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March 26
Inspiring Fred T. Foard Student Named Morehead-Cain Scholar

Jacob S., a senior at Fred T. Foard High School, was selected to receive the Morehead-Cain Scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Recipients of this prestigious scholarship not only excel in academics, leadership, character, and physical vigor but also show an ability to "influence and inspire" others.

Throughout high school, Jacob has done just that. He is number one in his class, with a 4.88 GPA, and is Beta Club President. Jacob also has played varsity football for four years (2014 Team Captain) and varsity basketball for three years. He is a talented musician, selected for all-county chorus and awarded Outstanding Male Vocalist; Jacob is a self-taught pianist and guitarist, playing in his church's youth band.

Jacob further inspires others by working to overcome his serious football injuries, serving as a math tutor, volunteering at an elementary school football camp, and teaching English and computer tech classes to young students in Mexico.

A smiling Jacob reveals that he was thrilled upon receiving his award. "It is truly an honor," he says. "I am really happy to be part of such a distinguished group of students." Jacob has big plans for college, studying business, computer science, and economics. He also is looking forward to applying this coursework in his summer enrichment programs, conducting research on world economies or doing public interest work abroad. Jacob is humbled by the impressive network of Morehead-Cain alumni, recognizing that the scholarship will "open many doors" for him.

Jacob's parents, Kelli and Darren, along with his brother and sister, are proud of Jacob and excited about the opportunities that the scholarship will bring. They recognize that graduating from Chapel Hill will provide Jacob with lifelong benefits.

The Morehead-Cain scholarship pays all expenses for four years of undergraduate study, including tuition, housing, meals, books, and a laptop computer. The scholarship is valued at over $100,000 for each in-state student. In addition the scholarship provides for four summer enrichment experiences largely designed by the student: outdoor leadership, public service, research and inquiry, and private enterprise.

John Motley Morehead graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1891, founded Union Carbide Corporation, and later created the Morehead Foundation in 1945. The Morehead Scholarship was established in 1951 as the first non-athletic merit scholarship program in the United States. In 2007, the Cain Foundation gave a $100 million gift to the Morehead Foundation to support and expand the scholarship program. The foundation and scholarship program were renamed Morehead-Cain.

Jacob sporting Carolina colors!

Jacob and his proud family

Jacob and his counselor Brooke Ward

March 25
Oxford Elementary and Arndt Middle Take Top Prizes in Battle of the Books Competitions

"In which book. . ." began the questions posed during the 2015 Catawba County Schools (CCS) district-wide Battle of the Books competitions held in this month. During the elementary competition, held March 24 at the Hickory Metro Convention Center, students, who each had read 17 books, fiercely competed to see who would take home the 2015 honors. The middle school competition, held March 17 at the Conover Station, was even more challenging, requiring students to read and remember the details of 27 books.

In the elementary school competition, Oxford Elementary took home the top spot. Second place went to the Clyde Campbell team, and third place went to Sherrills Ford.  The Oxford E. readers will represent CCS at the regional competition on April 21. Members of Oxford's winning team are: Mason C., Elizabet C., Jadyn C., Caitlin G., Allie S., and Camryn S. Thanks to coaches: Mary Hornick, April Miller, and Christine Perry.

Arndt Middle School took home the trophy at the middle school competition; the Jacobs Fork Middle School team was runner-up.  Arndt will now represent CCS at the regional middle school competition on April 14 at the Statesville Civic Center.  Members of Arndt's team are: Sami B., Annika F., Anna L., Himani P., Kate S., and Makayla Y. Thanks to coaches Holly Poovey and Julie Bowman.

Congratulations to all teams for two rigorous reading competitions!

(The Oxford Elementary BOB team)

(The Arndt Middle BOB team)

March 23
Artwork of Two Maiden High Students Selected as Best in the State

Two Maiden High School artists, Destiny S. and Evette T., were two of the winners in the N.C. General Assembly Youth Art Exhibition 2015.  Their artwork will hang in the N.C. General Assembly for the next year.

Destiny S., a 9th grader, won with her piece Seeing Red, depicting London in one-point perspective using pen and ink with red-colored pencil. Evette T., an 11th grader, won with Niñito Feliz, a portrait created in graphite pencil. The artists were presented with a certificate, lanyard, and NAEA button during the ceremony.

The reception for the winners was held on Monday, March 16th at 5:00pm at the N.C. General Assembly. The winners were accompanied by their families, their teachers, Cheri Paysour and Elizabeth Taylor, and Principal Rob Bliss. Marilyn McRee, Chair of the Catawba County Board of Education, and Catawba County Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman also attended the award ceremony. Dr. Brigman stated "We are so proud of these two young women who represent the outstanding talent in Catawba County Schools." Both State Senator Andy Wells and State Representative Mitchell Setzer congratulated the winners, giving the girls tours of their offices.

The National Art Education Association (NAEA) and the N.C. General Assembly sponsor the contest.  NAEA annually requests art teachers to submit one student work for possible display in the N.C. General Assembly. The purpose of the exhibit is to share with our legislators and the public the exceptional creative ability of North Carolina's students.  Maiden High had two of its entries entered selected, which is rare, due to the high quality of the works.


Andy Wells  Mitchell Setzer.jpg

(Pictured above Andy Wells, Evette, Destiny, Mitchell Setzer)

March 20
St. Stephens’s Senior Shines at State Poetry Competition

Senior Olivia W. represented our district in the state Poetry Out Loud competition on March 7 in Greensboro. She has finished in the top five performers in the state for the last two years. Olivia was chosen to compete on the state level for the second time by a panel of distinguished judges - poet Tim Peeler, Lenoir-Rhyne University (LRU) Theatre Professor Josh Yoder, Adjunct Theatre Professor at CVCC and LRU Liz Bokhoven, and Head of English and CVCC Professor Arlene Neal.  The District Runner-up was senior Nikki W. This year is Poetry Out Loud's 10th Anniversary.

Commenting on the competition, Olivia notes, "It has been an amazing experience to watch myself and my peers grow through pushing ourselves as performers to meet each poem in its true hold and bring to life the words from the page to stage." Olivia adds, "In the 'age of distraction,' poetry requires you to slow down and focus to fully experience the poem." Olivia's favorite poet? John Keats.

Molly Rice, St. Stephens Theatre teacher and District Coordinator, notes "Olivia is one of my finest theatre arts students, beyond her years in creativity and compassion. She is humble and a delightful person to be around. Her work ethic is bar none. Not only is she an actor and a singer but also a talented and detailed writer.  She also recently became top in our class at creating film."

For seven years in a row, students at the Tractor Shed Theatre at St. Stephens High School gear up each year to find the best poems that suit their voice and style to recite in the classroom competition that leads to School-Wide, District, then to the State level of the National Poetry Out Loud Recitation Contest. 

Rice says over 9,000 NC students competed in this year's Poetry Out Loud competition.  "Each year we've made it to the top five and been runner-up two years in a row at the state level.  We are striving to make it to the national level in Washington, DC and to represent Catawba County and the state of North Carolina.  Being a poet myself, it would be an honor to see one of my students reach that level."   


March 20
CCS Honors Its Teacher Assistants for Making a Difference in Every Classroom and in Every School

Catawba County Schools wants to recognize our outstanding Teacher Assistants. Their hard work adds value in individual classrooms and in our schools as a whole.

CCS employs about 200 Teacher Assistants. These TAs make a huge contribution as they:

  • form long-lasting, positive relationships with students early in elementary school,
  • work in the classrooms and with materials, providing teachers with more instructional time,
  • help teachers reach each student, providing small group and individualized instruction,
  • drive buses, morning and afternoon
  • help to bridge the literacy gap with students,
  • assist in keeping student work records and documentation,
  • perform a variety of other tasks that keep the schools running efficiently, and
  • help our students to succeed in classes and on state-wide assessments.

Our Teacher Assistants play a vital role in the success of all Catawba County Schools students.  Please take time to thank these talented and dedicated employees!

(pictured above Mt. View Elementary Teacher Assistants with their students)

March 20
CCS Chorus Teachers Awarded Hickory Choral Society Grants to Fund Music Education

Several Catawba County Schools teachers were recently awarded the J. Don Coleman Hickory Choral Society Grant for their school music departments.

The recipients are:

Arndt Middle School - Lauren Shook

Balls Creek Elementary School - Jennifer McNeely

Blackburn Elementary School - Sherry Schlagenhauf

Lyle Creek Elementary School - Erin Roper 

Maiden Elementary School - Donna Staton

Snow Creek Elementary School - Karen Shuford  

St. Stephens Elementary School - June Robison

This assistance is important to help these educators provide quality music programs for their students. Congratulations to all the recipients, and thanks to the Choral Society for supporting education!

March 19
Arndt Students Help CommScope Have a Bright Future

Tracey Shanks's Math I students are using their skills to help solve real problems. These Arndt Middle School students paired with CommScope, Inc. to determine whether the company should continue to use its current lighting in the Claremont plant.

On March 18, these students presented their "Going Green" research to CommScope and to several judges. The students evaluated a number of options for the company, with the goals of cutting costs and being environmentally friendly. The students worked in groups to make their recommendations, evaluating the brightness, color, cost, efficiency, use in industrial settings, and ecological impact of different light bulbs. They presented their calculations and the justifications for their recommendations, combining math, science, research, and public speaking skills.

Gabby S., one of the students, enjoyed the project because it connected classroom learning to reality, noting her group focused on "saving money and the environment."

Anna L. said her team learned that lighting involved "so much more than just turning on a switch." Heidi A. added that her team "learned how to work together" to accomplish a goal.

The student teams participating in the event were:

Group 1: Heidi A., Noah H., Brady L., Jacey P., and Samantha S. (tied -2nd place)

Group 2: Jordan B., Anna L., Reily M., Karsten K., and Makani W., (1st place)

Group 3: David C., Alannah G., Mary K., Brady J., and Sam W.

Group 4 Tess C., Chase P., Kayla M., Nina T., and Ian W.

Group 5 Matthew F., Gabby S., Daniel S., Kayla S., Stephan P. (tied-2nd place)

Group 6 Annika F., Viviana L., Dalton M., Owen V., and Alexis T.

For yesterday's competition: the 1st place team members will each receive a $20 VISA gift card and the team members for the two teams that tied for second place will each receive a $10 VISA gift card. Principal Lee Miller will reward all the participants for an outstanding job.

This project was funded by an STEM CAP grant through The Institute for Emerging Issues. This grant allowed teachers in Catawba County Schools to partner with four local businesses to develop and implement learning units based on solving relevant challenges posed by the companies.

The companies and teachers who have participated are: Danny Montgomery, Bunker Hill High, working with AdvancedPierre Foods; Molly Barlow, Challenger High, working with AdvancedPierre Foods; Andy Owens, St. Stephens High, working with Centro; and Heather Houston, Bunker Hill High, working with CommScope.

Presentations of all the projects will be held at the next STEM West meeting on April 22nd.

(Group 2)

(Group 1)

(Group 5)

(The incredible Mrs. Shanks!)

March 19
Twice Exceptional?  When Giftedness and Learning Differences Mix

The Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center is hosting a talk by Dr. Dawn Hodges on Sunday, March 22, from 2-3:30 pm in the McCrorie Center, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Room 213. Dr. Hodges will talk about how to recognize when giftedness and learning differences appear together and how to have parents and teachers work together for these children. The seminar is free and is open to the public.

March 13
Two Hometown Heroes Receive Votes of Confidence from Their Students

Students at Mt. View Elementary and St. Stephens High School love their teachers so much that they voted them in as Hometown Heroes!

In February, Lisa Lail's 4th graders celebrated their math teacher winning the most votes in Catawba County and being named Hometown Hero for January. Principal Dyanne Sherrill and Bob Dill, from Charles G. Monnett III & Associates Law Firm, surprised Lisa and her students with a $250 Visa gift card to buy supplies for her classroom and with a pizza party.

In March, Assistant Principal Amy Rucker and Dill struck again surprising St. Stephens' math teacher Stephanie Weber. Weber's innovative math class is held completely in a computer lab, using technology daily to teach math. Her students applauded their teacher for winning the February Hometown Hero award.

The law firm rewards one teacher in each of six counties - Mecklenburg, Lincoln, Catawba, Iredell, Cabarrus and Union – monthly as part of its "Vote for Your Favorite Teacher" outreach program. Students, friends, and family can vote daily for their favorite teachers on the Monnett law firm site at

(Principal Dyanne Sherrill with winner Lisa Lail)

(Bob Dill with winner Stephanie Weber)




March 13
Catawba County Schools Celebrates its New and Renewing National Board Certified Teachers

Catawba County Schools (CCS) held a reception on March 9 in its Board Room to recognize teachers who recently achieved National Board Certification and who renewed their certification. Obtaining and renewing this distinction in teaching requires an extensive application process where teachers analyze their instruction and provide evidence of their excellent teaching.

Newly certified teachers are: Jeff Brotherton, Dianna Freestone, Melissa Fussell, Bradley Lael, April Nelson, and Beth Roland.

Teachers renewing their certifications are: Dawn Barger, M. Diane Gantt, Kellie Gryder, Robin Hyde, Jayne Icenhour Stevens, Michelle Isenhour, Candice Ledford, Hayley Leonard, Rhonda Pawlik, Michelle Lanford, Katie Rink, Brooke Simpson, Sophie Tate, Denise Taylor, Jennifer Taylor McNeely, and Selena Teague.

National Board Certification is offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and is a way to recognize the accomplished teaching that occurs in the nation's classrooms. The certification process is based on rigorous standards that evaluate teaching practice through performance-based assessments.

If you are a CCS teacher interested in pursuing National Board Certification, please contact Regina Propst or Jeanine Lynch for information and assistance.



(pictured above: New National Board Certified teachers)



(pictured above: renewing National Board Certified teachers

Diane Gantt, Hayley Leonard, Rhonda Pawlik, Selena Teague,

Jennifer McNeely, and Michelle Lanford)

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