Northampton schools celebrate success

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 17, 2003


Last week, Northampton County High School East was host to a celebration to recognize and honor employees of Northampton County Schools.

The school’s Principal Terence Wyche opened the celebration with a thought-provoking poem by Linda Ellis. The poem described the significance of the ‘dash’ between the dates of a person’s birth and death, as that which a person has accomplished in the years he/she was living emphasizing that ‘if we could just slow down and consider what’s true and real,’ our lives would bear more meaning and fullness.

Wyche stood at the front of the auditorium and welcomed the faculty members, workers and guests stating that he was &uot;honored, esteemed and privileged&uot; to have them all there.

He encouraged those visiting to &uot;come see us again to see what we’re doing, not just on special occasions&uot; stating that sometimes, when we celebrate accomplishments, they are not always based on progress individually, but collectively, as a whole.

&uot;It’s not the beginning or the end, but what you do with the years in between that matters most.&uot;

Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Brenda Taylor, commended faculty, staff and all other contributors, including students that &uot;success would not be possible without (their) dedication.&uot; She spoke of how the schools, as a whole, had &uot;achieved so much&uot; and how they should be proud of their accomplishments and hard work stating, &uot;you have helped us to reach new heights, but not a plateau.

&uot;We grew out of challenges and look forward to another year where we will have the opportunity to change lives offering unparalleled benefits to the students and community.&uot; She admonished her audience that, &uot;it is not where we stand but which direction we’re going&uot; that matters.

Before serving a buffet-style meal, Reverend Mark Barfield, a teacher at NCHS East, was asked to give an invocation. Rev. Barfield closed his eyes and offered up a prayer of thanksgiving for the &uot;life, health and strength&uot; of those present and asked a special &uot;blessing on the schools, individually and collectively,&uot; asking God to &uot;impart wisdom&uot; and knowledge to faculty, staff, administrators and students as they &uot;strive for excellence.&uot;

As attendees assembled in an orderly fashion to partake of the classic NC barbecue, fried chicken, corn, potatoes, slaw, hush puppies, sweet tea and banana pudding, NCHS East band students played musical scores directed by Ferdinand Cooper.

In recognition of the special guests, Assistant Superintendent Phil Matthews paid a verbal tribute to the veterans who served the United States in the armed forces stating, &uot;I would be amiss if I neglected to thank our veterans for their tremendous contribution.

He also expressed the deep honor in knowing that some of the students from previous years had gone on to serve the nation in that capacity stating, &uot;It’s very humbling to think you’ve touched the life of those now serving in the armed forces.&uot;

Matthews also gave a special thanks to maintenance crews and other supporting staff. &uot;We are very fortunate for the gifts they have given us in their contribution to the educational system.&uot; He commended all of those who have &uot;done their part&uot; saying, &uot; You’re the reason we’re here. The students are the evidence of your labor and are better as a result of the hard work you’ve done.&uot;

Catherine Moody, Chairperson to the Board of Education, gave words of appreciation on behalf of the board for the accomplishments achieved in the 2002-2003 school year.

&uot;Today is a day for refraining from ordinary business to celebrate. When we started off this school year, we started off as family and we couldn’t have done this without the hard work and cooperation from each of you, the captains of the ships. We know that next year we will continue to have schools of distinction.

We want to shine. We want to be number one and all of you are number one because you are here today.&uot;

Following Moody’s commendations, Superintendent James W. Pickens, Sr. gave special recognition to NC Senator Robert Holloman, introducing him by saying, &uot;I am proud to know him and glad that I can discuss things with him.&uot;

Holloman addressed the guests, thanking them for allowing him to share with them what was on his heart.

He stated that since his arrival to the Senate, last January 24, that he had not once seen an employee appreciation and offered his approval. He announced, &uot;We all know our budget is out of wack, but help is on the way. In 30-45 days we will be receiving a check to support this project.&uot;

After the applause of the unsuspecting crowd died down, he continued, &uot;That just goes to show what happens when they say there’s no money and you know the right buttons to push! Good things come to those who wait.&uot; He assured attendees, as pastor of a church with Northampton County as his base, that he would do all in his power to &uot;look out for his own&uot; and make sure that they’re &uot;well taken care of.&uot; He continued saying, &uot;We may not have very much financially in this county in comparison to other counties, but we have people that love people and if we continue to unify ourselves, we can make a difference.

We have a lot of love and pride and we will continue to work on getting more projects and things needed for the schools. God bless you!&uot;

Director, Marvin Pittman, of the School Improvement Division dealing with Curriculum and School Reform Service from the State Board of Education Department of Public Instruction of NC, commended the school for being proactive in their approach to raising the standard for education stating, &uot;Normally, when we visit with schools it is because we have called them to request permission to share information that might help them. In this case, your school system called us to come. That says a lot about leadership and I commend Mr. Pickens for making it a conscious effort to better the administration.&uot;

Pittman said that the county reminded him a lot of Edgecombe County, where he grew up and stated, &uot;When a school won’t allow poverty, race or things of that nature determine the achievement of its students, that speaks volumes. We believe in improving achievement for all students and in seeing the steps you have taken for the betterment of its students, we know you believe in their success too and that is good because education is everybody’s business.&uot;

Pickens commended the administration at the central office and all others that help to contribute to the smooth operation of educational practices in Northampton County for &uot;commitment, efforts and desire for positive change.&uot;

He also stated, &uot;I am proud of you as educators. You know some things need to change and you’re working towards those changes. You yourselves are veterans in your own right because you are working towards making sure every child of Northampton County gets the education they need and you fight that battle in the class room daily.

&uot;When the media called to check on the progress of our school last summer, I was so happy to tell them all the positive results of how wonderful we are doing. None of this would be possible were it not for the many supportive staff members.

&uot;The maintenance department, nutritionists, bus drivers, teacher assistants, guidance counselors, principals, postal workers, central office staff and the many others who play a part in the grand scheme of things. What would we do without each other?

&uot;I can’t do a thing without each one of you and if one person is out of place in your school, there is chaos. We need each other and the kids are learning because of you. You do a tremendous job.&uot;

As the ceremony continued, Taylor presented representatives from Garysburg Elementary, Jackson-Eastside Elementary and Willis Hare Elementary with banners recognizing them for being &uot;Schools of Distinction,&uot; for 2002-2003 school year, while Conway Middle School, Gaston Middle School, Rich Square-Creecy Elementary and Seaboard-Coates Elememtary were awarded for being &uot;Schools of Progress.&uot;

&uot;We are a team, family and friends and we definitely depend on one another,&uot; said Pickens. &uot;Without you, there is no future for Northampton County. The name of the game is to continue to make progress for all and as you do, we will continue to recognize you for all you do and continue to celebrate the future, not only for the children but for the entire county.&uot;

Pickens comments won him a standing ovation and a celebratory round of applause. &uot;Public education really determines the well being of a community,&uot; said Pittman. &uot;With a good network, the whole community will improve.&uot;