Monday, October 29, 2012

Alabama School of Fine Arts

First Lady Dianne Bentley visited the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham last week to learn more about the programs that they offer to students. She was impressed with their innovative learning styles and all of the arts available. She got to listen to their choral department sing, got to view the labs in their math and science department, and got to stand in on the dance classes. She also got to speak with students in the creative writing department as they critiqued each other's latest short story. The visual arts students have their own workspace where they create pieces for their senior portfolio and gallery. Their art decorates not only this studio but the halls throughout the school. The final stop was in the new theater where students were rehearsing the final curtain call for their upcoming play. The theater allows students to get experience before entering the work world and gives them credits for their acting card.
This public school has spots for three hundred and fifty students. They have places for students to dorm and have students that just come for the day. Every student who enters the doors of this school is uniquely talented and so are the professors that teach them. This is another great treasure we have in the state of Alabama.

A Day in Sylacauga

First Lady Dianne Bentley spent a day touring the town of Sylacauga and meeting its people. She started her day at Pinecrest Elementary where third through fifth graders attend class. After reading one of her favorite books to the third grade students, she toured the school. She was able to stop by and visit with some fourth graders studying Alabama History. They asked a lot of great questions and impressed the First Lady with all that they already knew. She also visited a fifth grade class who gave her a quilt for her Blankets with a Blessing Project.

After touring the school, the First Lady went to tour the Bluebell Factory. She is proud to support Alabama and all of the products it produces. She toured the plant, met the staff, and got to taste ice cream off of the line. Although ice cream almost ruined lunch, she stopped by Marble City Grill for lunch.Their quesadilla is on the 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die list, so the First Lady wanted to check it off.

The lunch place was downtown so before traveling to the next school, Mrs. Bentley took time exploring some of the local shops. At 1:30PM she arrived at Indian Valley Elementary where she was greeted by a library full of kindergartners. The Mayor, Superintendent, and the Police Chief stopped by too. The First Lady spoke to students and read to them before taking a tour of their school.

The last stop of the day was to view the Imery-Gantt Quarry Observation Point. This is the site where Sylacauga marble is retrieved. The parking lot was filled with white marble rocks instead of typical gravel and the water in the quarry was a bright blue.

Alabama is full of great towns to explore with friendly people at every stop. First Lady Dianne Bentley is thankful for everyone she met while spending time in Sylacauga and is looking forward to visiting another Alabama town soon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Highland Avenue Elementary

First Lady Dianne Bentley visited every class at Highland Elementary School this morning as she continues to promote reading through Alabama.

This school is one of Alabama's torchbearer schools. These are Title I schools that excel academically and set testing records. Their students have great attitudes and manners that reflect in not only their school activities but also in their daily lives.

Thank you to Ms. Kornegay, the principal, for your hospitality, and to the students and teachers for your time.

Although this school is one hundred and ten years old, their decorations and colors make it a lively learning atmosphere. The walls are full of creativity and the classes full of learning!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Donation to HopeLine with Prattville Christian Academy

PRATTVILLE –Prattville Christian Academy’s Key Club has been very busy. On Thursday, October 4, the Key Club Sponsor, teacher Morgan Cook, held a school wide assembly to announce the  PCA Key Club  needed to collect as many used cell phones as possible to donate to Verizon Wireless for the HopeLine project. The members placed collection boxes throughout the school, and within a week PCA students and staff  collected over 200 cell phones  to donate to HopeLine for  victims of domestic violence. HopeLine is an initiative sponsored by Verizon Wireless, which  collects wireless devices and accessories that are no longer used.  The phones and accessories can be refurbished, recycled and/or sold, with phones and proceeds benefiting victims of domestic violence through grants and the donations of wireless phones and services.

First Lady Dianne Bentley was  at Prattville Christian Academy on Friday, October 12  to join members of the Key Club and donate used cell phones to HopeLine. As an advocate for domestic violence victims,  Mrs. Bentley has led various efforts to collect hundreds of cell phones for HopeLine throughout the year. Combined with the phones collected by PCA,  over a thousand phones were donated to Verizon and accepted by the Verizon representative Marcus January.

PCA Key club President Lauren Davis said, “ The PCA Key Club is a service organization, so  we are all  excited to be a part of this effort that exemplifies serving the community through helping victims of domestic violence.”  Morgan Cook was very proud of the effort and results of the phone drive, and said, “ I am really proud to be a part of this project, and we truly appreciate the support of Mrs. Bentley’s office. Her dedication to the HopeLine project inspired us all.”

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Read for the Record

One of the best parts about being First Lady is getting to visit schools and meet the students and faculty. Today was Read for the Record Day and Mrs. Bentley had the chance to meet with and visit two schools. Both schools were very welcoming and enthusiastic about her visit and seemed to really enjoy this year's book, Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad.

Mrs. Bentley said that "we teach children to read, but we need to teach them to love to read." As a mother and grandmother, she has always encouraged a love of reading and as First Lady she hopes to spread that to all youth in Alabama.

Thank you to Dannelly Elementary and Flowers Elementary for opening your doors and hearts for our visit.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Blankets with a Blessing

First Lady Dianne Bentley will continue the Blankets with a Blessing Tradition as she collects blankets for those in need again this holiday season. The collection will take place starting October 1, 2012, and will continue through November 13, 2012. Blankets can be turned in to the Governor's Mansion guard gate or the Governor's Mansion Gift Shop on Finley Avenue.

Last year, Mrs. Bentley donated blankets to Safe House in Shelby County for victims of domestic abuse. Mrs. Bentley is an advocate for domestic abuse awareness and hopes to impact the community and help put an end to violence. Kathy Wells, from Safe House of Shelby County, was there to talk about last year's donation. Sunny Borum, a victim of abuse, also came to speak and share her story. Mrs. Bentley thanked everyone for attending and hopes that the people of Alabama will ban together and help one another this year.

Pictured below: Karen Sellers (Family Sunshine Center, Montgomery), Sunny Borum (Victim and Advocate), First Lady Dianne Bentley, Kathy Wells (Safe House of Shelby County)

Visit to the Black Belt

Mrs. Bentley spent one of her last September days visiting quilters and craftsmen in the Black Belt of Alabama. The entire trip was dedicated to highlighting hidden treasures in Alabama and the promotion of the talent available.

Her first stop was Black Belt Treasures in Camden. This store sells art from local artists including sculptures, paintings, and fiber art. She continued to Gaines Ridge, where she met Betty Kennedy, the owner of the facility. This property has been in her family for years and she now serves dinner out of its kitchen. After lunch, Ms. Kennedy showed the First Lady her own quilt collection.

To travel to Gees Bend, Mrs. Bentley boarded the ferry and took a twenty minute ride over the water. She was able to meet three quilting groups as a part of her final stops in the area. The first group works out of the Nutrition Center and showed the First Lady their progress on their latest project. They concluded their visit in song. The next stop was to see the Gees Bend Quilters. This group has become famous for their quilts and happily told that John McCain even bought some of their work.

The final stop was at the Freedom Quilting Bee, where Rennie Miller spends her time. Ms. Miller shared the rich quilting history of the area and of the Quilting Bee, as she showed Mrs. Bentley around her shop. She told of the need to get younger people involved in quilting and talked about renewing interest in the fiber arts.

Mrs. Bentley enjoyed the day for many reasons, but most of all, because she too is a quilter. Mrs. Bentley hopes that these people carry on their quilting traditions and is honored that they allowed her to visit.