Thirteen-year old Sarah Spradlin has loved to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, and once she took that pencil in hand, she hasn’t stopped creating stories, even penning an ongoing series of Christian adventure books with a friend.
And that experience and creativity served her well earlier this year when she won the Rotary Club’s bicentennial essay contest representing the middle school, earning her a $50 savings bond.
Spradlin spent her early years in the small South Georgia town of Leesburg, later moving to Clarke County. She was mostly home-schooled until a couple of years ago when she and her family, including dad Philip, mom Christy and younger sister Mary moved into a 120-year farm house in Comer.
Spradlin entered eighth grade at Madison County Middle School and said she was surprised at how welcoming everyone was.
“I really didn’t know anyone at all and everybody was so friendly,” she said. This school year she is attending ninth grade freshman academy. She’s gotten to know a lot of her classmates and enjoys biking and walking to nearby friends’ houses.
She titled her five-paragraph essay, “Not just one thing to love,” and pronounced herself and other county residents “high-tech hillbillies,” declaring that “we are pioneers, yet the conveniences of Athens and Atlanta are only a short drive way.”
She said there are three points she wanted to make about Madison County in her essay: one, the topography of beautiful rolling hills, woodland and pastures; two, the ability to truly see the stars at night, away from city lights, and the most of all, the people, who make Madison County the special place it is.
“If I were honestly to pick one thing about Madison County that I loved, it would almost always be the beautiful gnarled oaks in the summer when a clean breeze slips through their leaves, providing God’s own wind chime,” Spradlin says in her essay.
Of walks in the woods on the back side of their property, she says, “In the fall, you can sit anywhere and enjoy the beauties of the buttery yellows, pumpkin oranges, and cardinal reds that lay like precious gemstones on the forest floor….No other place can you see so many stars than here.”
And of the people, she says, “Madison County is the place that your grandparents talk about growing up in, when no one had to watch their kids; the ‘Be back before dark’ saying comes into play here, and one doesn’t have to worry about being different, because we all are and that’s what makes us who we are. I have friends down every road in Comer, and teachers who have brought us through so much. I would thank all of you, but that is really not necessary, because in MC it is simply a way of life. Between the fun times with friends and advice from your elders, the people here have really made these houses homes. You have all made such a wonderful expression for someone who came in a new student this year to knowing I have people I could trust my life with.”