By STEVEN NALLEY
Sports teams aren’t the only school programs that have rebuilding years.
Becca Swann, a member of Starkville Academy’s Anchor Club, said several of the club’s 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.
“We didn’t even think about getting (an award) this year,” Swann said. “We were so excited when we found out.”
Pilot International’s Mississippi District selected Starkville Academy’s 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 club’s 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.
“I was so proud of the club,” Adkins said. “They deserved it, they’ve worked hard for it and they are a strong community service club.”
Adkins said the club’s 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.
“It means so much,” Hester said. “This 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.”
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 SA’s Anchor Club has won at the district level. She said the win also makes her Anchor Club coordinator for the entire district.
“My responsibilities are to make sure membership dues are sent to Pilot International ... (and) to train the Anchor officers,” Adkins said. “(I will also be) in charge of the Anchor convention, held in March.”
Adkins said the SA club’s 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 family’s 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.
“We bought a Wii set and took it out to play with them to keep their brains mentally alert,” Adkins said. “I’m very good at it, too.”
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.
“One of my cousins has Down syndrome, so going to work with paraplegics was one of my favorite activities,” Swann said. “It was a great opportunity to reach out to people with special needs and give them that one-on-one time they don’t usually get.”
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.
“I think with our upcoming officers, our club’s going to get even better than it is now,” Hester said. “We’ve been talking about new projects we want to start. We have more members now than we’ve ever had.”
Hester said Adkins was key to the club’s success.
“Mrs. Adkins makes it easy for us,” Hester said. “She’s not too tough; she’s a lot of fun. She puts all her effort into (Anchor Club). She’s just a very special lady. We’re privileged to have her.”