CIS Helps with the Alexander County Backpacks Program

Members of both branches of Communities In Schools of Wilkes
County joined forces last Wednesday to help pack backpacks of food for
Alexander County students. Staff members met at First Baptist Church in
Taylorsville to compile the bags of weekend necessities – which are received by
area students enrolled in the program.
Sponsored by the Taylorsville Rotarians, the Alexander
County Backpacks program began six years ago with aim to supply weekend meals for
area students.
With food costs ever rising, it should come as no surprise
that weekend meals during the school year cost $135 dollars per student.  With 300 students being served – and the
number ever growing – this outreach operates solely on donations. Their biggest
supplier? Galaxy Foods: a locally owned grocery store that offers a huge price cut
on necessary inventory.
The Backpacks program serves identified students at all seven Alexander
elementary schools, as well as both middle schools, and the Head Start
program.  Area high school students have
access to a food pantry located on campus. 

Angie Yates, a site coordinator for Alexander County, remarks of the CIS staff:

“The staff members from Wilkes were a huge help. 
It is amazing to see the collaboration between the two counties.  I
believe it shows how we feel about students regardless of their geographical location
and . . . [our] desire to help them.”

If you would like more information on the Backpacks program, please click here,
or contact Angie Yates by email, or at 828-495-4611.

National Mentoring Month

Whether we were ready for it or not, we’ve passed the two week mile marker into 2013.  We here at Communities In Schools of Wilkes County(CIS) hope these two weeks have found you well, and that you have been able to enter this year with the success and determination we work constantly to instill in our students lives.

Our work, of course, would be vastly limited if not for the reach of our wonderful mentors.  January, as National Mentoring Month, gives us a chance to reflect on and thank these wonderful people.  These wonderful people graciously donate their time, supplying area students with the CIS basic “a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult,” — someone to turn to in terms of support, encouragement, and guidance.

To begin our celebration of National Mentoring Month — we would like to first thank our Friends of Youth volunteers — those individuals who spend two to four hours during the week with their mentees, offering the valuable resources listed above. These wonderful people are as follows:

Matthew Daye
Kathy Jennings
Gary Doran
Gaye Drennen
Elizabeth Wagoner
Candie Greer
Emily Greene
Gary Newman
Brenda Clardia
James Barnes
Josephine Redmon
Todd & Debbie Garner
Teressa Byrd
Linda Zinger
Dawn Michael
Thu Nguyen
Rebecca Hayes
Robin Ellis
Monica Foster
Lyn & Debbie Lambert
Kayla Harless
Pealie Brown
Annie Denny
Chad Hayes
Katherine Byrd
Patricia Turner
Joe Samuel
Lora Davis
Ginger Mathis
Fawn Roark
Dorothy Adams
Roy Williamson
Michael Jordan
Mary Ann Ferguson
Ken & Glendora Yarbrough
Phill Caudill
Neal Settle
Joe Rhoades

All of us at CIS would again like to wish the sincerest of thanks to these selfless people. It is people like you who truly make the difference in the lives of today’s students, and we are forever grateful for the work you do and the impact you have.

Again, thank you!!

If you or someone you know may be interested in volunteering for Communities In Schools of Wilkes as a mentor, please contact Jettie Walker by email or at 651:7830.

New Year — New Century Scholars

The start of a new year is a familiar marker of hope and new beginnings for individuals worldwide.  It’s impossible to go anywhere without talk of goals and New Year’s Resolutions – from losing weight and getting fit, to learning Spanish or continuing an education.

Along those lines, applicable students within the New Century Scholar program of Communities In Schools of Wilkes County kicked the year off right with their enrollment in the spring semester of Wilkes Community College.  Guided by program coordinator Melissa Higgins, alongside Sheneele Wagoner from WCC, the group was led through an orientation of the campus.  Therein, they were given the opportunity to familiarize themselves not only with their schedules, but also with where their classes would be held.

Higgins and Wagoner also helped the group get their student IDs, as well as their books and parking passes for the semester.

Apart from this campus tour, students were introduced individuals of SAGE (Supporting Academic Goals for Education). SAGE offers free tutoring, diverse cultural trips, and peer mentors for first year students or networking contacts for graduates. All services are free of charge, and are funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.


Scholars were also encouraged to continue the habit of giving back that they have developed through the New Century Scholar program.  How so?  By becoming a tutor for the wonderful people at SAGE.

If you are interested in getting to know more about the New Century Scholars, please visit our programs page or contact Melissa Higgins at 336.651.7830 or by email at

Site Coordinator Spotlight: Student Success

The holidays are officially behind us, and with the start of a new year (and a chance to breathe after holiday crunch time!) we are given a chance to reflect on the previous year. With our 2012 movement under the Communities in Schools of Wilkes umbrella, we have been able to fully embody the CIS mission — that is — to
surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay
in school and achieve in

Through the help of our community and supporters, we often have the pleasure of extending our reach and impact into the lives of our students. This Christmas season, site coordinator Ann Privette enjoyed the privilege of not only impacting her student, but his family as well.  What follows is the story.

In his sixth grade year, a student failing to meet his potential was recommended to Team Challenger (A CIS program offered at East Alexander Middle School).  Eric* would often complain of being bored in class, refusing to do much work and opting to joke and play instead.  He made no effort towards his homework.

“I can’t do it no matter how hard I try,” Eric would remark when asked about his studies, “so what’s the point?”

Ms. Privette refused to give up on him.

Through a close eye and lots of encouragement, Eric’s grades and attendance improved. Unfortunately, his attitude and commitment still lagged behind as the sixth grade came to a close.

Eric re-enrolled in Team Challenger in the seventh grade, and the year seemed to start out similarly to his previous. He was struggling in two out of four major classes — but his attitude was different.  Instead of arguing over doing his school work, Eric sought to better his grades.  He participated and offered amazing insights in class discussion.  He even redirected others in class who were distracting him when he was trying to do his work.

This dedication paid off.  Just recently, Eric earned one of only three A’s given in his Language Arts class for a major essay.

Though his attitude about school improved, his home life was deteriorating.  His father had been unable to work since last school year, forcing the members of his immediate family to move into a relative’s home.  Other financial cuts were made, and only necessities were purchased on mom’s salary.

Though the family struggled to get by independently, but Ms. Privette thought a “Merry Christmas” would be in order for the boy who improved so much and asked for nothing in return.

Ann called Alexander Juvenile Detention Center, who had sponsored families in the past, and they jumped at the chance to help.  Not only did the employees donate money, they also shopped for toys. Erica Lowe, an employee at the detention center, headed up the special project — collecting and using the donated money to buy the family a Wii, some games, CD’s, toy cars, a football, and more. She then personally wrapped each and every item.

When the toys were delivered to the family, many hugs and thanks were given. Mom said that her family usually gives to others over the holidays, but she and her husband wondered how they would afford Christmas for their own family this year.  She couldn’t say enough about what a blessing this gift was to her family!

As for the site coordinator’s thoughts? Eric had earned it all — and more.

If you would like to make a donation to CIS or to get more information about volunteering for the mentoring program, please contact Angie Yates at (828)495-4611. Communities In Schools is a non-profit organization and all donations are tax exempt.

Writing for Gifts: Site Coordinator Spotlight

Meet Sam*: a sixth grader at one of our area middle schools and a student new to the Communities In School (CIS) program this year. Sam has been excited about his involvement with the program since his enrollment at the beginning of the semester, always eager to attend the weekly small group sessions offered at his school.  He has made great strides towards his behavioral and academic goals – motivated by a CIS implemented Reward Store, wherein students earn points towards a variety of small prizes based on positive actions.

Not unlike other youth his age, Sam generally cashed in his Reward Points as he earned them.  Then, late November and early December, things changed.

Students involved in the Reward Store have the option of earning 30 points upon the completion of an essay of their choice.  Topics include respect and how they show it, their career and college goals, and more.

When Sam became aware of this, his immediate thoughts went to a Fox® hat, one of the top rewards available in the store.  He worked diligently in his small group focused on essay writing, his finished product an essay on why and how he respected his adopted mother.

“I know mom was trying when she took us in,” he wrote. “I try my best to do everything I can to show her I love her.”

The first essay and a hat in hand (or on head, as the case may be) was all it took. With a little hard work and effort, Sam knew what he was going to do:  He was going to keep writing and earn a large stuffed animal for his younger brother for Christmas.

He met with the site coordinator at his school often for details and instruction, even spending some time in the library to research his next project.  The following paper would pertain to his chosen career path and how he was going to get there.  Sam selected law enforcement, and before long had completed his paper.

“I want to do good things in my life,” he noted about his motivation for the career choice. He also declared a desire to prove himself amongst his community and peers – something his hard work and dedication is already helping him achieve.

Sam was more than a bit excited when he received the large toy – seeking out teachers that had helped proofread his work to show off his prize.  The school staff helped him find a box that would both disguise and protect the trophy – which now sits awaiting Christmas morning under the tree at his house.

*Name has been changed – we didn’t want to spoil the surprise!

Christmas Time “Friendraiser”

Staff members of CIS Wilkes, alongside our Alexander County employees, enjoyed a great time getting to know the Alexander County community on Saturday, December 15th.

Hosted in the lobby of the Central Alexander High School auditorium and immediately following the school’s production of “Yes, Virginia,” CIS and attendees enjoyed punch and fresh-baked cookies alongside two very special guests.  Who might they be? Why, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, of course!

All were welcome to enjoy the refreshments, while 5×7  prints with the Big Guy in Red (and his lady!) were offered in exchange for a $5.00 donation to Communities In School.  In total, $165.00 was raised.

“Meeting and interacting with parents and students allows people to get to know CIS as an organization, as well as see that we are serious about serving in Alexander County,” remarked Glendora Yarbrough when questioned about the event, “I look forward to and welcome more opportunities within the community in the future.”

For more information about the Communities In Schools of Wilkes – Alexander Branch, visit or find us on facebook at

Cookies With Santa

Ready or not, the Christmas season is upon us.  To mark the occasion, Communities In Schools of Wilkes – Alexander County Branch is hosting it’s first ever Cookies with Santa event!


Meet up with Mr. and Mrs. Claus in the auditorium lobby of Alexander Central High School on Saturday, December 15th from 4:00 – 5:30 pm, immediately following the production of  “Yes,Virginia.”  During the celebration, enjoy cookies and punch with an opportunity to take pictures with the Man (and Lady!) in red!

Each 5×7 picture will be in exchange for a $5.00 donation to Communities In Schools — helping provide the services and resources necessary to help our area students succeed both in school and in life.

CIS of Wilkes — Alexander County Branch encourages individuals to also attend the preceding production at 3:00 pm, put on by students of Alexander Central High.  Ticket costs will be $5.00 for the play.

As always, we hope to see you there — and we wish you a very Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

“Like” us on Facebook!

CIS of Wilkes – Alexander Branch is excited to announce our new Facebook page!
Find us and follow along with our journey by clicking the icon below:

Don’t forget to click “Like” to stay updated!

Lunch Buddy Christmas Parties 2012

It’s that “most wonderful time” of year again, and Communities In Schools of Wilkes (CIS) kicked it off right this Friday with our first Lunch Buddy Christmas Celebration of the season!

Hosted December 7th at Boomer Ferguson Elementary School, our outstanding mentors gathered at 2:00 to enjoy a time of fellowship, refreshments, and fun with their mentees.

Volunteers for Lunch Buddies spend one lunch period a week with a student in the program, building the relationships and offering the support and guidance needed to bring out the best in everyone involved.  Our annual Christmas parties offer a chance for mentors to relax and enjoy the season, present the children with a gift, and get to know others involved in the program.  Volunteers receive a small gift of appreciation as well, and have the chance to win a gift card through drawings held at their celebrations.

Program coordinator Jettie Walker works to ensure the fluidity of the events, moving right along to her next stop at Ronda Clingman Elementary on Monday, December 10th. She prepares each student a gift also — bringing even more joy and excitement into the gatherings — and would like to thank Wilkes Telecommunications for this year’s generous donation of gloves and chapstick for our mentees.

“This is a time to say thank you again to volunteers, and remind them to spread the word to friends, family and church members that CIS is always in need of Lunch Buddy volunteers,” she adds.

The parties will continue at 2:00 on their respective days at all area schools taking part in the program.  The schedule is as follows:

  • North Wilkesboro Elementary – December 11th
  • Moravian Falls Elementary – December 12th
  • C.C. Wright Elementary – December 13th
  • C.B. Eller Elementary – December 14th
  • Wilkesboro Elementary – December 17th
  • Roaring River Elementary- December 18th

If you or someone you know may be interested in becoming a Lunch Buddy volunteer, please contact Jettie Walker via email, or by phone at 336-651-7830.

2012 Thank You Luncheon

On Friday November 2nd, Communities In Schools of Wilkes County hosted an annual Thank You Luncheon for area volunteers. Held in the Stone Center, all who have offered time, service, or resources enjoyed a period of relaxation and fellowship, with a lunch catered by Dean Carlton.

 Our awesome volunteers and donors have made CIS what it is today.  Our expanding mentoring programs Lunch Buddies and Friends of Youth are in the process of merging, we’ve added two new site coordinators to our staff, and new New Century Scholars are accepted yearly.  Our DanCIS program is something our students enjoy and pride themselves for.  We’ve even had the pleasure of expanding into Alexander County this year! These advances and programs would be lost without the involvement of our community. 

While all involved are invaluable to us, the CIS staff selected these few individuals to honor specifically.

Terry Carrol was honored as our Lunch Buddy Mentor of the Year for his service both to the program and his mentee. As a graduate from NC State and Winthrop University, and as an active community member, Terry serves as an amazing role model for area students. He’s pictured at left with our Executive Director, Glendora Yarbrough.

Gary Doran was chosen as our Friends of Youth Mentor of the Year, though he was unable to meet with us during the Luncheon.  Retired from Lowe’s and his work as a graphic artist, Gary’s positive influence on his mentees is immeasurable.  During his several years as a mentor, he has also proved unshakably willing to learn and grow from the individuals he meets.

 Duncan Faw was chosen as our New Century Scholar of the year, for his immense community service and outreach. Since his enrollment in the program in the 6th grade, he has given over 300 hours worth of service.  His senior project brought him full circle, where he raised roughly $2,000 towards a scholarship like his own. He is pictured with New Century Scholar coordinator Melissa Higgins.

Our Business of the Year went to Walmart, which provided not only a generous use of space for Stuff the Bus and Build a Backpack, but also a change collection, and hot dog cart during tax free weekend!  Alena Felts, Steve Penland, and Malinda Broyhill are seen accepting the award below with site coordinator Caitlin Pitkin.

Bojangles served as our Fundraiser Supporter of the Year, helping Communities In Schools develop a more effective system of food preparation and supply management.  Through their advice and donations, we were able to develop a more effective heating system that saved both time and energy.  The award was accepted by Dare Marley.

Rock Springs Baptist Church was selected as our Faith Supporter of the year.  Through their church family, Rock Springs has contributed not only volunteers and donations, but also invaluable amounts of prayer and support.  Pastor Brian Blankenship’s wife Alice was there to accept the award, pictured below at left with Melissa Call, our Financial Officer.

Instrumental to our Dance Program for the last several years, Mandy Marxen was honored with an award for Dance Volunteer of the Year.  She has dedicated both her talents and hours of her schedule towards instructing our dancers, beyond her hours donating innumerable contributions to CIS and the DanCIS program.

The dedication of our board members this year has proved invaluable, leaving us with no choice but to choose two Board Members of the Year.  Jared Belk and Armando Limon were the recipients. Since our accreditation in 2011 and beyond, CIS has been undergoing a myriad of changes to both our fiscal and personnel policies.  These two members have displayed an infallible resolve towards improving the way Communities In Schools works as a business and as a whole.

Armando Limon

Jared Belk

 Our Stuff the Bus Heroes were our summer interns Erica Hutchinson and Zach Triplett.  Both dedicated their Tuesdays and Thursdays to our organization all summer long, but proved invaluable during the collection and distribution of our annual school supply collection.  The two worked diligently towards both inventory management and our careful dispersal of materials.

Zack’s mother Carolyn Triplett accepts his award.

This year, our Super Hero has been Milton Harris.  Milton has gone above and beyond this year, offering up his time and energy towards the collection of donations with a smile on his face through it all.  He was a vital part of our Stuff the Bus campaign this summer, always ready to help us with our pickups and deliveries.  We would be lost around here without him, and owe him our deepest thanks!

Milton with site coordinator, Amie Rose.

 Again, CIS wishes to extend its deepest thanks to everyone who helps us make us who we are.  You are the ones who help us make the difference.  We are so very proud of all the wonderful things you’ve helped us accomplish this year, and look forward to seeing what 2013 will bring!