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Ashley News Observer- Features


Jackson goes 'hog wild' with winning sketch
A Crossett student won first place and best of show in the 2018 Wildlife of Arkansas Student Art Contest Awards.

Crossett homeschool student Reagan Jackson’s sketch “Hog Wild” won first place and best in show at the 2018 Wildlife of Arkansas Student Art Contest. (SUBMITTED/News Observer)
Approximately 1,000 students submitted artwork to the annual ‘Wildlife of Arkansas’ art competition, which showcases Arkansas’ wildlife diversity, and 11th grade home school student Raegan Jackson won first prize in her category with a sketch she named “Hog Wild.” Jackson is the daughter of Perry and Shelly Jackson of Crossett.

“It was something I had in the back of my sketchbook and when I saw the competition, I knew I wanted to use it,” Jackson said.

The Arkansas Wildlife Federation (AWF) and Creative Ideas joined together to host this competition. Their goal was to promote wildlife education and the arts.

The 2018 Wildlife of Arkansas student art winners were recognized at an awards ceremony May 4 at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center in Little Rock.

Jackson said it was an honor to attend the banquet, and this was her first art award of this kind.

“I really didn’t expect to win, but it feels awesome,” Jackson said.

Now Jackson’s painting is on tour all over the state and will be featured in a series of art displays over the next few months.

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




‘LOVING SOMEBODY YOU DON’T KNOW’: After years of waiting to adopt, Crossett family brings home girl from Malawi
After eight years of waiting, Alan and Lindsey Brewer brought home their daughter Clara Grace Brewer, a 15-month-old from Malawi, this month.

The story of the adoption didn’t work out like they’d originally envisioned, but now that they’ve met their daughter, the family feels complete.

The Brewers originally waited three years for a baby from Ethiopia, only to find out that Ethiopia had shut down adoptions temporarily and they lost their spot on the waiting list.

“God gave us another way,” Lindsey Brewer said.

A trip to Kroger started the adoption journey all over again, and this journey brought them little Clara.

Lindsey Brewer plays with her daughter, Clara, at Grace Christian Fellowship. Lindsey and her husband, Alan, adopted Clara from Malawi, and along with the rest of their family, introduced her to the Grace church community two weeks ago.
Alan met a couple in Kroger, who got him in touch with the adoption agency Second Milk in 2015, and in February 2017 they got their first picture of Clara. For more than a year, the couple and their four children have watched Clara grow up from half a world away.

“It’s loving someone you haven’t met yet,” Lindsey said last fall while anxiously waiting for a court date.

They finally got to take the plane ride they had been waiting for and traveled to Malawi to meet their daughter. After the family spent almost three weeks in Africa, Clara is officially a Brewer and a resident of the Crossett.

On April 15, the Brewers introduced Clara to their church family, Grace Christian Fellowship, and told about their time in Africa and in the Malawian court system.

The Brewers credit GCF and the community with helping them raise the funds necessary to pay for the adoption and travel expenses. The couple said it is surreal to finally have Clara in their arms.

They showed a video and talked about meeting Clara for the first time. When a handful of stuffed animals didn’t get her attention, Alan played a song on the ukulele to break the ice. She started dancing.

Alan said Clara was a little anxious at first, but warmed up to Lindsey fast.

“It was so awesome to see God work, because within an hour, Lindsey was Mom,” Alan said.

Lindsey had her own stories as well.

“After like an hour of being together, she hugged me like she had missed me,” Lindsey said.

The Brewers talked about working with the local court system and how the process went faster than expected. They knew they could potentially be there a month, but within two weeks, they were getting to bring Clara home. Alan said if Easter hadn’t been on the calendar while they were there, they would have been home in less than two weeks. The adoption agency, orphanage and Malawian court officials told Alan they were shocked at how smooth the process went for the Brewers while in Africa.

“It was a God thing, it was like we waited all of these years, but when it was time, God said ‘Here you go,’” Alan said.

Before leaving, they got to meet Clara’s biological family and her caregivers at the orphanage. They collected pictures and information they said they know Clara will cherish later.

On their journey, they were also able to meet someone else who will soon be moving to Crossett.

Jeremy and Mandy Mills attend the same church as the Brewers and they had been thinking about adoption since the Brewers first moved to their church six years ago. Mandy said they were watching a documentary on Cambodia and God really started to put it on their hearts to adopt.

“These kids need to be rescued,” Mandy said.

After spending the last three years in an adoption journey of their own, the Mills now have a match and are waiting for the Malawian court system to send them a date.

The Brewers were able to meet baby Mills and give him a toy from his future family.

GCF held a silent auction April 15 to help aid the Mills on the trip to Africa they hope to take before the summer ends. For anyone interested in contributing, there is an envelope fundraiser going on at GCF. The church raised $600 last week when the children of GCF ran a lemonade stand at the church, and they plan to open their stand again Tuesday at Centennial Park.

“The sweet little girls in our church love being able to help bring these babies home,” Mandy said.

They will open the lemonade stand once a week until the Mills travel.




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.