We hauled the middle daughter off to college last week.
The family minivan was loaded down with gear and girls and a worried yet hopeful mom and dad, and returned home with a lighter load and heavier hearts.
From those who've done this before, I'm expecting to hear plenty of advice on how to deal with the parental version of separation anxiety. I look forward to it; I need all the help I can get.
Before now, the separations from any of the three girls have been for no more than a week or so at a time. When the weekend ends and the new week begins and Ellie is still away, I'm not sure how I'll handle it.
At least the other two girls are still at home, for now. The youngest is navigating high school, while the oldest starts tomorrow at the Medical College of Georgia.
Long trip home
Meanwhile, someone else who is home now probably is a wee bit less happy about it.
Remember a couple of years ago, when Harlem High School's much-acclaimed drama students traveled to Scotland to perform in the world-renowned Fringe Festival?
The community sure was proud of them (and still is), and helped pay their way on the trip.
Contrast that with some of the students from North Springs High School, a magnet school in Sandy Springs, Ga. Half them got sent home from the Fringe Festival recently after they got caught drinking, despite having signed a pre-trip contract agreeing not to.
The students had raised more than $100,000 from the suburban north Atlanta community toward the massive $292,000 cost of the trip to the festival to perform their play, "Bat Boy." Of the 51 students on the trip, 24 were caught drinking - and promptly put on a plane with their chaperones and sent home. The rest of the troupe's performances were canceled.
Reckon their donors will ask for refunds?
So long, Nancy
And while we're traveling outside the area, one of the results of Georgia's recent primary runoff bears mentioning.
Incumbent 50th District state Sen. Nancy Schaeffer lost in the Republican runoff to Jim Butterworth, 62 percent to 38 percent.
Schaeffer this spring announced that she was going to run for the 10th District U.S. House race, joining Barry Fleming in challenging incumbent Republican Paul Broun.
Schaeffer is the founder of a Christian activist group and lives in the northern part of the 10th District.
She didn't follow through on running, however, leaving the race to Broun and Fleming. But the vacillating undoubtedly contributed to her eventual defeat for her own seat. Her more outrageous comments, such as blaming abortion for the rise in illegal immigration, likely didn't help either. (In essence, she said we wouldn't need the low-wage illegal workers if all those aborted babies were in the domestic workforce.)
In any event, she will now be out of the state Senate after the end of the year - and the body is greatly improved as a result.
Merle to Memphis
Meanwhile, Merle Temple no longer is a resident of our community.
The former deputy state school superintendent, sent to federal prison for his part in Linda Schrenko's scheme to use federal school funds to fuel her failed run for governor, has been moved from the federal prison in nearby Edgefield, S.C., to the pen in Memphis, Tenn.
Good for him, I suppose. He's closer to whatever family he has left. His wife died last year, and their Evans home was sold. So there is certainly nothing for him here - including anyone to welcome him when he's released in 2013.
Besides: Temple always was a big Elvis fan. I bet being in prison near Graceland gives him a whole new meaning to "Jail House Rock."
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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