June 11, 2007 Rotogram


Our guest today is Jimmy Abraham, Executive Director of Mississippi State University Alumni Association. Welcome to Rotary!


Next week, State Representative Jim Simpson (R-4th District) will be our guest. The Vice Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee will discuss tort reform.


Invocation and Pledge : Jim Tisdale.

Attendance : . There were 108 members (73 active and 35 exempt) present and 62 active, 29 exempt, and all 10 honorary members missing. Three actives are on leave.

Guests and Visitors : Visiting Rotarian Mabel Murphree (Tupelo) was a guest of Ann Mitchell. Other guests of members were Allen Kimbrell of Judy Webb; Charlie Sparrow of Krish Bhansali; Ellen Boles of David Boles; and Lian Tan of Stan Gryzbowski. Club guests were Leigh Jensen Crawford (Claire’s mother); Carrie Hawkins; Doug and Bonnie Feig; and Sue Blackbourn.

Makeups : Andy Gaston in West Point, May 3; Gary D. Jackson, Eupora, May 15.

Meeting Notes : President Larry expressed condolences of the club to Rotarian Dave and Ellen Boles and their family. Dave’s mother, Viola Faye Boles, died May 17 in Kansas.

He congratulated Wes and Emily Ferguson, whose family increased just over a week ago with the birth of their son, Tate.

Kudos also to Bricklee Miller on another successful equine event at the Mississippi Horse Park the previous weekend.

Rotary Minute : President-Elect Ned Browning posed the question “why is our organization called Rotary.” A good many Rotarians knew it was so-named because Paul Harris and those early members “rotated” among their businesses. In that way, they learned more about each other personally and business-wise. Today, he noted that most of us sit at the same table with the same fellow members every week. “We need to rotate like they did in the early days. Why not move around, sit with different people, and really get acquainted with our fellow members,” he challenged. It’s a good bet that no one, except perhaps Secretary Michelle, can call more than half of our 199 members by name. It’s time to change that and get to know each other….a good resolution for the new Rotary year.


Carrie Hawkins presented the Merrill Hawkins Excellence in Education Award plaque to Bonnie (Mrs. Doug) Feig. President Larry Mullins gave her Rotary’s check for $1,000 to use in support of her program at Starkville High School

Bonnie Feig, Starkville High School Social Studies teacher, is the 2007 winner of The Merrill Hawkins Excellence in Education Award. The award, which recognizes overall excellence and professionalism in teaching, includes $1,000 to be used in support of the honoree’s program.

Bonnie, who has been teaching Social Studies since 1990, teaches not just facts but the complete scope of our nation’s history to help students see connections to past and current events.

In presenting the award, President Larry Mullins said “Bonnie’s skills in teaching are validated by the test scores of her students. Her American History students typically have a pass rate of 95-97% on the state American History test and the majority of her students taking the Advanced Placement test score grades of 4 or 5 with 3 being sufficient for 3 hours of college credit.”

Bonnie has achieved National Board Certification in her subject area and has received statewide recognition by the Mississippi Historical Society in 2002, and the Mississippi Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2006. She has also been designated as Star Teacher and District Teacher of the Year.

Her professional leadership has included membership on the Starkville School District and Starkville High School Leadership Teams and she has just completed a 3-year term on the Mississippi Historical Society Board of Directors.

In support of her nomination, a fellow teacher reported that “her word is her bond. If she says she will do it, consider it done. Her students and colleagues recognize that her own life experiences have produced a wisdom that they can trust.”

Another of her colleagues summed it this way. “While she is extremely knowledgeable in her academic discipline, her deep concern for the well-being of each student is evident. She employs every means available to learn each student’s background, interests, and abilities…and is attuned to the interactions between and among her students.”

The Merrill Hawkins Excellence in Education Award

was established by Starkville Rotary Club to honor the memory of the late Merrill Hawkins, former Dean of Education at MSU, a long-time member and past district governor of Rotary.


A year ago – June 26, 2006 to be precise – Claire Crawford came to tell Rotarians about “Claire’s Bears,” a project to help children with a cleft lip, cleft palate, or both birth defects. She launched a campaign to raise funds to purchase stuffed bears with stitched lips from the American Cleft Palate Foundation and giving them to children who were facing from 4 to 20 corrective surgeries.

“The earliest surgery I remember, I recall how important my stuffed bear was for me. It was all I could take in with me and was so comforting,” she explained.

Last Monday, a year older (she’s now 16) with her ninth and last operation behind her, she returned to give us an update on Claire’s Bears and Operation Smile. This year,she brought an effective PowerPoint presentation that gave Rotarians a better understanding of the condition and the long corrective process.

A relaxed and polished public speaker, Claire gave a brief recap of how her project has flourished and how it has changed her life.

In May, she won an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. where she received the 2007 Prudential Spirit of Community Award as the high school winner from Mississippi. One of the highlights was the thrill of meeting and talking with Peyton Manning. “He’s very tall and very nice. I enjoyed meeting him.” Even more important to Claire, however, was “learning so much from the other award winners – a very diverse but wonderful group.”

She then showed the PowerPoint presentation she put together to raise awareness.

Many famous people have been born with cleft palates, including Tom Brokaw, Jesse Jackson, Sr., Thomas Lincoln, and Egyptian King Tut. Some are random cases, others are affected by genetics and/or ethnicity. Asians and Latinos have the highest rate (1 in 500 births), followed by those with European ancestry (1 in 700). Africans have the lowest incidence at 1 in 1,000 births.

She showed progressive pictures of herself from 2 months of age, the first surgery at 13 weeks, and the successive operations through the last one in July, shortly after she spoke at our meeting. “How do you like my nose now?” she asked with a big smile (loud applause).

Claire started her project with an initial goal of getting 10 of the bears at $10 each. One of her doctors gave her $250 so she had 25 to deliver. As of last Monday, she had raised $12,500 for Claire’s Bears.

She told about Operation Smile, an international effort in which teams of doctors volunteer their service to perform corrective surgeries on children in developing nations. Last year, Claire started an Operation Smile Student Association Chapter at Starkville High School to raise funds for the operations which cost a modest $250. They set a goal of $750 to pay for three surgeries – they raised $2,500! Claire plans to go to an International Leadership Conference of Operation Smile in Ireland. She plans to attend a mission training workshop and hopes to go as a volunteer on future Operation Smile missions.

“I’ve learned that volunteering is more than giving time, it’s giving of one’s self. It’s like a rush of adrenalin to know that you help others.

Nancy Hargrove introduced the charming young lady, who will be a junior at SHS in the Fall.


Trey Breckenridge is proposed for active membership by Joe Thompson in the classification Computer and Information Systems. He is the High Perfomance Computer Resources and Operations Administrator for the MSU High Performance Computing Collaboratory. If no objections are filed with the Board by Monday, June 18, Trey Breckenridge shall be considered elected to membership.

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