Archive for July, 2012


Notable leaders help launch new single-gender academies

Hundreds of Wake County students took an important step toward becoming great leaders Tuesday. A ceremony at Daniels Middle School in Raleigh marked the beginning of the Summer Leadership Orientation for students of the Wake Young Men’s and Wake Young Women’s leadership academies.

The week-long camp gives students from the two new single-gender schools an opportunity to meet their classmates and practice team building. Superintendent Tony Tata and others shared inspirational stories of leadership with students to start their week.

“Leadership is the most important 21st century skill,” Superintendent Tata said. “You made the choice to be a part of this. Now it’s up to you to work hard and become the type of leader that will make you better, make your community better, and make the Wake County Public School System better.”

WCPSS is leading the orientation in conjunction with the General H. Hugh Shelton Leadership Center, and with funding from the A.J. Fletcher Foundation.

Jim Goodmon, president and CEO of Capitol Broadcasting Company and head of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, told students they have the opportunity to build bright futures for themselves and their communities through the leadership academies.

“I think it’s really important for our public school system to offer lots of choices,” Goodmon said. “If we are going to compete with the other options out there, then our public schools have to offer a lot of options, and I think this is a good one.”

Retired U.S. Army General Hugh Shelton, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urged students to focus on traits of strong leaders: integrity, honesty, diversity, compassion, and social responsibility.

“All of you involved in this innovative new educational program have what we call ‘the right stuff.’ You have the right stuff to succeed in life, and I commend you for that,” Shelton said.

The Wake Young Men’s and Young Women’s leadership academies officially begin the school year on August 13. Each will have 150 students in grades 6, 7, and 9 for the first year. In addition to building their skills as leaders, students will have an opportunity to earn college credit during their high school years.

Rising sixth grader Alyssa Chronister said she chose the Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy for its smaller class sizes and unique course of study.

“It just spoke to me somehow. It seemed like a wonderful program,” Chronister said, “I want a challenge, and I want to learn how to be a great leader and team player.”

Coach Dunn named to NCHSAA Hall of Fame

Coach Lawrence Dunn who led Garner women’s and Athens Drive men’s basketball teams to numerous championships is one of eight people selected for induction into the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

Dunn enjoyed an excellent coaching career in basketball and baseball, as well as track and cross country at schools in Wake County.

A graduate of Berry O’Kelly High and then North Carolina A&T State University, where he was an outstanding basketball player, Dunn is probably best remembered for his success coaching basketball.

He guided the Garner women’s basketball team to a state championship and a perfect record in the 1977-78 season. Then, from 1979 to 2001, he guided the Athens Drive men’s basketball program to 445 victories against just 193 defeats. His teams won numerous conference championships in men’s basketball and captured titles in cross-country.
Dunn coached the East squad in the North Carolina Coaches Association all-star basketball game in 1990.

He was involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and as advisor for the student council at Athens Drive.

Dunn and the new inductees will be honored during special halftime ceremonies at a football game at Kenan Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, when North Carolina takes on East Carolina. The University of North Carolina has designated the day as the 28th annual NCHSAA Day. The new class will officially be inducted at the special Hall of Fame banquet next spring in Chapel Hill.

The 27th group of inductees include Dunn, Donnie Baxter of Asheboro, Ronnie Chavis of Pembroke, Doug Henderson of Greensboro, Lindsey Page of Burlington, Larry Rhodes of Gastonia, Robert Steele of Salisbury and Jim Taylor of Shelby.

The Hall of Fame plaques are on permanent display in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame room, located in the Simon F. Terrell Building in Chapel Hill that houses the Association offices.

The NCHSAA Hall of Fame is supported in part by a special grant from GlaxoSmithKline.

Thanks to WCPSS athletic director Bobby Guthrie for sharing this story.

Centennial Campus Magnet Middle student wins recipe competition

A Centennial Campus Magnet Middle student is the North Carolina winner for the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and the prize is a state dinner with First Lady Michelle Obama. Sydney Brown was one of the 54 winners selected from 1,200 recipes considered creative, sophisticated and tasty.

Sydney’s winning recipe was called the Homerun Meatloaf Burger. She earned the opportunity to attend the Kids’ State Dinner at the White House on Monday, August 20 hosted by Mrs. Obama.

The student and parent entries were judged by a panel of food industry professionals from the Epicurious food blog in a preliminary round. Then one of those individuals, plus representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Education and The White House conducted a second round of judging. Entries were judged against the other entries from the same state or territory.

Up to three entries from each state or territory were declared finalists. These recipes were prepared in a test kitchen based on the instructions in the recipe. Recipes scored points for nutritional value, perceived taste, creativity and originality, affordability and the story behind the recipe.

Tanya Steel of the Epicurious food blog who helped put on the competition wrote, “I was impressed by the knowledge of these 8-to-12 year olds, who knew how to make something gluten or lactose free, and what constituted a healthy meal according to the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate guidelines. I was also very touched by many of the kids’ stories and how they developed their recipe. A huge shout out to all the kids, for being so clever, strong and funny. “

Sydney and her mother were invited to appear on Monday morning’s WRAL News. Look for them in the 7 o’clock hour.

Thanks to Centennial Magnet Middle magnet coordinator Elwood Peters for sharing this story.

LISTEN: Green Elementary marks Olympic opening

Green Elementary held its own Olympic opening ceremony today, hours before the 2012 Summer Olympics opened in London. Classes were assigned to represent countries. Students were selected to run a torch and their country’s flag around the track for the opening ceremony.

With students lining the track this morning, a group of students ran between them carrying an Olympic banner decorated with the interlocking rings and followed by a teacher carrying a torch with a bright red cellophane blaze. The teacher ran a lap around the track and passed the torch onto classes who took turns running it around the track.

The ceremonies closed with all students singing Happy Birthday to Principal Lisa Brown. Students presented her with a bouquet of flowers and balloons.

In the coming weeks, students will compete by reading books and learning about their countries.

Listen to Green Elementary marks Olympic opening.

This is a 6.5-minute mp3 file.

Students run onto the track carrying the Olympic banner followed by a teacher with the Olympic torch. More photos are available at WCPSS Facebook.

Apex High Technology Academy earns national recognition

The National Academy Foundation honored the Apex High Academy of Information Technology as one of its top 13 academies in the nation at a July 17 ceremony in Washington, DC. The foundation commended the Apex High academy for the involvement of its advisory board. A foundation flyer noted the board worked closely with the academy director using the academy assessment as a decision-making vehicle to change structure, professional development, curriculum, work-based learning experiences and advisory board activities. They worked with the academy director to integrate soft skills development into academic content to increase students’ success. The flyer noted 100 percent of the students completed the academy program.

Apex High academy director Julie Oster, WCPSS School to Career administrator Joy Frankoff and Apex High principal Matt Wight with National Academy Foundation leaders.

U.S. News and World Report mentioned the foundation, Apex High academy and its participation in a mobile app competition last week. The article included a photo of Lenovo’s Mike Schmedlen congratulating Apex High students Lena McCord, John Boezeman, Louis Le and Lane Shoffner for their development of a Shop Local Raleigh app.

Thanks to principal Matt Wright and academy director Julie Oster for sharing this story.

Farmington Woods Magnet Elementary teachers get hands on Global Learning

Farmington Woods Magnet Elementary partnered with World View, an International Program for Educators at UNC-CH, to provide two teachers a cultural learning experience in Costa Rica.

Third grade teacher Megan Jackson and second grade teacher Alison Milantoni are living with Costa Rican families for two weeks this summer. The teachers learn about the country from their host families.

The structured World View experiences include time learning about Costa Rican culture, government and economy, daily Spanish language learning, community service work in schools and senior centers, Latin cooking and dance class and throughout the stay visits to important Costa Rican landmarks (coffee farm, botanical gardens, San Jose, National Museum, rainforest canopy tour, farmer’s market and volcano tour).

As part of their participation requirement, Jackson and Milantoni will complete a follow up project upon their return sharing their cultural learning with the entire Farmington Woods school community during the 2012-13 school year.

The teachers are providing the Farmington Woods community regular updates and photos on Twitter @fwesibpyp.

Thanks to principal Winston Pierce for sharing this story with GotNews.

Academic gains continue in the Wake County Public School System

Wake County students at every grade span made steady academic gains in 2011-12, according to preliminary results from End-of-Grade and End-of-Course testing.

  • Elementary school test results show an overall proficiency rate of 82.1 percent, a gain of 1.9 percentage points from the previous year.
  • Middle school test results show an overall proficiency of 82.1 percent, a .9-point gain from the previous year. 
  • High school test results show an overall proficiency of 85.8 percent, an increase of 2.5 percentage points from the previous year.

Results from the year-end exams will be final on August 2, when the N.C. Department of Public Instruction releases a statewide report. WCPSS will provide more detailed information for individual schools and subgroups at that time.

Several individual schools showed significant academic gains, including Walnut Creek Elementary. The school opened in 2011 with a high number of economically disadvantaged students, about 67 percent qualifying for free or reduced lunch. 

Preliminary test results show improved proficiency among Walnut Creek students in core subjects such as reading, math and science. Tests demonstrated a proficiency rate of 62.9 percent for reading and math, a 7.3-point increase from the previous year. The combined proficiency for reading, math and science was 60 percent, an increase of 4.7 percentage points. 

“We believe all schools can be high achieving and all students can excel regardless of their socio-economic status,” Superintendent Tony Tata said. “The gains for Walnut Creek students highlight the importance of having the right resources, teachers, leadership, and strong community and family support in place.”

District leaders took proactive steps to establish the best possible learning environment at Walnut Creek, transferring federal Title I funds from Central Services to increase the Title I funds going to schools. The additional funding allowed the school to hire six additional teachers to lower class sizes, and add 45 minutes of instructional time to the school day for all students.

The system also provided new technology including interactive SMART Boards, iPods and iPads, and equipment for a hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) lab. 

Based on these preliminary data, Walnut Creek is expected to earn recognition from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction as a High Growth school when final results are released.

“Walnut Creek got off to a great start last year,” Principal Corey Moore said. “And as we begin our second year, our focus will remain the same—making Walnut Creek a safe and positive place where all students value themselves as productive learners.”

Board administrative appointments for July 24

The Wake County Board of Education approved the following administrative appointments at its meeting Tuesday night:

  • Rose Anne Gonzalez, applicant, to Central Area Superintendent effective August 1. She is currently principal of the East New York Middle School of Excellence in Brooklyn.
  • Clinton Robinson, principal at Wake Forest-Rolesville High, to Southwestern Area Superintendent effective August 1.
  • Howard Wirt, applicant, to Assistant Superintendent for Academics effective August 1. He is currently executive director for secondary education/ESL/CTE at the Mooresville (NC) Graded School District.
  • Thomas Dixon, retiree, to interim principal at Wake Forest-Rolesville High effective August 1 through September 30.
  • Judy Dudley, retiree, to interim principal at Lockhart Elementary effective August 1 through 31.
  • Kathryn Hutchinson, assistant principal at East Millbrook Middle to principal at Joyner Elementary effective August 1.
  • Martha McCaskill, retiree to interim principal at East Wake School of Health and Science effective August 1 through September 28.

Green Hope High grad competes at Olympics

2002 Green Hope High graduate Hector Cotto is on his way to London to compete in the 2012 London Olympic games. Cotto will compete for the country of Puerto Rico in the 110m High Hurdles. This is his second Olympics. He is repeating his efforts from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Cotto was a Green Hope High Track and Field athlete, as well as a member of the football team. He went on graduate from East Carolina University.

Thanks to Coach Robert Good for sharing this story.

NPR remembers Steven Covey, link to Combs Magnet Elementary School

National Public Radio noted the link between Steven Covey and Combs Magnet Elementary School in an article about Covey’s death on Monday and his life’s work as management consultant, writer of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and motivational speaker.

Combs is a leadership magnet school. The NPR article states Combs was the first of more than 800 schools worldwide that embraced Covey’s ideas. Combs principal Muriel Summers says in the article that her school saw an increase in test scores, more engaged families and students making better decisions, when the leadership magnet began teaching Covey’s 7 Habits to students and parents.

You can read more about the connection between Covey and Combs Magnet Elementary in Covey’s book, The Leader in Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time, published in 2009.

Read or listen to the NPR article.