Fifth grade students at Ranger Elementary/Middle School watch Donald Trump recite the oath of office. Their teacher, Shannon Holliday, was in the crowd at the inauguration. Photo by SAMANTHA SINCLAIRJust after inauguration ceremony, Shannon Holliday stands with her sons, Seth Holliday (a sophomore at Hiwassee Dam High School) and Christian Holliday (a senior at Southeastern Louisiana University).Emily Taylor shows her progress on a quilt block at the Unaka Hearts and Hands club's block of the month gathering.

SCOUTING AROUND: Students watch inauguration as teacher attends

    Ranger Elementary/Middle School’s fifth grade class was quietly gathered in Shannon Holliday’s classroom eating lunch and watching the inauguration from USA Today’s live feed on the Smart Board. Suddenly, during Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s speech, the class erupted with excitement as one student, Blake Dotson, pointed at the screen.
    The camera briefly showed the crowd, and Dotson clearly saw a woman with her hair in a bun and wearing a familiar jacket. It had to be their teacher, Holliday. She was attending the inauguration of President Donald Trump with her family – husband Louis and sons Seth and Christian­ – and had tickets in the north standing section.
    “It’s pretty cool because I’d like to see it (in person),” Dotson said. “Even if I didn’t like the the President, I’d still go. I’d just think it’s pretty cool to see that.”
    It was Holliday’s first time attending a Presidential Inauguration, but not her first time visiting the nation’s capital. Rep. Trent Kelly (R-Miss.) invited the Hollidays to the ceremony. Her husband, Louis, worked with Kelly in Mississippi when Kelly was district attorney.
    “We had a wonderful day,” Holliday said from D.C. “Everyone around us was nice and respectful. People were very inspired and hopeful.”
    The family saw a few groups of protestors, including some blocking their entrance gate for the ceremony, but they had no negative encounters and felt very safe.
    She said she thought Trump’s inaugural address was positive and uplifting.
    “President Trump’s speech was inspiring and positively accepted by all around us. It honestly felt like a breath of fresh air - everyone was optimistic about the future,” she said. “He made me believe in America again.”
    As the class listened to Trump make his inaugural address, a few, like Leonard Delay and Dominck Rummler, whispered to each other about what Trump had said as the president paused for applause. Neither boy wanted Trump to be elected president.
    “I think he did okay,” Delay said after Trump completed his speech. “I just want to see if he makes it come true.”
    “Actions speak louder than words,” Rummler said.
    The class had been studying the inauguration process in class before Holliday traveled to D.C., and everything seemed to go as expected. There was one person some were surprised to see in attendance, though – Hillary Clinton. Some students thought she wouldn’t attend because she and Trump didn’t seem to like each other.
    “Hillary probably respects the country, so that’s why she went,” Charles Dickerson said. “She went not for the president, but for America.”
    Some students were also impressed with the amount of people who were there watching the inauguration ceremony. The other fifth grade teacher, Greg Elliott, told the students that 900,000 people were expected to attend the ceremony.
    When she returned to school this week, Holliday brought in mementos, like her inauguration program and Trump’s autograph.

Club shares love of quilting
    When the Unaka Hearts and Hands Club scheduled a block of the month quilt to add to their activities this year, the ladies decided to see if 10-year-old Emily Taylor wanted to join them. Taylor is home schooled, and her mother, Christy, was once a member of the club.
    On Jan. 12, she joined the ladies in making their first block for the block of the month activity.
    “I thought it would be fun to make a quilt,” she said.
    This quilting activity is for fun, Bonnie Oller, President of the Hearts and Hands Club, said, explaining they also make quilts on project days as part of their community service projects.
    Taylor had sewn in the past, but had never tried quilting before. She said the biggest thing she learned was lining up the seams. She thinks more kids should learn how to quilt. “It’s fun, and it teaches you how to sew,” Taylor said.
    Oller agreed. “Anyone can do it,” she said of quilting. “If you can do one block, you’re a quilter.”
    Taylor nearly completed the block she was working on, and the ladies gave her fabric to practice with at home. She said she plans to continue attending the block of the month meetings to complete her quilt.
    Oller said Taylor’s presence made them reminisce about their school experiences in home economics classes. It also made them think they could do more activities like this with the Brownie Girl Scout troop they help, Troop 2681, if the scouts choose to.
    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 at 837-5122.