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Babb Middle students prepare for national competition

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

There is an old rhetorical question, which asks, "Is it better to give than to receive?"

Both options are equally satisfying, according to six students at Babb Middle School. They are hoping that giving food, clothes, money and knowledge to the community throughout the 2007-08 school year will result in receiving awards from the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) this summer.

The students won gold medals at the FCCLA state convention last month for one project on sexual harassment education, and another on the benefits of giving food, clothes and monetary donations to charities, such as the March of Dimes and Hosea's Feed the Hungry.

The students will compete for national championships at the group's National Leadership Meeting, which will be held July 13-17 in Orlando, Fla. The organization is designed to encourage students to become leaders in their communities by finding ways to make the world a better place.

"The best part about our project is that we're giving stuff to people ... We're helping somebody else," said Davonte Johnson, a sixth-grader. "We're not going to stop until we improve the lives of other people ... What I'm looking forward to about the national meeting is winning a national championship."

Johnson, fellow sixth-grader Autumn Beshears, and seventh-grader, Y'tishai Gipson, put together a project encouraging other middle school students to give to charities. The students held clothing-and-canned-food drives, and they got on the school's morning announcements to encourage classmates to donate money to the March of Dimes. They raised $4,000.

"We learned we are lucky to have our families, we should not be selfish ... We should think about other people before we think about ourselves," Gipson said.

Seventh-graders, Justin Gordon, Rodriquez Garrett, and Khadijah Casey, did a project on raising student awareness of sexual harassment. They got on the school's morning announcements, and on a local radio station, to do public service announcements about the issue. They also created an informational DVD, which all of the students at Babb were required to watch.

"When we started, we really didn't know much about sexual harassment, but as we worked on this project, we learned what it is, and what we can do, if it happens," Casey said.

"There are four ways to sexually harass a person," Garrett said. "It can happen physically, verbally, through facial expressions, or through gestures. If you're sexually harassed, you should find an adult you trust and tell them about it immediately."

Lillian Mitchell and Evaline Thompson, the group's faculty sponsors, said they were pleased by the level of initiative and ingenuity shown by the students. "That's the spirit of FCCLA," Mitchell said. "The students are supposed to better themselves, their families and their community."

The group's trip to the national competition is mostly paid for already, Mitchell said. She is still trying to line up sponsors to help the team raise roughly $3,000 for the hotel and food expenses. Anyone interested in sponsoring the team can contact Mitchell at (404) 362-3880.