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The full experience: N.C. Teacher of the Year & students visit state capital

By Sayer Kirk
Special to the Times-News


Members of Williams High School’s Student Leadership Academy have a "working lunch" with N.C. Sen. Rick Gunn and state reps. Stephen Ross and Dennis Riddell. [Tammy Ross / Special to the Times-News

   RALEIGH — On May 30, Williams High School’s Student Leadership Academy and members of the 2017-18 Student Council executive board traveled to the state capital to tour the governor’s mansion and capitol building, and to be introduced on the floor of the Senate.
Hosts were N.C. Sen. Rick Gunn, Alamance County’s representative, and his wife, Gayle. They made sure that we got the full experience — including meeting the first lady of North Carolina and the first dog, Ben.
When we arrived in Raleigh, we made the trek to the legislative building where we were met by Gunn and his wife.
Rep. Chuck McGrady took time to speak to us about the importance of social media in a political atmosphere and how he is one of the only representatives with an active blog. We were on a tight schedule and had to be at the governor’s mansion on time for our tour, which was amazing.
North Carolina is one of only a few states in which the governor actually lives in the mansion. This prohibited us from seeing the entire mansion, but the first level was absolutely breathtaking.
From the decorative hinges to the once-white staircase that was scraped with dental tools back to its original color, everything in this mansion is intentional. As we walked outside of the mansion, a woman in a yellow T-shirt and black yoga pants walked into the yard with a beautiful dog. We didn’t recognize her at first. It was the first lady of North Carolina, Kristin Cooper, with Ben. We stopped to chat with her for a little while.
After the governor’s mansion tour, we were led to a conference room in the capitol building where we had a working lunch with Gunn and state Reps. Dennis Riddell and Stephen Ross.
As students, we had the opportunity to ask questions of these elected officials and found out Gunn’s “hot button issue,” getting money into rural communities. Following lunch, we made a quick visit to Gunn’s office where we heard about the many adventures of a senator, saw his marvelous elephant collection, and then had a tour of the roof.
As we stood atop the capitol building, we were told stories about the beige building in the background, and the garden surrounding us.
To conclude our visit to Raleigh, we joined the senators for the General Assembly and we were recognized on the floor, which is a big deal.
Not only were we recognized on the floor of the Senate, but Freebird McKinney, North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year was also recognized.
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June’s Student of Month ‘excels in everything he tries to do’

By Lydia Pankratz
Times-News correspondent

Seth Tysor is Student of the Month for June 2018. / Photo submitted

Theron Few of Mebane describes his grandson, Seth Tysor of Graham, as “a diligent student who has made every effort to get the most out of his studies, and his grades show it.”
This is one of the reasons that Theron nominated Seth for June’s Student of the Month.
Theron also said that Seth has excelled in everything he’s tried to do, and particularly mentioned that Seth is a good driver.
Seth says he is honored to have been chosen Student of the Month, and that it is special to him that his grandfather would nominate him.
“I just really want to thank the folks who chose me, and everyone who’s had an impact on my life so far — my parents,friends and family,” he said.
Seth is an Alamance County native, a rising senior at Southern Alamance High School, and the only child of Cliff and Lisa Tysor. His paternal grandparents are Barney and Smithie Tysor of Graham, and his maternal grandparents are Theron and Darlene Few of Mebane.
He has big goals for the future and he’s working toward them even while he’s out of school for the summer. He hopes to be either a neurosurgeon or a cardiothoracic surgeon. After he graduates from high school, he hopes to take pre-med at UNC-Chapel Hill, and attend medical school at either Duke University or at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is doing an internship this summer with a doctor at UNC-Chapel Hill, and is also volunteering at Alamance Regional Medical Center once a week.
He also is involved in varsity sports at Southern High School.
“Every year I do three varsity sports — cross country, indoor track and tennis,” he said.
Seth says his favorite thing about school, besides learning new things, is the long-lasting friendships he’s made.
“I love getting to know what drives people, what motivates them,” he added.
Seth has volunteered with several projects including organizing blood drives at Southern High School. He’s also helped raise money for the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life.
“He’s a well-liked, happy student,” Theron said.
“He’s exemplary in everything he tries to do,” Darlene Few added.

Lydia Pankratz is a recent homeschool graduate and a Teens &20s writer.

‘Ocean’s 8′ is a solid spin-off

By Elspeth Macnab-Stark
Times-News correspondent

   ”Ocean’s 8″ brings us back to the brilliantly risky Ocean family business in a solid spin-off of the successful “Ocean’s 11″ trilogy.
Following George Clooney’s iconic role as Danny Ocean, Sandra Bullock plays his estranged sister Debbie, who has just been released from prison. She is putting together a crew to pull off the ultimate heist — stealing a $150 million necklace from New York City’s annual Met Gala.
The star-studded team of thieves included: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rhianna, Awkwafina, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham-Carter and Sarah Paulson. James Corden and Richard Armitage also had key roles. Armitage plays Debbie’s ex-boyfriend, who framed her, thus providing the ulterior motive for the heist: revenge. When the team become suspects John Frazier (James Corden), the relentless insurance investigator, bails them out, a little too conveniently. Corden snatches up the role of hero, negating the feminist undertones and quickly diffusing the tension. This creates the only snag in the undeniably female focused film; why didn’t these intelligent women solve the problem themselves?
Meanwhile, socialite Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) is a prop in Debbie’s plan.
The location of the Met Gala provided the perfect opportunity for celebrity cameos, including musicians, actors, models and designers. However, this glamorous setting seems to be the only attempt “Ocean’s 8″ makes to live up to the “Ocean’s 11″ films. “Ocean’s 8″ lacked the wit and astonishingly clever writing we’ve come to expect from the franchise, with new writer/director Gary Ross telling a predictable story. With no twists to keep the plot moving, it was left to the acting of the lead women to carry the film — a job they did incredibly well.
“Ocean’s 8″ is consistently entertaining. It maintains the same sense of humor as its prequels, with a new all-female cast to once again promote female empowerment in film. It takes the concept of high-profile male thieves and subverts the idea that the women are only involved with the crime if they’re involved with the men pulling it off.
“Somewhere out there, there’s an 8-year-old girl dreaming of becoming a criminal.” Debbie tells her team, “You’re doing this for her.”
Despite its other issues, “Ocean’s 8,” has, at the very least, created a group of incredible new role models.
“Ocean’s 8″ is rated PG-13 for suggestive content, mild language and casual drinking/drug use.

Elspeth Macnab-Stark is a high school graduate and a Teens & 20s writer.


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