Gaston & Catawba

Catawba Valley school news

Alexander County

Bus drivers honored: Sonya Fagan was recently named the Alexander County Schools Bus Driver of the Year for 2014. She drives a route for Sugar Loaf Elementary.

Other nominees for the award were: Donna Wike of Head Start, Julie Anderson of Ellendale Elementary, Tamera Hoffa of Stony Point Elementary, Karen Redmond of Hiddenite Elementary, Stephen Miller of Bethlehem Elementary, Doug Isaacson of Wittenburg Elementary, Eddie English of West Alexander Middle, Dennis Stewart of East Alexander Middle, Darlene Kittrell of Alexander Central High and Beverly Elder of Taylorsville Elementary.

Author visits elementary school: Caldwell County author Gretchen Griffith will visit students at Stony Point Elementary on Dec. 9. She will present her book, “When Christmas Feels Like Home.”

A former teacher with 30 years of experience from elementary school to college, Griffith wrote the 2013 children’s picture book based on her experience as a high school foreign exchange student living in Lima, Peru. Griffith continues to work with the American Field Service and used the stories of many exchange students adapting to a new culture for her research.

In addition to writing, Griffith works to preserve North Carolina stories through a series of oral history projects.

For information, visit

Empty stocking fund: Alexander Central High School is accepting donations for its annual Cougar Empty Stocking Fund to help low income students during the upcoming holidays.

School social worker Kathy Jones is coordinating the program. As many as 150 students at Alexander Central High are expected to need help with the holidays this year.

Donations will be used to buy students food and a Walmart gift card.

A holiday greeting card designed by the school’s art department will be sent to recipients who chose to make a donation as a gift in a person’s honor.

To make a donation, pick up a form at the school office or download it at For information, call Kathy Jones at 828-632-7063, ext. 2260.

Burke County

College credit available: Burke County Public Schools and Western Piedmont Community College are offering high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to dual enroll in high school and college classes through the Career and College Promise program.

WPCC instructor Anissa Demiter travels to Draughn High School three days a week to teach college-level English, while instructor Anne Hastings visits two days a week to cover World Civics. By the end of the school year, dual-enrolled students earn 15 college credits for free. Credits are transferable to any college in the University of North Carolina system.

To participate, students must have a 3.0 grade-point average and a 500 in English, reading and math on the SAT or an 18 in English on the ACT and a 22 in reading and math on the ACT.

Plans are in the works to offer college-level English and art appreciation classes at East Burke High School next year. Other college courses are offered online and on the Western Piedmont campus.

To learn about dual enrollment, contact a school counselor or Amanda Cooper at Western Piedmont Community College at or 828-448-3159.

Caldwell County

Chorus Teacher of the Year: Carla Reid, chorus director at William Lenoir Middle School, recently received The Richard Keasler Middle School Chorus Teacher of the Year Award presented by the North Carolina Music Educators Association.

Reid has led William Lenoir Middle School’s chorus to distinction with a total of 38 Superior Performances at the NCMEA Music Performance Adjudication during her 15 years of teaching. Reid teaches students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

She will be recognized at the Dec. 1 Board of Education meeting for her effective teaching methods and outstanding leadership.

Leadership academy: More than 70 high school students from West Caldwell High, Hibriten High, South Caldwell High and Caldwell Middle College attended the recent CTE Leadership Academy at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center.

To qualify, students displayed leadership characteristics in their Career Technical Education classes. Participants at the conference experienced team building exercises and attended sessions on leadership in the workplace, college and career preparation and social graces.

Guest speakers included Deborah Murray, executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Commission, who spoke on being responsible for higher standards.

Shakespeare monologue contest: High school students from traditional, home and Christian schools in Caldwell and contiguous counties are invited to participate in the third annual High School Shakespeare Monologue Competition sponsored by the Caldwell Arts Council and Caldwell County Schools.

The competition offers a way for students to increase their appreciation for language and to demonstrate their mastery of public speaking.

Competitors will memorize and recite a Shakespeare monologue of 90 seconds to two-and-a-half minutes long. More than $1,000 in cash awards will be presented.

Caldwell County students should contact their school office for information. Home school students and those from outside Caldwell County should contact the Caldwell Arts Council at 828-754-2486 or

Applications will be accepted through March 6. The final competition will be held at 9:30 a.m. April 4 at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center.

For details, visit

Information night for parents: Caldwell Career Center Middle College will hold Information Night for parents of interested incoming freshmen 6-7 p.m. Dec. 2 at J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir.

For information, call the school at 828-759-4640.

Catawba County

Bumgarner Oil awards grant: Bumgarner Oil Co. recently awarded a $500 Exxon Mobil grant to St. Stephens High School. The grant supports mathematics and science in local schools.

Exxon Mobil partners with local distributors to provide the grants designed to encourage young people to explore careers in math and science.

Class of ’89 meets: The Fred T. Foard High School class of 1989 held its 25th reunion Nov. 7-8. The reunion included an informal gathering on Nov. 7 to watch the Foard varsity football game and a dinner and dance on Nov. 8 at the Shrine Club in Newton.

More than 85 students from the class of 1989 attended.

Quest program available: Catawba County Schools recently started a new before- and after-school program called QUEST. Hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, and the program is available in each elementary school.

QUEST is open to children in kindergarten to sixth grades and provides activities that are fun, safe and educationally enriching. Physical activity and quiet time for homework and reading are included.

For information, call 828-695-2684.

Teachers can win gift cards: One teacher from Catawba County will be recognized each month this school year with the Hometown Hero Teacher Appreciation Award. The program is sponsored by Charlotte law firm Charles G. Monnett III & Associates and features a $250 gift card for classroom supplies.

Educators in Mecklenburg, Lincoln, Iredell, Cabarrus and Union counties also will be recognized for their hard work and dedication. Each winning teacher’s classroom also will receive a pizza party courtesy of Domino’s Pizza.

To make a nomination or vote, visit and click on vote. Nominations may be made each month.


Young Professionals list: Ryan McCreary, principal of Oakwood Elementary School, was recently named to the area’s Top Ten Under 40 list.

The accolade is sponsored by the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce and the Hickory Young Professionals.

Teacher’s work featured: A prize-winning painting by Sean Parnell, a local artist and art teacher at Viewmont and Oakwood elementary schools, will be featured in the Hickory Museum of Art’s 40th annual Angels of the Arts Brunch on Dec. 6 at Lake Hickory Country Club.

Parnell’s watercolor painting of an angel surrounded by a swirling universe of colors, won the top prize in the Hickory Museum of Art’s “Angels of the Arts” competition. The work also will be featured on the invitation, publicity and program, and his painting will be showcased in the live auction.

Tickets are $30 and are available through the Hickory Museum of Art by contacting Chrissy Schramm at 828-327-8576 ext. 206 or

A graduate of East Carolina University, Parnell teaches 30 art classes to elementary children each week. He has worked with Hickory Public Schools for 20 years. For information, visit


Shuford sponsors Math Night: Shuford Elementary students and their families gathered Nov. 18 for the school’s annual Math Night.

Youngsters enjoyed math activities and making projects to take home.

Toy drive: North Newton Elementary School will sponsor a Toy Drive through Dec. 12.

New and gently used toys may be dropped off at the school office. Donations will be given to North Newton families in need. Monetary donations also are welcome.

For information, call the school at 828-464-2631.

Christmas celebration: Kindergartners and first-graders from Shuford Elementary will perform at Conover’s annual Christmas in the Park celebration at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2 in the gazebo in the park across from the Conover Police Station.

Both grade levels will sing several songs together. A tree lighting will follow the performance.

‘Sleeping Beauty’ takes stage: Newton-Conover Middle School and Discovery High School will present “Sleeping Beauty” at 6 p.m. Dec. 11 in the Newton-Conover Middle auditorium.

Tickets are $4. For information, call 828-464-4221. Compiled by Leigh Pressley