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Thumbs column

OPINION by Melinda Gassaway, guest column | May 17, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

Let's keep our fingers crossed that the recent spate of torrential rains won't return in great numbers as the Spa City moves forward into a very busy tourist season.

But, speaking of downpours, we say "Thumbs-up" and "Thank you" to the two Magic Springs Theme and Water Park certified lifeguards and some friends who earlier this month rescued a woman driver from her sinking car.

The Lakeside High School juniors -- Parker Chunn and Asher Wallace -- are members of coach Garren Rockwell's varsity football team and at the time of the scary incident were part of a volunteer crew picking up trash on the Garland County Countywide Cleanup Day when the woman's vehicle went into a nearby pond. The duo immediately used their strengths and skills to come to her aid -- along with getting assistance from Mason Nguyen and Ben Soto. Soto used his Spanish-speaking ability to comfort the woman.

What could have been a tragedy resulted in a positive example of courage and human kindness. The players also said they want to establish a GoFundMe Account to help the driver who lost her only vehicle.

Another "Thumbs-up" goes out to everyone involved in the project of remodeling the monument that memorializes fallen law officers. The monument improvements will be unveiled at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

The monument is located beside the Garland County Sheriff's Office at 525 Ouachita Ave., and the program will feature a history of the memorial by Sheriff Mike McCormick and a guest address by District 7 Justice of the Peace Dayton Myers. Hot Springs Police Chief Billy Hrvatin will serve as master of ceremonies.

Kudos to retired Hot Springs Police Sgt. Kenny Kizer, his friends, David Orrell, with Dave Orrell Masonry, and Bao Nguyen, with Stone World Design, along with Gary Bennett, with Bennett Brothers Construction, and Trilakes Ornamental Iron Works, and the many other generous supporters and donors.

By the same token, we send a "Thumbs-up" to the Hot Springs Junior Academy JAG team for winning first place in the Project-Based Learning and Business Plan middle school competitions.

Held April 20-22 at the National Career Development Conference in Orlando, Fla., the competitions are part of JOBS for America's Graduates or JAG, a state-based national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young people achieve economic and academic success.

Congratulations to HSJA JAG specialist Stephanie Goodman and her eighth-grade team members: Kalleigh Alexander, Savannah Tankersley, Jamyallah Turner, Isabella Ibarra-reyes, Sapharie Evans, Mercy Danner, and Luccas Sanders.

Speaking of education, here is a "Thumbs-up" to Patrycja Krakowiak and Tracy Watson of the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts for being named two of seven state finalists for the 2023 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

The finalists were chosen by a national committee of scientists, mathematicians and educators who recognize "outstanding teachers who have demonstrated a commitment to professional development, innovative teaching techniques, and technology in their classroom."

Krakowiak, a state finalist in the 2021 science category, is a life science instructor and Watson is a mathematics instructor.

As we all know, dedicated teachers make a critical difference in their students' lives.

Meanwhile, on the performing arts side of the learning spectrum, we award a "Thumbs-up" to the Hot Springs Dance Troupe which once again showed its spirit and precision on the final night of the Arts & The Park festival at The Pocket Theatre.

Along with international musicians of the IBLA Foundation which organizes annual international competitions for various musicians in Ragusa, Italy, the dance group's outstanding presentations elicited numerous "Bravos" from appreciative audience members.

Founded by Amy Bramlett Turner in November 2015, the Hot Springs Dance Troupe represents the Hot Springs School District and excels in ballet, modern, and interpretive dancing.

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 verification and contact purposes. This information is kept confidential.

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