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We hope that our Roanoke Rapids community had a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoyed delicious food and special times with loved ones last week. 

This season of Thanksgiving gives me many reasons to have a grateful heart. 

Our RRGSD staff includes some of the most dedicated individuals you will find. 

I have written earlier articles about the hard work and diligence of our teachers, and I continue to be thankful for them every day, but I have to say here that our support staff are amazing too. They work hard every day to ensure that our teachers can teach and our students can thrive in safe, secure, and welcoming classrooms. 

Our school and district administrators work tirelessly to lead consistently, respectfully, and kindly every day and ensure that our district is a place where students come first. 

And, of course, one of the biggest reasons I have a grateful heart is our students. 

From our youngest in pre-kindergarten to our oldest in grade 12, our students bring joy to each of our lives here in RRGSD. 

They are curious and excited to learn. They love to laugh and enjoy making others laugh. They are innovators and are already making the world a better place.

One of the ways that our students show their innovation is in the annual Manning Elementary School balloon car race. 

As they learn about force and motion, our fifth grade students experience concepts like friction, gravity, and direction when they create a balloon car using a balloon provided to them and any household supplies they can locate. 

Many students use a plastic bottle as the car’s body, but this year I saw some using toilet paper rolls, legos, crayon boxes, and a shoe box. 

Wheels are constructed from plastic bottle caps, CDs, buttons, or clay. Many students choose to decorate their balloon cars too.

One of the highlights of the school year is race day. 

This year, we held the race in the Manning Multi-Purpose Room. It allowed everyone to have more room to watch and for the balloon cars to race. 

Every student competed in a heat with a total of four students. 

The winners of each heat competed against each other to determine a winner for the homeroom.

This year our homeroom winners were Seth Keeter in Mrs. Tant’s class, Brant Hargrave in Mrs.

Medlin’s class, Ryleigh Ferrell in Ms. Acree’s class, and Michael DeSare in Mrs. Shearin’s class. All of our homeroom winners competed against each other to determine an overall winner for the 2023 Manning Balloon Car Race. This year’s winner was Seth Keeter.

Designing lessons that include the content from the North Carolina standards in ways that engage students and keep them curious, excited, laughing, and innovation is hard work. 

There were many opportunities for students to succeed, but equally — or maybe even more — important, there were opportunities to make mistakes, learn from what did not work, and make improvements. 

I am very proud of all of our teachers but want to thank Mrs. Tant, Mrs. Medlin, Ms. Acree, and Mrs. Shearin for facilitating the balloon race for our students.