The Elkin City Schools held its annual convocation in the Dixon Auditorium at the high school Monday morning to welcome the school faculty back as well as to give the teachers some words of encouragement for the coming school year.
A morning breakfast was held in the cafeteria and the convocation followed.
Many teachers returned from a long summer eager to jump back into the classroom along with a few newcomers who are just stepping through the door for the first time this year.
“Summer was very relaxing and I spent a lot of time with my family and traveling,” said fifth-grade teacher Carla Henstock. “I’m ready for a schedule. I love the women that I work with and I just love the energy that my students bring to the classroom every day. I am hoping to carry out our district’s theme of encourage, connect, and inspiring my students every day.”
“This is my second year teaching and my first year being a band director. I’ve certainly hit the ground running,” said band director Greg Carpenter. “I’ll be teaching music in elementary, middle and high school this year. The kids have been absolutely fantastic. We finished up band camp about a week ago. They’re great kids. Very hardworking. We’ve got a lot done. For this year, I hope to be as good as we possibly can be. One of the things I tell the kids every day is if we get better every day, then we’ve had a good day.”
Interim Superintendent Dr. Don Martin gave a welcome at the beginning of convocation. Everybody then stood for the presentation of the colors by the Elkin High School JROTC, followed by the pledge of allegiance, and the singing of the national anthem by middle and high school students.
Elkin Board of Education member Frank Beals gave some words of inspiration.
“I want to thank everybody for coming back for another exciting year,” said Beals. “It is quite an honor to be a member of the school board. It’s been quite a learning experience. I am always amazed by how our system does such an outstanding job at picking teachers who are martyrs for their subject. Every person is fully engaged to the betterment of the school. I pull a quote from Mother Teresa for today. ‘A life not lived for others is not a life.’”
Several welcomes came from distinguished groups and people.
Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens spoke about the economic importance of the schools and the excellence of its teachers.
“Whenever I talk about Elkin, I talk about Elkin City Schools. It’s the chief tool in our economic development bag,” said Hutchens. “I think it’s excellent not just because of its size but because of the people who have chosen to work here, whether they are academics, staff, or administration, it is these people who bring Elkin what it is. It’s always a great day to be a part of this school system.”
Elkin School Board Chairman Dr. Richard Brinegar spoke about his family’s history with the school system.
“My mother was a senior class president of Elkin High School and my father came here in ‘54. I’ve had more aunts, uncles, and cousins than I can name come to this school. Unfortunately, I never had that privilege. I’ve never walked the halls of Elkin City Schools,” said Brinegar. “I told my parents that when I got older, I would bring my kids here. I thank each and every one of you for helping the students live the dream. I thank you for what you do.”
Eddie Harris, vice chairman of the Surry County Board of Commissioners, welcomed everyone back and recognized his colleagues from the county board of commissioners, Larry Philips and Larry Johnson.
“It’s always a privilege as a county commissioner to work with you,” said Harris.
James Westbrook of the Elkin Academic Enrichment Foundation (EAEF) spoke about a coming fundraiser for the schools.
“All of you are chomping at the bit to get to the classroom to prepare for your students,” said Westbrook. “I had the privilege last year of introducing the EAEF. We are a non-profit, charitable organization, tax deductible to help you and your classrooms with expenses that the budget cannot meet. We will be having a fundraiser at Elkin Elementary School on Sept. 16 starting 6 p.m. and it’s a Bingo night. We have some great prizes such as a Myrtle Beach getaway and a lot of other fine gifts.”
Casey Morrison, principal of Elkin Middle School, and Joel Hoyle, principal of Elkin High School, introduced the new staff members for the Elkin schools. Also, a video was presented to drive teachers to encourage, connect, and inspire this school year.
“Encouragement is important all the time, not only for our students but also for our teamwork,” said Martin.
Gary York, owner and CEO of WIFM, talked about how it takes a community to raise children and the importance of the Elkin schools in that endeavor.
“It’s an honor to be with you,” said York. “We’re all educators. We’ve all had opportunities to set a good example. Over the years I’ve had to meet Jay Blackburn, number one in his class. He said, in an interview, that his preparation and his special years here prepared him for the Naval Academy. We’re out here today because we believe that family matters. We believe that educators matter. We believe that it takes a community to have outstanding children. We gather, we give, we share, we care. The great writer C.S. Lewis once said that the only people who see miracles are those looking for miracles. If you see a miracle, let us know about it.”
Chad Tidd, owner and operator of Chick-fil-A in Mount Airy, spoke about striving to better one’s self. Tidd also gave a gift of digital offer cards and coupons.
”Anybody in the room run, besides me?” asked Tidd. “I love running because it’s a competition against me. I run with some other guys in the morning and I like to beat them at the end of the day if I can, but all that said, I know my own potential. Excellence is about competing against yourself. You know where you’re strong. You also know where you’re not so strong.”
Martin talked about an Arizona High School teacher named Fredi Lajvardi who led a team of high school students from Carl Hayden Community High School to defeat college teams, including MIT, in an underwater robotic competition.
“It was an inner city high school,” said Martin. “Very poor kids, no equipment, kids were very disrespectful. He managed to engage and encouraged the students to get involved in a science club. He wanted his kids to see they could see excellence and go to college. Long story short, this little high school group of kids won the competition. This teacher is a real hero to education and inspiring young people to be successful.”
Martin talked about celebrations. When the State Board of Education released all the test score data and graduation rates, Elkin High School had a graduation rate of 95.2 percent this year, the highest it’s ever been in Elkin and one of the highest rates in the entire state.
“Across the nation, we talk about a lot of discussion about students being college and career ready. Elkin High School’s graduation rate reflects every employee in the team, from the teachers to the bus drivers to the administrators,” said Martin. “Let us continue to encourage, connect with, and inspire our students as they prepare for college and the future. I hope all of you have a great school year. I look forward to seeing you and hearing what you’re doing.”
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.