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THS students continue media winning tradition

Football players aren't the only ones creating a winning tradition at Thomson High School.

Two seniors, Madalyn Johnson and Kalyn Kitchings, recently won awards in the 2007 International Student Media Festival.

This is the second year the school had winners in the event. Four students - Erica Green, Brian Crapps, Danielle Moore and Rainne Austin - won in 2005.

"Having so many winners just goes to show our great talent and what a good group of kids and good teachers we have," said Jennifer Newton, the THS Media Specialist.

The ISMF is sponsored by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology and encourages students to use live action video, website design, animation and photography in their studies. According to the website, high school students increase their abilities to plan, analyze and interpret results when creating such projects. And cooperation and leadership flourish where student media is encouraged.

Madalyn won in the grades 9-12 Single Photography competition. Her photograph, entitled Water Fountain, also won a judge's favorite award.

"It was taken at Marietta Square," Madalyn said. "I didn't like that one very much, but obviously everyone else did."

Madalyn said she was surprised when she got a perfect score on three out of four of her photographs at the state level competition. Photography may be Madalyn's hobby, but others benefit as well. Madalyn said she prints and frames her pictures and uses them as birthday and Christmas gifts.

Her industrial technology teacher from last year, Gregory Shouse, said Madalyn could use her hobby for much more.

"She's an awesome student. She's very responsible and a good young lady to have worked with," Mr. Shouse said. "She will make an awesome professional photographer if she chooses to pursue it."

Madalyn said she'd rather major in physical therapy, but she hopes to secure a photography scholarship to help her reach that goal.

Kalyn won her award with a different sort of pictures. Kalyn won in the grades 9-12 Sequential Skills competition with her book Dear Diary, Meet My Sister Sadie.

Originally a project for her Health Occupations 2 class, the book explains from a child's point of view a rare, genetic disease called Sanfilippo's Syndrome. Because she wanted the book to be a personal reflection, Kalyn said she bought a diary and hand wrote the monologue and drew pictures with Sharpies.

"Luckily, I draw like a child. So that worked in my favor for once," she said with a laugh.

Kalyn's inspiration came from one of her mother's Special Ed students, Chloe Key, at Norris Elementary. Chloe suffers from the syndrome, and the book is written from the point of view of her sister, Shelby. Kalyn said it was easier to explain the disease in simple terms by using a child's perspective.

"I was touched by her sister," Kalyn said. "And I think children are more apt to grasp the concept and the emotions associated with it."

The book is dedicated to Chloe and a copy was given to her family. Although she is unsure how to further promote the book, Kalyn said she feels her project made an impact.

"It was like I made a difference by telling that many more people about (the syndrome) they will look it up on the website which I listed in the book, and will want to do more research or make them want to become volunteers to help."

Web posted on Thursday, September 20, 2007

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