Linden group to honor black students, leaders

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 23, 2006

Saturday night, the Elite Lindenite Organization Inc. will host their bi-annual Achievement Awards banquet at 7 p.m. at Majo’s Activity Center.

The ceremony will celebrate a tribute to black fraternal, social and civic institutions.

This year’s theme is “Preserving the past, celebrating the present and embracing the future with dignity, hope, honor, respect and love.”

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Club president Eunice Jones said they normally try to base their theme on another event tied in with the month of February.

‘When we decide on the theme we usually try to work from the theme of National Black History Month,” Jones said. “We derive our theme from that and whatever is going on in the world.”

This year’s focus is on the negative changes that have come to communities all over the nation.

“We feel this is important because drugs are everywhere in our communities,” Jones said. “They are everywhere from the White House to the poorhouse.”

During the program special guests are honored and local students are awarded scholarships. Member and founder Estella Shields said the purpose of the program is recognize people who make a contribution in their communities.

“This is a program we have biannually so that we can recognize those who deserve to be honored,” Shields said. “We try to recognize people for their outstanding accomplishments so that they can be examples.”

This year’s guest speaker is Robert Little, CSP. Little has overcome several obstacles in his life to make his dreams come true. Now, he spends much of his time showing others how to do the same. Little spends a great deal of time traveling the country to deliver his uplifting messages and writing from his Mississippi based business or home.

Little has authored such books as “What CAN I Be?,” and “Spoken Success: The art of public speaking.” He has also authored two children’s books “Jamaal’s Lucky Day,” and “Grandma’s Biscuits.”

During the banquet, eight recipients of the Bobby Scruggs-Huggins Memorial Scholarship Award will be honored. This year’s field features several impressive young people from the Linden and Demopolis area.

Demopolis native, and future University of Alabama-Birmingham student Ashley Henderson is one of many. Henderson maintained a 3.5 grade point average and is currently president of the Student Council as well as photo editor of the yearbook. Her honors include Who’s Who Among American High School Students, Student of the Week, National Honor Society and nominee as an United States Achievement Academy National Leadership Award winner.

Linden High School student Janie Charleston, who plans to attend Alabama A&M University, is another honoree. Charleston holds many prestigious volunteer and leadership positions including the Rotary Youth Leadership Award, Principal Award for Best Character, and Academic Excellence in Literary Analysis and Career Exploration, She also received the Brian J. Scott Spirit of Upward Bound Award.

Fellow LHS student Crystal Vontae Smith, will join Charleston. Smith, who plans to attend Alabama State University, holds a 3.87 grade point average and is ranked second in her graduating class. She serves as president of the Beta Club, Science Club, Digital Technology Clubm Future Business Leaders of America, Vice President of the Drama Club, Student Council President and Class Representative. Smith also boasts a variety of awards.

Darlene D. Ravizee, also a senior at LHS, will also take the stage. Ravizee, who hopes to become an occupational therapist, volunteers with the K.I.N.D. program after school at Linden Elementary and can always be counted on to teach Sunday School, sing in the choir or assist with other programs at Mt. Horeb Baptist Church.

Another LHS honoree and future University of West Alabama student, Marcy Anthony, will also be honored. Anthony, who is in the top 10 percent of her class, honors include Who’s Who among American High School Students, first place in the school science fair, Beta Club and Health Occupation Students of America.

Ashley Hogans, who will veture to UWA from LHS next year with Anthony, maintains a 3.6 grade point average and takes several advanced classes. Hogans is president of Health Occupations Students of America, secretary of the Science Club, an All-American Scholar nominee and winner of the Principal for a Day award.

LHS seniors Crystal Brown and Cambii Maria Woodyard round out the scholarship winners. Brown, who will begin nursing studies at UWA in the fall, is a member of the Beta Club, reporter for Health Occupations Students of America, vice president of the Student Council and is an All-American Cheerleader.

Woodyard, a future Alabama A&M and Alabama-Huntsville dentistry student, is Valedictorian of her senior class. She is vice president of Beta Club, Science Club, Student Council treasurer, Digital Technology Club president, and captain of the cheerleading squad. She was also named 2005 Homecoming Queen.

Thirteen honorees will also attend as part of the guest list. Honorees include Alex Roberson, a longtime resident of Marengo County and spiritual leader, Joseph Norwood, who serves as vice-president of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, Diane Abernathy, Regional Coordinator for the CHIP program in Area VII with the Department of Public Health and John A. Thrash Jr., an award winning pianist whose talent’s were realized by the group when he was only in the fifth grade.

These honorees will be joined by Sen. Bobby Singleton, a man who needs no introduction for his work in the Black Belt, Joyce Parrish O’Neal, an award winner in the area of Civil Rights on the county, state and national level, The Rev. Terry Gosa, principal of George P. Austin Elementary School, Marcus Lydell Campbell, a former professional basketball player and current vice president of Young Men Building for the Future, Melissia Davis, a state representative for U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby since 1987 and Taylor Frank Jones, a former serviceman and current philanthropist.

Ada Black, who has won numerous sales awards, Ronald Vernand Butler, senior pastor of Hunter Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church of Tuscaloosa and The Rev. Robert E. Pearce Jr., senior pastor of First Baptist Church on Johnsonville Road in Linden round out the honorees.

Each honoree is awarded a plaque.