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Mecklenburg County

Polo Ridge Elementary: Polo Ridge, in partnership with the McDowell Nature Center, used Flat Branch Nature Preserve for hands-on instruction in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). During a recent two-hour weekly instruction by park rangers, students took soil samples and observed the natural habitat of animals. Students then applied the discoveries and observations to classroom theories and incorporated technology by postings to online Wikki pages.

Sedgefield Elementary: Students recently participated in Hometown Huddle, an NFL initiative that promotes 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Players from the Carolina Panthers football team watched the students throw passes, run courses and participate in NFL-style training exercises. The Panthers, United Way of Central Carolinas and Queens University of Charlotte partnered to promote the activity.

Anami Montessori School: Open house for prospective families will be 9:30 a.m. Nov. 1. Details:

Randolph IB Middle: Principal Jackie Menser was named the 2011 Wells Fargo Principal of the Year.

Steele Creek Elementary: Steele Creek received a $1,000 donation from Pelton & Crane, KaVo NA. The funds will be used for technology upgrades.

J.V. Washam Elementary: J.V. Washam's School Leadership Team and PTO have instituted a Washam Academic Buddies program. Volunteers trained by teachers work with students to raise academic performance and increase student potential. To volunteer: or call Jill Thompson, 980-343-1071.

Morehead STEM Academy: The academy recently hosted the ninth annual Egg Drop on Oct. 4. Students created contraptions to keep the eggs from cracking by using math, engineering and critical thinking. The winner was third-grader Brianna Aiken.

CMS middle schools: NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne hosted students at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and demonstrated real-world applications for STEM skills. Students competed in the Bank of America STEM 500 and applied math skills to a race team's operations and finances. The students then went on a track tour and observed how racing strategies, such as banking, refueling and drive lines, used STEM skills. Students used their skills to optimize the performance of remote-controlled cars.

Union County

Parkwood High School: The school requests community support in online voting for the "Glee give a note contest." Parkwood is in the running for $50,000 for music/arts programs. Anyone can vote online once a day until Nov. 7 at, click Vote, search North Carolina and find Parkwood High.

Rea View Elementary: Principal Donna Cook has been named 2011-12 Union County Principal of the Year.

Cuthbertson High School: Assistant Principal Kim Warr was named 2011-12 Union County Assistant Principal of the Year.

Western Union Elementary: N.C. State Schools Superintendent June Atkinson visited Jennifer Bittner's third grade class as a guest reader recently. As part of the Royal Reader program, Atkinson read excerpts from "The T-shirt Named Zee."