Tagged: Crossville Tenn.

Feral cat trap-neuter-release programs increase shelter space and decrease killing of healthy animals

Nathan Winograd, founder of the No Kill Advocacy Center based in Oakland, Calif., established an 11-point “No Kill Equation” plan to guide municipal shelters into becoming no-kill facilities.

His first strategy is the organization of Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) programs for feral cats.

Alley Cat Allies of Bethesda, Md., explained that TNR programs involve safely trapping feral cats and taking them to veterinarians who will neuter and vaccinate them. Once the animals have recovered from surgery, “the cats are returned to their home – their colony – outdoors. Kittens and cats who are friendly and socialized to people may be adopted into homes.”

Whether feral cats are born in the wild or run away from domestic environments, no kill advocates support the cats’ right to live – just as they would support the live-and-let-live response most people have to raccoons, squirrels, birds and the like.

As more communities recognize the benefits of the TNR strategy, local governments are legislating these programs to ensure that shelters provide feral cats with an alternative to being killed when captured by animal control.

No Kill 101,” published by the No Kill Advocacy Center, says, “The decision to end an animal’s life is extremely serious, and should always be treated as such. No matter how many animals a shelter kills, each and every animal is an individual, and each deserves individual consideration.”

Feral cats know how to survive in the wild, so animal lovers do not need to worry about their survival. Returning spayed and neutered feral cats to their chosen habitats will reduce the number of animals euthanized in shelters because they are not breeding. Additionally, rescue groups typically foster these cats during their recovery and take care of the medical costs related to surgery and vaccinations.

While cats are under anesthesia, veterinarians clip off a quarter inch of the cats’ left ears to show that they have been neutered and vaccinated. This universal symbol allows treated cats to be left alone.

While Winograd strongly advocates for TNR programs, he also believes that that people should choose to spay and neuter their pets based on actual statics – not exaggerated ones. He contends that the main reasons to neuter dogs and cats are to reduce the number of animals that enter shelters and to stop needlessly killing healthy, adoptable animals.

Best Friend Animal Society in Kanab, Utah established itself as a no-kill facility in 1984. Best Friends is the “largest no-kill sanctuary” in the U.S. and has been a “flagship for the no-kill movement” for 30 years.

Along with PetsMart Charities, Best Friends started Community Cat Projects in two large cites in the west. Statistics in 2014 show a decrease of cats entering the shelters by 21 percent and a decrease of euthanasia by 84 percent from the shelters’ 2011 numbers.

PetsMart Charities also supports the TNR method for free roaming cats and has published steps to start grassroots programs and provided resources to help growing programs.


The Blount County Humane Society in Maryville, Tenn., – with the help of the Maryville Animal Shelter – currently has a barn cat program in which spayed and neutered cats are placed on farms where they can roam freely and provide property owners with rodent control.

A Time 4 Paws in Crossville, Tenn. is also working on developing this program for Cumberland County.

For more information about how to help with these programs, contact A Time 4 Paws at 931-456-6906 or the Blount County Humane Society at 865-382-7652.

Children improve critical thinking skills in Crossville chess competition

The Cumberland County Chess Club hosted its 43rd annual Cumberland County Chess Championship on Saturday, December 12, at the community complex on Livingston Road in Crossville, Tenn.

The five-rounds of competition were open to residents of and people who work in Cumberland County, including people under the age of 18. Harry Sabine, the secretary/treasurer of the CCCC, said, “We have opted to not require [a U.S. Chess Federation membership] at this tournament because we’d like every human in the county to play. …”

Sabine, who is also one of the founders of the club and a national tournament director for the USCF, said that he believes children benefit from learning chess. He said, “I would maintain – as many players would – that chess is good for kids. It teaches them to think. As far as I’m concerned, it definitely helps in their studies and everything else.

“If you are into mind games at all, it’s the classic. In an hour, you can learn how the pieces move, but then, for a lifetime, you won’t necessarily learn how to play well. I mean there’s no limit to what you can learn.”

The club has had many young members in its 43-year history. Sabine said, “We’ve had kids even pre-kindergarten that play. … The age of the player has nothing to do with how good they are. We had a third grader that was ranked consistently in the top five in the United States in his age group, and he could play adults.”

Wendi Fischer wrote an article for the Johns Hopkins University School of Education in which she identified several skills children improve when they play chess:

  • Thinking strategically
  • Weighing options before making decisions
  • Anticipating consequences
  • Developing self-confidence
  • Increasing academic performance

Kathy Obenberger volunteered to enter data into the computer for the tournament while her son competed. When her children became interested in chess three years ago, she began leading the Crossville Home School Chess Club.

Obenberger said, “I think it encourages people to take their time and think which is something that doesn’t happen much in our society anymore – texting, saying things and regretting having said them. With chess you have to think about it. … And if you make a mistake in life, it’s not the end of the world. Life goes on, and you just have to do your best to recover from it and not just give up. That’s my goal for them learning from chess – in addition to it’s a fun game.”

The top 10 players and winners in seven categories received plaques, and all other participants received medals. Two of the special category winners were high school students. This year’s top player, Bill Hall, received a plaque at the 5:30 p.m. awards ceremony and will have his name engraved on a plaque that hangs in the lobby of the Cumberland County Bank.

The CCCC meets for general play every Thursday at 7 p.m., at Dairy Queen at 760 North Main St. in the Woodmere Mall shopping center.

For more information about membership and local competitions, visit www.CumberlandCountyChess.org.

Ranger leads project for new aviary at Cumberland Mountain State Park

Park Ranger Monica Johnson lives and works at Cumberland Mountain State Park in Crossville, Tenn. In addition to maintaining the trails and protecting natural and cultural resources on site, she is responsible for programing and community events. For the past two years, she has been planning for an aviary to support the native Tennessee birds of prey that she has for her park programs.

Johnson is an East Tennessee representative of the Tennessee Park Rangers Association.

Those who wish to contribute to the aviary may contact Ranger Johnson at 931-484-6138 or monica.johnson@tn.gov. Checks may be written to Friends of Cumberland Mountain State Park and sent to Cumberland Mountain State Park, Attn: Bird of Prey Program, 24 Office Dr., Crossville, TN 38555.

On Nov. 8, Park Ranger Monica Johnson uses a nail gun to install dividing walls to the birds of prey aviary at Cumberland Mountain State Park. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)
On Nov. 8, Park Ranger Monica Johnson uses a nail gun to install dividing walls to the birds of prey aviary at Cumberland Mountain State Park. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)
Red-tailed hawk Henson waits in temporary housing until he makes his home in the new aviary constructed behind the camp store at Cumberland Mountain State Park. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)
Red-tailed hawk Henson waits in temporary housing until he makes his home in the new aviary constructed behind the camp store at Cumberland Mountain State Park. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)
Members of Boy Scout trip 3076 help build and stack aviary doors on Nov. 8, at Cumberland Mountain State Park. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)
Members of Boy Scout trip 3076 help build and stack aviary doors on Nov. 8, at Cumberland Mountain State Park. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)
Boy Scout troop leader Chris Garner measures for doors to the aviary enclosures on Nov. 8, at Cumberland Mountain State Park.
Boy Scout troop leader Chris Garner measures for doors to the aviary enclosures on Nov. 8, at Cumberland Mountain State Park. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)

Stone Memorial High School band works and plays hard

CROSSVILLE, TENN. (Oct. 30, 2014) Stone Memorial High School band members practice their finale of "Wake Me Up" for the last 2014 football game. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)
Stone Memorial High School band members practice their “Wake Me Up” finale after school in Crossville, Tenn., on Oct. 30, 2014. The band performed at the last regular-season football game at Rhea County High School in Evensville, Tenn., on Oct. 31. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)

Stone Memorial High School, located in Crossville, Tenn., touts an award-winning marching band made up of 36 musicians and 14 color guard members. Members performed at all home and away football games and two competitions during the 2014 season.

Sophomore Holli Wetzlich said, “I view the band as a family because we’ve been together for so long. We practice almost every day for two hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays. Then we have football games on Fridays and competitions on Saturdays. Blending and cooperating brings us closer together.”

Under the direction of Josh Squire, Stone Memorial High School band started practicing its show at band camp during the last two weeks of July and finished its season at the football game at Rhea County High School near Dayton, Tenn., on Oct. 31. The band performed “Thnks fr th Mmrs” by Fall Out Boy, “Creep” by Radiohead and “Wake Me Up” by Avicci.

Percussionist Breanna Miller plays marimba as the Stone Memorial High School color guard and other band members run through their show finale during practice on Oct. 30, in Crossville, Tenn. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)
Percussionist Breanna Miller plays marimba as the Stone Memorial High School color guard and other band members run through their show finale during practice on Oct. 30, in Crossville, Tenn. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)
CROSSVILLE, TENN. (Oct. 30, 2014) Sarah England plays for the climax of the "Wake Me Up" finale. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)
Trumpet player Sarah England plays for the climax of the “Wake Me Up” finale during band practice on Oct. 30, in Crossville, Tenn. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)

The band also hosted its fifth annual Stone Memorial Invitational marching band competition on Oct. 11.

With nine years of experience as a band director, Squire is in his first year at Stone Memorial High School. Wetzlich said, “He definitely pushes us. He has an equal balance between praise and correction. He’s hard enough where he gets the job done but in a positive fashion.

“His way got us first place in every category [of competition],” said Wetzlich.

CROSSVILLE, TENN. (Oct. 30, 2014) John Farley, Trevor Noll, Allen Bowles, Charlie Lewis and Corey Garrison keep the band in rhythm during the finale.
Drummers John Farley, Trevor Noll, Allen Bowles, Charlie Lewis and Corey Garrison keep the band in rhythm during band practice on Oct. 30, in Crossville, Tenn. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)
CROSSVILLE, TENN. (Oct. 30, 2014) Elisha Jackson congratulates Ely Wortham on a successful practice and for his last band practice as a Stone Memorial High School band member.
Sophomore Elisha Jackson congratulates senior Ely Wortham on a successful practice and for his last band practice as a Stone Memorial High School band member on Oct. 30, in Crossville, Tenn. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)

Step back in time to the Cumberland Homesteads Historic District

As a monument of local and national history, the Cumberland Homesteads historic district sits five minutes south of the Cumberland County courthouse on US-127.

The volunteers of the Cumberland Homesteads Tower Association have taken responsibility to preserve the physical and historical remnants of the original homesteaders in this Tennessee community developed under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program of the 1930s. Visitors can see photos, documents and artifacts of the 1930s and 1940s in the tower and house museums.

This video shows photos of the Cumberland Homesteads project archived by the Library of Congress. (Video by D. Krahulek / Full Sail University)

Doyle and Emma Vaden moved from Knoxville back to Cumberland County in 1984 to open the museums. They founded the CHTA, which oversees the preservation of the buildings and historical documents and artifacts. Emma said, “We have to save our history.”

Doyle’s and Emma’s families were two of the first 25 families chosen to build in the Cumberland Homesteads community. Struggling under economic conditions of the Depression, more than 2,000 families applied to be a part of the Cumberland Homesteads. The government interviewed all applicants to make sure it chose only hard-working and cooperative adults of excellent character.

Emma Vaden was only one year old when her parents moved to this new cooperative community just south of Crossville, Tenn. “We moved into a barn,” she said. “They lived in barns first because the barns were the first structures that they built: the barns and the chicken houses and toilets. … Mom and Dad … chose their [home] site early, and their barn was among the first ones built.”

Vaden said, “My mom and dad moved in a pick-up truck that the back of the pick up was no bigger than the top of this table, and they stopped in Crossville … and bought a kitchen stove which they didn’t own.”

In January 1984, Vaden compiled photos of the Cumberland Homesteads community into a book that includes pen-and-ink illustrations by her husband. Her book ‘Looking Back: Cumberland Homesteads Golden Anniversary Album,’ is out of print but available to review in the archives of the Art Circle Public Library in Crossville.

When visiting this historic district, visitors may climbs the 97 winding steps to the top of the water tower for a view of many of the 250 original homes. CHTA also maintains exhibits of period items and a gift shop in the tower museum. Those who plan to continue their tour to the house museum must drive through Cumberland National State Park, which was designated a “recreational area” for the residents of the Homesteads project.

Many of the furnishings on display came from original homesteader families including several pieces of furniture including beds, chairs and mattresses that were made on the Homesteads.

ACHTA members use the house museum to create a snapshot of how homesteaders of the 1930s and 1940s would have lived. Most of the displayed items belonged to families of homesteaders.

Each year the CHTA sponsors the Homesteads Apple Festival, which occurs in late September, and a Christmas tour of traditional decorated Homesteads houses in December.

Volunteers open the tower museum every day, with the exception of major holidays. From Monday to Saturday, visitors may explore the tower museum, grounds and state park facilities from 10 a.m-5 p.m. On Sundays, visitors may see the exhibits from 1-5 p.m. From April to October, the house museum is open from Monday to Saturday. Admission for adults is $4 and for children ages 6-12 is $1. Annual memberships are also available.

Crossville group sponsors 3rd annual Cumberland Hispanic Festival

To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15), Crossville Para
una Acción Solidaria
(CPAS) is hosting its third annual Cumberland Hispanic Festival at the Cumberland County Playhouse on Oct. 18, from 12-9 p.m. Admission to the festival is free.

Local Latinos and school groups will share information about Spanish-speaking countries at culture booths, and festival organizers have planned several activities specifically for children. At the information table, visitors may purchase a passport for children to take to each culture booth.

(Photo by D. Krahulek / Full Sail University)
(Photo by D. Krahulek / Full Sail University)

Musical performers Luna Morena, Trote Norteno, Revolfusion, and Mariachi Viva México will travel from Nashville. Dancers from Pasión Flamenca in Knoxville will demonstrate a traditional dance from Spain called flamenco. Swingbooty, also from Knoxville, will present its genre of gypsy swing.

“We also have many local Hispanics setting up vendor booths with authentic cuisine from their home countries and traditional and non-traditional arts and crafts,” said Alysa Medina, lead organizer and a founder of the Cumberland Hispanic Festival.

Costumed Chinelos dancers from Manchester, Tenn. will perform their traditional dance from the state of Morelos, Mexico. Local children and adults will perform folklórico dances from Mexico. Volunteers Lecherisha Uribe and Mariana Zubieta Pérez started teaching local children how to do the traditional dances before the 2012 festival. Uribe said, “There is a lot of hours that go into it – from the lady making the dresses to picking up the kids for practice. It’s very time consuming. But we have an awesome group of different ages, and they’ve come a long way.”

Cumberland Hispanic Festival logo
Cumberland Hispanic Festival logo

Medina, who is the East Tennessee organizer of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, said, “Three years ago, the members of CPAS decided to host a small festival celebrating diversity and Hispanic tradition during the month of Hispanic Heritage.”

Medina said, “[CPAS] has been working to inform others of their rights under Tennessee law, advocate for better policies that affect immigrant communities (locally, statewide and nationwide) and create a more welcoming community where immigrants are recognized as positive contributors to their communities.

“It is from this last goal,” Medina said, “of . . . creating a more welcoming community that the Hispanic Festival was born.”

“As for the different groups of Hispanics that have made Cumberland County their home,” Medina said, “there are immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Spain, El Salvador, Venezuela, and Ecuador. I’m sure that I am missing some countries, but this is what I can come up with off the top of my head.”

Researchers with the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research reported that Tennessee is third in growth rate of Hispanic residents nationwide. People of Hispanic descent live in every Tennessee county; however, the highest concentrations of Latinos are in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga and their surrounding towns.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics living in Cumberland County number 2.7 percent (about 1,500). Of the 6.5 million people who live in Tennessee, 4.9 percent (325,000) are Hispanic. Hispanic Americans make up the largest minority group in the U.S. The bureau now recognizes people of Hispanic origin as an ethnic group rather than as a race since “people who identify their origin as Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino may be of any race.”

(Photo by D. Krahulek / Full Sail University)
(Photo by D. Krahulek / Full Sail University)
(Photo by D. Krahulek / Full Sail University)
(Photo by D. Krahulek / Full Sail University)

Since Cumberland County is located along the dividing line between East and Middle Tennessee, this festival draws visitors and performers from both regions.

“The [2011] festival was simple,” Medina said, “and was a grassroots effort, as many members of the Hispanic community chipped in to make the day successful.

“[In 2012,] CPAS was approached by the production director of the playhouse, Jim Crabtree, about the possibility of the Playhouse hosting the Cumberland Hispanic Festival for 2013. We were glad to enter into this partnership, as the playhouse has been a leader in our community for years in promoting diversity in Cumberland County.”

While President Lyndon Johnson established a Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, President Ronald Reagan established Public Law 100-402 in 1988, to change this observation to a full month. This month-long celebration of Hispanic Americans’ contributions to the U.S. begins on Sept. 15, which is Independence Day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The month also incorporates the Independence Days for Mexico (Sept. 16) and Chile (Sept. 18) and Columbus Day (Oct. 12), or Día de la Raza as it is called in Spanish-speaking countries.

Webster brings passion to her role as Mama Rose in ‘Gypsy’

Cumberland County Playhouse in Crossville has been nicknamed "Tennessee's Family Theater." (Photo by Diahan Krahulek)
The Cumberland County Playhouse was nicknamed “Tennessee’s Family Theater.” (Photo by D. Krahulek)

Company member and education director of Cumberland County Playhouse takes on role of lifetime in iconic musical

A 35-member ensemble cast from the Cumberland County Playhouse in Crossville, Tennessee, performed “Gypsy” on Aug. 29, at 7:30 p.m.

Etchison, Webster and Ross play leading rolls in 'Gypsy.' (Photo used by permission of CCP)
Etchison, Webster and Ross play leading roles in ‘Gypsy.’ (Photo used by permission of CCP)

Since July 18, Weslie Webster has played the main character of Mama Rose, a show business mother willing to do anything to make stars out of her daughters. DeAnna Etchison is Rose’s shy daughter Louise who, in a desperate moment to provide for her family and win her mother’s approval, takes a job as a burlesque dancer. In time, Louise becomes the famous Gypsy Rose Lee. Jason Ross plays Herbie, a former agent who Rose talks into managing her daughters’ act and who falls in love with Rose.

“[Being in the play] has been rewarding,” Webster said. “It’s the best musical. Lots of people say this is the best musical ever written just because the story is amazing. It’s real. It’s gritty. … It’s one of the biggest roles I’ve ever done.”

Clive Barnes, a theater and dance critic for “The New York Times” is often quoted from his review of the 1974 ‘Gypsy’ revival in promotional materials for theaters across the country: “‘Gypsy’ is one of the best of musicals and it improves with keeping.” He also called it “a musical to think about, ponder and love.”

Barnes also wrote, “Everything about ‘Gypsy’ is right. The Jule Styne score has a lilt and a surprise to it. The music bounces out of the pit, assertive, confident and cocky, and has a love affair with Stephen Sondheim’s elegantly paced, daringly phrased lyrics. And then there is the book by Arthur Laurents.”

Weslie Webster is costumed for her first entrance. (Photo by D. Krahulek)

“Lots of songs. A lot of monologues,” Webster said. “You just don’t find that in modern mainstream musicals very often. It’s different. The structure’s different. It’s rewarding, and it’s stressful and it’s amazing. I’m proud that we got to do it here.”

In a video interview posted on the playhouse’s Facebook page, Webster said that, regardless of how each “iconic” actress has portrayed Rose, they all have the common element of passion for the character. She also talked about the enthusiasm of the rest of the cast and how supportive they have been to her throughout this project.

Weslie Webster interviewed about ‘Gypsy’ (Aug. 13, 2014)

Webster said that her parents drove from North Carolina in August to see her perform this role. She added, “After I bowed I asked the audience to bear with me a second because my mommy was in the audience and because [the play] is about mother-daughter relationships. I wanted to thank my parents for allowing me to do this and always being supportive. It was special.”

Sally English, a member of the playhouse board, volunteered as an usher at this performance. She said, “Every year, I think they can’t top what they’ve done before, and then they do it again. Everything here is so good—so good.”

The play included many well-known songs: “Let Me Entertain You,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Together Wherever We Go” and “Rose’s Turn.”

From start to finish, the audience responded enthusiastically to ‘Gypsy’ with open laughter, groans of shock at Rose’s behavior and, finally, a standing ovation for Webster, Etchison and Ross during the curtain call.

'Gypsy' audience gathers in lobby for pre-show entertainment.
‘Gypsy’ audience gathers in lobby for pre-show entertainment. (Photo by D. Krahulek)

The last performances for “Gypsy” are on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 2:30 p.m. and on Friday, Sept. 5, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets may be ordered on the Cumberland County Playhouse website, or by calling the box office at 931-484-5000.

McDaniel elected state president of high school leadership group

Cumberland County High School senior Britney McDaniel will lead Tennessee’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America in outreach program development

At the state conference for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (“FCCLA”) in May 2014, members elected Britney McDaniel, a 17-year-old senior at Cumberland County High School (“CHS”) in Crossville, Tennessee. as their state president for the 2014-15 school year.

Photo by Connie Lawrence
Photo by Connie Lawrence

Along with her school adviser Rachel Shoemaker, McDaniel will serve on the state executive council with five other state officers and their advisers. They have developed goals for high school and elementary school programs throughout Tennessee. McDaniel said, “We have a membership campaign we’re working on. We’re also trying to push social media because what teenager doesn’t have social media. It goes with our membership campaign, but also, in itself, we want to make sure we’re pushing social media with FCCLA out there.” McDaniel maintains the state Twitter account.

McDaniel and the state officers will also focus on involving members in every aspect of the organization’s name. They are encouraging chapters to develop programs that encourage members to be leaders in their families and in their local communities and develop leadership skills for their future careers.

Shoemaker, who teaches Family and Consumer Science classes at CCHS, said that McDaniel has handled herself well in her new position. She said, “She reminds others, when they try to set her apart from themselves, that she’s ‘just a regular girl’.

“Britney is a very mature young lady,” said Shoemaker. “She made up her own mind about resigning from cheerleading during her senior year after years of doing it in order to focus on her job as FCCLA state president.”

McDaniel said, “The week we were at state was the week of cheer tryouts back home, so … I called my coaches and told them, ‘I wasn’t expecting to get the position that I got, but now that I’m the president of Tennessee, I feel that my focus needs to be on Tennessee FCCLA — making sure I’m doing everything I can to make our program successful.’ And I knew FCCLA would take me farther in my career goals because I wasn’t planning on cheering in college. I just knew that I needed to run with FCCLA.”

When McDaniel called her mother Tammy McDaniel on the night her win was announced at the state conference, Mrs. McDaniel said that she was as stunned as her daughter, but said, “Of course, I am real proud of her.”

A personal goal that McDaniel has set for herself is to speak directly with as many Tennessee members as possible. She said, “These people are looking up to me as their president, but I don’t want to be put on such a pedestal that they’re afraid to talk with me. I think that if I can just mingle with the members and tell them ‘Hey, I’m just a normal teenager just like you, and I’m here to do a job’ that we can still have conversations.”

Photo by Hope Tenpenny
Photo by Hope Tenpenny

Additionally, McDaniel competed on the national level in the job interview STAR event (Students Taking Action with Recognition) for which she received a gold medal. Since second grade, she has known that she wants to be a teacher, so she used this project to research her future career. She said, “You have to find out all the specific job requirements of that job like hours, wages, etc. for my portfolio. … I think [the judges] have 10 minutes before you go in for the interview. They look through it and ask you questions based off of what’s in there … and some of them ask questions like ‘Why are you more qualified than all the other applicants?’ and ‘What skills do you have for this job?’”

She has been competing in STAR events since she was a high school freshman. She said, “When I knew that … when I got past district [competitions] to go to state and meet all kinds of people, I was just so excited because I just love meeting new people, talking to people, making new friendships. That was something that really drove me to work hard.”

Her local FCCLA chapter at CCHS actively plans for community outreach. McDaniel said that one of her favorite projects for class has been making sock monkeys for patients at the local hospital emergency room. She also expressed excitement about a project called “Little Free Library” that her local chapter has planned for this school year. She said, “Mrs. Shoemaker actually found it on Pinterest. You get these cabinets from Lowe’s—like an unfinished cabinet. You put a glass door on it, and put books inside it. And then you place it somewhere like [Centennial Park] or a little neighborhood. So it’s a little library for the kids in that neighborhood to come and get a book…. We want to find some communities where kids don’t get a chance to go to the library much.”

When speaking to potential members, McDaniel likes to tell them about their FCCLA trips, the people they will meet and their community outreach programs and the value of listing this leadership organization on their college applications. She said, “We try to encourage them with how much fun it’s going to be, but it’s not just for fun. We’re also learning leadership skills. … We’re learning how to be strong leaders in our community with community service.”


Welcome to and thank you for visiting my website! I am the proud aunt of two nieces and two nephews (two per sister) who bring high energy to everything they do. As a kid at heart, I enjoy finding unusual, inexpensive educational experiences for them when they are in town. I especially like to plan for activities that involve animals and outdoor activities. As someone passionate about writing and learning, I will be sharing stories about special events that help children of all ages learn.

In bad times and in good, I’ve never lost my sense of zest for life.”                                                                           -Walt Disney

In the spirit of never losing one’s “zest for life” (i.e., child-like wonder) I will be publishing announcements and follow-up reports on children-focused events in the Crossville, Tenn. area and the Upper Cumberland region. Feel free to contact me with suggestions.