Tuesday, May 24, 2016

At the Prom with Carter and Career Center Students

On Friday night, Career Center students in the Culinary Arts and other programs put on a magical prom for students at Carter High School.

To ready the story, go to Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

Here are some more pictures:

Monday, May 23, 2016

Caleb's Creek Students Get Ready for End-of-Grade Tests

When Panthers mascot Sir Purr visited Caleb’s Creek Elementary students last week to offer test-taking tips, students had already been working with counselor Barbara Nieters and teachers Freda Henry and Gina Hill.

“We worked with students three mornings this past week for an hour on test-taking strategies,” Nieters said. “We discussed reading and math strategies that most all classes have taught all year as a refresher. Perhaps more importantly, we spent a good deal of time talking with the kids about test anxiety, relaxation strategies, and giving ample importance to the test without stressing out over it.

“We feel like kids need to know tips such as ways the classroom looks different at testing time (walls bare, desks separated), that teachers are a little stressed too, that there are no prizes for finishing first, that if their tummies or heads hurt or feel funny it could be anxiety rather than an illness, etc.  

“We spent time talking about bedtime, healthy breakfasts, preparing things the night before so they don't feel hurried, getting activity in the afternoons after testing so their bodies can release the energy of sitting still for so long.

“We believe that the more children know and understand about their physical bodies, their emotional reactions, and their academic strategies, the better experience they will have during the stressful testing time as well as higher scores.”

To read the story about Sir Purr’s visit, go to Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

Atkins Captures N.C. Association of Scholastic Activities Award for Best Year in Academic Competitions

Scott Plaster, Principal Joe Childers, Sonya Rexrode, and Monta Ervin accept the Scholastic Cup at the NCASA Annual Meeting

By Scott Plaster

We all know schools whose programs dominate in almost every event across the board, going to state finals, taking home medals and trophies, winning state championships, and having individual state and fielding teams in almost every imaginable category. In sports, we call that school a “powerhouse.” But in academics, there’s an actual award given by the NC Association of Scholastic Activities (NCASA) for the school that has the best year in academic competitions at the state level.

For the year 2015-16, Atkins HS in Winston-Salem was that dominating school, winning the NCASA Scholastic Cup award by over 300 points and repeating as champions in the 1A small-school division. The Cup was presented to Atkins at its annual Letterman Banquet on Saturday, May 21, which recognizes competitors and award winners of both academic and athletic teams each year.  

“I am excited that our school has won this award for the second consecutive year,” said Atkins Principal Joe Childers. “I believe this validates all of the outstanding after-school academic programs at Atkins. Students and teachers are extremely motivated to be the best, and I believe it shows.”

Schools striving for the Scholastic Cup compete in a range of seventeen competitions that span nearly every aspect of the school curriculum, from math and science all the way to the arts and dance. “Atkins ended up participating in 13 NCASA and Cup Partner competitions, more than any other high school in North Carolina,” according to NCASA Executive Director Leon Pfeiffer. ”They also earned Top Ten points in twelve competitions, also more than any other high school.” Top finishes for academic teams this year for Atkins were “HS Large Chapter of the Year” honors at the state Technology Student Association (TSA) conference and state championship runner-up finishes in NCASA Art Showcase and at the NC Chess tournament. Atkins also had an individual category state champion with student Ryan Holmes in the Quill, and the school earned a state champion certificate for one of its Cyberpatriot teams.

Just some of the Atkins trophy winners at the state TSA conference

“Having such a comprehensive scholastic program is both a blessing and a challenge,” said Atkins HS Scholastic Director Scott Plaster. “Many of the teams at Atkins grew larger this year, and we also added several teams. Sustaining growth and maintaining success will take dedication and focus as we head into next year.” Some academic teams at Atkins, such as Chess and TSA, are the largest in the state or even region, even including “JV” teams the same way a sports team would.    

The NCASA Scholastic Cup competitions are not even the full scope of the scholastic program at Atkins, which also fields academic teams in 13 other areas that are not associated with NCASA, such as HOSA, JLAB, and arts and music programs. Atkins teacher Kevin Hamilton coached some of Atkins’ most talented students this year, fielding teams for the NCASA Twelve and Quiz Bowl, but also the local Winston-Salem Forsyth County Academic Team. The county Academic Team competition pits area schools against each other for a regular “season” and then a conference tournament. Atkins emerged as county champions again this year, despite losing ten seniors. “The team still started strong and only lost one regular season match against Reagan near the midpoint of the season. The team then ended up repeating as district champion when they beat Reagan in a thrilling come-from-behind win in the championship match,” said Hamilton. The NCASA Quiz Bowl team coached by Hamilton finished fifth in the state this year against very stiff competition, which is the school’s highest-ever finish in the state quiz bowl.

Some academic competitions at Atkins this year were even large-scale or schoolwide efforts. Poetry Out Loud, a national recitation contest, begins at the class level, with nearly the whole Atkins English department and over 100 students participating. For this year’s Economic Challenge, Curriculum Coordinator and Coach Monta Ervin created 25 teams of students, and two teams went all the way to the state level.

Some of the other state-qualifying competitions for Atkins this year were teacher Dr. Ellen Palmer’s Environmental Debate team, which took first-place honors at the state level, the Atkins team for the NCDOT Model Bridge Building competition (also first place), and the health issues debate team at the state HOSA conference, who won the state title in that event. This HOSA team, along with Atkins students of some other competitions such as TSA, will actually get the distinction of competing at the national level.

Arel D’Agostino is just one student who competes in multiple academic competitions at Atkins; he even plays Varsity Tennis, leads a school dance club, and is actively involved in his church. “I really love that at Atkins, students have so many opportunities to compete and excel. The sky is the limit when it comes to being on competitive teams here at our school,” he said.

Students are so actively involved at Atkins that sometimes they end up double (or even triple) booked as they qualify for regional and state competitions, coupled with juggling their sports team schedules, family commitments, and academic course work. “It’s definitely a cultural change in the building that makes this type of student involvement possible,” said Principal Childers. At least sixty-five percent of Atkins students are involved in a competitive team, with most students being on multiple teams. “It wasn’t always like this here at Atkins. We literally started with just three competitions and built everything from there,” he said. Curriculum Coordinator Sonya Rexrode attributes the high student involvement to the school’s unique academic environment. “At Atkins, our students are encouraged to excel and are not afraid to try new things and take risks,” said Rexrode. “They’ll go out for a team when they haven’t done it before, and when they do that, they sometimes discover talents and skills they never even knew they had.”

This type of cultural change is what it takes to make Atkins the dominating force it is in area of Scholastics. Winning the NCASA Scholastic Cup earns Atkins the right to call itself “The Premier Small School in the State of NC.” Just as in its heydey of the Atkins Camels of the 1940s and ‘50s, Atkins has kept its winning tradition by bringing home a string of high individual and team finishes and championships over the past few years in a wide variety of events—everything from art to science. With these accomplishments under their belts, some Atkins students are often offered scholarships from multiple universities and can write their own ticket, just as top athletes around the country can.

The Atkins chess team coached by teacher Scott Plaster even competed internationally against schools from several countries around the world as a part of a global chess partnership in conjunction with the Sister Cities organization of Winston-Salem. The team from Freeport, Bahamas even came to Winston-Salem in person to play the Atkins players the weekend of the state chess championship.   

Atkins player Daniel Winkelman engaged in intellectual battle on the chess board

The NCASA Scholastic Cup was first presented in 2011 to encourage schools and students to increase their participation in NCASA and other independent scholastic competitions. Since it was first presented, NCASA membership has grown from 44 high schools to 143 high schools this year. Schools with a comprehensive scholastic program have grown from since 2016. NCASA and the Cups we present have provided additional scholastic opportunities for tens of thousands of North Carolina students.

Atkins High School was also recognized at the May 24 WSFCS school board meeting for the Scholastic Cup win, along with some of its individual students and teams.

One group on the Atkins Twelve team strikes a pose at the state finals

North Forsyth High Holds Community Health Fair

On Friday May 20, North Forsyth High School had a Community Health Awareness Fair.

North Forsyth is moving toward becoming a magnet school with a focus on health sciences and health services by the 2017-18 school year. The school will offer programs that ready students for jobs when they graduate from high school and prepare them to take the next step should they want to continue their education in such fields at sports medicine, EMT (emergency medical technician), nursing, medicine and medical business management.

As one way of introducing the idea to the wider community and inviting community input, the school held a health fair from 1 to 3 p.m. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Nursing Fundamentals Celebrate Completing Requirements with Pinning Ceremony

On May 19, at the school system’s Education Building, the Nursing Fundamentals classes held a Pinning Ceremony in which students received their nursing pins after meeting the necessary program requirements for completion of the nursing program. 

“East Forsyth, Glenn High School, North Forsyth High School and Walkertown High School came together to celebrate the accomplishments of these students. Each school had two or three students recognized as an Outstanding Clinical Student. Alayshia Gaines and Mia James won from North Forsyth. North in partnership with the Red Cross also awarded a $2,500 scholarship to Jackeline Melendez.  Students have or are eligible to take the North Carolina Certified Nursing Assistant exam upon completion of the program.  

“The students work extremely hard in this class.  After completing the curriculum, students spend anywhere from 40 to 60 hours performing hands on patient care in a skilled nursing facility. I am extremely proud of all of them.  They are fantastic kids and now are also my colleagues.” 

Teacher Christina Davis RN, BSN sent the text of the speech by Elizabeth York RN, BSN:

This ceremony was special because the students are coming together from different schools and unifying the common goal that they all share which is healthcare.

Each of these students has worked very hard this year. This class and the previous classes they took to get here are not easy. It takes focus, determination and the attitude of an upright student to get where they are. They didn’t just take the nursing fundamentals class.

They applied and had to be chosen. That makes each of them special and we saw that in them. They did some things this year that they never thought they would do. They were pushed in the classroom and out of the classroom to make them a better person and healthcare worker.

Each of them has grown as a student and as a person this year, not only because of the skills they’ve learned and practiced but the people that they have met and made relationships with.

The elderly that they came into contact with touched their hearts and I don’t think any of them expected that. The nursing home that they attended was filled with elderly people that need help the most. The residents were reliant on them for what you do for yourself every day.

It’s when you realize that, that you develop that sense of empathy for those around you. In today’s world it’s hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes but when you come face to face with what may be your own future, it’s hard not to try and see from the residents point of view. These students worked so hard to get to this point and for that they should be congratulated!

Northwest Students Share Their Original Writings at Annual Authors' Tea

Friday, May 13, was a very special day for the students in Lisa Davis Bailey's classes at Northwest Middle School.

“It was the 17th annual Authors' Tea held in the Northwest Media Center,” Bailey said. “English/Language Arts students from the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades shared their student writings with a host of family, friends, former students, teachers, and staff members.

“This year, each student shared their own personal ‘I Am’ poems, a Robert Louis Stevenson Bookmark project highlighting their favorite Stevenson story, as well as a book project.

“Sixth-graders researched and wrote biographies on important people in history, such as Marco Polo and Clara Barton. Seventh-graders researched and wrote stories based on various topics aligned with the seventh-grade Social Studies curriculum, such as ‘The Great Wall of China.’ Eighth-graders researched and wrote stories which were aligned with the eighth-grade Social Studies curriculum, such as ‘Gettysburg,’ ‘D-Day,’ and ‘Pearl Harbor.’  

“Mrs. Bailey and her students look forward to this event every year even though it's a lot of hard work! A highlight of the event for Mrs. Bailey is always a visit from former students who return each year to attend the Authors' Tea.”  

Lowrance Students Fight Childhood Cancer by Selling Lemonade

On Friday May 13, students at Lowrance Middle School set up a lemonade stand to raise money for the fight against childhood cancer.

Lowrance shares a building with Atkins Academic & Technology High School and they set up the Squeeze of Love - Alex’s Lemonade Stand in the hallway of the 500 Building where students and staff from both schools could stop by for a glass.  

“We made $241.70 on Alex’s Lemonade Stand,” said teacher Carrie Adams. “This money will be going to the Alex Lemonade Foundation to help with Childhood Cancer Research.”

The lemonade stand also served as a learning tool.

“The children in our SP/ Exceptional Children's classrooms are learning about Economics in Social Studies this month,” Adams said.

In addition to joining the battle against childhood cancer, the lemonade stand enabled students learn about helping others “while working on their social skills, math skills, language skills, turn-taking and functional communication skills.”

Eighth-Grader Has Perfect Attendance Since Kindergarten

Gregory Emad Gordon with his mother La' Trenda Boyd-Gordon

La’ Trenda Boyd-Gordon, who is the Exceptional Children case manager for John F. Kennedy and Carter high schools, is proud of her son, Gregory Emad Gordon, who is an eighth-grader at Southeast Middle School.

“My son – my favorite and only son – is an eighth-grader in the district and has performed, behaved and accomplished a lot this year,” Boyd-Gordon said. “The major accomplishment is the fact that he has never missed a day from school since his initial enrollment in 2007 in kindergarten at Moore. Yes, perfect attendance nine years (come June 10th).”  

He has done well in other ways, too, she said. He has been an AG (academically gifted) student since third grade, has made A/B Honor Roll at Southeast first, second, third and (hopefully fourth quarter, too). He has been a member of Crosby Scholars and National Junior Honor Society since sixth grade. This coming school year, he will go to Atkins Academic & Technology High School, already having earned high school credits.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

West Forsyth Senior Receives A.B. Duke Scholarship

In the May 18 issue of Journal WestWinston-Salem Journal reporter Lisa O’Donnell writes about West Forsyth High School senior Arinton Davis. Here is an excerpt:
The violin felt natural in Arinton Davis’ hands.
Holding one for the first time as a sixth-grader at Jefferson Middle School, he knew instinctively how to grasp the bow and cradle the neck.
“Oh, this is awesome,” Arinton thought to himself.
Eager to set forth on the journey of making beautiful music, he took the instrument home that night and put bow to string.
Not one sound played.
“It was a very rough first day,” Arinton said with a laugh.
He has since learned that the bow needs a few good swipes of rosin to make the strings sing.
He’s absorbed other musical lessons as well, so much so that he is among the top student violinists in the state, having twice been named to the N.C. Music Educators Association All-State Orchestra.
That’s just one highlight on a college application heaving with the kinds of honors and achievements that turned the heads of some of the country’s top universities.
Duke University took notice and recently awarded the West Forsyth High School senior its prestigious A.B. Duke Scholarship, which will provide him with free tuition and room and board for four years. While there, he plans to combine his interest in math, computational science and genetics, and hopes to play with a student orchestra.
Photos are by Journal photographer Lauren Carroll. For the complete story, go to Winston-Salem Journal

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Speas Elementary Students Make Connections with Members of Another Generation

Earlier this month, third-graders at Speas Global Elementary School took walking field trips to Brighton Gardens Assisted Living Facility.

“The four classes each went one day and the residents were excited each day to greet them,” said assistant principal Paul E. Pressly. “The kids were begging to go back and some even asked if they could live there. Mrs. Simmons’ class was lucky enough to see the music therapy on their trip. 

“Aminata Diagne said, ‘I really enjoyed the music therapy!’

“The trip was part of the third-grade curriculum dealing with communities changing from ‘then to now.’ Students interviewed residents about most important inventions during their lifetime and what their schooling was like as a child.  Students enjoyed completing a BINGO game activity board which had their questions and room for the resident’s answers.”