Approximately 650 school system faculty, staff, and administrators gathered at Alexander Central Auditorium for the 2019-2020 Opening Session for Alexander County Schools August 20.
School Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner welcomed school system employees, school board members, county administration, and county commissioners to the ceremony.
Instrumental music for the event was provided by Jordan Dagenhart, music teacher at Hiddenite Elementary. Reverend Chris Meade, lead pastor of Crosspoint Church, led the invocation for the event. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Alexander Central High School student body leadership, Izzy Holloway, president, and Sophia Muscarelli, vice president. The national anthem was performed by LaRhonda Carlton, teacher at Wittenburg Elementary School.
Executive Director of Auxiliary Services Dr. Alisha Cloer introduced school administrators, who then introduced new school personnel, and all school staff members at each of their respective schools. School Board Chairman David Odom made remarks on behalf of the Board of Education. County Commissioner Chairman Dr. Jeff Peal brought remarks on behalf of the County Commissioners.
Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner began her presentation titled, Looking Beyond the Numbers, by identifying the purpose of several numbers displayed on the screen. The number 4,895 represents the number of students in the school system. While 79 was the number of homeless children served in Alexander schools last year. Students in the system with a 504-determination due to a documented mental health condition was 124. She also shared the monthly average of 46.42 children were in foster care last year, and the average number of opioid pills dispensed per person in Alexander County was 98.4. Using these numbers to demonstrate the need for serving the whole child, Dr. Hefner discussed Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
Included in the presentation she also recognized school resource officers and the D.A.R.E officer as an intracule part of the leadership in our schools.
A video of the five celebration representatives: Beginning Teacher of the Year Melissa Canter, Certified Support Staff of the Year Kristen Jolly, Classified Support Staff of the Year Officer Mike Millsaps, Teacher of the Year Katie Smith, and Principal of the Year Charmion Frizsell, highlighted the importance of looking beyond the grades and focusing on the whole child.
LaRhonda Carlton closed the 2019-2020 Opening Session with the song, Rise Up. The inspiring rendition earned a standing ovation from school system staff.