Columbia’s East Point Academy merges cultures, inspires minds and expands horizons for students by teaching them Mandarin Chinese, the world’s most spoken language. In the process, East Point earned an “A” ranking as the state’s 2nd best public charter school, according to Mark Bounds (at left in photo with Rotarian Matthew Pollard). Bounds was Capital Rotary’s Sept. 4 guest speaker, tracing the school’s growth to 740 students since its 2011 founding. East Point practices language immersion – meaning that Mandarin Chinese is used extensively in academic classes schoolwide. Mandarin is spoken by over a million people and is the second-fastest growing language globally. South Carolina has an important China connection – Bounds said the country ranks 1st among the state’s export markets while Chinese companies employ over 3,500 of our residents. East Point has classes from 4th grade kindergarten to 8th grade middle school and hopes to add high school instruction. It offers extracurricular activities ranging from clubs to performing arts and sports. As the first school of its kind in the Carolinas, East Point has inspired two more Chinese language immersion institutions. “Together, our students, teachers, staff and parents make East Point Academy a great place to learn and grow,” Bounds said. Before becoming East Point’s head of school, Bounds worked for Lexington-Richland School District Five and for the SC State Department of Education. He served 20 years in the military prior to his education career.
Navigating the Dept. of Veterans Affairs paperwork maze is daunting, but it can pay off for those willing to stake a claim for benefits due as a result of military service. That’s according to Cristy Bradley of Elgin, Capital Rotary’s Aug. 7 guest speaker, who is a paralegal accredited as a claims agent by the federal agency to assist vets in need. Bradley (shown in photo with Rotarian and Navy veteran Bob Davis) said only 90 days of service are needed to qualify for VA benefits that range from compensation to guaranteed home loans and from medical treatment to life insurance and burial assistance. She noted that vets judged to be 30% or more disabled may be entitled to additional compensation for a spouse, dependent parents, unmarried children or a child incapable of self-support. She said about half of VA disability claims involved posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Vets seeking benefits must have (1) a diagnosis of PTSD; (2) symptoms must be tied to a traumatic event, or “stressor,” that occurred during service; and (3) there must be documented medical evidence from a medical professional that the in-service stressor is what caused the individual’s PTSD.
Capital Rotary saluted its outgoing president and swore-in 2019-2020 officers and directors at a club assembly June 26. In Photo A, incoming president Abby Naas recognizes Philip Flynn’s 2018-2019 service with a past president’s gavel and plaque. In Photo B, the incoming club leaders are (seated, from left) director and community service chair Catherine Mabry; president Abby Naas; director Ione Cockrell; director and Rotaract liaison Neda Beal; (standing, from left) treasurer Bryan Goodyear; director and sergeant-at-arms Andy Markl; secretary Austin McVay; president-elect Ben Carlton; past president and Rotary Foundation/International chair Philip Flynn; (not pictured) membership chair Lee Ann Rice and director Paul Gillam.
Scholarship recipients Reagan Smith (left in photo) and Kate Chalfant (right) are welcomed to Capital Rotary’s June 12 meeting by Darren Foy, chair of the club’s scholarship committee. Smith, a recent Dreher High graduate, is bound for The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City to major in chemical engineering. Chalfant is a rising junior at the University of South Carolina, majoring in public relations with a minor in theatre. Capital Rotary has been supporting the educational aspirations of local high school graduates for more than 20 years. Its $20,000 scholarships ($5,000 per year, renewable for four years) are based on a combination of academic performance, extracurricular activity and economic need.
University of South Carolina accounting/finance graduate Joel Welch (center), 2018-19 president of the college’s Rotaract Club, was saluted for his service on May 22, receiving a past president’s pin from Capital Rotarian Neda Beal (left) and District 7770 assistant governor Eric Davis. Rotaract clubs are open to adults ages 18-30 interested in community service, in developing leadership and professional skills, and who enjoy networking and social activities. USC Rotaract was formed in 2010-2011 under the sponsorship of Spring Valley Rotary. Capital Rotary assumed sponsorship earlier this year, with Beal serving as liaison to the college club.
Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference in a person’s heart health, according to Stephanie Portnall and Cierra Ketchel of the American Heart Association, guest speakers at Capital Rotary’s May 1 meeting. Portnall (at right in photo) and Ketchel were welcomed by Rotarian Harry Carter. Although heart disease or strokes cause a third of all deaths, 7 out of 10 Americans don’t consider themselves at-risk and almost half put no effort into improving heart health. Lifestyle changes to boost longevity include (1) getting at least 30 minutes of daily exercise; (2) losing weight; (3) controlling cholesterol and reducing blood sugar to combat plaque growth in arteries; (4) managing blood pressure; (5) eating more fruits and vegetables; and (6) quitting smoking – which is the number one modifiable cause of death. Portnall and Ketchel also demonstrated hands-only CPR using chest compressions that can double or triple survival chances for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims. A University of South Carolina graduate, Portnall has worked for a year with the Heart Association. Ketchel is an agency intern and a rising senior in USC’s Arnold School of Public and Health.
Capital Rotary president Philip Flynn congratulates Dr. Tommy Gibbons (at right in photo) for earning Paul Harris Fellow Plus-Four honors through continued contributions to The Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable arm that supports programs for world understanding and peace. Gibbons has made an initial $1,000 donation to the fund, followed by four additional gifts of $1,000 each. A native of Clarendon County’s Turbeville community, Gibbons is a past president of Capital Rotary and holds degrees from the College of Charleston, the Medical University of South Carolina and the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
Author Randolph G. Russell told Capital Rotary members March 13 that ignorance about our nation’s history is “profound and widespread” throughout the American public. Russell (at left in photo with Rotarian Matthew Pollard) was guest speaker at the club’s weekly breakfast meeting. His book “American History in No Time” takes a quick look at the “essential fundamentals” of our heritage and could help repair what Russell called a “fading connection” with the past. He believes knowing US history is important for these reasons: (1) it’s part of our national identification as Americans; (2) it’s a way to counter those who try to “fill the void of ignorance” with misinformation; (3) it affects the quality of government by enabling us to make better choices at election time; and (4) it’s a fascinating story that can enrich everyone’s life. Unlike weighty school texts, Russell said his book is an overview of key events, people, places and principles divided into chapters that can be read in a matter of minutes. He described it as the quickest way to get up to speed with history’s essentials – what everyone should learn and not forget. Russell holds degrees from the University of Miami and the University of Florida. He’s worked in financial management for companies in Florida and Georgia. Also an accomplished musician, Russell concluded his presentation with a saxophone rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
Foregoing their regular breakfast meeting, Capital Rotary Club members spent an hour of community service volunteer time Feb. 13 at Harvest Hope Food Bank’s Shop Road headquarters in Columbia. They bagged and stocked five bins with approximately 3,000 pounds of edibles destined for the Emergency Food Pantry. Harvest Hope, begun in 1981, works to meet the needs of hungry people in 20 counties in the Midlands, Pee Dee and Greater Greenville regions of South Carolina. Capital Rotarians traditionally volunteer at the facility at least once a year as a group.
Human trafficking is a growing multi-billion-dollar crime worldwide. Victims include children, the homeless or people from difficult family situations, undocumented immigrants and the disabled. Capital Rotarians heard details from Jan. 16 guest speakers Sherri Lydon (left in photo) and Elliott Daniels (right in photo). Lydon is US Attorney for the District of South Carolina, while Daniels is an Assistant US Attorney. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery – using force, fraud or coercion to exploit victims. They can be manipulated physically or psychologically and pressed into domestic service, commercial sex trafficking or forced labor. Victims may be exploited by employers, family members, caregivers or intimate partners, friends or acquaintances. In 2018 South Carolina had 127 human trafficking hotline reports, mostly for commercial sex or forced labor. Incidents were most numerous in Richland, Horry, Greenville and Charleston counties. Daniels said more citizen awareness combats human trafficking. He urged support for non-profit organizations that help and shelter victims, plus offering them job opportunities. To keep children safe from being lured into trafficking via the internet, he said parents need to “know who your kids are talking to online” and set social media boundaries. Lydon is a Clemson and University of South Carolina Law School graduate who was appointed the state’s US Attorney in May 2018. Daniels has undergraduate and law degrees from George Washington University and studied international law at Oxford University.