History has a tendency to repeat itself.
More than 50 years ago, a group of community members met to dedicate a new school on Lee Street in Brunswick. A similar event took place on Thursday.
Burroughs-Molette Elementary School hosted a dedication ceremony Thursday in the new facility, which staff and students moved into in February.
“Fifty-four years ago, on a day much like this here at this original site, the superintendent, board members, staff members and parents assembled to dedicate a building in this African American neighborhood during the civil rights era to educate African American children,” said Morris Arrington, a longtime educator who gave the ceremony’s keynote address.
The building opened then as two schools — Viola Burroughs Elementary and Sarah Molette Junior High.
“The school was named in the honor of two remarkable, dedicated educators who were highly revered by this community and this school district,” Arrington said.
The ceremony Thursday was followed by an open house event that allowed community members to tour the state-of-the-art facility.
During the ceremony, portraits of Viola Burroughs and Sarah Molette were re-unveiled, and students and community members performed.
“What a monumental moment for Glynn County and a welcome reminder of the vital role these two extraordinary African American women played in developing progress in one of our most treasured schools,” said Virgil Cole, superintendent of Glynn County Schools. “I hope this new school will be a source of pride and hope for this community for many years.”
The school has gone through many transitions since its opening, Arrington said. It served for a short time as the county’s seventh-grade center before becoming an elementary school and adding FACES and Leaps and Bounds preschool programs.
“Regardless of the various transitions, this school is still standing,” Arrington said. “It is a testament to the spirit of perseverance.”
Burroughs-Molette Elementary has helped launch many community leaders who’ve made a lasting impact on the Golden Isles, just like the women for whom the school is named, Arrington said.
“Whether serving African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, one thing has always remained the same about Burroughs-Molette,” he said. “The students were always embraced by a caring, nurturing, loving staff that will always go beyond the call of duty.”
Throughout the many chapters of the school’s history, Arrington said, Burroughs-Molette Elementary has consistently been a place that loves its students.
“Here at this site, whether it was 1965 or 2019, the students who walk the halls of Burroughs-Molette have been nurtured, mentored, nourished, counseled, disciplined, inspired, educated and most of all loved by this staff.”
The new facility serves as a testament, he said, to the community’s continued support for these students.
“You can tell about a community, its people and its character, by where they build schools and the type of schools that they build,” he said.
The re-dedication ceremony turned the page on the next chapter in the school’s history, Arrington said.
“Let this new school forever serve as a beacon of hope for years to come,” he said.
St. Simons Land Trust members and German Village residents were disappointed Thursday when too few Glynn County Board of Appeals members attended a meeting to render a decision on the residents’ appeal of the land trust’s Guale Preserve construction plans.
County Community Development Director Pamela Thompson signed off on construction plans for 15 parking spaces, one of which would be paved, near a boat ramp at the end of Village Drive. The boat ramp is part of a 258-acre tract of land the St. Simons Land Trust plans to develop into a “low-impact” park.
German Village residents appealed the decision, as the only public access to the boat ramp would be through the neighborhood’s main road.
Members and supporters of both groups packed the meeting chamber on the second floor of the Old Glynn County Courthouse Thursday morning in the hopes that they would be able to sway the board during a planned public hearing.
Only the meeting didn’t even start. Chairman Walter Rafolski and Eugene Williams were the only members present and able to vote on the construction plans. The board requires at least three votes to take any official action.
Philip Viviani was present but recused himself due to his land trust membership. The other two members, Paul Fisher and Betty Keller, did not show. Keller has been on an extended leave of absence, Viviani said, and Rafolski failed to contact Fisher about the meeting.
“We will have to postpone this to next month, I am sorry,” Rafolski said. “I called him last night, it’s not like we haven’t tried to get ahold of him.”
County staff members were able to contact him after the meeting was supposed to start, Rafolski explained, but Fisher informed them he would not be able to attend.
Rafolski then told the crowd there wasn’t much point in opening the meeting, as the board wouldn’t be able to vote on the one item on the agenda because it lacked a quorum.
“I’ve never had this happen, and I’ve been here quite a while,” he told the audience.
County resident Julian Smith then spoke up, suggesting the appointment of alternate voting members to stand in for no-shows.
“You’ll have to ask the (Glynn) County Commission why we don’t have alternates,” Rafolski said.
Glynn County Planning Manager Stefanie Leif said the planning and zoning division will have to publish a new public hearing notice for the board of appeals’ next meeting on May 9.
“I’m just disappointed we could not have it resolved this morning. We crossed every ‘t,’ dotted every ‘i,’ and expect it to be approved,” land trust Executive Director David Pope said after the meeting.
However, German Village residents feel they have a good case against the land trust.
The St. Simons Land Trust used a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and private donations to purchase 258 acres of what’s commonly known as the Musgrove Plantation from the Brenn Foundation.
In a previous interview with The News, Pope said the land trust planned to put all 258 acres into a conservation easement and use the land only for a “low-impact” park. The only major changes the land trust intended to make were to clear a trail for biking and hiking, construct a storage shed and to renovate an existing boat ramp, along with two clearings for visitors to park just off Lawrence Road and near the boat ramp.
German Village residents took issue with the intended means of access to the boat ramp, however. The land trust planned to route those looking to use the boat ramp down Village Drive, the entryway into German Village.
The land trust gave German Village residents little consideration when making the decision, and few members ever examined the road before settling on using it, said Melinda Bruley White, an attorney with the Ligon Firm representing German Village residents. Pope has denied similar statements in the past.
County Community Development Director Pamela Thompson signed off on construction plans in January for 15 parking spaces near the boat ramp, one of which would be paved to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The appeal will have to wait until the board’s next meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. May 9 on the second floor of the Old Glynn County Courthouse, 701 G St. in Brunswick.
To the victors belong the spoils.
The Knights were finally bestowed with the treasure they earned on a chilly November evening in Macon at a ring ceremony Thursday in the Frederica Academy gymnasium celebrating the program’s first Class 3A football state championship.
Family, classmates, teachers and administrators were among the supporters on hand to cheer the heroes as they received championship rings emblazoned with a green FA in the center.
“I think it’s great for us and our program to start where we were at, and where we’re at now, it’s remarkable,” said head coach Brandon Derrick. “I think it’s a testament to our coaches and our unity of the faculty here and the administration to try to build a program that’s going to be excellent.”
Frederica’s season was one of dominance and redemption coming off a heart-breaking loss in the GISA semifinals the year prior.
The Knights internalized the setback and used the painful memory as motivation to make sure their season would not end the same way.
“We finally succeeded,” said senior Harry Veal. “We should have last year and we just finally went all the way and did it.
“It was just a relief basically.”
The season second game of the season was a 7-6 loss in overtime at home against the same Valwood Valiants that eliminated Frederica from the postseason nine and a half months earlier. The loss dropped the Knights to 0-2 before rattling off six straight wins by an average of 33.5 points per game.
Frederica dropped another overtime game 14-13 at home against John Milledge Academy, but the senior night defeat turned out to be the galvanizing moment for the team’s championship run.
The Knights rallied from the loss to win three straight games by a combined score of 162-58, including a 60-27 beat down of Valwood following a first-round bye, to set up a rematch with John Milledge in the title game at Mercer’s Five Star Stadium.
Revenge-minded Frederica Academy rolled into Macon hungry to finish what it started a season ago and proved it was unquestionably the best team in Class 3A in a 48-0 route of John Milledge that wasn’t even as close as the final score would indicate.
“It’s a moment you’ll remember for the rest of your life,” said senior Cole Hinson.
The Knights lifted the GISA trophy Nov. 30, but more than four months later the accomplishment had still not set in for some players — until Thursday that is.
Senior Ja’Shawn Sheffield was absent from school with an illness the day the championship rings came in, and as a result, he was one of the few players not to get a sneak peak of the hardware as the jewelry went into a safe shortly thereafter.
“We won state, but I’m not going to lie, for a minute, it didn’t feel like it because I didn’t have nothing to show for it,” Sheffield said ahead of the ceremony. “I didn’t sleep at all this week. I’ve just been ready to get my ring, show it off, signing today, I’m just excited. I’m nervous too.”
Senior Jaylin Simpson got a look at the championship rings and the anticipation of receiving a symbol of his team’s achievement has driven him as he finishes out his final few weeks at Frederica Academy.
“That’s all I’ve been coming to school for this week,” Simpson said with a smile.
The Knights’ state title will always be a significant milestone in the lives of the players and coaches, but they were far from the only ones in the St. Simons community impacted by the championship.
Support staff members worked behind the scenes, from athletic director Carl Nash to bus driver DeRay Farmer and everyone in-between, to do what they could for the Knights, and Derrick presented them with commutative watches featuring Frederica’s logo.
“It’s definitely emotional,” said Jeffrey Elliott. “It goes to show what we worked for all year and we’re kind of just wrapping it up at the end.
“It’s a nice farewell to leave on a good note and hopefully some of these younger guys can pick up in the place we left off and go get another ring.”
Glynn Academy graduate Bliss Hutchings, now a freshman cadet at West Point, will compete this weekend in one of the most prestigious competitions at the military academy.
Hutchings was selected to be a member of her company team during the Sandhurst Military Skills Competition on today and tomorrow at the U.S. Military Academy. Sandhurst is a military skills competition that aims to inspire excellence through rigorous physical and mental challenges that reflect combat operations.
“The whole goal of it is to test teams on the military skills that we’ve been preparing for during our time here at West Point,” Hutchings said. “… From endurance to physical fitness as well as marksmanship skills, tactics.”
During basic training, called “Beast” at West Point, Hutchings said school leaders emphasized the importance of the competition. She chose to try out and earned a spot on her company’s team.
“From the beginning, I knew they were a super competitive team and they valued physical fitness and toughness of mind, and coming out of Beast that was something that I really wanted to achieve,” she said.
Hosted by West Point since 1967, the competition encompasses 49 teams representing 13 international military academies, 16 Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs and four U.S. service academies that compete in a rigorous 27-mile course.
“The Sandhurst competition teaches cadets the mental and physical toughness, the relentlessness and the discipline that’s necessary to work as a team to accomplish the mission,” said Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, U.S. Military Academy superintendent, in a press release.
“It also strengthens relationships with our allies and partners to foster multi- national cohesion and interoperability while showcasing the tenacity and grit of future military leaders from across the world.”
To prepare for the competition, Hutchings said her team has practiced nearly every day. Her team has done well in the competition in past years.
“It’s an honor for me to be on the team because it’s something I always tried to work toward, and I always try to be an asset to the team.”
The competition brings attention to the stellar education West Point offers, she said.
“It’s a big part of the leadership development here and showcasing all the military skills and exactly what West Point is trying to instill in all of the cadets here,” she said.