14th Annual
Coal Creek Scholars Day
& goodies from Santa

17 December 2015

 Life’s lessons from the heart...

Coal Creek Scholars Program Page




Fifteen Coal Creek Scholars spoke to the 4th & 5th graders
at Briceville School (where they all attended)

Fifteen college students or graduates from Briceville told this year’s fourth and fifth graders the importance of working hard, while focusing on going to college during today’s 14th annual Coal Creek Scholars Day event.  What was said was not as moving as the feelings Coal Creek Scholars articulated to the younger students.

“I recall Scholars Day when I was in fifth grade by how I felt,” said Drew Payne.  “I felt hopeless about my chances of ever going to college, yet here I am.”  

Paul Long said, “My life has not been easy.  I am studying to be an accountant so I can make life easier for my family.”

Jonathan Sharp quoted Booker T. Washington:  “Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.  I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.

When asked if she is stressed by studying mechanical engineering while working full time at Aisin Automotive, Victoria Wright said, “No, because I love my life and what I’m doing with it.”   

Scholars Selfie!!

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.  In return, they agree to inspire Briceville fourth and fifth graders to continue that tradition.

The unbroken circle was on display today when Scholars challenged the fourth and fifth graders to follow in their footsteps and go to college.  Coal Creek Scholars in attendance were future nurses, engineers, teachers, social workers, publishers, scientists, business leaders, as well as medical/computer/artistic specialists. We even had a minister in our ranks. 

Ricky Bailey explained how he met his wife at college and has accepted a position in Miami to become a youth minister now that he has graduated from Tennessee Temple University.  “No matter where I go, I will always be proud I am from Briceville, and so should you.”

April Byrge told of her adventures in Alaska in pursuit of her Master of Science degree in environmental education at Montreat College in North Carolina, while working as a park ranger at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  That prompted other Scholars to relay opportunities they got in college to study in England and Nepal. 

Tallen Roldan articulated his dream by saying, “I want to be my own boss and run my own business, so I’m going to business school.”  That prompted Kyle Leinart to explain the importance of building relationships today that will help you achieve your dreams in the future.   

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

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


Tallen Roldan, April Byrge, Jonathan Sharp, Drew Payne, Emily Phillips, Victoria Wright, Kim Phillips, Mrs. Fleming,
Holley Smith, Paul Long, Krystina Long, Kyle Leinart, Ricky Bailey and Phillip Smith

QUOTE FROM FIRST GRADE TEACHER MELISSA PIERCE FLEMING:  "I may have gotten a little emotional when all these previous first graders of mine came to visit today! I I can't begin to explain how proud I am of every single one of them! It seems like just yesterday I was teaching them to read and write. Today you are looking at a mechanical engineer, an insurance agent, a forest ranger and a pastor. We have kids in the publishing field, computer science, dental hygiene, forensic science, criminal justice, nursing, engineering, computer ...graphics, accounting, psychology, counseling, business, medical school, and that's just naming a few. Even though they are all grown up and are making successful lives of their own, they still take the time to come back to their elementary school to encourage today's young students to work hard and set and achieve goals in life (and visit with their old teachers). I've always said we have the best kids in the world at Briceville Elementary! We really do!"


Victoria Wright

Kyle Leinart gets enthusiastic
telling the students about his virtual reality device
and Computer Engineering

Jonathan Sharp in Elf profile

Scholars, teachers, principal and 4th and 5th graders

Carol Moore & Principal Sandra Patton

Students dig into their gifts from Santa

Students with scholars, Barry Thacker and Carol Moore in the rear

Carol Moore with one of the sweet students


Kyle brought his virtual reality to share

Students yelling "Coal Creek!"


Carol with Scholars Kim Phillips, Holley Smith
and Emily Phillips

Loving their new books

It's a stuffed turkey!

More smiles

Little Jonathan Sharp with his first
grade teacher Melissa Fleming

It's Pajama Day for Head Start class

Scholar Ricky Bailey with Carol Moore
and Barry Thacker

Sweet smile with her cuddly stuffed puppy

Smiles for miles!


What's in the bag!?

Carol Moore with scholar Victoria Wright

Jonathan Sharp, Carol Moore and Kyle Leinart

Scholars with three sweet students

Love!  There's a frog on my shoulder!

Gifted speaker Ricky Bailey

Carol, 4th grade teacher Mrs. Stooksbury,
Barry Thacker and 1st grade teacher Melissa Martin

Jonathan Sharp

Carol with scholars Drew Payne, Seth Taylor,
April Byrge, and Samantha Randolph

Scholar Kim Phillips speaking

Scholar & Park Ranger April Byrge

Sweet and happy girls!

Carol wearing Kyle's Virtual Reality headset --
Note historic Briceville Church back on the hillside

Were the scholars ever this small - with Head Start

Carol with Briceville School Administrative Assistant
Tonya Roldan and Barry Thacker
So inspired and proud of these kids!!

Merry Christmas from Coal Creek!

Thank you to all the
staff of Briceville School!!


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