May 24, 2010 Rotogram

MISSISSIPPI BEARS

In just a decade, Mississippi’s black bear population has begun a comeback. Brad Young of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks explains the situation today.

MEMORIAL DAY

There will be no meeting next week as we observe Memorial Day. Have a safe holiday and commemorate those who make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

LAST WEEK

Invocation and Pledge:   Mark Guyton

Attendance: There were 98 members (30 exempt) present and 92 (20 exempt, 12 honorary) absent.

Guests and visitors: Eddie Longstreet of West Point was our visiting Rotarian. Members’ guests were Cindy Akers of Frances Coleman, Dan Usher and Tammy Ramirez of John Robert Arnold, and Lucy Betcher of Barbara Spencer. Guests of the Club were Nancy Dodson, wife of the speaker, Paul Sims, Starkville Daily News, and RYE students Francesca Scaravelli and Kasper Eriksen.

Makeups: Maridith Geuder in West Point; Andy Gaston in Aberdeen; and, Carey Hardin online.

Kudos: President Martha noted that Amy Tuck was serving as emcee for a “Clash in the Kitchen” cook-off on campus to benefit the Mississippi Firefighters Memorial Burn Association.

      Martha offered mixed compliments and regrets that Mike McGrevey will be leaving the community to become president and chief executive officer of the JBHM Education Group. The Jackson-based firm works with administrators to improve schools across the nation.

      And, she complimented Bob Daniels on marking his 35th wedding anniversary on Monday.

ROTARY MINUTE: ATTENDANCE

Jeff Donald, attendance committee chair, addressed the fact that members’ regular participation is a cornerstone of Rotary activity. Our club’s attendance has hovered around the 50 percent mark for many months, so he encouraged us to remind other Rotarians of the Club’s benefits.

      Rotarians are expected to attend or make up at least half of their Rotary meetings each year. At  least 30 percent of their attendance should be at their own club’s meetings.

      Jeff reminded us of the time-honored practice of the “makeup” where you attend another club’s meeting. He noted that West Point is a great location for makeups with a good venue, good food and good programs.

      To learn where you can register a makeup, check the list on the back of this Rotogram, or for e-clubs on line visit rotary.org/RIdocuments/en_pdf/eclub_list.pdf.

      Members registering 100 percent attendance this year are Larry Box, David Boles, Dave Breaux, Ned Browning, Jack Forbus, Bill Foster, Brent Fountain, Andy Gaston, Mark Guyton, Warren Housley, Shelton Jones, Martin Jue, Eddie Keith, Larry Mullins, Keith Remy, Chuck Rivenburgh, Roy Ruby, Nellah Taylor, Chip Templeton, Jim Tisdale, Tommy Tomlinson, Stu Vance, David Vanlandingham, Sherry Vanlandingham and Martha Wells.

YOUTH EXCHANGE

Francesca’s and Kasper’s time with us is drawing to a close. Be sure wish them well. Our outbound students, Laura Bridges and Anna Follett are on a European bus tour with their RYE compatriots before returning to the States.

THE PEARL HIGH SCHOOL TRAGEDY

Beyond curriculum, teachers, sports, or funding, there is nothing needed more than a safe school said the Pearl city schools superintendent at the time of an infamous shooting incident.

      Two students’ lives were lost and seven others were wounded in Luke Woodham’s October, 1997 rampage that also took his mother’s life.

      Dr. William Dodson, author of If I Had Only Known: A True Story, analyzed the situation and outlined his ideas for preventing school violence.

      The now independent educational consultant avoided speaking about the event for a year while the community recovered. He then took ten years researching the book.

      He noted that suburban areas are more prone to mass violence acts. On the other hand, inner city schools have not had this type of violence.

      The former social studies and history teacher labels perpetrators as “random actors” who do not know who they are shooting. Emotionally, they are hurting and want to hurt somebody else.

      Dodson identified a matrix with a predictable-unpredictable axis and a confident-fearful axis of psychological conditions. When people land in the unpredictable and fearful zone, they become random actors.

      He recommended a process of identifying, interviewing and intervening to prevent school violence. Using personality profiles, schools would be expected to question the suspected random actors and to take some sort of preventive measures.

      Dodson recommends what he calls the “Missing Protector” program where local volunteers involve themselves with at-risk youth  for attention and accountability.

      In writing the book, he met Woodham twice at the Parchman Penitentiary. He describes the shooter as a “very mixed up fatherless young man in with the wrong crowd.”

      “Having the wrong friends is worse than not having friends,” said Dodson.

      The group with which Woodham associated had Satanic connections and a leader who effectively practiced mind control.

      Woodham, describing his fears, said he was crying as he was shooting. He only targeted a former girlfriend and incidentally shot others.

      Dodson was concerned that the Pearl populace would not like to revisit the experience. However, he was surprised that parents wanted the record of the event.

      Certain chapters contributed by others included a juror in the Woodham trial; Joel Myrick, the assistant principal who subdued the shooter; and, Pearl High students through their essays.

TRUE CONFESSION

In a lighthearted aside as she introduced our speaker, Rotarian Judy Couey confessed to high school mischief.

      Dodson was assistant principal when Judy was at Greenville High School.

      One of her best friends was Nancy Stein. One year, she had a note that read, “Please allow Nancy to leave with Judy for the celebration of Rosh Hashanah.” Of course, the intended Judy was her sister. Nevertheless, the two buddies took full advantage of the note and headed to Strazi’s for a “suicide Coke.”

      Their celebration came to a quick end as the feared Mr. Dodson strode up and declared, “Young lady, just because your name is Judy, and you think it’s a good idea, does not mean you can practice ‘Judy-ism.’”

      From that day, the phrase entered the family vocabulary to describe a conniving idea.

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