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Local talent on tap for Family Reunion 2009

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Clayton County students, teachers and business owners will be some of the entertainers performing at this weekend's Clayton County Family Reunion 2009.

The free-to-attend reunion will be held Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m., at Clayton County International Park, located at 2300 Ga. Highway 138, in Jonesboro.

Reunion Entertainment Coordinator Tammy Barton said organizers wanted to focus on Clayton County talent - particularly the talent in the school system - since the reunion is mainly designed to celebrate the county and its residents in light of the school system's recent re-accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Three of the five dancing and singing acts scheduled to perform at the reunion are based in Clayton County.

"We put out invitations to all Clayton County students, teachers and other school system employees to see if they were interested in performing at this event," Barton said. "We're really excited about getting to showcase the talent in this school system."

As a result of the call, organizers were able to line up a student performance, and a teacher performance, for the reunion.

One of the groups performing at the reunion is the Zodiax dance team, a group of Clayton County students, mostly from Forest Park, who won a weekly dance competition on Black Entertainment Television's (B.E.T.) "106 + Park" television program last November.

The group is set to return to B.E.T. in August to participate in the next level of the "106 + Park" competition, said Babb Middle School health and dance teacher Melissa Colon, who is also Zodiax's dance coach. After they perform at the reunion, Zodiax members will stick around and teach dance steps to children interested in learning some of the group's moves, Colon said.

"We just want to show people the kids in this county are not as bad as they are perceived to be on the television news," Colon said. "They have a voice, a heart, and we want to let people know all of these kids have a future, and are willing to work hard to achieve their dreams."

Another group performing at the reunion with ties to the school system is the Clayton County Stage Band, which is made up of band teachers from Clayton County's eight high schools, Barton said. This group will perform jazz selections.

A third group with Clayton County ties, although not with the school system, is the Christian rock group CTW, which Barton said stands for Created to Worship. One of the group's members, Mathew Russom, is the owner of Show Business Entertainment in Jonesboro.

The event will also feature two Atlanta-based artists, gospel singer Liz Yancey, and Rhythm & Blues singer Xavier "X.L." Lewis, who appeared as a contestant on the NBC show "America's Got Talent" last summer.

In an e-mail to Barton to confirm his appearance, Lewis said he felt "really honored and excited to be a part of this incredible event for Clayton County." Barton said Lewis will be bringing his family with him to the reunion because Sunday is his son's birthday.

"All of these people [the entertainers] are volunteers," Barton said. "They are all here doing this to help celebrate this county."

The entertainment schedule for the reunion is as follows:

· Liz Yancey, from 1:15 to 1:30 p.m.

· Zodiax, from 1:40 to 2 p.m.

· The Clayton County Stage Band, from 2:10 to 2:30 p.m.

· X.L., 2:40 to 3:15 p.m.

· CTW, from 3:25 to 3:50 p.m.