Dancing in the Afternoon

Jabali Afrika was scheduled to perform at the Central Virginia Community College at noon – not generally the time most people seek out live entertainment – so my expectations were not high. However, I was to be surprised. The four-man group was excellent, mixing traditional African songs and drumming with modern reggae and rock styles. The sounds of drumming, singing, and dancing carried down the while linoleum halls and pretty soon everyone in the small commons was on his or her feet. Toward the end, singer Joseck Asikoye commented, “This is the only school we go to they dancing in the afternoon. The other schools, they don’t like to dance until it a little bit dark.” The event easily lended itself to a short video which I put together later that afternoon.

Magical Breakfast

I knew this would be a fun assignment when it came in. “Wizard of Oz characters serve breakfast at a local restaurant as a fundraiser.” Um, yes please!

Dressed in her “Glinda the Good Witch” costume, Kylee Hammersmith brings some magic to Hally Adcock and Susan Alexander (right) during a breakfast fundraiser at Shaker’s Restaurant in Lynchburg. Heritage High School’s Pioneer Theatre was to present ‘The Wizard of Oz’ later that week.

A Gust of Wind

There really wasn’t enough wind to fly a kite on Sunday but Elizabeth Alford didn’t seem to mind. I found her and a friend running in circles all over a field pulling their kites about 10 feet behind them, the kites falling to the ground as soon as the girls stopped to catch their breath. After a while I felt a breeze turn into a small wind and soon Elizabeth’s kite was hovering in midair of its own accord. The flight was brief but we were both happy for the small victory.

Student Section

I know that more intense crowd shots have been taken at every professional soccer match but this was the most energetic crowd I’ve witnessed at a small town high school basketball game. After trailing by almost 20 points, the home team tied the score with just a few minutes left and the students went nuts. I had planned on leaving early but with emotions running high I decided to stay. In the end, the visitors edged ahead in a closer-than-anticipated win. Sad day. For them. (Can you spot Justin Bieber??)

A Real ‘Glee’ Club

Having grown in popularity since the show ‘Glee’ debuted, The Amerechos (amer-echoes) show choir let us behind the scenes to see what it’s like to be part of the scene in real life. Reporter Jessie Pounds and I spent some time with the group in the final weeks before their first competition. I learned there are several big differences between the show and the reality, many of which Jessie points out in her article from Sunday. You can watch the video I put together on that page as well.

Life Stories

Covering a speaker can be hit or miss – just like college lecturers, they range from barely tolerable to genuinely inspiring. I have never encountered the work of Nikki Giovanni so I was not sure what to expect from her talk at Randolph College on the Civil Rights Movement. As an acclaimed poet, author, activist, educator and longtime friend of Rosa Parks, her stories conveyed a wisdom that was learned not from books and classes but from experience and witness. Despite all that she (and others of her generation) have been through, her spirit has endured and a fresh sense of humor shown through stories of intense racism and struggle. She is an advocate for the arts and shared her idea for “art buses” that would take fine arts students on trips just like athletic departments do, which evoked the laugh below.

Serving Life

I covered a two-day capital murder trial at the Appomattox Circuit Court last week. Probably the closest I had ever been to a real courtroom was when I was called for jury duty a few years ago, during which I was never assigned to a case. I covered the trial with reporter Chris Dumond and we had reason to believe that the judge would allow cameras in for the trial. At the last minute, the defense attorney objected, leaving myself and a TV cameraman with only a couple minutes to shoot. I got about 20 photos, including this one of the defendant, Alphonso Destin. Ultimately convicted of first degree murder, Destin and a buddy killed an elderly man in his home in 2008 and stole about $30 to buy gas and beer.

Having seen so many trials on TV shows and in movies, I couldn’t help but imagine the whole event was scripted – lawyers yelling “objection!” and witnesses crying. However, one look at the defendant smashed that illusion, and the seriousness and finality of the proceedings hit me. I was also allowed to shoot for several minutes the next day when the jury returned with their sentence recommendation. I watched Destin’s face through a telephoto lens as he heard the jury recommend a sentence of three life terms, with no possibility of parole. After he was led away in shackles and an orange jumpsuit, I walked out of the courthouse and headed back to the newsroom, thankful for my countless liberties.

Cav Cup

For 22 years, The Cavalier has hosted a one-day pool tournament featuring the best shooters in Lynchburg. Beers are $1 and they bring out buckets of delicious, seasoned peel-and-eat shrimp starting at five. Kim Raff tipped me off to the event and recommended I arrive around 3:30 to stake out a seat. We found some empty stools at the bar with a good view of the table and hunkered down for five hours of beer-drinking, shrimp-eating, and “nice shot!”-yelling.