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Ashley News Observer- Features

Crossett mayor proclaims Autism Awareness Month
Crossett Mayor Scott McCormick officially proclaimed April as Austim Awareness month for the city of Crossett. The members of the Ashley County Autism Support group met with the mayor Thursday as he signed a proclamation for the group. The ACAS meets monthly and has other special events. Their next group event will be a disc golf tournament on April 21 at the city’s disc golf park and their monthly meeting will be 6 p.m. April 26 at Country Vittles. Those present at the proclaimation signing include, from left, René Bowles, Drew MacDonald, Cindy MacDonald, Rebecca Blankenship, McCormick, Aaron MacDonald and Mandi Carter. (VAL GAUGHT/News Observer)

Hamburg students take high honors at state math contest
Two Hamburg students were recognized as top students in a state math contest.

The top mathematics students from southeast Arkansas competed at the annual Arkansas Council for Teachers of Mathematics Southeast Arkansas Mathematics Contest hosted earlier this month by the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

Julia Everett of Hamburg tested in trigonometry/precalculus and Reid Mansur of Hamburg tested in calculus, and both students were awarded second place in their subject.

“I was shocked when they called my name for second place,” Mansur said.

“After finishing the test, I didn’t have much hope for placing. A lot of the material on the test was new to me.”

Everett said she likewise didn’t expect to place, but was exited to hear her name called.

“An odd mixture of shock and joy was visible on my face when I heard my name attached to second place,” Everett said.

Both students credited Hamburg math teacher, Shelvia Ross, with being a big part of their success.

“I am incredibly grateful to have a teacher who invests so much time, energy, and love into each student’s education,” Everett said.
Mansur said Ross was teaching him all the way to the contest.

“Mrs. Ross had actually taught me some new concepts on the bus to Monticello,” Mansur said.

Mansur said the new bus ride tips helped with some of the new material, but thanks to Ross he spent more time focusing on the things he knew instead of the things he didn’t.

“She’d rather her students completely comprehend and excel at a portion of the subject than have a shallow grasp of multiple concepts,” Mansur said. “This really proved to be effective at the ACTM competition.”

Crossett seventh grader, 12, scores 26 on ACT
Seventh graders from Crossett Middle School were invited to participate in the highly selective Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) talent search.

Duke TIP gives students in seventh grade the opportunity to take the American College Test (ACT) to allow students to have greater insight into their abilities and give them the opportunity to preview a college entrance exam.

Out of the seven CMS students selected, three students chose to take the ACT last month, and one of those students — Drew Johnson, 12 — shocked teachers and fellow students with a composite score of 26.

The highest a person can score on the ACT is a 36, but a 24 is considered above average. The average ACT score in 2017 was 21, and a 24 was in the 75th percentile, meaning that anyone who scored a 24 or above scored better than 75 percent of all of the test takers in 2017.

“I tell students that scoring a 14 is good, because as seventh graders, most of the stuff on the test, they haven’t learned yet, “ CMS gifted and talented teacher Melissa Bays Martar Bays.

Johnson said she crammed the night before hoping for an 18, but was excited to see that she made a 26 with a 28 on the math portion.

“My mom said, ‘Oh my, you’re a little genius,’” Johnson said.
Johnson also said that her mother had purchased a large study guide for Johnson to study with, but she said she didn’t really look at it much until right before the test.

“My goal was an 18, but I was really just going for the experience,” Johnson said.

Seventh graders Lily Cedatol and Emily Jordan both took the test with Johnson. Jordan scored the second highest of the trio with a 19. Cedatol scored a 16, but said she thinks she would have done better if she wasn’t working on an empty stomach.

“Eat breakfast,” Cedatol said was her advice to any of her classmates who might take the test in the future.

Cedatol said she is happy to have the experience and hopes to work to improve her score over the next five years.

“I’m proud of all of the them,” Bays said. “I think it is a great experience.”

The other students invited to take the test included Ethan Hill, Trinity Foster, Kaylee Hayes and Rikki King. Bays said Foster is scheduled to take the ACT in April.

Crossett native honored after overcoming adversity, injury
Crossett native Jeremy Hampton has been recognized as an Outstanding Scholar at Arkansas Baptist College (ABC).

Recruited by Offensive Lineman Coach Ashdone Bailey to play for ABC, Hampton entered college in the summer of 2016. He went with many challenges.

He had a bad knee injury and his uncle, Christopher Haynes, had been brutally murdered, a case in which they are still looking for the assailant. After the coaches were notified, they recommended to Hampton that he wait until the second session of summer or he fall to come to school. Determined to keep going, Jeremy went to summer school anyway. The president of the college at the time, O. Fitzgerald Hill, found out about his situation and — with tears in his eyes — met with Hampton, encouraged him and expressed how proud he was of him and his determination, and that he knew he would excel far beyond anyone’s expectations.

Hampton was red-shirted his first year, but his determination on the field and in the classroom has been noteworthy. As a result of his hard work, he has made the President’s List, The Dean’s List or the Honor Roll every semester. Additionally, he started for the Buffalos for the 2017 football season and had an outstanding year.

On Feb. 7, Hampton officially signed to play for the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

“I am extremely proud that Jeremy Hampton has an opportunity to further his education at the University of Arkansas-Monticello,” Bailey said. “He has been a model student for our football program on the field and in the classroom for the last two years. I recruited Jeremy and I admire him because he came off of a really bad knee injury in high school. Regardless of who told him he should leave football alone, he persevered and kept fighting for what he believed in. I know the future is very bright for him and will be cheering for him throughout this tremendous journey.”

M. Yvette Wimberly, the special assistant to the president and a Crossett native, said, “I am ‘Crossett Proud’ of him and I want to recruit more students from home and help them succeed, as well. Knowing his situation, I wanted to make sure he was holistically okay. He told me that his circumstances made him even more determined and had to do this.”

--For the complete story, see the print edition.

Crossett native, author to speak at Chamber banquet
The Crossett Area Chamber of Commerce will honor local businesses and volunteers at its annual banquet in the multi-ministry center at First Baptist Church March 15.

This year’s featured speaker at the banquet will be Steve Smart, a Crossett native and oral surgeon who has recently published a crime thriller, “Fixation.”

In addition to serving as the speaker for the evening, Smart will have a book signing beforehand.

“I actually had someone from the community message me about possibly talking to him about selling his books at the chamber, and at that time we were looking for a speaker, so I thought it would be a good idea for us to help him get out his book — a lot of people from Crossett know him,” Chamber Director Randee Jo Langley said.

In the book, a pathologist performing an autopsy of a cosmetic surgery patient who unexpectedly died of an apparent complication from surgery discovers clues “which stir the Army hospital medical staff, the Korean populace and the local legal community,” the book’s blurb reads.

“Questions swirl, allegations are made, a trial ensues and a second death results.”

The book’s publisher says the book is based on true happenings, but that the author has filled in unknown portions with possible alternatives to move the story forward.

During the banquet, the Chamber will also recognize the director of the year, the volunteer of the year, the business of the year and will give out the Spirit Award.

The Chamber also aims to look back at 115 years of Crossett business, and is asking members to send in photos from the past for the event.

“We are trying to get old pictures of businesses and where they started at, and where they are now,” Langley said. “We are celebrating 115 years of this community and all the businesses in our community.”

Langley said the photos will be used in centerpieces in the tables and in a slideshow if enough are sent in.

Table sponsorship at the dinner, which comes with six seats, are $300. Individual tickets are $25.

The dinner will include pork loin, green beans, scalloped potatoes, roll, a drink and dessert.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting the Chamber of Commerce by phone at 870-364-6591 or 870-500-1216, or by email at