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Aurora Academy offers classes for all ages starting Sept. 16

By Al Stilo
Special to GwinnettForum

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga., Sept. 12, 2008 -- After a successful summer of camp programs for children of all ages, Aurora Academy, the educational wing of Aurora Theatre, continues with fall class offerings for all ages. Aurora Academy had in the inaugural class offering 135 students attending the camps this summer. With this comprehensive base to draw upon, Aurora Academy was able to conclude that the next step was to expand and offer classes to all ages.

Aurora Academy is working closely with Gwinnett County Public Library for a class devoted to early elementary age students. This production class will focus on bringing the classic children's book, Miss Nelson is Missing, to life on stage. With this literary theme it is only fitting that the students will perform at the Gwinnett Reading Festival at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds as the culmination of this class.

In fact, all of Aurora class offerings end in a unique performance opportunity. At Aurora Academy students have a chance to study with working professionals, while being offered performance opportunities that only a major regional arts organization can offer. Middle school students can learn improvisational comedy and will perform prior to one of our Funny Fridays comedy performances. Home school families will be able to have high school level training during the school day with The Acting Edge: Homeschool Edition. Adults with years of experience or first timers can hone their skills in our Audition Techniques class which features a private showcase audition for Aurora Theatre Producing Artistic Director Anthony Rodriguez. For persons from 7 or 77, there is something for everyone this fall season.

The offerings this season:

  • MISS NELSON IS MISSING (ages 7-10). In this production class, young students will bring this popular tale to life. This class culminates in a performance at the Gwinnett Reading Festival. Sept. 24 - Oct. 18: Wednesdays 4:30 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

  • SO YOU WANT TO IMPROV? (ages 11-14) The success of the summer programs led Aurora to offer more improvisation. Students learn how to process information, listen and express themselves creatively from working comedians. This class will culminate in an onstage performance preceding the Monster Mash Comedy Bash at Aurora Theatre on Oct.7 - 31 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

  • HOMESCHOOL ACTING EDGE (ages 12-17). Those participating can receive tips from working professionals and delve deep into the craft of acting while polishing the actor tools of mind, body and imagination. Sept. 16 - Nov. 4, on Tuesdays 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

  • ADULT AUDITION TECHNIQUES (adults 20+). Learn to succeed in business and show business by working on audition skills like cold readings and monologue delivery. Whether a beginner or working professional, Aurora will help get the role and the job. September 22 - Oct. 20, Mondays from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Cost for all programs is $175. A $25 application fee will be assessed to non-returning students. For registration and more information, contact Susan Reid, director of education, at 678-226-6226 or via email at

What a bargain those attending UGA are getting!
By Elliott Brack
Editor and Publisher

SEPT. 12, 2008 -- Paying college tuition isn't easy. However, those with students at the University of Georgia and other state assisted colleges may not realize the bargain they are getting when their offspring enroll at the University of Georgia.


The cost of being an undergraduate at the University of Georgia in 2007 was approximately $12,000. That's $4,856 for tuition, and the balance for room, board and books. That's a big bargain. But it doesn't tell the whole story.

Speaking in Gwinnett recently at the Buford-North Gwinnett Rotary Club, UGA President Michael Adams reported that only about 38 per cent of his school's budget comes from state-appropriated funds. About 25 percent comes from tuition and fees, another 22 percent from gifts and grants, and about 12 percent from auxiliary enterprises, such as food service, housing, parking, etc., which pay for themselves.

The school's endowment recently raised $653 million over seven years. But with specific gifts and pledges, only a small portion goes into operations. For 2007, that was 2.9 percent, $38.7 million.

So while we think of the University of Georgia, as a "state-supported" public institution of higher learning, actually state appropriations are paying less than ever for the school's operations. When President Adams came to the University 12 years ago, state appropriations were 43 percent of the total budget. While the biggest portion of the budget comes from the state, it still funds far more than half from private means. It's more of a "state-assisted" funding.

It requires that University officials must find other means of raising monies. Some must come from students. But any way you cut it, the state-assisted colleges are a bargain for the students in Georgia.

More states are funding universities at a lower rate. At the University of Virginia, for instance, the state assistance is less than seven percent of its budget, making that college virtually privatized. Around the nation, no major flagship university is supported entirely by state funds any more.

The University of Georgia is a bargain compared to private schools. At Emory University, for instance, the total cost for a student for a year is $47,848, which includes $35,800 in tuition alone. At Mercer University, its cost is $37,500, with $28,500 of that tuition.

Consider also: the ranking of the University of Georgia in recent years has steadily been rising. It was recently named among the top 20 among public universities in the nation. Yet it ranks 15th of 16 flagship Southern schools in cost per undergraduate student.

Granted, it's more difficult for students to gain admission to the University of Georgia than ever. There were 17,000 students applying for the 4,000 slots in the freshman class.

So, if your child is lucky enough to get into the University of Georgia, be proud, but at the same time realize what a big bargain you are getting.

* * * * *

President Adams also spoke at the opening of a 60,000 square foot new facility for the University of Georgia graduate program near I-85 at Old Peachtree Road last week. It is the largest of the University's off campus sites, enrolling around 700 graduate students. The two other off-campus centers are at Griffin, with 150 students, and Tifton, where there are 75 students.

Altogether, Gwinnett continues to provide the University of Georgia with more students than any other county in the state. In the fall of 2007, there were 2,887 undergraduates from Gwinnett, and 713 graduate students, or a total of 3,600 UGA students enrolled from Gwinnett UGA. The second largest enrollment comes from Cobb County, with 2,753 students.

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Wheeler/Kolb Management Co. The company evolved from the name change of Hudgens Management Company in November, 1991. Tom Wheeler and Tom Kolb have been principal owners since 1985. Wheeler/Kolb has offices in Duluth and has 28 employees. More:

One naysayer upset with fast-track park and decisions

Editor, the Forum:

Concerning your comments about the minor league baseball park, (GwinnettForum, Sept. 9), here are my thoughts.

This "naysayer-concerned taxpayer/citizen" is not pleased or surprised that the stadium is costing nearly 50 percent more. This project is a real estate deal, benefiting a few under the guise of an economic stimulus which illustrates that this county is still run by special interest groups as it has been for decades. If this was such a great package, why are your county commissioners in denial about talking about it in public? They voted for it, why aren't they proud of their decisions?

This is now a $59 million project with unsubstantiated benefits. How is building a stadium with taxpayer's money and given to a for-profit corporation to equate to untold benefits? The benefits will be realized by those who owned the property and will own the retail properties that will surround the park. Those going to the game will pay a premium price for a ticket as well as paying for parking. With prices that high, why not go to Atlanta and get you a 2-for-1 ticket?

A project of this size should never have been agreed to under the time frame. How many projects of this magnitude are built under these conditions? Who will say that the project will not need additional amounts to complete the project?

Did we build the Arena and turn it over to the Gladiators?

The chairman of the GCVB is a non-elected official who is serving on the board of directors of Brand Banking, whose owner sold the property to the county. I find this to be a conflict of interest.
With proper planning these additions would have been included in the original plans and with the same principals running the Arena and the stadium, did they just discover the silting problem within the last few months?

This whole project represents how this County has been run for years, no matter who is in office, yet everyone is too busy with their day to day lives to change the ways things get done. And those with clout find it easier to promote what you are doing by not making waves. As great as this county is, we are seeing it headed down a road that will find many good people leaving rather than trying to fight the establishment. At one time they were the Silent Majority, but now they may be the Silent Minority.

-- Lee Baker, Lilburn

Dear Lee: Thanks for your insights into thinking about this subject. We wanted you to have plenty of room to expound. Shall we agree that we disagree on the long-term benefits for the community? --eeb

Attacking community organizers attacks nation's methods

Editor, the Forum:

Watching Rudy Giuliani and Gov. Sarah Palin get laughter from the Republican convention audience last week referring to Sen. Barack Obama's community organizing experiences made me wonder, just what is laughable here?

Community organizing is self governance in action, and where our leaders come from. It is the backbone and core of what America is. America was founded on the idea of self governance. Community organizing is how we take back our government and our communities from corruption, crime and mismanagement.

We see it daily in Gwinnett with Community Improvement Districts (CIDs). These are used by local business owners for community organizing. CIDs are created by voting consent of two-thirds majority of local property owners in a specified district. CIDs are funded by real estate holders taxing themselves for improvement.

The CIDs formed by local business leaders here in Gwinnett have brought much good to our community. The new renovation of U.S. Highway 78 from Stone Mountain to Snellville is a product of the Evermore CID. It takes time, effort, patience and skill to get others to work together for a common good. Ten years of planning went into the Highway 78 improvement project. CID members coordinated efforts with local phone and power companies, organizing the financing and scheduling of work from different trades, vendors.

Gwinnett Place CID organized the funding and planning to revitalize Gwinnett Place Mall. Local business leaders organized to rebuild the infrastructure of roads, sidewalks, traffic signals and new buildings needed for economic growth. And it works: Gwinnett Village CID has significantly reduced the amount of crime in that area.

Gwinnett residents have started organizing new broader umbrella groups for homeowner's associations. United Peachtree Corners Civic Association, Lockridge Forest Civic Association, and Citizens for Healthy Growth in Lilburn are just a few of these community organizations. These groups formed around local residential opposition to rezoning requests all of which were denied.

Attacking community organizing attacks all Americans. It attacks self governance in action, the foundation of our nation. The leaders today in Gwinnett County and all across the United States learned to become leaders through their experiences in community organizing first.

-- Roger Hagen, Lilburn

One guy's view of a government bailout

Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:

Gwinnett Library offers Let's Talk! free English program

Gwinnett County Public Library will host the program Let's Talk!, a free English conversational program for non-native speakers, starting on September 15.

Registration is not required. Let's Talk! is a 10-week session designed to improve the English conversation skills of non-native speakers. The Gwinnett County Public Library has created a quality program complete with participant resource materials. Other benefits include meeting people from other countries and sharing global perspectives on opportunities and challenges in the US, world events and culture differences.

The main purpose of Let's Talk! is to increase fluency in speaking English, to turn "passive knowledge" of the English language to "active knowledge." This means that if you are able to read and listen in English, then the program will help you use and build upon these skills to hold comfortable conversations in English.

Census estimates report that 30 percent of Gwinnett County residents speak a language other than English at home. Of those, approximately half report that they do not speak English well.

Groups will meet from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Mondays at the Lawrenceville branch, 1001 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville.
  • Mondays at the Centerville branch, 3025 Bethany Church Road, Snellville.
  • Tuesdays at the Lilburn branch, 788 Hillcrest Road NW, Lilburn.
  • Wednesdays at the Norcross branch, 6025 Buford Highway, Norcross.
  • Thursdays at the Suwanee branch, 361 Main Street, Suwanee.

Sessions are designed for non-native speakers at the advanced beginner/early intermediate levels. Each week a topic will be explored, focusing on listening and speaking skills. Completion certificates will be granted to those who attend eight or more sessions.

For more information, visit or call 770.978.5154.
The Gwinnett County Public Library is a 14-branch library system in Gwinnett County, Georgia. The library's mission is to support the community's informational, educational, and recreational interests with convenient, creative, customer-friendly access to materials and services.

Sixth annual Walton EMC Motorcycle Ride is Sept. 20

Motorcyclists from across Georgia will roar into Walton EMC's headquarters in Monroe on Saturday, September 20, for the co-op's sixth annual charity ride to benefit special kids who attend Camp Twin Lakes.

Registration for the ride begins at 9:30 a.m. The two-hour scenic ride through the Georgia Piedmont leaves at 10:30 a.m. After, participants are treated to a barbeque lunch and door prizes. All bikers are welcome for a donation of $20 solo and $30 for two-up. Participants receive a complimentary ride T-shirt.

Walton EMC is located four miles east of Monroe on U.S. Highway 78. Riders can call 770/267-5551 or email for more information.

Walton EMC's Jennifer Broun says: "Camp Twin Lakes helps children facing serious illnesses and other challenges experience the simple joy of being a kid. The state-of-the-art facility helps campers grow in confidence and abilities, letting their spirits soar."

The children do all the usual things at camp-swim, canoe, ride horses and sleep under the stars-without compromising their medical care. Volunteers from the medical community attend camp to provide customized programs and medical care for each group of campers. Without this special care, these children might otherwise be unable to attend camp. Not-for-profit Camp Twin Lakes is located on 500 acres near Rutledge, Ga.

Hopewell Baptist offers 5-10 K Walk-Run on Sept. 27

Hopewell Baptist Church of Norcross is planning its first 5 and 10 K Walk and Run for healthy living for Saturday, September 27, at 7:30 a.m. The start and finish will be at Faith Hall, 182 Hunter Street, in Norcross.

Those interested are asked to contact Paisha Girtmon, at 770 369 4407, or email her at

The church's senior pastor, Bishop William L. Sheals, invites people to "Come with your family and friends to run or walk for healthy living! This is a great opportunity to start a run/walk routine to better your health. This event is free to all who have a desire to live better. Together we can make a difference!"

Gwinnett Tech becomes part of Microsoft IT Academy

Gwinnett Tech is now a Microsoft IT Academy, a designation that offers a host of benefits to students enrolled in the college's Computer Science programs.

The Microsoft IT Academy provides technology students access to the latest Microsoft products and resources, including free software, e-learning materials, the company's E-Reference Library and Microsoft's developer products.

As a member of the Microsoft Developer Academic Alliance, Gwinnett Tech can provide students with free licenses for the latest Microsoft software. Students will also have access to Microsoft's Designer Academic Alliance. This allows students in design-related courses to use the latest Microsoft Express tools.

GTC faculty members will benefit, too, with full access to the E-Reference Library, including 500 full-text technical titles from MS Press.

  • An invitation: What Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us your best recent visit to a restaurant or most recent book you have read along with a short paragraph as to why you liked it, plus what book you plan to read next. --eeb

Early Malcontents question Oglethorpe and Georgia Trustees

Among those to voice displeasure with the policies of General James Oglethorpe and the Georgia Trustees during the early years of Georgia's settlement, the Malcontents issued the most vociferous complaints. The leaders of the group, composed primarily of Scottish settlers near Savannah, included Patrick Tailfer and Thomas Stephens. The Malcontents first made their objections heard in 1735 shortly after their arrival in the new colony.

Whereas many of Georgia's original settlers came with monetary aid from the Trustees, most of the Malcontents arrived without assistance and thus did not have the same loyalty to the colony's founders. In particular, the Malcontents objected to the Trustees' limits on land ownership and prohibitions on slavery and rum. Since the Malcontents could afford to purchase slaves and vast tracts of land, they felt the policies of the Trustees prevented them from realizing their economic potential.

In 1740 William Stephens, the father of Thomas Stephens and secretary to the Trustees, wrote a memorial entitled A State of the Province of Georgia. The document claimed the Trustees and their policies enjoyed wide support throughout Georgia and-owing to the unique laws governing the colony-economic success seemed assured. For many residents Stephens's description did not reflect reality. Speaking for the Malcontents, Tailfer refuted Stephens's claims in a tract entitled A True and Historical Narrative of the Colony of Georgia. Writing from Charleston, S.C., Tailfer reiterated his belief that Georgia's survival required significant changes. Tailfer wanted members of Parliament and others who provided funding for Georgia to understand that many of its residents were prevented from succeeding financially because of the Trustees' policies.

Tailfer's arguments were heard but did not result in immediate change. Officials in London ordered additional surveys of popular sentiment following the publication of Tailfer's pamphlet, but the Trustees and their increasingly controversial statutes remained. In 1742 Thomas Stephens, representing the Malcontents and other disaffected settlers from London, published a pamphlet entitled The Hard Case of the Distressed People of Georgia. The Trustees maintained their power, but Stephens's arguments were increasingly heard in Georgia and England. When the Trustees passed a law in 1750 allowing slavery, many credited the change to the actions and writings of the Malcontents; when slavery and unlimited land ownership were allowed, they could claim victory.

Wisdom from the mind of Benjamin Franklin, about working

"Work as if you were to live 100 years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow."

-- Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard's Almanack, 1757), via Roy McCreary, Dacula.

  • Another invitation: What's your favorite saying? Share with others through GwinnettForum. Send to

Send your thoughts, 55-word short stories, pet peeves or comments on any issue to Gwinnett Forum for future publication.


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© 2008, Gwinnett Gwinnett Forum is an online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

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Number 8.48, Sept. 12, 2008

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TODAY'S FOCUS: Acting Classes for All Ages To Begin at Aurora Theatre
ELLIOTT BRACK: University of Georgia Quite a Bargain for Students, Parents
FEEDBACK:Naysayer View of Ball Park; Upset over Community Organizer Talk
McLEMORE'S WORLD: Ah, the Joy of a Government BailOut!
UPCOMING: New Library English Program; Bike Drive; Hopewell Run-Walk for Health
NOTABLE: Gwinnett Tech Joins in Microsoft Academy System
GEORGIA TIDBIT: Early Malcontents in Georgia Colony Question Trustees
More Wisdom from Ben Franklin

NEW COMPLEX. Groundbreaking is September 16 for the new Gwinnett police headquarters annex and E-911 Center. To be located at 770 Hi Hope Road in Lawrenceville, the $15.2 million project is funded by local sales taxes. The building will consist of 45,000 square feet where 180 people will work. Completion is expected in early 2010.

GREAT BOOK. Reserve your copy of a great new history of Gwinnett that will be published in October. Save by purchasing in advance. Learn more about Elliott Brack's new history on Gwinnett County by clicking here.

FOR CHARITY. You can give "A Gift of Laughter," a new book of cartoons by Bill McLemore, to help raise money for Rainbow Village. At just $20, it's a fun way to help. To order, call 770 840 1003, or 770 446 3800, or email to

Click above image to find
lowest gas prices in Atlanta

"Work as if you were to live 100 years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow."

-- Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard's Almanack, 1757), via Roy McCreary, Dacula.

11/4: Train tree limbs?

10/31: About Halloween

10/28: Early voting popular

10/24: New histories

10/21: Tidbits -- catching up

10/17: Saturday mail service

10/14: Remembering FDR

10/10: Be pleased with Gwinnett

10/7: Stadium drainage is neat

10/3: GOP and Lincoln

9/30: Losing Veep candidates

9/26: McCain's not president yet

9/23: Pass SPLOST program

9/19: Little good financial news

9/16: Selling back to the grid

9/12: Great tuition deal at UGA

9/9: A new history of Gwinnett

9/5: Stadium still important

9/2: About Palin choice

EEB index of columns

11/4: Weathers: Walking to school

10/31: Roark: Buford's changes

10/28: Lee: Power use to grow

10/24: Sharpe: Rainbow Village gift

10/21: Brantley: GGC open house

10/17: Wehrman: Wii-hab therapy

10/14: Wiggins: New rural service

10/10: Scarbrough: Corps' comments

10/7: Sargent: Hi-tech expansion

10/3: Shumate: Mortgage program

9/30: Warbington: Cutting false alarms

9/26: Sanders: Market will right itself

9/23: Whiddon: Crossroads conference

9/19: Rice: Quinn House group home

9/16: Brantley: GGC offers English

9/12: Stilo: About Aurora Academy

9/9: DeCarlo: Questioning ordinance

9/5: Williams: Duluth Police salute

9/2: Bumgardner: EXCEL 2008

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