Archive for the ‘Students’ Category


TV stars: Vernon Malone College & Career Academy students featured on MSNBC

Vernon Malone students Nick Mazzeo and Kayla Turner

Vernon Malone students Nick Mazzeo and Kayla Turner

Vernon Malone College and Career Academy was featured on MSNBC‘s Morning Joe show today in a piece that highlighted the high demand for skilled workers.

Welding student Nick Mazzeo and nursing assistant student Kayla Turner appeared in the segment, which aired at 8:30 on Friday morning.

“I know when I get out of school, I’ll be job-ready, ready to join a career field and start making money,” Mazzeo said.

“It’s not a walk in the park,” Turner said of Vernon Malone’s challenging, hands-on curriculum that helps students earn college credits as they simultaneously complete their high school requirements.

Vernon Malone, a joint partnership between the Wake County Public School System, Wake Technical Community College and Wake County Government, opened this year to students in 10th-12th grade. Ninth graders can attend the school starting next year.

The Morning Joe video can be viewed below.

Fifth-grade winners named for environmental poster contest

More than 200 fifth-graders from 19 WCPSS elementary schools competed in the Wetlands are Wonderful poster contest sponsored by the Wake Soil & Water Conservation District. Continue Reading . . .

Students may take part in Ross Andrews Nature Poetry Contest

Wake County Schools students can participate in the Ross Andrews Nature Poetry Contest.

The contest has four categories: grades K-5, 6-8, 9-12, and adult with monetary awards for two winners in each category. Continue Reading . . .

Transitioning to middle and high school: A primer

If you’re a rising 6th or 9th grader, or are the parent of one, you’ll want to be at Millbrook High School the morning of Saturday, Nov. 15 for an information session about transitioning to middle and high school. Workshops will be held on these topics:

  • Transitioning to middle school
  • Transitioning to high school
  • Middle school math placement
  • Extracurricular options
  • Connecting to college and career opportunities, including scholarships
  • Career and Technical Education
  • Dealing with peer pressure
  • Early College and Magnet options
  • Counseling services

There also will be information booths with materials on these and other topics. Continental breakfast will be provided, courtesy of New York Life.

Date and time: Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
Location: Millbrook High School 
Address: 2201 Spring Forest Road, Raleigh


Districtwide survey for input on learning, technology

WCPSS is a leader among school districts in instructional technology, but there is always more that can be done. One important component of giving our students the best we can offer academically is to listen to them, along with their parents, the broader community and, of course, our teachers.

We are partnering with Project Tomorrow SpeakUp to learn more about what those we serve think about learning in our schools, specifically around how technology supports that learning. SpeakUp is an online survey for teachers, parents, students and community supporters.

WCPSS encourages everyone who cares about their school to take the survey. You can do so by visiting and following the directions to select your category (parent, teacher, student, etc.), and then to select your school for the survey.

IMPORTANT: Students must enter a password for access. That password is wake2014.
The survey will close on Dec. 19, but don’t worry! We’ll send reminders periodically to ensure as much feedback as possible — from you!

All Hail Queen Gianna and King Jacob


Gianna and Jacob, third and fourth from left, at the Green Hope homecoming pep rally.

The worst-kept secret floating around Green Hope High School on homecoming Friday? The identities of the homecoming king and queen.

Often there’s buzz and speculation leading up to that fateful halftime ceremony, when the roses and sashes are finally dispensed and decades of tradition are honored.

But just about everyone at Green Hope that Friday, even as the whole homecoming court was trotted out during a pep rally, knew who would walk away with the crowns.

That is, except for the happy couple themselves, Gianna Giambalvo and Jacob Gutierrez. Happy being the operative word, because both were in happy-just-to-be-nominated mode.

“I’m not nervous,” Gianna said. “I’m pretty excited about it. It’s my dream.”

Since she started at Green Hope, Gianna, now a senior, showed interest in the homecoming king and queen tradition, peppering her sister, Nicolette, also a Green Hope senior, with questions about it.

“So I said to her this year, ‘Would you like to be nominated,'” Nicolette said. “She said, ‘Oh my gosh, yes.'”

So Nicolette did what all the kids do these days: She took to Twitter. Before long she had more than 1,000 retweets and favorites. Jacob’s little sister, Anna, got similar response to her Twitter campaign. For good measure, Nicolette walked down the halls calling out, “Who are you voting for for homecoming queen? Vote for my sister!”

And voila: Gianna and Jacob won in a landslide.

“This whole school has embraced them,” said Esther Giambalvo, Gianna’s mom. “The kids are great here.”

“It’s not what I expected,” Nicolette said of the outpouring of popular support from her classmates.

“I think it’s really nice that they know of their disability and say, ‘Of course I want them to win. It’ll make them so happy.'”

The H-word again.

Gianna and Jacob, who have Down’s Syndrome, have been friends since they met in 5th grade at Turner Creek and have, Nicolette says, “sort of dated.”

“Jacob is a very nice guy,” Nicolette said. “I love him.”

They were introduced last at the pep rally and got by far the biggest roar from the packed gymnasium. They beamed and blushed after completing their brief little dance out on the floor. They were happy, and yet it was just the prelude to their coronation that night, when they’d be let in on the secret everyone else already knew.

“She’s going to be talking about this,” Nicolette said, “for years.”

Click HERE and HERE for local media coverage of the happy event.

Click HERE to learn more about Disability History & Awareness Month at WCPSS and this year’s theme of “discoverability.”

Student writing/arts contest for NC schools’ 175th

WCPSS students are invited to participate in the 175th anniversary of the opening of the first public school in North Carolina.

The North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA) is hosting an essay, poster and video contest to help celebrate the 175th anniversary of the opening of the first public school in the state.

Cash prizes will be awarded, with 1st place receiving $500, 2nd place $250 and 3rd place $100. The first place winner will be honored at the 175 anniversary celebration January 20, 2015 in Reidsville.

There is a poster contest for elementary students, an essay contest for middle school students and a video contest for high school students.

Visit for details about each contest and how to enter.


WCPSS ‘STANDS UP and SPEAKS OUT’ Against Bullying in October

There’s just nothing cool about bullying. The Wake County Public School System has fully embraced this stance and is taking meaningful action to protect students from being either victims or perpetrators.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and the WCPSS Counseling and Student Services team has crafted an extensive array of activities and information points for students, parents, teachers and counselors across the district. The goal: to empower young people to stand up and speak out against bullying.

Continue Reading . . .

More than 90 percent of WCPSS 3rd-graders promoted under Read to Achieve

Greater focus around strategies for helping students improve their reading proficiency has led to 90.1 percent of Wake County Public School System third-graders being promoted to fourth grade under the new Read to Achieve initiative.

According to results released today by the North Carolina State Board of Education in its report to the North Carolina General Assembly, Improve K-3 Literacy Accountability Measures Comprehensive Plan for Reading Achievement, 90.1 percent of WCPSS third-graders in the 2013-14 school year qualified for promotion to fourth grade this year. This result is 2.8 percentage points above the state average of 87.3 percent.

Wake third-graders demonstrated their reading proficiency by passing either the Beginning-of-Grade 3 English Language Arts/Reading assessment; End-of-Grade 3 English Language Arts/Reading assessment; Read to Achieve Alternative Test; alternative local, state-approved assessments for reading; or a complete reading portfolio.

“These results clearly show that our elementary teachers and administrators, along with instructional resource teachers, literacy coaches, support personnel and parents across Wake County have dedicated themselves to effective strategies for reading instruction,” said Cathy Moore, Deputy Superintendent for School Performance. “We look forward to greater results in the years to come.”

Of the 12,135 third-graders enrolled in WCPSS in spring 2014, 9,932 (81.8 percent) achieved proficiency and were promoted to fourth grade. An additional 8.3 percent (1,002 students) were exempt from mandatory retention for good cause as per state law, and 9.9 percent (1,199 students) were either retained in third grade or promoted to fourth with provisions for special interventions and attention.

The 90.1 percent promotion figure is likely to increase slightly after year-round reading camps conclude in late October, as these students will have the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency by the end of camp.

School leaders point to a variety of solid strategies that produced these positive results. They include:

• Smith Elementary Principal Chris Lassiter said that the Read to Achieve process gave teachers a protocol and resources so that the children could attack reading passages that require higher-level thinking and understanding. Teachers simultaneously were able to focus on the new reading standards. These strategies led to a 19.1 percentage-point spike for third-grade reading for the 2013-14 year.
• Read to Achieve passages carved a path for better readers at Millbrook Elementary. Third-graders at Principal Paula Trantham’s school turned in a 14.2 percentage-point jump in reading. Targeted instruction also was a boon.
• Durant Road Elementary Principal Teresa Winstead credits incorporating extra help with reading in the main classroom setting, redesigning Professional Learning Teams to focus more closely on student data, engaging a literacy coach and implementing a “close” reading strategy that incorporates more time dedicated to reading, for the school’s 11.3 percent jump in third-grade reading.

The North Carolina Read to Achieve Program is a component of the Excellent Public Schools Act passed by the North Carolina General Assembly during its 2012 session. The goal of the program is to ensure that every third-grade student is reading at or above grade level by the end of the school year. Students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade receive extra support, including reading camps, guaranteed uninterrupted blocks of reading time, and intensive reading interventions so that they will be more prepared to do fourth-grade work.

For more information, and to read the full report, visit

Nine WCPSS seniors named 2015 National Merit Achievement Semifinalists

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation named nine Wake County Public School System students 2015 National Merit Achievement Semifinalists.

CARY HIGH: Caleb S. Alexander, Priscilla M. Van Dyke
GREEN HOPE HIGH: Hawi G. Tasissa
HERITAGE HIGH: Brianna P. Edmonds
PANTHER CREEK HIGH:  Amari D. Carethers
WAKE FOREST HIGH: Matthew Goodwin Continue Reading . . .