■ Sarah Payne of Bryan Station Middle School represented Kentucky in the December edition of School Band and Orchestra magazine's annual roundup of "50 Directors Who Make a Difference," which highlights some of the best music educators across the country. The honorees were nominated by readers, including current and former students, colleagues and peers, parents and other supporters.
Payne has directed orchestras at Bryan Station since the fall of 2011. She also teaches strings at Deep Springs and Northern elementaries and serves as Kentucky Music Educators Association District 7 orchestra chair. In 2012, the association named her the District 7 Middle School Teacher of the Year. Also, she was a quarterfinalist in 2014 for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation and was a semifinalist in 2013.
■ Lexington's 21st annual Unity Breakfast, which honored the life and work of the late Martin Luther King Jr., featured the 2015 theme "Unity: Striving for Justice, Equality and World Peace." The Monday event began at 6:30 a.m. in Heritage Hall West at the Lexington Center, where William Wells Brown Elementary fourth- and fifth-graders Zoriannah Alcorn, Jessica Clark, DaSean Green, Amber Lewis, Lesly Castillo, Janiagh Roberts, Bionna Webb and Chris Foreman assisted with the candle-lighting ceremony.
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Claire Qian, a seventh-grader at Winburn Middle School, won the 2015 Unity Breakfast essay contest and received $500. She read her entry at Monday's program. The runner-up was sixth-grader Caroline Davis of Morton Middle School, who won $300. Morton sixth-grader Emma Shadwick took third place honors and received $100. More than 50 students entered the contest, which was open to all Fayette County middle school students.
Kolbee Squire, an eighth-grader at Carter G. Woodson Academy, took first place and classmate Dorian Cleveland was runner-up in the middle school division of the statewide 2015 King Award essay contest. Also, Woodson seventh-grader Malcolm Murray was runner-up in the poetry competition. This year's theme was "In his Footsteps: the Dream Today." The students were acknowledged at Frankfort's annual MLK Day celebration Thursday at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History.
■ Kentucky students have until Jan. 27 to submit entries to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's 2015 Poster and Essay Contest. The theme is "Kentucky Agriculture: Growing the Next Generation of Farmers."
Students are asked to submit either a poster, an essay or a digital image based on the contest theme. Statewide poster and essay winners from each grade, kindergarten through 12, will be chosen, and an overall digital winner will be selected. Cash prizes will be presented to the winners in March at the Kentucky Agriculture Day Celebration, and their work will be displayed at the Kentucky State Fair in August.
Entries must be postmarked no later than Jan. 27. A completed entry form must be taped or glued to the back of each entry. The name of the teacher and school must accompany each entry. Winners will be notified Feb. 20.
The contest is conducted by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture in partnership with Kentucky Agriculture and Environment in the Classroom, Inc.
For more information, including complete contest rules and entry forms, go to Kyagr.com/agcontest or contact Agriculture Education Coordinator Jordan L. Spalding at (502) 782-4125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
■ Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass has presented a $10,000 donation to the Madison County School District to fund innovative classroom activities focused on science, technology and math. A dozen teachers from five schools will share the funds from BPBG for activities to promote student-centered learning.
In addition to the teacher grants, BPBG also donated two $1,500 scholarships for one graduate each of Madison Central and Madison Southern high schools who plan to attend Eastern Kentucky University or Berea College.
The teachers receiving awards were: Amie Gallion, Foley Middle School; Susan Haddix, Madison Southern High School; Cecily Hall, Neysa Puckett and Bobbie Stewart, Waco Elementary School; Donna Jeck, Foley Middle School; Nicole Jeck, Foley Middle School; Sandye Kabalen, Clark-Moores Middle School; Jennifer Martin, Madison Kindergarten Academy; Melissa Metcalf, Foley Middle School; Rick Miller, Clark-Moores Middle School; and Amanda Prewitt, Waco Elementary School.