California high school to perform at ‘second home’

Saint Genevieve High School of Panorama City, Calif., and the City of Plains will be putting on a production of “Singin’ in the Rain” March 6-7 at the Plains High School Auditorium.

This is not the first trip to Plains for the school. In fact, according to their website, Saint Genevieve considers Plains to be their second home.

In 2006, students journeyed to Plains to listen to former President Jimmy Carter speak, and returned the following year to make a documentary about Carter.

Betty Godwin, wife of Plains Mayor Boze Godwin, is very excited about the return of St. Genevieve.

“I can’t wait,” she said. “I even have my tap shoes!”

She first met the students when they asked for her help with their documentary.

Godwin says that the students were given lessons by film star Debbie Reynolds and have had their musical viewed by Pat Kelley, wife of the late Gene Kelley who starred in the film version of the musical. She also heralds the teens as excellent dancers and extremely talented actors and singers.

“They seem like total professionals to anyone who’s heard them,” she stated.

All 50 teachers of Saint Genevieve will also be making a trip to Sumter County.

Godwin said that the school decided to change the location of their annual seminar to Americus.

“There’s a hospitality here that we take for granted,” Godwin stated. “They think we’re different.”

When the students come to perform they will be staying in Plains with area families, including the Godwins. It is Godwins’ hope that people will come out to meet the students that she holds dear and see their talent.

“I hope everyone will come,” she said.

“We’re privileged to have a town where we can walk around a have a lot of love to show ... we’re permanent friends with the kids and the staff. They’re like a chosen family.”

There will be three showings of “Singin’ in the Rain,” with a 7 p.m. show March 6 and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. shows March 7. 

Source: The Americus Times-Recorder

Film 'stars' from Plains attend St. Genevieve HS screening

The St. Genevieve High School student body in Panorama City got an "up close and personal" virtual look at one of the four living U.S. presidents and his townspeople during a recent screening of a documentary made by fellow students of their trip to Plains, Georgia, the home of former President Jimmy Carter.

With several "stars" of the documentary from Plains in attendance, including the daughter of the late Billy Carter, younger brother of Jimmy, the student body watched the video which featured shots of President Carter teaching at his Baptist Church and local places of interest such as the home where the president and his wife, Rosalynn, first lived as newlyweds.

"One of the things Dan Horn (St. Genevieve principal) wanted to do [since taking groups of students to Plains over the last three years] was to expose the students to small town USA and show them where this man who was raised on a farm --- who came from humble beginnings --- could have this American dream. And, [show] how these people who lived in this small town formed the 'peanut brigade' and catapulted this man all the way to the White House," said Lynne Muro, campus minister and senior religion teacher.

In remarks before the screening, which took place during a special "night school" session held at the high school a couple of times each year, junior students Ian Hopps and Gianna Butler, shared some of their favorite experiences filming the documentary on a trip to Plains during sophomore year.

Hopps, who was the group's photographer and helped edit the documentary, said the students were constantly impressed with "the warmth of Southern hospitality." He particularly enjoyed the tour of the Carters' "haunted" former residence that was followed by an introduction to a local sport: snipe hunting.

Butler, who was a cinematographer and interviewer on the Plains trip --- the first airplane excursion ever taken without her parents --- recounted the "awesome" experience to The Tidings after the screening. "Right when I got there, I felt at home. I went around to the whole town and asked every single person I saw what they knew about Jimmy Carter and his rise to the presidency," said Butler.

In a question-and-answer period after the screening, Billy Carter's daughter, Kim Fuller, 51, responded to a student's query asking if Jimmy Carter has a sense of humor. While he has a serious side, said Fuller, he also has "a sly humor about him." At her 50th surprise birthday party, she said the former president kept teasing her by insisting that he knew she really was a few years older.

St. Genevieve's student body gave 1961 Plains high school graduate George Williams their rapt attention when he admitted he wished he had applied himself to his studies more "in those early years."

Williams, whose family, like Jimmy Carter's, was in the peanut farming business, said there was enough peanut business in Plains for both families. "We had a good life. …I think when you graduate from here [you'll be prepared] for the future. Thank you for the hospitality you have shown this group from Plains," said Williams.

His wife Jan, Jimmy Carter's daughter Amy's former nanny who had worked for many years as a teacher, commented on the students' friendliness to newcomers and each other.

"When this school came to Plains, we were amazed most of all at your kindness, at the way you presented yourself and your graciousness," said Jan. "Some of the kindest young people we've ever met are from this school [and have] the most wonderful manners. [They] still believe it's ok to say 'Yes, Ma'am' and 'No, Ma'am' and 'Thank you.' That's a southern trait we still believe in today."

She added the Plains visitors had discussed how great it would be if a Plains school would have some of the traits exhibited by St. Genevieve, a "Character Counts!" school promoting the "six pillars" of trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. "Some of our young people do not have what you have," she commented.

Betty Godwin, wife of the longtime mayor of Plains and one of the townspeople featured in the documentary, told The Tidings she felt St. Genevieve was "awesome....[and added she was impressed] by the love, caring, trust and faith" exhibited by the students.

Source: The Tidings


Valiant Voices Sing Their Way to Plains, Georgia

It wasn’t long ago that St. Genevieve took its first trip to Plains, Georgia. Our first journey to Plains, Georgia was in October, 2005. Four students traveled to Atlanta to address a National Convention on Character. Our goal was to inspire more schools to adopt character educations as part of their curriculum. Then the group decided to seek some inspiration themselves and decided to travel the three hours to Plains, Georgia to hear former President Jimmy Carter speak.

The following year, in 2006 a group of our teachers and students filmed a documentary on our 39th president, Jimmy Carter. In addition, we presented Mr. Carter with a check that would help aid the Carter Center. This was the first time St. Genevieve experienced real southern hospitality. Soon after, our African American students received the opportunity to visit the African American colleges in Georgia, such as, Spellman, Morehouse, and Clark Atlanta. Then in February St. Genevieve opened the doors to the friendly people of Georgia. It was now their turn to see what our school was all about.

It was that same month that the St. Genevieve choir received the news that they too would visit the home of Jimmy Carter. On March 7th the choir and several other students packed their bags and headed to Plains, Georgia. It was amazing to see how many curious faces approached our teachers and asked about our particular school. Even one of the flight attendants asked the choir to give passengers a quick preview. With no hesitation, Ms. Corpuz gathered her team of singers and prepared for the surprise aero-concert. Heads began to poke up out of their seats to watch the choir’s rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody along with Seasons of Love. They received a warm amount of claps from the Delta passengers and staff. The choir was just warming up!

We arrived and were greeted by familiar faces, Jan Williams, Ms. Betty and her husband, Mr. Bozeman, mayor Plains, Georgia. They introduced themselves along with a cozy motor coach. The atmosphere was somewhat cloudy, but brightened up by the excited faces.

At the end of our 3-hour bus trip Ms Jan made sure to compliment our group of students, claiming, “I heard so many ‘thank you mams, yes mams, and no mams.’ I’m quite pleased. You guys are an example to kids your own age.” St. Genevieve was already making their mark on our hostess.

When we finally arrived to the Bed and Breakfast the students were eager to explore downtown Plains. Not long after Ms. Jan took the group to dinner at Monroe’s Hotdogs and Billiards in a small town called Americus. After our meal we attended the Rylander Theatre for a presentation of The King and I. It was a charming production put on by the people of Georgia. After the show we decided to call it a night and prepare for the big tour the next day.

The students made an early start on Saturday with a quick breakfast by our own personal chef, Coach Manny. We boarded the motor coach and it was off to sightseeing. Ms. Jan introduced the Golden Peanut Company; owned by Jimmy Carter that distributes Georgia’s famous peanuts worldwide. We went on to visit the Lillian G. Carter Nursing home, named after President Carter’s late mother. Then, our choir briefly practiced at the Maranatha Baptist Church, where Jimmy Carter would teach Sunday school the following day.

A favorite site of the students was Jimmy Carter’s Boyhood Farm; a popular museum opened to the public that presents our 39th Presidents childhood home. Comments like, “It’s nice to get away from the city life” show how the students appreciated every moment Georgia had to offer. We hopped back into the bus and received exciting news that we had received special permission to go down Jimmy Carter’s current street. Although guarded by the secret service, the gates were wide open welcoming us down the forbidden street.

After we passed by his home we arrived back to the Historic Inn and the Bed and Breakfast for a bit of free time. But it wasn’t until dinner that we were in for a big surprise, Jimmy Carter was going to eat ribs with us! Our own Manny’s kitchen would serve President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn!

During dinner with the Carter’s we were introduced to kids our own age and made a new friendships with the high school students, Wendi Brown and Kyle Newcomb.

The third day was quite momentous for our St. Genevieve Choir. It was their day to shine and stun the people of Plains. We attended the Marantha Church once again for Sunday school taught by Mr. Carter. People from Kentucky, Missouri, Germany, Ohio and Wisconsin joined the church to hear Mr. Carter speak. He informed the crowd that as a country “We should stand united.” and claimed, “As Christians we must come together with love, peace, and compassion to fulfill the ultimate message of Jesus Christ.” He gave news of his further plans to visit Syria and observe what can be done to bring peace to their land. Mr. Carter also compared our current times with times of Kind David and Jesus Christ saying their was just as much sin back then as there is now. Over all his lessons were insightful and challenged the church to come together.

It was during the Liturgy when the Choir took their stand and dedicated The Prayer of St. Francis to Mr. Carter. The entire church felt the illuminating voices of what seemed to be a choir of angels. By the end of the song our St. Genevieve choir had brought Jimmy Carter and his wife to tears.

The choir’s next performance would be at a popular restaurant named Mom’s Kitchen. After lunch the choir sang Seasons of Love for the staff and customers. The praises started immediately. Comments like, “Yall were amazing!” and, “They were impressive”, traveled through the restaurant. The Valiant Voices were making their impression on the small town of Georgia.

The moment had finally arrived, Plains High school opened up their auditorium for the St. Genevieve Choir Concert. Mr. Horn stood in front of the town’s people and gave a brief introduction to St. Genevieve and it’s choir stating, “After Columbine, we decided our school would change the view.” Then it was show time.

The choir opened the concert up by dedicating it to a remarkable teacher, Ms. Julia Coleman, who was known for her contributions to people of Plains, Georgia. They opened up with Joyful Joyful then went onto dedicating You Raise Me Up to Mrs. Carter. In addition they sung Buttercup combined with entertaining choreography.

The next song was introduced by Justin Sabino, “We have been with Georgia on our minds for a long time as we were eagerly awaited for this trip, so this next song is quite appropriate.” They went onto sing Georgia On My Mind, Seasons of Love, and a favorite of Jill Stuckey, Bohemian Rhapsody. The crowd was up on their feet by the end of the next song, the very energetic Midnight Train to Georgia. The last song was a medley of all-American songs to celebrate our nation and the community of Plains. At the end of the concert the entire audience gave a standing ovation and the Carters looked particularly impressed. The concert was a magical experience and the students could not have been more proud to represent a school like St. Genevieve.

After the concert, we attended the Maranatha once more for the evening service. Our group then made it a priority to anoint the people of the church along with our former president. The blessing was surreal and many people found themselves in tears. This anointing wasn’t just like any; a spirit was present that day in the church, filling our hearts with love and appreciation towards the community of Plains. After the emotional revelation the Maranatha church treated us to some spaghetti and desert. Mr. Carter and his wife accompanied us not once, not twice, not a third time, but a fourth time! During dinner, Ms. Brown had made quite an observation; living in L.A. we are sometimes indifferent to our neighbors, in Georgia, anyone who’s anyone is family. That day we made a vow to treat strangers with as much love and hospitality as our friends in Georgia did to us.

These trips that St. Genevieve plans for its students are a system of education that exercise good character. It brings a number of individuals together and challenges our ability to accept and appreciate the variety of characters throughout the world. Going to Plains, Georgia was the ultimate character formation. By witnessing the compassion and benevolence of an unfamiliar community, the group found themselves asking, “Why should we settle for anything less?”

By the end of the trip, we had learned what it really was to demonstrate the six pillars of character. Whether it was a cheerful hostess at the Bed and Breakfast or the former President of the United States, Plains Georgia has the right idea when it comes to generosity and ultimately being one with Jesus Christ.

This article was featured in the Daily News and on ValleyNews

A Wonderful Friendship Begins

At St. Genevieve High School, one can say for sure that size does not matter. The minute you step through the doors of this high school, there are a truckload of opportunities ready for you to enjoy. One of the opportunities that I participated in was the chance to fly across our nation to the wonderful state of Georgia to film a documentary about Jimmy Carter and his rise to the presidency. His story was so special to us because he was a peanut farmer who came from a small town and, later in life, became the President of the United States. We hoped that this documentary would make young people aware of how capable they are of becoming who they want to become. We planned on getting interviews from all the locals in Georgia and any close friends and family of Jimmy Carter. Their shared personal experiences would help us spread the word of this President's fairy tale story.

Several of us could not contain our excitement. Before we knew it, we were on a plane to Georgia. For some of us it was our first time flying, so when we looked at each other, we could not really tell whether it was excitement or terror on our faces. However, the fear of flying did not stop us from letting our imaginations run wild.

That night, we arrived in Atlanta and picked up our rental van. Then we drove to a town a couple of hours away from Atlanta, and spent the night in a hotel. The next day, we hopped back into the van and drove a few more hours along the fields and countrysides. After the long drive, we finally arrived in Plains, population: 600. Right down the street, we saw the quaint looking bed and breakfast at which we would be staying. We immediately fell in love with everything about this little town.

We had so many great and memorable moments in Plains. However, there is a very special one that I would like to share.

(left to right): Danielle Acebes, Andrea Bedoy, Gianna Butler, Nori Iserhien, Kelly Endreola, Dylanger Bates, Dan Horn, Andrew Sheehy, Joseph Humpay, Ken Bailey, Ian Hopps, Robert Sandoval
Click image to see larger view.

It was our second day in Plains, and we all had to wake up bright and early to attend Sunday service at the church where Jimmy Carter would be teaching Sunday School. When we arrived, we had to be checked by the secret service. When we finally seated inside the church, we looked to the side and there he was, former President Jimmy Carter and his beautiful wife, Rosalynn. We could not wait until the end of the service to meet him and take pictures with him. At the end of the sermon, we exited the church and stood in line to get out photo taken. It was at that moment when my friend, Gianna Butler, and I took the opportunity to personally hand over a donation check of $1,400.00 to the President. The money was raised by the students at St. Genevieve High School during homecoming week for an activity called the "Penny Wars". All the money was donated to the Carter Center. President Carter was very grateful and informed us that he was going to use that money to buy bed nets for kids in Ethiopia to protect them from mosquitoes that carry the disease malaria.

We hoped that this documentary would make young people aware of how capable they are of becoming who they want to become.

That was such a great moment. We all felt so proud and excited for what we had just done. My experience in Plains, Georgia was amazing. The people I met and the things I did will never be forgotten. The people of Plains showed us so much hospitality and, in the end, none of us wanted to leave. The plane ride back home was sad, but I was glad to return with such a great feeling of accomplishment. St. Genevieve opened my eyes to a whole new world, and I am filled with gratitude for that.