Stand Up 4 NC Public Schools
Watauga Arts Council Awards Vocal Music Scholarships to Two Local Music Teachers
Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at 2:55:00 pm
The Watauga County Arts Council presented Vocal Music Scholarship Awards to two Watauga County Schools music teachers at its annual meeting on June 13.
While Chris Watson and Lisa Combs are both public school teachers, their applications and awards were totally different. Chris applied as a teacher representing Valle Crucis Elementary School, where he teaches music and chorus. His scholarship award will fund the licensing, music, and scripts needed for Valle Crucis School’s first full length musical play, “101 Dalmatians Kids”. Chris wrote in his application, “Putting on such a production will bring to life the magic of stage for all students at Valle Crucis School. Participation in this play will be open to students of all ages and is sure to be an amazing experience for it will include singing, dancing, acting, comedy, and fun for all! Such an amazing event, without question, will be a transformative arts experience for the students of Valle Crucis School.”
Lisa Combs has been teaching in Watauga County Schools for 27 years and currently teaches chorus at Watauga High School. The professional association for public school music teachers is called National Association of Music Educators (NAME). While Lisa has been able to attend state conferences for NAME, she has never been able to attend the national conferences. However this fall the national conference is taking place in Nashville, TN and with the scholarship award, Lisa will be able to attend. Lisa’s application read, “The conference will include opportunities for me to listen to amazing choirs, go to reading sessions to pick out new music for my students, learn from nationally known choral conductors, and attend seminars for music educators. I plan to return to my classroom with lots of new curriculum and a renewed spirit.”
The Watauga County Arts Council is very pleased to be able to honor these two educators in this way. Funding for the Vocal Music Scholarship Program comes from an annual event called “Celebrate Singing” each fall. This event, the brainchild of Dr. Roland Moy (a member of the WCAC Advisory Council who himself is a seasoned barbershop singer featured in The Mountainaires Quartet as well as Triad Harmony and several other singing groups) showcases different types of singers and different styles of singing. Music teachers are encouraged to bring their students to perform and to listen to other groups at this event and it is also greatly enjoyed by the public. The event is free, but donations are accepted. The next Celebrate Singing is tentatively planned for Saturday, November 21. Additional funding for the Vocal Music Scholarship Program comes from private donations.
4 Local Students Receive Golden LEAF Scholarship
Monday, June 22, 2015 at 3:20:00 pm
Four recent graduates of Robeson County high schools have each received a $12,000 Golden LEAF Foundation Scholarship from the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.
The recipients are Hillary Faircloth of South Robeson High School; Elizabeth Keenum of Robeson Early College; Kennedy Locklear of Purnell Swett High School; and Franchesca Windley of Lumberton High School.
They are among 215 students who will receive the $3,000 scholarship each year for up to four years at a participating North Carolina public university or private nonprofit college or university.
They are chosen based on such criteria as school and community service, goals and intention of contributing to rural communities after graduating. Typically, the recipient comes from a rural and economically troubled county.
“The Golden LEAF board of directors has been pleased to assist more than 13,700 students from families in rural communities attend college since 2000,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF president. “The Golden LEAF Scholarship is one of the many tools we have to help fulfill our purpose of growing North Carolina’s rural economy. Our hope is that through this scholarship opportunity, scholars will be able to gain valuable knowledge and skills and come back to their hometowns or another rural area to help our communities prosper.”
The Golden LEAF Foundation, established in 1999, is a nonprofit that attempts to help transform North Carolina’s economy. The Foundation received half of North Carolina’s funds from cigarette manufacturers until 2013.
52 Students Inducted Into Technical Honor Society
Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 3:45:00 pm
Transylvania County Schools recently inducted 42 seniors and 10 juniors into the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS). This was the first year juniors were also included during the annual induction.
NTHS requires that students be nominated by Career and Technical Education (CTE) faculty and evaluated using demanding criteria. Selection for membership is indicative of outstanding performance and skill, as well as critical workplace values of honesty, responsibility, initiative, teamwork, productivity, leadership and citizenship.
Criteria include overall grade point average (GPA), as well as GPA in CTE courses, completing a career and technical pathway in the high school curriculum, and membership in one of many CTE clubs available at both high schools.
Nancy Stricker, CEO of Transylvania Vocational Services, reminded attendees that "fixers" will always be required in the workforce: those who possess a combination of technical skills required by today's employers, especially mathematics and data analysis, communication and problem-solving.
Stenographers using shorthand may not exist anymore, but secret languages still occupy computer programmers, said Stricker. Popular roles of today, from cashiers to social media managers, may one day become obsolete. However, nothing will replace the importance of negotiating face-to-face interactions in the workplace.
"Communication has been, and always will be, the number one thing that employers are looking for," said Stricker. "At some point, you'll stop getting As, because when you go to a corporation, you won't get grades. If they want you, they'll keep you."
Rosman High School Student Earns National Recognition
Monday, June 15, 2015 at 3:45:00 pm
When Amy Schoenacher's art students excel at Rosman High School, she pushes their work forward to help them get the recognition they deserve. There is stiff competition at every level, starting with regional and state awards.
This year, though, sophomore Camron Hoxit broke through to the top.
"In 16 years at RHS, I have had only a few students make it to the national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition," said Schoenacher. "Camron is our first national winner from RHS during this time. I'm so proud of him for receiving this award."
The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, are in their 91st year. Every year students from across the country submit their artwork to regional affiliates, and Hoxit was part of an awards presentation at the Diana Wortham Theater back in February.
The program provides high school students the chance to showcase their work and be recognized nationally for their talent. Some noteworthy artists got their first recognition from the non-profit organization, including Andy Warhol and actor Alan Arkin.
This year at the regional competition in Asheville, Hoxit received a Gold Key for his graphite drawing titled "Grumbling." Schoenacher noted how this work showed a new stage in his development as an artist and student.
"Camron has always shown talent," she said, "and he's a patient and thorough artist, with a drive for perfection. With this portrait, he truly showed his understanding of mark-making and realistic drawing techniques."
Winning at regionals afforded Hoxit the opportunity to compete for the national awards program in New York. He won recognition at the national level, receiving a Silver Key and an invitation to Carnegie Hall to accept his award.
The ceremony works on a lottery basis, with only a percentage of medalists getting a seat. Although Hoxit did not win the lottery for a ticket to the event, his accomplishment is being celebrated and will be published in a book of award-winning works.
Because he is only a sophomore, Hoxit will be able to compete again next January at the regional affiliate in the Asheville Art Museum. Schoenacher has high hopes for his future work.
"With his talent, Camron will likely get to the Nationals again," she said. "We're proud to congratulate to him for his outstanding accomplishment for himself, the school and Transylvania County."
Onslow Students Headed to National SkillsUSA Championships
Monday, June 15, 2015 at 11:40:00 am
A team of Jacksonville High School students is headed to Kentucky later this month for the national SkillsUSA Championships, but there’s a friendly competition already underway from the workshop where the carpentry students work.
JHS carpentry teacher Kenny Kellum has taken teams to national competition three of the last five years. In 2011, the team took 22nd place; and last year the JHS team moved up to 12th out of the 52 teams that compete.
Team member Ginny Sartelle said they are all friends with last year’s team and there has been friendly banter over how well this year’s team will do.
“It’s not just a competition between 52 teams; we want to do even better than last year,” she said.
Kellum says the team has the ability to do just that. He said the team members have diverse backgrounds and skills but also have a shared confidence and desire to do well.
“They are going to Kentucky to represent North Carolina and that means a lot, especially to them,” Kellum said.
SkillsUSA is a nonprofit career and technical student organization that provides leadership and professional development for its members as well as opportunities for them to showcase their technical skills in over 95 different contest areas.
Nine HHS Musicians Chosen for European Tour
Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 2:30:00 pm
Nine students from Hendersonville High School and one HHS graduate will join the North Carolina Ambassadors 2015 European Music Tour, which will take 93 of North Carolina’s top youth musicians to play in concerts in seven European nations this summer.
Led by Hendersonville High’s director of bands and N.C. Music Ambassadors tour director Fran Shelton, HHS students will join the rest of the Ambassadors in Charlotte for rehearsals June 23 and 24 and depart for London on June 25.
The band will perform in England, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, and will also travel to Italy and France. Their 90 minute performances will include marches, Disney selections, overtures, pop music, Beatles tunes, and end with Stars and Stripes Forever. The band members will return to the United States on July 10th.
NC Music Ambassadors from Hendersonville High are: Mallori McFalls (flute), Reid Gudger (tuba), Andrew Hein (percussion), Christian Holt (trumpet), Joanna Guy (trumpet), Brian Kurtz (trombone), Royster Strickland (trombone), Andrew Jenkins (horn) and Franklin Blackwell (horn). Miranda McFalls, a 2010 HHS graduate, will serve as the trip's photographer.
Area schools that have performing students include T.C. Roberson and McDowell high schools. A total of 118 staff, students and parents will represent North Carolina on the summer tour.
Former NC Gov. Jim Hunt Honored for Contributions to Education
Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 1:00:00 pm
Former North Carolina governor Jim Hunt and his wife were honored Monday night for their contributions to public education in our state.
The Hunts received the Jay Robinson education leadership award.
The award is given to those who have displayed innovative, creative, effective leadership in public education.
Supertintendent Receives State’s Highest Civilian Award
Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at 4:05:00 pm
Johnny Hunt, outgoing superintendent of the Public Schools of Robeson County, recently received the state’s highest civilian honor as a parting gift.
Hunt, 59, was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine during a Thursday banquet hosted by members of the school board. Established by the Long Leaf Pine Society in 1965, the award is designed to recognize “North Carolinians who have demonstrated exemplary service or made an exceptional contribution to the state or their communities.”
The award was conferred by Gov. Pat McCrory and presented by Mike Smith, vice chairman of the school board.
“I am deeply honored to be chosen for such an award,” Hunt said. “I know there is an elite group of people who have received this award across the state. I will cherish it for the remainder of my life. It has been an honor to serve the children, our staff and the citizens of Robeson County.”
Hunt, who will retire on June 30, has worked with the Public Schools of Robeson County for the past 39 years.
He began his career in public education as a teacher at Southside Ashpole and Union Elementary. From 1988 to 1998, he served as a principal at Rex-Rennert, Union Elementary and Prospect schools. He was assistant superintendent for Human Resources for Robeson County schools from 1998 to 2003, when he returned to Prospect for a second stint as principal.
He was named superintendent of the Public Schools of Robeson County in 2006.
“Dr. Hunt has done an outstanding job in the nine years as superintendent, but especially the past four-to-five years with the budget cuts,” Smith said. “We have had to revert back 45 million dollars to the state … but under his leadership, we did it without cutting programs and services to students and staff. We have been able to keep teacher assistants while other systems have been unable to.”
Hunt has also held leadership positions outside of the school system. He was on the Robeson County Board of Commissioners for 18 years, including 12 as chairman. Hunt was a member of the Robeson County Library Board for 15 years, and on COMtech’s board of directors for four years.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is the latest in a long list of accolades for Hunt, who was previously named the school system’s Principal of the Year and Administrator of the Year.
Some of his other awards include Distinguished Service in Indian Education from the United Tribes of North Carolina; Distinguished Service in the Indian Community from the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina; and Outstanding Service from the Center for Community Action.
“Dr. Hunt is recognized all across the state and the nation as a leader in education, and his service during his 39 years with the school system has been commendable,” said Tasha Oxendine, public information officer for the school system. “It’s going to be very hard to lose a superintendent of his caliber.”
Stanly Early College Receives Ranking Among Best High Schools
Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at 10:55:00 am
Stanly Early College High School has earned a bronze award by US News and World Report in its national 2015 National Best High Schools ranking.
This rank was earned based on students’ mastery of college level material as compared to all high schools across the nation using US News ranking criteria. Of the 29,070 U.S. public high schools examined, only 140 North Carolina schools earned a gold, silver, or bronze ranking.
Last February, Stanly Early College was also recognized for being the only school in Stanly County Schools to earn an A on the new state report card.
At Stanly Early College High, the student body makeup is 56 percent economically disadvantaged with a student enrollment of 34 percent male and 66 percent female. The total minority enrollment is 40 percent, directly paralleling the demographics of Stanly County Schools as a district.
With only seven full-time teachers, at a higher than average state ratio of 21 students per teacher, Stanly Early College boasts an 84 percent proficiency in English and a 41 percent proficiency in algebra skills, achievements which are almost double both the state and district averages.
Stanly Early College students enter as ninth graders and take both high school and Stanly Community College courses to graduate with both a diploma and an associate degree in just five years.
Students interested in attending Stanly Early College may apply for admission in spring of their eighth grade year. Stanly Early College High is one of six high schools in the Stanly County Schools district.
Students at Carter High Persevere to Reach Graduation Day
Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 11:55:00 am
As the clock ticked closer to 7 p.m. on Friday, the air buzzed with excitement as the Carter High School graduates waited in anticipation.
For many of the 28 graduates at Carter — the county’s high school for students with special needs — the road to Friday evening’s graduation had been long and hard, but that only made the victory even sweeter, parent Janet Blank said.
As her daughter, Lizzie, rolled into the room in her wheelchair, she looked happier than Blank had ever seen her, she said.
“We can’t believe this day is finally here,” Blank said. “It’s a happy moment because she made it, but so sad because that was my baby.”
For all the graduates in the county, Carter’s graduation speaker, Bryan Dooley had the same message: Be brave and follow your dreams.
“It probably feels like you’re leaving a very supportive place and you don’t know what to do next, but don’t be afraid,” his computer intoned. “Always persevere, which means sticking with it even when it gets hard.”
Dooley, who has cerebral palsy, used a computer system to read out his speech. Like many of the graduates, Dooley has had his fair share of challenges that tested his perseverance, he said.
A graduate of Guilford College, Dooley has always had an affinity for writing, he said, but in high school was told he couldn’t participate in the school’s newspaper because of the physical demands of the reporting it required.
To prove to a teacher and — most importantly — to himself, that he could do it, Dooley spent all of Christmas break working on an article that earned him a spot as a staff writer at the paper. He now works as a columnist for the Camel City Dispatch.
“Imagine where I would today if I had listened to that well-meaning teacher who told me I couldn’t do it,” Dooley said. “Graduates: investigate your dreams and focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.”
Graduate Aisha Barnes plans to do just that. Next year, she will pursue her dream of higher education by attending Forsyth Technical Community College .
Although learning has always been challenging for Barnes, who is legally blind, the message to never give up rings true, her mother, Stephanie Drummond, said.
“For Aisha, this day is five years in the making and we’re proud of her for being an inspiration to her fellow students and for all she has overcome,” Drummond said. “Today is an ending, but tomorrow is a new beginning.”
And with new beginnings comes new possibilities for many of the students.
Graduate Kirby Moore, 22, will transition to the Enrichment Center, which helps adults with disabilities pursue art, education and employment, after a six-year journey at Carter.
Although he has autism, he has always persevered and never faltered in his dream to pursue music, his mother, Beverly Moore said.
“He had a wonderful teacher here at Carter that brought out the best in him and helped him capture his passion,” she said. “We are going to miss this school terribly, but we couldn’t be more prouder of our son and the other graduates.”
Principal Donna Horton echoed her sentiments, commending the graduates for their hard work over the years and for being one of the most inspiring and notable groups of students she has seen.
“I’ve never been as proud of a class of young people or as sad to lose them as these graduates,” Principal Donna Horton said. “They are all remarkable young men and women, and we will miss them for years to come.”