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PCHS students pledge to stay drug-free

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    On Wednesday, October 28 students took time out of their lunch period to sign the Red Ribbon Week banner and pledge against doing drugs. DAMYA WILLIAMS/Contributed
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    Cooper Smallwood signs the pledge to stay drug free. LESLYE ARRIOLA-TIRADO/Contributed
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    Coach & Jeanna Williamson
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    Amanda Rucker
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    Denise Bird
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    Suzanne Spiler
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    Jessica Castillo
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    Julie Blanding
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    Alie Mathis
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    Holly Hardie
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    Nancy Mitchell
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    Natassia Smith
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    Adriana Tirado
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    Christy McCabe
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    Freshman Lily Frisch sports a tie and buttondown to twin with Principal Dr. Andrew Cooper. RILEIGH GILL/Contributed
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    Jenna McDerment, A’Niyah Brown, and Eva Espin are all smiles in their neon. Brown said, “I really enjoyed this day because I like neon colors.” SINTERICA REEVES/ Contributed
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    Coach Jerusha Hudson and Mrs. Delores Hawkins dress out in highlighter yellow. “I participated so that I could get kids to be aware and teach them that they’re too bright for drugs,” said Hawkins. VALERIA ARREOLA/ Contributed

Putnam County High School students joined schools all over the country in the campaign against drugs by participating in Red Ribbon Week on October 26 – October 30. According to the website for the National Family Partnership, a national organization and leader in drug prevention, education and advocacy which sponsors the event, Red Ribbon week was created to “mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.” This year’s theme was “Be Happy. Be Brave. Be Drug Free.” The week’s events were organized by Anchor Club and PCHS Journalism students. These events included daily drug prevention tips read on the announcements by Anchor Club president Lillian Thomas, a signing event in which students pledged to stay drug-free, and three themed dress-up days. Journalism students helped promote the event by taking photographs and posting them daily on their Instagram @pchsaerieyearbook. In addition, student journalists focused their reporting on the “Be Brave” element of the week’s theme and interviewed community members who are “Everyday Heroes”.

Through the Pandemic, Who Is Your Everyday Hero?

As part of the Red Ribbon Week event, student journalists focused their reporting on the “Be Brave” element of the week’s theme and interviewed community members who are “Everyday Heroes”. The purpose of these interviews was to recognize people in the community who have an impact in the lives of PCHS students.

Jeanna Williamson, PCHS Teacher

Jeanna Williamson and her husband Jackson are both local teachers at the high school and elementary school, respectively. They are both new to Putnam County School System, but they are diving in headfirst. Coach Williamson, a 3rd grade Math Teacher, is the new Offensive Line Coach for the Football team, and Mrs. Williamson, an inclusion Math and ELA teacher, is on the sideline cheering them on with their 1-year-old son, Forrest. Mrs. Williamson shared that for her, the best part about being a teacher is “personal connections you can make with kids, because many don’t have that person they can look up to outside of school, so being the person they can come to is the best part for me. In the long term, when you look at the greater picture, they’re going to remember that person rather than the person who taught them the Pythagorean Theorem.”

Why I consider this person to be an “Everyday Hero”:

I consider Coach and Mrs. Williamson to be everyday heroes because they are both teachers in a tough time. Teachers impact their students’ lives and push them to be their best.

– By Ariel Ewers

Amanda Rucker

Amanda Rucker has had a career in the botanical services through the managing and operating of a landscaping supply store under her boss, Todd Copelan. She is the former manager of Hickory Hill Garden Center (and landscaping). One quality that stands out about Amanda is her desire to help people learn more about the study of botanical science, and her desire to help many homeowners or companies find the product they are searching for that exceeds their requirements. She explained, “My job has the ability to bring light and enjoyment into people’s life through their yard.” Seeing her customer’s enjoyment and satisfaction with her work is what drives her to do what she does today.

Why I consider this person to be an “Everyday Hero”:

Having powers or doing something special doesn’t make one a hero. What makes someone a hero is the impact they have on other people. My mom has always made a powerful impact on my life. For a long time my mom was a single mother working two jobs to support her family. And yet, despite all of these obstacles life threw at her, she pushed through them head first. Growing up I always admired how strongwilled she was. She was never afraid of anything, and because of that, I am the person I am today. I would not be the structured young woman I am without my mom and her wise guidance.

– By Kayla Rucker

Denise Bird, LCUFC Girls Soccer Coach

Denise Bird is the coach for the LCUFC girls’ soccer team. This is Denise’s first time being the coach for LCUFC since the team’s logo and name changed. Denise helps the girls to be safe during practices, games, and even outside of soccer. Bird said, “I don’t only coach the athletes. I also have a positive relationship with my students as far as just being positive and letting them understand when you’re playing on a team, there’s no ‘I’ in ’we’. As they must strive together and work together as a team to be successful.” Since the pandemic hit, this season the guidelines and rules have changed and the team has dealt with it by being “a little different as far as this year working in the pandemic, just because you have guidelines and regulations that we have to go by as far as coaching any sport... As long as you follow the rules, be respectful... I believe that’s the number one key keeping everyone safe.”

Why I consider this person to be an “Everyday Hero”:

Denise Bird spends a lot of time helping and coaching the LCUFC girls’ soccer team to not only be better and successful, but also safe during the pandemic. She makes sure we are safe and that we are always trying to do our best.

– By Leslye Arriola-Tirado

Suzanne Spiler, PCMS Teacher

Suzanne Spiler is a 7th grade English teacher at Putnam County Middle School. She loves to make learning fun. She uses music, does art projects, and sits down with the kids to discuss the stories. She truly loves and cares for her students: “The most important thing a teacher needs to remember is that you have to be there for the students... you have to let them know you really care about them.”

– By Lorie Myers

Jessica Castillo, PCES Teacher

Jessica Castillo is a gifted program teacher at Putnam County Elementary School. She identifies, tests, and qualifies high achieving students to be in the gifted program. Castillo isn’t just interested in the teaching aspect; she enjoys communicating with her students and getting to know them as people. Being a gifted teacher, she gets to enjoy her students throughout their Elementary School career getting to know them as people and help them succeed - not only academically, but socially. Castillo didn’t always want to be a teacher; senior year of high school her mind was set on premed. Her mind quickly changed when she took British Literature with Mrs. Williams. Castillo recalled, “She used literature to teach more than Shakespeare and Chaucer; when I graduated, I decided I wanted to do that, make kids feel like they meant something in this world, like they had a voice, that they could truly make a difference. [I wanted] to show them that even if no one else did, I saw them and believed in them and knew they were intelligent humans with so much to say and contribute to the world.”

– By Rileigh Gill

Julie Blanding, PCHS Math Teacher

Mrs. Blanding is an animal lover and math teacher at Putnam County High School. Her motto is “Make money, feed dogs, save children.” She explained her love of teaching: “I like seeing kids be successful when they never thought they could be.”

Why I consider this person to be an “Everyday Hero”:

I consider Mrs. Blanding a hero because she’s simply humble, kind and logical. She’s an everyday hero but there is nothing ordinary about how remarkable she can be.

– By Cassie Whitt

Alie Mathis, CNA

Allie Mathis is a CNA who always tries her best to keep people healthy and happy. During the pandemic she worked at an assisted living facility and risked her own health and her baby’s health to take care of the people who needed her help. When asked how she feels about working during a pandemic, Allie said, “I know that working in the medical field during the pandemic can be risky at times, but knowing that I’m helping others feel better makes it all worth it in the end.”

Why I consider this person to be an “Everyday Hero”:

I consider Allie Mathis an everyday hero because she tries her best to help others feel better.

– By Donella Trello

Holly Hardie

Holly Hardie is the Due Process Facilitator at the Putnam County Primary School. She helps coordinate special education services and paperwork. She decided to become a teacher because she wanted to “make a difference in the lives of children. Teaching a career that offers variety, as no two days are quite the same and there are always changes and new innovative ways of doing things.” Hardie explained what has been necessaryduring the Covid pandemic: “Educators are coming together to support each other, brainstorm, and find ways to reach our students digitally or in person. Many parents have had to become part of the team and be more hands on with their child’s daily education if they are a digital learner. As an educator working during the pandemic, you come to realize what an important role everyone has, from the lunch staff, custodians, bus drivers, teachers, to the administrators on the team for each student to keep them safe and provide a quality education.”

– By Camille Hardie

Nancy Mitchell PCHS Art Teacher

Nancy Mitchell is an art teacher at Putnam County High School. She decided to become an art teacher because art is her passion and she thinks it’s fun to share that with other people. Art is difficult to teach during the pandemic because the students that are learning online can’t be hands on, and she can’t really communicate or interact with them as well. When asked if she had any encouraging words, she said, “I think we should just take things a day at a time and choose to be positive and hopeful.”

Why I consider this person to be an “Everyday Hero”:

Ms. Mitchell is a hero because she still gives people the opportunity to express themselves through art even during the pandemic.

– By Valeria Arreola

Natassia Smith

Natassia Smith is an administrative assistant. She ensures that the office is run smoothly and the clients are checked in and seen by psychiatrists or therapists. When asked to give advice for getting through the pandemic, Smith said, “I would encourage everyone to stay safe and practice social distancing when out in public. Wear your masks and refrain from hand shaking and physical contact.”

– By Alyssa Reeves

Adriana Tirado

Adriana Tirado is self-employed and works as a housekeeper. Most of her clients are elders so the pandemic was rough for them. She helped others take care of everyday tasks and the ones that couldn’t go out and get groceries for themselves or leave the house. My mother risked her life helping others during the pandemic to make sure they were safe and so she could provide for our family.

Why I consider this person to be an “Everyday Hero”:

My mother is an everyday hero because she worked even through the pandemic and helping others do what they couldn’t to provide for their family and still came home and did the same for us.

– By Sheila Medrano

CHRISTY MCCABE, DANCE TEACHER

Christy McCabe is a dance teacher, group fitness coach, and mom of three. Every day she goes into The Vibe Dance Center with a smile hidden behind her mask as she teaches kids ages two through eighteen how to dance. Although she has been teaching dance since she was in high school, this career wasn’t her original choice. She originally started out as a history teacher, but then ultimately decided that it wasn’t for her. When asked if she had any encouraging words for aspiring dancers Christy said, “There is so much you can do with dance... give it a shot.”

Why I consider this person to be an “Everyday Hero”:

Everyday Mrs. Christy goes in and teaches little girls how to dance, regardless of the fact that there is a pandemic. She teaches little girls how to do something that one day they will love with their whole heart, even if they don’t know that yet. She works so hard and puts so much into the studio and so much into her work, and I think she deserves some recognition for that.

– By Delaney Chambers