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Sawnee students meet former president
Girls talk postcards, peanuts and Plains
Sawnee Elementary School students, from left, Bethany Lane and Edem Atsu were winners in the recent Peanut Post Card contest. - photo by Autumn McBride

The peanut festival and parade in the south Georgia town of Plains has become an annual tradition for a Forsyth County school.

For the third year in a row, Sawnee Elementary students placed in the top three for their grade levels in the town's postcard art contest.

Fourth-grader Bethany Lane and first-grader Edem Atsu traveled to Plains last weekend to receive their awards from former President Jimmy Carter during the festival.

"I thought it was amazing," said Lane of meeting Carter, who hails from Plains.

Added Atsu: "He was nice and happy."

The visit came days before Carter was hospitalized for a stomach infection while traveling to Cleveland, Ohio.

The girls received medals, certificates, a photo with Carter and an autographed book, mementos teacher Jane Grebe said would help them remember the unique experience.

"He won't be alive when she's showing her children the book," Grebe said of each young girl.

The Horizons teacher has assigned the postcard contest for the nine years, with students earning honors the past three.

Grebe said the assignment helps the Horizons students work on using creativity and gives them an opportunity to discuss Carter.

The postcards must include peanuts, Plains or the former president.

Lane drew a peanut farming peanuts, while Atsu chose to feature Carter marching in the parade with a peanut.

Atsu also wrote a happy birthday message to the past president, who turns 86 today.

She said her family was very proud of her third-place finish.

"I got two hugs from my sister," she said.

After submitting the postcards in September, neither student thought she would place in the contest.

"Usually I don't win stuff like this," said Lane, who finished second in her grade. "I was happy and excited. My grandma was really proud of me."

Her family traveled with her to watch the parade and check out the Carter museum, Lane's two favorite parts of the trip.

Back at home, the weekend's memories live on. And, she said, she's still eating peanuts.