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Thumbs column

OPINION by Melinda Gassaway, guest column | June 1, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

One is never too old to learn something new or rise to meet a challenging endeavor.

And one may be young in years, but show wisdom and empathy far beyond his or her chronological age.

Keeping those thoughts in mind, we begin this digit doings column with a "Thumbs-up" to Mountain Pine alumna Bayley Brown, who graduated from high school on May 13 and received her Associate of Arts degree from National Park College on May 14. The double-degree holder took concurrent courses at NPC while still a ninth-grader at Mountain Pine -- the first from the school to do so at such a young age.

Brown successfully juggled her high school and college courses while staying involved with MP athletics and academic extracurricular activities. She did so with the help and encouragement of her family, high school administrator, college instructors, coaches, and transportation personnel who ensured that the then unlicensed driver met her commitments to NPC on time.

After summer work at Lake Ouachita State Park, Brown will major in exercise science at Southern Arkansas University.

"Bravo, Bayley, and continued success."

By the same token, here's another "Thumbs-up" to Lakeside High School sophomore Claire Hudnell, recent recipient of the 2022 "Best of the Best" award from the National Federation of Press Women during the professional association's annual high school communications contest. More than 1,500 entries from across the country were entered in the competition and Hudnell's selection marks the first time an Arkansan has won.

A member of the Lakeside District Press staff, Hudnell wrote and produced a video entitled, "Vision Interrupted," which tells the story of a classmate and friend, Walker Cheatham. Hudnell says that despite his vision problems, Cheatham is "very determined" and "very successful in a lot of things he does."

The documentary idea came from communications teachers Tara Adams and Susan Harris, and Hudnell received a cash prize of $100 for winning the video feature story category and $250 for the national award. Lakeside's journalism program received a matching $250 cash award.

"Kudos, Claire, for a story well told."

Here's another "Thumbs-up" to the Arkansas Diamonds senior women's basketball team for last month winning the gold medal at the 2022 National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Diamonds competed in the 75-Plus Division and were undefeated in seven games played over four days.

They held the defending national team to 22 points in the finals, securing a 40-22 victory to bring the title and gold medal home to Hot Springs.

Heartiest congratulations to coach Billy Graves, Captain LaVerne Gravers, Linda Lynch, Carolyn Trowbridge, Jodie Moon, Sharon Thornton, Ellen Varhalla, Sharon Manus, and scorekeeper LeRoy Varhalla.

Meanwhile, here's a "Thank you" and "Thumbs-up" to the Garland County Extension Homemakers Council for its sponsorship of a May 22 Relay for Life luncheon to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

All EHC clubs participated in the benefit, which had as its theme, "Turning the Page on Cancer." Especially appreciated are the contributions of Peggy Barnett council leader and member of Park Heights EHC; Sharon Parrett, EHC member, cancer survivor, and guest speaker; Rita Blackwood and Lynn Paul, who presented Jan Smithson, physicians' liaison at Genesis Cancer Center with more than 100 turbans made for cancer patients by EHC members; Alison Crane, Garland County Cooperative Extension Service agent for Family and Consumer Services, for reviewing the history of cancer; Nancy Hitchcock, who explained the colors of cancer; the EHC Catering Committee; and Alison and Shawn Crane for providing entertainment.

The council raised more than $1,792 through the sale of tickets for chances on a homemade quilt donated by the EHC Crazy Quilters.

Staying on the topic of caring for others, we give a "Thumbs-up" to registered nurse Vickie Robbins of National Park Medical Center's Intensive Care Unit for recently receiving the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. The award is part of the DAISY Foundation's program to recognize the "superhuman efforts nurses perform every day." Robbins was nominated by the brother of a patient she cared for during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The same upturned digit goes to National Park Medical Center honoree, Elizabeth "Liz" Mauldin, who is the facility's 2022 Mercy Award winner. The award recognizes an employee who "profoundly touches the lives of others and best represents the spirit and values on which the company was founded." Mauldin has served NPMC's patients for 29 years and is now an RN case manager in the Quality Department.

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 in writing with a telephone number and home address for contact and verification purposes. This information is kept confidential.

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