12th Annual
Coal Creek Scholars Day
19 December 2013

 We live in a special community composed of
unique individuals, so always embrace who you are.
Even if you become a citizen of the world,
remember you’re from Briceville.
  Twelve former
Briceville students now in college, or recently graduated
from college, delivered that message to Briceville School’s
fourth and fifth graders today.

'Never forget where you came from..'
but go as far as an education will take you

An Open Invitation to former and current Briceville School Students

Click Image


Briceville BIG kids amongst the little kids...
right where they used to be sitting in
class not so many years ago...

The Coal Creek Scholars program began in 2002 as a dream for an unbroken circle where Briceville students can participate in K-12 community service projects to celebrate their heritage and qualify for college scholarships.  Upon becoming college students, they would return to motivate Briceville fourth and fifth graders to continue that tradition.

The unbroken circle was on display at the 12th annual Coal Creek Scholars Day event at Briceville School where college students and graduates challenged the fourth and fifth graders to follow in their footsteps and go to college.  Coal Creek Scholars in attendance were future nurses, doctors, engineers, business leaders, as well as medical/computer/culinary specialists. We even have a future minister, Ricky Bailey, in our ranks.  Ricky demonstrated one of the benefits of a college education with his oratory skill.  They led a panel discussion and took questions about starting early to prepare for college, their choices for college and careers, how they are learning a variety of ways to succeed in college, and what a difference it is making in their lives. 

Smart, encouraging, inspirational Coal Creek Scholars spoke to the Briceville 4th and 5th graders
to encourage them to study well and go to college or technical school one day
so they can help make a difference in the world!

Front Row  - L to R:  Victoria Wright, Sarah Byrge, Megan Dugger, Samantha Randolph
Second Row -  L to R: Ryan Vandergriff, Tyler Vandergriff, Jessica, Seth Taylor, Kaleasha Welch
Back Row - L to R:  Jonathan Sharp, Kyle Leinart, Jonathan Towe, Ricky Bailey

The success of today's event will be judged by how many of these current Briceville students finish high school, earn a Coal Creek Nantglo Scholarship, and attend college!

CCWF president Barry Thacker, P.E., explained why he chose engineering as a career as follows:   

I got my degree in civil engineering because engineers are designers and builders of the quality of life, thus making civilization possible.  Things we take for granted such as getting light at the flip of a switch are the result of engineers designing and building power plants, substations, and power lines to transmit electricity so we can put it to productive use.  Engineers have done more to prolong life than doctors by providing communities with water and wastewater treatment facilities.  Typhoid fever, cholera, and dysentery used to wipe out entire communities before the development of modern water and wastewater treatment facilities. 

Group shot of Scholars, teachers, 4th & 5th grade students, and Barry Thacker, PE and Carol Moore

Afterwards, the Coal Creek Scholars
served as Santa’s helpers in delivering toys
to all the good little boys and girls
at Briceville School.


It was also "Pajama Day" at
the school... who knew!?


Funding for the gifts was provided
by staff members of
Geo/Environmental Associates, Inc.
a Schnabel Engineering Company.

Students with 5th grade teacher Christy Carroll

As Barry promised, here’s the story of one of his heroes, John Frank Stevens, a railroad engineer who designed the Great Northern Railroad, then later became chief engineer of the Panama Canal.  

Engineer John Frank Stevens and the Building of the Panama Canal

President Teddy Roosevelt wanted the U.S. to be recognized as a world leader in 1903, so he made a speech saying the U.S. would build a canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific in Panama where the French had failed.  His rallying cry was, “Make the dirt fly.” 

President Roosevelt wanted an engineer for the job who had success in major construction projects, so he hired John Frank Stevens due to his building of the Great Northern Railroad.  Rather than making the dirt fly, Stevens knew he first had to solve the problem of malaria and yellow fever in Panama, understanding that the French were unsuccessful in building the canal because many of them had died from those diseases.  Stevens drained the swamps, built sanitation facilities, and recruited doctors to develop treatments for those diseases, which were carried by mosquitos.  Meanwhile, he designed a railroad to get excavated material out of the way, as well as the infrastructure needed to support the expected workforce.

He then convinced President Roosevelt that performing construction under water by digging a channel below sea level was impractical.  Stevens closed the deal by presenting a conceptual design for a series of locks and dams to create the artery from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans that could be built above sea level.  Only then did the dirt start to fly in construction of the Panama Canal. 

Soon after the plans were done, Stevens resigned to return to building railroads.  His successor, Colonel George W. Goethals of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, modestly characterized his completion of the canal by saying, “All I did was follow the plans developed by Engineer Stevens.”              


Scholars prepare for speaking to 4th & 5th graders

Click on image to enlarge:

Engineer John Frank Stevens at work designing the Panama Canal

Future engineers???

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