Gaston & Catawba

Catawba Valley school news

Alexander County

Pay it Forward Feast: East Alexander Middle School students and staff will sponsor the annual Pay It Forward Feast this holiday season.

The goal is to provide every family at the school with a holiday dinner that they could either use or “pay forward” to another community member. Each dinner will include a turkey breast, four cans of corn, four cans of green beans, four cans of sweet peas, a five-pound bag of potatoes, two sweet potatoes, three cans of mixed vegetables, three cans of pinto beans, four boxes of macaroni and cheese, one bag of fruit, one bag of rolls and an apple pie.

Organizers hope to have 615 dinners sponsored by Dec. 16 for delivery on Dec. 19. Cost is $30.

The community is welcome to make donations of any amount by mailing a contribution to East Alexander Middle School, c/o The East Pay It Forward Feast, 1285 White Plains Church Road, Hiddenite, NC 28636.

Sponsorships also can be made on the school’s Facebook page or by contacting Michael Sherrill at 828-632-7565, 828-260-3403 or

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

Food pantry: Students at Draughn High School are volunteering at Abernethy Memorial United Methodist Church in Rutherford College twice a week to fill bags and boxes with food and toiletries.

Six students volunteer each time to box packages for between 350 to 400 needy families a month.

Also, the Student Government Association at Rutherford College Elementary led a canned food drive for the church’s food pantry. Abernethy sponsors the school’s backpack food ministry program, where food is sent home with needy students over the weekends.

Rutherford College students donated 1,284 cans. Students who brought in donations were allowed to wear a hat to school. The youngsters also helped deliver the food to the church and organize the cans on the shelves.

School calendar: Burke County Public Schools invites the public to give feedback on the proposed school calendar for the 2015-16 school year.

Comments may be made on the survey through Dec. 31 at

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.

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.

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

Caldwell County

State honors chorus: Ten Caldwell County students were recently selected for the North Carolina Middle School Honors Chorus, which brings together the best singers in the state in sixth to ninth grades to work and perform with a nationally acclaimed choral conductor.

More than 1,000 students auditioned for approximately 160 positions.

Students selected from Caldwell County were:

Granite Falls Middle: Carly Gragg, Zoe Shaw. Shay Starnes is the chorus director at Granite Falls Middle.

Hudson Middle: Mason Herman. Sherry January is the chorus director at Hudson Middle.

William Lenoir Middle: Rhiannon Greene, Hannah Hodge, Mia Ricks, Jadyn Riddle, Kierston Walser, Destinee Wilson, Brooke Worthington (second-year honoree). Carla Reid is the chorus director at William Lenoir Middle.

Early college high: Caldwell Early College High School will hold two parent-student information sessions at 5:45 and 7 p.m. Feb. 5 at the school.

Applications for the dual-enrollment program will be available on the school website Jan. 30. Applications are due to middle school counselors by Feb. 12.

Acceptance notifications will be made in mid-March.

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

Catawba County

Osborne earns state honor: Kara Osborne, a counselor at Challenger Early College High School, was recently named the North Carolina Secondary Counselor of the Year for 2014-15. Superintendent Dan Brigman recognized Osborne for the achievement, noting her contribution to the school’s 100 percent graduation rate.

Osborne’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Barry Redmond, husband Marcus Osborne and children, Mack and Carson, also attended the recognition ceremony, along with Challenger High principal Heather Benfield, assistant principal Fred Whalen and several Challenger staff members.

Board recognizes Butler: The Catawba County Schools Board of Education recognized outgoing chairwoman Sherry Butler at its Dec. 1 meeting in the Center for Administrative Services. Butler was honored for 17 years of service on the Board of Education.

Butler begins a term on the Catawba County Board of Commissioners in December.

Quest program available: Catawba County Schools offers a before- and after-school program called QUEST 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays 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.


Third eLeaders session begins: Hickory Public Schools recently began its third session of the eLeader Academy, a training opportunity for education leaders who then share technology integration with their colleagues.

Participants apply to the two-year eLeader Academy. As they learn methods to enhance technology in the classroom, they meet with school principals, media coordinators and instructional coaches to develop and strengthen technology integration in the schools.

Learning experiences include Twitter chats and other social media tools, online collaboration, Web page development, new teaching applications and tech tools that offer shortcuts to technology-focused classroom instruction.

The new eLeader Academy class includes Lisa Doyle, Southwest Elementary; Betsy Swann, Jenkins Elementary; Debra Priest, Grandview Middle; Justin Lunsford, HCAM;, Janet Johnson, HCAM; Caroline Jennings, HCAM; Gennai Henning, Oakwood Elementary; Melissa Sharpe, Hickory High; Janet Derr’Littman, Hickory High; Laura Carter, Viewmont Elementary; Katie Moose, Longview Elementary; Rebecca Gaffney, Northview Middle; and Lora Snider, Longview Elementary.

Latino night: Oakwood Elementary School recently held Latino Night with a potluck dinner that drew more than 75 students and parents.

A representative from Centro Latino discussed the many services provided by the organization. Oakwood’s English as a Second Language teacher Gennai Henning also shared her son’s experience of learning English when their family moved from Brazil to the United States. Parents also learned strategies to help their children learn and transition at home.

Oakwood Elementary principal Ryan McCreary spoke with parents about volunteer opportunities at the school.

During the event, students completed vocabulary development activities through flash cards and games.


Employee of the Month: Dana Kirby, an Exceptional Children program specialist who works with middle, high, private and pre-K students and staff, was named the Newton-Conover City Schools November Employee of the Month.

Kirby assists EC teachers and administrators in helping students learn and monitoring progress for IEP growth. She also places EC students in the correct classes, coordinates testing paperwork, processes EC folders, audits IEP plans, follows up on student placement and holds meeting with parents and teachers.

In addition, Kirby assists with support for students who are less fortunate and makes sure they have proper meals and snacks after school, on weekends and on holiday breaks. Compiled by Leigh Pressley