Friday, December 27, 2013

Paisley Robotics Club wins regional First LEGO League tournament

Students from Paisley IB Magnet School will take on teams from around the state in the First LEGO League state tournament on Jan. 11 after winning the regional tournament last month.

Two Paisley teams competed in the regional tournament, and both qualified to be a part of the 60 teams competing in the state tournament.

Robotics Team 1 beat out all 22 teams in the regional to win the tournament. The theme this year is "Nature's Fury." Teams had to learn and talk about natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

Each team had to do a 10-minute presentation about their robot project, a presentation about the theme and talk about how they worked as a team. Then they had to show how their robots were programmed to perform various feats to get through obstacles on the course.

Dan Loftis is the robotics coach.

Team one included Blake Neuendorf, Issac Present, Kenan Althoff, Jake Reilly, Sosa Abinigi, Daisey Zorezo, Baye Samodal, DJ Edwards, Yusif Smith, Donnelley Arnett and Liam Samodal.

Team two included Andrew Allen, Chigamecha Oparanozie, Xavier Mitchell, Sean Mitchell, Jefri Samodal, Anthony Porazzi, Tramond Cobb, K.P. Kuita, Michael Cade Padden, Henry Kuti and Jacob Melton.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Atkins Academic Team narrowly misses state title in NCASA Twelve

Atkins High School narrowly missed winning a state championship title by a single point in the state final of the NCASA Twelve competition hosted at Rogers-Herr Middle School in Durham on Saturday, December 14. The Twelve is the first in a series of academic contests that lead to the awarding of the NCASA Scholastic Cup at the end of the school year. The third-place finish nets Atkins HS 45 points in the Cup Race. 

"I am really proud of the Atkins team," said Atkins Principal Joe Childers. "When you consider that the top two schools were five or six times our size, I think our team did an outstanding job." At the end of twelve close rounds of twelve questions each, the Atkins team was one point out of the lead with 110 correct, behind a first-place tie between two Charlotte Mecklenburg schools, Ardrey Kell and Myers Park, both with 111. Both Charlotte schools tying for first have student enrollments in excess of 2,000. 

Also with 110 points was Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy. An overtime round was held to try to determine a tie-breaker between Ardrey Kell and Myers Park, but both teams scored eight points and the contest was left a tie. The third-place tie was left unbroken.

According to NCASA Executive Director Leon Pfeiffer, "The 2013 Twelve Competition was one of the most exciting competitions in NCASA history. "It was easily the most competitive competition in our history with four schools finishing within one point of each other after the final round. Six different schools also won rounds, another record indicating parity among the competing schools. This parity made every single question and answer count in every round. Going into the final round, Ardrey Kell led Myers Park and Thomas Jefferson by two, and Atkins by three. However, the final round brought these teams together with just one point separating the four schools. Even the overtime round could not differentiate the co-champions as each team earned 8 points in overtime." 

For Atkins, coming this close to winning a state title was not without mixed feelings. "It feels good to know that we have the talent and the desire to compete with any team in the state, but it does feel a little hollow coming so tantalizingly close to winning, but still ending up in third place. Any two questions we would have gotten right would have given us a victory," said Atkins teacher and Twelve Team Coach Kevin Hamilton. Of the twelve rounds, Atkins won the Current Events round and tied for the lead in Word Problems and Geography. 

The Twelve competition is unique to the NCASA organization and pits twelve students from each school against each other in a twelve-round competition with twelve questions per round. The contest features questions from a wide array of academic areas including US and World History, Civics and Economics, Physical and Life Sciences, several types of Mathematics, Literature and Grammar, and even wildcard topics. The wildcards on Saturday were Current Events and the Performing Arts. "Twelve is a unique competition in a number of ways," said Pfeiffer. "First, it is a knowledge-based competition that allows students to specialize in a particular subject, like US History or Life Sciences. However, it rewards those students who can contribute in other areas by allowing each student to compete in three rounds. It also rewards those well-rounded students by including two wildcard topics in each competition."

Team member AJ Goren was excited about the team's results, saying it was "definitely a good feeling, especially considering that we were only one point behind. Having the second-highest score, especially by such a close margin, is really exciting even if it gets counted as a third-place finish because two teams tied for first." Student Meredith Hemphill said, "We improved over last year and placed in a state competition. There aren't many teams who can say that." She also noted that it was also hard for the team to not be disappointed with coming so close to a victory. Hemphill is a two-time individual state champion and was a member of the state champion Quill writing team two years ago. 

The Twelve team was made up of Meredith Hemphill, John Henry Jackson, Hunter Chen, Lazar Trifunovic, Jack Bloomfled, Nik Bramblett, Chase Miller, Sterling Davis, Jonathan Grubbs, Vinish Kumar, AJ Goren, and Devika Ghosh. Alternates who attended to cheer their team on were Abi Udaiyar, Blakely Mitchell, and Emory Soper.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fifth-Grade Dancers at Forest Park Elementary Win Dancing Classrooms Competition

On Dec. 12, five elementary schools gathered at Easton Elementary School for the Colors of the Rainbow, Dancing Classrooms Competition.

Each boy/girl team performed the Rumba, Merengue, Tango, Fox Trot and Swing. When all the dancing was done, students at Forest Park Elementary received the gold medal for coming in first place.

The other Winston-Salem/Forsyth County elementary schools that participated were Easton, Hall-Woodward and Old Town. The fifth school was Shady Grove Elementary in Davie County. All the schools had participated in the Take the Lead Dancing Classrooms program, which includes 10 weeks of ballroom dancing instruction for fifth-graders.

"We are so lucky to have this wonderful program available to schools,” said Norma White, a teacher assistant at Forest Park who worked with the program. “Our students build such confidence and respect for themselves as well as in their classmates. We are so proud of all they accomplished. This gold trophy is just another outstanding achievement to add to the list."

The coaches for the Forest Park team are technology facilitator Anna Dooley and teacher Ricquel Pratt. Falicia Fuller is the principal at Forest Park, and Ann Guill oversees Take the Lead: Dancing Classrooms for this area. 

Norma White

Holiday Brass Band Performs at Hanes Magnet and Central Office

Each year, for 22 years now, the Holiday Brass Band forms for one day to play holiday music. On Friday, the group played at Hanes Magnet School before heading over to the school’s system’s Administrative Building and playing there.

The members of this incarnation of the band included students from Hanes and Parkland and Reynolds high schools along with a former WS/FC student who now goes to Wake Forest University and people who work for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. That group included Carol Montague-Davis, the assistant superintendent for secondary schools; Brad Oliver, the school system’s director of arts education & summer enrichment programs; Mark Pilson, the lead teacher for music education; Wayne Foster, the Star3 project director, and band directors Mary Kate Bowman-Choat  (Hanes),  Johnathan Hamiel (Parkland) and Derrick James (Reynolds).

When it came time to play “Jingle Bells,” Superintendent Beverly Emory and school board member Jill Tackabery helped out on bells.

“The group is a little different each year,” said Oliver. “We try to keep the tradition going.”

The tradition dates back to the days when Oliver was the band director at Hanes. Over the years, it grew. About 25 people played in the group this year. Members have never played as a group before the day the band forms for the holidays.

“We warm up for a couple of minutes and go to playing,” Oliver said.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Walkertown High School Band Performs with Renowned Belgian Composer

Jan Van der Roost leads Walkertown High School Band

At its Winter Concert on Monday night, the Walkertown High School Band performed with Jan Van der Roost of Belgium, a world-renowned composer of band, orchestra and operatic literature. Van der Roost was here at the invitation of Quincy Lundy, the band director for Walkertown High and Middle schools.

“I wrote a message on his webpage back in the summer about how much I love his music and shared the story of why,” Lundy said. “Never expecting to hear from him directly, he contacted me and offered to come guest conduct the Walkertown High School Band en route to the Midwest Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago.”

On the day before, Van der Roost also led an open rehearsal and clinic with the Piedmont Wind Symphony in Brendle Recital Hall in the Scales Fine Arts Center on the campus of Wake Forest University.

“The rehearsal and concert was everything I hoped for the kids,” Lundy said. “They performed amazingly and it was a huge confidence booster among other great things. The audience responded wonderfully to the band and was so appreciative for this opportunity. Mr. Van der Roost was super with the kids and they were perfectly respectful and grateful ladies and gentlemen. I believe we left as lasting of a wonderful impression on him as he did us! I am super proud of them.”

Van der Roost at work in the band's uniform room

Brunson Elementary Students Raise More Than $2,500 for Leukemia Research with Penny Campaign

A penny, nickel, dime and quarter at a time, students at Brunson Elementary School raised more than $2,500 for the North Carolina chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“I was a little overwhelmed,” said Bridget Hollomon, the second-grade teacher who initiated the project. “I had a personal goal of $1,000.”

As pleased as Holomon was with the total of $2,547.95, she with even more pleased with how many children participated. In 75 percent of the school’s 28 classes, every student participated. In the other classes, at least 60 percent of the students participated.

So that students who might not have extra money wouldn’t feel pressured to contribute money, Principal Jeff Faullin invited students to contribute the tokens that they receive for good behavior and promised to convert each token into a nickel.

Hollomon has worked to support leukemia research ever since her son, Wade, who is now 19, was diagnosed as having leukemia when he was 5. More than three years of surgery, chemotherapy and other treatments followed. He is now fine.

“He was lucky to come out the other side,” Hollomon said.

At the time, the family was living in Cumberland County. A couple of years ago, they moved to Forsyth County so that he could attend the drama program at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He is now a student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

As part of the second-grade curriculum, Hollomon teaches students about the importance of compassion. “The question for me was, ‘How can I teach my students to be more compassionate toward others?’”

Having them participate in a Pasta for Pennies campaign seemed like a good answer. “It completely tied into what we were doing with the curriculum.”

The campaign is called Pasta for Pennies because the Olive Garden restaurant company rewards schools that sponsor campaigns in support of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with a pasta party, typically for the class that raises the most money. At first, Holomon was thinking of the campaign as a project for her class only. As she talked with other Brunson teachers and with guidance counselor Jenny Niles-Orefice, though, the idea spread.

“I became involved in our Pasta for Pennies campaign as a way to involve the entire school in a community service project,” Niles-Orefice said. “In guidance lessons, I work with students on coming up with ways to spread kindness and compassion, and Pasta for Pennies is a perfect fit for such a conversation.  Typically, the project encourages competition between classrooms to see who can raise the most money; instead we chose to aim for 100 percent participation from all students.  What resonated with me most was seeing how enthusiastic students of all grades were about helping raise money.  They were thrilled about the idea of extending compassion to leukemia patients so they could get better - it didn't matter that our students had never met them.  It was clear that our students could feel that they were making a meaningful difference in the world, and as their counselor, that was inspiring to observe.”

When the party is held after the holiday break, a child from each classroom will participate.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lady Explorers at Ashley IB Magnet Win Award for "Most Spirited Walking Group" in Holiday Parade

The Lady Explorer Cheerleaders at Ashley IB Magnet School certainly know how to show lots of holiday spirit.

When they participated in the Winston-Salem Jaycees Holiday Parade on Dec. 7, they won the Holiday Spirit Award for “Most Spirited Walking Group.”

The cheerleading coaches are Halima McCaskill, Carolyn Archie and Amber Scales.

This is the second year in a row that the Lady Explorers have participated in the parade, held annually in downtown Winston-Salem.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reagan team finishes in first place in regional Stock Market Game

Three students from Reagan High School finished first in the western regional of the Stock Market Game.

The Stock Market Game is a financial educational activity. Teams of up to five students invest a hypothetical $100,000 in real stocks, bonds and mutual funds. In the process, they learn cooperation, communication and leadership as they manage their portfolios.

More than 700,000 students take part in the game nationally, and Reagan's team of sophomore Roy Dennis, junior Sam Elliott, and senior Garrett Riddle came in first in the western region of North Carolina. They grew their $100,000 to $121,701 - a return of 19 percent.

Garrett Riddle, Roy Dennis and Sam Elliott

KMS students stand for the National Anthem with the Bobcats

Kathy Ford took 72 of her eighth-grade business students at Kernersville Middle School to Charlotte earlier this month for the "Career in Sports Day" event. Executives from the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats spoke to students about careers in the sports industry, and the students stayed for the Bobcats' game against the Philadelphia 76ers that night.

KMS had the largest group attending the event, so 15 of Ford's students got to go on the court and stand with the Bobcats during the National Anthem. Way to go, Hawks!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Assistant Superintendent is New Honorary Band Director for School System

Carol Montague Davis
Carol Montague Davis, the assistant superintendent for secondary schools, is now the school system's honorary band director.

Each year, band directors in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools recognize someone who has worked to support the high school band programs over the years. This year, the band directors voted to give that honor to Montague Davis.

“They know they can turn to her if they need assistance,” said Brad Oliver, the schools system’s director of arts education & summer enrichment programs. “She knows how much work goes into putting a band together and the time commitment for students.”

She also supports the band program by regularly going to events, he said.

Montague Davis is also an active musician. She played trumpet in her high school and college bands and now plays trumpet for the Central Office brass group.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Student Art in the December 2013 Issue of Forsyth Family Magazine

By Ryan Thomas

By Jahniah Westray

By Alaina Withers

By Haley Willard

By Traylon Ingram

On Page 88 of the December 2013 issue of Forsyth Family magazine, you will find art by five students in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Alaina Withers and Haley Willard are both seventh-graders at Clemmons Middle School. Their art teacher is Stacey Stephens.

Traylon Ingram is a fourth-grader at Sedge Garden Elementary School. Traylon's art teacher is Tara Muzzy. 

Jahniah Westray is a junior at Glenn High School.  Karen Hansley is Westray's art teacher.

Ryan Thomas is a sophomore at Reagan High School. Karen Evans is Thomas' art teacher.