VALDOSTA -- Thanksgiving Day in America is more than just family gatherings, turkeys, pumpkin pie, and holiday parades. It is a day when many people give thanks for things in their lives they "cannot live without."

Since the Sept. 11 attacks that killed thousands and devastated the entire nation, many Americans, including those right here in Lowndes County, have discovered that nothing lasts forever and nothing should be taken for granted.

From those who have little to those who have plenty, Lowndes County residents are thankful just to have one more Thanksgiving Day to spend with family and friends ... one more day to spend with loved ones.

Samuel Clemons, principal of Lowndes Middle School, said, "I am thankful for my relationship with God, for my family, and for the inspiration he has given to me as principal of Lowndes Middle School."

Superintendent of Valdosta City Schools Sam Allen is thankful for "my family, my friends, and all the children and their families of the Valdosta City School System."

Narci Drossos, Valdosta High School teacher, said, "I am thankful for my career in education. I have been so very fortunate to work with wonderful teachers, leaders and students. My students bring me joy, especially. God has blessed me by giving me over 100 teen-agers to work with every day. They remind me of what is important in life: joy! They are so optimistic, hopeful and happy. I wish everyone could have as many laughs each day as my students give me. They look forward with anticipation, never backward with regret. What a gift that is, and they don't even realize how beautiful they are. I would be remiss not to add that I am thankful for good health and the most wonderful husband and daughter I could hope to have. I cherish my holidays as time spent with them."

"I am thankful for my family and my good health," said Kathy Singletary, secretary at Hahira Elementary School.

Dee Dee Williams, school nutrition assistant at Moulton-Branch Elementary School, is thankful "for life. I thank God for each day."

(Kids' "What i'm thankful for" essays)

Jamil Smith, S.L. Mason Elementary School student, is thankful for "food, because if I didn't have food I would not stay alive. I am thankful for school because I would not be smart like I am. I am thankful for my friends because they make things fun in life. I am thankful for my family because we celebrate together."

"I am thankful for my family because they love me and care about me. I am thankful for my teachers because they teach me. I am thankful for my mom because she takes care of me. I am thankful for my dad because he takes care of me and loves me a whole lot," said Steven Purvis, S.L. Mason Elementary School student.

l Gabby Campiglia, S.L. Mason Elementary School student, is thankful for "getting to keep her dog. The plan is working so far. I love my dog. I'm also thankful for having a grandma. I love her a lot, too. If I didn't, I would feel bad all of the time. I like the fact that I'm friendly."

"I am thankful for the food that was provided for us and that we became friends with the Indians. I am glad that Christopher Columbus discovered America. Actually, I am glad the Indians discovered America. The turkey is the best part of Thanksgiving," S. L. Mason Elementary School student Will Daniel said.

Walker Moses, S.L. Mason Elementary School student, is thankful for "this country and the people who live in it. I'm thankful because we're united and we stay together."

"I am most thankful for my family. They are sweet, funny, and awesome. I respect them more than anything in the world. They mean everything to me. For Thanksgiving, I am going to see my family and eat with them. I'm going to celebrate Thanksgiving, then go to Florida," Leslie Townsed, S.L. Mason Elementary School student, said.

Caroline Strickland, Valdosta Middle School student, is "thankful for a great many things. First, I am thankful for my free, safe country because America has many more things than other countries d

o. Also, our country allows women to do what they wish, as long as they're not hurting others. I am also thankful for my loving family. The majority of families are not together anymore ... families like mine are hard to find. There is always food on the table, a roof over my head, and clothes to wear. Also, I would not be here to say what I am thankful for without my parents. I am thankful for the education I am getting. Without an education today, you can barely even find a good paying, decent job. I love my teachers, too. They push for, strive for, and want the best for you. Without teachers, I do not believe my life would ever be the same. In my eyes, teachers are the people you can turn to for advice. Last of all, I am thankful for Jesus who died on the cross and forgives all our sins. As you probably know, he gives us eternal life. I am also thankful for the Bible that teaches everything a Christian needs to know."

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.

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