■ Christopher Copley, an eighth-grade student at Bryan Station Middle School, has won the 2013 Unity Breakfast essay contest, focusing on the importance of people moving past differences to make the world a better place. Copley, who will receive a $500 savings bond, read his entry Jan. 21 at the Lexington MLK Day program commemorating the life and work of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
This year's contest theme was "Unity: A Continuous March toward Equality." The runner-up was sixth-grader Connor Hood of Morton Middle School, with a $300 savings bond. Morton seventh-grader John Stinetorf earned third place and a $100 savings bond.
Three students in Fayette County Public Schools placed in statewide competition sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission and the Governor's Office of Minority Empowerment.
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Henry Clay junior Ben Swanson took first place for his essay in the high school division, while senior Danielle Morrison of Paul Laurence Dunbar topped the visual arts contest. Dunbar senior Charles Sizemore was third in visual arts among high-schoolers.
The statewide winners were recognized at the MLK celebration Jan. 17 at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort.
■ Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky Educational Television and NASA helped make a dream come true for some of Kentucky's middle school students.
On Jan. 11, the students spoke to an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. They are among 160 sixth- , seventh- and eighth-graders, all identified as gifted and talented in science and/or mathematics, from 46 area schools who participated in a variety of educational activities at EKU's Hummel Planetarium and adjacent Perkins Building. EKU, partnering with KET, was selected by NASA as one of only six downlink sites nationwide where students could converse with the Space Station astronauts.
The students who talked with astronaut Tom Marshburn were selected on the basis of their submitted questions and a short essay. They were:
Madison County: Maria Hoover and Tristan Fitzpatrick, B. Michael Caudill Middle School; Bryden Allen, Clark Moores Middle School; Sam House and Virginia Deaver, Berea Independent.
Bell County: Ethan Warren and Tyler Reese, Yellow Creek School; Madison York, Page School.
Boyle County: Alyvia Walker and Kennedy Walker, Bate Middle School; Kate Leahey, Boyle County Middle School.
Casey County: Connor Wesley and Catherine McAninch, Jones Park Elementary School; McKenzie Smithers, Liberty Elementary School.
Estill County: Caleb Stickney and Noah Williams, Estill County Middle School.
Laurel County: Lucas Maxey, South Laurel Middle School.
Leslie County: MaKenna Morgan, Stinnett Elementary School.
Lincoln County: Jasper Kyle Hampton and Lloyd McGuffey Sixth Grade Center.
Powell County: Macy Bentley, Powell County Middle School.
Pulaski County: Riley Crawford, Northern Middle School.
Rockcastle County: Cameron Coy, Rockcastle County Middle School.
Whitley County: Bethany Laws, Corbin Middle School.
■ The Public Relations academic program at Eastern Kentucky University has earned re-accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America.
The program was first certified by PRSA in 1990. Currently, 106 students are enrolled in the program.
On Jan. 16, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray visited with Sayre Upper School students as part of the Don Jacobs Senior Seminar, to discuss civic responsibilities with students in grades 9-12.
The seminar presents a curriculum that deals with personal finance and legal and civic responsibilities. Organized around the principles of earning, owing, spending, investing, saving, and giving, the seminars are enhanced by guest speakers from various professions. Mentors, selected from within the Sayre community, work with small groups of students throughout the year.
■ Fayette County Public Schools will host a public forum for feedback on its 2012 Wellness Report Card, which reviews nutrition initiatives and physical activity districtwide. The forum begins at 5 p.m. Jan. 28 in Conference Room C of "It's About Kids" Support Services, 701 East Main Street, preceding the 6 p.m. school board meeting in Norsworthy Auditorium.
Visit Fcps.net/wellness to review the latest report card and FCPS efforts to improve overall student wellness.
■ Fayette County Public Schools has rescheduled the public hearing on its 2013-2017 District Facilities Plan to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 29.
In December, the school board approved the plan, which next goes to the Kentucky Board of Education. The plan calls for several new schools, major renovations and routine updates at various sites, including the main district offices. The school board will set the priorities for each biennium.
The public hearing will be in Conference Room C of "It's About Kids" Support Services. For more information, call (859) 381-4165.
Read more about the board's Local Planning Committee at Fcps.net/lpc.
Eastern Kentucky University has named David McFaddin as executive director of government relations.
Since 2005, McFaddin had served as regional director for legislative and external affairs for AT&T, after serving five years as area manager for BellSouth Telecommunications. In addition, he has served as an adjunct faculty member in EKU's Department of Communication since 2011.
The Johnson County native is the current President of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, chair of the EKU Department of Communication Advisory Board, and an active board member with Leadership Kentucky and numerous other non-profit organizations.