Thursday, January 30, 2014

Retired Attorney for WS/FC Schools Named to Board of N.C. Partnership for Children

Doug Punger

In November, Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Doug Punger, who served as attorney for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools before retiring in 2006, to the Board of Trustees of the N.C. Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC). Based nt Raleigh, the partnership works to ensure high-quality preschool experiences for children from birth to age 5.

Punger was sworn in at the board’s meeting in January and been asked to serve on the NCPC search committee for the next president of NCPC.

NCPC is the organization that oversees Smart Start, and Punger also serves as Chairman of the Board for Smart Start of Forsyth County. He is also a former board member and chairman of the Forsyth Education Partnership.

More information about NCPC and Smart Start can be found at Smart Start 

Atkins High Senior Publishes First Novel

Meredith Hemphill (photo by Nathan Matias)

In the Jan. 27 issue of Caravan News, the online newspaper at Atkins Academic & Technology High School, reporter Brandon Rogers writes about Atkins senior Meredith Hemphill publishing her first novel. Hemphill is also a poet. In April, she placed third in the annual Poet Laureate competition sponsored by the Forsyth Education Partnership and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Here is an excerpt from the story by Rogers, which includes a Q&A with Rogers and a teaser from the novel:

The Atkins HS student body is comprised of future medical specialists, engineers, and game designers, but did you know the school also has an author? Yes, it does, and her name is Meredith Hemphill, currently a senior here at Atkins. Her writing pen name is Meri Elena. 

Q: How does it feel to be a young publisher?
A: It just feels right. I don't know how to explain it. I guess maybe I feel self-actualized. It's like, when I look at the book, I know I've done it. I have accomplished the greatest undertaking of my life up to this point. It's exhilarating, it's gratifying, but mostly it feels complete, like when you've been working on one of those puzzles with thousands of tiny pieces forever, and you finally plop in the very last piece.

Q: What made you write your novel?
A: I've always been a storyteller. I don't know how many hours my poor parents spent listening to me narrate the life story of my Polly Pockets as a kid. Towards the end of elementary school it occurred to me that I could write down my stories and make books, but I didn't start writing seriously until middle school. That was when the story that became Nightfall started to take shape in my mind. In seventh and eighth grades I came up with countless story ideas and wrote a few pages for each. The story that I always came back to was Brunswick. About two years ago I decided to devote all my energies to Nightfall, although it had a different name at the time, and now here we are.

Nathan Matias took the photograph that accompanies the story. For the full story go to Caravan News 

Students at Griffith Elementary Read and Read and Read Some More

At Griffith Elementary School, students are helping their classes become members of the 100 Book Club by reading  a book on their own or reading aloud to a reading buddy.

When the students in a class have read a total of 100 books, two Dr. Seuss characters - Thing One and Thing Two – visit the class with a cart filled with books. Each student picks out a book to call his or her own. Each student also receives a bookmark, a book bag, a box of crayons and a sticker that says, “I reached my goal.”

The teacher receives the fixings for a popcorn party that she or he offers on another day. Someone takes a photograph of the class, which is put on the Griffith Media Center webpage under “100 Book Club Hall of Fame.” Pictures are also posted on the monitor that people see in the lobby as they come into Griffith Elementary School.

Students in some classes are writing in journals about the books they are reading. Teachers are putting “reading thermometers” on the walls of their classrooms to record the class’s progress toward the goal of 100 books.

At the end of each month, the team leaders in each grade tell media coordinator Cynthia Needham how many books the students in their grades have read, and Needham adds the totals to the “reading thermometer” in the lobby of the school. 

Students are also invited to let others know about the books they have read through such activities as writing a book review, talking about the book on the school’s news broadcast  and making a diorama  about the book.  

North Forsyth High Graduate Meets President After State of the Union Speech

Tyrone Davis (top row, third from right) sitting with First Lady Michelle Obama's group

In the Thursday, Jan. 30 issue of the Winston-Salem Journal, reporter Meghann Evans writes about Tyrone Davis, who graduated from North Forsyth High School, sitting with the First Lady at the State of the Union speech and meeting President Obama afterward.
Here is an excerpt:
Tyrone Davis II isn’t the kind of person who is easily star-struck.
The Winston-Salem native has a laidback personality that has helped him achieve much in his 30 years despite the challenges that come with being legally blind.
But there is just something about getting a hug from the first lady and hearing the president of the United States call you by name.
Last week, Davis received the invitation of a lifetime — the chance to be a guest of first lady Michelle Obama at Tuesday’s State of the Union speech by President Barack Obama.
“It’s an unreal experience,” Davis said Wednesday during a break from visits to D.C. offices.
Davis grew up in Winston-Salem and attended North Forsyth High School. He won numerous scholarships and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science and his Masters of Public Administration from N.C. State University. He currently lives in Greensboro as he completes his final year at Elon University School of Law as a Leadership Fellow.
He said he never imagined he would attend the State of the Union speech. But on Tuesday, he found himself on a plane to Washington, D.C. At the White House, he mingled with the other guests that had been invited to sit in the first lady’s box. His brother, Torren Davis, a student at N.C. A&T State University, visited the White House with him......

After the speech, he got to meet the president briefly and had a photo taken with him. President Obama greeted him with, “Tyrone!”

“It was just cool to hear him say my name,” Davis said.

For the complete story go to  Winston-Salem Journal

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

North Forsyth High Graduate Sits with First Lady at State of the Union Speech

Tyrone Davis
The Wednesday, Jan. 29 issue of the Winston-Salem Journal has a story about Tyrone Davis, a 1991 graduate of North Forsyth High School who was invited to sit next to the First Lady at the State of the Union speech.

Here is an excerpt:

Tyrone Davis, an Elon University law student and Winston-Salem native, was one of several guests invited to sit in the box with first lady Michelle Obama during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday.

Davis is in his third year at Elon University School of Law, where he is a Leadership Fellow. Davis has been legally blind since the age of nine, according to a news release from the White House. He graduated from North Forsyth High School in 2001, where he ran cross country and track.

Davis received a bachelor’s degree in political science and his Masters of Public Administration from N.C. State University, where he focused on environmental and energy policy as a graduate student. According to Elon University, Davis has served as sustainability coordinator for Elizabeth City State University, a Climate Corps Fellow with the Environmental Defense Fund and Elizabeth City State University, and an intern for the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center / Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments and the Durham Mediation Center.

For the complete story, go to Winston-Salem Journal

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reagan Named Best Marching Band of the Jaycees 2013 Holiday Parade

Andrew Craft, the director of bands at Reagan High School, and his students have added another trophy to the ones that already fill the display shelves in the band room. This one is for Best Marching Band of the Jaycees 2013 Holiday Parade.

Carmen Miller, the co-chair for the parade said that the three judges who made the decision thought that Reagan had the most overall showmanship.

“This was a combination of holiday spirit, music selection, attention to detail and superior professionalism,” Miller said. “One main element to any parade is the inclusion of marching bands and Reagan was top notch!”

On Wednesday, Miller headed over to Reagan to present the trophy. There, she caught up with Principal Frank Martin along with Brad Oliver, the school system’s Director of Arts Education & Summer Enrichment Programs, and Mark Pilson, the school system’s lead teacher for music education. Everyone headed to the band room to make the presentation.

Mark Pilson, Carmen Miller, Andrew Craft, Brad Oliver, Frank Martin
After they handed the trophy to Craft, one of the students present said that Craft was going to have to add another shelf to hold all the trophies. And, indeed, the two shelves there were already dense with trophies.

“We weren’t in it to win,” Craft said later. “We just wanted to perform for the crowd and serve the community.  Parades are fun because more people see us at parades than at any other events.” 

Craft with some of the students who marched in the parade
There are 96 students in the Reagan marching band. One of them is Hannah Larson, a freshman who played a mellophone, a brass instrument similar to a French horn, in the 23rd annual parade held Dec. 7 in downtown Winston-Salem.

Larson said that she had a lot of fun, she said. “I really enjoy marching.”

A lot of practice beforehand went into making sure that they were the best they could be, she said. They had energy and a clean, crisp sound.

Martin praised Craft and the work he does at Reagan. “He is an all-star,” Martin said.

Exceptional Children Program at Southwest Elementary Nominated for National Kindness Award

Students and teachers in the exceptional children (EC) program at Southwest Elementary School have been nominated for a Charlotte Bacon Acts of Kindness Award.

Here’s how that came about:

Each year, Southwest speech therapists Maria Vernon and Beth Dodson organize a lemonade stand through Alex's Lemonade Stand to raise money for cancer research. Working on the project - making signs, making the lemonade and selling it – also helps students develop their communication skills.

This past year, Fox8 television did a story on the stand. To see the story, go to  Fox8

After the shootings at the school in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, the family of one of the children, Charlotte Bacon, founded an organization called Newtown Kindness.One of the things this organization does is award the Charlotte Bacon Act of Kindness Award each year on her birthday.

In an email about the nomination, Principal Matt Dixson wrote:

“In the fall, the parent of one of the first recipients of the award contacted me after finding the Fox8 story online. We communicated via email and phone for several weeks because she wanted to nominate our EC students for their work on the lemonade stand. I worked with the families involved and got written permission from many of them to be included in the nomination. I received an email today from Charlotte Bacon's grandfather that they have officially been nominated. Nominations are open until Feb. 1 and the awards ceremony will be Feb. 22 (Charlotte's birthday).

“I thought it was a huge honor for our school, EC students/teachers, and for the school system and wanted to pass it along.”

This past June, the school raised more than $800 at the lemonade stand, Vernon said, by selling lemonade at 25 cents a cup as well as “ generous donations from staff, students and community members….There was so much support from all of the classes, teachers, administration, parents and community to make this possible.

“There is a book that we have available for all students and staff to read a few weeks before the lemonade stand to raise awareness and support for pediatric cancer research.  The book is called Alex and The Amazing Lemonade Stand written by Alex and her parents and the book tells all about Alex, her life and how Alex was determined to help others!  My favorite quote from this book comes at the end, ‘There’s a lesson to be learned from the Lemonade girl with pretty blue eyes and hair that once curled. You see, Alex lived by the words from which her foundation was laid….when life gives you lemons, just make lemonade.’

“This nomination for the Charlotte Bacon act of kindness award is such an honor and we are so proud of our school and students.”

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Moore receives $5,000 grant from Lowe's

Moore Magnet Elementary School has received a grant of $4,980 from The Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation for the school's beautification project. 

Moore’s landscape and garden committee’s mission is to improve the landscape around the school with a focus on native plants, edible plants, and a garden that will educate the children on healthy food, sustainability, and the science of agriculture. This grant will be used to purchase plants, shrubs, and trees, as well as fund our expanding edible garden. The project is scheduled to be completed by June of 2014.

“Lowe’s is committed to enhancing the educational experience and improving schools for students across the country through the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program,” said Marshall Croom, chairman of Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. “With community support and the hands-on help of local Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers, these funds will go a long way to improve the future of thousands of children.”

Since its inception in 2006, Lowe’s Toolbox for Education has provided more than $38 million in grants to 8,000 schools, benefiting nearly 5 million schoolchildren. Grants are available to K-12 public schools in the United States for a wide range of improvement projects. Large schools or school districts may be eligible to receive Toolbox grants up to $100,000. Parent groups and educators can apply by visiting The spring cycle will remain open until Feb. 14, 2014.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Piney Grove Elementary Community Rallies in Support Student

Noah Fowler

In the Thursday, Jan. 9, issue of the Winston-Salem Journal, reporter Wes Young writes about the Piney Grove Elementary School community coming together to support one of the students. Here is an excerpt: 

Help can come by the armful.

Just ask Nicholas Thornton and his family.

Nicholas has aplastic anemia, a rare condition in which the body’s bone marrow does not produce enough new blood cells and platelets.

A local nonprofit group has raised about $14,000 toward the cost of a van to help with Nicholas’ transportation needs, but some enterprising kids have helped, too, by making and selling rubber-band bracelets.

Last January, Nicholas’ parents noticed some bruises that didn’t look quite right, so they took him to the doctor. Nicholas’ blood count was low; he was sent to Brenner Children’s Hospital where the diagnosis of aplastic anemia was made.

Weeks later, Nicholas suffered a brain hemorrhage and landed in intensive care. A second hemorrhage soon followed, and by May 1 he was transferred to Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, where he began rehabilitation.

Nicholas Thornton
“At that point he was not talking and couldn’t move his left or right side,” said Nancy Thornton, his mother. “We were there for 128 days of rehab, and now he’s talking and moving his right side, but his left side is still immobile.”

In September, Nicholas received a bone-marrow transplant from his dad, Jon Thornton. Nicholas finally returned home Dec. 11, but with plenty of challenges. Nicholas has a powered wheelchair and needed a van for transportation to his numerous medical appointments.

People who know the Thorntons — and a whole lot of folks who do not — have been contributing help in the form of money and time.

One of those was Noah Fowler, one of Nicholas’ best friends and a fifth-grader at Piney Grove Elementary School. Noah worked up the courage late last year to ask Principal Susan Frye if he could make and sell rubber-band bracelets to help his friend.

Frye said yes, and got the student council involved, too.

“It was a real heartfelt thing that a fifth-grade boy would come to my office,” Frye said. “It really touched my heart and so I was really taken — Noah’s humanity for a friend and wanting to help out.”

For the full story, go to Winston-Salem Journal

Newspaper at South Fork Elementary School Keeps Everyone Informed

Kendall Smith, Marwin Gonzalez, Dante Daniels

In the latest issue of the South Fork News, reporters Kendall Smith, Marwin Gonzalez and Dante Daniels write about the day that people from the school system’s Arts Education Department came to South Fork Elementary School to recognize SayBarMu, the student whose art was chosen for the department’s holiday card.

In the story, Dante writes, “I believe she left there with a beautiful smile.”

In an earlier issue of the News, readers learned about what a wonderful example a second-grader named Victoria sets each day with her kindness, patience and commitment to do her best. In other issues, readers learned about art teacher Leslee Monda’s adventures at the Dixie Classic Fair and Marwin’s dreams of owning a Nissan GTR car one day. “I have loved that car since I was 8 years old,” Marwin wrote. “One day, I will get the car of my life!”

Those who want to stay informed about South Fork know that reading the News is a must.

Kim Jones is the faculty adviser.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Student Art in January 2014 Issue of Forsyth Family Magazine

On page 94 of the January issue of Forsyth Family Magazine, you will find art by four students in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Lindy Southern goes to Sherwood Forest Elementary School. Her art teacher is Stephanie Parsons.

Catherine Windham is a senior at Reagan High School. Her art teacher is Jennifer Willard.

Chelsea Bradsaw and Alexa Shelton are students at Reynolds High School. Their teacher is Phil Benenati.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Classified Advisory Council's Monthly Spotlight on Lakisha Halsey at Easton Elementary

Lakisha Halsey

For December 2013, the Classified Employee Council’s Monthly Spotlight is on Lakisha Halsey, who works in the cafeteria at Easton Elementary School:

Lakisha Halsey has worked for the WS/FC school system for seven years. She loves working with the students and staff at Easton Elementary.

Her favorite things are reading, eating and talking on the phone but her greatest loves are her family and friends.

Ms. Halsey has two children ages 2 and 6 and is currently pursuing a nursing degree, so she is truly motivated every day.

“The kids love her and so do we!” says an Easton staff member.

Mount Tabor High Student Wins United Professional Horseman's Association Exceptional Challenge Cup

Rachel Sanchez
In the Friday, Jan. 3 issue of the Winston-Salem Journal, reporter Meghann Evans writes about Rachel Sanchez, a student at Mount Tabor High School. Here is an excerpt:

Rachel Sanchez has a lot to be thankful for — her health, her family and an equestrian title.

The 16-year-old Winston-Salem resident was struck in the head by a bullet at age 5 and is legally blind as a result, but it hasn’t slowed her down.

In November, she won the United Professional Horsemen’s Association Exceptional Challenge Cup at the American Royal National Championship in Kansas City. It was her second time competing at nationals.

“I was in shock,” Rachel said of her win over 14 other riders. “I was like, ‘What just happened?’”

Her mother, Stefanie Sanchez, said the result was unexpected because Rachel broke her ankle in June and didn’t ride all summer. They worked hard for a month and a half to prepare for the show.

Rachel currently trains at High Caliber Stables in Greensboro. The owner, Mary Orr, is a friend of the family.

“Rachel is a very special young lady,” Orr by email. “She is a fighter. She loves her horse and she strives to be the very best she can be.”

Rachel’s hard work paid off, according to her mother.

“She nailed it,” her mom said.

That she was able to compete at all is a major accomplishment.

One cold, February day in 2003 when Rachel was 5, a 15-year-old boy was shooting at vehicles on Interstate 40 in Hickory. Rachel’s family lived in Virginia at the time, and she and her sister were visiting their grandfather in Catawba County. The girls were traveling along I-40 with their grandfather when a bullet went through the car window and hit Rachel behind her right ear, lodging in the left part of her skull.

Rachel made it through surgery, a lengthy drug-induced coma and therapy, but she was not unscathed. The traumatic brain injury left Rachel legally blind and suffering from some speech and cognitive
impairments. Her visual clarity varies with how tired she is.

For the complete story, go to Winston-Salem Journal