Thumbs up: To the students who performed last week in the Madison County Choral Festival at Lapel High School. Pendleton Heights, Frankton, Elwood, Alexandria, Madison-Grant and Lapel choirs performed a variety of music, concluding with the riveting “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Lapel graduate Doug Anderson, now a member of the gospel group Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, was a guest performer. Lamonte Kuskye, former choral director at Pendleton Heights who now leads the Carmel Ambassadors, returned as guest conductor of the combined choirs, accompanied by Dr. Randy Frieling of Anderson University. The event is always enjoyable, with no competition involved.

Thumbs up: To Anthony Smith, a former Guide Corp. worker who isn’t letting retirement slow him down. He has a long list of awards in body-building competitions, among them 2008’s Mr. Indianapolis and Mr. Indiana State Men’s Masters, Over 50. This past weekend, he was headed to Covington, Ky., for one of the biggest amateur shows, competing against nearly 300 people from 14 states.

Thumbs up: To Anderson lawyer Geoffrey Yelton, who accepted the temporary appointment as judge of Madison Superior Court 4 following the unexpected death of longtime judge David W. Hopper in February. Yelton said he will not seek to become the court’s permanent appointment by the governor.

Thumbs up: To Anderson University for bringing nationally known speakers to the campus. Last week, Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries that helps find jobs for men and women in the Los Angeles area who agree to give up gang life. Speakers such as Boyle challenge college students to reach out to others in ministries.

Thumbs up: To Micah Dean, who worked with South Side Middle School health teachers Amy Abriani and Adam Roberson, to teach their students about the obstacles faced every day by the disabled. Students took on the impairments of blindness, deafness and developmental incapacities for one day to navigate the hallways and do classwork. Anderson University graduate Tera Dyson, who lives with cerebral palsy, spoke to the students. Since starting this project four years ago, Dean said she has noticed more students approaching kids with disabilities quicker and becoming friends.

Thumbs up: To Don Apple, the Madison County United Way 2009 Volunteer of the Year. He was recognized Tuesday at the organization’s annual meeting. Chief financial officer for Saint John’s Health System, Apple has led his company’s employee campaign for the past three years. Saint John’s recorded the largest workplace donation in 2008, exceeding goals.

Thumbs up: To the small group of residents who were steadfast in their monthly call for peace in Iraq. They began their rallies in Anderson in 2005 and held their last one on March 7.

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