CCA staff, students ready for new year

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 22, 2004

Central Christian Academy students and teachers are glad to be back in school and are enthusiastic about recent summer activities and the year ahead.

Simuel Walker, a native Selmian,

is a CCA senior who’s been at the school since eighth grade and has had a good experience.

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Summer was good – for the money – but working as a mason laying brick was hard, hot work, he said. Walker worked for Johnson Construction Co. where his father works as a bricklayer. He worked on both residential and commercial projects, he said.

Walker has a balanced diet

of academics and athletics and hopes to attend the University of Alabama next year on an athletic scholarship, and to study engineering.

“My uncle is an engineer and he makes good money,” Walker said.

Walker says CCA has a great football team and a great coach. “Coach Dayton Dawkins has been coaching football since the school started. I hope we can win state. If we keep our heads on straight we can,” he said.

“Dr. Niblett (former headmaster) will be missed. He was my first coach,” he said.

Walker also plays baseball and basketball and said math is his favorite subject. He’s also a Student Government Association member.

Walker has one sister who is also a student at CCA – Jyra Harrison, who is enrolled in pre-K4 – whom he said he does not see very often.

“I can’t wait to get out of Selma, because there are no jobs here,” Walker said. But when he was pressed, he said, “I won’t forget where I came from.”

Joyce Allison, who teaches all math in grades 7 through 12, except for grade 8, loves the school and teaching. “I fall asleep at night with my students’ papers in my hands,” she said.

“I have to remind myself that here at CCA I’m in a private school, because it doesn’t seem like a private school,” said Allison, who has taught in public schools in the past.

Allison, who teaches about 100 students each year at CCA, said that she expects a lot from her students. “Can’t is not a word in my vocabulary,” she said.

She moved to Selma in 1997 with her husband Eric who is computer network administrator at Wallace Community College.

Unlike student Walker, teacher Allison is a new arrival to CCA, having begun late last year.

But as much delight as she derives from teaching at CCA, she gets equal satisfaction from her annual summer trek to China – for the past five years, including this summer – as a volunteer teacher.

In China she teaches English as a second language to Chinese students, who are outstanding in motivation and performance.

“They know their book English very well, and my job is to help them get their conversational English,” she said. “They’re very competitive, because in order to go to one’s university of choice in mainland China, the student has to have very fine English skills,” she added.

Allison estimates that she has taught about 750 Chinese students in the past five years, and many of them keep up with her by e-mail. “It’s amazing,” she chuckled. “I love it. The Internet has made my life so much easier.”

“What I learn from teaching in China each summer is very much applicable to my teaching here,” she said. “Mainly what I learn is how differently different people learn and that’s a very important principal of teaching,” she said.

Allison is not optimistic about the long-term independence of Hong Kong which came under Chinese sovereignty in recent years. She said that she believes that it’s just a matter of time until Hong Kong is fully absorbed. In the meantime, residents are vociferous in the defense of their rights, hoping for international support, but that probably won’t save them in the end, she believes.

Allison, a graduate of the University of Kentucky,

said that math was her worst subject in elementary school, so she intentionally chose to focus on it increasingly. “By high school I had learned to love math, and now can’t imagine doing anything other than teaching and teaching

math,” she said.

Allison is also a U.S. Army veteran, having served five years, including 13 months in Korea.

A.J. Poe is a senior student at CCA who is editor of this year’s high school annual. Last year was his time to train for the position as a member of the yearbook staff.

“I like taking pictures and being able to make the yearbook good for students,” he said. “There’s lots of room for creativity.

“Monday (Aug. 16) was our first day, and we’re just starting for the year,” he said.

While Poe said that editing the yearbook would keep him plenty busy, he still hopes to be a class officer.

“I’ll probably go to Wallace Community College after graduation to get my basic education. I haven’t decided on a major yet,” he said.

Poe has been at CCA since its founding in 1998. “I love it. It really makes you feel like you’re at home,” he said.

A member of the Student Government for four years, he serves as historian.