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MISD Senior Counselor Suzan Harrison with Young Texanne Madisyn Shephard, Young Texan José F. Diosdado, and MISD Assistant Principal Nakeena Bayless.

The Noon Optimist Club of Marshall met Wednesday, Feb. 12, in Hutchins Hall of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Marshall. President Le Ila Dixon convened with the ringing of the bell and Optimist Isabel Martinez led in prayer followed by the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag and the recitation of the Optimist’s creed.

Optimist Le Ila announced Rachel Hankins as a new member recruited by Ben Dickson and welcomed all to our business meeting to plan for our S.M.I.L.E. (Student Mock Interview Learning Experience) event at MHS on the last Friday of this month. She also recalled with pleasure those 21 present at last week’s meeting, especially Madisyn Shepard and José F. Diosdado, their families, and the facilitators for our Young Texans Program, MISD Senior Counselor Suzan Harrison and MISD Assistant Principal Nakena Bayless. This program recognizes outstanding MHS Seniors each month. At the end of the year six $500 grants will be awarded to three young women and three young men selected at random.

President Le Ila called on us to share our optimism this week. Our focus was on February being National Heart Month and all the advances in coronary care. We’ve also enjoyed some seasonal eating the last two weeks including pre-Valentine’s goodies brought by Optimist Michele Fuller and today’s pasta and pizza selections from Gucci’s in honor National Italian Week. Our meeting last week coincided with National Counselors Week and National Nutella Day. President Le Ila honored MHS counselors with a cake presented to Suzan Harrison to be shared with the other counselors, especially Zack Davis who makes our S.M.I.L.E. program such a success each year. Nutella Day was marked with a beautiful (and delicious!) nutella trifle which Le Ila had prepared but accidentally left at home but which Optimists Ben Dickson and Charles Dixon successfully retrieved.

We noted that today is Suzan Harrison’s birthday which was recognized last week along with the birth of her grand-nephew, Knox Alexander Cook.

Last Wednesday Optimist Julie Brock presented Madisyn Shepard as the Young Texanne for February. Madisyn’s favorite subjects are biology, history, and geography; her favorite teachers are Jeff Ford, Skylyn Potts, and Jana Duck. Her grade point average is 4.95 and she participates in band, choir, Anchor Club, and the National Honor Society.

Madisyn enjoys reading, journaling about special events, and traveling. Twice a week she tutors a home-schooled child in algebra and she engages in occasional baby-sitting. She plans on attending Texas A&M University and pursuing a degree in Public Health.

Her personal message to her parents, Jason and Christie Shepard was: “I would like to thank my parents for their continuous support and encouragement. I would not have been fortunate enough and able to participate in so many activities without their support.”

Also last week, Optimist Julie Brock presented José F. Diosdado as the Young Texan for February. José’s favorite subject is math and his favorite teachers are Robin Rudd, Amy Carpenter, and Skylyn Potts. His grade point average is 4.70 and his extra-curricular activity is Air Force Junior ROTC where he currently has the rank of Flight Commander and works to develop the leadership roles of other cadets. Optimist Richard Magrill asked if AFJROTC involves them with planes. “Actually,” José said, “there was a field trip to do just that about three weeks ago, but I had academic responsibilities which kept me from going.” Suzan Harrison asked him to speak about AVID (the MISD program for kids who will be the first in their families to attend college). José noted especially Crystal Walker’s help with his college application. Suzan noted that AVID students must take certain required courses and that the program had made a real difference at MHS.

Optimists took note of José’s interests including doing fix-up tasks, working within the community and enjoying time with friends. Optimist Richard Magrill asked about José’s community work and he reported on his quarterly volunteering in the Marshall Clean Sweeps where neighborhood folk pitch in and pick up trash. President Le Ila asked him about his fix-up tasks and discovered that he repairs all the family cars.

Everyone present was impressed and thought that describing automobile repair as “fix up tasks” was a rather modest description for his actual work. Suzan Harrison spoke for all when she said, “Parachute him over to my house!”

José is a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and he plans to graduate from the University of Texas at Arlington with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. His personal message to his parents, Salvador and Judith Diosdado, was: “Thank you for supporting me throughout my high school career and for transforming me into the man I am today.”

Optimist Ned Calvert, who is spearheading this year’s S.M.I.L.E. event, conducted our planning session. Logistics of tables, chairs, and food was discussed along with recruitment of sponsors and interviewers.