MHS Principal Matt Gregory, Young Texanne Leili Lizett Morales, Assistant Principal Nakena Bayliss, Young Texan Brent Burris, and Senior Counselor Suzanne Harrison are pictured. Note this is their first picture this year where masks are off but they are off just for the photo.

The Noon Optimist Club of Marshall met online April 21 under the leadership of Vice President Julie Brock, Secretary Melissa Al-Ahmadi and Treasurer Michele Fuller.

Optimist called President Ned Calvert for a report on his wife Sarah who continues her bout with COVID-19. She is clearly better than a week ago but has developed a blood infection that they are trying to get under control before she restarts her therapy. Good news is that she is getting more oxygen on her own now and the club prays for more improvement in that regard. The club remembers her and all those fighting COVID-19 in their prayers.

Vice President Julie Brock called the club’s attention to two events. One is at Marshall Place (formerly the mall) when the Marshall Regional Arts Council’s Mini Monet K-12 Art Show kicks off. The club is helping sponsor this event for students in the schools of Harrison, Marion and Panola counties. The second is their dinner on Monday, April 26, in Hutchins Hall at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Marshall at 6:30 p.m. for all of 2020-21’s Young Texans. Their parents, MHS representatives, Optimists and their guests will be present as the club recognizes the May Young Texans and awards the six $500 awards to the three Young Texannes and three Young Texans for this year. Secretary Michele Fuller says we expect some 80 persons to be present.

Optimist Le Ila Dixon shared “good news” this week from Knoxville, Tenn. where Paula Osborn is a Knoxville mother, wife and now the author of the book “The Jar From Afar.” The book comes with a jar to collect items and change to give to people in need.

“On the front of the jar, it says this is a gift that comes from afar. Our hearts are with you when we filled up this jar. We hope that it brings you a great blessing this day, just as it blessed us to give it away.” “I never intended to title what we do, but it felt important so I wrote it all down and in just a few hours I had written the whole story,” said Osborn.

The book follows her kids Max and Ava on their journey of learning to give back to others.

“I said to my big hearted 10-year-old son ‘What should we do with this big jar of change, we could really do something good with this,’ and without really any hesitation he said to me ‘mom there are lots kids in our community that I feel don’t have the same blessings we have.’ I really feel like we should give it to a family in our community in need of a blessing. It was like my proud parent moment, and my answer was that we absolutely will,” said Osborn.

The kids added other goodies with the change, like jokes and candy. They’ve delivered gifts to families for the past nine years.

“There’s one, in particular, we keep returning to and there’s never a dry eye in our car,” said Osborn.

“Now with her youngest child heading to college,” Le Ila notes that Osborn “hopes other parents will share this lesson!”

“Hopefully it will plant a little seed in the heart of children and they will have a lifetime of service and kindness and compassion for others,” said Osborn. (P.S. You can buy the book on Amazon next month.)

Optimist Julie Brock then introduced Leili Lizett Morales as the Young Texanne for April. Her favorite subjects are math, biology and health science and her favorite teachers are: Amanda Skinner who teaches statistics and advanced placement calculus; Skylyn Potts whose subjects are biology and environmental science; Crystal Walker whose field is AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and Colorguard; and Erica Hervey in health science. Her grade point average is 4.9.

Leili’s extra-curricular activities include the National Honor Society, AVID, Student Council and girls soccer. She is active in Saint Joseph Catholic Church and has participated in many of its soup kitchens. “I have three hobbies which include playing soccer, running and baking/cooking,” she says, “and so far, I am in the top 10% of my class, maintaining an average of A’s and a few B’s. I plan to attend Panola College to finish my basics, transfer to ETBU or UT Tyler to join the nursing program, and become a Registered Nurse or a NICU Nurse.

Leili’s personal message to her parents, Nicholas and Maria E. Morales, is as follows: “Dear Mom and Dad, thank you for taking care of me throughout the years. Thank you for changing my diapers and supporting my tantrums. As I am about to graduate and start a new chapter in my life, I go back and think about how ready I am. I am ready because you guys have been there guiding me and motivating me to be the best I can be, to never give up no matter how challenging it can be. I am thankful for everything y’all have done for me. I love you Mom and Dad.”

Vice President Brock then introduced Brent Burris as the Young Texan for April. Brent’s favorite subjects are history and government and his favorite teachers are Candace Jamarik in economics and government and Skylyn Potts for biology and environment science. His grade point average is 4.87.

Brent attends Immanuel Baptist Church and plays football and basketball. His interests are sports and fitness. His accomplishments in that area include being offensive player of the week (he broke the school record for most passing yards in one game!). In the area of academics, he is graduating in the top 10% of his class.

Brent has the entrepreneurial spirit and plans on college and becoming a business owner. His message to his parents, Brad and Nicki Burris, is “Thank you for pushing me to become the best I can be. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

In preparation for the upcoming dinner, Optimist Richard Magrill is preparing the booklet with the names of all available Optimist honorees from MISD for the past 60 years and Optimist Melissa Al-Ahmadi is working on the table decorations. John Green and Optimist Janie Moore are doing set up. Melissa with her sister Rebecca Gerhart and Richard will be decorating the tables. Treasurer Michele Fuller has taken care of ordering the food. The club is looking forward to a wonderful time this Monday evening.

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