April 2, 2007 Rotogram


Congratulations to the outstanding teachers and students we’re honoring today. They represent five local schools – Overstreet Elementary, West Oktibbeha Elementary, West Oktibbeha High, East Oktibbeha High, and Millsaps Career and Technology Center. Andrea Myles, will introduce the program.


Next Monday, Rotarian Greg Stewart will give us a better understanding of Aurora Flight Sciences, one of the Golden Triangle’s newest industries. Greg is General Manager of the Aurora manufacturing facility at GTR Airport. He will be introduced by Stu Vance.


Invocation and Pledge : Tom Ball.

Attendance : There were 129 members (91 actives, 36 exempt, 2 honorary) present. Missing around the tables were 43 active, 18 exempt, and 4 honorary members.

Guests and Visitors : Visiting Rotarian was Lewis Whitfield of Tupelo, guest of Sandra Harpole. Guests of members were Bill Tucker of Allan Tucker; Eric Yonge of Joel Clements, Jr.; Patrick Jue (Martin’s nephew who works at Cadence Bank) of Jerry Toney; Guy Hargrove of Nancy Hargrove; and Ruth Remy of Keith Remy. Club guests were David Engle (BSA Council Executive); Shoshona Bracket, Starkville Daily News; Exchange Student Ruth Schorling: and the following members of host families for our Exchange students – For Marie: Tom, Julia, and Abbie Cathcart; Bill and Vicki Burnett and Tori Ferguson; For Ruth: Marco Nicovich. Rotarian Charlotte and Toxie Coker were the first hosts for Ruth Schorling. They were introduced by President-elect Ned Browning.

Makeups : Andy Gaston in Aberdeen, 3/19; Meloney Linder in Columbus, 3/20; and Ren Crowell on-line 3/26.

Meeting Notes : President Larry Mullins again reminded us that the Club would pay expenses of members attending the District 6820 Conference in Jackson, April 26-28. He announced meetings of the Membership/Classification Committee, Friends of Scouting callers, GSE hosts, and the Board of Directors to be held following adjournment.

President-elect Ned Browning presented a check to Pushmataha Council Executive David Engle to cover the costs of the Friends of Scouting dinner at Camp Seminole.

Rotary Minute: Tommy Wakeman’s Rotary Minute was a summation of quick facts about Starkville Rotary Club. He said 15% of our members are women. Ann Mitchell was the first president of the club, serving in 2003-2004. The oldest still active past president is J. B. VanLandingham. He believes Larry Mullins has proven to be among the best presidents, pointing to the growth in membership, initiating the first major fund-raising project (the rodeo), and adding the now infamous Absolutely Nothing to Do About Rotary Minute that lightens up our meetings.


Photo by M. Nicovich: Marie concluded by presenting President Mullins a banner from Toul Rotary Club. Larry gave her a Starkville banner to present to Toul Rotarians when she returns to France later this summer.

Marie Baran has attended almost every Rotary meeting since her arrival August 8 and she finally got a chance Monday to address the Club. With the polish of a veteran public speaker, her beaming smile, and her very professionally done PowerPoint presentation, she introduced her family, told about her home and school, and shared the wide array of new adventures experienced during her first 8 months as a Rotary Exchange Student.

Marie’s home is in the small town of Sainte Marie du Lac in northeastern France. “See, it has my name,” she said smiling, “but it’s named for Lac du Der, the largest manmade lake in Europe.” The lakeshore is just a short distance behind the Baran home and backyard.

Her father, Denis, has his own recruiting and consulting business in the city of Toul, where he is a Rotarian in Marie’s sponsoring club. “It’s a small club that’s much like a family.”

Her mother’s name is Veronique but she is known by her family and friends as “Prune (French for plum.)” She has two sisters, Claire, 15, and Nathalie, 37. Nathalie has two children, Antoine, 3 and Elea, 6, who are very special to Marie. She has a “soft and silent friend,” her black cat named Griotte (“Black Cherry”).

Marie left Paris at 5 a.m. for her first flying experience. Her journey included a 6-hour layover in Atlanta before coming on to GTR Airport. She was warmly welcomed by her first host family, the Tom Cathcarts, whose daughter, Julia, had been our Exchange Student in France 4 years ago.

Marie’s appreciation and love for her host families was apparent as she spoke and showed pictures of the exceptional travel opportunities she has shared with them.

In the Fall, she accompanied the Cathcarts on a trip to Illinois for a cousin’s wedding. She loved seeing Chicago and marvelled at all the green space separating the city from Lake Michigan. They came home through Iowa so her host brother, Wendell, could take a look at Grinnell College. They went to Virginia for Thanksgiving and she got to visit Washington, D.C.

She moved to the home of Bill and Vicki Burnett after Thanksgiving and got to have her first Christmas stocking with the family, which includes Tori Ferguson, 17; and two younger siblings, David, 6, and Maggie, 2. “I had presents under the tree, too – it was wonderful!”

Since the holidays, they had a visit from a Rotary family in Missouri, who were hosts for another French girl and were en route to Florida. Marie experienced her first rodeo – the Dixie National – then worked at our Rotary rodeo in February. “That was a lot of fun.”

Marie made French crepes for the Burnetts and introduced them to Nutella, a European “peanut butter” spread that is made with hazelnut and chocolate.

Over spring break, the Burnetts took Tori and Marie to New York City for 5 days of sightseeing. They saw two Broadway shows (Phantom of the Opera and Color Purple), but the highlight of the trip for Marie was getting to meet French artist and composer, Michel Legrand. “He is very popular in France. He inspired my interest in music.”

Tori won a state DAR award this spring and Marie went with the family to Jackson and got to tour the Governor’s Mansion

Marie and her fellow RYE student, Ruth Schorling (who spoke to Rotary in early December) became best of friends from the start. “We have spent the best moments together,” she said. Both Marie and Ruth are moving soon to the home of David and Rachel McCann Lewis, parents of Alex who was last year’s RYE student in Italy.

She said schools here are quite different than those in France. “In France we are with the same people every day all year. Here, you have different subjects every day. The top grade here is 100, in France it’s 20.” She has enjoyed history and English classes and “the wonderful drama program.” A skilled musician and vocalist, she is in the SHS jazz band and just played a major role in Beauty and the Beast.

“It’s been a wonderful year and it’s all because of Rotary. Ruth and I have found family and many friends in Starkville.”

Marie’s family – Denis, Prune, and Claire, and her best friend Emma, will be visiting in 3 weeks and we look forward to welcoming them to Starkville and Mississippi.

Marie and Ruth have been outstanding ambassadors for their countries and for Rotary. Nancy Hargrove, Marie’s Rotarian counselor and mentor, introduced Marie and spoke for most of us when she said in both French and English “you have wonderful spirit, we love you a lot.”

Starkville Rotary Club is indebted to the Cathcart, Burnett, Coker, Nicovich and Lewis families for making our Youth Exchange program successful.

(We hope you all read the excellent front page feature Shoshona Brackett wrote after hearing Marie’s presentation. It was in last Tuesday’s issue of Starkville Daily News.)


Two new members have been approved for publication for review by the membership. If no objections are filed by next Monday, April 9, they will be considered elected to membership in the Club.

Richard Blachbourn, Dean of Education at Mississippi State, is proposed for membership by Sandra Harpole. His classification is Education/Administration.

Grant Arinder, senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, is proposed by Bill Foster. He is a former member of Belzoni Rotary Club and is still a member of Madison-Ridgeland Rotary. His classification: Religious Ministry.

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