Community, Just For Fun

Chrysanthemums, also called mums, are the Queen of Fall Flowers. They can have gorgeous flowers each fall and bring a lot of color to the home this time of the year. There are several nurseries around here that grow beautiful mums. Let’s talk about some of the properties of this plant and what you could do to have mums in your yard.

Mums are a member of the daisy family (Asteraceae). This is one of the biggest families in the plant kingdom with a wide variety of flowering plants. The mums were first cultivated in the 15th century B.C. in China. In the 8th century A.D., the mum made its way to Japan. They were so popular there that the mum became the official seal of the emperor. The mum was introduced to the Western world in 1753 by Karl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist. Growers from ancient China would probably not recognize modern-day mums due to the breeding that has given them more showy flowers. Chrysanthemum is also the source of an insecticide called pyrethrum. Because this insecticide is developed from a natural source it is considered an organic insecticide.

The easiest way to have blooming mums at your house each year will be to buy them in the fall from a local nursery. However, if you are interested in growing your own mums it is possible. There are many different varieties available, so talking with a local nursery will help you choose a variety that is acclimatized to our area. They do best when planted in the spring after the last frost. Planting in the spring will give them time to develop a root system so that the following winter they will be able to survive. Well-drained soils with full sun are the best for growth. Mums need a slightly acidic soil with a pH near 6.5.

After planting fertilize mums with 5-10-5 fertilizer. The high phosphorus will assist root growth on mums. As the mum is growing in the summer pinching the tips of the mum will increase the amount of branching on the plant. More branching will lead to a fuller plant. Pinch the top half-inch to a full inch of the plant to encourage branching. Pinch every four to six weeks until August when the flower buds begin to appear.

Mums are relatively easy to take care of, but there are a couple of diseases to look out for. Some of the most common diseases are powdery mildew, blight, leaf spot, and rust. These diseases are fairly easy to control either by fungicide applications or removing the infected leaves. Spider mites and aphids can be pests of mums. They can be controlled by insecticides but good coverage of the plant is necessary to control these pests. Spider mites and aphids are capable of population explosions in a very short amount of time, therefore make sure that you completely cover the top and bottom of the leaves when spraying for these pests.

If you have questions about growing mums please contact your local Extension Office. Or send me an email at

Officers honored for life saving actions

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Fannin County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management, EMA, EMS, First Responders, Fire Department, Paramedics, Narcan, Life Saving, Overdose, Corporal Dustin Carter, Investigator Gary Edwards

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Two officers with the Fannin County Sheriff’s Department were honored for their quick thinking that resulted in a life being saved.

A call came through dispatch of a single vehicle accident on Highway 2 near Flowers Baking Company. A silver Ford Focus driven by Michael Peppers of Blue Ridge had left the roadway and struck a tree.

Fannin County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management, EMA, EMS, First Responders, Fire Department, Paramedics, Narcan, Life Saving, Overdose, Corporal Dustin Carter, Investigator Gary Edwards

(L – R) Investigator Gary Edwards, Corporal Dustin Carter

Corporal Dustin Carter and Investigator Gary Edwards were first to respond to the scene and saw that the male driver was alone and trapped in the vehicle.

“The door panel was crushed from striking the tree,” Investigator Edwards spoke of the scene upon arrival. 

The door was unable to be opened and both officers saw the condition of Peppers deteriorating.

“He was slightly responsive. He was losing color and as we were speaking to him, his condition worsened and he just went out, non-responsive, lost all of his color,” Edwards recounted the quickness in which Peppers’ condition worsened.

Accident reports from that day detail how Peppers’ skin color began to become grayish in hue as his eyes rolled back and his breathing came to almost a complete stop.

“He was on the verge of completely not breathing. He was having agonal respirations,” Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham spoke of Carter and Edwards’ actions and explained that agonal respirations is a gasping for air that is associated with body reflex and is seen in medical emergencies.

Investigator Edwards and Corporal Carter worked together to free Peppers from the vehicle, Edwards having to break out the back window to gain access. It was at this point that Carter recognized the signs of a possible overdose and Edwards retrieved his supply of Narcan.

Narcan is a nasal spray used for the treatment of an opioid emergency or a possible opioid overdose with signs of breathing problems.

Upon returning, Edwards reported that Carter was able to free Peppers from the vehicle and had him laying down on the ground. Edwards administered the nasal Narcan and Peppers began to breathe and move again.

When paramedics arrived, both officers helped to load Peppers onto the stretcher and observed that he was talking to paramedics as they left the scene.

“Seeing his reactions. From the time we got there, he was kind of responsive to unresponsive in just a few minutes,” Carter explained the decision to use Narcan. Carter says that training and experience are how he was able to quickly recognize the signs of a possible overdose.

The officers were given pins of recognition by Fannin County’s Emergency Management Team to acknowledge that their quick thinking and actions were directly responsible for saving a life.




If you’re enjoying the Sunday Edition, then consider becoming a contributor with your own articles. If you have an article that needs highlighting send it to to become a part of our growing community of feature news.


Natalie Kissel

Scoring Points: Football for NC and GA pushed back

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Scoring Points, meeting, sports setbacks, basketball, fake fans

The Georgia High School Association held a private meeting earlier today to discuss the upcoming fall football season start dates and schedules. The meeting was not broadcast publicly, but according to sources the competition date for football will be pushed back for two weeks, but the football conditioning and all other sports starting dates are unchanged.

The first football games will be held on labor day weekend, with scrimmages on August 21 and 28.

There will be a full regular season and a full playoff schedule as of right now.

Practice will begin next Monday, with pads starting August 1.

North Carolina has some of the same things, pushing back their start date 2 weeks to September 1, to allow players and coaches a chance to get a grip on things.

Personally, I think that this postponement of the season is probably going to end up being a good thing. With pro sports starting back up and everything, it will give the high schools something they can look at and model after, as long as those professional sports end up going over well.

I think that the postponement was inevitable, and I am just glad that they are planning on playing at this point in time. A year without sports would be detrimental to the community in-itself, much less the athletes that would be missing out on playing.

Luckily, all signs are pointing toward the fact that both Georgia and North Carolina will have some sort of fall sports season. If you would’ve asked me a month ago if I thought that we would be in a position to play at all I would have told you heck no, But, at this point, I’m at about an 80% certainty that will we see games played in the coming months.

Stay tuned to the FYN Sports page to find out the latest updates on the GHSA, NCHSAA, and TSSAA upcoming fall seasons.



Check out more of Jake West’s Scoring Points by reading last week’s article: Athletics in NCHSAA hands: Good or bad?. Also remember, in sports, points are scored by both sides, so send in your opinions on sports to and see them in our next Sunday Edition.

Perennial Pals: Is it Ripe?

Just For Fun, Tastebuds

(Article and photo by Jacob Williams in conjunction with Towns-Union Master Gardener Association and the UGA Extension Office)

One question that people will call me with is how to tell if a fruit or vegetable is ripe or not. Different plants ripen differently. Some will continue to ripen after they’ve been picked, others need to ripen attached to the plant. Let’s talk about what causes plants to ripen and how to tell if some common fruits and vegetables are ripe or not.

Fruits and vegetables are divided into climacteric and non-climacteric. The difference between these groups is their response to the hormone ethylene. Ethylene is a hormone that plants produce to induce ripening. Climacteric fruits and veggies will continue to ripen after they have been picked. Non-climacteric fruits and veggies won’t continue to ripen. Instead, they will soften and rot as they age. Some crops are sensitive to ethylene and so shouldn’t be stored with climacteric crops that produce ethylene.

Apples, pears, peaches, plums, potatoes, and tomatoes are some examples of climacteric plants. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, cucumbers, eggplant, grapes, strawberries, peppers, squash, and watermelon are all examples of non-climacteric crops. Some examples of plants that are sensitive to ethylene and so shouldn’t be stored with climacteric crops are asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers, green beans, kale, onions, peas, peppers, squash, and watermelon.

Now that we know a little more about the ripening process let’s talk about how to tell when the best time to pick some of the most commonly grown crops around here are.

RipeTomatoes are an easy one to tell when they are ripe because they start to turn red. You can pick tomatoes before they are fully ripe on the vine. Because they are climacteric, they will continue to ripen. I’ve put tomatoes up in the kitchen windowsill so that they’ll ripen. Sometimes it is advantageous to pick something before it’s fully ripe so that you make sure critters don’t get it before you.

Apples and pears can be a little more challenging to tell when they are ripe. Different varieties will ripen at different times. In addition, the entire tree may not ripen at the same time. If the apple or pear stem breaks away easily from the tree then it’s ripe. Turn the fruit sideways to see if it pops off. Depending on the variety, you can use color to tell if the fruit is ripe. If you cut an apple open and the seeds are dark brown, it’s ripe.

Blueberries will be plump with a deep blue color. They also have a white powder on the skin that keeps them fresh longer.

Squash and zucchini should be harvested when they’re 4-8 inches long. They’ll both grow longer if left on the vine, and you can still eat them if they’re big, but they get tougher as they age. You should be able to push your fingernail into the skin.
Sweet corn is ripe when you can puncture a kernel with your fingernail and milky fluid comes out. As soon as corn is picked, it starts to lose flavor. Refrigerate it to retain flavor.

Pick peas when the pods have plumped out. If they start to wrinkle, they’re getting overripe. You can always open a pod to see if the seeds are swollen, but still tender. Beans are ready when you can see the seeds bulging through the sides of the pod.

Pick peppers when they are shiny green. If you let them sit on the bush longer and they start to change to orange or red and they’re getting hotter. If that’s what you’re looking for, let them sit.

If you have questions about when plants are ripe contact your County Extension Office or email me at



If you’re enjoying the Sunday Edition, then consider becoming a contributor with your own articles. If you have an article that needs highlighting send it to to become a part of our growing community of feature news.

Ask the Doc! The Science and Secondary Effects of Covid-19

Ask The Doc! Recovery Process Of Covid-19

With major spikes in numbers, Ask the Doc! talks about the daily science of treatment of the virus while translating and bringing the science of the virus to you.

Dr. William Whaley’s tie leads into a conversation about the international scope of the virus while comparing medical safety in countries. Which data is viable and what statistics are out of proportion? A 100% increase in deaths could mean going from 1 to 2. Whaley says to focus on people getting sick. So, what do you do about it?

Dr. Whaley also touches on lockdowns and shutdowns have on the spread of the virus as he compares case rates before shutdown and those after shutdowns in 149 countries. But also compares mask usage with a story about two hair stylists in Missouri. With positive tests on these two stylists after having served 139 clients and contact with 6 coworkers. Dr. Whaley said not one of those people tested positive.

Dr. Tidman speaks to schools reopening and the panic onset. Overreactions are hurting our country and people are not calmly assessing the situation. Returning to schools and providing safety for students is possible with scientists and doctors supporting the thought.

But taking into account a student and family together, BKP turns the conversation to sports seasons. Tidman responds with the muddled message of masks in the country. Which mask is the mask people need and who needs them? The Docs go deeper into masks and needs within the community.

As we continue figuring things out amid the virus, Dr. Tidman talks about the learning process and the requirement of discipline. Discipline is the second half of the freedom we own as we must take responsibility as we move into school, into Fall, and into the next steps of recovery.


Sponsored by North Georgia Cancer Research Specialists, affiliated with Northside Hospital, you can follow more on Ask the Doc! through the dedicated playlist on FYNTV and check out a wider variety of shows there as well.


If you’re enjoying the Sunday Edition, then consider becoming a contributor with your own articles. If you have an article that needs highlighting send it to to become a part of our growing community of feature news.

Students return to school August 7th : What to expect


Blue Ridge, Ga. – Students of the Fannin County School System (FCSS) will have the option of returning to school in a modified traditional setting or utilizing online learning for the 2020-21 school year.

School Administration released their plans for reopening schools at the Board of Education (BOE) regular July meeting.

Assistant Superintendent Sarah Rigdon gave the board an overview of what to expect when school comes back into session. 

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Rigdon presented the BOE with administration’s plan to reopen schools.

The Georgia Department of Education (DOE) released guidelines in early June for schools to consider when reopening in the State of Georgia. These guidelines, however, were only recommendations and the ultimate decisions for school operations were left up to the districts.

The DOE guidelines, along with guidance from both local and state authorities, as well as guardian and faculty input helped shape the approach that the FCSS is choosing to implement for the time being.

“The important part for us was to get the information and make the best decisions that we can,” Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney spoke of the system’s plan. “This plan is subject to change. We need to think of this as a living document. It will be modified as new things are learned.”


***Important Dates***

Traditional school, or in person education will begin on August 7, 2020.

Faculty and Staff are to report on August 3, 2020.

Online Learning will also begin on August 7, 2020.

Parents and Guardians may enroll their child for Online Learning between July 10 – July 20, 2020.


***Online Learning***

For those not comfortable with the traditional in class setting, an online option will be available. Assistant Superintendent Rigdon stressed that this online option will not mirror the distance learning that the school put in place upon the mandatory closure earlier this year.

The online learning platform will be run through a 3rd party that is yet to be determined. The platform will provide instruction to the child with the parent or guardian being a “learning coach”.

Students enrolled in online learning will spend the majority of the traditional school day (8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) either working online or working to complete assignments given online. Attendance will be taken and monitored via login and assignments completed.

There will be FCSS personnel assigned to check on each child’s progress. The “learning coaches” will be given the name of someone at the school who can help them navigate the program or assist with issues.

The content of the online learning platform, according to FCSS, will be “rigorous and graded”.

Students enrolled in Online Learning will be able to participate in sports and extracurricular activities. 

While the FCSS is not requiring that students sign a contract to remain in the online platform once enrolled (many other districts have this requirement), they would like to see those enrolled stay with the program through the first semester or for the entirety of the school year.

“We are not asking parents to sign a commitment, but we do want them to be extremely thoughtful as they make that decision because it is going to require us to allocate and spend funds that could be better spent if they’re not going to stick with the program,” Rigdon explained of the need for students and guardians to consider the decision heavily.

Rigdon did add for those who enroll but discover that the online platform is not working for them, “We are never turning a child away from our schools.”

Students utilizing the Online Learning platform will complete assignments from a school issued device. FCSS will provide a WiFi hotspot for students without internet, but these hotspots work much like mobile phones, so if you are an area with poor cell phone service it is likely that the hotspot would not work for you.

Online Learning is available for children in grades Kindergarten – 12. This includes children with IEPs (Individualized Educational Program). Online Learning is not available for Pre-K students.


***Traditional School***

Masks are optional for both students and personnel. Parents or Guardians must provide a mask for students who wish to wear one throughout the day.

Temperatures will be taken for all students, staff, parents and guardians each morning upon arriving at the campus. Anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will not be permitted to stay at school. 

Hand sanitizer will be available to all children and adults before entering the school buildings.

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Parents, Guardians, and Staff completed a survey on key issues. This helped shape the district’s plan to reopen.

Elementary teachers will move the students instead of students changing classes. Middle and High School students will not be allowed to congregate in hallways. When and where possible class changes for Middle and High School students will be staggered or hallway traffic patterns will be addressed to prevent overcrowding.

When possible students will be assigned seats and will keep the same seat during the instructional class period.

Each school will “develop school level procedures” to limit the number of students in the cafeteria. This may include “grab and go” where students will pick up meals and eat in a classroom or designated area.

The final plan for buses has not been finalized. However, hand sanitizer will be available for anyone upon boarding a bus. Buses will be sanitized daily and ventilated to the extent feasible when in route.

Parents and guardians will be notified of any adjustments to bus routes or pick up times before the first day of school. Requirement to wear a mask while on a bus has not been decided, but parents and guardians will be notified of this decision as well.

Parents and guardians will be allowed to walk their child to class during the first few days of school but must wear a mask.  Schools will determine when parents and guardians will no longer have access beyond the main entrance.  

FCSS states “We want to keep the lines of communication strong, but we need to limit the number of people flowing into and out of the buildings each day.”


***If Schools Close Again***

Those students enrolled in Online Learning would continue the course that they are taking with no change. Students of the traditional classroom setting would switch to online learning but follow a model similar to that that was implemented in March 2020.


The FCSS states of the opening plan that “plans may change based on future orders from the Governor, the Department of Community Health, or the Department of Education”.

“Our desire is always to operate a traditional school with face to face,” Rigdon said of the hope for all students eventually to return to a traditional setting, “We believe our instruction is best at that level.”


Natalie Kissel

Scoring Points: Minor League Baseball Cancelled

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Scoring Points, meeting, sports setbacks, basketball, fake fans

As many of you may have already seen or heard, the upcoming Minor League Baseball season has been canceled. This decision is detrimental to the livelihood of the thousands of players that are in the MiLB system. With the Pro Baseball Agreement between Major and Minor League Baseball set to expire this year, MLB has already targeted some teams to place on the chopping block, in order to follow the NBA’s lead and make the developmental process easier and more concrete.

Hopefully for our community and the surrounding areas sake, no local area teams such as the Asheville Tourists or the Chattanooga Lookouts will be cut in the coming year. Not only are the rostered players effected, but the people who depend on the seasonal jobs that these clubs provide for them are monumentally impacted. Also, one thing that I can not seem to get off of my mind are the way that younger players in high school are going to be impacted. Without the Minor League Baseball system around, they may opt for heading to a college strictly for academics sake, putting their dreams of playing collegiate baseball and advancing to the next level on the back burner.

I also am saddened to think about the impact that this is going to have on the return of our local high school sports in the area. Cancelling a whole season of profitable baseball does not bode well for the way that the people in power’s minds are operating. I realize that the MiLB is a huge system with a ton of players and staffers and that high school sports are minuscule in comparison, I just hope that this does not set a precedent for things to come.

With the way that things are going in the GHSA and NCHSAA, I do not think that we have too much to worry about, but it is something to think about!


Check out more of Jake West’s Scoring Points by reading last week’s article: COVID causes more high school sports setbacks. Also remember, in sports, points are scored by both sides, so send in your opinions on sports to and see them in our next Sunday Edition.

Scoring Points: Georgia back at practice with restrictions

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Scoring Points, meeting, sports setbacks, basketball, fake fans

Georgia High School’s officially were able to return to workouts on June 8th. The GHSA held a meeting last week and voted to push back the original start date they had agreed upon, moving things a week back from the 1st to the 8th. The meeting was held electronically and was broadcast on the NFHS network.

“These kids have already been away from their fellow students for two-and-a-half months. They’ve already missed proms and honors nights. They’re ready to get back, and that’s been made clear to me from the hundreds of emails I’ve gotten from parents saying, ‘Please let our kids get going.’ It is time to get going” Executive Director Robin Hines said during the meeting.

The kids are allowed at conditioning workouts only, with strict guidelines put into place by the GHSA.

A few of the main recommendations and restrictions include:

  • Member schools should prepare an Infectious Disease Prevention Plan prior to staff and athletes returning to conditioning.
  • Groups should be the same individuals (including coaches) for each session to limit risk of exposure. Students or coaches CANNOT change groups for the duration of this guidance.
  • There is no competition allowed between schools.
  • Social distancing should be adhered to always and masks/face covering are recommended for the weight room.
  • No use of locker rooms or shower facilities. Students should report to the facility dressed to condition and shower at home.
  • Each student should have their own personal water bottle. No use of water fountains.
  • It is recommended that staff and athletes are screened prior to each workout.

Honestly, in my opinion, these restrictions don’t seem like anything too extreme. After looking at the guidelines the NFHS originally released and then looking at these you can tell that the GHSA scaled some things back so it wouldn’t be so harsh on the kids and staff. On any account it will be nice to drive by the field and see some kids running around out there again. We are leaps and bounds ahead of where we originally though we would be at this point. All of this is moving us into the direction where I am getting more confident in the fact that we will see fans in the stands come Friday night football this fall.


Check out more of Jake West’s Scoring Points by reading last week’s article: My take on CCS consolidation. Also remember, in sports, points are scored by both sides, so send in your opinions on sports to and see them in our next Sunday Edition.

Blue Ridge Community Theater : Sewing Good Deeds in a Time of Crisis

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Blue Ridge, Ga. – Volunteers at the Blue Ridge Community Theater (BRCT) are stepping up in a big way to give support to local agencies and citizens, as we all face the Covid-19 pandemic together.

To quote the great William Shakespeare: “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves”, and the volunteers at BRCT are doing just that, by shining a light of purpose in what is a dark time for many.

The mission of the volunteers came about when a dialysis clinic in Chattanooga, Tn. put out a call that they were in desperate need of face masks for their patients. This clinic asked for the public’s help in getting 600 masks.

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BRCT volunteer showing a sewn mask.

The volunteers at BRCT stepped up to answer this call. Head Seamstress, Kim Westcott spoke of the group coming together, “We sew costumes. We’re good sewers,” and added, “We’ve got lots of material, unsuitable for costumes but it’s perfect for this!”

Each mask must meet certain guidelines and specifications, among these the material used must be 100 percent cotton.

Westcott talked about how people, especially quilters, across the nation are stepping up to make the washable masks to help curb the shortage of this very necessary item: “This is a grassroots effort by every quilter out there.” 

Westcott pointed out that quilters know their material and have 100% cotton material that is required on hand.

Of the requested 600 masks to the dialysis clinic, the BRCT volunteers produced around 50 and delivered them. As of Friday, March 27, the clinic had received over 400 masks.

BRCT has since reached out to several local agencies and will continue making masks for the area. Some of the masks made have gone to CASA (court appointed special advocate) volunteers to give to grandparents who are guardians of younger children, some have gone to volunteers that continue to work at the local food bank and of course, many masks will be sent to Fannin Regional Hospital.

The volunteers have received essential status from the City of Blue Ridge, allowing them to continue production during the city’s declared State of Emergency.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Westcott said of being able to help during this nationwide crisis, “As long as we have a place to deliver them to, we’ll be making them.” 

The eight volunteers have now fine tuned the production process in an assembly line fashion, and Westcott says this method is very efficient, “Now that we’ve got the process down, we can probably turn out 30 to 40 a day.”

When asked how many masks the group anticipates making and giving away, Westcott replied, “We’ll give them everything we get and we’ll keep making them until this whole crisis passes.”

Beyond mask production, BRCT has partnered with Family Connection in collecting donations for their food bank services. The theater was able to make 5-6 deliveries last week to this cause.

Volunteers from the theater are also out delivering groceries, medications and other essential items to people who are quarantined or at too high of risk to leave their homes.

Westcott asks that in lieu of donations for mask making productions, that people please consider donating food and essential items to the theater to be delivered to Family Connection.

The theater currently has enough material to produce around 1,000 masks. 


Keep Up-to-date With Covid-19 in Fannin County by Clicking Here

Featured Images in article are courtesy of the Blue Ridge Community Theater Facebook Page.

Note: BRCT response to question regarding social distancing : “While we did gather together for a picture, each woman has her own station where she assembles her portion of the masks. We are blessed to have a very large costume Room, so we try to give them as much space as possible!”


Natalie Kissel

Technology Student Association, Engineering TEAMs competition results are in!

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The final results are in for the Technology Student Association, Engineering TEAMs competition!  Congratulations to the 9th/10th grade and 11th/12th grade teams for placing

(L to R) – 11th/12th grade team: Morgan Blaine (current GT student), Lexi McGill, Ramtin Doroodchi (current GT student), Henry Leben, Anna Holloway, Isaiah Cargle, Cooper Boyle, McCay Turner, Will Shirah (current GT student), and Matthew Shirah.

5th overall in the State of Georgia.  In their division (public schools under 1,000 students) the 9th/10th grade team placed 1st overall, and the 11th/12th grade team placed 2nd overall in the State!


Both teams were first in their division in the multiple-choice test over chemistry, math, physics, and engineering.

Lexi McGill wrote the essay for the 11th/12th grade team and placed 3rd overall in the State and 1st in the division!  Tanner Hamby wrote the essay for the 9th/10th grade team and placed 4th overall in the State and 1st in the division!

The National TSA Conference has been canceled for this summer, but both TEAMs qualified to compete at the national TEAMs competition.


Congratulations to these bright young students!

(L to R) – 9th/10th grade team:  Drake Usry, Bryce Ware, James Kyle, Sam Jabaley, McKenzie Chastain, Luke Pelfrey, Madison Ponton, and Tanner Hamby


Thank you to Morgan Blaine, Charitty Tuttle, Ramtin Doroodchi, Ethan Taylor, and Will Shirah who are current Georgia Tech students from Fannin County for coming out to support the students.





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