LAURINBURG — Christmas came early for the Scotland County Board of Education on Monday in the form of recent student accomplishments in athletics, arts, and academics —the recognition of which comprised most of the board’s regular December meeting.
The board opened, after the Wagram Elementary chorus’ performance of Christmas carols, by unanimously re-electing Jeff Byrd as chairman and Darrel Gibson as vice-chairman. Byrd, a pediatrician, is currently serving his second term as a school board member and has just completed his first year as chair.
“I’ve enjoyed this past year, even thought we’ve had many meetings and spent many hours together,” Byrd said, alluding to special board and community meetings held during the first half of the year while the board considered the closure of Washington Park and Pate-Gardner schools. “We have a very collegial board that I know puts countless amounts of thought into what they do up here. I know it isn’t always appreciated from everyone, but I definitely appreciate your hard work.”
Recognitions on Monday night included Scotland High School senior Walter Jackson, IV, who was one of two students in North Carolina to receive a $5,000 U.S. Senate Youth Scholarship. That scholarship also comes with a visit to the nation’s capital in March.
“I’ll be able to spend a week in Washington, D.C. and interact with senators, senior State Department officials, as well as have the chance to meet a Supreme Court justice,” said Jackson. “In the past years, each set of delegates has had the opportunity to go to the White House and hear President Obama speak, so I’m hoping our delegation has that opportunity.”
The board also met the students behind the artwork featured on this year’s school system Christmas card: Wagram Elementary fifth graders Bradley Heider and Jenny Zhang, I. Ellis Johnson fifth grader Galilea Schultz, and Sycamore Lane fifth grader Stacey Cardona.
Members of the Carver Middle School football, volleyball, and cross country teams were also applauded for regional championships in their respective sports.
For Superintendent Ron Hargrave, the array of student talent on display was proof that the school system is doing something right.
“I think tonight is a prime example of some of the wonderful things that are taking place,” he said. “We have some bright, bright, bright young people in this school district. We just need to keep pushing them and keep working with them, we just need to keep bringing out the greatness that they have within them and we’ll continue to be able to recognize students for the outstanding talents that they have.”
In other business on Monday, the board gave approved a course credit policy change made by the N.C. State Board of Education to take local effect. The policy change means that students who retake a course after failing will not be stuck with a failing grade.
“In the past, if they repeated the course, the failing grade stayed in,” said assistant curriculum superintendent Valarie Williams. “Now, if they repeat the course, the grade of F is removed and the passing grade is the one that goes in the student’s transcript.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.