By Kendal Groner
The meeting room of the Unicoi County Board of Education was filled to maximum capacity during its April 17 meeting as the board recognized several Unicoi County High School students for their performances at recent CTE (Career Technical Education) competitions.
“We’re so fortunate to have these CTE competitions,” said John English, director of schools. “I want to say how much we appreciate both our students and our faculty.”
Kaitlin Rogers was recognized for earning first place in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) state competition for pin designs. Rogers has earned a graphic design scholarship and will be attending East Tennessee State University.
Several cosmetology students earned awards at both the state and regional level. Jaylyn Lane and her model Breanna Clawson earned first place at the state level for cosmetology and makeup application and job demonstration. Lane will represent Unicoi County at the SkillsUSA National Competition this summer.
Kailyn Marchant earned fifth place at the state in cosmetology. Nicole Bailey and her model Chloe Powers earned first place in nail art at the regional level. Allie Smith earned second place in evening style at the regional level. Isabella Yates and her model Holli Ollis earned third place in esthetics at the regional level.
From the culinary department, Whitney Mullet earned second place at the state level for restaurant service, Laura Withers earned fourth place at the state level for commercial baking and Isabella Thomas earned seventh place at the state for culinary arts.
Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) winners included Elizabeth Sutphin and LeAnna Hager, who earned first place at the regional and state level for their forensics team. Sutphin and Hager will be attending nationals in Dallas, Texas, this summer.
Also, Cierra Potter won fourth place in regionals for public speaking. Mikkayla King earned fifth place at regionals for medical reading. Garrett Manuel earned fourth place at regionals for medical math. Zoie Stout qualified for state with the healthcare issues exam. From the welding class, Max Clouse earned first place at the region.
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Chris Bogart, principal of Unicoi County High School, gave a program update for the high school that recapped key events and successes of the past school year and also looked ahead to new plans in store for the students and faculty.
“One of the first things we did this year, and we did it with teachers as well, is to really start focusing on goals,” Bogart said.
Each homeroom had students put goals on paper before they were placed on a visual goal board. The students were tasked with defining a personal, professional and technology related goal.
“It’s been a really good visual reminder for students,” said Bogart.
Each week, Bogart said he sent out a Monday memo with a question related to their motto of “pride, passion and purpose.” The teachers used the Monday memos for writing assignments or class discussions.
“What does it mean to take pride in something? What are you most proud of in your life? Why is it that you like what you like?” Bogart said, giving examples of questions he asked.
A school climate survey at the high school had more than 500 responses from students and asked students to rate the accuracy of questions about their high school experience on a one-to-five scale.
When asked if students felt that their teachers take time to listen, teachers care about them and have confidence in them, and the administration treats students with respect, all areas scored over a four.
“Those were some of the highest scoring aspects of the survey and that says a lot about our staff and the connections they are making with their students,” Bogart said.
Areas where Bogart said they can improve are with the relationships students have with one another, and that is something he says they will continue to work on.
Faculty and staff helped select 30 high school juniors to serve as P3 (pride, passion, and purpose) mentors to incoming freshman. The mentors will work to establish a sense of community, build relationships and convey the P3 motto with the freshmen.
“Our goal is for them to inspire and keep accountable those incoming freshman and really just show them the ropes,” Bogart said.
They are also looking to organize into career academies to increase student motivation. The academies will be broken up according to the arts, automotive, manufacturing and services, STEM and humanities divisions.
Bogart said this will help create real world connections with what the students’ future aspirations are.
The following events were hosted through the high school this year: a ninth grade ice cream social to start the year, a 9/11 ceremony, homecoming luncheon, senior summit to discuss life after high school, supporting all cancers week, Harry Potter week, multiple career trips and a visit by U.S. Congressman Phil Roe.
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Also during the meeting, the Unicoi County School System received a donation from its district partner Nuclear Fuel Services. The donation allowed for the purchase of four complete classroom sets of calculators, worth approximately $3,380.
“The donation has made a tremendous difference,” said English. “NFS has been and continues to be a wonderful partner with the school system.”
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The board recognized Kay Peterson, who is retiring as a faculty member at the Unicoi County Middle School after 21 years of service.
“She made an impact every single day and she’s been a big part of our school system,” said English. “She is so dedicated and we will miss her dearly.”
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In other business, the board unanimously approved tenure for the following teachers: Patience Erwin, Brandi Foltz, Summer Hughes, Amanda Cook, Alicia Keplinger, Kerry Miller, Christy Miller, Kelly Pate, Christol Edney, Amy Engle, Jamie Harris, Cindy Petty and Elizabeth Pleasant.
The board also unanimously approved a budget amendment in the amount of $2,028,091.76 to the original general purpose budget for 2017-2018.
The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are being replaced at Unicoi County Elementary School and Love Chapel Elementary School and are reflected in the budget amendment, as well as the second phase of the reroofing project at Unicoi County High School.
“Those three capital projects make up $1,870,000 of that amendment,” said English. “We are absorbing those costs without asking the county to fund any part of that.”