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I am a lifelong Methodist with Southern Baptist roots. The Pyrex dish is a holy vessel to my people. Whenever it starts to sprinkle outside I consider myself re-baptized. I love Charles Wesley hymns, especially if we only sing the first, second and last verses, so we get out in time to beat the Presbyterians to Sunday brunch.

But one day a year I become an honorary Episcopalian, when I visit my friends at Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church for Ash Wednesday service. It's very close to the AJC so I have been the last few years. The church's leadership and laity are wonderful, welcoming people and I look forward to joining them again this year at the early service. 

In a nice stroke of serendipity Holy Innocents' Episcopal School occasionally pops up on my beat, writing about celebrity news. The school’s alum roster includes Brian Baumgartner, who plays Kevin on “The Office.” Colin Ford,  who appeared in “We Bought a Zoo,” starring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and Elle Fanning, attended Holy Innocents' during his preschool and part of his elementary school years. Gene Wilder, whose stepgrandson is a student there, visited last year to discuss all things Willy Wonka with some inquisitive first-graders.

More recently senior Freedom Wright was named an Allstate Give Back Day Hero. The award is given by Allstate Insurance Co. to honor the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and included a $2,500 donation to charity in her honor. Freedom, who works to raise awareness of children in foster care and volunteers at the Atlanta Fulton County Library and the St. Francis Table soup kitchen, has earned a full scholarship to Syracuse University through the Posse Foundation. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day she worked with actress Keisha Knight-Pulliam, the founder of Kamp Kizzy in Atlanta, a non-profit that works with young girls. Knight-Pulliam joined a group of local volunteers including Freedom in a project coordinated by HouseProud Atlanta, Inc. The group helped upgrade an Atlanta senior citizen’s home.

The school was thrilled their student was selected to participate in the special day of volunteering.

"Freedom is such a great example for all of us," proud headmaster Gene Bratek said. "Instead of complaining about our situations, we need to work hard to make our lives better, then find ways to make life better for others."

Added Director of Admissions Chris Pomar:  “Freedom Wright is a special kid. She is one of the most quiet and unassuming heroes you'll ever meet, but heroic is an apt way to describe her sense of community service and giving back. She would never tell you that in addition to being a service leader she is an honor roll student, captain of the golf team, member of the student vestry and has traveled to the far corners of the world through scholarships she has won via scouting or other activities. She would just soon have you not know anything about her myriad accomplishments, which is a large part of her charm and effectiveness.”

Looking ahead Holy Innocents' will have more cause to be proud. Student and cellist Wick Simmons, who has performed with the Atlanta Symphony, will be featured on a future episode of the NPR show "From the Top." The performance is scheduled for March 3 at Hodgson Concert Hall in Athens, and it will air at a later date. Stay tuned for details.

For now, if you are a member of HIEC I will see you there bright and early (actually, dark and early) on Wednesday!

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