By STEVEN NALLEY
Sports teams arenât the only school programs that have rebuilding years.
Becca Swann, a member of Starkville Academyâs Anchor Club, said several of the clubâs leaders and officers from 2010-2011 were seniors. Once they graduated, she said she expected 2011-2012 to be a rebuilding year, primarily preparing for 2012-2013.
âWe didnât even think about getting (an award) this year,â Swann said. âWe were so excited when we found out.â
Pilot Internationalâs Mississippi District selected Starkville Academyâs Anchor Club as the Anchor Club of the Year out of 23 clubs in the district.
The Anchor Club is a high school division of Pilot International, and Barb Adkins, the SA clubâs faculty advisor, said both Pilot and Anchor clubs specialize in mental health-focused community service. She said the win qualifies the club for the Pilot International Convention in Las Vegas on July 18-22, where it will compete at the international level.
âI was so proud of the club,â Adkins said. âThey deserved it, theyâve worked hard for it and they are a strong community service club.â
Adkins said the clubâs president, Bell Hester, will travel with her to Las Vegas for the convention. Hester said she is excited about the trip and proud to be part of this Anchor Club.
âIt means so much,â Hester said. âThis is my first year to be in Anchor Club, and (I am proud) to be an officer and to be able to compete in something as big as this.â
Adkins said the club has 52 members across grades 9-12, and it competed using scrapbooks showcasing all their projects for the year. Adkins said this is the first time SAâs Anchor Club has won at the district level. She said the win also makes her Anchor Club coordinator for the entire district.
âMy responsibilities are to make sure membership dues are sent to Pilot International ... (and) to train the Anchor officers,â Adkins said. â(I will also be) in charge of the Anchor convention, held in March.â
Adkins said the SA clubâs projects this year include a Mardi Gras party thrown for mental health patients and adopting a family at Christmas time, purchasing items to make the familyâs Christmas better. The club also annually works with Habitat For Humanity in the spring.
She said the Pilot Club also visits the Carrington Nursing Center every Monday to socialize with patients.
âWe bought a Wii set and took it out to play with them to keep their brains mentally alert,â Adkins said. âIâm very good at it, too.â
Swann said she enjoys being involved in any kind of charity or community service, but her reasons for joining the Anchor Club in particular are close to home.
âOne of my cousins has Down syndrome, so going to work with paraplegics was one of my favorite activities,â Swann said. âIt was a great opportunity to reach out to people with special needs and give them that one-on-one time they donât usually get.â
Hester said she loves the reading program and enjoyed playing bingo with the mental health patients at their Mardi Gras party. As well as the Anchor Club has done this year, she said she hopes for next year to be even better.
âI think with our upcoming officers, our clubâs going to get even better than it is now,â Hester said. âWeâve been talking about new projects we want to start. We have more members now than weâve ever had.â
Hester said Adkins was key to the clubâs success.
âMrs. Adkins makes it easy for us,â Hester said. âSheâs not too tough; sheâs a lot of fun. She puts all her effort into (Anchor Club). Sheâs just a very special lady. Weâre privileged to have her.â