A superhero theme — complete with the Elks mascot wearing a cape and mask and Dr. Myra Cox in a Super-intendent cape — kicked off Elkin City Schools’ 2018-19 school year. Teachers and staff were welcomed back during convocation Monday morning in the Dixon Auditorium at Elkin High School.
The KAPOW isn’t just from comic book language; for Elkin City Schools, it stands for Kids Are the Purpose of Our Work and is the theme for the school year.
While the superheroes of the comics, Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, portrayed by Elkin’s administrators in disguise, filled the stage at one point during the gathering, the true superheroes were in the seats of the auditorium as speakers explained how important their roles were in children’s lives.
“I am not Snow White, but I am your Super-intendent,” said Cox as she opened the convocation showing off her cape, following the presentation of colors by the Elkin High School JROTC and singing of the national anthem by Sarah Kerr and Tonya Smith.
“As a child, when you were thinking about what you wanted to be when you were growing up, did you every imagine in your wildest dreams being a superhero? Someone with supernatural powers? Dedicated to fighting evil in the world? Protecting the innocent or battling villains? Today, those questions will be answered,” she said.
“Before you walk out of those doors and into the 2018-19 school year, you will know without a shadow of a doubt that you must have the courage, bravery and selflessness that lies deep within each of us to reach and teach the students in Elkin City Schools, because,” she had the gathered crowd say in unison, “KAPOW! KAPOW! KAPOW!” “Yes, because Kids Are the Purpose of Our Work, and it all starts with the Big E.”
The Big E is a comic panel with a superhero’s button-down shirt opening to reveal its muscular chest with a big Elkin City Schools font E on the chest. It was designed by ECS Career and Technical Education Director Beth Felts as part of a slide show featuring the school system’s mission and beliefs in various comics-style panels.
“Words of inspiration today come from one of my own personal stories,” said school board Vice Chairman Richard Brinegar as he welcomed the employees back. “Growing up as a young man, I was a big fan of superheroes and Justice League comic books, on TV and in the comics, the headquarters of the superheroes was a beautiful, tall building that lit up at night.
“Wow, I had a building just like that near my house, so was I also privileged to have their headquarters next to my house?” he asked. “As a big fan, I sure felt very secure that the superheroes had their headquarters in my backyard. I looked around every chance that I got, but I never did see Superman, or Green Lantern, or Wonder Woman, or even Batman or Robin fly over my neighborhood.”
Instead as he grew up, Brinegar recognized other superheroes in his life guiding him. “For example, that was the anatomy professor in school who ensured me that my first test score of 13 was not the apocalyptic ending of my universe as I thought it was.”
He went on to share other examples, filled with comic relief, of how teachers and staff members had influenced him during his life. “They wanted me to see myself in a better way,” he said.
As he closed his welcome, he opened his button-down shirt to reveal the symbol of the Green Lantern, his favorite superhero.
Missy Fuentes Delgado, a rising senior at Elkin High School, shared a message on the difficult topic of suicide, especially among teens, and said sometimes all it takes is asking if someone’s day is OK to change a person’s life. She shared the story of a lady who ran into a teacher who didn’t remember her, but the lady explained to the teacher who she’d saved her life, by simply asking if she was OK on a day she’d planned to go home and commit suicide.
“My friends, the time has come for us to once again put on our superhero capes, because we have an important job to do,” said Karen Spencer, the 2018-19 Teacher of the Year for the school system.
“I forgot my costume, and I apologize for that. I grew up a huge fan of comics book, I was 4 or 5 I would get my mother to read these things to me,” said James Freeman, chairman of the school board as he closed out the morning program.
As he was emotionally moved, Freeman reminded those gathered of the qualities of superheroes that were demonstrated by examples shared by Trisha Caviness-Bliss and Dr. Betsy Rosenbalm of Appalachian State University who were guest speakers.
He noted his belief that “the time each person in Elkin City Schools is willing to spend with each child to make sure they have every opportunity to meet their God-given ability” is what sets ECS apart from other systems.
Students in Elkin City Schools will return to class Aug. 27.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.