre production "Crimes of the Heart".

     This is just a brief summary of a few of the outstanding achievements of our local students (plagiarized freely from the SMMHS website!). What an incredible addition to this community our high school has been. It still amazes me that there was any opposition to this great institution. I was reminded of some of the rancor of just a few years ago while I was cleaning out my "town council" files this past week. I found a letter I received in 2007 (if memory serves). It was sent anonymously which is obviously a comment on the poor character and lack of integrity of the author, but I thought was worth a brief revisit. The gist of the letter (which was sent not only to the town council, but to the Hamilton County School Board, County Commission, NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, SCLC, Rainbow/Push and "local media", among others) was to "take a moral, just and economic stand AGAINST the funding of construction for an unneeded and unwanted Middle and High School to be located on Signal Mountain, Tennessee". I'll just quote a few of the more outrageous comments:
"*The school will never have significant enrollment relative to the enormous cost" - which explains why the school will probably be at capacity by its third year.
"*The proposed middle School High School on Signal Mountain will be at least 99.5% white!" - Well, I don't know the exact numbers, but the photo on the front page of the TimesFreePress sports section probably tells the story of school race relations better (this is a similar photo from the TFP website):

Signal Mountain Eagles celebrate winning the State Championship

"*How will business relocation advisors to multinational corporations (Toyota) look at a county immersed in such a divisive decision related to something as important as integration and proper funding of public schools?" - Did you hear that Volkswagen and Amazon??

     I could clearly go on and on (it is a two page, single spaced letter), but I think you get the point. The threatened "desegregation lawsuit" never materialized. The writer states that the school would only benefit "the elite, wealthy and powerful few" and should be called the "Byron De La Beckwith High School". I will state that I don't think the writer cared a bit about the racial issue but was only trying to stir up opposition "off the mountain". This was written after the bond issue was passed and the school was barely started in a last ditch effort to kill the school by raising the red herring of race. I think the true views and associations of the writer are reflected in his or her comments about the "Complete our community" effort which was the slogan of those who supported the high school. The writer stated that this "effort has led to the recall effort effecting (sic) four town councilmembers". The writer clearly associates support for a local high school with the recall effort. Ironically, when I met with the "recall" folks just before my election in 2006, one of the first statements they made to me was that the recall "was not about the high school". Frankly, that had never occurred to me and I hadn't asked anything about it. I guess I have long believed that when someone makes a point of saying that something isn't about "something", then that is exactly what it is about!

     Well, fortunately the high school didn't get stopped, it has not generated any racial divisiveness and, with the exception of a few grumpy and curmudgeonly holdouts, it truly has "completed our community". I am incredibly proud of our local students and of the support our town (and general community) has shown for the school and all of its programs. I am proud that my daughter is a student there and that my wife is co-President of the Theater Arts Boosters, another outstanding program at SMMHS led by Theater teacher and wrestling coach John Lennon.

     We truly live in a great town with many great people. We are moving forward to becoming a real town and not just a "bedroom community" of commuters. While growth is inevitable, I see no risk of the "unbridled growth" that the fearmongers would use to protect their own elitist agenda. I think we can manage our growth, preserve our values and still welcome the broad and diverse range of residents who will be attracted by the very values that we all treasure. I am very excited about our future. Go Eagles!