The true spirit of Christmas is alive at Conway Junior High School this week.
Thanks to a new school-wide project, all CJHS students can have a Merry Christmas this year.
Working together, the teachers and the students took on "Project Christmas Angel"-an effort that provided Christmas presents for junior high students and their siblings who were in need this season.
Administrators worked together with the teachers and counselors to identify the "angels"--each one was given a "needs list" and a "dream list." Once these lists were made, the homeroom classes got busy!
"This has bonded the students and teachers in ways we could never have imagined," says Assistant Principal Pam Ferguson. "The stories are unbelievable! Some classes are even shopping together...students, parents, and teachers! Everyone had a blast! Today the 8th grade football team came to my office, bringing the gifts they had bought for their angel. Everyone is excited about this!"
All together 51 teachers and 39 classrooms are participating in the project. They will provide Christmas for 46 students this year.
Local businesses have heard of their project and offered to help the students as well. Reliance Healthcare has adopted one entire family, the Highway 65 Wal-Mart donated all of the wrapping paper and boxes needed to wrap all of the gifts, and the choir from Central Baptist Church donated $250 for the Christmas Angels. Other local businesses offered discounts or donations as teachers and students were shopping for the angels and described the project.
"I'm just blown away at the response," Ferguson says. "Even students who don't have much to give are coming to their teachers and saying "I don't have any money but I want to give what I have to this project. It has brought tears to my eyes every day this week."
Ferguson says in all her years of education, this is the most amazing thing she's ever been a part of. Her teachers agree, saying the students are learning important lessons, ones you can't learn from "books."
"You get what you give," says Tyre Ross, a 9th grade student in Jake Stroman's Civics class. Their class adopted and shopped for three angels. Ross and his classmates wrapped the numerous presents for their angels Thursday afternoon.
"We just wanted to make a kid's Christmas a good one." says 9th grader Jadon Pierce.
"These are life lessons," says Ferguson. "It teaches kids what it feels like to be a part of something bigger than themselves."
The Conway Athletic Awards Commission has announced their 2015 awards winners. Conway Public Schools Assistant Athletic Director Janet Taylor has been awarded the Elijah Pitts Award for Career Achievement.
Coach Taylor’s award comes after a 25-year coaching career at Conway High School, where she has won championships in girls’ volleyball, basketball, and boys’ and girls’ golf. She currently serves as the Assistant Athletic Director, PE Coordinator, and the head golf coach.
Named for Conway native and football legend Elijah Pitts, this award is bestowed annually upon a Conway sportsman for career achievement. Coach Taylor is the first –ever female recipient of this award.
Conway Athletic Director Steve Daniels says he cannot think of another person more deserving of this award.
“ Janet exemplifies what coaching is all about. Her coaching record is beyond impressive, and that is what many will talk about since she has won numerous championships in girls’ basketball, volleyball, and now boys’ and girls’ golf, “ says Daniels. “I have had the privilege of watching her coach for 25 years. All great coaches have certain qualities. They have to be great teachers, have a desire to prepare young people for life's challenges, and realize the important role a coach plays in a kid's life. Janet more than covers these qualities, and that is evident by the number of former athletes that still seek her out for advice. Even as impressive as her win/loss record is, I would think those qualities I mentioned are what she is concerned with most.”
Conway High School’s Taylor Gault has also received an award from the Athletic Awards Commission. Gault is the female recipient of the 2015 Marvin Delph Sportsman of the Year Award, presented to two young athletes each year in honor of Delph, a 1974 Conway High School graduate.
The recipients were chosen by local media and college representatives, and will be honored at an awards banquet on Sunday January 31st at CBC’s Mabee Center.
Other Conway student-athletes receiving awards at this banquet include:
Conway Junior High Blue Team: Bailey Burk & Jadah Pickens
Slayde Smith & Xavier Robertson
Conway Junior High White Team: Addison Jordan & Kalista Love
Parker Prock & Haze Denton
These 8th graders will receive the Marvin Delph Student-Athlete Award. Their coaches and administrators chose them, based on their performance in the classroom and in their sports.
Students and faculty at Ida Burns Elementary School are making Christmas wishes.
But you won't find any toys or video games listed here.
Each member of the Ida Burns "family" placed a special wish on their "wishing tree" this year. The wishes could be anything...except they couldn't cost money.
"With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, sometimes it's easy to lose our focus, so this is a powerful reminder of what's important." says Nicole Loftis, Instructional Facilitator at Ida Burns Elementary.
Many of the wishes were very emotional, and included "a cure for breast cancer" and "my mom and dad wouldn't get angry any more."
Ida Burns Principal Cindy Thacker says she is grateful for the visible reminder of Christmas blessings.
"This wall will make you have a reality check with your life and realize how lucky you are. We have so much to be thankful for."
"If only Santa could grant these wishes," says Loftis, "Our world would be a better place!"
Jillian Tang, a 16-year-old Junior at Conway High School, has made the “perfect score” of 36 on the ACT.
Tang, the daughter of Chiung-Fang Liang, took the test in October. This was her first time to take the exam in high school. She previously took the ACT as part of the Duke Talent Identification Program in middle school, where she scored a 30 in the 7th grade.
“I felt pretty confident coming out of it,” says Tang, who is taking several Advanced Placement Classes at Conway High School. “I felt like I was well-prepared for the test, so I wasn't stressed about it.”
Jillian Tang says she took the PSAT Prep Course offered at Conway High School over the summer, which helped her with test-taking techniques and vocabulary. But she says most of her preparation has been long term, taking college-level AP classes and maximizing her time in high school. When the scores came out, Tang saw that her hard work had paid off.
“I actually felt really relieved,” she said, “Of course my mom was very happy for me!”
Tang says her next steps include taking the SAT in hopes of qualifying for a National Merit Scholarship, and doing whatever she can to enrich her last year and a half of high school. She is a member of the Quiz Bowl team and serves as the pianist for the Arkansas Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Her plans after high school aren’t finalized, but right now she wants to stay close to home.
“At this point my plan is to study at UCA. I plan to study piano performance with Dr. Carl Anthony. At the same time, I want to build a firm foundation in math and science and establish strong research skills, so one degree in piano performance and one degree in biology seems like the best combination for me right now.”
Conway High School Principal Joel Linn says we will see more great things from Tang in the future.
“We are extremely proud of Jillian. She is an excellent student and an amazingly talented young lady. Her accomplishments are a direct reflection of the hard work she puts into her academic studies, the great support she has at home, and the dedicated work of all the teachers she has had at Conway Public Schools.”
When asked about her favorite classes, Jillian says she loves all of them.
“I’ve had many great teachers. They’ve truly gone the extra mile to help me achieve my goals.”
“Most people thing I have a “tiger mom”, especially since I’m Asian, but actually my mom gives me a lot of freedom to pursue my personal goals,” Tang says. “With my mom’s support, I’m able to follow my passions in two completely different fields. Many people call me a dreamer, but she believes in me so that my fairy tales have a chance to become true.”
Three young Conway athletes celebrated a victory in the Special Olympics State Bowling Tournament this month.
These young men from Theodore Jones Elementary School qualified to compete at state based on their scores from the Area 17 bowling tournament in November. At the State Tournament, they placed first in Male Doubles Ages 8-12 and 3rd place in Ramp Bowling Ages 8-12.
Their teacher/coach, Amy Hubbard, says it is a wonderful experience for these kids.
"Special Olympics provides these students and their parents with life changing and rewarding experiences. The athletes' oath says it all: "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." As a coach, I'm thankful for the opportunity to learn from these remarkable athletes!"
The next event for these athletes will be Special Olympics Track and Field Tournament in April, which will be held at Conway High School.
Students all over the district are participating in the "Hour of Code" project this week.
This week, almost 200, 000 groups from around the world will log on to their computers to complete introductory coding activities as part of the "Hour of Code" initiative.
Many Conway elementary students are coding in their GT classes.
The coding activities for elementary kids include fun activities such as animating their names or working with popular video game or movie characters.
"The students LOVE IT, because they “think” they are playing but they are really learning to write computer code," says Starla Gresham, Gifted and Talented Teacher at Jim Stone Elementary School.
Kindergarten students used techniques such as click, drop, and drag to create gingerbread houses. Third and Fourth grade students created code to manipulate the character "BB8" from the new Star Wars movie.
"The kids had so much fun that they asked for the address to the star wars activity to recreate it at home," says Jennifer Epps, Library/Media Specialist at Julia Lee Moore Elementary School.
Certificates are awarded through the code.org site to students who complete the activity.
Teachers say they were impressed with how the kids were quick to help and congratulate one another as they progressed through the levels. The students say they would like to do more of these activities.
The movement is a part of Computer Science Education Week, and this is the 3rd Annual "Hour of Code" event.
Conway High School Accounting students win $8,000 in scholarships plus other prizes in the AT&T Business Challenge.
Two teams from Conway High School participated in the Business Challenge competition this last weekend.
The senior girls' team won first place, each receiving a $2,000 scholarship from AT&T.
The boys' team, featuring three juniors and one senior, won third place.
Before the business challenge, these Accounting students participated in the Junior Achievement's "Titan" program, which introduces them to the concepts and skills they need in order to compete in the challenge.
The AT&T Business Challenge is a business/economics skills competition that focuses on areas such as price and production, research and development, marketing strategies, charitable giving, and capital investment. The students are evaluated on skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and business strategy.
Members of the Grand Champion Senior Girls' Team, (pictured left to right) are Daija Brown, Meredith Ott, Alyssa Harding, and Cassidy Cook. Also pictured is their teacher, Alyce Hardee, James Linker, SWN mentor/consultant, and Maria Quinones, AT&T Representative.
The Boys' Team (pictured, left to right) -- Jeff Glenn, Christian Flowers, Nic Haines, Zac Webster – won $400 in Dillard's gift cards.
"I am so extremely proud of these students. This is what makes teaching worth it," says teacher Alyce Hardee. "Seeing their faces when they won and placed in the top tier of the competition was worth a million dollars. They have worked tremendously hard the last few weeks on preparing for this competition. These students walked away with not only prizes but a valuable experience of how the business world operates."
Theodore Jones Elementary School receives a "double blessing" as two of their staff members are honored by the Pi Beta Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education at the University of Central Arkansas.
Maddi Mosler was awarded Student Intern of the Semester and Lindsey Jones was awarded Mentor Teacher of the Semester. This has only happened one other time, that a Mentor and Intern team have both been awarded at the same time.
Jones is in her 6th year of teaching at Theodore Jones Elementary School. Her principal says she and Mosler were a "dream team" from the start.
“From the first day this dynamic duo taught together, great things happened for our kids. Their passion, knowledge and dedication helped to motivate students and make them excited about school and learning." says Dr. Tammy Woosley. "We are very proud of Lindsey and Maddi both.”
Jones says she was truly humbled by her award but was most excited for her student intern, whom she says has tremendous potential.
"I was impressed with Maddi from day one. Her continued eagerness to learn, her positive attitude, and her sunny disposition have already set her up for a successful career. She loved each child and worked daily to strengthen her relationships with my students. I hope my little girl can be in her class someday!”
Maddi Mosler had simple, yet perhaps the highest praise for her mentor teacher.
"I truly feel like I have become a teacher this semester and I would not have made it without Ms. Jones."
Jones and Mosler were honored at a ceremony at UCA. They will be formally recognized at the College of Education's Pinning Ceremony in the Spring.
Construction crews are working hard on the remodel of Ida Burns Elementary School.
The foundation for the new building is in place and the walls are going up!
Faculty, staff, and students are excited about the new construction, which has been underway since last summer.
"We are SO excited to see walls going up at Ida Burns!" says Tami Burcham, Ida Burns Assistant Principal. "So far, there has been mostly dirt work in preparing for the foundation. One of our Kindergarten students asked just a few weeks ago when the workers were going to “quit playing in the dirt” and start “building something!” We can’t wait to see even more progress on our new building!"
The new building will include state-of-the-art classrooms, office space, and a health room. It will also house the district's third "safe room." This will give students and teachers a place to take shelter during severe weather.
Complete plans for the remodel include this new building, as well as renovating two of the school's current buildings, and significantly expanding parking at the campus.
"We have had a lot of rain but Nabholz crews have been working hard to keep us on track," says Assistant Superintendent Carroll Bishop. "We are excited about restoring a neighborhood school that has meant so much to our community."
The newly remodeled Ida Burns Elementary School will be ready for students for the 2016-17 School Year.
Conway Public Schools News
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