Thursday, September 30, 2010

Langston Reunion Pictures

Here's a selection of Langston Reunion Pictures from HIS PRODUCTION 2 Photography.
The Langston Reunion was held over the Fourth of July Weekend in Johnson City.

Please click here to see a slideshow of the Langston Reunion.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sullivan Central community gives thanks


‘Night of Praise and Thanks’ celebrates the school’s life and spirit emerging from the recent gunman incident and the death of a student.


BLOUNTVILLE — Death came twice to Sullivan Central High School in one week, on a Monday to an armed intruder, and on the following Friday to a senior fighting cancer.
But Principal Melanie Riden says the school is alive and stronger — and its students more spiritual — than anytime in her more than three years there.

David Grace —
Kim Kirk, Keith Gibson and Gee Gee White are shown with School Resource Officer Carolyn Gudger at Central on Friday during a program honoring Gudger.

More than 250 people came together Friday night for “A Night of Praise and Thanks” at Northeast State Community College.
The hourlong occasion centered around the two traumatic events that have affected the school.
One was the death of 62-year-old gunman, Thomas Richard Cowan, a Kingsport resident who entered the school building the morning of Aug. 30, refused to put down his loaded pistol and eventually was shot by officers.
The second was the Sept. 3 death of Bradley Michael Brock, 18, who had been battling bone cancer. Students gathered around the flag pole at the school frequently to pray for Brock, including the Friday before the gunman shooting, and they held a prayer vigil after that night’s football game.
“I’m very humbled. I know the last three years at Central it seems like every year’s a huge challenge,” Riden said after getting an award before students, parents, school employees and others gathered for the thanksgiving event at the college’s Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts.
“I probably haven’t lived up to your expectations. But I love these students,” Riden said, adding that she has a special bond with the class of 2011.
“They’re the first freshman group that came through, so they are truly mine,” Riden said. “We fuss and I’m like their mother sometimes and we yell, but I always tell them I love them.”
Riden also said she “loves the Lord” and is a Christian.
“I’m not allowed to speak about the Lord in school. I don’t have have to. The kids do it,” Riden said.
“I know I made a lot of changes and haven’t always made you happy,” Riden said, adding that she, her fiancĂ© and others prayed throughout the summer the “prayer of Jabez” in I Chronicles 4:12 that she said went something like: “God bless me, indeed, and expand my territory. May your hand be over me, protect me from evil and prevent me from harming others.”
On the Monday of the shooting, Riden said many more students and others were praying during the lockdown of the school. Cowan was lured down a hall by School Resource Officer Carolyn Gudger and then shot by Gudger, Lt. Steve Williams and Officer Sam Matney.
Gudger went back to work this Tuesday, and Sheriff Wayne Anderson said the other two were back in uniform officially for the first time Friday night.
“The tides of losing and giving in to circumstances are over at Sullivan Central,” student Justin Calhoun wrote in the program for the event. “In its place have risen attitudes of success, desired achievement and expected victory. It’s great to be a Cougar.”
Many in the crowd wore “The Gudge” T-shirts, designed by a graphics arts class at Central and sold to raise money for a graphics arts club. The back of the shirts reads, “She’s got our back.”
Gudger and Riden each got two standing ovations from the crowd.
“We all know our real hero, our God,” Gudger said. “He got us to it, he took us through it.”
The gunman pointed his pistol at Riden before Gudger came between the two and also pointed it at Gudger and the other two officers.
Director of Schools Jubal Yennie has lauded Riden and her staff for getting the school in lockdown quickly, as well as the work of law enforcement. SROs are in all four county high schools, but Yennie and Anderson said they plan to work toward getting SROs in the county middle schools as well.
“You could write a book on how you reacted,” Anderson told Riden and her staff and faculty. “This is really, really teamwork at its best.”
After the event, Anderson said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has not concluded its probe of the shooting and that multiple theories exist about Cowan’s motive.
More than a decade ago, the incident would likely have been handled by a SWAT team, but Anderson during the event said protocol now is for the first on the scene to take care of the situation, with school personnel instructed to “slow them down” until officers arrive. He also lauded students for staying put in the lockdown and not panicking.
“Your lives were in danger, but you did what you were supposed to do,” Anderson said.
Riden said sheriff’s office personnel are always welcome at Central for drills, and Anderson said his department plans to use the Central response as a model and for training at other schools.
Award plaques were presented to Matney, Williams, Gudger, the faculty and staff, Riden and the student body, accepted by Hunter Stephens, senior class president and leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Central.
As for Brock, event spokesman and moderator Alan Novak said the youth left a lasting impact on his peers.
“Bradley wanted to be a youth minister, and he was and is,” Novak said.
Also during the event, five students presented winning essays on what a hero is to them.
To Holly Nelms, a 14-year-old freshman, a hero has changed from a comic book or TV persona to the three officers who shot the gunman.
Taylor Campbell, a 14-year-old sophomore, said a hero to her was Brock, someone she never personally met or knew but was her brother in Christ.
“My brother meant everything to me,” she said of Brock, who she said kept fighting cancer even with a grim prognosis, outliving doctors’ predictions.
“He has seen the light, held hands with Jesus and sat with God,” she said. “I love my brother, but it must let him sleep.”
Tyler McClain, a 14-year-old freshman said his definition of a hero has evolved.
“Heroes live around us and among us,” McClain said, adding that they are “the kind of people you can trust and trust to be there when you need them.”
“I leave you with a question. Will you be a hero?”
And Savannah Benton, a 16-year-old junior, said a hero is someone who is courageous, takes responsibility for his or her actions, is selfless and leads.
“No one looks at a faculty and says, ‘Oh, I’m sure they would be good during a code red,’ ” Benton said. “When you look at her (Gudger), you see a hero.”
Novak said Brock’s fight with cancer and the way the gunman incident was handled are prime examples of heroes.
“Ordinary people are the ones that make this world a better place,” Novak said. “There are occasions where ordinary people do extraordinary things.”