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May 3, 2010 Agenda Item: Good News!

Three Asheville High students have been selected to attend Summer Ventures in Science and Mathematics during in 2010. Congratulations to Rachel Grabenstein, ASU; Jordan Nash, NCCU; and Luke Presson , NCCU. Summer Ventures in Science and Mathematics (SVSM) is a cost-free, state-funded program for academically talented North Carolina residents who may pursue careers based in science and mathematics. The program brings rising juniors and seniors together in residential settings for intensive study. AHS student Simone Knotts, an AVID senior, has been awarded the prestigious Dell Scholarship. Only four students in North Carolina were selected this year. Unlike many other college scholarships, the Dell Scholars Program recognizes academic potential and determination in students that have a definite need for financial assistance using five criteria: individuality, unique experiences in and out of the classroom, a need for financial assistance, a willingness to work hard and dreams. "Simone has overcome tremendous obstacles to reach her college dreams," AVID teacher Jerome Hughes reports. "And all the while she has remained focused and determined." Simone will attend North Carolina Central University next year. Congratulations to our entire AVID family led by coordinator Susan Allman. Next we would like for you to meet a very talented young writer, who was recently named the winner of UNC-TV's Annual Writers Contest. Frankie Bester-Sproul who is a kindergarten student at Isaac Dickson Elementary submitted an essay called "Energy Boy". Let me read that for you now. Last month representatives from WUNC including Read-a-roo Kangaroo surprised Frankie and his classmates in Kristina Pontin's class, where they gave out a number of gifts that could be used by the students. Frankie's essay was chosen from almost 600 that were submitted state-wide and he will now compete in the National's in PBS' Kids Go. Congratulations! Please join me in congratulating AMS special education teacher Kathie Gragg who received the annual teacher of the year award this past Wednesday from ARC of Buncombe County for her work with our students and the community! "This is just one more example of the fine teaching staff we have here at Asheville Middle," Principal Mary Margaret Sullivan said. Gragg told the selection committee: "the students come into middle school and by the time they leave for high school, their changes are like watching a caterpillar grow into that beautiful butterfly". Kathie is known for teaching students with autism how to advocate for themselves in a polite manner. Congratulations, Kathie and to EC director Paul Perrotta and his outstanding staff! Asheville Middle School 6th grade teacher Nadeen Rolfe has been accepted into the NEH Summer Institute, Houses of Mortals and Gods, one of just 25 teachers in the nation to be chosen. This National Endowment for the Humanities scholarship funds a 5-week study in Italy. Houses of Mortals and Gods commences with one week at the College of Notre Dame, Maryland and continues for four weeks in Italy. Nadeen will immerse herself in ancient Roman life by combining the reading of Latin texts with visits to the related archeological sites. "We have a wonderful staff here," Nadeen's teaching partner, Marvin Smith, said recently, "and the experiences that we are going through are helping making learning real. My partner is the BOMB!!!!"

Asheville City Schools and especially Isaac Dickson Elementary School recently partnered with John Habel and Thomas Ford of WCU's Department of Psychology, with the assistance of graduate student Leah Edwards. The project is called "Courageous Conversations," and is designed to help educators at Dickson learn and create environments that are sensitive to the unique experiences of their students who might otherwise be subjected to the subtle effects of unintentional racism and stereotype threat. Funding comes from a "Dropout Prevention" grant from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) to work with members of the faculty and staff at Isaac Dickson Elementary School in Asheville. Alida Woods, Principal of Dickson credits inspiration for the project to Beverly Tatum and others who address the challenges in schools that contribute to underachievement among students of minority status, Congratulations, again, to the Asheville High School/SILSA Speech and Debate Team, a group of dedicated students coached by veteran teacher Keith Pittman, who continue to leave lasting impressions at competitions across our nation! Most recently the team placed third overall in the state championship held at Enka High School. In March, the team qualified five students for this summer's National Forensic League National Championship in Kansas City by taking second place overall at the district championship. The AHS team missed first place by only two points, the closest finish in the tournament's history. This is the 12th straight year and 14th out of the last 16 years that the AHS team has qualified to represent North Carolina in the national championship tournament. And coach Pittman was named at that tournament as the 2010 Coach of the Year for the Carolina West District of the National forensic League...the fourth time he has won the award! The Asheville High debate team took more awards than any other team at the Carolina West District Championship for Congressional Debate in February. The team won eight out of eighteen places in the tournament, twice as many as any other team. Leading the way for Asheville was sophomore Allen Worth, who qualified to represent North Carolina at the National Forensic League National Championship June 13-20 in Kansas City by his 2nd place finish in the Senate. Finally, Keith was named North Carolina Coach of the Year for the Tarheel Forensic League at the state championship last week. [Read names/summaries] Two Vance Elementary School fifth graders---Faith Poole and Ashley White have been selected to attend a student Symposium at the Kennedy Space Center on May 3 and 4. The selection was based on an inquiry-based science experiment involving teacher Jerri Lutz's class which was presented via video conference to NASA educators at Langley. We were in competition among other NASA Explorer School around the country!!! Coach Donalyn Small and retired teacher and consultant Mary Schillereff have also been key leaders in this success story.

For more information, or to report on "good news", please contact: Charlie Glazener Executive Director of Community Relations and Communications; Asheville City Schools (828) 255-5190 (direct); (828) 255-5131 (FAX); [email protected]


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