Stand Up for Public Schools

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Zebulon Middle Demonstrates Historical Awareness

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 4:45:00 pm

The Zebulon GT Magnet Middle School team won first place in the 12th annual Carter G. Woodson African American History Awareness Competition.

This annual competition was sponsored by the Iota Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. The event was held Saturday, February 22, at East Millbrook Middle School in Raleigh, with over 35 teams representing Wake County Public Schools on the elementary, middle and high school levels.

This year Zebulon Middle was represented by two teams and won the competition for the seventh consecutive year. Zebulon Middle School Teams I and II competed in the first three rounds of the competition and both ZMS teams faced off in the elimination round, leaving only Team I to compete in the championship round. Other middle school competitors were East Garner, East Millbrook, Ligon, Mills Park, North Garner, Reedy Creek, Sterling Montessori and West Millbrook.

As first place winners, each Zebulon Middle School participant received a certificate, a water bottle, a pivot sling bag and a trophy. First place winners from each division of the competition were also acknowledged at the monthly Wake County school board meeting Tuesday, March 4. Students from Wakefield Elementary School and Knightdale High School students were also recognized by the school board for their excellence in the competition.

Oiginally Posted Here

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wilmington Student Gets into 7 Ivy League Schools

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 4:45:00 pm

Thousands of students apply to Ivy League schools, but very few are accepted. Wilmington native Patrick Peoples has the distinct honor of getting into seven of them.

Peoples is a senior at the Lyceum Academy of New Hanover High School and said he is thrilled to have been accepted to Princeton University, Yale University, Columbia University, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania.

"No one ever expects to get in," Peoples admitted.

With acceptance rates as low as six percent, just getting into one Ivy League is a huge accomplishment.

"I just wanted to apply," Peoples explained. "Maybe I'll get into one, maybe just maybe."

Patrick's AP English teacher Catherine Edmonds says Peoples has earned his spot.

"He's personable, he's responsible, he has a complete and utter interest of what happens in the world, and he's bound to make changes," Edmonds said.

Change is what Peoples hopes to achieve with a degree in public policy and economics.

"I have a big passion for social justice," Peoples said. "So when I see things that can be fixed or when I see people that don't have the opportunity that I've had, it really makes me want to go up as far as I can and reach back and help people."

Peoples is also editor in chief of his yearbook and heavily involved in Boy Scouts, student government and the Young Democrats.  

In addition to the Ivy league schools, Peoples was also accepted to Duke University, Davidson College, the University of Chicago and was one of two New Hanover High School students to receive the Morehead-Cain Scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Peoples is finishing up his college visits and will have to decide where he will study by May 1. 

Originally Posted Here

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

U.S. News and World Report Releases List of Best High Schools in NC

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 2:45:00 pm

In the 2014 U.S. News Best High Schools rankings, there are 34 North Carolina schools with silver medals and 61 with bronze medals. Two schools earned gold medals: Green Hope High, part of the Wake County Public School System, and West Forsyth High, part of Forsyth County Schools.

To be eligible for a state ranking, a school must be awarded a national gold or silver medal.


Butler High




Cary High



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ACS Art Teachers Engaging All Students Via New Instructional Method

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 12:35:00 pm

Art teachers in Ashe County Schools are incorporating a new method of instruction, Universal Designs for Learning (UDL), into their curriculum, and it’s connecting well with their students.

According to the National Center on Design for Learning, UDL is a “set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.” It “provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials and assessments that work for everyone - not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.”

At the April 7 meeting of the Ashe County Board of Education, held at the Ashe Arts Council, in West Jefferson, several art teachers addressed the board about some of the exciting things happening in theirclassrooms.

Lindsey Postlethwait (Blue Ridge Elementary) talked about her “Kindergarten Color Unit.”

Postlethwait’s kindergarteners are learning about primary, secondary and mixed colors by creating color wheels and singing songs about colors.

“These are things kids are interested in, and it engages them,” Postlethwait said. “I can hear them and I know they’ve learned to color that way.”

Jill Stepp (Westwood Elementary) explained her third grade lesson based upon the book “The Spider Weaver: A Legend of Kente Cloth.”

Stepp’s lesson crosses a range of curriculum.

“It involves painting, drawing, geography, math and literature,” Stepp said.

Jorena Sparks (Mountain View Elementary) spoke about her “Face Jug Unit” for her fourth grade students.

“You have to have multiple means for participation,” Sparks said. “I use an interactive website from the Mint Museum, Dave the Potter’s storybook and visual examples I’ve shown them.”

“This (UDL) isn’t something we had to think too hard about,” Postlethwait said. “We just had to put it down to paper and let everybody see it for what it is.”

At the end of the presentations, two students addressed the board and expressed satisfaction with the instructional methodology and the classes, in general.

“I hope that anytime the budget crunch comes into play, you’ll remember the things that were said today,” Ashe County Middle School art teacher Jill Gambill said, in closing.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Marine Science Academy Application Deadline Extended

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 11:45:00 am

The deadline for applying for a summer science academy in Carteret County has been extended.

Applications are being accepted until May 2 for area middle school students to participate in the 2014 Brad Sneeden Marine Science Academy to take place June 23-27.

The program is designed for rising seventh, eighth and ninth graders. Fifty students from the Carteret County Public School System and 10 students from the Craven County Public School System will be accepted into the program this year.

Applications are available at Carteret County middle schools or online at

The Academy provides students with a fast-paced, week-long program that introduces them to careers in the marine sciences. Students participate in hands-on activities such as trawling from a boat, conducting field research on a barrier island, and learning about aquaculture.

Tuition is $185, and partial scholarships are available.

Originally Posted Here

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book ‘Em NC Events Making a Difference

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 4:55:00 pm

The first three Book ‘Em North Carolina events held in Lumberton might be a distant memory to some, but to many others it continues to affect lives and hopefully, futures.

Each year, proceeds from book sales have been evenly distributed among the Dolly Parton Imagination Library through United Way of Robeson County, Communities In Schools, Friends of the Robeson County Public Library and the Lumberton Police Department — earmarked for school-age children.

Communities In Schools has used part of the donations for its Great Leaps program, a supplemental reading program that is underway at eight elementary and middle schools in Robeson County. Volunteers meet daily with children to review phonics, site words and short stories. BENC funding has provided each participating student a grade-appropriate book to take home for summer reading. For the past three years, CIS has served hundreds of students per year with books.

Through the Great Leaps program, encouragement and positive reinforcement for mastering skills helps build self-esteem and confidence for the student. Building confidence means more participation and engagement in the classroom.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

School Collects 2,000 Milk Jugs For Healthy Hearts

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 3:45:00 pm

On Wednesday at 2 p.m, students, teachers and staff at Brevard Elementary School will join for a photo surrounded by red balloons and 2,000 milk jugs.

This event is the culmination of an activity led by PE teacher Patti Whitaker, who has been instructing students about the circulatory system, which carries 2,000 gallons of blood through the body each day.

This year’s “Jump Rope for Heart” event with the American Heart Association carried the theme “It Takes Heart to be a Hero,” and with a school goal of $2,000 — following the same 2,000-gallon theme —students secured donations to exceed the goal by another $1,400.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Grimsley’s Hebrew Class Unlike Any Other

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 2:30:00 pm

Some students studying Hebrew at Grimsley High want to better understand their culture. Or become fluent. Or better understand the Torah and the Bible. Or learn about an entirely different culture and language.

Whatever their reasons, students can’t take the course anywhere else in Guilford County Schools. Or any other public school in the state, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

Grimsley offers six levels of Hebrew in three classes with about 40 students enrolled.

The program will earn even more distinction this fall with the addition of an International Baccalaureate class.

Six schools in the United States have students registered to take IB exams for which they might earn college credit, according to an IB spokeswoman.

Students who take the class say they walk away with more than a better understanding of a language.

On a typical day, there is only the hum of the air conditioner and the voices of Rina Wolfgang, who has taught the class for about five years, and her students, reading and talking.

With Wolfgang perched on a stool, facing the students, their discussions take on a more intimate feel.

The discussion shifts from the language to politics, Middle East conflicts, how history repeats itself and life.

“Grimsley has a star — not in me, but in the Hebrew program,” said Wolfgang.

Read Full Story Here


Monday, April 21, 2014

NC School Kids Helped by Transylvania Connection

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, April 21, 2014 at 4:45:00 pm

A company in one of Europe's poorest countries is helping feed children in a North Carolina county.

The Times-News of Hendersonville reports the Romanian company behind the Only Fruit Bar is giving $2,500 to a Transylvania County Schools program that provides children with weekend food supplies.

Only Fruit Bar is based in the region in Romania famously called Transylvania.

The donation comes as the Romanian company seeks expansion into the American market. Only Fruit Bar spokesman Steve Mangione says the company was looking for a way to reach U.S. children and an Internet search connected the two Transylvanias.

The North Carolina school district's "Back Pack Buddies Program" sends food home every Friday with more than 300 students who are considered to be in extreme need.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

R&B Singer Usher’s Music Leadership Program Debuts in Wake County

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, April 21, 2014 at 4:15:00 pm

A presentation punctuated by impromptu rap battles introduced Wendell Middle School eighth-graders on Wednesday to a new Wake County program — backed by R&B star Usher — that looks at careers in the music industry.

The students got a taste of the Music Industry Leadership 101 curriculum developed by Usher’s youth organization, New Look Foundation, that will be the foundation for a new career pathway for high schoolers in the Wake County school system.

Wake is introducing the program this week to Wendell Middle and the Wake Young Men’s Leadership Academy. The program will also be piloted at eight other Wake schools: Holly Ridge Middle School; Cary, Enloe, East Wake, Heritage, Millbrook, Phillips and Southeast Raleigh high schools.

If all goes as planned, said Marlo Gaddis, the school system’s director of instructional technology and library media services, Wake County will offer the full program by the 2015-16 school year. Wake is one of six districts nationally, and the only one in North Carolina, that’s piloting Usher’s program.

“We have a unique opportunity in Wake right now that we can take and be a part of this initial team,” Gaddis said about finessing the curriculum that will follow Music Leadership 101. “You don’t always have the opportunity to be a creator on the front end.”

Shawn Wilson, president of New Look, said the curriculum was developed with students’ interests in mind.

“We’ve taken a traditional marketing course and wrapped it around music because that’s where (students’) interests are,” Wilson said. “Talking about brands of artists like Usher, Jay-Z and Beyoncé is more fascinating to kids and, to be honest, more relevant to them than talking about other brands that really have no relevance in their lives.”

In a morning session with New Look trainers, Wendell Middle 8th-graders did basic brand analysis by talking about celebrities like Oprah and former “American Idol” judge, Simon Cowell.

The session also got students thinking about their own personal brand – a lesson Gaddis said she’s excited to see worked into the full curriculum.

“One of the things that excited me as much as everything else is the constant reminder of your digital footprint,” she said. “They’re really talking about your brand and how that fits in.”

Wilson said the program will also emphasize “soft skills,” like speaking in front of crowds, another lesson New Look trainers imparted on students in the form of “Expressions.”

During “Expressions,” students could perform a talent in front of their classmates, a practice that Wilson said is done repeatedly in the Music Leadership program.

By the time students become alumni of the program, Wilson said, they should feel comfortable giving professional presentations or be a leader in other group settings.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Carrboro Flag Football Game Brings Together Disabled, Non-Disabled Students

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, April 21, 2014 at 3:10:00 pm

Saturday, April 19, about 20 young people, some with special needs and some without, gathered in Carrboro High School’s gym to play flag football together.

Anna Broome, 17, planned the event to fit the vision of the partnership between Special Olympics North Carolina and the N.C. High School Athletic Association. The groups want to bring students with mental disabilities into contact with students without disabilities.

The inspiration came last July when Broome attended a meeting of the Special Olympics and the NCHSAA as a member of the association’s Student Athletic Advisory Council.

“We talked a lot about how we could make a partnership between special needs athletes and general ed high school students,” Broome said. Project UNIFY, which came from that partnership, promotes what the groups call “unified sports.”

“The goal of unified sports is to have half the team be general education and half the team be special education,” Broome said.

Though no one told her how to do it, she planned the event, got people to sign up, held a practice session, had blue and green T-shirts available for players, and managed to hold the event in spite of the rain.

When Project UNIFY began in fall 2008, only nine North Carolina schools participated. Now, 231 schools engage in the program. Events are usually coordinated by Special Olympics rather than students, she said, but they all have a “huge impact.”

With eight or nine students on each team, the Carrboro gym soon filled with yells and laughter. James Scott, a 17-year-old basketball star at Carrboro High School, started the morning by leading the students in stretching. He counted to 10 and switched stretches. Then the students shared their names and something interesting about themselves.

Events such as the one Broome planned give non-special needs students a chance to socialize with special needs students. Freshman Grace Nanny, 14, is not special needs, and said she was glad for that chance.

Nanny got involved with the school’s Special Olympics club when she met with Broome, who was sitting at an informational table during lunch. “I started talking to Anna and got interested,” she said.

“It’s cool being able to play with them,” she said.

In gym class, the seven or eight special needs students practice separately. “We never really get to talk,” Nanny said.

Scott agreed. “You’re meeting people you normally wouldn’t meet,” he said. “Their awesome personalities – they’re people like all of us, and they should have fun with us, too.”

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Monday, April 21, 2014

NC Elementary Selected for Teleconference with Space Station

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, April 21, 2014 at 12:30:00 pm

An elementary school in Onslow County has been selected by NASA to participate in a teleconference with astronauts on the International Space Station.

Students from Dixon Elementary will participate in the teleconference on Monday, April 21 at 2:05 p.m. The students will have about ten minutes to ask the astronauts questions. 

The teleconference is made possible by members of the local Amateur Radio Club, which has donated their time and equipment to help facilitate the event.

According to Suzie Ulbrich with Onslow County Schools, this is the first teleconference of its kind in North Carolina since 2006.

Originally Posted Here

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Coaches Earn NCHSAA Awards

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 4:50:00 pm

Eight "coaches who make a difference" by virtue of their exemplary sportsmanship will be honored by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association at the NCHSAA Annual Meeting.

The coaches have been selected for the Homer Thompson Memorial Eight Who Make a Difference award. The award is named in honor of the late Homer Thompson, the long-time Winston-Salem Parkland coach and member of the NCHSAA Hall of Fame. Each honoree will receive the award at the Smith Center on May 1.

“Homer Thompson’s name is affixed to this award because he certainly did make a difference in the lives of many and truly was an outstanding role model,” said NCHSAA commissioner Davis Whitfield.

The winners were chosen by a special committee based on nominations from the member schools. They will receive a plaque as part of the Association's student services program.

Coaches receiving this honor for 2013-14 include the following:

Region 1: Chris Ross, athletic director and former head baseball coach, Ayden-Grifton High School

Region 2: Chris Mueller, head cross country and head track and field coach, White Oak High School, Jacksonville

Region 3: Jennifer Pepin, head cross country and women's track and field coach, Cedar Ridge High School, Hillsborough

Region 4: Milton Butts, head football coach, Hoke County High School

Region 5: Brian Nance, head men’s basketball and assistant cross country coach, Asheboro High School

Region 6: Mike Gurley, head men’s basketball coach, West Rowan High School

Region 7: Todd Clontz, head women’s golf coach and administrative assistant, Alexander Central High School

Region 8: Joey Robinson, athletic director and head football coach, Mountain Heritage High School, Burnsville

Each school had the opportunity to nominate one of its coaches for this award. "These coaches are excellent role models who provide support and encouragement to our young people," says Whitfield.

Originally Posted Here

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Two Moore County schools win awards in N.C. DOT Model Bridge Building Competition

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 3:25:00 pm

Two Moore County schools won awards Friday in the finals of the state Department of Transportation's Model Bridge Building Competition.

North Moore High School in Robbins won second place and best presentation in the high school division. The Franklin Academy High School in Wake Forest won first place.

Highfalls Elementary School in Bennett won third place and most unique design in the middle school competition. The school has students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Polk County Middle School in Mill Springs won first place in the middle school division.

Schools in the competition were judged on oral presentations, written reports, design drawings and the structural efficiency of their wooden model bridge.

The contest is meant to emphasize the development of math and science skills, while giving students an opportunity to use problem-solving strategies and critical thinking. The competitors also learn how to communicate better and apply research and presentation skills.


Teams in the finals won first place during regional competition in March.

Originally Posted Here

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Event Focuses on Children with Special Needs

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 12:50:00 pm

The Robeson County Health Department and Lumberton Children’s Clinic recently coordinated an effort to share information and resources to benefit children in the area with specialhealth care needs.

At the “Lunch and Learn” event, Kathryn McDaniel, school nurse supervisor for Robeson County schools; April Oxendine, coordinator of the Innovative Approaches program; and Billena Richards, Carolina Access project manager and Innovative Approaches co-chair; joined Lumberton Children’s Clinic providers for a discussion about the role of school nurses and the need for coordination between each child’s medical home and the school system.

The Innovative Approaches Steering Committee is made up of health care providers, Health Department employees, parents, school nurses, educators and advocates whose goal is to make services more effective in Robeson County for the 10,000 children with special health care needs living in the area.

Special health care needs range from allergies to autism, cerebral palsy to Down syndrome and more. Through the Innovative Approaches Initiative, change is being affected at a systems level, whether by providing support and education for parents, or linking medical providers and the school system to better coordinate care for a child.

The initiative is using a grant from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau to increase access to community-based services; help families join in decision-making for the child’s optimal health; increase comprehensive care within a medical home; increase early screening for special health care needs; and to increase the percentage of youths with special health care needs who receive the services necessary to make appropriate transitions to adult health care, work and independence.

Originally Posted Here

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

FCCLA to be Recognized at School Board Meeting

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 4:25:00 pm

During the Elkin Board of Education meeting on Monday, nine members of the Elkin High School chapter of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) will be recognized after recently recently winning gold and silver medals at the State Leadership Conference in Greensboro.

The nine members to be recognized are: Kristen Kartes; Courtney Cobler; Kenya Easter; Emma Aldridge; Makayla Dimmette; Rebekah Cranford; Ellie Hooper; Georgia Longworth; Hannah Freeman will be honored by Kali Teague; and Robin Hooper.

Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe will recognize Barbara Long for receiving the North Carolina FCCLA Outstanding Administrator of the Year Award.

Originally Posted Here

Monday, April 14, 2014

Students Hold SAVE Summit to Keep Violence Out of Schools

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, April 14, 2014 at 5:00:00 pm

Providing safer environments for our youth is the goal for a national organization called Students Against Violence Everywhere, also known as SAVE. They held their 14th "save summit" on the campus of N.C. State University Saturday morning.  

Members of SAVE said their whole purpose is to stop violence in schools and communities by engaging, encouraging, empowering and educating youth. 

SAVE members said too many schools are making national headlines for violent attacks. 

"It wasn't the norm like it is today," said SAVE co-founder Angie Bynum.  "I think people are beginning to get conditioned and that's my fear.  Let's not get conditioned. Let's stand up on a table and say ‘no, this is not fair. This is not right.’ My heart goes out to the slayings that have taken place in the past, even the most recent one involving children but we need to start looking into some kind of intervention for children."

That's where SAVE comes in. 

The group started in Charlotte 25-years ago after Bynum's friend, Alex Orange, was killed trying to break up a fight.  Bynum said she couldn't let his death go unnoticed. What started off as one small school group has now blossomed into something bigger. 

SAVE now has more than 2,100 chapters in 48 states and seven countries.

"It's good to see that people actually care and that it's actually doing good in schools and it's a good program to be behind," said Brady Ledbetter, co-chair of SAVE advisory board.

The group hosts workshops on bullying, peer pressure, coping skills and more. 

What's learned here could be lifesaving, but Bynum said there is still work to be done.

Marking the 25th anniversary, SAVE is kicking off a fundraising campaign aimed at raising $25,000 to support chapters and safer schools in more than 125 schools across the country. 

Originally Posted Here

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chatham County Schools Hosts 26th Annual Young Authors Celebration

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, April 14, 2014 at 4:35:00 pm

Chatham County Schools Media Education Program along with McIntyre’s Fine Books and Fearrington Village hosted the twenty-sixth annual Young Authors Celebration for student writers in Chatham County on Tuesday, April 8. The event, which was held at The Barn at Fearrington Village, kicked off with a reception at 6:30 p.m.

This year’s feature author was Sheila Turnage, a Newbury Award Winner, who currently lives in North Carolina. Turnage inspired and engaged students reinforcing that there’s a writer in each of them. Students were instantly hooked as she revealed her secrets for creating believable settings, characters, and stories. After her inspiring presentation, Turnage took pictures with each of the winners to commemorate the evening.

Four students won awards that were in the “Best of” category. J. Allen Smith of North Chatham Elementary School, who wrote “Super Duper Yard Vacuum 5000,” won Best of: Grades K-4. Meera Butalia of Margaret B. Pollard Middle School, who wrote “Saving Simba,” won Best of: Grades 5-8. Eden Bennet of Bonlee School, who authored “What I Love,” won Best Novel. The student author who won Best Overall was J.S. Waters’ Krista Willett, who wrote “9/14/13.”

While walking around the room, attendees had the opportunity to look at books that were on display. Examples of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, along with handmade pop-up books were exhibited.

The event closed with proud parents, principals, and media coordinators socializing and capturing the special evening with cameras.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Solar Panels Light Up Students Interest

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, April 14, 2014 at 3:05:00 pm


Discovery High School U.S. history and physics teacher Jody Dixon developed a strategy to teach students about renewable energy.

“We are very interested in sustainability," he said. "We want to try to figure out what a sustainable school would look like.”

Dixon enlisted the help of the Newton-Conover Education Foundation and its $1,500 Innovations in Education grant.

The grant is given annually to projects that meet measurable objectives and can show sustainability during an extended period of time.

This year, the foundation awarded the grant to Dixon’s class.

“Mr. Dixon’s project to focus on ‘green technology' opportunities at a time when clean energy is a hot-button topic is very timely, and we know Discovery students will benefit from this resource,” foundation chairman Michael Willard said in a news release. “Further, Mr. Dixon’s decision to pursue a project that will not only enhance the career readiness for Discovery students, but also potentially create future cost-savings for the school system makes this a win-win.”

Dixon said he simply wanted to engage students.

“Everything was on them,” he said, pointed to three students who worked on the solar panel.

Dixon said students put in the work to build, install and monitor the solar panel.

“It definitely beats reading about solar panels,” junior Will Kennedy said.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Two Onslow Schools Advance to Odyssey of the Mind World Finals

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, April 11, 2014 at 4:30:00 pm

Over 800 teams from around the world will compete in the 35thOdyssey of the Mind World Finals; two of those teams will come from Onslow County Schools.

Eight of Onslow County Schools’ teams advanced to the state finals, held April 5, at Wingate University in Charlotte. The OM teams from Dixon Elementary School and New Bridge Middle School performed so well at the state competition, they qualified to move on to the world finals. The teams at the world competition represent the best of the best creative minds.

In Odyssey of the Mind, teams of students work on creative, hands-on problem solving in a competitive environment. Teams compete under one of several long-term problems performed before a panel of judges. Teams are also given a spontaneous problem to solve in a very short period of time. All of the work to solve the long-term problem must be done by the students without any outside assistance, including their coach.

Dixon Elementary Schools’ Odyssey of the Mind team took first place in Division I in It’s How We Rule. New Bridge Middle School took third place in Division II in Drivers Test and they also won a special creativity award which qualified them to move on to the world finals.

At the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, though the competition is fierce, teams intermingle providing opportunities for students to learn about other cultures and form some lasting friendships. The finals will be held May 28 – 31, at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

Originally Posted Here

Friday, April 4, 2014

230 Athletes Enjoy Special Day

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, April 4, 2014 at 4:45:00 pm

James Johnson | The Robesonian David Hester Jr. competes on Wednesday in the Special Olympics Spring Games, which attracted about 230 participants. It was the first year competing for the 8-year-old.

More than 200 athletes in Robeson County, young and old, got a chance on Wednesday to demonstrate their special skills.

They competed in Robeson County Special Olympics Spring Games, which were held under sunny skies and 70-degree temperatures at Purnell Swett High School, and offered a chance to win a ribbon — and much more.

“Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,” said William Locklear, a participant and a student at Prospect Middle School, over the loud speaker just before the games. The words he had read were well known to many of the athletes, including 14-year-old Caitlyn Adams.

Adams, who like all participants in the Special Olympics struggles with an intellectual disability, has participated in the Special Olympics games for three years.

“She loves it. She has been coming for a few years now and she just loves getting together with other children and having fun,” said Adams’ mother, Nicole Fairfax. “But she does take the oath to heart. Everyone is a winner here.”

Adams, who won a first place ribbon for the long jump, was at the event representing Littlefield Middle. Though many of the more than 230 participants on hand were there representing Robeson County schools, being in school, or even of school age, is not a requirement to participate.

“To me the most important thing is that you give opportunity to athletes who wouldn’t normally be afforded this opportunity to compete,” said event coordinator Sandra Evans. “A lot of people think that this is just for Robeson County school students, but it is open to any individual with intellectual disability … I have somebody who is 78 years old competing today. She is competing in two wheelchair events.”

More than 1,200 people, including volunteers and family members, cheered on athletes. Also in attendance were Assistant Superintendent Tommy Lowry, Superintendent Johnny Hunt and Pastor Donald Bullard of Harpers Ferry Baptist Church, who read an invocation just before the game.

“We love holding the games at our schools,” Hunt said. “We have done it every year for longer than I can remember. More than 30 years, that’s for sure.”

Besides the long jump, other competitions included the tennis and softball throw, the shot put, running and walking events, as well as wheelchair races.

The annual games are a small part of the national Special Olympics organization that was founded in 1968 as a way of encouraging children and adults with intellectual disabilities to challenge themselves, develop physical fitness and most of all, have fun.

Locally, more than 190 athletes train year-round in five sports, and compete in local, state and regional events. The Special Olympics of Robeson County has partnered with Robeson County Schools for use of facilities and equipments.

Originally Posted Here

Friday, April 4, 2014

North Stokes Students Put Farm to Good Use

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, April 4, 2014 at 4:10:00 pm

North Stokes sophomore Nathan Lee (left) and senior Kaleb Marshall check pH and nutrient levels in the hydroponic lettuce garden on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at North Stokes High School in Danbury, N.C. (Andrew Dye/Journal)

North Stokes has the first school farm in the state certified to serve its produce in the school’s cafeteria. Federal regulations require all produce served by schools come from producers with GAP certification – a standard of good agricultural practices set to ensure food safety.

The school received its certification just last week and has already begun using its lettuce crop for lunches. Cafeteria Manager Bertha Amos said she used the first harvest in a salad mix last week.

“It makes a beautiful salad,” Amos said.

The lettuce comes from the school’s hydroponic greenhouse. The plants are grown without soil, planted in a table that continuously circulates nutrient-rich water through the root system. From seed to harvest, the entire process is managed by students in the newly GAP certified greenhouse.

Bell Hall, North Stokes agriculture teacher, said he chose lettuce because it’s relatively easy to grow, his classes can produce a large enough volume to use in the cafeteria and it goes from seed to harvest fast enough (about two months) for students to see the entire process in a semester. In the hydroponic greenhouse, Hall has two lettuce tables, plus tomato and cucumber systems. Those take longer, he said, so students who start them won’t be the ones harvesting them.

While other farms in the state participate in the Farm to School program to supply produce to school cafeterias, North Stokes is the first high school in the state to gain the required GAP certification.

Cindy Marion, director of child nutrition for Stokes County Schools, said she’s made a commitment to getting as much of the system’s produce from the Farm to School program as possible.

The GAP certification allows the school’s child nutrition program to purchase the produce for use in the cafeteria, but it serves another important function as well. It’s an opportunity for students to learn best production practices and gives them a glimpse at what a career in agriculture would entail.

Heather Barnes, marketing specialist for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said more and more restaurants and retailers are requiring GAP certification in efforts to improve food safety and traceability. Learning it now will only benefit students in the future, she said.

“We want to see more young people in agriculture,” Barnes said.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Are You Smarter Than an Elementary Student?

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, April 4, 2014 at 3:30:00 pm

Which country has the largest border with the United States? Who wrote the children’s classic, Charlotte’s Web? If you can answer these questions, then you just might be smarter than an elementary student. 

Attendees can test their general knowledge, impress their friends, family and co-workers, and contribute to a local non-profit at the third annual Children First/Communities In Schools (CF/CIS) “Are You Smarter Than an Elementary Student?” fundraising event on Thursday, April 10 from 6 pm to 8 pm at the A-B Tech Ferguson Auditorium. Each team is paired with a “celebrity” CF/CIS Learning Center student to test their mental acuity on geography, math, history, and more. The questions for the quiz-show event are taken directly from the EOG (End of Grade) test questions for elementary schools. 

All of the proceeds will benefit Children First/ Communities In Schools – a nonprofit that serves economically disadvantaged children and their families with after school learning centers, a food pantry, emergency financial assistance, case management, and advocacy. 

Last year, “The Bad Apples,” a team comprised of Buncombe County school staff, won the event for the second year in a row. Monica Ponder of the Bad Apples says: “As two-year reigning champions of Children First/CIS “Are You Smarter Than an Elementary Student”, Buncombe County Schools is happy to challenge local businesses and organizations to beat our two year winning streak. This event is a great way for us to have fun while supporting a local organization that strives to improve the lives of local children and families.”   

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Friday, April 4, 2014

First Family Fun Festival Benefit for Local After-School Programs at Watauga High School on Saturday April 12

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, April 4, 2014 at 2:45:00 pm

The halls, gym and auditorium of Watauga High School will be filled on Saturday, April 12, not with students making up snow days, but instead with carnival games, popcorn, live music and an auction to support local after-school programs. The inaugural “Family Fun Festival” benefit for Watauga County Extended Learning Centers will be held Saturday, April 12 from 1-8 p.m., featuring entertainment and activities for all ages. 

Watauga Extended Learning Centers are nonprofit programs that provide educational and recreational activities after school hours for students with working parents. 

“We have eight Extended Learning Centers county-wide in all the elementary schools with about 300 students enrolled,” said Pam Shirley, after-school director. 

Proceeds from the festival will go towards scholarships and operational supplies for the programs, which rely entirely on donations and parent fees. 

“Besides the obvious things like crayons, glue and paper, we’re trying to get technology like iPads and laptops for the kids to be able to do their homework,” Shirley said. 

From 1-5 p.m., games and activities will take place in WHS’s gymnasium for small fees, including face-painting, bounce houses, bracelet-making and more, Shirley said. 

“Each afterschool program will be running their own station and that part of the proceeds will go towards that school,” Shirley said. ”It will be affordable, we want everyone to be able to participate.” 

At 5 p.m., an auction will be held in the auditorium with items varying from Appalachian State football, Hickory Crawdads and Carolina Hurricanes tickets to local restaurant gift cards and admission tickets to Dollywood and Tweetsie. 

“We’re trying to make this a community event, it’s not just entirely to benefit us,” said Shirley. 

“It should be fun for the whole community and the kids too.” 

Community organizations like the Humane Society, Fire Department, and Police Department will have booths at the event. 

“This is our first time around so we’re hoping that we can build on this and hopefully make it an annual fun thing for the community to be excited about and come out to,” said Shirley. 

Originally Posted Here

Friday, April 4, 2014

North Carolina's Electric Cooperatives Kick off 20th Year of Bright Ideas Grants

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, April 4, 2014 at 11:05:00 am

North Carolina's electric cooperatives are kicking off the 20th year of awarding Bright Ideas education grants to North Carolina teachers and are now accepting grant applications. Nearly $600,000 in Bright Ideas grants will be awarded to educators statewide in the 2014-15 school year to fund creative, hands-on classroom projects that fall outside traditional school budgets. 

"North Carolina's electric cooperatives support the local communities they serve, and Bright Ideas grants are a substantial way for us to help teachers make a different for their students," said Lindsey Listrom, Bright Ideas coordinator for North Carolina's electric cooperatives. "These grants give teachers new resources to invigorate and excite their students, and we believe there is no more important investment than in the education of our future leaders."

Bright Ideas grants are available to K-12 teachers for innovative projects in any subject. Educators can apply individually or as a team by submitting a simple online application. Maximum grant amounts range from $1,000 - $3,000, depending on the sponsoring electric cooperative's policy.

Applications are accepted April 1 through September, with the final application deadline date varying regionally. Listrom noted it could pay to apply early. Teachers who submit their applications by the early bird deadline of Friday, Aug. 15 will be automatically entered to win one of five $100 Visa gift cards.

To apply, teachers must include a budget, explain the creative elements, implementation, goals and evaluation of the project, and have approval from the school principal. Applications will be judged in a competitive evaluation process, and judges will be on the lookout for projects that feature innovation and creativity. 

"Year after year, we are amazed by the creativity and dedication that teachers put into their applications," Listrom said. "We're proud to continue the co-ops' long tradition of supporting educators and investing in the future of our state."

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Winners of Video Contest to be Announced at Event

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, April 4, 2014 at 10:30:00 am

The winners of the fourth annual Preventing Distracted Driving Video Contest will be announced April 7 at a red carpet event beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Newton-Conover Middle School Auditorium, 873 Northern Drive, NW, Conover.

The annual contest is sponsored by the Preventing Distracted Driving Committee and the Catawba County Youth Council. High school students from throughout the county were invited to create 60-second videos addressing the dangers of distracted driving. Individuals or teams of no more than five students could submit videos. This year, approximately 200 students participated, creating 14 videos. The videos were judged by the Preventing Distracted Driving Committee.

All videos will be shown during the awards ceremony. The video judged best by the committee will receive the First Place Video Award. The team winning this prize will receive a limo ride and lunch at the Olive Garden, plus $500 for their school.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

High School Students Kick Butts

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 9:05:00 am

Students from Carrboro High, Chapel Hill High and East Chapel Hill High got together on a Saturday to take part in Kick Butts Day and other activities at their schools to encourage their peers to not use tobacco products. All of the students are members of their school’s Tobacco Reality Unfiltered clubs.

The events were part a series of collaborative events between the Orange County Health Department and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools that advocated against tobacco use.

The official Kick Butts Day was March 19 but the students cleaned up butts March 15. They cleaned up thousands and were part of a smoking response team outreach event along Franklin Street in Chapel Hill into Main Street in Carrboro.

Kick Butts Day is observed nationally as a day of activism that empowers young people to “stand out, speak up, and seize control against the tobacco industry.”

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Schools Hold Campaign to Prevent Use of ‘R-word’

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 1:40:00 pm

Ashe County Schools began to “Spread the Word to End the Word” in 2009, as a way to bring light to the county’s exceptional children and encourage people worldwide to stop using the word “retard(ed).”

“We wanted to raise awareness, but it was more than that,” said Kassee Roberts, a teacher at Ashe County High School. “We wanted to shed light on the fact that (exceptional children) are just the same as all of us.”

Roberts said this is the first year Ashe County High School took part in the campaign. Initially, the plan was to promote the event solely at the high school, but as word quickly spread, the rest of the schools in the county, as well as local businesses got involved.

“It brings tears to my eyes,” she said. “We had planned to start (the campaign) small, but it has turned into so much more.”

According to the R-word campaign, organized by the Special Olympics and Best Buddies programs, the “campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the ‘R-word’ as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Rosman Students Recently Celebrate Teen Tech Week

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 11:20:00 am

Teen Tech Week is held annually the second week of March and local teens tuned in at the library as Rosman Middle and High Schools to celebrate.

They joined thousands of other libraries and schools across the country who were celebrating this year's theme "DIY @ your library" to raise awareness about how Rosman Middle and High School creates a space to extend teens' learning beyond the classroom where they can explore, create and share content.

Teen Tech Week is a national initiative of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) aimed at teens, their parents, educators and other concerned adults. The purpose of the initiative is to ensure that teens are competent and ethical users of technology, especially the types offered through libraries. Teen Tech Week encourages teens to take advantage of the technology at libraries for education and recreation, and to recognize that librarians are qualified, trusted professionals who can help them achieve greater digital literacy.  

"Getting teens into libraries is essential," said School Librarian Sarah Justice. "Offering gaming, access to computers, and online help is important, and letting them know that we can help educate them on how to use these resources will get them in the door. Once they're in the door, we can show teens that with technology at the library, anything is possible."

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Panther Creek SMART Lunch Credited with Higher Graduation Rates

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 12:25:00 pm

Kyano Robinson, 10th grade, works with teacher Tracey Wooten.

Lunch is a very ordinary part of every high school student’s school day. But a lunchtime experiment at the county’s newest high school in Cary has led to extraordinary results — a 94.7 percent graduation rate.

SMART (Students Maximizing Achievement Relationships and Time) Lunch is the vision of Panther Creek High School Principal Rodney Nelson. Its effects, say students, teachers and administrators, are staggering.

The SMART lunch modifies the traditional lunch schedule so that every student and teacher in the school has a one-hour lunch period at the same time. Strict rules are in place regarding where students can and cannot eat. Part of the student population eats during the first 30 minutes while others are in SMART lunch. A bell rings after 30 minutes and they rotate.

Panther Creek High School boasts one of the highest graduation rates in Wake County at 94.7 percent. Students in every subgroup see success at Panther Creek High School, including students with limited English proficiency, African-American students, Latino students, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities, according to data released by the state.

During SMART lunch, students receive tutoring, participate in enrichment activities, make up tests, attend career conversations, meet with college admissions representatives, or participate in clubs and organizations. A schedule is posted of the subject areas holding SMART lunch programs each day of the week.

“If I were to name one thing that gets us those academic results, the achievement levels and the graduation rate, it's SMART lunch,” Nelson said.

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