"I'm a 3rd grade teacher at Hamilton Elementary School, but eventually I'd like to teach art to middle school students. My own middle school art teacher is the one who inspired me and brought out my creative side, and I want to help other young men and young women in the same way. Schools have students working on academic subjects and testing all day every day, but the kids need some release too. Art is a great stress reliever. It seems that when educational cuts are made, the arts (including music and dance) are always the first to go. They're important, and we need to keep them in our schools. In addition to teaching, I'd also like to open a gallery someday to help to support other local artists."
Ronald Stepter, educator and artist.
"Since I grew up in a small town in south Mississippi, other places were probably way ahead of us in this, but I still remember when I was in middle school and our family got our first computer. We had to take the seats out of our van to make room for the 6 or 7 boxes it came in, and it took our whole family to unload it all and get it into the house. I remember crawling around on the floor trying to plug in the ethernet cable and all 7,000 cords. We only had dial-up back then, so of course we had to disconnect the phone whenever we wanted to get on the computer; you couldn't use them both at the same time. The first things I ever looked up online had to do with sports. I've always liked tennis, so I would find the scores from matches all over the world. So much has changed in just the 25 years since I was born. It's hard to understand."
"I've struggled with depression and anxiety my whole life. It affects my relationships, how I treat people, and how I feel about myself. I'm thankful to have a very strong support system in my mother, father, and best friend; they definitely help keep me strong. It also helps when other people share their stories of struggling with the same thing. It lets me know I'm not alone, that I'm not the only person dealing with this."
Lee & Patty
Patty: "I worked in Hollywood for 35 years before purchasing some property and relocating to Byhalia, Mississippi. I thought I would never want to get married again, and I definitely wasn't interested in any more actor, director, or producer types. I decided that if I did remarry, the man would have to be nice, wear a suit, and carry a briefcase. *laughs* Lee met all three of those qualifications. And he was funny. He made me laugh; he still does. We had a few ups and downs getting to know each other, but within six months of meeting, we were married. We've always had a lot of fun together. It's important never to lose your sense of humor. Our marriage has changed over the years, but we have a strong foundation. As you get older and your body no longer works the way it used to, the foundation you've built and the support of family and friends will help get you through the hard times."
Lee: "The first time I met Patty, we talked for hours. I thought she was cute and had interesting things to say, and she didn't try to dominate the conversation. When I called after that and asked her out for dinner, she said, 'No, I'm busy, but you can go with me to an event at church if you want to. I have 2 tickets.' I thought, 'Oh no, a Bible-thumper', but I went anyway. Turned out, the event was something called 'How to Save Your Marriage.' *laughs* That was 23 years ago."
Lee and Patty Albrecht started the Mississippi River Rangers, a Cowboy Action Shooting club, in 1996. This reenactment group meets monthly and holds an annual shooting match using guns from the 1850's-1890's. Fans of Western history can watch the cowboys in action at 2432 Rabbit Ridge Road in Byhalia, Mississippi, just a few miles south of Memphis. Although the Albrechts now reside in Memphis, they continue to participate in the group's activities.
In the wake of the 1982 Tylenol poisoning crisis and while in the employ of Alcoa Manufacturing, Lee Albrecht designed the tamper-evident bottle cap. This design was subsequently used throughout the pharmaceutical industry and eventually expanded to include the oil industry as well.
"My interest in art started in elementary school when I entered a poster contest. I won 1st place, but then the judges realized that the work was too advanced for a 3rd grader, and I was disqualified. They were right; I had gotten my older cousin to make the poster for me. Still, the whole experience sparked my interest in art. I started checking out library books and copying the illustrations in them. By the time I was in middle school, I was winning art contests, but now nobody was doing the drawings for me. I was doing them for myself. *laughs* I was rolling then. I plan to continue my art studies, and someday I'd like to do illustrations for books, comics, and advertisements."
Jarvis Howard is a sophomore art student at LeMoyne Owen College.
James & Jerrry
"I like to play with my brother in the playroom at home. We make a city out of blocks and boxes, and we pretend the Legos are people. Sometimes we knock the city down and build a base and put soldiers in it. We play with it for about a week, then we knock the base down and build a city again. I practice Kung fu at home too. I've been taking lessons for 2 years, and I know how to use nunchuks. I like to paint, but I don't like it when people tell me what to paint. I like to paint things from my imagination, like dragons. I like to read too, books like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Have you ever heard of If You Give a Pig a Pancake? That's another one I like. The best thing about me is that I like to play on the computer and do math on the computer. And I'm kind to my friends."
James (age 6) pictured with brother Jerry (age 9)
"It's a challenge to stay positive. I spent 15 years on death row, but I've been out for 9 years this coming August. Since my release, I've been mentoring kids, working on establishing my own business, and sharing my testimony so other people won't have to go through the same thing I did. I'm working with a gang awareness program now. Kids think it's cool to go to jail and build up a reputation, but I tell them the ugly side of that kind of life. My focus is to try and stop the juveniles from causing themselves and their families grief."
Joey & Daryl
"People have always gotten us mixed up, especially in middle school. We were always having to tell people which one was which. They would say, 'What are you doing here? I just saw you leave!', but it wasn't me; it was my brother. That happened a lot when we were new somewhere and people didn't know we were twins, that there were two of us. Even our mom and grandma got us mixed up sometimes. We have a lot of fun playing sports together---bowling, basketball, football, baseball---but we're also very competitive with each other. Sometimes we drive each other crazy, but it's all good in the end. We're still best friends."
"Two of the biggest influences on my life have been Willie Herenton and Melvin Burgess. Herenton is in his 70's, but he's still working and still interested in the future and in education. He inspires me. If he can work at his age, I can too. Melvin Burgess was a police captain at one point, and I appreciate his ability to communicate with the public. He'd get out of the squad car and talk with the youngsters and tell them what was right and wrong. He'd tell them what was in their best interest."