Savannah Horton (far left) takes a break with other student representatives from North Carolina at the National Student Leadership Summit in Indianapolis last month.

SCOUTING AROUND: Leadership event inspires Andrews student

   The week before she left for Indianapolis, Savannah Horton was a nervous wreck because she was going by herself and knew no one. The Andrews High School junior was one of seven students representing North Carolina at the National Federation of State High School Associations National Student Leadership Summit – and out of those seven, she attended the smallest school, by far.
   Fortunately, her friends, like Paige Lindley and Elizabeth Arreaga along with teacher Mary White, were supportive.
   “If anyone can do it, you can,” Horton remembered Lindley telling her.
   Horton was selected at the end of April as the Region 8 representative for the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council. Teachers at Andrews High thought she had the potential to fill the position, and nominated her.
   “It’s like, why me? I play one sport. I’m not a super athlete, so it was an honor,” Horton said.
   One of her responsibilities is to attend the summit.
   “It was very intimidating,” she said. “It was cool to see these kids from schools with 3,000 students.”
   Horton and student representatives from all over the country participated in sessions discussing social media and how it affects your future, building better people skills and creating better relationships with teammates. She thinks she learned the most from the last session she attended, in which she learned to be herself and not worry about what others are thinking.
   Because most students at the summit were student-athletes, she said the three things everyone wanted to know about each other was their name, state and sport. She learned she was a lot more like other students there as a single-sport athlete. She also learned some schools across the country play sports that aren’t in North Carolina.
   Horton was inspired to work on introducing new sports, like tennis, to area students in an intramural form. Through an opportunity to work with Indiana Special Olympics, she also was inspired to bring unified sports – which puts athletes with and without disabilities on the same team – to the area.
   She would like to make a presentation on what she learned at summit to her classmates at Andrews, especially what she learned about making sure social media is benefiting you and creating a plan for it to do so. She also would like her classmates to know that where you come from should not hold you back from doing things.
   As a member of the advisory council, Horton will serve a two-year term and provide a voice for student athletes in North Carolina. She will present reports at NCHSAA meetings, perform community service and participate in council projects.
   Horton plays volleyball at Andrews High, where she also is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She has served as manager of the track and basketball teams. In addition to her sports participation, she is co-editor of the yearbook and was sophomore class representative for the student council.

Flowers add color to county highways
   Cherokee County has gotten a little sunnier lately, thanks to sunflower patches popping up along U.S. 64 near Peachtree and U.S. 74 in Andrews. The sunflowers are part of the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Wildflower Program.
   “It’s basically a pollination program,” said Keith Blazer, division roadside environmental engineer, adding that it also aids in beautification. The flowers are chosen to help increase the population of pollinators, like bees and butterflies.
   Sunflower seeds were planted May 22. Blazer said the DOT also planted red and white cosmos, black-eyed Susans, gloriosa daisies, and red and yellow zinnias along U.S. 64 and U.S. 74 in the last month. Any bare patches along those roads is where flowers will be growing soon.
   Blazer said this year, they planted wildflowers on more acreage in Cherokee than any other county in Division 14, which encompasses 10 counties in western North Carolina. Funding for the project – for both seeds and labor – comes from the sale of personalized license plates and donations from Bayer Chemicals.
   “We have to distribute that allocation of money and seed throughout the 10 counties,” he said. “We try to do as much as possible.”
   Blazer is able to cover about 30 acres across the division with wildflowers. He first focuses on sections of roads with the highest profiles for traffic. He put an emphasis on Cherokee County because he wanted to add to the beauty he already saw here.
   Many local families have seen the sunflower patch as an opportunity for family photos.
   “We do not encourage it because of safety concerns,” Blazer said.
   He said anyone wishing to take photos should use common sense, plus make sure they are off the road.
   “I’d hate for the public to not enjoy the flowers,” Blazer said.
   He said he would like to see the Wildflower Program inspire people to plant their own gardens to help the DOT’s goal to increase the pollinator population. The Wildflower Program was started in 1985, in which 12 acres were spread with wildflower seeds statewide.
   Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.