Rocking Red Ribbon Week

Along with our site coordinator Brittany Loudermilt, students at East Alexander Middle School participated again this year in the annual awareness campaign, Red Ribbon Week.  Held the last week in October, Red Ribbon Week is designed to educate participants, as well as the general public, on the violent and harmful nature of both drug use and the drug industry.

From Monday, October 27th, until Friday, October 31st, students at EAMS worked to promote awareness while learning new information themselves.  Learners worked to design public service posters, with a completed poster enabling a chance to win a gift card to Walmart!

In total, ten posters were submitted that truly conveyed convincing messages about staying drug free.  Our young artists implored that their peers chose to make a stand against drug use and continue to strive for greatness.

Communities In Schools also offered enrichment activities during the week.  Learners had enjoyed some friendly competition amongst the comradery: They were challenged to guess how many candies were in a jar, with the closest guesser receiving a Walmart gift card as well!

Creating Safe and Supportive Learning Environments

If you are familiar with Communities In Schools, you may know that we believe all students are entitled to each of our Five Basics.  Specifically, we continually strive to ensure every learner we serve has access to:

1. A healthy start and healthy future
2. A one-on-one relationship with a caring adult
3. A marketable skill to use upon graduation
4. A chance to give back to their community, and
5. A safe place to learn and grow.

One of the basics we feel too often overlooked happens to be a safe learning environment.  As years progress, our youth are gaining increasing access to information, paraphernalia, and negative role models that threaten the safety of themselves and others.  Incidents of violence and drug use continue to increase, and – more disturbingly – become problems at younger and younger ages.

Today’s students face a world of challenges unfamiliar to generations prior.  In association with high risk behaviors, incidents of bullying continue to skyrocket, and the advent of social media has brought this troubling behavior out of the school and in to the homes of both victims and predators.  Many victims of bullying report missing school in order to avoid confrontation.

East Alexander Middle School (EAMS) has taken action to eradicate these behaviors.  On Friday, October 31, 2014, all members of the student body participated in a Bullying Survey.  Results of the survey were delivered directly to the principal.

Through this questionnaire, EAMS hopes to identify areas of need around the school campus: locations that need more reinforcement or supervision, appropriate preventative measures, and positive behavior award measures to foster kindness and discourage bullying.  Action will take place, and the survey will be repeated at the end of the year to document changes we are sure to be seeing.

If you would like to know more about Communities In Schools in Alexander County, or would be interested in donating your time, talents, or treasures to our great efforts, please contact Angie Yates at 828-409-0231.

Cougar Seminar at Alexander Central High

The 2014 school year is bringing many exciting changes when it comes to Communities In Schools’ work in Alexander County.  One of our new programs comes in the form of Cougar Seminar, which is offered to students in 9th through 12th grade at Alexander Central High.

Cougar Seminar is an advisory program that began on Wednesday, September 3, 2014.  Between September 3 and October 29th, students will meet in small groups with an assigned advisor (trained school faculty member) each Wednesday for 25 minutes. For the remainder of the school year, these meetings will take place every other week.  Students will remain with the same advisor until graduation.

Seminar Advisors serve not only as instructors, but as caring adults in the lives of our students: there to be a confidant and support through triumphs and trials. They also are a liaison to the students’ families: Advisors are required to make four parent/guardian contacts for each participant throughout the year.

While making invaluable connections with their Advisors and peers, participants also work through character- and resilience-building activities as a group.  Topics covered so far this year have included study skills, dating violence, cyber-bullying, digital footprints, internet safety, and more. ‘

Reception of the program has been both amazing and encouraging.  Youth report that Seminar has become their favorite class, noting that “The pressure is off and you can get to the meat of things.” Moreover, life-changing relationships continue to grow and blossom: learners have already felt comfortable approaching their advisors with difficult issues. In one instance, a student was able to open up about their advisor about another youth’s struggle with self harm. The teacher was able to intervene accordingly and help put an end to the destructive behavior.

If you or someone you know would like to know more about Cougar Seminar, please contact Angie Yates today!

FOR Clubs Begin at Local Middle Schools

Students at East and West Alexander Middle joined a nationwide movement on Thursday, October 3, 2014 by hosting this year’s first “Friends of Rachel” meeting.  These clubs form in light of “Rachel’s Challenge,” a nonprofit campaign geared at decreasing school violence, bullying, and suicide.

 

If you are unfamiliar with Rachel’s Challenge, the campaign was formed in honor of Rachel Scott: the first teen whose life was tragically ended during the Columbine High School shootings.  Rachel was known for her kindness and compassion, to a level that her family has sought to carry her example onward and throughout the nation.
During Rachel’s Challenge, student and community members engage in a series strategies to improve the learning environment.  These strategies seek to equip participants with the tools necessary to create and continue school systems in which enrollees are able to feel safe and supported. Each strategy is based on writings found in Rachel’s diaries and journals.
During FOR clubs, students meet to brainstorm and implement these positive changes in their school system: They actively work to increase kindness and decrease bullying.  During the first meeting, members accepted “Rachel’s Challenge” and got to know one another.
If you are interested in learning more about FOR clubs, please contact Brittany Loudermilt (EWMS) or Jordyn Setzer (WAMS) today!

East Alexander Middle School Canned Food Drive

At Communities In Schools, we are continuously working to provide students with “The Five Basics.” These Basics are:

  1. A safe place to learn and grow.
  2. A one-on-one relationship with a caring adult.
  3. A healthy start, and a healthy future.
  4. A marketable skill to use upon graduation, and
  5. A chance to give back to the community.

Site coordinator Brittany Loudermilt is making efforts to provide this chance to give back, as she is orchestrating a Canned Food Drive.  The drive will run from September 29, 2014 until October 3, 2014, and will benefit several food banks in the area.  These valuable community resources around Alexander are finding themselves in short supply, and Communities In Schools seeks to encourage students to help make a difference in their county!

Ms. Loudermilt is providing some special incentives for East Alexander learners and faculty this time, too.  Every teacher and youth among the grade level that collects the most cans will receive a prize! Similarly, the individual student who brings in the most goods will receive a special reward all his or her own.

Parents and Teachers: Please encourage your teens to bring in canned goods and nonperishable items to help this great cause!  If you have any questions regarding acceptable donations, please feel free to email Brittany Loudermilt, or contact her at 828-632-7565 ext. 333.

West Alexander Middle: Accomplishing Greatness!

Communities In Schools would like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to West Alexander Middle School, as it was recently announced they exceeded expected growth during the 2013-2014 school year!

Similar in concept to height and weight charts found in your child’s doctors office, expected growth of a school compares changes in academic performance of the student body on a longitudinal level.  Simply put, scholastic fortitude and understanding are expected to increase a given amount between grade levels.  These levels vary year to year, with great inclines in knowledge during early years transition to more gradual growths during a learner’s later school years.

By exceeding expected growth, West Alexander Middle students’ test scores reflect greater performance and understanding than would have been projected when compared to those of 2012-2013.  What a great achievement for WAMS pupils and faculty!

Higher testing scores are, accordingly, linked with higher levels of proficiency in subject areas.  Currently, all Alexander students have a 60.2 % overall proficiency in Reading, 49.3% in Math, and 73.1% in Science.  With site coordinators now located at East Alexander Middle, West Alexander Middle, Alexander Central High, and a reading program at Taylorsville and Hiddenite Elementaries, it is our goal to see these numbers continue to rise in the coming years.  Stay tuned to see what we accomplish together!

2014 Summer Programs

The school year may be over, but we’re still finding ways to enrich the lives of our students here at Communities In Schools.  Currently, we’re offering two different options for learners throughout the month of June.

One of these programs is in its second year: June Bugs! This group is designed for girls in the 3rd to 12th grade, and meets at the Communities In Schools office twice a week.  Each session is devoted to a unique healthy activity, volunteer effort, or self-esteem building exercise.

June Bugs head to Smoot Park during their first session!

The girls start each session with a healthy lunch, with some time for fun and fellowship among their varying age groups. Through the program, CIS seeks to nurture comradery between girls of all ages — therein building peer-mentoring relationships that enable positive self-images and beneficial life choices. June Bugs is offered entirely free of charge, with support coming from individual donations, CIS site funding, and Dreams and Kite Strings.  If you would like to donate towards one of these activities, please click here for more information.

Our second summer program is for 1st through 8th grade students, and is hosted at the Moravian Falls Community Learning Center.   Like June Bugs, this Forensic Investigation Summer Camp meets twice a week.

During each session, the group works to solve “The Cookie Jar Mystery” through various forensic investigative techniques — fingerprint and shoe print analysis, fiber analysis, and more!  This six session course will culminate with a trip to the Wilkes County Courthouse, where participants will work together in a mock trial to find the culprit.

If you would like to know more about our Forensic Investigation Summer Camp, contact Tiger Posey at 651-7830 or by email here.

Are You Smarter than an Elementary School Student?

Are You Smarter than an Elementary School
Student? Join us on Friday, March 21st at the Stone Center to find out
— and see how some local celebrities compare as well!

When: Friday | March 21, 2014 | 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Where: The Stone Center
Admission: Adults: $5 | Middle and High: $2*| Elementary: Free!
*Middle and High School Students free with two paying adults.

We will have several celebrity guests out to test their knowledge during the event, with select students from area elementary schools there to assist as needed!  Popcorn, drinks, and silent auction items will be available for purchase as well, so be sure to come out and join in on the fun!

Flapjack Fundraiser for Elementary Clothing Closets!

We here at Communities In Schools of Wilkes County are counting down the days until our Applebee’s Flapjack Fundraiser.  Details are as follows:

WHEN: March 16th, 2014 | 7:30 am to 10:00 am
WHERE: Applebee’s | 1909 A West Highway 421 | Wilkesboro
COST: $7.00 per person (includes food and drink)
WHO: CIS of Wilkes, in conjunction with MFES and NWES
RSVP: Call 651-7830 or email andie@cisnwnc.org

The event will benefit the clothing closets of Moravian Falls Elementary and North Wilkesboro Elementary Schools.  Attendees are encouraged to bring and donate new and gently used clothing for area students, kindergarten through fifth grade.  Tickets are $7.00, and include the flapjack breakfast and drink (coffee, tea, soda, milk, or juice) of your choice. You can even get your order to go!
We encourage you to bring your families, friends, church groups, and civic organizations out to this event.  Proceeds will benefit Communities In Schools programs at both elementary school sites.  To order or reserve tickets, please call 651-7830 or email andie@cisnwnc.org today!

West Alexander Middle School Staff Receives Training

Earlier this month, faculty and staff of West Alexander Middle School were treated to a special bullying prevention training session provided by Communities In Schools – Alexander County Branch.  Held Wednesday, March 6th, those in attendance welcomed William “Billy” Lassiter of the Department of Public Safety, Division of Juvenile Justice — who provided this professional development training.

Bullying is a severe problem in the United States.  Daily, 160,000 students miss school for fear of bullying.  Sadly, with cyber bullying ever on the rise, this decision can offer little escape to those affected – so knowledge, prevention, and action within the school setting is key.

Angie Yates, CIS Site Coordinator for WAMS; Billy Lassiter, Trainer; Dr. Chad Maynor, WAMS Principal

The training consisted of defining bullying, exploring the causes of bullying, and looking for new ways to deal with bullying — all of which go along with the core Communities In Schools basic: a safe place to learn and grow.  It is our mission to provide our students with the best opportunities and environments for success — and we thank Mr. Lassiter for his time and efforts helping us make this vision a reality.  For more information about CIS – Alexander Co. Branch, please contact Angie Yates at 828-409-0231.