Pictured are Young Texans Shondalyn Moore and Hayden Kelehan in the foreground, Senior Counselor Suzan Harrison and Associate Principal Nakena Bayliss behind them and Principal Matt Gregory at the back center.

The Noon Optimist Club met online Nov. 18 under the leadership of President Ned Calvert. Optimist Le Ila Dixon shared the tale of a recent visitor to New York City that recalled the children’s story of the country mouse who makes a visit to the big city, only in this case it is a tiny startled-looking owl that awakes to find himself in unfamiliar surroundings 170 miles from his home.

When the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was cut down in upstate Oneonta, New York, he found himself trucked to midtown Manhattan, where he is recovering at a wildlife rehabilitation facility.

A worker who helped transport and secure the tree discovered the owl. His wife called the wildlife center and told them: “He’s got the baby owl in a box tucked in for the long ride.”

In fact, the owl wasn’t a baby — it was an adult male Saw-whet, the smallest variety of owl in the Northeast. He hadn’t eaten or had a drink in days, but began to recover after getting fluids and food.

The center ruled out a return trip to Oneonta as likely to be too traumatic for the little fellow. Instead of sending him 170 miles back home, it plans to release him on facility grounds in the upstate town of Saugerties.

In honor of where the tiny owl was found, the center has taken to calling him “Rockefeller.” No doubt he is thankful for his unexpected rescue after a long journey!

Optimist Julie Brock reported on her visit to MHS to present Young Texans certificates to Shondalyn Moore and Hayden Kelehan thanks to the organizing efforts of Senior Counselor Suzan Harrison and Associate Principal Nakena Bayliss. This month, Principal Matt Gregory is included in the photo of the event.

Shondalyn Moore is the month’s Young Texanne and her favorite subjects are math and science. She has several favorite teachers: Audrey Cato in English language arts; Jamie Jones in fine arts dance; Jana Duck in algebra who is also head coach of girls soccer; and Skylyn Potts in biology and environmental science. She also includes among her favorites Melissa Shaw who is the co-cheerleader sponsor.

Shondalyn’s gradepoint is 5.068 and her extra-curricular activities include cheer, choir, track and University Interscholastic League competitions.

When asked about her interests and accomplishments, she responds that “My interest is in creating a school for the disabled and my hobbies are reading, cheering and singing. Some of my accomplishments are being in the top 10 percent, receiving the WE charity award, having a 5.0 gradepoint, and already being accepted to Texas A&M University.”

Her part-time employment used to be at Whataburger but now she works at McDonald’s.

“Shondalyn is one of the most hard-working and dedicated students in the senior class. She is determined and very diligent. She is a little firecracker,” Counselor Suzan Harrison added.

Shondalyn has a specific goal: to be employed by NASA and attempt to find a cure for her sister’s disability: dravet syndrome. Dravet syndrome, previously known as severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy (SMEI), is an autosomal dominant genetic disorder which causes a catastrophic form of epilepsy, with prolonged seizures that are often triggered by hot temperatures or fever. It is difficult to treat with anticonvulsant medications. It often begins before 1 year of age.

In her personal message to her parents, Amira Luna and Shedrick Moore, she says: “Thank you for teaching me the important morals of life. You guys have pushed me hard and given me words of wisdom when I was at my lowest. This is an honor for me to be chosen as Texanne of the Month because I get to represent you within me.”

Optimist Julie then presents Hayden Kelehan as the Young Texan for November. His favorite subject is math and his favorite teacher is Michael Wheeler who teaches advanced placement chemistry. Hayden has a grade point average of 5.10 and enjoys participating in football, baseball and scouting. (He is an Eagle Scout!) His future plans involve attending the University of Texas and becoming a doctor.

In a personal message to his parents, Shane and Sheryl Kelehan, he says, “Thank you for pushing me to better myself and to show me how to treat my future children.”

“Hayden is quiet, very bright and works very hard,” says Counselor Suzan Harrison. “He is an office aide for me and spends a lot of time studying (some time playing games — but hey, we all need a break!).”

Suzan adds, “Both Shondalyn and Hayden are outstanding MHS seniors and will succeed in whatever they choose to do.”

Secretary Melissa Al-Ahmadi reminded the club that Optimist Josh Moore has a birthday this week and that there will be no meeting next week due to Thanksgiving. On Dec. 2 the club will be meeting in person and she notes that for that meeting, we’ll be ordering from Stagecoach Coffee and the menu has already been sent out. Nov. 30 is the deadline for notifying Treasurer Michele Fuller of orders.

Optimist Richard Magrill reported that he has finished the text of A Club and Its City: 75 Years of Marshall Optimism and is busy on the index. The book is heavily illustrated and will be 1,000 pages. He hopes to finish by Nov. 30, which is the beginning of the club’s 76th year.

“It has been a good project to fill the hours of Covid-19 seclusion!” he said.