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It seems unreal to think that we have made it to the last day of April 2024, but I guess this is one more occasion when I’ve learned that my parents were right —- the older you get, the faster the days seem to fly! 

As Roanoke Rapids Graded School District heads into May, I know the days will really zoom. 

As administrators, we are actively in the process of finishing up staff observations and evaluations and knee deep in planning for the 2024-25 school year. 

As teachers, we are working hard to finish up everything that our students need to learn before we move into testing season.

 And, most importantly, our students are excited as the days get longer and summer break is on the horizon.

Before I get into the exciting activities that our schools, staff, and students have had this week, I would like to take a moment to say a big “thank you” to all of you who have faithfully read this column and supported our district (and certainly me) with your kind comments and consistent encouragement. 

As educators, while we have such an amazing opportunity to work with our greatest resource -- our children — and truly make a difference in their lives, some of our days are difficult, and your support and encouragement are such a blessing. Thank you!

I also want to say a tremendous thank you to our amazing Administrative Assistants. We are so thankful for their hard work, dedication, and positivity. 

They are often the first people you see when you visit or talk to on the phone, and their work is so important to our district operating so well.

It has been an engaging week for many of our elementary and middle school students and JROTC who have had spring field trips to various places around the state. Our Clara Hearne students learned about Earth Day and had a week full of special activities including engaging in the process of hatching chicken eggs. 

Our Manning first grade students performed a mini musical “A Year with Frog and Toad” for the families last week. 

Our Belmont students are excitedly raising funds for field day activities with their “pie a teacher” fundraiser; three students will be chosen to throw a pie in their teacher’s face on field day. (Our teachers are such good sports!) 

Chaloner Middle School also celebrated students in its third quarter awards day last Friday. We would also love for you to attend our CMS Night of the Arts on Thursday, May 2nd from 4:30 - 7 PM.

Our high school SkillsUSA students performed very well at the SkillsUSA NC State Contest in Greensboro. Brenna Swindells placed fourth in Medical Terminology. The team of Shandi Byrum, Maecy Garriss, and Madison Jones placed first in Promotional Bulletin Board. Marissa Swindells placed third in Extemporaneous Speaking. Ayden Turner placed fifth in Firefighting Basic. The team of Morgan Beam, Landen Briggs, and Jillian Ott placed first in the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) competition. We are so proud of all who represented RRHS SkillsUSA this week!

We had some special visitors in our Career and Technical Education classes this week. 

Chris Bitzenhofer from UTI NASCAR Tech and Jason Etheridge with his famous “Blanche’s Barbeque Sauce” spoke to our students, who learned so much! 

We are also thankful to the Knights of Columbus Council 7232 from St. John’s Catholic Church who presented funds to our exceptional children’s departments in the district.

We are proud of RRHS junior Ryland Yeatts, who has been selected to attend the prestigious North Carolina Governor’s School this summer. He will be attending the five week residential program for Natural Science. We are also proud of RREC senior Bailey Grisson who spoke at HCC’s Progressive Community Awards ceremony.

One of my favorite nights of the year is the Junior-Senior Prom. Dressed in their finest, our students danced the night away on Saturday, April 20, at Kirkwood Adams Community Center. We are proud of Prom King Jackson Cole Etheridge and Prom Queen Madelyn Turner.

Our student athletes have performed well this year, and we are so proud of them. Recently, three RRHS basketball players committed to further their academic and athletic careers at the next level. Congratulations to Shep Fowler and Wil White, who will be attending North Carolina Wesleyan University in Rocky Mount, and to Maddox Bullock, who will be attending Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. We are also proud of our other senior baseball players including Gannon Deberry and Seth Temple.

Our RRHS Men’s Golf Team won the Big East Conference this week and will now compete in the regional match. Congratulations to Brayden Mills, Bryce Ott, and Wyatt Beaver, who received All-Conference Awards. 

Wyatt Beaver was named the Male Golfer of the Year for the Conference.

Our RRHS Men’s Tennis Team dominated the 2A Conference Doubles playoffs and all four players will move regionals. Avery Garner and Talan Harris finished second and Musa Gwanzura and Jack Moore finished third.

Six RREC scholars were recently inducted into HCC’s Alpha Eta Phi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Congratulations to Colby Bobbitt, Trinity Cook, Makaila Ricks, Laniyah Joyner, Kingston Keeter, and Jack Lynch! RREC will also celebrate its seniors with the Senior Decision Day on May 1st at 12:30 PM.

Families who are interested in child care during the summer can download our Summer Place to Play application from our Facebook page. Summer Place to Play is available for rising kindergarten through sixth grade students. We are planning an exciting summer full of activities, and Summer Place to Play will be open daily from 6:30 AM to 6:00 PM.

Our Board of Trustees is in the process of filling our one vacant seat on the School Board. They are seeking written notification of interest from individuals who are eligible for and willing to fill one vacant seat on the Board of Trustees. The seat will have a term ending November 2025. Please note that a position on the Board requires a great deal of time. There are at least two monthly meetings, committee meetings, training sessions and attendance at some student activities. More information on the duties of a board member can be found on the North Carolina School Board Association webpage at https://www.ncsba.org/news-resources/board-member-knowledge-base/duties-of-the-board/

In order to be eligible to fill a seat on the Board of Trustees, an individual must be a registered voter and must reside in the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District. Individuals may check with the Halifax County Board of Elections to determine their status as a registered voter, and they may check with me if they have questions about the boundaries of the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District. Interested individuals should file a written and signed notification of interest, using a form which may be downloaded from the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District’s website atwww.rrgsd.org or picked up from our Central Services office. The notification of interest must contain a statement that the individual is eligible for and willing to fill the vacancy. In addition, the notification of interest should contain additional information regarding your qualifications for and interest in the office. The completed form should be submitted to Board Clerk Jean Thompson, on behalf of Dr. Michael Williams, Chair of the Board of Trustees, at Central Services located at 536 Hamilton Street no later than 4:00 p.m. on May 10, 2024.

Lastly, as part of our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and security of everyone within our community, we have asked the North Carolina Department of Transportation and City of Roanoke Rapids to conduct traffic monitoring exercises. This involves the presence of individuals wearing vests, the use of cameras, and possibly even a drone to accurately count the number of vehicles entering and exiting our premises. Please be assured that these measures are purely for data collection purposes and are intended to help us better understand and manage traffic flow. By gathering this information, we can make informed decisions to improve safety and efficiency in and around our schools. If you have any questions or concerns regarding these activities, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Your understanding and cooperation are greatly appreciated as we work towards creating a safer environment for all.