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MCHS student drowns
Friends, fellow church members remember Randy Carroll of Colbert in a special service
Flags flew at half staff for the third time this year for a student at Madison County High School. A moment of silence was observed at the school's opening football game for a young man who himself wanted to play the game.
Seventeen-year-old Randy Carroll, of Colbert, lost his life last Thursday while swimming with a brother in Lake Hartwell.
Carroll, 17, a junior at MCHS, was apparently camping with family members in Hart State Park when the drowning occurred, according to a press release from the Hart County Sheriff's Office.
Officers from the sheriff's office search and recovery team, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Hart County Emergency Medical Services responded to the park Thursday evening, Sept. 2, at 7:44 p.m., after receiving a call about a possible drowning.
Divers reportedly located Carroll's body in a 12-to-20-foot deep cove area approximately 15 minutes after the search began. There was no indication of foul play, but the investigation remains open until results are received from the GBI crime lab in Atlanta where the body was taken for an autopsy. Carroll is the second drowning death of a MCHS student this year, and the third student to die in an accident. The first drowning death was freshman Kaleb Peppers, 14, who was found in a small pond on Swamp Guinea Road in late January - several days after he was last seen there at a friend's party.
Less than two weeks earlier, on Jan. 14, senior Andrew Peek died in a one-car accident on his way home from school.
Always smiling, uncompromising and not afraid to take a stand for the Lord were just a few of the words and phrases used to describe Randy Carroll as fellow church members, youth group and classmates came together to remember him last Sunday evening at Colbert Baptist Church.
Tears flowed freely as both youth and adults who knew Carroll got up to speak about him. Prayers were said and songs were offered in his memory.
Carroll, an active member of the church's youth group, was held up by many as an excellent example for other young people to follow.
"He was the one that put a spark in my heart and that got me saved," friend Jonathan Nunnelly told the crowd.
High school football quarterback B.J. Johnson was just one of the youth group members who spoke about a meeting at the church last Wednesday night, just one day before Carroll's death.
"He told us you just never know when you're gonna leave this world," Johnson said. "Thank you for showing me what a true Christian is."
"I'll miss his positive attitude and his 'high fives' when I met him in the hall at school," Shelley Bates said.
One after the other, Carroll's peers described him as a great guy with an uncomplaining nature, unselfish and who never made fun of or put down anyone - although he had been a victim of taunting sometimes himself.
He was not popular at school, his friends admitted, nor did he have many material possessions, but some expressed envy of what they felt he did have - a burning desire to be closer to God.
Coach Mike Osborne, sponsor of Fellow Christian Athletes (FCA) and a youth leader at the church, said although Carroll had had a hard life, he was "with Jesus now." He cited a story told him by Carroll's father. Last Sunday was the boy's birthday and when his dad presented him a pair of pants as a gift, Carroll told him all he wanted for his birthday was to come to church.
"He came up to me and said 'It's my birthday and I'm in church,'" Osborne added, telling the youth not to be sad for Randy, but that "we need to be sad for each other because we miss him."
A former Sunday School teacher of his, Janie Nix, said Carroll loved the church so much because he felt loved and accepted there. She pointed out that young people were not the only ones who could benefit from what they had observed in Carroll's life.
"Randy lived above his circumstances," Nix said. "You don't know how much Christ loves you until you see somebody love you through Christ....He was an inspiration to any adult who saw him live a Christ-like life."
Bill Mattison, father of high school football coach Ken Mattison, said Carroll had wanted to play football and had made the team but was unable to make the practices because he didn't have a way there.
"I mean this as no disrespect or slight to our football team - but I think we can all dry our tears for Randy tonight - he's on the winning team."


Madison Co. SAT scores on the rise
Madison County's SAT scores continue to rise.
This year's college-bound seniors bettered last year's Raider class by an average of 12 points on the SAT.
Eighty-eight college prep students in the class of 2000 averaged 1,035 on the SAT this spring - 515 on the verbal and 520 on the math portion of the test.

Seventy-nine college prep students in the 1999 senior class averaged 1,023 - 511 verbal and 512 math. One hundred and sixteen college prep students in the class of 1998 averaged 997 - 493 verbal and 504 math.
This year's state average - college prep and vocational students included - was 969 - 487 verbal and 482 math. The national average was 1,016 - 505 verbal and 511 math.
Madison County principal Allen McCannon said he is pleased with the continued improvement, praising not just the high school students and staff, but the county school system.
McCannon said the SAT scores show a "culmination" of skills taught as far back as kindergarten.
"This (the SAT scores) makes me feel good about the entire system," said McCannon.
McCannon added that the scores indicate a commitment to education in county homes.
"You can see that education is being valued by students and that's reinforced at home," said McCannon.
Ten Madison County seniors in the non-college prep program averaged 797 - 413 verbal and 384 math. That overall score was down from the 802 average of eight vocational students in the class of 1999 and the 837 average of 25 vocational students the previous year.
While national figures are based on a student's last time taking the test, some schools, including Madison County, determine SAT scores by including a student's highest verbal score, coupled with their highest math total.
Madison County's scores are the highest among five school systems in the three-county coverage area of MainStreet Newspapers, which includes The Madison County Journal.
Commerce's college prep seniors averaged 986 on the SAT. Jefferson averaged 988; and Jackson County, 976. The overall average score at Banks County, college prep and vocational students included, was 899.


Archer buried in Madison County
County law enforcement officers led to murder site
A 17-year-old girl from Elberton, who was brutally murdered last month in Morgan County, was laid to rest in Madison County Saturday.
About 100 people attended a graveside service at the New Hope Presbyterian Church cemetery for Krystal Gayle Archer, who was buried in a family plot where her mother's relatives lie.
Pastor David McConnell of Northside Baptist Church led the service, remembering Archer as a kind person.
"She was always sweet, loving and trusting," said McConnell.
The funeral came five days after Madison County law enforcement officers were led to Archer's body in a creek near the Morgan County town of Madison by 21-year-old Timothy Cole of Covington. Cole called Madison County officials to report the murder, mistaking the town and county bearing the same name.
Cole and his friends - Chris Teal, 19, Covington, and Danielle Hubbard, 18, Athens - are being held without bond, charged with the four-day torture and murder of Archer.
After receiving directions to the sheriff's department from Madison County captain Bill Strickland, Cole rode with sheriff Clayton Lowe and investigator Cody Cross to the murder site.
Strickland said the alleged murderer, who seemed "spacey," called the sheriff's office for two days talking about a murder someone else had committed.
"He was talking in the third person, saying somebody had called him and told him what was going on," said Strickland. "He was talking about a dead body face-down in a creek."
Cross said Cole, who had been given directions to the sheriff's office last Monday but didn't show up until Tuesday, looked "like a typical kid," adding that he seemed nervous and that he was "not up front" with investigators to begin with.
"When we first got him, he denied any involvement," said Cross. "But as we were driving down there he began to admit bits and pieces."
Cross said he and Lowe never got as far as discussing motivation for the killing with Cole.
The first-year investigator, who spent about four hours with the murder suspect last Tuesday, said Cole "never cried," but that he did seem somewhat affected after the body was found.
"I don't know if he was thinking about her (Archer) or the electric chair," said Cross.

The Madison County Journal - Danielsville, Georgia
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