Almost 30 teachers, staff and students from Northwest Cabarrus High School gathered Aug. 15 for a silent demonstration to honor their former principal, Lynn Rhymer, who was transferred to Central Cabarrus High School.
Dressed in orange and black, they lined the sidewalk outside Cabarrus County Schools Education Center before the 6 p.m. business meeting of the school board. The gesture was meant to honor the four years Rhymer was principal at the school.
Senior Serena Melton made a sign that said, "Ms. Rhymer Revived the 'heart' of NCHS." Another sign said "Thank you" in multiple languages, while another simply said "Rhymer Rules."
Those in attendance said the decision to transfer Rhymer caught them by surprise when they found out about the transfer just a week earlier. Some said they were heartbroken.
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"The decision was made quickly without a chance for any of us to show or tell her what an amazing impact she had on the climate, spirit and success of our school," said theater teacher Andy Rassler. "We thought this was a peaceful way to reflect the light she has in her. She is a superstar. Central is lucky to have her, for sure."
Cabarrus County Schools superintendent Barry Shepherd said it was nothing more than a staffing transfer.
She will become principal at Central Cabarrus High to fill a vacancy left by Natasha Thompson who resigned from Cabarrus County Schools.
Mike Jolley, assistant principal at Hickory Ridge High, will become principal at Northwest Cabarrus. Jolley worked as a teacher and coach at Northwest Cabbarus earlier in his career.
Rhymer was an advanced placement teacher at Concord High School before becoming principal at Northwest.
Rassler and others described Rhymer as a strong leader who inspired enthusiasm in others. They said she is a disciplinarian but fair. She's caring and sympathetic but sets high expectations.
Student body president Cameron Watson of Concord said he appreciated how Rhymer advocated for the school throughout the community.
"She poured her heart and soul into Northwest, and we're here to show we appreciate that," he said.
Rassler and others say the challenge ahead will be for the school to remain a unified team, and they appreciate some of the issues she helped resolve.
"Before she came to (Northwest), we had a revolving-door history of administrators, leaving us with some loose policies, a lack of school spirit and unity, and a diminished morale among the faculty and staff," said Rassler.
"Before Ms. Rhymer, students were tardy often, disrupting our instructional day. She instituted a policy whereby if a student is tardy, she/he has to serve detention either that very day or the day after. It is an immediate consequence."
Rassler said tardies have decreased significantly since the change.
"She addressed every issue that needed addressing and invested countless hours supporting every part of Northwest from fine arts events to football games," she said.