Friday, March 16, 2018

NCCU Football Players Visit FPG Third Graders

When the third grade students arrived at Frank Porter Graham Bilingue (FPGB) Elementary on Wednesday, March 7, they found a large banner hanging in their hallway: FPGB (loves) the Eagles. A mystery, to be sure. Several young football fans thought maybe the Super Bowl winners were being celebrated, and one student asked why the Patriots weren’t included. But a little past 10:30 that morning, the mystery cleared when 10 football players from North Carolina Central University - the Eagles!- showed up in their jerseys, wearing big smiles. As they divided up in small groups and entered each classroom, many of the astonished third-graders squealed and clapped, while others stared in disbelief.
During these long weeks before spring break, teachers welcome all the creative measures they can use to keep their students engaged. Kelsey Mackay, a teacher on the team, approached social worker Kerry Sherrill, seeking strategies for the extra encouragement and motivation some of her students really needed. What better way to get their attention than to invite a group of conference-winning football players over to spend part of the morning?
MacKay grew up in football-rich South Carolina, and she attended Clemson. She already had a strong sense of how much impact can come from athletes in the classroom. She and Sherrill brainstormed ideas. “We decided to try Central, because of the reputation of their tight community among alumni and current staff and players,” Sherrill said, “and to expose our small population of Black American students to positive messaging and role models who look like them.”
Sherrill reached out to her social work colleagues in the district and very quickly, a couple of NCCU alumni were able to arrange a contact in the football office. In the email invitation to Travis Taylor, director of football operations, Sherrill and MacKay wrote, “Third-grade is a tough year with the End-of-Grade exams starting and more pressure on the students.  We would like to have players come to each of our four third-grade classrooms and talk about what character traits have helped them as they developed into adults, if they have faced and overcome challenges and barriers, and what advice they would give the children about not giving up.”
The carloads of players and athletic support staff drove up to FPGB a few days later.
After the Eagles’ surprise entrance, and once the students had settled down and taken their seats on the floor, the pairs and trios of athletes answered questions about ways to strengthen team unity and how to manage conflict and frustration. When one student asked, “What do you do when you’re frustrated?” the players’ responses ranged from, “Try to step away and get myself together,” to “Go and call my mom and talk it through.”
The children listened intently, faces upturned toward the tall young men, and often they nodded solemnly. Sherrill reported that the very next day, “One student was getting frustrated and he pulled out his autographs to motivate him and was able to re-engage in his assignment.”
“What are some values that have helped you?” asked a student.
“My mom always got me to school on time and she made sure I ate my vegetables and fruit-- no junk food!”
“Mom always made me do my homework and then go to sleep by 9:00,” said another Eagle, to which a teacher called out to her students, “Did you hear that ? 9:00!”
“I always try to do my best and stay ahead of the game," said one player. "It’s hard to be successful without doing well in school - and always support your friends!”
One athlete said, “No matter what people say about you, don’t let them tell you what to think about yourself.”
"Knowledge is the only thing that cannot be taken away from you,” an athlete told the children, and Sherrill reported that a week later, the teachers were still sharing that quote.
When a student asked, “What does it take to win a championship?” the football players became even more animated.
“You’ve got to be a family, from the coaches down.”
“Gaining knowledge everyday - trust in what your teachers and coaches tell you. They really care about you!”
The players all talked about their very hectic schedules, but they emphasized that they’re students first, and they’re always working hard to balance classwork with being student-athletes.
Then came Part Two of the Eagles’ visit - board games in each classroom! Sherrill and MacKay had hoped to organize outdoor activities, but with the cold rain, they had to devise a Plan B. The laughter and hooting that came from each table of game-players filled the rooms.
Over and over, the students said, "BEST DAY EVER!!!!"
As athletes finished signing autographs and began to say goodbyes, one child asked, "When are they coming back?"
Over and over, the teachers talked about how amazing it was to see all the smiles on children's faces, and the excitement and joy they expressed.
Travis Taylor shared his own message once the football players had returned to the NCCU campus.

“Thank you for reaching out. The players absolutely loved their time at your school. I think this is a new partnership that’s going to be wonderful for both parties. It’s moments like this that make you realize you’re doing something right, to know that we inspired and made those kids’ day special. We love you guys - you are a part of our team. One family, one team!”
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Keep Moving, Keep Taking Risks

Trying and failing are important for every learner.  There’s more to just accepting a failure . . . you have to learn from it.  Life without risk is stagnant and a classroom without risk becomes rote.  Students need to be stimulated and challenged each day in their learning and teachers are leading the way, showing how taking a risk pays off in the long run.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Schools in Session on March 23 - No Teacher Workday / 23 de marzo - Escuelas estarán abiertas y en sesión - No habrá día de trabajo para maestros

Teacher Workday Canceled and Inclement Weather Day on March 23
Because schools were closed on January 17 due to inclement weather, the next Inclement Weather Day to make up any missed school is Friday, March 23.  This means that school will be in session and the Teacher Workday is canceled.

Día de trabajo para maestros está cancelado el 23 de marzo
Por que las escuelas estuvieron cerradas el 17 de enero, por mal clima, y el 23 de marzo es el siguiente día designado en el calendario como día de reemplazo en caso de mal clima. Esto significa que las escuelas estarán abiertas para los estudiantes y en sesión y el día de trabajo para maestros está cancelado.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

McDougle Dolphins Meet Quinoa (Keen-wah)

The mood was festive and bright on a chilly Thursday in McDougle Elementary School’s atrium, as class after class of Dolphins filed in, one or two at a time; they sat on the floor and learned about whole grains, MyPlate and especially, the star of the day, Quinoa. Advertised by Chartwells Child Nutrition as a sampling and education extravaganza, a full team of CHCCS Chartwells staff partnered with Chef Jay-Z from InHarvest to present a quinoa-palooza that was pleasing to both the palate and the eye.

March is National Nutrition Month, and Chartwells has been busy throughout the district with various special events, but the spotlight is on quinoa. The March lunch schedule notes that “Quinoa contains all 9 amino acids- a complete protein with 5 grams in one cooked cup.” It’s an intact grain, gluten-free - and there are 120 different types of quinoa. The signature dish presented by district chef Jordan Keyser, chef Jay-Z(iobrowski) and the team at Chartwells is Cilantro-Lime Quinoa, served in crunchy tacos with chicken or beef, or as part of the SONO lines in the high schools.

Lynne Privette, CHCCS registered dietitian, led the initial lesson and game of “Guess the Grains” when she showed the students displays of oats, wheat berries and mixed rice. They learned how to say “kamut” and “legumes,” but when it came time to introduce the children to the correct pronunciation of quinoa (with a large poster that spelled out “Keen-wah”), the Chartwells team smiled as most of their audience called out the perfectly inflected word, without the phonetic spelling assistance. “Only in Chapel Hill-Carrboro,” whispered one adult observer. 

Next up was Chef Jay-Z, who talked about the MyPlate app, and he showed them how a healthy plate contains at least a quarter of whole grains for each meal. “You want to eat a breakfast of whole grains instead of Pop-Tarts,” he told them. “You’ll stay awake longer, your brains will work better and you’ll get better grades.”

And how did students respond to the lesson on nutrition, and the follow-up sample of cilantro-lime quinoa and chips? Tamara Baker, communications and project director for No Kid Hungry NC, attended the full event and shared this feedback. "The excitement and joy on the children's faces at the whole grains nutrition learning event at McDougle Elementary sent an important message: They loved the tasty morsels! We need to spread the word that healthy foods that are both tasty and provide mega-fuel for growing bodies and minds are available at lunch and breakfast in our schools!"

Even the youngest children, the Pre-K students, sat rapt, waiting patiently to receive their portions, and most of them tucked right in. “Awesome,” and “so good” and “I love it” were the reactions from many.

As a kindergarten class filed back out of the atrium, one boy said, “For some reason I feel like running real fast now.” Another child said, “My grandma needs some ‘cause she broke her hip.”

Lessons learned, and when those quinoa tacos show up on the lunch line the next two Tuesdays at McDougle Elementary, there’ll be a lot of intact grain experts, ready to recap their knowledge and chow down.

Liz Cartano, the CHCCS director of child nutrition, shared her reminder about the importance of the Chartwells commitment to Eat Lean and Live.  “We are not only about the food we serve each day in the cafe but about how we impact the child through food, nutrition ed and the importance of being dedicated to the community that we live in.”

No Kid Hungry NC

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Schools in Session & Start at Regular Time on March 15 / Escuelas abiertas y a la hora regular el 15 de marzo

Delayed Opening Canceled on March 15
Thursday, March 15, was originally scheduled as a delayed opening for the purposes of staff development. Instead, it is a full school day. Buses will pick up students at their normal times and all schools will begin at their normal start times.

The January 19 snow day for students is being made up by canceling three delayed openings (January 25, March 15, and April 19).

Apertura demorada cancelada el 15 de marzo
El jueves, 15 de marzo, estaba programado originalmente como un día de apertura demora con el fin de desarrollo profesional. En su lugar, será un día de escuela completo.  Los autobuses recogerán a los estudiantes a la hora regular y todas las escuelas comenzarán a sus horas de comienzo regulares.

Las aperturas demoradas del 25 de enero, 15 de marzo y 19 de abril han sido canceladas para recuperar el viernes, 19 de enero, de no escuela por causa de la nieve.

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Monday, March 12, 2018

Schools Delayed on March 13 / Martes, 13 de marzo - apertura demorada de 2 horas

Schools on 2-Hour Delay
Due to overnight freezing and dangerous roads, parking lots and sidewalks, CHCCS will operate on a two-hour delay on Tuesday, March 13 for students and staff.

Martes, 13 de marzo - apertura demorada de 2 horas
Debido a las posibles condiciones de las vías peligrosas, las Escuelas de las Ciudades de Chapel Hill y Carrboro operarán en una apertura demorada de 2 horas el martes, 13 de marzo.

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Schools Closing 2 Hours Early, March 12 / las Escuelas cerrarán dos horas más temprano hoy 12 de marzo

Schools Release 2 Hours Early
Due to forecasted inclement weather, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are closing two hours early today, Monday, March 12. Elementary schools will begin dismissing students at 12:30 p.m., followed by middle schools at 1:10 p.m. and high schools at 1:55 p.m.

Pre-K students who use district transportation will dismiss at 11:30 a.m.

All after school activities, including the after-school program, will be cancelled.

Las Escuelas cerrarándos horas más temprano, 12 de Marzo

Debido al  pronóstico del clima, las Escuelas de las Ciudades de Chapel Hill y Carrboro cerrarán dos horas más temprano hoy (lunes, 12 de marzo). Las escuelas de primaria comenzarán a despedir a los estudiantes a las 12:30 p.m., seguidas por las escuelas de secundaria media a la 1:10 p.m. y las escuelas de secundaria superior a la 1:55 p.m.

Los estudiantes de prekínder que usan el transporte del distrito saldrán a las 11:30 a.m.

Todas las actividades de después de la escuela, incluido el programa de después de la escuela, están canceladas.

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Friday, March 9, 2018

What Risk Taking Can Lead to in a Classroom

Everywhere you hear the importance of learning from failure, taking risks and see what comes of them.  Just a few years ago, taking a risk in a classroom could be as simple as Skyping with a class in another country.  Today, that is now commonplace in many classrooms.  So the risks educators take today, could be practice in a few years.  If it turns out not to be, then it was a necessary step in learning what can be done in classrooms.

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

CHCCS Women Divers Shine in State Championships

The popularity of Women’s High School Diving has quietly been rising in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, and in many regions across the country. Senior Alyssa Wang, state 3A diving champion for 2018, said that she was one of only two divers at East Chapel Hill High when she began competing as a freshman. Now she is mentoring and cheering on a group of younger divers who are already making a splash in North Carolina and at national events. In early February, Carrboro High sophomore Claire McDaniels placed as runner-up in the NCHSAA championship (1A/2A). Wang placed first in 3A, with Chapel Hill High sophomore Clara Tate placing as runner-up. All three competing CHCCS high schools brought home first or second place finishes among women divers.

In conversations with five of the top district divers, certain personal stories and histories overlapped, and each young woman spoke of her excitement to be among the state’s most successful divers. They all spoke about the intense combination of fun and challenges that makes the long hours of practice more than worthwhile.

Wang will be diving next year for Indiana University, one of the top college programs in the country, which traditionally draws current and future Olympians. She can’t wait to be mentored and inspired by so many star divers as she transitions to the next level. “I did a whole list of sports when I was younger,” she said. “Skating, gymnastics, ballet and soccer. But then I quit them all to commit to diving. It’s just really fun.”

Carrboro High School’s Claire McDaniels comes from a swimming and diving family; her older sister Emily McDaniels excelled as a swimmer at CHS before continuing a successful career at Vassar College, and her mother Meg McDaniels was a diver for the University of Alabama. Although Claire began as a swimmer, she became enamored of diving as she watched her older brother practice. As she said in a 2017 News & Observer profile, “I like the thrill of throwing myself off a board more than the blocks.” Now she dives weekdays before school starts, again in the afternoon for three to six hours and almost non-stop on weekends - and then there’s time in the weight room. Last year as a freshman she took first place in the state 1A/2A championships, and then went on to compete in USA Nationals, along with Wang. McDaniels grins when she says, “That’s most of the reason I’m going to college. To dive.”       

Many casual observers of the sport only watch divers compete during summer Olympics, after which there is always an uptick in children and young teens signing up to train. The Triangle is blessed with two strong programs, Duke Diving Club, where many of these high school women train, and North Carolina Diving at UNC, which also draws serious youth divers. All of the top divers in the district train year-round and compete on the USA Diving circuit, in addition to the regional and state meets with NCHSAA. Last year at the 2017 USA National Championships, Wang placed third in the 3-meter prelims as well as finishing strong in the finals; McDaniels also made it to the Nationals and finished 16th on platform overall.

Many young divers start out as gymnasts, and others first compete as swimmers. East Chapel Hill High sophomore Zooey Mehen trained as a gymnast for seven years before breaking her elbow and deciding to try out diving. She has been competing for less than two years, yet she placed fourth in the the 3A state meet last month. Mehen said she loves trying out new dives and she admits one of the reasons she enjoys diving so much is that “it just looks really cool.”

Indeed it does. All of the top divers maintain YouTube presences with brief clips of their performances in competitions. To the untrained eye, the dives of these CHCCS women look perfect - crisp, flawless lines with little splash as they hit the water. Every one of the 11 dives they execute in competition is the result of thousands of practice dives, and at each new step of development, there is often accompanying fear.

Clara Tate, a sophomore at Chapel Hill High, finished second behind Wang in last month’s 3A championships. She said that she always had a fear of heights, and the fear sometimes returns as she’s practicing her platform dives. As with most competitive divers, she’s suffered her share of injuries: a concussion, torn ligaments and a stress fracture in her back. When divers enter the water from the 10-meter platform, they are often moving at 40 mph, yet Tate notes that diving takes less physical toll on the body than competing in gymnastics at the same level. And as her fellow divers echoed over and over, “It’s just so much fun,” Tate said. “To be up there, flipping through the air.”

McDaniels said that her lifelong fearlessness is one of the most important ingredients to her success. “It’s more mental than physical - before you leave the board, it’s telling yourself it’s time to go.” Now, she said, her appetite for practice and competition is limitless. “I’m thinking, Let me try this, and this, and this.”

Cloris Huan of Chapel Hill High, yet another sophomore diver, competed last month and came away with a ninth place finish, even though she was battling an injury that took her out of practice for a number of weeks. "Diving is both a mentally and physically challenging sport that requires extreme bravery, persistence and precision,” she said. “Diving has taught me so many life lessons, like being a hard worker and being resilient, even when time are difficult.”

Meg McDaniels, Claire’s mother, stepped in to fill a coaching vacancy after winter break, and she worked with all of the CHCCS girls who competed in the regional and state championships. As an assistant coach with Duke Diving, McDaniels understands what it takes to succeed at the high school level. “They train so hard and rarely get the recognition they deserve.  I guess they don't mind because they love what they're doing, and it's been such a great foundation for them for the rest of their lives.” She added proudly, “They are very self-motivated young women!”

3A State Meet: Alyssa Wang (left), Clara Tate (2nd on left), Zoey Mehen, (4th on left)

1A State Meet: Claire McDaniels

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Friday, March 2, 2018

Taking Risks Is What Learning Is About

By taking risks in classrooms, CHCCS educators are helping students stretch and grow in their learning.  Taking a risk doesn’t always mean you’ll meet your goal, but so much can be learned from failure, the risk is part of what is learned.  When students see their teachers and administrators taking a risk, they know they can take risks, too.  And that’s what learning is all about.

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