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In this month of Thanksgiving and joining with friends and family to acknowledge our many blessings, permit this writer to share some thoughts on that subject from distinguished actress Julie Andrews as quoted in the epilogue of her new book, "Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years."

Andrews wrote, "There aren't many truths of which I am certain but writing this book. I was reminded over and over again of one that I am rock-solid sure about.

"I have been lucky.

"To have been given the gift of song -- and to recognize that it was a gift; to have been mentored by giants, who taught, influenced, and shaped me; to have gained resilience from hard work; to have loved and been loved; and to have sometimes felt an angel on my shoulder, a reassuring presence that helped center and guide me when I needed it most ... actually, that's more than luck.

"I am profoundly blessed."

On that note, let's give a big "Thumbs-up" to Amber Moss, Lakeside Middle School's music specialist, choir director and drama specialist who recently was named one of 25 finalists for the seventh annual Music Education Award presented by the Recording Academy and Grammy Museum.

The award "recognizes current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in schools."

Semifinalists are from 25 cities across 18 states and were selected from more than 3,300 initial nominations submitted from all 50 states. The finalists will be announced in December.

Moss is in her seventh year at Lakeside and her 14th year in education.

By the same token, a well-deserved "Thumbs-up" to John Wells, Garland County library director who has announced his retirement after nearly 33 years of service to a learning and reading center that has become a true community center because of his faithful stewardship and vision.

We thank John Wells for guiding our public library though many changes over the years and we appreciate the manner in which he and the staff, along with the library board, have made this facility one of the best in the state.

Best wishes to him and also to the incoming director, Adam Webb, who has many ideas on how to build on the library's progress and reputation.

Here is a "Thumbs-up" to Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, state education officials, and other concerned citizens and organizations for raising public awareness about what they feel is a "vaping epidemic" in Arkansas.

During a recent keynote address to the Garland County Farm Bureau's annual meeting at Lake Hamilton High School, Rutledge said that "an outrageous number" of school-age children in Arkansas are becoming addicted to vaping and she told The Sentinel-Record that school officials in the state's 75 counties have expressed their concern about the effect vaping has had not only on high school students but also on junior high, middle school, and even some elementary students.

In a related matter of public awareness, here's a "Thumbs-up" to National Park College for recently hosting a program on domestic violence and its impact on children.

The program was held in the Student Commons in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month and was co-sponsored by the Garland County prosecuting attorney's office, Ouachita Children Youth and Family Services and the Garland County Domestic Violence Task Force.

The featured speaker was Sherry Williamson, UAMS Child Abuse Project coordinator, and there was also a panel discussion on how the trauma of such abuse affects children.

Williams said there is a direct correlation between domestic abuse and child abuse.

And we send out another "Thumbs-up" to the Hot Springs Public Schools Education Foundation which recently made its inaugural presentation of $4,950 in grants to 12 Hot Springs School District groups and clubs.

Q. Byrum Hurst, the foundation chair, said the organization is "directly supporting the initiatives of Hot Springs educators and helping to enhance the programs the students care about."

The nonprofit's board of trustees considered 19 grant applications during the 2019 application period from May through August and the next application period will be from May through August 2020.

The Thumbs column appears in The Sentinel-Record the first and third Wednesday of each month. The newspaper welcomes readers' comments and suggestions, which should be submitted with a name, telephone number and home address, for verification and contact purposes. This information is kept confidential.

Editorial on 11/06/2019

Print Headline: Thumbs column

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