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Suwannee Middle School student Kiersten Eplin reacts to receiving recognition for her artwork being chosen to be displayed in the state Capitol.

LIVE OAK — From the recipients to the board members, student recognitions at last week’s Suwannee County School Board meeting were touching.

At the start of the Nov. 19 meeting, Superintendent Ted Roush recognized several students for honors they have received through the arts.

Suwannee Middle School student Kirsten Eplin was selected to have her artwork displayed in the Capitol building in Tallahassee as part of the state’s Art in the Capitol competition.

Eplin was overcome with emotion at the recognition.

“Sometimes you don’t have to say any more,” Roush said.

Ed daSilva, the board chair, said the artwork is always a popular addition to the Capitol when officials visit Tallahassee to speak with legislators.

“We actually go looking for your artwork,” he said. “So we’re going to go look for yours in January. Be very proud that your stuff is up there. That’s awesome.”

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Branford High’s Evan Procko was named Arts4All Florida Student of the Month.

Also honored was Branford High student Evan Procko. Procko, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, was named the University of South Florida Arts4All Florida Student of the Month.

Pat York, Region 2 program coordinator for Arts4All Florida, attended the meeting to present the 15-year-old Procko with a personalized trophy, specifically created for him.

Procko was nominated for the statewide recognition by Branford art teacher Vaster Fryar for his “keen eye and deep love for art.

“He hears an assignment and takes it 10 times further than his classmates,” Fryar wrote in her recommendation. “He has such limited use of his hands now, yet he pushes to create.”

In addition to numerous awards at art shows previously, Procko won Best of Show at Branford High’s art show last spring. Procko also had an oil painting of the Suwannee River on display at the state Capitol previously.

Procko’s achievement touched the school board members as well.

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Branford High’s Evan Procko proudly holds the trophy for his statewide honor.

“I look up to him,” said Ronald White, the board member from District 5, which includes Branford. “Everything’s against him and he’s on top. He said, ‘Nothing’s going to hold me back. I’m going to be on top.’

“So I look up to that kid.”

Other recognitions

Also recognized at the meeting were District 3 board member Tim Alcorn and bus driver Jimmy “Shorty” Cannon.

Alcorn received recognition from Roush and Tina Pinkoson, the director of leadership services with the Florida School Board Association, for earning his certification through the FSBA.

Alcorn thanked his family for their support in allowing him the time to serve on the school board.

Roush recognized Cannon for his heroic actions Oct. 15 when he potentially saved 5-year-old Keria Hadley’s life.

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Superintendent Ted Roush recognizes Jimmy ‘Shorty’ Cannon, a bus driver for the schools, for potentially saving a child’s life.

Cannon was stopped on County Road 250 and had motioned for Hadley and her sister, Nebula Ogburn, to cross the road to board the bus.

As the girl started toward the road, Cannon observed a truck not slowing down and laid on his horn in an effort to alert the child, who stopped feet away from being struck by the passing vehicle.

“You guys don’t realize what it takes to drive a school bus until you get out there and actually do it,” said Jimmy Wilkerson, the district’s transportation director. “Every time I make a stop now on a school bus, I think of Shorty Cannon and what he did and I check every mirror before I cross a road or have the kids cross a road.

“Every driver, this has hit home for them.

“Shorty, if you hadn’t been doing your job that day, it would have been a tragic day for our transportation department…you go above and beyond the call of duty.”

Cannon, though, said he was just doing the job that Wilkerson and the district’s transportation department trained him to do.

“They trained me how to do the stops,” he said. “Since then, I’ve watched them get on every single bus and ride around and make sure you are turning the lights on like you’re supposed to and doing that stop.

“That’s where it all came from.”

daSilva, Alcorn remain in leadership roles

Prior to the board’s regular meeting it held a brief reorganization meeting to determine its chair and vice chair for the next year.

There were no changes with daSilva reappointed as the board’s chair and Alcorn approved as vice chair.

Catherine Cason was also reappointed to serve as the board’s representative to the Small School District Council Consortium, which represents small school districts and voices their concerns to legislators in Tallahassee.

Jamie Wachter is the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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