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An annual tradition:
122nd Sunday School Celebration planned
Many Banks County natives have grown up and moved on over the years, but there is one event that keeps them coming home - The Banks County Sunday School Celebration. The 122nd annual celebration will be held this Saturday at 10 a.m. in downtown Homer.
Lillie Mason Dyar, 91, is one of those people who has, to her knowledge, never missed a celebration. Even after she moved to Barrow County in 1940, the last Saturday of July is still reserved for this event.
Dyar, daughter of the late Will and Alice Mason, Homer, said some of her fondest memories of childhood center on the celebration.
In the early days of the celebration, it was a time to put on your "Sunday best" and head into town by buggy or wagon for fun, food and fellowship. That is what brought the people back year after year, she said.
"Every year was a great get-together for families far and near," Dyar remembered.
People would come from other states as far as Texas, she said. It became a reunion for her and her family after her brother, Owen, moved to Virginia, but he always headed home for the celebration.
The guests were in for a treat if Mary Griffin Brewer had her way about it, Dyar remembered.
"She was in charge of the children and believe me, she kept us practicing until we were perfect," Dyar continued. "There we were singing in our frilly dresses with lots of ribbons and the boys were dressed just as cute."
While there were many components to make for a good celebration, food was near the top of the list. People would bring a picnic lunch and spread it together on a long table. If that was not enough to fill you up, there were other treats as well, she said.
"Five cents would buy you a glass of lemonade that was made in a wash tub or a cone of hand-turned homemade ice cream," she remembered.
Dyar remembered all of the men gathering around the old well to catch up while the women sat on a long porch at the home of Martha Thompson listening to the program at the old stand located near the well on the historic courthouse lawn. Years later, that stand was torn down and a new stand was erected where it sits today.
There are two celebrations that stick out in the mind of Dyar. The first is when then gubernatorial candidate Earnest Vandiver spent the day at the celebration. He was elected governor that fall, she said.
Another special memory was on the 100th celebration when Dyar dressed like her grandmother, Ella Mason, who was the organist at Homer Presbyterian Church for over 50 years.
"I dressed like her and rode in a two horse wagon from the church to the stand with my Dad and then played the organ for our programs," she said. "It was a great day for me, one that I will never forget."
Dyar said she would never forget the contributions of Nanny Chambers to the celebration. Chambers would get all the old pictures she could find and place them in the courthouse for people to see and remember days gone by, she continued.
While Dyar said she likes to reminisce about celebrations past, she is also looking forward to Saturday when she attends, yet another, Sunday School Celebration.


Trio on peace walk go through Banks County
A drum was beating and a chant could be heard as a trio of Buddhists walked through Banks County last week on a pilgrimage for peace.
Brother K. Utsumi, Sister Denise Laffan and Sister Takoko Ichikawa passed through Banks County last Friday on their peace walk from Atlanta to Oak Ridge, Tenn., the place where the Hiroshima atomic bomb was developed. Banks Countian Adele Kushner opened her home to these peace walkers overnight on Friday. The trio enjoyed a pot -luck supper and spent some time discussing their efforts.
"This is the way they believe they will achieve peace," Kushner said. "Once they get to their destination, they will stand there all day, beat the drum and hand out flyers. That is as far as they will go."
Kushner said she was glad to help the group in their effort.

A drum was beating and a chant could be heard as a trio of Buddhists walked through Banks County last week on a pilgrimage for peace. Shown are: (L-R) Takoko Ichikawa, Konomu Utsumi and Denise Laffaan. The three members of the Nipponzan Myohoji-Atlanta Dojo will complete the walk from Atlanta to Oak Ridge, Tenn., the place where the Hiroshima atomic bomb was developed. They will be joined day to day by other members and supporters
Photo by Travis Hatfield

She is no stranger to peace walks herself. In fact, she met Utsumi on a vigil for peace at the submarine base on St. Mary's Island.
"I've been there and I agree with what they are trying to do," she said. "We need to get rid of nuclear weapons because they could destroy the earth."
She said she also admires their work in Atlanta. They took an old crack house and transformed it into a beautiful Buddhist temple, Kushner said.
The two women and one man started their journey on Friday, July 16, in Atlanta and have traveled to Stone Mountain, Lawrenceville, Winder, Jefferson and Maysville to reach their Alto destination on Friday. The trio will continue up Hwy. 441 through North Carolina, Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Knoxville, Tenn., until they reach Oak Ridge on Friday, August 6.
Those days are significant, Kushner explained. July 16 is the anniversary of the first atomic bomb test and August 6 is Hiroshima Day.
"This is a walk that directs heart, mind and feet away from sickness and madness of nuclear weapons and toward a new millennium that is nuclear free," said Utsumi.
The group said they hope this will become an annual event.


Jamieson suggests vouchers to solve tuition controversy
State officials are apparently willing to lend a hand to help Baldwin citizens with their dilemma concerning the termination of the school attendance contract between Habersham and Banks counties.
If an agreement is not reached, approximately 25 children who live near Baldwin Elementary School will be bused to school in Banks County unless they can pay the $1,300 annual tuition cost.
Representative Jeanette Jamieson said she is very concerned that the two boards of education could not work out this issue.
"It's sad when we can put a man on the moon but two groups of adults can't sit down and work out what is in the best interest of a child," said Jamieson.
She said in the beginning that money was said to be one of the issues in the matter, but that is not the case anymore. When the allotment for each child was calculated, there was a $400 shortfall, but Jamieson said she took care of that.
"I have discussed this with the governor's office, and they will pick up the $10,000 shortfall," she said. "Still, the BOEs will not reconsider their position."
Jamieson, as a member of the governor's education review committee and chairman of the education committee, said this is not good timing on the part of the BOE's.
"This is the worst possible timing for the school systems to fail to reach an agreement so obvious with the best interest of the children involved, " she warned, hinting at the possibility of using vouchers in this case.
The voucher system is not popular among school systems, she said. It would allow parents to take those vouchers and enroll their children in any school that would accept them. While Jamieson doesn't fully support vouchers in all cases, she believes that might be the answer in this situation. She said many argue that the voucher system could undermine the funding of the public school system and some of those funds could possibly go to private schools.
"In this situation, both systems are lending a hand to the credibility of the voucher system," she said. "It can be addressed by the education review committee. Nothing is sacred. All issues are on the table and we can discuss anything."
The voucher issue would have to be handled very carefully, she continued.
"In all fairness, there would have to be a provision that states if a school system is not educating the child, property taxes cannot be billed for that child," she said.
Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed asked Jamieson to get involved after several attempts by citizens and the council to get both boards to work out some kind of agreement. When Reed received a letter from Banks County superintendent Dock Sisk last week telling him that a majority of the board did not wish to revisit the issue, he contacted the governor's office for further negotiations. If no decision is reached, those children not paying tuition will begin school in Banks County in August.


BCMS, BCHS dress code given for new school year
Officials at Banks County Middle School and Banks County High School have released the dress code for the coming school year, which includes many new rules.
The dress code has been enacted in order to "ensure and promote student safety and to foster school pride." It is for students in fourth through 12th grade.
The dress code includes the following:
·All shirts and blouses shall be worn tucked inside pants, shorts or skirts. Overshirt, jackets or sweater sets are permitted provided they are worn over a tucked-in garment and the bottom of the garment is not below the fingertips when arm is held at the side.
·See-through or mesh clothing is not permitted.
·Sleeveless shirts, blouses and dresses, as well as halter tops and tank tops, are not permitted.
·Garments that expose the midriff when both arms are extended above the head are not permitted.
·Shorts, skirts and dresses shall be no more than three inches above the knee when standing upright.
·Clothing which display emblems or advertises alcohol, drugs, sex, tobacco or other abusive substances; has obscene, vulgar or suggestive writing, pictures or emblems is prohibited.
·All pants, shorts, skirts must be worn at the waistline and a belt must be worn if the garment has belt loops.
·Garments that touch the floor while standing upright are prohibited.
·Hats, caps, scarves, sunglasses, non-prescription glasses, headbands or other headgear may not be worn on campus during the regular school day.
·Any object or ornament that is capable of being used as a weapon, including, but not limited to, heavy chains or jewelry with spikes, or can be used as drug paraphernalia is not permitted.
·Piercing of any visible body part other than the ears is prohibited.
·Shoes with cleats are prohibited inside the building.
·Only mesh or clear bookbags will be permitted.
·Topcoats, dusters, trench coats and/or heavy coats shall not be worn inside the building since the school is climate controlled. Jackets or sweaters may be worn.
·School uniforms in grades kindergarten through eighth grade are recommended but not required.
The administration in grades kindergarten through 12th grade has the authority to determine inappropriate dress or dress that presents a safety hazard. Penalties may include warning, changing clothing, detention, parent contact or in-school suspension.
For information concerning the dress code in grades kindergarten through third grade, call Banks County Primary School at (706) 677-2355 or Banks County Elementary School at (706) 677-2308.

The Banks County News - Homer, Georgia
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