MHS senior counselor Suzan Harrison is shown in a rare moment of calm at the 2020 registration table.

The Noon Optimist Club met online March 3 under the leadership of President Ned Calvert with Vice President Julie Brock, Secretary Melissa Al-Ahmadi and Treasurer Michele Fuller assisting. Ned reports that wife, Sarah, is still in Tyler and making progress. The physical therapy is helping but when she will be able to come home is unknown.

Michele has sent in the club’s $500 sponsorship for the Marshall Regional Arts Council’s Mini Monet kids program and Optimist Le Ila is coordinating the club’s partnership. She and Optimist Janie Moore are working on arranging a meeting with Director Claudia Lowery.

For the club’s inspiration this week Optimist Le Ila found a story of good news by Melissa Marino. She reported to station WFLA of Hillsborough County, Florida, on a sanitation worker being hailed as a hero after saving a little boy from being crushed. It was a Tuesday and 7-year-old Elias Quezada climbed into a garbage can outside his home.

Quezada was hiding when the Waste Connections truck scooped up the trash can and dumped it inside the garbage truck. In a minute his grandmother, Carmen Salazar, came out of her home to be greeted by the sound of the truck and her grandson screaming.

Luckily driver Waldo Fidele had his eyes on the surveillance camera, something he said he’s trained to do with every single can. “Looking on camera I see something drop,” said Fidele. “Meanwhile, I was thinking this might be the end for me,” Quezada said. But the quick-thinking driver jumped into action. He shut off the blade, and called 911. “I come outside the cab. I see him, he seemed happy, happy! I said ok, you’re ok now.”

Elias and his grandmother Carmen are grateful for Fidele and his quick actions. To Elias’ thanks, Carmen adds her gratitude that Salazar “was looking at the camera so faithfully and that he acted so fast because otherwise, Elias wouldn’t be here.”

In a later statement, Elias said he had thought it would be fun to hide inside the garbage barrel. However, when he was lifted into the air and dumped into the truck, he quickly had a sobering thought: “I might be mashed potatoes.”

For the benefit of newer members (and older members who have forgotten!) Optimist Richard Magrill briefly shared the history of one of the club’s events that will not be held this year due to Covid-19 concerns.

On March 22, 2007, 15 years ago on a Thursday, the Noon Optimist Club began an annual event at MHS that we are missing this year, the Student Mock Interview Learning Experience, called S.M.I.L.E. That first year some 100 seniors were appropriately dressed and carried with them teacher-reviewed resumés and generic job applications.

Thirty-five employers from 30 businesses were on hand for interviews following which they shared their critiques with the participating seniors of the strengths and weaknesses of their resumé preparations and the completeness of their job applications.

Interviewers also checked on personal appearance, eye contact, firm handshakes, clear audible speech, level of confidence and response to questions. Employers came from real estate firms, law offices, banks, insurance companies, the Marshall Fire Department, Marshall Police Department, grocery stores and restaurants and gathered at MHS.

Mark Johnson, then a member of the club, was the chief instigator of the first event and other Optimists have followed in his footsteps such as Sam Fogle, Le Ila Dixon, and current president, Ned Calvert. Over the years long-time business participants providing interviewers have included Electro-Technics, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and area educational institutions including Wiley College, East Texas Baptist University and Texas State Technical College.

Many, many new firms have joined in the process over the years. The club is grateful for each and every one.

Of course MHS staff and seniors are the main facilitators/participants in the event. Last year, Optimist Richard Magrill, participating for only his second time, asked MHS counselor Zach Davis how long the event had been going on? Zach could only say that he had been participating for several years.

Later, Richard asked Senior Counselor Suzan Harrison how long the event had been held, but she too could not remember. Richard was anxious to know the answer and was pleased when his research revealed that Suzan had been involved fifteen years ago when S.M.I.L.E. Day first began.

Suzan has been with MISD for some 35 years and is a mainstay of the club’s monthly Young Texans recognition. She is a native of Shreveport and graduated from the University of Texas at Tyler at the age of 22.

President Ned Calvert takes this opportunity to express appreciation to all who have helped in the past and to say the club hopes to see everyone next year when they hold a belated 15th S.M.I.L.E. Day!

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