ROSES Not the NCAA Tournament Final Four -- about which the less said the better, so as not to jinx anything -- but the Final Four of an alternate competition that tracks the tournament teams on the basis of their academics rather than their athletics.Inside Higher Ed, an online publication, posted a tournament bracket filled out using the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate, which grades schools based on the academic performance of their athletes. Carolina, seeded No. 1 in the basketball version of the tournament, made a strong showing in the Inside Higher Ed championship, as well, reaching the Final Four.Duke, in case you're interested, didn't make it out of the first round. Little Belmont, a Baptist university in Tennessee, knocked off the Blue Devils right out of the gate. Belmont, in fact, reached the title game before falling to Davidson, which at least keeps the championship in North Carolina.
ROSES to Barbara Smith, director of the student orchestras at Chapel Hill High and Culbreth Middle schools, for bringing an internationally known musician and educator to work with all the school district's orchestra students.Smith jumped through hoops to bring Mark Wood and members of his Trans-Siberian Orchestra to Chapel Hill last week. Wood held clinics to introduce his program, "Electrify Your Strings," to all the members of Chapel Hill-Carrboro's middle and high school orchestras. Students had a chance to play rock music on electric string instruments for the first time, bringing a whole new element to their previous traditional orchestra training.Woods' visit concluded with an all-city concert Friday night in which more than 300 students showcased their work at the 2008 "Rockestra." Students were told to wear rock concert clothes, dye their hair if they chose and simply "rock out" and have fun. They played for more than two hours along with Wood's band. It was, we'd wager, something the students won't soon forget, and without Smith's dogged determination and effort, it wouldn't have happened.
ROSES to the Chapel Hill Museum, the N.C. Jaycees Burn Center of UNC Hospitals and the Chapel Hill Fire Department for teaching thousands of area school children fire safety skills.The next edition of the annual fire safety program held at the Chapel Hill Museum will be enhanced with a new educational component -- a puppet musical. Matt Lawrence, Chapel Hill's fire marshal and deputy chief, developed and produced the original version of the show while he was working at his previous position with the Burlington Fire Department. The performance will be incorporated into the fire safety program run each year by the Chapel Hill department and the museum, sponsored by the Burn Center.The fire safety program, now in its eighth year, has taught thousands of children essential fire safety and lifesaving skills. The puppet performance should enhance that already successful program, and organizers are exploring the possibility of taking the show on the road to a variety of venues throughout the community.