Thursday, March 29, 2018

School in Session on April 2 - NO Holiday / Escuelas en sesión el 2 abril - NO es un día festivo

April Holiday Canceled
The holiday scheduled on Monday, April 2, has been canceled and this day is now a regular school day. This is to make up for the snow day on January 18.

Día festivo de abril ha sido cancelado
El día festivo programado para el lunes, 2 de abril, ha sido cancelado y es ahora un día de escuela regular. Esto es para reponer el día de no escuela por causa de la nieve el 18 de enero.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Spring Break, March 26-30 / Vacaciones de primavera, 26-30 de marzo

Spring Break Scheduled Week of March 26
Spring Break for CHCCS is March 26-30. During this week, schools may be working limited hours, with limited staff. Also during Spring Break, Lincoln Center is minimally staffed and operating on a modified schedule: Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., when Lincoln Center will close to the public.

Vacaciones de primavera, 26-30 de marzo
Horario de la semana del 26 de marzo, durante las vacaciones de primavera
Las vacaciones de primavera para CHCCS son del 26-30 de marzo. Durante esta semana, las escuelas estarán trabajando con un horario limitado y poco personal. También durante las vacaciones de primavera, Lincoln Center tendrá poco personal y trabajando en el siguiente horario: de lunes a jueves de 7:30 a. m. a 5 p. m. y los viernes de 7:30 a. m. a 1:30 p.m.

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Dr. Baldwin to Deliver State-of-the-Schools Address

Superintendent Pam Baldwin will deliver a state-of-the-schools address on Wednesday, April 11 at 7 p.m. She will discuss the progress made during her first year on the job, as well as next steps and the challenges ahead.

The event is being hosted by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro PTA Council and will take place in the Culbreth Middle School auditorium (225 Culbreth Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516). The community is invited to attend. Admission is free.

For those wishing to watch remotely, the event will be streamed on Facebook Live and the video will be posted to the district website the following day.
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Friday, March 23, 2018

Students Learn Risk Taking by Watching You

At our Convocation in August, I challenged our educators to have fun in the classroom, to take risks and to encourage those around them.  I took a risk with this directive, but I believe by doing these three things, the way students learn and the way teachers teach would make a long-term impact on everyone.

When students see their teachers and other adults in their schools taking a risk, it encourages them to go for the stars, too.  For example, CHCCS offers a program to help teacher assistants go back to school to get their teacher certification.  When a student sees their TA taking this leap, they realize they can also leap and be whatever they want to be.

For some teachers, just thinking about taking a risk can seem scary.  Luckily, CHCCS has many teachers who are willing to jump into it.  Lifelong learners know from failure comes learning, which is what it’s all about.  So for anyone who is still standing on the edge and has yet to take the leap this year, whether you’re a teacher, a principal, a cafeteria worker or a school secretary, a parent, aunt, or grandparent, be courageous and jump.  I promise you and all those students in your life will learn something from it.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Cisco Networking Academy Offers Opportunity

If you ask most parents and students in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools about the Cisco Networking Academy courses for high school students, unfortunately you’ll hear, “Cisco What?” But if Jennifer Walker and her colleagues at Chapel Hill High have their way, the pathways within the Academy of Information Technology (AOIT) will soon be recognized throughout the district - and beyond. Walker is both passionate and tireless in her work with Cisco NetAcad, and to hear her talk about current and future projects is to recognize she’s barely gotten started as a mentor and teacher.
Within a couple years, labor analysts in the U.S. predict there’ll be over one million more tech jobs than qualified applicants to fill them. And the salary for many of these tech jobs? Often in the $80,000 to $110,000 range. It’s surprising that more high school students aren’t standing in line to enroll in these information technology (IT) pathways.
How are Chapel Hill High’s AOIT and Cisco Networking Academy courses laying foundations for students to join the ranks of the “quickly employed” tech workers? Students can now choose two Cisco course pathways, either CET (computer engineering technology) or NET (network engineering technology). Upon completion of the specialized courses in either pathway, students can sit for rigorous and prestigious industry certifications before graduating from high school. The district will even pay for one certification exam voucher for each student.     
The AOIT is housed at Chapel Hill High, but it’s open to all CHCCS high school students who can travel from their home schools to take the academy classes. The Cisco Networking Academy is an international training program accessible through universities, community colleges, and some high schools. It provides the curriculum and hands-on lab experiences for students, as well as resources to deliver and extend IT training for instructors.  From this framework, Walker provides students with an ever-growing range of activities, information about opportunities to apply skills outside the classroom, and she works with AOIT to provide internships. Cisco's IT Essentials in the Computer Engineering courses provides training in hardware, software, and troubleshooting skills, while preparing students for CompTIA A+ certification. Cisco's CCNA (Certified Cisco Network Associate) Routing and Switching curriculum is used in the Network Engineering courses, training students in the process of data transmission, network design, device configuration, and troubleshooting, while preparing students for the Cisco CCENT (Certified Cisco Entry Networking Technician) and CCNA certifications.
Walker teaches all of the Computer Engineering and Network Engineering courses at Chapel Hill High, and her enthusiasm about the Cisco curriculum and its enduring benefits to students is apparent in the first few minutes of conversation. She’s a true believer, based on more than fifteen years in the IT field, as well as ten years in previous instructional positions. The keyword for her is “Opportunity,” and she loves to reel off the many opportunities students can pursue to sharpen their networking and engineering skill sets.
Earning one or both of the “certs” by graduation is the crown jewel of Cisco NetAcad participation, but all of the students who complete one of the pathways are well-qualified to work in IT, right out of high school. In this district, as Walker notes, most students will continue to a four year university, but some NetAcad graduates pursue classes at community colleges, or take their skills into the military. “Even without the certs, by completing these courses, students can transfer their skill sets into any profession,” said Walker.
“Cisco Networking Academy is a very useful program that teaches you a lot about computer engineering and networking,” said Dhruv Patel, who’s currently taking both Computer Engineering 2 and Networking Engineering 1. “Paired with the lab work Ms.Walker sets up, it prepares you for the CompTIA A+ and the CCENT certifications and gives you skills for practical use, at home and on the job.”
Walker’s students frequently take advantage of service-learning opportunities, both in-district and in the community. “I say to them all the time, Use your skills for good.”
This year, she and Darren Bell, manager of the CHCCS Community Connection Program, have collaborated to create the Tiger Tech Squad with more than 35 of Walker’s students. The Squad will soon operate as a Chromebook service depot, beginning with tech support for the Career and Technical Education staff at Chapel Hill High, but they will expand that support in the future.
Walker encourages her students to earn service-learning hours - plus invaluable Real World experience - at events like Volunteer Night at the Kramden Institute in the Research Triangle Park. Students provide assistance to local residents through Kramden, performing tasks like desktop refurbishing and monitor testing.
“It’s great for these students to see their skill set has value. In three hours, you can give people something that can change their lives,” said Walker. “Students say, 'But it’s so easy to swap out a hard drive,' and I say - to you it is!”
Beyond the service opportunities touted by Walker, she is constantly sharing news about internships and scholarships for summer study. Her Twitter feed @LearnITWalker is a goldmine for students in search of (there’s that word again) opportunities: cybersecurity workshops, Virtual Reality instruction and UNC’s Imagine Lab are just a few of the recent links or posts shared.
Walker also brings in a regular slate of tech speakers from Lenovo, Cisco and other industry giants in the area, as well as creates informative field trips for students to observe and experience a range of IT professionals in action.
Liz Anderton is a sophomore in Computer Engineering Technology 1, and she described how fortunate she feels to have landed in the NetAcad, even as one of the few young women in Walker’s classes. “It can be a little intimidating being the only female in a class, but it’s interesting because sometimes they (her male classmates) just think differently.” Anderton said that she’s very shy and has tended to dislike group work in previous classes, but she thrives in the team-learning format of Walker’s class. “This experience has helped me be more open in general. Everyone is really encouraging, and it’s been amazing.”
Anderton moved to Chapel Hill from Tennessee before ninth grade. “There was never anything like this where I lived before,” she said. “Kids don’t realize how lucky they are to have these programs. And if more people sign up for NetAcad, we can grow and do even more things.”

The Cisco Networking Academy celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2017. According to its website “since 2005, more than 1.6 million students who have completed advanced courses have gotten new jobs thanks to Cisco Networking Academy. In the United States, 30 percent of enrolled students are underrepresented minorities (African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, or American Indian/Alaska Native), and numerous academies specifically serve military service members, veterans, and their families. Additionally, Cisco Networking Academy has made a commitment to benefit 10,000 people living with disabilities within the next five years.
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Destruction of Records Notice

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools is hereby giving notice that the Exceptional Children’s Department will be destroying non-current records in accordance with state policy (NC 1505-2.15). This message is for students born between December 31, 1984 and December 31, 1990 that received Exceptional Children’s Program (EC) services while attending the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools or parents/guardians of those students.

Records may contain information useful for social security benefits or other purposes. If a copy of the record is desired, a written request should be submitted to the address below within 90 days of this publication. Please include the student's name, date of birth, current phone number, last school from which they received EC services and an address to which the record should be mailed. The request must be signed by the former student (18 years or older) or legal guardian. 

If you have further questions, please call 919-967-8211 ext. 28267.

Send written requests to:

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
Exceptional Children’s Department
750 South Merritt Mill Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
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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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Thursday, March 1, 2018

PetPals Serve as Comfort Therapy Dogs in Schools

Pandora the Poodle has become a Carrboro High School Jaguar, joining other PetPalsNC therapy dogs that have been matched with schools in the CHCCS district. Once a week, Pandora checks in to the office with her handler, Ginny Murray, and they set up in the cafe commons for the lunch period. Despite the commotion of noisy teenagers crowding the space, Pandora stands at calm attention, eyeing her surroundings and edging toward any student who approaches for a quick introduction - or those who settle in for a longer petting session.
April Crider, Carrboro High social worker, said that they “borrowed” a therapy dog from Culbreth Middle School earlier in the year, after the death of a student. “The students found the dog to be a great distraction, and it just felt good at that moment to cuddle with her.” Now Carrboro High has its own dog, and Pandora will have a regular schedule. Hopefully, students will come to recognize the powerful benefits the regal poodle can offer, even in the brief time it takes to sit with her and stroke her soft, gray head.
Trained dogs have offered various supports to our students for years, especially as reading buddies in elementary schools. But their presence in middle and high schools is relatively new, and the impact they bring is less tied to academic activities than general emotional and social benefits. Educators and parents have become increasingly aware of the stress and anxiety that take a toll on adolescent and pre-teen students, and the value of using therapy dogs in school settings is more widely recognized.
Stefanie Mazva-Cohen, social worker at Culbreth, reached out to PetPalsNC after she learned about the program from its founder, Wendy Stewart. She knew that students at her school would embrace the comforts and reassurance that come from spending time with a familiar pet. In 2015, when Mazva-Cohen introduced the program to Culbreth staff and families, she sent out an email saying, “Culbreth is getting a new therapist!” In fact, Culbreth has two PetPals, Abby and Dutch, and they alternate weeks for their visits.
Many of the PetPal sessions at Culbreth involve one-on-one interactions, often when a child is talking to a counselor or other support person. “If a student is having a particularly hard time, we’ll arrange time with Abby or Dutch,” said Mazva-Cohen. “The child’s petting the dog, I’m petting the dog, and the dog becomes a connections catalyst. A real blessing.”
Culbreth has experienced several tragic losses in recent years, and the dogs became part of the crisis counseling teams. Yet the connections need not be tied to loss or crisis. “There isn’t a child who can’t use fifteen minutes with a dog every week,” Mazva-Cohen said.
Pandora of Carrboro High is just now getting her paw in the door. Most students haven’t met the dog yet, but an Exceptional Children's class experienced the benefits of a therapy dog during Pandora’s second visit. “Our students with special needs LOVE Pandora,” said Melissa Barry, EC system level teacher. “Interaction with a therapy dog not only calms our students, but also enhances their language skills as they talk to Pandora - and about Pandora. We visited with Pandora yesterday, and our students are still talking about the experience today. Our students enjoy petting, walking, watching and interacting with the dog.  Interaction with Pandora helps our students extend their abilities - yesterday, we had students walking farther than typical simply because they were walking the dog outside!”
As Carrboro High teacher assistant Donna McMillan said, “The brief encounters I had with students petting Pandora I would sum up as pure happiness and joy. And we all need a little of that every day!”

PetPalsNC is a 501(c)3 “dedicated to promoting and supporting the use of animal-assisted therapy and activities for K-12 students to enhance academic, social, emotional, and behavioral growth.” ( The program serves numerous Orange County schools. The CHCCS partners are Rashkis Elementary, McDougle Elementary, Phillips Middle, Culbreth Middle and Carrboro High. School counselors and social workers act as liasons to establish and oversee the program at each school. Currently there are more requests for service than there are funds and teams to cover expansion. 

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