Macon County high school juniors and seniors, many of whom are fulfilling requirements for Bridge Builders Alabama, meet every other Thursday night at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Highway 81 between Notasulga and Tuskegee. Auburn University undergraduates work alongside them, as they develop skills related to life, work, and college. The program is funded in part by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
A great big group enjoyed pizza, wings, and fruit tonight, along with the visit of four very special guests. Mary White, overnight youth service worker for a Tuskegee program named BRIDGES, works with homeless teen girls from Macon and surrounding counties. November is National Runaway Prevention Month, and Mary talked to us about her work with young people and the services her organization provides. Some of our seniors are interested in working with BRIDGES for their senior project.
Clifford Hawkins, Urban Forestry Coordinator for the Alabama Forestry Commission talked to us about the natural environment and his work. Originally from Louisiana, Clifford’s college and career journey was informative and inspiring. He would like to organize some work among young people in Macon County through Booker T. Washington High School and Notasulga High School, and our students are interested in helping with the project.
Kay Stone and Heather Hughes of the AU Environmental Institute returned with bench designs in hand. Several weeks ago, they led students through a design workshop where students determined messages they would like to see displayed through mosaic tiles that will cover concrete benches. Seven drawings resulted from that session, and students voted to determine the top three, which included one design highlighting Macon County history, one representing the county’s natural beauty, and one focusing on education. We will work with Kay on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the green space in front of the Macon County Courthouse.
We rounded the night out by dividing into five groups for students to think through logistical questions for the benches. Should we keep them in a group? Where should they be placed? All five groups decided independently that the benches should be placed separately in Tuskegee, Notasulga, and Shorter. Perhaps as we follow up with Mr. Hawkins on tree planting, we can pair the benches with a nice shade tree. Join us on January 21.
Marian Royston, one of our faithful college students, could not be with us because she was in Washington, D.C., interviewing for the prestigious George Mitchell Scholarship for graduate study in Ireland. We recorded a video message wishing her luck, and our well wishes came true: Marian became one of twelve Mitchell Scholars for the next academic year (out of over 300 applicants from around the United States). Our high school students are proud of you, Marian!