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Thursday is the last day for future freshmen to fill out an application for their high school choice.

On Monday at the McDowell County Board of Education meeting, McDowell Academy of Innovation (MAI) Principal Tracey Widmann, McDowell Early College (MEC) Principal Lisa Robinson and McDowell High School (MHS) Principal Edwin Spivey presented to the board about the application process and options for rising ninth graders.

“Traditionally we haven’t had kids choose their high school, we were the landing place for everyone that did not get into the Early College,” said Spivey about MHS. “With MAI coming on board, we felt that it was very important for kids to choose their location. When they select the high school, they can choose what areas they are interested in, so we can tailor their classes to meet their needs.”

As of Monday, principals said since the universal application rolled out in January, only about 50 percent of students had submitted applications. “We are working with middle school principals to pinpoint who haven’t completed the application,” said Widmann.

Of the applications submitted, 72 percent of students have chosen MHS, 20 percent have applied to MEC and 9 percent to MAI. MAI so far has received the most applications from Foothills Community School. MEC and MHS have received the most applications from West Middle, with East Middle not far behind.

There are a lot of things we have in common, but that also led to the discussion of what we do differently. Kids can get whatever they need at any one of the schools,” said Spivey.

Informational meetings and open houses have recently been held at each school. The application is electronic but there is also a paper version available. To access the application, click here or visit www.mcdowell.k12.nc.us or call 652-4535 to find out where to obtain a paper copy.

In other business:

-Head Start had their annual review on Monday, Jan. 28 through Thursday, Jan. 31, which went very well according to Superintendent Mark Garrett. The Head Start review team said the partnership with McDowell County Schools was exemplary and a nationwide model for other schools.

-Student recognition was given to Evelyn Kinninger for being the elementary school winner for the N.C. Forest Service essay contest. Kinninger is a third grader at P.G. Elementary. She received a $200 gift card. Her teacher Beth Vess also received a $100 gift for classroom materials, plus a scholarship to attend the 2019 Sustainable Forestry Teachers experience. “The topic of the essay was to talk about what three wood products you use every day that are most important to you. I put books, my house and baking ingredients because cellulose is in a lot of baking ingredients,” said Kinninger at the board meeting.

-Donna Pyatt and Allison Styles presented the board with a slide show of their NCAT experience. Twenty-eight teachers representing 14 schools were selected to participate in the MCS Teacher Academy  at the NC Center for Advancement of Teaching in Cullowhee. The leadership and training opportunity is designed to encourage leadership at a classroom level.

-Angela Autrey, teacher of the year, presented her monthly report. She brought along three students to talk about the Peer Group Connection (PGC) group at McDowell High School for ninth graders. In PGC, upper classmen work with freshmen on transitioning into the high school environment.  PGC instructor Jennifer Kinninger said on Feb. 22 visitors will be coming from the Centers for Supportive Schools, through which the PGC class is funded, because the PGC program was selected to represent North Carolina. Student leaders will present an outreach with the adults and answer questions from the board.  

-Garrett updated the board on the Old Fort project. “In the middle of January, the school began their new traffic pattern for drop off and dismissal,” said Garrett. “Special inspections proposals were received and are required to make sure the materials and construction meet local and state guidelines. Demolition began on Head Start. The lease agreement has been completed with the county. The county will hold the title through the project and when the loan was paid back. Demolition began on the gymnasium. Site preparation continues with the auditorium to come down later this week. Stone from the gym is available and is located on a lot owned by the Town of Old Fort on Railroad Street. Garrett thanked the town for giving them the space for the stone. “They will start building the structure sometime in mid-April,” said Garrett. Old Fort representative Patrick Ellis said if people want a memento from the old school, they need to get a rock. He said other things that were requested such as auditorium seating, rafters and flooring will be done by the contractors separately from MCS because those items were a part of the bidding process.

-Under new business, Director of Elementary Education Crystal Hamby presented the board with the yearly Take 2 Camp. The camp is offered for students not scoring proficient on their end-of-grade tests. For third0 through fifth-grade students, they will have an option to attend for remediation and to retake their EOG for reading and science only June 10 through June 13. Math is not an option this year, Hamby said. The summer schedule for MHS will be June 17 to 28 and will end each day at noon. The board voted unanimously to approve the Take 2 Camp and Summer School.

 -The school board adopted a resolution supporting local control of school calendars. What the NCSBA is asking MCS to join other LEA’s in North Carolina to try and suede legislature to give control on local school calendars. By supporting the resolution, board chair Terry Frank said he will contact the county commissioners to do their own resolution and join in on this. The motion was approved unanimously.

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