Archive for the ‘Front Page News’ Category


New Apex Friendship High under construction

The new Apex Friendship High is under construction on Humie Olive Road in Apex. The new school design will have a 4-story classroom building to serve more than 2,200 students. Little Diversified Architectural Consulting designed the school that is being built by
Balfour Beatty/Metcon.

Wake Schools Receive Grants for Arts Education

United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County awarded $112,000 to 137 Wake schools to bring in teaching artists during the 2014/15 school year for performances and residencies that integrate the arts with core subjects. For more than 30 years, “Artists in the Schools” program sponsored by United Arts has placed professional artists in public, private and charter schools in Wake County. These artists work with faculty, students and cultural arts representatives to implement curriculum-based arts in education programs throughout the county.

In the 2013/2014 school year, the program supported 157,688 contact hours to 144,059 students. This school year will be no exception. With 311 funded events in 137 Wake schools, the arts will touch many students’ lives.

Wanda Hanley, 4th grade teacher at Turner Creek Elementary, had this to say about writer Tony Peacock:

“The students enjoy his style, learning about NC culture, writing strategies, and listening to him holler. I have seen many writers blossom due to his story telling and writing techniques he uses. We were so happy to have him again this year.”

In return, the artists in the United Arts’ Artist Directory enjoy the program as well.

Writer Tony Peacock returns to Turner Creek Elementary for a two-week residency each year. He says,

“I treasure the relationship that I’ve been able to build with the teachers and students at that school over the years. It’s been incredibly rewarding work!”

Five new magnets in 2015

Two schools will return to magnet status and three more will become magnets next school year, the WCPSS school board decided Tuesday evening.

Broughton High School and Daniels Middle School will be remagnetized. They were made traditional schools in 2008. Hodge Road, Jeffreys Grove and Stough elementary schools will become magnets.

The five schools will create a K-12 language immersion/global studies magnet pathway. Jeffreys Grove now offers a full immersion program in Spanish, Stough offers Chinese full immersion and Hodge Road has a dual-language Spanish immersion program. Making those schools magnets will open those options to students across the district.

The move will cost $180,959.

Learn more about these and all other magnet school options in the district on Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Magnet and Early College Fair, from 9 a.m. to noon at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School.



Vernon Malone to accept 9th-graders

Vernon Malone College and Career Academy will begin accepting 9th-graders next school year after the WCPSS school board approved the change Tuesday evening.

Vernon Malone opened this year with just grades 10-12. Enrollment was below expectations, and Tuesday’s move is seen as a way to boost that.

The school, located in the renovated former Coca-Cola plant on South Wilmington Street, is a unique partnership between WCPSS, Wake Technical Community College and Wake County Government. Students can complete their high school graduation requirements while pursuing one of 10 certificate or degree programs in hands-on courses of study taught by Wake Tech instructors.

The programs offered are: heating, air and refrigeration; biopharmaceutical technology; collision repair; cosmetology; electrical systems; geomatics technology; nursing assistant; plumbing; simulation & game development; and welding. Learn more about those programs by clicking HERE.




Board appoints new principals, administrators at October 21 meeting

The Board of Education approved the following staff appointments at its October 21 meeting:

  • Timothy Locklair, Principal of Holly Springs High School, has been appointed Western Area Superintendent.
  • Marlo Gaddis, Director of Instructional Technology and Media Services, has been appointed Senior Director of Instructional Technology and Media Services.
  • Candace Watson, Assistant Principal at Carnage Middle School, has been appointed Principal of Lacy Elementary School.
  • Charles Langley, retiree, has been appointed Interim Principal at West Lake Middle School.
  • Jennifer Lecorchick, Teacher at Wendell Elementary School, has been appointed Assistant Principal at Lockhart Elementary School.
  • Jonathan Jessup, Principal of Mattamuskeet Early College High School, Hyde County Schools, has been appointed Assistant Principal at Millbrook High School.
  • Michael Clinkscales, Teacher Coordinator at Magnet Leadership Laboratory, has been appointed Assistant Principal at East Garner Middle School.

Please note – This list includes new appointments. The board also may have approved contract extensions or modifications to current contracts for employees to continue serving in their current roles.

Prevention tips for cold and flu season

WCPSS wants all of our students and employees to practice healthy habits as we enter cold and flu season. Students, staff members and families are encouraged to consider the following in their daily routines:

Cover mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing

  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, throw it away and wash hands.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.

Clean hands often

  • Wash with soap and water.
  • Scrub all surfaces for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used.
  • When using a gel or wipe, rub until hands or wipes are dry.

Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth

Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.

Not feeling well?

Students and staff are encouraged to stay home when sick. If students become sick at school, parents will be called to come immediately.

Stay home if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100 degrees F or higher (Stay home until you have been without fever (without taking fever reducing medication) for at least 24 hours
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea (Stay home until you have been without vomiting or diarrhea for 12 hours)
  • Severe headache
  • Red, watery eyes with yellow discharge
  • Undiagnosed rash
  • Inability to attend to learning activities
  • Change in usual medical status

More facts and how-to Ideas

For questions regarding when to notify parent/guardian(s) of sick students please refer to your school’s “NC Emergency Guidelines for Schools” manual or the WCPSS website.

Colds, Flu, Virus Information for parents may be found on the WCPSS website:



Districtwide survey for input on learning, technology

WCPSS is a leader among school districts in instructional technology, but there is always more that can be done. One important component of giving our students the best we can offer academically is to listen to them, along with their parents, the broader community and, of course, our teachers.

We are partnering with Project Tomorrow SpeakUp to learn more about what those we serve think about learning in our schools, specifically around how technology supports that learning. SpeakUp is an online survey for teachers, parents, students and community supporters.

WCPSS encourages everyone who cares about their school to take the survey. You can do so by visiting and following the directions to select your category (parent, teacher, student, etc.), and then to select your school for the survey.

IMPORTANT: Students must enter a password for access. That password is wake2014.
The survey will close on Dec. 19, but don’t worry! We’ll send reminders periodically to ensure as much feedback as possible — from you!

All Hail Queen Gianna and King Jacob


Gianna and Jacob, third and fourth from left, at the Green Hope homecoming pep rally.

The worst-kept secret floating around Green Hope High School on homecoming Friday? The identities of the homecoming king and queen.

Often there’s buzz and speculation leading up to that fateful halftime ceremony, when the roses and sashes are finally dispensed and decades of tradition are honored.

But just about everyone at Green Hope that Friday, even as the whole homecoming court was trotted out during a pep rally, knew who would walk away with the crowns.

That is, except for the happy couple themselves, Gianna Giambalvo and Jacob Gutierrez. Happy being the operative word, because both were in happy-just-to-be-nominated mode.

“I’m not nervous,” Gianna said. “I’m pretty excited about it. It’s my dream.”

Since she started at Green Hope, Gianna, now a senior, showed interest in the homecoming king and queen tradition, peppering her sister, Nicolette, also a Green Hope senior, with questions about it.

“So I said to her this year, ‘Would you like to be nominated,'” Nicolette said. “She said, ‘Oh my gosh, yes.'”

So Nicolette did what all the kids do these days: She took to Twitter. Before long she had more than 1,000 retweets and favorites. Jacob’s little sister, Anna, got similar response to her Twitter campaign. For good measure, Nicolette walked down the halls calling out, “Who are you voting for for homecoming queen? Vote for my sister!”

And voila: Gianna and Jacob won in a landslide.

“This whole school has embraced them,” said Esther Giambalvo, Gianna’s mom. “The kids are great here.”

“It’s not what I expected,” Nicolette said of the outpouring of popular support from her classmates.

“I think it’s really nice that they know of their disability and say, ‘Of course I want them to win. It’ll make them so happy.'”

The H-word again.

Gianna and Jacob, who have Down’s Syndrome, have been friends since they met in 5th grade at Turner Creek and have, Nicolette says, “sort of dated.”

“Jacob is a very nice guy,” Nicolette said. “I love him.”

They were introduced last at the pep rally and got by far the biggest roar from the packed gymnasium. They beamed and blushed after completing their brief little dance out on the floor. They were happy, and yet it was just the prelude to their coronation that night, when they’d be let in on the secret everyone else already knew.

“She’s going to be talking about this,” Nicolette said, “for years.”

Click HERE and HERE for local media coverage of the happy event.

Click HERE to learn more about Disability History & Awareness Month at WCPSS and this year’s theme of “discoverability.”

The Tenacious Mrs. Black

There was a boy, we’ll call him M, who arrived at Apex Middle School an angry, troubled 6th grader. His anger manifested itself in all manner of outbursts that often got him removed from the classroom.

Enter Margie Black.

“He was very bright and musically inclined, but his behaviors impeded his academic performance,” says Margie, a special education teacher who’s spent 30 of her 40-year career at Apex middle. “M, from the first day at Apex Middle, demonstrated the behaviors he displayed at the elementary school. His teachers, administrators and I met with his grandmother. This was the beginning of a relationship between M, his grandmother and me that continues to this day.”

Margie developed a plan for M, providing him the additional help and resources he would need to overcome his emotional problems and succeed.

Fast forward a few years to Margie getting an invitation to attend M’s graduation from Apex High School. “You can imagine my joy,” Margie says. “M had overcome many adversities to attain this goal. As he proudly walked across the stage I had the image of the wiry, angry 6th grader who transformed into a tall, confident young man.”

M is one of thousands who Margie has helped in ways large and small in her 40 years in special education, 30 of which have been spent at Apex Middle School.

Camille Hedrick, the principal at Apex Middle until moving over to Panther Creek to serve as principal, says Margie puts in the time and effort required to best serve each student.

“She’s very specific to the individual child,” Camille says. “And that’s not easy. She reads every single file of every single special education kid. These are complicated files, often coming from multiple states, countries, schools. She knows the background on every single special education child in our building. She really does not believe in one size fits all.”

Longtime Apex Middle School teacher Margie Black reads with sixth-grader Brady Durkin.

Longtime Apex Middle School teacher Margie Black reads with sixth-grader Brady Durkin.

Margie says she’s had many of her students go off to college. She’s had a few that wound up in trouble with the law. And everything in between.
“I think the commonality is that they remember that I cared,” Margie says. “I was somebody they felt very confident that, if they needed something, they could come to Mrs. Black. My colleague, Lucy Bailey, and I like to say, ‘We’re on your shoulders, all the time, even when you leave us.’ They come back and say, ‘I heard you, I heard you.'”
Margie brings a mix of tough love and high energy to the classroom.

On a recent Monday morning, she bounded from student to student, whose needs ran the gamut from “I forgot to take this quiz” to “I can’t log into this computer” to “I just don’t feel like doing anything today.” In a matter of minutes, she had counseled and cajoled every student in the Curriculum Assistance class, setting them on a productive path.
“We celebrate success all the time,” Margie says.

“You saw [one student] who brought his glasses. We’ve been working for 20 days now; he’s brought them three times. You could see right away that was a big deal that he brought them. And we celebrated. We do measure success in minutiae sometimes. It’s not necessarily just academic success. It’s all the things the kids need to leave and be independent. We provide them with the tools to recognize their strengths. Maybe reading is really hard for them, but they have a lot of strengths they can utilize. We try to teach them how to figure it out for themselves when Mrs. Black’s not around anymore. We teach them to be self-advocates.”

Margie, of course, has seen the world of special education evolve many times over since her career began in Delaware in 1974. IEPs, for example, weren’t a thing back then, “so often times children were placed in programs without any real oversight.”

Margie has been a part of the movement to take “special education out of the basements and the boiler rooms and the little rooms to raise awareness within the school setting. Within that came all the laws to protect children, to make sure they were being identified and served appropriately.”

“People say, ‘You must have a lot of patience,'” Margie adds.

“I don’t know. I think I have a lot of tenacity. I really don’t give up.”

Student writing/arts contest for NC schools’ 175th

WCPSS students are invited to participate in the 175th anniversary of the opening of the first public school in North Carolina.

The North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA) is hosting an essay, poster and video contest to help celebrate the 175th anniversary of the opening of the first public school in the state.

Cash prizes will be awarded, with 1st place receiving $500, 2nd place $250 and 3rd place $100. The first place winner will be honored at the 175 anniversary celebration January 20, 2015 in Reidsville.

There is a poster contest for elementary students, an essay contest for middle school students and a video contest for high school students.

Visit for details about each contest and how to enter.