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Lenoir County Public Schools: Schools

All-County Honors Chorus set for fourth annual concert

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More than 200 elementary and middle school students from across Lenoir County will assemble Saturday as the LCPS All-County Honors Chorus to perform a free concert of classical and contemporary art music.

The fourth annual event begins at 2 p.m. at Kinston-Lenoir County Performing Arts Center.

The chorus represents students from all 12 LCPS elementary and middle schools. The fourth and fifth graders who make up the elementary group will perform four songs, as will the middle school students. The two groups come together for the finale, a spirited rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

The students have practiced at their school for months, but will unite as an elementary chorus and a middle school chorus for the first time the day before the concert, when they will also meet and begin to work with their respective conductors. The two groups rehearse together the morning of the concert.

Conducting the elementary group this year is Dr. Raychl (cq) Smith, assistant professor of music education at East Carolina University. The middle school singers will perform under the baton of Paul Flowers, choral director at Hope Middle School in Pitt County.

Returning as accompanists are Sheila Miller, music teacher at Pink Hill Elementary, and Jacob Mewborn, director of music ministries at Queen Street United Methodist Church in Kinston. Both have worked with the concert as accompanists – Miller with the elementary group and Mewborn with the middle schoolers – since its inception.

For the young singers, it’s an experience draped in professionalism.

“Organizing this concert each year is in some ways a dream come true for me,” Christine White, music educator at Banks Elementary School, said. “It is extremely fulfilling as an educator to know that I can reach beyond the four walls of my classroom and impact the musical opportunities of students all across our county.”

White was part of that corps of LCPS music educators that conceived and organized the inaugural concert four years ago and has taken a lead role in ensuring the performances continued.

“It is definitely an extraordinary amount of work, but I receive a great deal of support and assistance from Lenoir County Public Schools’ administrative team and my music education colleagues,” she said. “Together we are providing a broadening and enriching experience for our students that they would not otherwise have.”

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Gaona picked for prestigious Morehead-Cain Scholarship

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Awaiting a decision that would decide his future short-term, Angel Gaona received a text message he wouldn’t let himself believe.

Its first word was “Congratulations” and it came from an insider in the selection process for the coveted Morehead-Cain Scholarship to the University of North Carolina. But it wasn’t official and it was early.

“I was thinking, there’s no way he’s talking about me getting the scholarship,” the North Lenoir High School senior said. “It wasn’t even 5 o’clock yet.”

It was Angel Gaona’s time, though. As the official notification confirmed later that Friday, Gaona is one of about 70 graduating seniors – about 3 percent of all candidates – selected for the nation’s oldest merit scholarship and one of the most prestigious.angel_mug

The winnowing process began late last year. Eighty percent of nominees were eliminated by December and that field of semi-finalists was narrowed to 126 finalists in February. Gaona and the other finalists spent the first weekend in March at UNC, where they were interviewed again, sat in on classes and participated in campus activities.

“They really made you feel at home,” Gaona said of Final Selection Weekend. “We spoke to (Morehead-Cain) scholars who were doing amazing things. I almost felt out of place. I’m thinking to myself, there’s no way I’m going to be as good as these people, no way I’m going to do what these people are doing. But I was hopeful and something worked out.”

Valued at about $80,000 for in-state students, the Morehead-Cain Scholarship covers all expenses for four years of undergraduate study. Scholars also participate in summer enrichment programs.

Just days after he graduates from North Lenoir, Gaona will embark on the first of these summer opportunities, a leadership program at a location he can pick from a menu of about 50. “I’m thinking about Alaska,” said Gaona, the son of Paula and Gregorio Gaona of La Grange.

It will be a summer quite different from those spent picking peaches or working in tobacco, an aspect of the student’s life that particularly interested Morehead-Cain interviewers, perhaps for what they said about his work ethic.

North Lenoir High principal Gil Respess shares their respect. “Angel’s being awarded the Morehead-Cain scholarship is an excellent example of what can happen when one sets academic goals and works hard in obtaining them,” he said. “He is a young man of great integrity and is well respected by his peers and educators.”

Ranked No. 1 academically in his class, a spot he shares with a classmate, Gaona played soccer for North Lenoir, has volunteered at the Neuseway Park planetarium and works an after-school job. He spent last summer at North Carolina Governor’s School studying math. He came to North Lenoir through La Grange Elementary School and E.B. Frink Middle School.

"Angel's being selected as a Morehead-Cain Scholar is an extraordinary accomplishment, not only for Angel, but also for North Lenoir High School and Lenoir County Public Schools," school counselor Jennifer Hollingsworth said. "He is a highly motivated, intensely determined student who accepts nothing less than the best from himself as a student and as a person. He is a very deserving recipient of this scholarship. We are all so very proud of him!"

Gaona plans to study pre-med at UNC, go to medical school after college and become a cardiologist.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 March 2017 13:26

Summer at Governor's School awaits pair from North Lenoir

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Sydney Swindell and Mary George King have an interesting summer ahead of them. The two juniors at North Lenoir High School will spend nearly six weeks of it at North Carolina Governor’s School.

“I hope to meet new people and expand my knowledge about the world around me and how society works,” said King, who will study social science at Salem College in Winston-Salem, the west campus of Governor’s School. “I want to bring back my experiences and be able to tell students who want to apply next year about it.”nl_gov_school

Swindell will study math on the east campus, at Meredith College in Raleigh. “I’m really want it to be something where I can learn more about math,” she said. “I love math and I’m hoping I can further that and understand the subject more, as well as have the experiences, meet the people, do all the stuff you expect to do with a summer-long program.”

Governor’s School is a summer residential program for academically or intellectually gifted high school students that offers instruction in one of 11 areas of academic or artistic emphasis, as well as a broader curriculum that integrates these areas. It is the oldest program of its kind in the nation. Each campus accepts 325 students, mostly rising seniors, from the more than 1,800 nominations received. This year, Governor’s School begins June 18 and runs through July 26.

Students win admission after being nominated by their schools and compiling an application package that includes grades and test scores, teacher recommendations and essays that shed some light on their personal and academic interests.

Both King and Swindell are typical of the high-achieving students selected for the program – at the top of their class academically, involved in sports and extracurricular activities at school and active in the community.

Swindell (on right in photo) plays tennis for North Lenoir, is a member of the Quiz Bowl team and Math Club, volunteers as a reading tutor at Banks Elementary School, volunteers with her church and works two after-school jobs.

King is an all-conference soccer player and a cheerleader; is a member of the SGA, Math Club and HOSA, a health occupation group, at North Lenoir; and volunteers with the county’s recreation department and at Southeast Elementary School.

Both are members of the Honor Society.

With King and Swindell, North Lenoir has sent 10 students to Governor’s School since 2014.

“We owe our thanks to the teachers at North Lenoir and to our parents,” King said. “They helped us get in. They pushed us.”

Swindell is the daughter of Rebecca and Frank Swindell of Kinston. King is the daughter of Lesley and Keith King of La Grange.

NASA lands at CSS, bolstering its connection with district

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NASA landed at Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School on Friday to give middle school students a glimpse of the work that goes on inside the nation’s space agency and to bolster its ties with LCPS.

“Typically, we would bring the students to us, but this is a long distance and this is an area of North Carolina we’ve been focusing on a lot this year with some other programs, so we decided to bring the lab to you,” explained Kim Brush, an education specialist with the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.nasa4web

Students heard a presentation by NASA engineers Sam James and – via Skype – Kevin McLean about their work building and testing models of spacecraft, then put some of what the engineers told them into practice in hands-on experiments with Brush’s colleagues and demonstrations in the mobile STEM lab from Elizabeth City State University.

CSS was chosen as a stop for this once-a-year event – called STEM Week at the Lab – because of connections NASA educators have made with teachers from LCPS and other eastern North Carolina counties in the past year, according to Brush.

Since June, NASA has rolled out a program it calls Network of States, which “allows us to focus on a specific region and build a network within that community of industry, government, schools, universities and community colleges so we can add support to the local schools,” Brush said.

Teachers from Lenoir and Beaufort counties have particularly been involved in professional development through NASA, including a four-day session in June and another on Thursday, which included 15 teachers from LCPS.

Students at S.W. Snowden K-8 School in Aurora, in Beaufort County, were connected to the presentation by James and McLean via Skype.

Photos from NASA's visit are here.

Last Updated on Monday, 13 March 2017 11:30

Woodington's Battle of Books win its second in three years

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A team of young scholars from Woodington Middle School jumped out to a commanding early lead and never looked back en route to victory Wednesday in the annual LCPS Middle School Battle of the Books.

Woodington went undefeated in six contests – head-to-head matches with the district’s three other middle schools – to win its second county title in three years. With the win, the team advances to the regional Battle of the Books competition in April.bob_logo

Each year, the Battle of the Books tests students’ knowledge of books from a common reading list of 27 fiction and nonfiction titles through questions related to content. This year’s reading list included the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “I Am Malala,” the autobiography of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who defied the Taliban and won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Teams competed in a round-robin format. After the first round, Woodington held a 20-point lead over its closest competition, the team from E.B. Frink Middle School. Woodington stretched its lead to more than 40 points by the end of the contest. Frink finished in second place; Rochelle Middle, in third; and Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School, in fourth.

The event was held at Teachers Memorial School and Training Facility. Ryan Gardner, science department head at South Lenoir High School, was moderator.

Members of the Woodington team are: Eli Aycock, Jason Nilon, Amedith Stroud, Sydney McLawhorn, Kalista Ciccarelli, Avery Rouse, Nathan Carlyle, Isabelle Vernon, David Phillippe, Drew Hedrick, Gracie Howard, Fernando Flores and coaches Jean Whaley and Sherry Williams.

Members of the Frink team were: Victoria Flores, Diana Leon-Lara, Jada Clark, Kamryn Sutton, Erica Croom, Cintja Cordova, Heidy Alvarez, Kaitlyn Minder, Keyonna Taylor, Cristina Aguilar, Amanda Glen and coaches Joanna Price and Beverly Jones.

Members of the Rochelle team were: Alando Coleman, Nazier McIver, Lovell Gooding, Jakyra Simmons, Jai'Len Strickland, Elijah Powell, Janiya Edwards, Tinya Blake, Nicholas Harvey, III, Shanauria Hassell, Mariela Salgado-Villa, assistant coach Nadine Grady and coach Brenda Moultrie.

Members of the Contentnea-Savannah team were Genesis Campos, Sara Jones, Katara Fisher, Kristen Williams, Jared Carlyle and Coach Traci Banks.

The Woodington team is pictured below. Team photos are on the district Facebook page here.

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Last Updated on Friday, 10 March 2017 23:19

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