Pictured are Young Texan Isaac Berryhill, Lead Counselor Suzan Harrison, Associate Principal Nakeena Bayless, and Young Texanne Learonda Reese.

The Noon Optimist Club met online March 24 under the leadership of President Ned Calvert, Vice President Julie Brock, Secretary Melissa Al-Ahmadi and Treasurer Michele Fuller. Ned was pleased to make (and the club to hear!) the announcement they will be meeting in person on April 7. Club members are really looking forward to that date and will be enjoying Schlotzsky’s at Hutchins Hall of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Optimist Le Ila Dixon shared the good news that Scott Kolbrenner of Encino, California, was a contestant on last Thursday night’s Wheel of Fortune and won $45,000 in cash and prizes during the regular rounds of play before correctly guessing the bonus puzzle and collecting the $100,000 Grand Prize.

He donated his $145,000 in prize money to be split between Uplift Family Services and Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. “While I hoped I would do okay on the show,” Kolbrenner said, reacting to his big win, “I never thought that anything like this could happen.”

“I got lucky that day and knew right away that I wanted to share my good fortune,” Kolbrenner said. He was in the words of the Optimist creed, “too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble” and decided to contribute all of his winnings to Uplift Family Services and Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, whose services support thousands of families. “The fun and memories from the day will stay with me forever, but the urgent need in our community cannot wait,” he says.

Optimist Julie Brock went to Marshall High School this week to visit with Learonda Z. Reese and Isaac Berryhill the club’s Young Texans for March. Thanks to the work of Suzan Harrison, lead counselor, she and Nakeena Bayless, associate principal, were able to join in as Julie took photos. In all there will be 18 Young Texans selected this year. At the year end Senior awards assembly, three young women and three young men will be randomly selected from the group to receive $500 grants.

As Julie makes this week’s presentations online, the club celebrated Learonda Reese as the Young Texanne for March. She focuses her work on math and science and her favorite teachers are: Jeff Ford who teaches Advanced Placement world history and human geography; Heather Hill who directs the Go Center and the Mavettes and coordinates fine arts; Erica Hervey who teaches health sciences, and Tyrone Robinson who is the instructional coach in math and science.

Learonda has a grade point average of 4.895 and many extra-curricular activities among which are: softball, power lifting, track, student council, Interact Club and band. She is also very active in her church, Cypress Valley Bible, where she serves as a Kidz Life Volunteer.

Her accomplishments include being a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards attendee and serving as a drum major in the Big Red Pride Band at Marshall High School. Her part-time employment at Super 1 Foods is as a Store Trainer.

Suzan Harrison comments: “Learonda is such a hard working young lady. She has managed work, school and extracurricular activities. She takes college classes and has a personality that I admire. She will no doubt do great things!”

Learonda’s personal message to her mother, Leatrious R. Miller, and her grandmother, Emma Mitchell, is as follows: “I am beyond appreciative of everything you guys do for me. Thank you for believing in me when I was ready to give up on myself. You guys will never go unnoticed for giving me the world even when y’all were falling apart. I love y’all forever!!!”

Julie then introduced Isaac Berryhill as the Young Texan for March. His grade point average is 4.500, his favorite subjects are English and choir, and one of his favorite teachers also includes Jeff Ford. His two other favorites are Audrey Cato in Advanced Placement in English language arts and Remington Foster the assistant choir director. In addition. He plays saxophone in the Varsity Wind Ensemble and sings in the Varsity Madrigal Chorale.

Isaac also plays guitar, piano, bass, ukelele and the drums (a little). He is in the praise band at First Baptist Church and enjoys being a part of the pickers group that meets downtown on Monday nights. He has also written and recorded some original music and plans to release more songs soon.

His part-time employment is at the front counter at Dairy Queen but upon graduation, he plans to head to Nashville, the “Music City,” where he will major in the music business with a technical emphasis at Belmont University. After that, he wants to make good tunes for the world to sing!

Suzan Harrison describes Isaac as “one of a kind, funny, smart and very caring. He has great public speaking abilities and is well liked by all. (He was voted Homecoming King.) I enjoy being around him and am so proud that I got the chance to get to know him this year. He will achieve great success in life!”

Isaac’s personal message to his parents, Ryan and Kelly Berryhill, is as follows: “Mom, Dad, I would be nothing without y’all. You’ve taught me what it means to be a good person and a hard worker. You introduced me to my first love, music. Mom, thank you for playing Mozart under my crib when I was a baby. Dad, thank you for blasting Bon Jovi in the car on my way to kindergarten.”

The club is looking forward next week to an update from Optimists Janie Moore and Le Ila Dixon on their work with the Marshall Regional Arts Council’s Mini Monet contest. Their prayers go out to all suffering loss and illness due to Covid-19 and they celebrate with all who have recovered and/or received their vaccinations.

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