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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

School attire, TWHNC begin top story countdown

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

From now until New Year's Eve, the Times-Gazette will take a look back at 2007 by counting down the top 10 news stories of the year as voted by a panel of T-G staffers.

What makes a story newsworthy? There are several factors that can come into play. Some stories are newsworthy because they have long-term implications for the community. Others are newsworthy simply because everyone in town is talking about them. A countdown like this one is intended, not to make any sort of point, but simply to reflect what held people's interest and attention during the past 12 months.

Once all the choices have been revealed, we'll conduct an online poll to see which story you, the readers, would have picked as number one.

Today, we look at the 10th and ninth most newsworthy stories:

10) Standardized School Attire proposed (19 points)

Student volunteers model Standardized School Attire-compliant clothing during a November public hearing at Liberty School. The display itself became a point of contention because two of the students did not have their shirts tucked in as required by SSA.
(T-G File Photo by John I. Carney)
After visiting schools in Chattanooga, Cleveland (Tenn.) and Nashville, Bedford County Board of Education voted to place on the table a proposal for Standardized School Attire, which is often described as being more than a dress code but less than a uniform. Proponents of SSA, including the principals at the schools which were visited, claim that it improves the atmosphere for learning, helps to minimize class distinctions and even helps eliminate gang-related clothing. Opponents say the benefits are unproven, or even disproven, and that SSA puts an undue burden on students and families.

After approving a draft proposal in October, the school board scheduled four public hearings to gather input from parents and students. The first such hearing, held in November at Liberty School, drew a mix of comments -- the first half of the meeting was dominated by SSA opponents while the second half belonged to supporters. But speakers at the second hearing, held this month at Cascade High School, were unanimously opposed to SSA.

Two more hearings are scheduled before the school board votes on SSA in February. If some form of SSA is approved, it would take effect in fall 2008 for the 2008-2009 academic year.

9) Celebration runs smoothly, but numbers down (32 points, 1 first-place vote)

A worker for Cascade Screen Display affixes the plaque for 2007 World Grand Champion Master of Jazz directly underneath 2005 World Grand Champion Main Power on a display board under the Celebration's west grandstand. No World Grand Champion was crowned in 2006, because the class was cancelled due to a regulatory dispute.
(TWHNC Photo)
After the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration's disastrous ending in 2006, observers and community leaders were relieved that this year's 69th annual show was uneventful. Few horses were disqualified, and few complaints were heard about the inspection process. Master of Jazz, with Jimmy McConnell in the irons, won the show for owners Lee Wall of Jackson, Miss., and Mike McGartland of Ft. Worth, Texas.

But the show's numbers were down. Spectator numbers for the first part of the show might have been hurt by the end of a blistering August heat wave (the heat wave itself just missed being one of the year's top 10 stories). The previous year's uncertainty may have made some spectators and exhibitors reluctant to make the trip to Shelbyville, out of fear they might be disappointed again.

Officials hope that the numbers will turn around in 2008, now that the industry's regulatory problems seem to have subsided. But in the months since the show, there has been other Celebration-related turmoil -- a separate story, which will appear elsewhere on the countdown.

Top story suggestions were solicited from the T-G news staff. A ballot containing 22 story possibilities was circulated to 10 different T-G staffers, each of whom selected his or her top 10 choices. Ten points were awarded for a first place vote, nine for a second place vote and so on.

THURSDAY: Honoring the past and building for the future.