Recognition of hard working students seemed to be a dominant theme at the Mount Airy City Schools Board of Education regular session on Tuesday night at Mount Airy Middle School.
One indication of this was acknowledgement Mount Airy Middle School has been named as one of two middle schools in North Carolina on the “Schools to Watch” list. School officials report this award designates MAMS as one of the best middle schools in the country.
Schools to Watch is an initiative launched by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform in 1999. The forum identifies schools across the country which it feels are well on their way to meeting the criteria for high performance academically.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am for our students and staff,” said MAMS Principal Susan Bunch. “I so want to emphasize all the community service they do. I can walk down the hall any day and see how hard the students are working at whatever they are involved in, both in class and athletically. They amaze me every day. They’re incredible and to think this puts us in national ranking means attention will be on MAMS and what the are doing.
Center for International Understanding China Partnership Program Coordinator Brian White gave a brief presentation about the Chinese language program the board has agreed to apply to participate in where the district would host an accredited Chinese teacher as a language instructor.
“China is diverse, just like the United States,” said White. “There is so much diversity in culture. There are 56 minority groups within the country which the West rarely hears about.”
He explained the benefits of learning the language and said one of his most rewarding moments was learning from other international students about their countries. He recalled how he learned about Italy, even though he doesn’t speak Italian, through talking in Chinese with a fellow student.
“I encourage parents to talk with students of the Chinese teacher. Learn some of the language so you can see what you child is learning. My goal is to make you guys feel less intimidated about this. At first it will be tough and slow going but it’s fun. I want to emphasize this to everyone. This helps develop students’ confidence, patience and critical thinking about the world in a different way.”
Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little praised the first Community Night held by local Parent Teacher Organizations to showcase city schools. Representatives honored were Reagan Tidd, Andrea Draughn, Dianne Johnson, Beth Pequeno, Lone Cooke and Pepper Mayes.
Eight-year-old Stephen Johnson was honored for raising more than $2,000 to support the annual Relay for Life. The effort is made up of more than 5,000 communities across the nation. Johnson was honored for “always being willing to lend a hand and always smiling and running errands.”
Little also shared how much was raised for the “Polar Plunge” to benefit Special Olympics. He said more than $1,600 had been raised on his behalf to take the jump into the Ararat River last weekend. Tharrington was in first place with $775, Jones raised $275, MAMS had $200 and Mount Airy High collected $142.
STAR Students, which will have their personality profiles displayed in their schools as well as in the Superintendent’s office were also named. STAR stands for Successful, Thoughtful, Academically Resourceful students. Those selected are Caroline Morris and Walkier Stroup from Tharrington, Crystal Pedraza and Mason Thornton of Jones Intermediate, Mount Airy Middle students Rebecca Billos and Corbin Robertson and Mount Airy High Student Tyler Palfreeman.
Friends Feeding Friends Student Council representatives from Jones School, which collected 3,491 pounds of food for the effort honored at the meeting included Hannah Rudisill, Kristen Bedsaul, Jacob Sloan, Avery Poindexter, James Marion, Ian Gilley, Lee Branson, Isabella McMillian, Kancie Tate, Kaylee Cole, Olivia Phillips, Brett Pruett, Kasen Taylor, Hollie James, Anne Kathryn Culler, Ben Heath and Sofia Stafford.
Others named include Reece McDuffie, Morgan Hiatt, Ann Marie Bedsaul, Nazonika Bell, William Mayfield, Holden Poindexter, Brooklyn Mosely, Adam Culler, Olivia Perkins, Elizabeth Dorsett, Austin Eaton and Kaylee Little.
The MAMS boys swim team was also honored. Boys who received certificates were Jack Stancil, Grey Tucker, Christian Monroy, Chandler Gammons, Tyler Keck, Grant Perry, Hunter Eaton, Tucker Corbin, Matthew Davis, Will Cox, Eli Stroup, Jeremiah Rosser, Harrison Morris and Scout Hughes.
Members of the MAMS girls swim team also received certificates of recognition. Girls honored were Kiera Hatcher, Camden Taylor, Gilleyn Bunting, Maya Hicks, Abby McBride, Casey Estes, Margaret Spainhour, Olivia Hunter, Madison Murphy, Catherine Smith, Sierra Best, Elizabeth Marion and Taylor Hale.
Sixth grade MAMS student Kayla Gonzalez was honored as a winner of the statewide North Carolina Association of Educators’ (NCAE) Multicultural Arts Contest. Gonzalez was recognized during the association’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Gala on Jan. 10 and her work will be on display through February at the NCAE Center.
Students honored for earning a chance to perform in the Virginia Tech Honor Band were Jessica Escutia (flute), Rachel Cave (Alto Sax), Jack Marion (Tuba) and Rachel Ray (Euphonium). Director Jonathan Jones was also recognized.
Six students were recognized for earning spots to perform in the Mars Hill Choral group. Students honore are Abby Hagwood, Erica Carlisle, Mindy Benfield, Rachel Ray, Sam Brown, Jack Marion and Blake Hensley. Teacher Gena Ray was also honored as school chorus director.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.