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Good News Spotlight – April 7, 2015
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STEM team recognized for achievements

The East Coast STARZ, the name given to a group of students involved in a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) youth program serving less privileged students, were recognized for their recent accomplishments.

The STARZ  group get together after school a couple of times a month. This year they decided to take on a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) project-based learning program challenging students to use STEM and apply it to creating and optimizing the performance of a remote-controlled race car. The grant funding for the program was received through the Workforce Investment Act Youth Program.

The challenge offers a wide range of subjects for investigation with real mathematics and data at the center including scale, ratio, acceleration and velocity. And there were other roles team members had to determine including who was best suited to do the design and graphics on the race car, which would drive, be on the pit crew, handle marketing and handle the panel presentations.

The grant paved the way for students to not only participate in the program but to also compete in the National STEM LeagueTen80 Student Racing Challenge Alabama Invitational held Nov. 13.

The nine member team traveled to Alabama to participate in the Invitational to compete against seven other teams from the region; coach Jennifer Simmons figured it would be a great learning experience for them. Much to her surprise and delight, they excelled! They engineered a fast, stable car that didn’t take first place in any race, but did place well in all the races. Race results combined with points received for their design, presentation, pit crew challenge and other events gave them enough points to take the day.  They returned home the Grand Champions having taken First Place in the Invitational in addition to earning the trophy for the Driver’s Challenge and they brought home the award for Excellence in Teamwork. The judges, as well as member of the other teams, applauded the East Coast STARZ for demonstrating exemplary teamwork, sportsmanship and positive attitudes throughout the entire competition.

John Shannon, director of Career and Technical Education Services, congratulated each member of the East Coast STARZ for earning the title Ten80 Alabama Invitational Grand Champions. He was proud to report the group have accepted an invitation to the 215 Ten80 National STEM League Finals to be held May 15-16 in Houston, Texas. This time they are going not only to have fun, but to win.

Their next goal is to raise $12,000 needed to pay their travel expenses and they hope they reach their goal so ever team member can participate this time.

The STARZ team members include: Catyana Brown, Franklin Walton, and Jon Zepeda, all of Jacksonville High School; Esmeralda Echcevvarria of Northside High School; Ryan Given of Southwest High School; Latasha Oates of Richlands High School; and Najee Adams, Selina Chambers, Mykael Cousar, Hennessey Cousar, Crystal Cousar, Raekwon Wooten, Brandon Wooten, Tasheanna Campbell, Michael Boulanger, and Warren Shepard, all of White Oak High School.


WIA Youth Program Coordinator and Career Development Coordinator Francisca Gray recognized for her services

John Shannon, director of Career and Technical Education Services, also recognized Francisca Gray, the district WIA Youth Program Coordinator and Career Development Coordinator, for her support of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) youth program, serving less privileged students.

Gray’s grant writing expertise enabled the East Coast STARZ to get grant money from The East Carolina Work Force Development Board for the remote-controlled race car STEM challenge, paving the way for them to compete in student racing challenges.


CJay Sparks awarded the 2014-15 Gatorade State Boys Soccer Player of the Year

Brendan Gartner, director of Student Services, announced Jacksonville High School’s Clayton (CJay) Sparks has been awarded the 2014-15 Gatorade State Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
This is the pinnacle of high school awards. The award is given in honor of an athlete’s excellence and character, both on and off the field.
The senior forward/midfielder scored 47 goals and passed for 12 assists this past season in leading the Jacksonville High School team to its 10th consecutive NCHSAA 3-A East Regional final. As an All-American selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, he concluded his prep soccer career with 121 goals and 52 assists. He served as team captain the past two years.
His academic achievement is equal to his talent on the field as he has maintained a 4.2 weighted grade point average. He has also been involved in the community through his association with the Jacksonville High Rotary International Interact Club.
Sparks has signed with N. C. State and has already begun working out in preparation for the Wolfpack Soccer Team.


Teacher Assistant of the Year

Associate Superintendent Dr. Lesley Eason informed Board members and the audience that OCTAA (Onslow County Teacher Assistants Association) has selected Aisha White-Brown, a Teacher Assistant at Swansboro Middle School, as its 2015 Onslow County Teacher Assistant of the Year. She will be recognized at the OCTAA Teacher Assistance Banquet April 24, at Jacksonville High School.

Aisha White – Brown is a 1995 graduate of Southwest High School. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2001 with a degree in History. From February 2006 to present, she served as an Exceptional Children (EC) Teacher Assistant at Swansboro Middle School, beginning in the Severe and Profound classroom. From 2008 to 2014, Mrs. Brown worked in the Social Skills (Behavioral/Emotional Disability-BED) classroom. Presently, she does test pull-out for EC students taking them from the classroom setting to test them one-on-one in a separate setting. She transitions with students in between classes, and accommodates, aids, and assists them in the classroom. Mrs. Brown also had the opportunity to teach at Sylvan Ace It Afterschool Program tutoring Onslow County School students at Clyde Erwin, Richlands, and Morton Elementary Schools. In addition, she is certified in Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI), has her Effective Teacher Training for Onslow County Schools, and Professional Development Plan (PDP) Baccalaureate Certificate from the North Carolina Association of Teacher Assistants (NCATA). She is currently working to re-enroll into UNCW to finish her teacher licensure.


Month of the Military Child Presentation

Associate Superintendent Dr. Lesley Eason, Camp Lejeune Military Liaison Officer Donna Grady and Military Transition Counselor Brittany Norman acknowledged April as the Month of the Military Child. Recognizing that 10,221 students in Onslow County Schools are military impacted, having a program like the MFLC program (military family liaison counselor) to support these families is invaluable. This year students were invited to write an essay on “Being a Military Child.” Three students from each school were selected to receive awards for their essays. Four students were invited to read their essays to the Board and audience, Gianna Mendina, from Hunters Creek Elementary, Olivia Burnd, Swansboro Middle School, Giovonni Figueroa, Carolina Forest International Elementary and Faith Merkel, Queens Creek Elementary.

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