Roses and thorns: 5/13/12

May 12, 2012 9:57:37 PM



A rose to the city of Starkville, which celebrated its 175th birthday this week with a block party downtown in front of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership at Lafayette and Main.


The official charter for the city was signed May 11, 1837, and since that time, Starkville has become known for its high quality of life. In a state where unemployment exceeds the national average and educational attainment is sometimes too far down the rung, Starkville has avoided many of the pitfalls to which other cities have succumbed.


Of course, Mississippi State University is the economic engine that drives the town, but it's more than that. It's about drawing a line in the proverbial sand and saying, "This is what we want, and this is what we don't want."



Clarity of purpose can only be obtained through clear vision and strong leadership, and Starkville has benefited greatly from both.


We hope that continues to be the case. We wouldn't want to see Starkville become an industrial mecca or a tourist attraction. We like it for what it is -- a vibrant, culturally rich, ethnically diverse, progressive college town, 175 years old and still going strong.



A rose to those who made the St. Paul's Episcopal Church Women's May Luncheon and Bake Sale a success this year. Area cooks spent hours preparing goodies for the bake sale and making the famous chicken salad and smoked barbecue plates.


Proceeds benefited Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen, Habitat for Humanity, Helping Hands, HEARTS After School Tutoring, the Good Samaritan Medical Clinic, Honduras Medical Mission and the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund.


Word has it some of the best cooks in town prepared dishes for this year's event, so if you missed it, here's hoping you make a point to attend next year.



A rose to the teachers and students of Annunciation Catholic School for producing an outstanding end-of-the-year program Thursday night.


It's easy to see when students are having fun, and these children had a blast showing off what they've learned this year. Each grade chose a country or culture to spend the year studying, and teachers worked to incorporate the arts into the lesson plans.


Remember how much fun it was to learn the difference between isosceles, scalene and equilateral triangles? Yeah, neither do we. At Annunciation, teachers taught the students to fold origami animals and gave them a geometry lesson they won't soon forget. They used similar clever methods to blend the culture lessons into the rest of the curriculum.


In recent years, arts funding has continued to shrink but the need remains as vital as ever. Yes, children need the core subjects. They need to learn to add and subtract, read and write. These things will keep them alive.


But the intangibles are what make life worth living. What would life be if we were incapable of being swept away? While we're teaching children to think, must we discourage them from daring to dream?


What's wrong with using art to teach science or music to teach math? What's wrong with having fun in the classroom? Annunciation's students seem to be getting the best of both worlds in what school officials say is the future of education. If it raises test levels and increases student engagement, that's a good thing in our book.



A rose to our mothers, for their tireless support and unending love. From those who sacrifice their time and hide their tears, to those who make room in their hearts for one more, we are grateful.


In today's Dispatch, we celebrate two exceptional mothers who exemplify the depth and breadth of a mother's love.


In Starkville, we met Nell Valentine, who is raising a 3-year-old with a rare, often fatal skin disorder. Even though she injured her back recently, she still was out in the backyard, playing with young Gabriel and tending his needs. She and her husband, Michael, spend countless hours bandaging the toddler -- time she sees as a great blessing in her life.


In Columbus, we met Kara Copes, who is a foster parent with her husband, Seth, at Palmer Home for Children. Together, they are raising their own children, along with children whose biological parents can't care for them.


Some have said being a mother means willingly allowing your heart to be opened, knowing it will someday be broken. Mothers are the first to love us, and they are the last to leave us. All they ask is that we become the people they know we can be.


If your mother is alive, go for a visit or make a phone call. And if your mother has passed, smile and know she loved you in a way no other person ever will.



A rose to our graduates as they embark upon the next phase of their lives. We know their parents have filled them with all sorts of good advice, and we know if they're anything like us, they've already dispensed with half of it.


But if we could say anything to them, it would be this: Take time to experience the world you're so eager to conquer. Go outside and listen to the wind, gaze at the stars, feel the sun upon your skin. Find a way to see and experience more of the world.


Pursue the things that call your name, even if they seem impractical. Read the book your tweed-jacketed professor called a waste of time. See the movie your roommate said was boring. Try the food you swore you'd never eat.


Lighten up. Live a little. Things are seldom as serious as they seem.


And when the day is over and you have done your best, learn to let go. The sun will rise again and the earth will still turn on its axis. So carpe diem, young graduate. Carpe diem.