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The Holly Children’s Theatre Competition Troupe, comprising 12 students ages 12 to 17, won first place Jan. 19 at the National Performing Arts Festival in Orlando, Fla.
The troupe also received a trophy for a superior rating and six individual medals, along with the privilege of performing on The Galaxy Stage in Tomorrowland at The Magic Kingdom the next day.
The troupe’s ensemble piece was “Schoolhouse Rock, Live!, Jr.” The competition was conducted by Travel Adventures in cooperation with Disney, and judges were Disney vocal coaches and talent and professionals from New York City.
Individual awards include the following: Carly Berg, 16, of Lumpkin County High School, top female vocalist in solo competition, best stage presence in ensemble and scores of 24-25 out of 25 for choreography she did for the team; Benny Higgins, 14, of Lumpkin County High School, top male vocalist in solo competition and top performance in ensemble; Sarah Peavy, 16, of Lumpkin County High School, top performance for a solo during ensemble and superior rating in solo competition; Kacey Willis, 14, of Horizon Christian Academy, best monologue in solo competition; Ali Willis, 17, of Horizon Christian Academy, superior rating for a monologue; and John Boyes of Sautee, superior rating for a monologue. Other members of the group include: Matt Fogleman, Emily Soroka, Lexie Brown, Anna Huffman, Georgia Stansell and Kristin LaCount.
Nathan Gerrells is director of the show, Brooke Caldwell is assistant director and Kate McElliott is trip director and music director.

Eileen Dyer of Gainesville, a senior religion major at Birmingham-Southern College, has been chosen by The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International to receive its Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship for international cultural study. The Rotary Scholarships, which reach up to $25,000, are intended to further international understanding and friendly relations among people of different countries. The scholarships are sponsored by local Rotary clubs.

Hall County Master Gardeners contributed more than 16,000 hours of their time to various events and projects in Gainesville and Hall County during 2007.
Sponsored events included the Spring and Fall Garden Expos, the Garden Walk tour of local gardens and the Fall Gardening Symposium. The organization invested more than $9,000 in projects or direct grants to organizations in 2007 including the following: a landscaping project at the main library in Gainesville, the Cherokee Garden at the Northeast Georgia History Museum, the flower gardens at Wilshire Park, assistance with the landscaping at a Habitat for Humanity house, landscaping for the Hall County Board of Education building, participation in the Ag Day event for young children at Jaemor Farms, a landscaping addition at the Hall County Extension Office and educational presentations for the Lunch and Learn programs at the Gainesville Library.
Direct grants and donations were also made to the Elachee Nature Center, Smithgall Woodland Garden, Sonrise Camp and the 4-H Summer Camp Scholarship Program.
The group also expanded the Junior Master Gardener program into eight Hall County elementary schools. More than 120 students are presently enrolled in the program.

Army Pfc. Michael F. Tucker of Cleveland has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla. Tucker is the son of Vincent Tucker of Cleveland.

Army Spc. Boon D. Chang has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C. He is the son of Hye Y. Jang of Sugar Hill.

Air Force Reserve Maj. Janet L. Thomason has returned to the U.S. after being deployed to an overseas forward-operating location in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Thomason is a registered nurse with 20 years of military service. She is the daughter of Jim and Nancy Thomason of Jefferson.