Reflections of the Valiants

Agoncillo, Kristina Marie

Plains was quite a trip very few people get to experience. I never in my life thought I would get to meet one of the greatest presidents. The people of Plains were extremely friendly. It reminded me of welcome freshmen day at St. Genevieve. All of the food was amazing, the Bed & Breakfast Inn was great and I cannot describe how amazing and homely the Inn was. I most of all enjoyed our concert at the Plains High School where we received countless standing ovations. President and Mrs. Carter's presence at our performances just warms my heart. To top that amazing trip off in Plains, I had a mini reunion at the Atlanta airport and saw one of my favorite cousins whom I have not seen in four years.

I am grateful to Mr. Horn for giving students opportunities like these.

Berjaoui, Sarah

Wow! I don't know where to start. The whole visit to Plains, Georgia was incredible in itself. One of my biggest highlight was on March 8th. The Concert Choir was rehearsing while the other students went shopping. After that we were having dinner at the Plains bed and Breakfast. That night we were eating Manny's Kitchen. We had a surprise guest eating dinner with us and that surprise guest was Mr. Carter himself.

It was so amazing to actually be having dinner with former President Jimmy Carter. I was in total shock and I was amazed at the same time. 

Another highlight was when the Concert Choir performed. It was so remarkable to watch, and I support them 100 percent. When they sang I honestly started to cry as it was so beautiful. 

On Sunday night we ate dinner at the church. It was phenomenal! We ate dinner with President Carter and Mrs. Rosalynn. That same day everyone took individual pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Carter and it was spectacular. Mr. carter hardly takes individual photos so being able to have this privilege was honorable.

There are so many highlights about visiting Plains, Georgia. Everyone there was family oriented. Once I was there I smelled fresh air, and was so gorgeous I did not want to leave. Everyone is so kind and loving. I came back to California with a changed attitude.

On the last night, the people of Plains, and all the Valiants had a big hoedown. That night was so much fun. Everyone was dancing, laughing, and singing, it was the most fun I had in a very long time.

Everyone and everything about Plains was amazing. I felt like I was right at home. I did not want to leave, I honestly want to go back. Once you get the feeling of this love, you miss it. I love it over there as it is absolutely wonderful.

I am very thankful for having this amazing opportunity, I hope I will be able to go back! I Love You Plains, Georgia!


Caballa, Kevin

My biggest highlight moment was when I met Mr. Carter and had dinner with him and his wife along with the people of the town. This is because as a seventeen year old teen, I know now that I will now be a part of history. It was just great taking pictures and having dinner with an ex-president of our great nation. This was great and I feel special because I know that if I ever need a friend I can find some out in Georgia because of the great friends that we made.

Carrasco, Stephanie

One of the biggest highlights has to be just simply meeting President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Rosalynn in person and shaking their hands.

Never in my life would I have thought that I would get an amazing opportunity to meet one of the Presidents of the United States. It was such an honor to meet him and his wife.

I also loved the environment; the people of Plains and how unique and different the houses were. It was once experience I never had. It really opened my mind and heart towards the people that were there for us. I miss Plains and their heart warming hearts. I want to go back because people are so open hearted and loving.

Cruz, Julie

Jimmy Carter's boyhood farm was my biggest highlight while visiting Plains.

Meeting him an honor, but getting a chance to experience the roots of his character was quite insightful.

The atmosphere was chilling and the entire time you could really feel a presence. His home although rather small, was cozy and spirited. Mr. Jimmy put the time and effort into the boyhood farm. Some of the information that he shared, I found to be quite interesting and something I can relate to. For example, Mr. Jimmy Carter claimed he was an avid reader and asked for books during Christmas. I too am a fan of literature and I believe that an individual can be educated on books alone. The farm in general was soothing and carried a tranquil mood. I am most happy when I am relaxed or learning. The boyhood farm presented both serenity and he chance to learn something new along with beautiful scenery. In addition, President Jimmy Carter was also said to be close to his black neighbors, this shows that he is naturally accepting and open minded. It was amazing to see where our 39th President adopted some of the virtues that made him into a great leader.

Dizon, Carissa

On March 7, 2008, the Valiant Voices and 14 of our fine students had an opportunity to travel to Plains, Georgia. Plains is a small, peaceful town in which former President Jimmy Carter was born, grew up, and now resides today.

Plains is such a wonderful, loving, caring town. During our visit we felt a special feeling in our hearts. They were so welcoming, loving and their hospitality was overflowing. We never felt like strangers.

The town was just like a big family, and they welcomed us with open arms.

It is such a rare town and so special. I would never trade my Plains experience for the world. But I would have to say my highlight of the trip was the concert itself. Our main purpose was to perform for Mr. Carter and the people of Plains. The concert was spectacular. I heard from people that Mr. Carter was the first to stand after "Midnight Train to Georgia." When I was getting my photo taken with the Carters he told me to join American Idol. I felt so special. All the hard work and time we spent was worth it and we received even more than we expected. I will never forget the wonderful people and events that I experienced.

Ferrer, Kevin

My biggest highlight from the trip was when we got a chance to drive by the Carter's home. It was very secluded and the secret service had it on lock down. But when we got a call on the motor-coach and learned Miss Jan had got permission to drive by the property, we became very excited. The gate was opened and we went in. This is only experienced by a special few and we were among those few. I made pictures of the house and the pond. Allowing us to pass through the Carter's property made me feel very special and very proud to have had the opportunity to be a part of this experience.

Foote, Katrina

During my trip to Georgia there were many moments that will always stay with me and are truly irreplaceable. I feel that the warm feeling that stayed in our hearts throughout the entire trip made the trip as amazing as it was. The warm feeling was brought by the kind and loving arms that were opened up to us by the people of Plains, Georgia. People like this are the ones that cannot be found in many places. I also think that the family we developed between each other made the trip so great.

Though it was really hard to decide what my highlight moment was, I would say that sitting, eating across the table from former President Jimmy Carter was the most spectacular moment of the trip for me. I had been looking forward to meeting him for so long but I never knew that I would have the opportunity to have a conversation over a meal.

My parents have always talked about what an inspirational man he truly is. I am so blessed to have gotten an honor to find this our for myself in person. That was an opportunity most people will never get.

I will always remember my amazing trip to Plains, Georgia. I am so blessed to be a part of that experience.

Guzman, Jan Patrick

My experience in Plains, Georgia was unforgettable and amazing. The welcome our group received from the community was incredible.

Even though it was our first time meeting some of them, the welcome felt as if we have known them all our lives.

The night we arrived, we watched a play entitled "The King and I". After the play, we met a little star named Maya. She was one of the children that portrayed one of the students in the play. She reminded me that we are all children at heart no matter what.

Two of my most memorable highlights are meeting the 39th President of the United States and the First Lady, and the anointing of the Maranatha Baptist congregation including Mr. and Mrs. Carter. The first time I met and shook the hands of Mr. and Mrs. Carter, my heart started to beat faster and faster. When they asked me what my name was, I started to stutter but finally said my name. At that time I did not know what to say and things were rushing through my mind. Also, after the concert, Mr. and Mrs. Carter took individual pictures with us. That was special to us because they hardly take individual pictures with others.

Then there was the anointing. We were told after the concert that we were to anoint the community of Plains and the congregation at the church including Mr. and Mrs. Carter. The anointing was an emotional moment.

One of our students started to cry and she was next to Mrs. Carter. Mrs. Carter walked over to her, gave her a kiss on the cheek, hugged her, and comforted her.

Others we also crying because that would be our last night at Plains, Georgia. the people of Plains, the Inn, the Bed and Breakfast, the town of Plains, and Georgia itself will always have a special place in my heart.

Guzman, Naomi

My experience going to Plains was just really amazing. Taking in the fresh air and being able to see the night sky without smog, a very clear sky.

I find it quite amazing to have been able to meet and take pictures with President and Mrs. Carter. It was so nice to meet them and introduce myself. the people in Plains are so nice and friendly.

My most favorite highlight was the concert. Dancing and singing and getting standing ovations. I can't wait to go back again.

Horn, Dan

It is hard to leave Plains. I’ve been there several times, and I always want to go back.

This last time was different. I always enjoy myself. Yet this time was more of a spiritual experience, somewhat like a religious retreat, only with some of the heartiest laughs, funniest stories, and the most heartfelt bonding I’ve experienced on any religious retreat.

Here are some of my highlights:


We Valiants love to eat…oh…we sure can handle a knife and fork and we know our way around a plate. Mom’s kitchen…we love it!

Monroes hotdogs and chili-cheese fries, we love it!

Breakfast cooked by Mr. Wrestling II…aka. Johnnie Walker…we love it! Those cheese grits were delicious.

Manny’s kitchen in Jill’s backyard…we love it! Those ribs are better than Paula Deans…did someone say, “Paula Dean vs. Coach Manny” Rib-Challenge-Cook-off???? Better get your tickets now.

Church Supper…we love it! Whoever made that Black and White Cake…send us the recipe…I’m still craving more of that.

The Peanut Ice Cream…delicious as always…even in freezing weather.

Cokes from an old-fashioned Coke machine…ice cold and in a bottle…


The King and I at the beautiful Rylander Theatre in Americus Georgia…performed by a proud troupe of talented actors and actresses… loved the drama of the organ being played while rising up from the floorboards…

“The blue-light special,” our police escort into Plains…the sheriff blocking the highway so all could safely cross to the Plains Bed and Breakfast.

A wonderful tour of Plains given by our wonderful friend Jan. It was definitely exciting to hear her say, as we were approaching the current home of President Carter, that she had been given permission to have our bus drive onto the property so we could see the Carter home. It was exciting for every one of us on that bus to see the gates open and drive past the secret service booth…little did we know what our hosts had in store for us that evening.

Watching the rehearsal at the High School and hearing the Carters were coming to dinner in 10 minutes…wow.

Running with the students back to the Bed and Breakfast and seeing the secret service vehicles parked outside, knowing the Carters were already there.

Feeling humbled and getting tongue-tied while attempting to lead prayer before the meal.

Sitting at the dinner table with former President and Mrs. Carter. Mr. Jimmy smiling and telling us we didn’t have to use a knife and fork… to go ahead and pick up our ribs.

Remembering a luncheon date in March of 1986 with Rosalynn Carter at the Federal Building in Atlanta and having dinner with her 22 years later and thinking how surreal life can be and how blessed my life has been. I love Rosalynn.

Spending time in the kitchen at the B&B, never knowing who might walk through the door, but knowing whoever does is going to be someone we will be glad to know and meet. Having some of the heartiest laughs and slapping my leg black and blue from laughing so uncontrollably.

The feeling that I’ve known these people all my life.

Feeling really happy to watch our Valiants…all 34 of them, experiencing small town life…making their own fun, meeting new people, being gracious and receiving graciousness

Feeling such pride on Sunday morning when our choir came out and took their seats in the choir loft just as President Carter was beginning his Sunday school lesson. THEN, having that pride turn to concern when a student got up to use the restroom…
then the second student gets up to use the restroom
then the third… gets up to go to the bathroom. (OK…NOW MY CONCERN IS TURNING TO A BIT OF PANIC)
then the fifth student, (WHY WON”T THEY LOOK OVER HERE)…
then the seventh student (THAT’S IT…THEY’RE TRYING TO KILL ME…IT’S A CONSPIRACY…THEY HAVE PLANNED THIS…THEY KNOW THIS IS GOING TO KILL ME…STOP GOING TO THE BATHROOM…STOP…PLEASE…I’M BEGGING YOU…STOP GETTING UP TO…) then hearing President Carter wrapping up his Sunday school lesson by saying, “we’re going to take a little break and we will see all of you back in your seats in about 8 minutes…(AHHHHHHH…BREATH…I CAN BREATHE AGAIN…RELIEF)
Then…they sang at church…and I was back in pride-mode.

Saluting Julia Coleman…while introducing the Valiant Voices in the Plains High School auditorium, the thought came to me that this is where Julia Coleman stood many times. Miss Coleman was a teacher and principal at Plains High School when Jimmy and Rosalynn were students. Knowing that hers was the voice that President Carter vividly remembers saying “… any one of you could grow up to be President of the United States one day.” She consistently challenged students with the words… “WHY NOT THE BEST?” When I mentioned her name, I could see President Carter’s face light up with a grin. The concert that afternoon…was for Miss Coleman! And as for the Valiant Voices…they did THEIR BEST!

The request to anoint the members of the Maranatha Baptist Church…humbling

Anointing the members that Sunday evening in their beautiful church…an honor

The Church Supper and Social…makes me yearn for small town life

The Sunday night hoe-down at the B&B…the Valiants take a challenge seriously…and we literally…reeled and rocked the house that night…which one of us will ever forget the hoe-down…home-made instruments…conga lines…singing our lungs out and smiles everywhere you looked. What a great way to conclude our journey.


I’ve known for years how special the people of Plains are. But I’m always impressed that each time new students or staff members go, how fast the bonding takes place…how fast it becomes like family. Thanks…great thanks to our many friends in Plains who have become part of our family. 


When President Carter said, “Come over here, Dan, we have a surprise for you,” I felt like my brain left my body. That began what was one of the most surreal, yet profound moments of my life.

“It’s a surprise to me too, because I don’t know what it is,” he admitted with that Jimmy Carter GRIN.

Boze, the mayor of Plains and my friend, who admitted that the public part of his job is what he likes least about being mayor was about to make a presentation right there in the kitchen of the B&B. It was a plaque bearing a KEY TO PLAINS. It’s hard to remember what people were saying, not so much because of the KEY…but because of the CARE. Wow…I felt surrounded…really surrounded by such love at that moment…I was wishing for my brain to come back to my body…so somehow I could convey my gratitude…and they weren’t finished 

Jill, the owner of the B&B, and a woman of quiet, yet great inspiration approaches with an object wrapped in a white towel…she begins to unravel and reveals a magnificent icon of Christ. The artist is her personal friend, Petru Botezatu, described as “one of the world’s most complex, spectacular and unrivaled contemporary artists.”

Oh brain, where are you…give me the right words, help me to thank our friends and former President and his First Lady for one of the best moments of my life…

what did I say…I’m unsure…what did I feel…greatly humbled, greatly honored and yes...greatly LOVED.

Macias, Steven

The highlight moment for me was the anointing. That was very emotional and an important part of the trip. As we prepared to sing the song my heart began to race. As the microphone got closer to me I began to think about what i was going to say. Then the microphone got to me and I had completely forgotten what I was going to say. So I just began to speak from the heart. It was so sad to see the people cry but I was also happy to see the impression we made and the memories they left with us.

Oliveros, Jan

Our trip to Plains, Georgia was such an unforgettable experience. The choir worked really hard and it all paid off after our curtain call. I will never forget the time when the students from Saint Genevieve were given the opportunity to bless and pray for the people of Plains through the "Anointing". It was a great feeling to let God use us to bring them back all the blessings that they offered to us. It is something I will always remember.

I was also very honored to be able to meet our former President Jimmy Carter and have dinner with him twice! I felt very lucky to be able to shake his hand and take a picture with him.

I will never forget that moment when he told me that I am a great singer, and how well I sang my solo. It is very motivating and inspiring to hear such a compliment from a wise man like him.

Our trip to Plains, Georgia was very remarkable and it is an experience that I will never, ever forget.

Powell, Taylor

Going to Plains, Georgia was an extraordinary trip that I will never forget. But of all the amazing moments, there is one that stands out above all. My highlight, was when the concert choir sang in the church. The audience consisted of all our new friends and President and Mrs. Carter. We were all nervous. This was the moment. It was our last of two songs. Justin Sabino stepped forward and said, "We would like our last song, The Prayer of St. Francis, because President Carter, you are truly God's instrument of peace." We began... With everyone in perfect harmony... we all felt the words, this time we weren't only singing to the audience but a true "instrument of peace". It was toward the end of the song when I glanced over at Mrs. Carter. She was crying, tears rolling down her face. I looked right at her and realized that former President Carter was crying too. This feeling was special. We had touched someone who touched millions (including my parents) and all we did was sing.

I will never forget Georgia and all the people who have literally touched my heart in a way I never though possible.

Quindara, Janina

Our trip to Georgia to meet a president is an experience I surely will never forget. Not everyone is given the opportunity like this and I am glad that I was part of an amazing trip. I thought there were many buildings and the houses were big but I was wrong. On our way to Plains, there were more trees than houses and I felt like I am in a province in the Philippines. Everything was simple but very beautiful.

I learned a lot from a small town where a president grew up. The people in Plains made us feel very welcome and in just a short time we were already like family. It was very peaceful there. A perfect place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Everything we did is the most memorable highlight for me whether we were practicing, singing, touring, or meeting the president and his wife. But if I were to choose only one, it will be definitely that moment when I shook the hand of a former president.

Before I came into the house, there was a dog in the way and I am afraid of dogs. "Come on, be brave" Mr. Carter said... then I went in. In the back of my mind, I said, "Yeah Janina, be brave!" Mr. Carter is not just the former president of a strong country but also a peacemaker and was given the Nobel Peace Prize.

A president telling you to be brave makes you feel like you have all the bravery in the world. No words could exactly explpain how I felt at that time and how happy I am to be given this opportunity.

Santos, Guilherme

This trip to Plains, Georgia was truly unforgettable. It was more than I could have imagined or expected. Every little moment was very special to me and it is therefore difficult for me to choose one single moment that felt like a highlight. So I will cite examples of moments I really enjoyed in no specific order or rank because as I already mentioned, every aspect of our weekend in Georgia is much appreciated and I will cherish these memories forever.

On the first day we watched a play performed at the local theatre in Americus titled "The King and I", and I was impressed with the quality of the production esp. the cute babies.

Then, of course, seeing President Carter in church, getting my picture taken with him and his wife and witnessing him autograph my book was really exciting!

Lastly I must not forget the visit to the boyhood farm. It was nice to be able to see it in person after reading the memoir novel "An Hour Before Daylight" and compare how I had pictured it before with the real farm.

Sazon, Neal

My biggest moment cannot be described as a moment but as a whole experience. It was great to eat BBQ with President Jimmy Carter and having his presence with us along with the people of Plains. The opportunity to hear him preach at Sunday School was also amazing. We also made a short film on our fun times in Plains, Georgia.

The opportunity to be with a great family and the people of Plains, Georgia was the greatest experience for me. The whole experience that I enjoyed in Plains, Georgia is a highlight for me and I am grateful to St. Genevieve High School for allowing me to participate in this momentous trip.

Tenefrancia, Kathleen

Choosing one specific highlight out of many is a frustrating task because each moment spent in Plains, Georgia is truly priceless. Arriving at the Atlanta Airport, the Saint Genevieve students and staff were welcomed by several residents of plains. I immediately knew from then on that this trip would be an opportunity I would never forget. Although my stay only lasted the weekend, I met people who became my family.

So I ask myself again, "what was my biggest highlight moment about visiting Plains, Georgia?" From eating delicious food at Mom's Kitchen, watching "The King and I" at the Rylander Theatre, spending countless hours with the Carters, lodging in a beautiful inn, realizing southern beauty, bonding with fellow classmates, to shopping at the "Dollar General Store" (Baby WalMart!), nothing will ever compare to meeting people who made the trip worthwhile.

I thank all the residents of Plains... for it was them who has kept "Georgia On My Mind".