Whitefield Student Is Chess Champ

Drew Justice, a Whitefield Academy Sixth grader, recently represented his school in the National Elementary Chess Championship held in Nashville, Tennessee.

The tournament, sponsored by the U.S. Chess Federation, draws more than 2,000 players from around the country in a four-day event that begins with a 6-round blitz (fast chess) tournament and concluding with a 7-round standard tournament. Justice had an outstanding performance in the K-6 blitz tournament, claiming first place.

Overall, Justice holds four national titles in chess: 2013 K-1 Co-Champion, 2015 K-3 Blitz Co-Champion, 2017 K-6 Bughouse Champion, 2018 K-6 Blitz Co-Champion (1st place on tiebreaks). In the 2018 regular tournament, Justice came close to securing another national title. After winning his first five matches, he played very well in round 6 to earn a draw. Then, still tied for first place going into the final round, he was outplayed by a strong opponent from California and ended the regular tournament in 8th place. There are three types of chess championships: regular (90 minutes per player), blitz (5 minutes per player), and bughouse (partner chess).

Justice is a chess “Expert” (2000 U.S. rating), and hopes to get to “National Master” (2200 rating) by the end of middle school. He has been an avid chess player since he was three years old. In addition to chess, Justice enjoys playing basketball, football, and looks forward to being in the marching band next school year. He enjoys the challenge of playing other top players from around the country, and also teaching chess to younger children at Whitefield through after school programs and summer camps.

Whitefield Academy is a Christ-centered, college preparatory school serving more than 800 students in PreK4 through 12th grade. For more information, visit whitefieldacademy.com.

From the June 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton,  and Austell, GA.

Crosswalk Gets Improved Signage

New Dynamic Speed Display signs will soon go up near a school where a crossing guard was hit and killed last year. The Board of Commissioners approved the installation of the signs at their meeting Tuesday.

The signs will soon go up near Lindley Middle School and will be donated by Radar Signs, Inc., as part of Cobb’s pilot program. The signs let drivers know how fast they are going.  Studies have shown they are effective in getting drivers to slow down.

Cobb DOT, along with Georgia DOT and other partners, launched a Roadway Safety Audit last year after the death of crossing guard Edna Umeh last November. The audit is nearing completion and interim DOT Director Erica Parish says changes should be made to the roadway before the start of the next school year.

Among the changes being considered are medians dividing the four-lane road, and installation of a “HAWK” crossing which is a lighted, well-marked pedestrian crossing.

From the June 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Surprise Results, Election Runoff

The name was familiar, but nobody knew who she was – until she won.

Sandra Bullock won the Democratic party primary in House District 40, ahead of Erick Allen for a seat being vacated by Rep. Rich Golick.

But after the win, she bowed out, citing health concerns.

Once Bullock’s withdrawal becomes official, Allen will become the nominee – and go up against Republican pick Matt Bentley.

In Smyrna, and in some state races, the campaign is not over.

Smyrna voters will choose a new council member in Ward 6 in a runoff election July 24.

Idella Moore finished first in a crowded field, with Tim Gould in second place to force the runoff.

In the District 2 School Board contest, Dr. Jaha Howard defeated Angela Pressley.

In congressional races:
• Rep. David Scott (D-13) will face David Callahan, winner of the Republican primary, and Libertarian candidate Martin Cowen in November for the 13th District congressional seat.
• Lucy McBath will face Kevin Abel in a runoff for the Democratic nomination for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. Incumbent Rep. Karen Handel (R-6) was unopposed.

In House District 39 State Rep. Erica Thomas, D-Austell, survived a primary challenge from three fellow Democrats, defeating Sheila Edwards and Tray S. Deadwyler. She will face Republican James “J.W.” Morrow Jr., in November.

Leah Aldridge won the Georgia Senate Republican primary and will face state Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta, in November for the Senate 6 post.

From the June 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

 

 

WellStar Vinings Heath Park Opens Surgery Outpatient Center

The final piece of the new WellStar Vinings Health Park fell into place with the opening of the Outpatient Surgery Center in April.

The 20,000 sq. foot surgery center includes 17 private prep and recovery rooms, three operating rooms and three procedure rooms.

The new center will also provide onsite treatment and testing, pharmacy and pathology support and   a private patient discharge elevator.

“Tonight is special because it another event in the yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of Cobb Hospital allowing us to serve our community closer to home,” said Callie Andrews, President of WellStar Cobb Hospital.

The Vinings location opened in September of 2017 as the third Health Park in Cobb. A fourth will open in Cherokee County in February.

Dr. Bill Mayfield, WellStar chief surgical officer, “what we have done here, is that we have reinvented the future of surgery.”

The new facility is “designed for patient safety, patient experience and patient flow. (The center is) packed with technology and connected by one electronic medal record.”

“Opening our Vinings Health Park Outpatient Surgery Center will allow us to meet the growing demand for outpatient care in the local market,” said Joe Brywczynski, senior vice president of WellStar Health Parks Administration & Development. “This addition allows us to offer a variety of outpatient medical services and procedures to patients close to home, in one location for increased convenience.”

The addition will create 25 new jobs, increasing the total employment at the Vinings Health Park to more than 175 team members.

From the May 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Andrews Named New Wellstar Cobb President

WellStar Health System announced Callie Andrews as WellStar senior vice president and president of WellStar Cobb Hospital. Previously, Andrews served as the hospital’s chief operations officer (COO) for the past two years.

“Since opening as Cobb General 50 years ago this summer, WellStar Cobb Hospital has seen tremendous growth and innovation under the leadership of a distinguished group of hospital presidents,” said Carrie Owen Plietz, WellStar executive vice president & chief operations officer, Hospitals Division. “Callie will continue this legacy as she has demonstrated a constant focus on improving patient care, safety and experience and increasing team member engagement.”

Andrews brings more than 10 years of executive hospital administration experience to this role, including the past two years at WellStar Cobb Hospital. Her recent accomplishments include serving as hospital executive lead in operationalizing WellStar Vinings Health Park, overseeing several WellStar expansion and renovation projects totaling more than $35 million, and leading the development of a new cancer center and pediatric burn program at WellStar Cobb Hospital.

“It’s an honor to be named president of WellStar Cobb, especially during such a monumental time as the hospital celebrates its 50th anniversary,” said Andrews. “WellStar Cobb is a beacon for the community and along with our experienced management team and world-class caregivers and physicians, I look forward to exceeding the expectations of our patients and community.”

Before joining WellStar, Andrews held several roles at Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), serving as COO and ethics and compliance officer at HCA’s Eastside Medical Center in Snellville, Georgia and associate COO at HCA’s Redmond Regional Medical Center in Rome, Georgia. Andrews has master’s degrees in business and healthcare administration from The University of Alabama at Birmingham and a bachelor’s degree from The University of Georgia.

With 382 beds, WellStar Cobb Hospital offers several exemplary programs, including a recently renovated burn and wound unit, a state-of-the-art cardiac program and a private maternity center. Additionally, the hospital is the only one in Georgia to receive meritorious status for surgical patient outcomes from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program and is one of only six baby-friendly facilities in Georgia.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Andrews is active in the community, serving on the boards of Safe Path Children’s Advocacy Center and South Cobb Business Association. She is also involved in the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives, currently serving as president-elect.

From the May 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

‘Twisted Cyclone’ Roller Coaster Coming To Six Flags In 2018

Six Flags Over Georgia—the Thrill Capital of the South— announced the all-new Twisted Cyclone hybrid roller coaster will arrive in 2018. Twisted Cyclone will offer guests the best of both worlds—a classic wooden structure combined with a modern, steel track for multiple inversions and a smoother, more thrilling riding experience.

“Six Flags was the first in the industry to introduce this hybrid technology and Twisted Cyclone is a shining example of Six Flags innovation at its very best. Year after year, our park keeps delivering unique thrills for all ages and this state-of-the-art hybrid coaster is an absolute game-changer,” said Park President Dale Kaetzel. “Our guests are going to be blown away by the unbelievable features of this coaster.”

Twisted Cyclone highlights include:

  • An insanely steep 75-degree initial drop from nearly 100 feet into a jaw-dropping reverse cobra roll sending riders perpendicular to the ground;
  • Three hair-raising upside down inversions and 10 airtime moments along 2,400 feet of track at speeds of 50 miles per hour;
  • The feeling of weightlessness through a 360-degree zero gravity roll;
  • One-of-a-kind custom coaster trains modeled after a classic 1960’s sports convertible; and
  • A smoother, sleeker, more intense ride than ever before.

Construction on Twisted Cyclone is underway and the ride is expected to debut in the spring of 2018. For more information about next season at Six Flags Over Georgia, visit www.sixflags.com/overgeorgia/newfor2018.

Six Flags Over Georgia is also announcing the start of 2018 Season Pass sales with its special Flash Sale through Labor Day weekend featuring the best deal of the year— savings up to 70% off on a 2018 Pass!

August 31 through Sept. 4, guests will receive a free upgrade to a Gold Combo Season Pass with every Pass purchased. Gold Combo Season Passes include admission to Six Flags Over Georgia and Six Flags White Water, and any other Six Flags theme park, as well as free parking and special admission offers for friends.

Golf Cart Parade Honors Fourth, Veterans

 

  Presbyterian Village in Austell held its annual golf cart parade to honor the Fourth of July with more than two dozen golf carts decked out in patriotic bunting. Where in previous parades there has been a Grand Marshall seated in the lead car; this year some 14 World War II veterans were honored as Grand Marshalls, riding in individual carts.

Among them was, below left, Navy veteran Bill Smith, a pharmacist’s mate 3rd class, who served aboard the USS Wyoming in WWII.

Hilliard Pouncey, right, an original Tuskegee Airman, rides in the lead car as one of more than a dozen “Grand Marshalls” at the annual golf cart parade at Presbyterian Village in Austell on July 3.

 

 

 

 

Bringing up the rear in a 1915 Model T, below right, are Robert and Bryant Brough of Mableton in vintage uniforms to honor the veterans.

At left, Ike Strueusee, an Infantry Staff Sgt. during the war, fought at the Battle of The Bulge in the Army.

Brenda Humphrey Names Braves Honorary Bat Girl

ATLANTA, GA – MAY 19: Honorary Bat Girl Samantha Timmons poses with Brandon Phillips #4 of the Atlanta Braves before the game against the Washington Nationals at SunTrust Park on May 19, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves won 8-4. (Photo by Logan Riely/Beam Imagination/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Brandon Phillips

Brenda Humphrey of Mableton served as Honorary Bat Girl for the Atlanta Braves at the May 19 game.

The Honorary Bat Girl contest recognizes fans who have been affected by breast cancer and have demonstrated a commitment to battling the disease.

After supporting and caring for her mother and three sisters as they each battled various forms of cancer over the years, Ms. Humphrey was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2014. The single mother of a Marine serving in Japan, she immediately began to educate family members and friends about the disease while going through treatment and recovery. Diagnosed again in March 2016, Ms. Humphrey continues to fight the disease while never letting it break her spirit.

The Braves hosted Ms. Humphrey on May 19 as the Braves played the Nationals at Sun Trust Park for a VIP experience that kicked off with a special lunch with the Braves wives. Following lunch, she watched batting practice from the field and stayed for the game. Ms. Humphrey also took home limited-edition pink MLB merchandise. This year, Atlanta Braves player Brandon Phillips served on the Guest Judging Panel for the Honorary Bat Girl Contest.

During the Honorary Bat Girl contest entry timeline, fans from across the United States and Canada shared how they, or their loved ones, support the cause to raise awareness and find a cure for breast cancer. The winners were selected by a panel of judges, including special guests, who chose the winning submissions based on the following criteria: quality of writing and description of personal connection to breast cancer, demonstration of commitment to the battle against the disease and public appeal (as determined by online fan votes).

The Honorary Bat Girl program was introduced in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” initiative celebrated on Mother’s Day. In nine years, thousands of unique testimonials have been submitted and millions of fan votes have been cast. Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer is a Major League Baseball initiative supported by MLB charitable partners, Stand Up To Cancer and Susan G. Komen. This initiative raises awareness about the breast cancer cause, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research.

From the June 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Mableton Farmers Market Is Open

The Mableton Farmers Market is off to a running start of its eighth season. The Market, a community project of the Mableton Improvement Coalition, operates every Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., through August 24. Come  to the Mable House Complex at 5239 Floyd Road, Mableton, and shop for fresh and nutritious locally-grown fruits and vegetables, eggs, breads, homemade jams and jellies, organic bars, bites, nuts and more. Visitors will also experience quick and easy food preparation demonstrations sponsored by partner Cobb & Douglas Public Health.

Wholesome Wave Georgia, another of the Market’s partner organizations, is again on board this season to double the value of SNAP EBT transactions. Believing that every family in Georgia should have access to quality food,  Thursday, July 13, will be the next and last SNAP Assistance visit at the Market this season.  If you or anyone you know has questions about Food Stamp eligibility or issues with an existing account, WWG will have an expert representative to advise inquiring market shoppers about SNAP (food stamp) benefits, complete online applications and/or investigate problems with existing accounts. Consultations are completely confidential.

Stop by the Mableton Farmers Market.

From the June 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Russell Students Perform Successful ‘Space Shuttle’ Mission

Wearing orange full pressure “pumpkin suits,” the astronauts turned and waved one last time before boarding the space shuttle. Cameras snapped; parents waved, and with that they were locked in their home for the next 27 hours. Meanwhile, mission control began to work through the calculations and systematic steps to send a shuttle into space. The clock in the room ticked down to launch time. A television monitor featured a split-screen of the astronauts, now wearing helmets, as they prepared to embark on an out-of-this world lesson.

The student astronauts and their teammates in mission control were part of the 19th mission to space for the Russell Elementary School Space Program, which first launched in 1998.

The unique space program sends student astronauts on a simulated space mission inside a replica NASA shuttle. The space mission includes a launch, landing, payload deployment, spacewalk, onboard experiments and around-the-clock monitoring of onboard systems from the school’s mock mission control center.

Students in the space program start in August to prepare for launch day.

“They learn about orbital dynamics,” said Chris Laster, Space Team teacher coordinator and founder. “They learn how to work together as a team. They learn how to track telemetry, which is data that is sent down by radio from our space shuttle simulator. They learn how to monitor that for trends to detect problems and malfunctions and how to take measures to solve those problems.”

That’s not all the students learn. Grueling, that’s how Laster described the material the students learn over the course of the eight months leading up to the space launch.

“All the kids learn how to read acronyms from NASA. They have to learn how to read flight plans and time stamps,” explained Tracey Steiner, a Russell science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lab teacher.

The students tackle the grueling material after school hours. Some of the students spend four days a week for several hours each day preparing for their space mission. The teaching staff help the students develop the math and science skills to understand the different systems aboard the space shuttle and the complexities of the spaceflight operations.

“We learned a lot about technology like radios and computers,” said fifth grader Samantha, one of the student astronauts. “Before I joined the program, I used to call it a space shuttle or a rocket. Now, I know the full term for everything.”

Some of what Samantha learned shocked her, for example, reading about the lack of privacy and bathrooms in space.

Samantha was motivated to join the space team by the stories her brother shared about the program when he came home every day. He was a member of the space team a few years prior.

Samantha’s fifth grade classmate Joy also made the space team a family tradition. Joy’s two sisters are both veterans of the Russell Space Program. Her sister, Princess, was there for Joy’s launch day as commander of the STS-19 team.

“The fact that she was able to buckle down and do all that work and reach the point where she is actually commanding the [space team] is wild,” Princess said.

The older sister has regaled stories of her time in the space program with her new college friends, who she said are shocked that her elementary school has such an elaborate space program.

“I loved the program, and I love how it is growing,” Princess added. “Mission control looks a lot more realistic.

Princess, who is studying biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Georgia, credits the space program for impacting her interest in science.

Joy and Princess’s dad credits the space program for helping his daughters excel in school.

“[The space program] teaches them how to be leaders,” their father Muhammed Dikko explained. “It teaches them how to stay on task when they are given assignments. It teaches them to take life, in general, seriously. We have seen the changes in [Joy’s] life. We have seen it in our other daughters. I’ve never had to tell them to go do their homework as a result of this [program] because they look forward to it.”

The proud father studied the material with his daughters, but has a confession about wanting to actually join the space team himself.

“It is a lot of hard work,” he said. “I couldn’t do it.”

Students in the space program have gone on to be chemical engineers, high-ranking service members and business owners. According to Laster, one space program veteran and graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology will soon be writing orbital trajectories and trajectories for space probes. This student, too, credits the space program for propelling him on his career track.

Steiner, who has flown on 10 space flights with students, has a theory about why the space program encourages student success.

“The kids learn that there is a final goal,” Steiner explained. “They work hard and dedicate themselves to making something happen. We either fail together or succeed together, and when they learn they can succeed together, even if it may be the hardest thing they have ever done, they will be up for the challenges of life.”

The students who join the space team undergo a rigorous application process including physical fitness tests. The student astronauts earn the top fitness scores.

“To be selected for space team, you have to write an essay on why you want to join, how you think you can benefit and what skills that you can bring to the team,” astronaut Samantha added. “You basically have to prove that you are good enough to be on the team.”

Although the students must have high grades to join the team, Laster sometimes sees something in a student that others may not. He said that after some students join the program, they start to thrive and do things that they didn’t even know were possible.

Fifth grader Edith, who served as the STS-19 capsule communicator in mission control, said the space program helped her develop better study habits. Her favorite part was making friends and learning how to work more as a team

Princess still keeps up with the friends she made on STS-10 mission.

Astronaut Kelsie, 5th grade, signed up for the STS-19 mission because she knew it would be a great teamwork experience and “It looked fun.”

The students cite varying reasons on why they want to enlist in the space program, but their teacher only has one.

“I’m here for the kids,” said Laster.

He launched the space program after taking Russell students on a trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. A student asked why Russell Elementary couldn’t have a space program like the one in Huntsville. That question started the countdown to the school’s first space mission.

The program started off in the classroom and moved into the separate simulator set up in a trailer outside of the school, which is painted to look like a NASA space shuttle.

Steiner, who hung up her pumpkin suit for the last time after the STS-19 mission, described the space program as the heart and soul of Russell Elementary.

After STS-19 landed on May 9, the astronauts and mission control reunited and celebrated with a parade through the school.

There is a lot of emotion that takes place with the students, parents and teachers on landing day, according to the dad of three veteran space team members.

“There are a lot of tissue boxes being used. Even people who think they never cry, they always end up in tears,” Dikko said.

There was a lot to celebrate this year. About three minutes prior the shuttle landing, a power surge knocked out power in mission control and the simulator. The school staff does sometimes inject malfunctions so the students can use their skills to overcome challenges. This was not a drill.

“[The students] actually trained for that sort of thing,” Laster explained. “What we had not anticipated was that power was also knocked out in the simulator. So that really sent us into a scramble. It also messed up some of the tracking systems the students were using. So they basically had to go it blind at that point. They handled it very well.”

After all the excitement of the landing, the STS-19 team had a lot to discuss during the school press conference. The entire school gathered in the cafeteria to listen to the team answer questions about their mission.

“I hope the space program gets adopted in other schools nationwide because it teaches them a lot of leadership skills,” said Joy and Princess’s father Dikko. “It helps prepare them for the future and life and general. It teaches them how to relate to each other. It goes way above and beyond their everyday school work.”

From the June 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.