Hope Mills News

Speaking contest focuses on voting rights

17 DrDue to the spread of COVID-19, this event will be rescheduled for a future date.

Dr. Tremaine Canteen thinks 2020 is a significant year to celebrate the importance of voting rights in this country and is seeking to do it through an oratorical contest for high school students.

Canteen, in conjunction with the Hope Mills chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority, originally planned to the contest on Feb. 29 at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Center. Because of a lack of participants, the event was postponed.

A new date has now been set for Saturday, April 25, still at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Center. The contest will begin at 1 p.m.

The contest was originally meant to coincide with Black History Month, but Canteen said the significance of the topic makes the date of the contest a bit more flexible, although she’s encouraging anyone interested to sign up as quickly as possible.

The contest is open to all high school students from grades 9-12. They do not have to be residents of Cumberland County.

The topic for the speeches is “Her Story: African-Americans and the vote.”

Canteen feels 2020 is an excellent year to hold a contest like this for several reasons.

“This is the centennial for the 19th amendment that deals with the right to vote regardless of sex,’’ she said.

She added it’s the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment, which deals with having the right to vote regardless of race.

She feels it’s important to hear from teen-age voices on the subject.

“I think this is a good year to celebrate change, but to bring awareness to where we are in society right now,’’ she said. “Who better to hear it from than children?”

Canteen feels teenagers have powerful things to say on the subject and bring a different perspective to the topic.

Each speech will be limited to three to five minutes, and the speakers will be timed during their presentations. The judges will be listening for creativity and content.

One reason Canteen is encouraging young people to sign up for the competition as quickly as possible is so members of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority can work with them prior to the competition to help them with basic speaking skills.

For details on how to sign up for the contest, contact Canteen at drtremainecanteen@gmail.com.

Trophies and three cash prizes will be awarded, $150 for first place, $75 for second an $50 for third.“I see this as a way to prepare kids for life,’’ Canteen said. “In any career you’re successful in, there is going to be an element of public speaking. This is a topic that’s never going to die.’’

Visit https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd21fkHXJ5JDb7LhomyfpmybaVp4LojZOmw8Wd0jDH284z4wA/viewform to apply online.

Free smoke detectors coming to Hope Mills

Due to the spread of COVID-19, as a precaution, the delivery of the smoke alarms has been postponed. The new date is to be determined. 16 Smoke Alarm

Free home smoke alarms are coming to Hope Mills, courtesy of the American Red Cross.

Phil Harris, executive director of the Sandhills Chapter of the Red Cross, is looking for community volunteers to make up teams that will be headed for Hope Mills on Saturday, April 25, to areas in town that have been identified as being at higher risk for home fires or lacking smoke detectors.

The Red Cross has been involved in installing smoke alarms since 2014, and the program has now gone national, Harris said.

“We do it throughout the year, but we want to make a push in April,’’ he said.

Harris said the Red Cross knows that working smoke alarms save lives. He said since the Red Cross began installing the free smoke alarms nationwide, 715 lives have been saved by alarms that were placed in homes.

“We know people don’t think it will ever happen to them,’’ he said of a home fire. “If we get that extra alert, we remind them they only have two minutes to get out,’’ he said.

In addition to installing the smoke detectors, the Red Cross provides the people they visit with basic fire safety information.“Do they know how to crawl below the smoke?” Harris said. “Do they know to get out and stay out?’’

Harris said the Red Cross also stresses the importance for families to have a plan on how to get out of the house and where to go when they have left the home.

In addition to having at least two routes planned to escape their home in a fire, Harris said it’s important for families to have a central meeting place where everyone should rendezvous when they’ve left the house.

“You need to have a meeting spot so the firemen don’t go in and think somebody is still in there,’’ he said. “Everybody is accounted for. All of those things come into play with saving a life.’’

Harris said the Red Cross is able to provide free smoke detectors thanks to some grants and the support of major sponsors like Lowe’s and Delta Airlines. He said the Sandhills chapter continues to seek more local businesses to sponsor the program in this area.

The Red Cross also has a home fire campaign that can provide direct financial assistance to families who have been displaced by a fire.

Previously they’ve helped 166 families deal with the aftermath of a fire.

The alarms the Red Cross installs are what Harris referred to as 10-year alarms. “We found these are great for seniors who can’t change a battery periodically,’’ Harris said. 

Harris said the Red Cross cooperated with the Hope Mills Fire Department to identify high-risk areas in the town most in need of smoke detectors.

Now they need approximately 125 volunteers to fan out in teams on April 25 and install the smoke detectors.

Each team will be composed of four people, Harris said. There’s the actual installer, one member who will record the number of people in each home, one to educate the family on basic fire safety and one to introduce the team to each household and explain its purpose.

People can volunteer as late as the day of the event, but early signup is preferred. They can sign up at soundthealarm.org or call the local chapter at 910-867-8151.Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner applauds the Red Cross for bringing the free smoke detectors to Hope Mills. “It’s going to improve safety,’’ she said. “I was glad they targeted Hope Mills. This is the first time they’ve entertained coming here.’’

Gray’s Creek’s Schwamm National Merit finalist

14 Theodore SchwammGray’s Creek High School senior Theodore Schwamm recently joined an elite group of high school students in the United States. He’s one of  15,000 national finalists for the elite National Merit scholarship.

Shana Matthews, who counsels the academically and intellectually gifted students at the schools, said Schwamm is the first National Merit finalist from Gray’s Creek in her four years at the school.

“The scholarship is a nice incentive, a nice bonus, for someone like Theodore who has put in a lot of effort and devoted a lot of time,’’ Matthews said.

A Fayetteville native, Schwamm said his primary interests are vocal music and theater. He plays the piano and is also a handbell player in his church choir.

Even if he’s not ultimately named a winner in the National Merit competition, just being a finalist makes him a potential candidate for other college scholarship offers.

Schwamm said a number of colleges have already offered him full scholarships, but he’s currently not considering those because they are from schools he doesn’t consider a good fit for his interests.

He’s officially applied to four colleges. They include his top two picks, Williams in Massachusetts and Kenyon in Ohio. Others he has applied to are Roanoke in Virginia and the University of Chicago.

Of the four, he’s already been accepted at Roanoke and is expecting word back soon from the other three.

Schwamm said the main draw for him at all four schools was their liberal arts atmosphere and the flexibility and interdisciplinary approach they take to education.

As far as what he plans to study is concerned, Schwamm isn’t sure if he’ll continue with music and theater or turn his attention to physics and mathematics. “I may combine them in some way,’’ he said.

He’s interested in the connection between the arts and sciences and why they have so much in common. “Einstein would often say he’d play the violin while working through physics problems,’’ Schwamm said. “A lot of scientists say if they were not professional scientists, they would be artists.’’

Schwamm is currently involved with the Gray’s Creek High School production of the Broadway musical "Newsies." Performances are scheduled March 20-21 at 7 p.m., with a matinee on March 22 at 4 p.m. Admission is $10.

In recent years, Schwamm has changed his philosophy about his education and realizes balance is an important part of the process.

“Certainly I could spend time endlessly looking at calculus problems,’’ he said. “There comes a time you need to recognize moving away from it and doing something else will ultimately be more valuable.’’

Toward that end, he plans to spend his final summer before college at home with family.

“I plan to sleep without an alarm many days and do a lot of reading,’’ he said.

Warner expands membership in Youth Coalition

15 01 Candace WilliamsonThe health of members in our community is important. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, as a precaution, several events have been cancelled throughout the community. Please call to confirm events.

It’s been four years since Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner created the Hope Mills Mayor’s Youth Coalition. It is composed of students from Gray’s Creek, South View and Jack Britt high schools and seeks to better inform the community’s young people on the business of the town.Since it was started, Warner has been impressed with the talents of the young people who have served on the coalition and how involved they were with their schools.

Initially, she recruited students who were active in the Student Government Association at each of the three schools. But as time passed, she learned there was a problem with that.

The SGA students as a group were extremely busy at their respective schools and often involved in multiple projects. So this year, Warner 15 02 jackie warner copyincreased the pool of students involved in the coalition. She sent an email to the principals of each of the three schools. She asked them to nominate two members from their SGA as usual, but also extended an invitation to members of the Key Club and students involved in JROTC.

“We’ve found that Key Club members volunteer a lot,’’ Warner said. “I’ve also been really impressed with the JROTC programs.’’

The result this year is the largest group of coalition students the town has ever had, and they are tackling a project called Hope Mills Beautiful as they work together to coordinate a litter sweep of the town on April 18.

“It’s neat the way all three high schools have worked together,’’ Warner said of the current group. “I think the benefit is building unity among the youth (and) how they relate to each other. Bringing them to the table, it’s interesting to watch them work well together.

“We hope to get the majority of them involved in our Citizens Academy.’’

The chairman of this year’s coalition is Candace Williamson from South View. She is a member of the JROTC at her school.

Vice-chairs are Christopher Vanderpool of the South View Key Club and Melissa Medina of the Jack Britt Key Club. The secretaries are Hunter Stewart of Gray’s Creek SGA and Briana Jackson of the South View SGA.

In addition to their work on the litter sweep, this year’s coalition has composed a letter endorsing the town’s work on Heritage Park. Down the road, they may be looking at finding ways to improve conditions in Hope Mills for people with disabilities.

Williamson, who is a senior at South View, initially didn’t want to be involved in JROTC but decided to join in order to carry on a family tradition.

“I realized we are all a big family and we all have different stories,’’ she said. “We all came together. It taught me leadership skills and stuff I can carry on after high school.’’

Williamson’s JROTC advisor at South View, Sgt. Maj. Ruby Murray, said Williamson reminds her of a butterfly. “She didn’t let her light shine,’’ Murray said. “She’d sit in class and keep quiet, but she’s always gotten her work done.’’

As years passed, Murray said Williamson displayed more and more leadership ability, eventually rising to the role of battalion commander at South View.

“She started showing more leadership ability, taking charge,’’ Murray said. “She became the eyes and ears her second year. When the mayor sent out that email (requesting nominations for the Mayor’s Youth Coalition), I knew I had to put the right person in charge.’’

Williamson said being a member of the coalition is helping her learn how to better herself and hopefully avoid repeating some of the mistakes her elders have made.

She said being part of the coalition has helped her understand everyone has their own voice. She feels she and her fellow members of the coalition are trying to use their various voices in harmony so they can come to agreement on decisions. 

She feels the mission of this year’s coalition, as shown by their involvement in the Hope Mills Beautiful project, is to make the town better.

She said the students from the three different high schools bring a variety of perspectives to the table. “I think that’s a good idea,’’ Williamson said, “sitting at the table with different leaders.’’

Pictured from top to bottom: Candace Williamson, Jackie Warner

McCray recognizes Civil Rights history in Selma

13 McCrayDr. Kenjuana McCray made history when she became the first African-American woman elected to the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners last November.

But it was a page from national history that helped inspire her to run for office, and make a promise to herself to keep that history alive in her own memories.

Recently McCray made her second consecutive trip to Selma, Alabama, to revisit some of the most prominent sites connected with the American Civil Rights movement and the passage of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. The act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

The event McCray participated in is called the Bridge Crossing Jubilee. It marked the 55th anniversary of Civil Rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge during a march in support of voting rights in 1965. During that crossing, now referred to as “Bloody Sunday," many of the marchers were brutally beaten by law enforcement officers.
McCray not only visited the bridge, but also museums and other historic sites in the Selma, Tuskegee and Montgomery, Alabama, areas during her visit.

She was most moved by the personal accounts of people who were invited back to speak who took part in the marches 55 years ago. “They bring in people that were foot soldiers in the movement,’’ McCray said. “You get to hear one-on-one stories about actual events that happened, things you don’t read in the history books.’’

She also attended a special event at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma, the site of a famous meeting held by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to conduct a planning session for the 1965 march.

McCray said that after she attended the conference for the first time in 2019, she made up her mind to again run for public office in Hope Mills. “It was one of the things that helped me make my decision I was going to run again,’’ she said. She noted that people of different races were involved in that march 55 years ago, and that people of different races lost their lives in the struggle for civil rights in this country.

“I have to continue to advocate for people to exercise their right to vote and how powerful that vote is,’’ McCray said. “It’s something I will continue to advocate while I’m in office and when I’m not in office. This trip helps remind me and puts everything into perspective.’’

One important lesson she has learned from her visits to the Selma area is the power of people working together for a common cause. She noted names like King and Congressman John Lewis, along with many others who were at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement.

“It was a collective group of people who helped do this,’’ she said. “It’s that whole idea of the power of what you can do if you work together and do things together.
“There were a lot of people who worked together to make this thing happen.’’

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