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Roanoke Rapids Graded School District began last week with many celebrations. 

In last week’s report I shared our plans for Unity Week or Spirit Week, which was a success at Belmont Elementary, Manning Elementary, and Chaloner Middle. 

Our students rallied together in a memorable way to raise awareness of the impact bullying can have. 

Our Clara Hearne pre-kindergarten students visited Big John’s Farm Fest. 

Our fourth and fifth graders had a field trip to visit Harvest Days, where our RREC scholars volunteered. 

Across the district, our students have celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with various activities and competitions including a poster contest.

On Friday, we celebrated Farm to School Month with a local produce crunch heard ‘round the state! 

Our students enjoyed delicious and fresh local apples at lunch. 

We are very proud of our Chaloner Middle School volleyball team, who were conference and tournament champions! 

Chaloner Middle School Students of the Month were also proudly announced: sixth graders Brianna Grant, Elijah King, and Lucius Whitley; seventh graders Desani Deloatch, D’aira Johnson, and Alexa Scott; and eighth graders Layla Griffies and Norma Lassiter. 

College Application Week through CFNC was also a success at RRHS and RREC. 

Students took advantage of free applications to many NC colleges and universities.

At Tuesday night’s RRGSD Board of Trustees meeting, we recognized Belmont teacher Lisa Garris as our RRGSD 2023-24 Exceptional Children’s Educator of Excellence. 

Mrs. Garris has served as an educator of exceptional students in RRGSD for over 16 years, and she is a fierce advocate who works tirelessly to ensure academic and functional success for those she serves. 

Mrs. Garris will also be celebrated during the Annual Conference on Exceptional Children at the Educators of Excellence reception honoring outstanding North Carolina special educators this week in Greensboro.

We also recognized Roanoke Rapids High School Student Council for their hard work and dedication to the success of Roanoke Rapids High School. 

Advisors Gary Edwards, Kelly Sparks, and Edward Gardner, who work collaboratively with a talented group of student leaders, facilitate Student Council. 

Our 2023-24 Student Council Executive Board includes President Emily Campbell Tyler, Vice President Lydia Carroll, Treasurer Morgan Beam, Secretary Carmen Wise, Historian Alexis Cofield, and Parliamentarian Iyanna Crawford.

Students lead a variety of committees (e.g., service, beautification, and community outreach) that provide support to the school. 

Among many other tasks, they organize school pep rallies and dances, increase student involvement and school pride, and plan multiple teacher appreciation activities throughout the school year.

But last week also brought us together in a way no one wanted.

On Tuesday morning, one of our Belmont Bees, third grader Jordan Williams, passed away. Anyone who knew Jordan could tell you that he had the most beautiful smile or that his presence lit up any room he entered or that he brought a sense of peace and love to all he met. Jordan had been a student in RRGSD since he was three years old at Clara Hearne Pre-Kindergarten Center. 

This week has been full of tears as we have grieved and laughed as we have reflected on good memories with Jordan. 

There are so many important things that our schools and our staff do for children across from preschool to high school, but days like these put into perspective that our number one priority is to love each and every child we are privileged to share with their families each and every day. As we go through the next days and weeks, I ask you to keep Jordan’s sweet family and our students and staff across the district in your thoughts and prayers.