His Face Painted
11, left, sits absolutely still while Crystal Rainwater of the
Commerce High School Future Community and Civic Leaders paints
a tiger paw on his face. The activity was part of the Commerce
Elementary School PTO Carnival Saturday afternoon.
New Year's Party
Number Of Y2K-Related Commitments Cause Commerce Business
Association To Cancel Traditional Holiday Bash
Whether or not the Year 2000 computer problem
disrupts life after midnight Dec. 31, it has had a major effect
on how several hundred people will celebrate the arrival of the
Y2K has caused the Commerce Area Business Association to cancel
its annual New Year's party and dance.
Meeting last Wednesday for lunch at the Commerce Public Library,
the CABA membership voted unanimously to accept the recommendation
of its party and executive committees in canceling the event,
which traditionally is the group's primary fund-raiser.
Susan McCorkle, who read the recommendation, said that due to
"the prior commitments of many city businesses and long-time
supporters, many people cannot come" Dec. 31.
Y2K is the main reason. Many offices will require workers to
be on hand when the new year begins just in case there are Y2K
"Most of the banks are even going to work the next day,"
noted member Keith Ariail.
"A lot of people have to be on call," agreed Rob Jordan,
president, "in case something horrible happens. I know I'd
much rather be at home than be at the civic center if the lights
But McCorckle cited other reasons people had given for not attending
"Some parents feel that it's such a momentous time, they
want to be home with their children," she said.
There was some sense that the era of CABA New Year's parties
might be over.
"It may be like the golf tournaments for raising money.
They've about run their course," noted Ariail. "We've
been doing this several years. We may need to look at something
Local Man Helps
Move Giant Pandas
When giant pandas Lun-Lun and Yang-Yang
were brought from China to the Atlanta Zoo last Friday, John
McEver of Commerce was part of the UPS party responsible for
transporting them from Hartsfield International Airport to the
This was no normal delivery, says McEver, who has been with UPS
more than 29 years.
It was more like a presidential visit. As the specially painted
UPS aircraft made its landing at 9:33 Friday morning, it taxied
through an arc of water from the Atlanta Fire Department toward
a crowd of media from all over the United States and even
McEver was one of four drivers selected on the basis of seniority
and accident-free records. He drew one of the two backup trucks
provided to cover all possible contingencies. He scanned the
bar code on the cage of one of the animals.
The pandas are on loan from China for 10 years, and the Atlanta
Zoo hopes the two will breed as part of a reproduction research
project. They are only the third pair of giant pandas in the
The first person out of the airplane was the veterinarian who
had gone to China to accompany the pandas to America.
"When he came off the plane, all the news media had to interview
him," said McEver. "Then the pilot and co-pilot came
off, and they interviewed him and so on down the line."
It was an hour before the four-truck party took off, and an Atlanta
Police motorcade accompanied them for the 15-minute trip. It
wasn't the first time the UPS group had made the trip. A dry
run several days earlier was part of the schedule of preparations
for the trip. Originally, the pickup had been planned for Oct.
8, then Oct. 28, but there were delays McEver said were attributed
to the government of China.
"But China finally opened up and let us in," McEver
At the zoo, officials got Lun-Lun out first, but she was reluctant
to leave her cage after being in it 19 hours. Yang-Yang was more
eager. The male quickly left the cage.
As soon as the pandas were unloaded and the two package cars
quarantined and cleaned, the UPS crew left.
"It was a great feeling," McEver said. "I was
proud to see all the fun people were having with it. It will
be a great time for all the boys and girls to come to the zoo."
Vow To Bring Up PSAT, SAT Scores
By JANA ADAMS
Improving students' scores on the PSAT, SAT and Georgia High
School Graduation Test is a top priority at Commerce High School
Principal Donnie Drew and assistant principal Mary Evans named
test score improvements as the number one major goal for the
school at the Commerce Board of Education work session Thursday
night. The other two of the top three goals for the year are
increasing technology skills of teachers to integrate technology
into the classrooms and promoting character education.
Test improvement has been a focus at CHS for the past few years,
Drew said, listing a number of ways in which the faculty and
administration have worked to raise scores. In the 1997-98 school
year, an improvement committee was established; ninth and 10th
graders took the PSAT, with scores analyzed so teachers could
address weak areas; reading and vocabulary were emphasized; resource
books were purchased and utilized; and a test improvement plan
was created and curriculum correlated with it.
In 1998-99, CHS got a school improvement grant, which provided
funding for SAT review classes. The school continued to emphasize
vocabulary and PSAT interpretation.
This year, the faculty and staff have revised the test improvement
plan and have planned SAT test-taking strategies classes. Counselor
Elaine Roller will hold a PSAT interpretation session with parents
and students, and she and faculty will also receive and analyze
a PSAT answer summary. Vocabulary is a continuing emphasis and
the SAT review classes are still under way.
This year and in the future, CHS will include test preparation
into a ninth grade study skills class and teachers will include
occasional questions on regular tests in the format of the SAT
and PSAT to help students get used to that type of test-taking.
The faculty will also analyze standardized tests of eighth graders
to determine what areas need to be emphasized in high school.
Another emphasis will be on proper class selection for students
beginning in ninth grade or as early as late middle school.
The school is also contemplating offering the ACT, as well as
the SAT, with the test selected based on classes the students
have taken and what their future plans are, Roller said.
Integrating brain-based activities into the curriculum - such
as using soothing music, scents and water to set a calm mood
and stimulate brain activity before testing - are also in the
works, Evans said.
"We're committed to improving test scores," Drew said.
"We are not satisfied with where the scores are."
Rate To Be Slightly Higher
When Commerce residents get their 1999 property tax bills in
the next few weeks, they'll find a slight increase in what they
Spurred by a seven percent increase in the cost of operating
the Commerce City School System, the Commerce City Council voted
unanimously Monday night to increase the ad valorem tax rate
by a little over a quarter mill.
The official action is to advertise a tentative tax rate of 16.36
mills for the schools and one mill for city operations. Last
year, the rate was 16.08 mills for the schools and one for the
"The four percent increase in the city tax digest was a
little more than the increase the schools asked for," City
Manager Clarence Bryant told the town council.
Each mill of taxes levied for the school system will bring in
$98,421, for a total of $1,559,875, while the mill for city operations
should bring in $98,373.
The city must advertise the proposed tax rates for two weeks,
after which it can officially set the rate.
The city tax digest is $99,716,000, compared to $95,521,000 last
year, Bryant said.