Friday, October 31, 2014

Students at Atkins Excel Playing Chess

This story is by Yiannie Varoutsos and Kimani Carter at Atkins Academic & Technology High School:

Imagine if you could be a brave knight, strong and all-powerful queen, or a wise king. How could you possibly find out what it’s like? The answer, though it may not seem obvious at first, is chess. In this age-old game you control a set of pieces, each with a set of certain abilities. The aim, of course, is to attack and trap the other player’s king, effectively ending the game with a checkmate.

In his second year as coach, teacher Scott Plaster has built the school’s chess team and club into a powerhouse. With 20+ member players, the Atkins HS chess team is officially the largest high school chess in the state of North Carolina, and ranked in the Top 10. It finished in third place at last year’s state championship in Raleigh. 

The club meets Tuesday and Thursdays on the upper 500 hall, filling two rooms with as many as 45 players. “Having so many players is a good problem to have,” said Plaster, adding that “the real challenge is finding opportunity to develop the potential of individual players.” 

Typical of the academic atmosphere of Atkins HS in general, you can also find students playing chess during breaks in the media center. Media coordinator Corinne Jenkins says the boards she keeps behind the counter are “much loved,” as students check them out before school, during lunch, and even during athlete study hall after school.  

Plaster’s team recently attended a regional open in Greensboro on October 11 at Bennett College and brought 17 players, including registering seven new US Chess Federation members. Although there was no true team component, an Atkins student won each of the four divisions in which they competed. Winning the Candidate class was Ali Mirzadeh, going 3-0. Going 2-1 and winning the Booster class was Luke Leahy-Higgins. Winning the Club class with three wins was Reece Neff, and the top unrated players, going 3-0 was Cameron Goode. Calvin Ackerman and Arel D'Agostino also won prizes with second-place finishes. 

“I can’t imagine a better place anywhere to coach a chess team than Atkins High School,” Plaster said. "We are very blessed to have all of our returning members from last year's team, and an extremely eager freshmen class. Not only did we get one of the best scholastic players in the state, but a number of other very promising players. We have a good team, and we are only going to get better."

For the full story, to go Atkins

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Children's Center Students Go Trick-or-Treating at Retirement Community

On Wednesday, students at The Children’s Center headed over the Forest Heights Senior Living Community to treat-or-treat.

“It was our third year bringing students to trick-or-treat with the residents,” said Principal Carol Kirby. “Many of them had lovingly prepared individual treat bags for the students. There were many hugs and smiles all around!  

“This is a joint effort of our regular education kindergarten class, taught by Brandi Manley, and one of our functional primary classes, taught by Katherine Campbell.  These two teachers are always looking for opportunities to allow their children to work (and play!) together. 

“Both the children with disabilities and those without realize many benefits through these interactions.” 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rural Hall Parent Involvement Coordinator Inspires Art Students with Photos from Her Travels

Virginia Wofford
One of the student pictures on display at the Dixie Classic Fair was inspired by a photo that Virginia Wofford, the parental involvement coordinator at Rural Hall Elementary School, showed to students in Henry Moss’ art classes.

“One of his goals is to make students aware of the experiences one can capture through travel,” Wofford said.

Wofford finds that travel helps her appreciate the world we live in.

“The koala photo that I shared with two of Mr. Moss' art classes was taken in New Zealand,” she said. “New Zealand is the only country that will allow people to handle koalas legally. I was holding a koala in the photograph that created many questions from the students. Together we created an art lesson that connected to a country and culture very different from our own.

“My journey took me to Australia and New Zealand this year, June 2014.  My quest to see the beauty of God's creation has taken me literally around the world.  The students were amazed when they actually saw me holding the wild koala in my arms.”

While in Australia, Wofford met an aboriginal priest known as Uncle Max Eulo from the Budyeti Tribe. He had blessed Queen Elizabeth, Prince William of England, Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II.

“He shared a newspaper article with me of him performing an aboriginal purification smoking ceremony over Prince William of England. I was overwhelmed with joy when he told me that he had opened the World Cup in Paris!

On her journey, she walked among herds of wild kangaroos with joeys (baby kangaroos) in their pouches. When she showed those photos to the students, she said, “their little eyes lit up and their brains starting ticking asking more questions to gain more knowledge!”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Jefferson and Meadowlark Middle Schools Fight Breast Cancer on the Soccer Field

On Oct. 7, students at Meadowlark and Jefferson middle schools played a soccer game as a way to fight breast cancer. On hand were Joey Hearl, the principal at Meadowlark, and Brad Royal, the principal at Jefferson. 

“Joey and I sold pink and white wristbands as tickets for the soccer game,” Royal said. “We used all of the money raised from the wristbands, along with some donations, as a gift for the Susan G. Komen foundation.”

On the day of the game, students, staff, and parents were all encouraged to wear pink. Special soccer uniforms were purchased for the players to support the event. The project raised more than $2,300.

At Jefferson, long-time teacher Debbie Etheridge died from breast cancer recently. At Meadowlark, a teacher who is currently recovering from breast cancer and the wife of a coach is battling breast cancer.

“We were excited to have the support of our superintendent, assistant superintendent, and middle school athletic director,” Royal said.

As for the game itself, Meadowlark won in overtime with penalty kicks.

“We greatly enjoyed our joint fundraising event with our friends at Meadowlark Middle School,” Royal said. “I’ve always been overwhelmed with the generosity and caring nature of the students and families at Thomas Jefferson Middle School and their eagerness to give to this tremendous cause simply humbles me.

“It is my dream that, with continued support for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and similar charities, researchers will find a cure to breast cancer.  I am honored that our students, parents, and staff at TJMS could contribute to this endeavor.”

For more photos, go to WS/FCS Athletics

Monday, October 6, 2014

Wiley Magnet Middle Students Find Mentors at Wake Forest Innovation Quarter

In the Oct. 2 issue of The Chronicle, T. Kevin Walker writes about students at Wiley Magnet Middle School working with the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.
Here is an excerpt:
For science-minded students, the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter is a perpetual playground with something new to discover and ponder at every turn.
The minds of 10 Wiley Magnet Middle School students are being set free there this school year to explore, absorb and create their own brand of innovation. 

Wiley, whose STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) magnet program is just about a year old, has partnered with the downtown science and technology hub for a year-long mentoring program – Future Innovators. It pairs each Wiley student with his or her own mentor – an employee from one of Innovation Quarter’s various divisions.
Each month through the end of the school year, the students will visit the Quarter to work on science-based projects with their mentors. During each visit, a different topic will be tackled. Last Friday, when students made their first visit, robotics was the theme; microbiology is on tap for October. Students will present projects of their own creation for their last visit next May.

“This is not just a field trip; this is not just a one-off,” Wiley Principal Sean Gaillard said, emphasizing the importance of giving his students a sustained educational experience.

Teachers recommended students they thought would be ideal for Future Innovators. Those chosen have a keen sense of curiosity and a hunger for learning. They are also a motley group reflective of Wiley’s diversity, Gaillard said. 
Future Innovator Jayshawn Fluitt imagines a future in technical engineering, where his hands and mind can work in unison.
“I want to build things – like cars, from scratch,” he said.

His mentor is Vishal Khanna, director of marketing and business development for Wake Forest Innovations, a division of the Quarter that turns science and technological advances into money-making ventures. Jayshawn’s very first mentor, though, was his grandpa.
“He can fix almost anything,” Jayshawn bragged.

For the full story, go to The Chronicle

Paisley IB Student Creates Program to Decrease Bullying Among Girls

In the Oct. 2 issue of The Chronicle, reporter Chanel Davis writes about Madison Sides, a student at Paisley IB Magnet School who has created MasterPeace, a program designed to build confidence and decrease bullying among girls.
Here is an excerpt:
Madison Sides, 12, said she started the program after butting heads with a classmate. The seventh-grader said that she felt misunderstood and was frustrated with the lack of communication between her and the other girl.
“I was going through some things in my life, and I wanted to go to Bible study, thinking maybe that could help me. I couldn’t find one for my age-range,” Madison said. “My mom was like why don’t you create one.”

Madison’s mother, Karen Bonner, said the program sprung from the growing pains her daughter experienced as she went from elementary to middle school.
“I think Madison and I were trying to figure out where we belonged in it all,” Bonner said. “She was trying to figure it out in a social aspect, and I was trying to figure out who this child was because she was totally different. I saw more episodes of anger and more episodes of her just acting out when she was really crying out that no one was listening.”

Madison defused the tensions between her and the other student by simply inviting the girl to sit down and talk. They are now friends.
For the full story, go to The Chronicle