Carrboro Commons

High school class not for the wary

Posted on March 24th, 2011 in Carrboro children,Editorials/columns,School news,Uncategorized by jock

By Michael Bloom

Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Not many high school students take a class where criticism and backlash are as commonplace as formulas and midterms.

Jan Gottschalk's journalism class produces the Jagwire monthly. In the above image, the class discusses the importance of diversity, responsibility and law in the news (Photo by Kimberly R. Holzer-Lane).

But at Carrboro High School’s student newspaper, the Jagwire, disclosure and deadlines go hand in hand for juniors and seniors.

“It was a very difficult week for our paper,” said Emily Vaughn, senior copy editor at the Jagwire.

In the March edition of the student-run paper, a map was published showing the layout of the high school’s lunchroom seating arrangements. Each table had a label corresponding to the perceived character of the students who sat there.

“The map was in the entertainment section—not to be taken too seriously—but it became much bigger,” Vaughn said.

Tables were labeled “jocks,” “freshman preps,” “ethnic beauties,” “senior burnouts,” “people who always leave trash” and “pretty little liars,” among others.

The caption for the illustration read, “The map may be one snapshot of the Commons (the lunchroom), but is it reality for you? Why be constrained by a label? It’s Spring and time to branch out.”

“We were amazed at the response from the map—it was intense. We weren’t thrilled that we were getting heat, but we were thrilled that it was making news and that people cared,” said Josie Hollingsworth, co-editor-in-chief.

The student response was like no other the paper had seen in its four-year history. A simple illustration of a daily setting caused an uproar the Jagwire staff hadn’t expected.

Faculty advisor and Jagwire founder, Jan Gottschalk, said students were tearing up copies by lunchtime. She said a ruckus had ensued and that students resented the illustration—one intended to be comical.

Gottschalk said that some students even refused to go back to class.

“There was so much turmoil that a couple of our editors decided to do a formal apology on the PA system one afternoon,” Gottschalk said. “The next day, we had a forum in our journalism class that filled the room. We had kids sitting on the floor talking about issues like diversity in our newsroom, the harshness of the illustration and the stereotypes that went along with it.”

Vaughn said the paper doesn’t regret the illustration. She said editors had to figure out how to make the students feel better about the illustration while still keeping their integrity.

The Jagwire is the student run newspaper of Carrboro High School in its fourth year of publication (Photo by Michael Bloom).

Even after all the commotion, the paper doesn’t shy away from juice.

They’ve spoken with the school administration about student depression, interviewed a drug dealer and conducted a survey on anonymous drug and alcohol use.

For the next issue, they’ll focus on sex. They plan to do side-by-side editorials: one about waiting until marriage to have sex and one about not waiting.

“I think it’s important to delve deep into an issue,” said Mary Morrison, senior online editor. “And with sex, there is so much to look at.”

The paper is developed, written and published in class yet many of the editors come in on Sundays to help catch up. Gottschalk teaches about 35 juniors and seniors in what she calls a “production class” that meets daily in what they all call “the war room.”

Gottschalk said the paper needs to improve upon its diversity in staff, with only one African-American writer and three Latina writers. She said they are actively recruiting more diverse students for next year’s class.

The publication goes to print about once a month, giving students enough time to complete stories on deadline and juggle other schoolwork. The paper is struggling to keep afloat with funds because all advertising is student-run. Both Gottschalk and Morrison said the development of their online edition is crucial for the paper’s survival.

Editors say they love what they do, regardless of controversy and high stress. Vaughn said that she has stayed late after school copyediting, but it was all worth it in the end.

And with a 20-page paper on the horizon, they’ve got to be serious.

“I would pass up on other work to do Jagwire stories any day,” Hollingsworth said. “With a paper like this and a family like this, you wouldn’t want to pass it up.”

The paper is divided into five sections: “Jag Country” is where school news is reported, “Top Spots” is for features, “Roar” is the opinion section, “Craze” is the entertainment section, and the last section is sports. Hollingsworth said news values are hard to maintain with a monthly publication, so the paper strives to be a news-magazine.

Gottschalk said she is thrilled with the way her students perform, especially the editors. She said she tries to keep them motivated and excited about what they’re doing in the midst of all the other demands they have as students. She said she wants them to still have a life.

“It’s like a family because we’re working toward something together,” Gottschalk said. “And it’s like the best of coaching. You want to bring the best out of them, using coaching skills. So you work hard, then you find time to play hard and celebrate.”

The dry erase board in the Jagwire "war room" is where it all begins (Photo by Michael Bloom).

Editors say Gottschalk brings a motherly affection to their lives. They said they trust her and trust in her judgment as an overseer of production.

“She was out of town last week, so when I saw her this morning she hugged me and screamed, ‘Mary!’ I mean, she’s my school mom,” Morrison said.

Hollingsworth said Gottschalk has a good read on the school.

“She knows what’s hot—she knows what’s not,” Hollingsworth said. “She can write six headlines in like two minutes.”

Gottschalk said students are proud of their paper and that the student body has also embraced the publication, even with a sticky relationship as of late.

“Students who are not a part of the staff still see something that they are proud to take home,” Gottschalk said. “It’s colorful, relatable and has a lot of stuff they enjoy reading.”

The paper is one of the most successful in the district—placing gold in a Columbia University award competition.

With a group of senior editors graduating in June, the Jagwire looks to the future to maintain its gritty reputation.

And maybe, more awards are to come.

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Unity Dinner brings Carrboro High School together

Posted on March 3rd, 2011 in School news by jock

By Megan Walker
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Carrboro High School students (top L to R) Fatima Castillo, Brittney Green, (bottom L to R) Antonio Brewington, Sheterra Jones and Jamika Belk sign the unity banner at the Unity Dinner on Feb. 24. (Staff Photo by Megan Walker)

Carrboro High School students gathered Feb. 24 in the cafeteria and gym to conclude the school’s Black History Month celebration with its third annual Unity Dinner.

“We all have friends of different races. We have black friends, white friends, Hispanic friends sitting all at one table, and we are together as one,” said Dolce Gonzalez, a student and event volunteer.

“The Unity Dinner is a dinner that brings us together as one big school and family,” Gonzalez added.

Principal Kelly Batten opened the evening’s performances.

“You have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to celebrate, because as you look back in Google searches about Carrboro High School, you’ve come a long way, baby,” Batten said. The introduction was met with loud applause across the gymnasium.

Batten’s comments hinted at the school’s past racial tension.

Three years ago, a fight broke out at Carrboro High School after a white student made racially charged comments to a black student.

The following year, amid the ensuing dialogue about race relations, the Unity Dinner was born.

(L to R) Teon Dolby and Molly Sharp sing “Stand by Me” at Carrboro High School’s Unity Dinner. During the performance, Dolby grabbed the microphone and belted out one of the choruses. (Staff Photo by Megan Walker)

English teacher Al Donaldson, one of the initial and current leaders of the event, said, “The dinner is an idea we actually borrowed from the tradition at East Chapel Hill High School.  Our school Equity Team decided to start it in the 2008-2009 school year.  The goal of the Unity Dinner and the performances that follow it is to celebrate community and Black History Month.”

Latin teacher Sara Clay said, “It’s a wonderful opportunity for families and school denizens to gather together to enjoy a good dinner catered by our cafeteria and hear our students in performance.”

“Carrboro is a young school and is eager to build and support a community,” she said.

Families sat together to share a free meal provided by the school as the school’s jazz band serenaded them from the corner. Students performed throughout the night.

“The best part of the Unity Dinner is how it provides our diverse school a moment to celebrate developing traditions together. To build community, it takes unity as the foundation,” Batten said.

Students helped not only with performances but with decorating and even sweeping the cafeteria floor before the event.

“The students are organizing most of the event,” said first-year student Candice White. “We usually come up with the ideas and what we want to do. The teachers just try to help us out and help us improve. They let us be really creative.”

The night’s events also included a performance by the school’s step team, students performing songs and poetry presentations. Original poems inspired by an assignment in Donaldson’s English class were performed by White, Jasmine Farmer and Caroline Yarnell.

“I think it has opened people’s eyes. No matter what race you are, we are all in the same world, and we’re all trying to come together and bring everyone together,” White said.

Teaching vet wins Carrboro High Teacher of the Year

Posted on February 17th, 2011 in Features,School news,Uncategorized by jock

By Michael Bloom
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Sara Clay tells her Latin students at Carrboro High School she is 426 years old.

It’s an ongoing joke on how long she’s been around.

A part of education in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District for 40 years, Sara Clay won the 2010 Carrboro High Teacher of the Year for her efforts teaching Latin. (Staff photo by Michael Bloom)

She’s seen a lot in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District over her 28-year tenure. The Hillsborough native has been in education on and off for 40 years—all in the same district.

“I have taught at East Chapel Hill High School, Chapel Hill High School and Orange High School as well, so I only lack Cedar Ridge to have a clean sweep of Orange County,” she said.

Born in Iowa, Clay lived in Illinois and Maryland before settling into Orange County after college. She attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., for undergrad and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for her Master of Arts degree in classical languages.

Latin is the only language she has taught during her teaching career. She’s taught at the preschool, middle school, high school and university level. She said she likes high school students the best.

She doesn’t consider herself a finished product and is always striving to improve. And she doesn’t know when she’ll call it quits.

“I guess I’ll stop when it isn’t fun anymore,” she said after hesitating for a moment. “I don’t want to be like that Harry Potter professor and be dead and not know it. I still want to be effective.”

Clay’s effectiveness in the World Language department at Carrboro High earned her the 2010 Carrboro High Teacher of the Year. She was honored in May along with Eric Stoffregen from Chapel Hill High and Hans Hiemstra from East Chapel Hill High.

But Clay is modest about the honor. She said all of the candidates who were nominated more than deserved the admiration.

“Winning was sort of serendipitous,” she said.

German teacher and colleague at Carrboro High, Patrick Bradshaw, thinks differently. He said Clay is a wonderfully dynamic teacher who cares a lot about her work. Bradshaw shares a classroom with Clay and sees her passion exemplified daily.

Artwork hangs outside Sara Clay’s Latin classroom in Carrboro High School. Clay has been teaching Latin for 28 years. (Staff photo by Michael Bloom)

“She has the perfect combination of caring, enthusiasm, professionalism and spunk that really brings her classroom alive and endears her to her colleagues in our department and throughout the school,” he said.

She raises her 7-year-old granddaughter with her husband at home. She said teaching is always a part of her.

“In teaching, everything is rewarding for me—even failures,” she said.”I would describe myself as a non-threatening, honorable and hyper individual.”

Teaching at all levels has given Clay a broad perspective of the education system. After teaching almost everywhere in Chapel Hill, she now sees the Carrboro school system flourishing.

“I like the variety of students, the diversity, distinctness and backgrounds of these students,” she said. “The system is so neat in the way it tries to reach out in many different ways.”

Clay is an instrumental member of the school-based Equity Team, “Study for Success” assistance program and has created a course package for Latin 5. She likes the challenge of teaching young adults—especially Latin—which she says students get a lot out of.

“Latin has this stigma of being a ‘dead language.’ I would argue that you can use it for anything,” she said. “It’s also a very inflective language that helps students immensely in higher education.”

Her most memorable teaching moment came during her middle school teaching years. She has a story about a sixth grade boy in Chapel Hill who came into her Latin class brand new. She said she would write the weather out in Latin and teach the students to translate what it means in English.

She said the student was so intimidated at first that he said, “…there was no way on earth I was going to get this.”

Clay said within a month, he was translating a week’s worth of weather with confidence. She said it was the most rewarding experience in her teaching career because he made it all the way to second-level AP Latin.

She has certainly made her mark in the district.

“Sara is truly genuine—I respect and look up to her greatly,” Bradshaw said.

Clay’s adamant about teaching Latin to all ages and levels of education. She said she wants to develop an after-school program for adults and post-high school students to take a foreign language that they’ve always wanted to. She proposed a plan to meet maybe twice a month.

It’s effort and will like hers that garners respect from her peers.

“Sara is a dynamic presence in the classroom and a continual source of enthusiasm and energy for our school,” said Kelly Batten, Carrboro High School principal. “She brings vitality to the study of Latin, challenging students to make connections between historical roots of the language with the world around them today.”

Batten said Clay is a wonderful ambassador for Carrboro High and they are proud to have her as their representative for Teacher of the Year.

While Clay was living in Chapel Hill, she saw East Chapel Hill High being built from her home across the street during the 1990s. Her daughter was a member of the first freshman class to enroll.

She’s literally seen this school district being built.

And she hopes to build onto it some more in the future.

Zero to showtime in 48 hours

Posted on February 17th, 2011 in Events,School news,Uncategorized by jock

By Alex Linder
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

“If you want sense, you’ll have to make it yourself.”

Actors, (L-R) Wilmarie Cintron-Muniz, Eliza Filene, Alexandra Willcox and Hannah Lewis Marlow, rehearse their lines just hours before show time. Staff Photo by Alex Linder

This quote from a children’s book began and defined one strange weekend in February for a group of zany and determined teenagers. They fought against time to write, produce and act out their own play – all in only 48 hours.

Eliza Filene, a freshman at Carrboro High School, said the experience was overwhelming. “It’s much more intense than any school play I’ve done before,” she said.

Called the February 48, the event was created by One Song Productions, a theater group run entirely by high school students. Its seventh annual performance took place on Sunday, Feb. 13, at the Carrboro ArtsCenter. The performance consisted of five one-act plays, each put on by a group of two writers, a director, a stage manager and four actors.

At the beginning of the weekend, some of the participants had never met before, with One Song drawing its talent from three local high schools: East Chapel Hill High School, Chapel Hill High School and Carrboro High School. But by the end of the weekend, students said they felt like they’d known one another for more than just 48 hours.

“One of the biggest problems was trying to function on a very small amount of sleep,” said Anders Dohlman, a senior at Carrboro High School and co-production manager of the February 48. “On average, for the past three nights I’ve had about four hours of sleep.”

Luckily, one of the sponsors of the event was the Open Eye Café in Carrboro. It gave out free coffee to the bleary-eyed teenagers.

“It’s been stressful, but I never expected that it wouldn’t be,” Dohlman said. “It’s always been a hectic weekend.”

While the participants said the experience was stressful, they prefer to call it intense and fun, especially compared to normal high school productions.

“In a way I think it’s more fun, because when plays are drawn out, you can get really stressed,” said Carson Ragland, a junior at Carrboro High School. “In 48 hours, all the stress is in like an hour; you have to dismiss it. It becomes all the fun parts of putting on a play.”

The experience began at 7 p.m. on Friday, when participants were divided into teams and the writers were given the prompts. The plays had to begin with the line, “If you want sense, you’ll have to make it yourself,” and end with, “What had started as make believe is now very real.”

Both quotes were taken from “The Phantom Tollbooth,” a children’s book that Dohlman discovered on his bookshelf and remembered enjoying as a kid.

After an intense weekend of writings and rehearsals participants of the February 48 are given a standing ovation at the Carrboro ArtsCenter. Staff Photo by Alex Linder

Equipped with these two lines, the writers went home and wrote as much as they could.

Sarah Jane Kerwin, a senior at Chapel Hill High School, has written, acted and directed for the February 48 and said the hardest job is writing a script. “It’s like you get these two lines, and you have to come up with something that everyone’s going to have to understand, follow and really enjoy,” she said. “It’s a lot of pressure and a lot of work.”

Dohlman said he is always impressed with the material that the writers come up with, and this year was no different. He said while they always have their share of teen dramas and comedies (they are a bunch of teenagers, after all), they also get stranger premises.

This year, one play was a dark comedy about God and the devil in disguise competing for one man’s soul. Another play was an absurd courtroom drama, where a girl’s crimes take on deeper meaning as the play progresses.

On Saturday, the writers gave their scripts to the directors, and the actors began to rehearse their plays. Then on Sunday, with less than seven hours before show time, everybody loaded into the ArtsCenter to add props, sounds and lights to the production.

The cast and crew of the farcical courtroom drama “The Whether Men” rehearsed the play in a cramped room upstairs. The play’s already difficult script was made more troublesome when one of the actors got sick Friday, an incident that could have derailed the play.

But stage manager, Hannah Lewis-Marlow, a sophomore at Carrboro High School, stepped in to save the play, despite having never acted before.

“I didn’t sign up to act, but it’s been a fun experience,” Lewis-Marlow said. “Definitely not something I expected.”

On Sunday night, more than 100 people filed into the ArtsCenter to watch the final product of the teenagers’ hard work.

All the plays went through without a hitch and earned a standing ovation.

“It’s what I like most about being a director,” Kerwin said. “You see the change from these people not knowing each other very well and getting these totally new scripts, and then becoming these characters on stage at the end of the night. It’s really exciting to see the whole process.”

In 48 hours, what had started as make believe had become very real.

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Carrboro Elementary’s ‘Seussical’ brings classic tales to life

Posted on February 17th, 2011 in A&E,Carrboro children,School news by jock

By Will Bryant
the Carrboro Commons

Walking into Deb Lederer’s art classroom at Carrboro Elementary School last week was like entering a portal to another world.

Students at Carrboro Elementary practice one of the scenes from "Seussical Junior." More than 150 students took part in the musical Thursday and Friday. Staff Photo by Will Bryant

On one side of the room are six large refrigerator boxes, painted on all sides with vibrant scenes of a make-believe world. Next to the scenery, on a table, is a pile of green glittery hats that looks small compared with the enormous face of the cartoon elephant leaning against the wall. Giant fluorescent papier-mache fish are scattered across the paint-splattered floor, and a large cat in a red-striped hat, stands in the corner grinning from whisker to whisker.

They’re pieces of the world of “Seussical Junior,” a musical based on the books of Dr. Seuss. Carrboro Elementary students brought it to life at three performances Thursday and Friday in the school’s auditorium.

The show’s plot features characters from the classic Dr. Seuss tales that have been read aloud to children for generations, such as “Green Eggs and Ham,” “Horton Hears a Who,” and “The Cat in the Hat.”

About 150 students, mostly fourth and fifth graders, handled the production’s singing, dancing, puppeteering, sound, lights and backstage responsibilities.

The papier-mache Cat from Dr. Seuss’ book "The Cat in the Hat" in the art room of Carrboro Elementary. "The Cat in the Hat" is one of the titles featured in the school’s production of "Seussical Junior." Staff Photo by Will Bryant

“I am excited and a bit nervous at the same time,” said cast member Alec Caruana, 10, on the night of the show’s opening. “I mean, everyone is going to be watching you.”

The production comes at a time when state school boards are cutting back on fine arts programs in public schools because of repeated budget cuts. Although arts programs in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools have not borne most of the burden of cuts, money is still tight.

“We hear all the time what we don’t have time for and what we don’t have money for,” Lederer said.

But Lederer, who directed “Seussical” and designed the sets, said the show brought the school together. “Seussical” was in the works for about six months, Caruana said. And nearly all of the children in the production, Lederer said, came to school early, stayed late and even skipped their recess periods during the week to work on the show.

“I think we have learned collaboration is a huge key and that you need to be a team player, work together, listen to each other and know that you have something to offer,” Lederer said. “Every single person has some bit of creativity.”

Lederer said “Seussical” is all about giving kids an outlet for that creativity and potentially getting them interested in the arts.

“Some of these kids, if they didn’t have this experience, might not go on to audition for shows in middle school, high school or college,” Lederer said. “Now we’ve got some kids that have got the theater bug in them.”

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Carrboro High School students help out Habitat

Posted on February 3rd, 2011 in Growth and development,School news by jock

By Megan Walker
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

What can get high school students up and out of the house before 8:15 a.m. on a Saturday? For some Carrboro High School students, the answer is building a Habitat for Humanity house.

(L to R) Hana Haidar, Lilly Yuan, Sofia Blanco, Matt Cooper and Jaycee Greenblatt pose for a picture on the steps of the Habitat house they helped construct on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 in Chapel Hill. They put in the sub-flooring on the Aye family's future home. Haidar, Yuan, and Blanco are students in the Habitat club at Carrboro High School. Cooper is their faculty adviser. Staff photo by Megan Walker

On Jan. 29, students Hana Haidar, Sofia Blanco and Lilly Yuan, along with their Habitat club advisor Matt Cooper, put in sub-flooring on the Aye family’s future home. The house will be at 209 Lizzie Lane in the Phoenix Place neighborhood of Chapel Hill.

“I joined the club when I was a freshman,” club co-president Haidar said. “I wanted to feel like I was actually doing something even though I was just 15. I just love building.”

Haidar said the Carrboro High School club is a building partner with Kenan-Flagler Business School on the university’s Build a Block campaign to build 10 houses in 10 months. The club is also partnering with Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill high schools to fund a tri-high school Habitat house.

“Having students help spreads awareness of the issues,” said Jaycee Greenblatt, development coordinator for Habitat youth programs. “It’s exciting to have them on site to work with the families and see how communities are coming together as a group to help change substandard housing in Chapel Hill. It is so expensive to live in the area. We want to make the housing situation more affordable for families.”

Starting Spanish early at Carrboro Elementary School

Posted on February 3rd, 2011 in Books,Carrboro children,En Español,Latino Issues,School news by jock

By Trevor Kapp
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: In an earlier version of this story, Special Education Teacher Holly Duncan and Reading Teacher Maria Arbiol (pictured below) were not correctly identified in the captions. The Commons apologizes and regrets the error.

Lupita Cortes speaks fluent Spanish with a nearly perfect accent, which is particularly audible when she pronounces words like “correr,” “nosotros” and “hora.”

Cortes has, after all, grown up in a Spanish-only-speaking household with Mexican parents who have put great emphasis on accent and elocution.

“We correct her if she pronounces a word badly,” said Edith Cortes, Lupita’s mother.

Lupita Cortes (right) and her classmates play Spanish word games on their iPod touches as Special Education Teacher Holly Duncan instructs them. Staff photo by Trevor Kapp

But when the 5-year-old is asked to read the language and write basic sentences, she struggles at times.

Cortes is one of 48 kindergarteners—divided into two sections—enrolled in the dual language program at Carrboro Elementary School, which for nine years has been teaching students as young as preschoolers basic Spanish skills with the hope that they can become proficient in speaking and writing early in life.

“It’s important because around the world, the majority of people don’t just speak one language,” said Alexandra Romero, Cortes’ Spanish teacher, who is in her third year at the school. “The average person speaks more than two languages, so here we teach them two languages. The ones who know Spanish learn English, and the ones who know English learn Spanish.”

Cortes’ day begins with English instruction in the morning, which consists of basic reading and writing exercises designed to improve her comfort level with the language. At noon, she and her classmates break for lunch and then take about 20 minutes to practice a dance routine to be performed in front of parents in the coming weeks.

Around 1 p.m., they walk to Romero’s classroom to begin Spanish lessons for the afternoon.

“We do everything,” Romero said. “We dance, we read books. They’re looking at listening exercises and letter exercises, some words that are used frequently, and we practice writing them.”

Romero added that the class has also done a geography and culture section, in which it looked at several Spanish-speaking countries and their customs and daily routines.

On this particular day, though, the students were divided into four groups and practiced various activities ranging from letter exercises with blocks to playing games on iPod touches.

“Everything we do is fun,” Cortes said. “I’m learning how to write. I know how to speak, but I don’t know how to write.”

Reading Teacher Maria Arbiol works with students in Alexandra Romero’s kindergarten class on their Spanish pronunciation. Staff photo by Trevor Kapp

“I like the computers,” another student said, referring to the iPod touches. “I’m with my friends, and I like doing the exercises.”

The class relies heavily on teaching assistants and volunteers—particularly UNC-Chapel Hill Spanish students involved in service learning—to assist the kindergarteners with the various exercises.

“The kids are much better at Spanish than I am,” joked Cassandra McCandless, a Chapel Hill native and UNC-CH freshman who recently began volunteer in Romero’s class.

“They’re already practically fluent in both languages.”

With up to four instructors in the classroom at a particular time, students are able to take full advantage of the available resources and hone a variety of linguistic skills at the different stations.

But the success of Carrboro Elementary’s dual language program has not come without some adversity.

“We have difficulty finding material that’s in Spanish,” Romero said. “It’s a little complicated in terms of money and because (the material) doesn’t exist. There’re a lot of activities and materials in English, but not in Spanish.”

In addition, the program has become so popular that the school has had to institute a lottery at the beginning of the year to determine which students will receive dual language instruction and which will be traditionally schooled.

“We’re overfilled,” says Mayra Menjivar, who is in her fourth year as a teaching assistant at Carrboro Elementary. “If someone withdraws, the next day someone else enrolls.”

Because of the lack of space, Menjivar said, the school is going to decide in the coming weeks whether to make its entire curriculum dual language.

Menjivar said she believed some parents were opposed to the idea because of the heavy burden and rigorous workload a second language would put on their children. But she added that the benefits were far too widespread to ignore.

“Culture is evolving,” she said. “To succeed in the future, they’ll need it. In jobs, they want people who speak both, and if you can’t compete, you won’t go far.”

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Shabazz brings his love of poetry to McDougle students

Posted on October 19th, 2010 in A&E,Carrboro children,School news by jock

By Gloria Lloyd
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Ask students at McDougle Middle School in Carrboro what they think of their guest poetry teacher Phillip Shabazz, and you will invariably receive the same enthusiastic answer:  “I love Mr. Shabazz!”

After a week of reading and writing poetry at McDougle Middle School, Carrboro poet Phillip Shabazz helps the young eighth-grade poets in Kimberly Battle’s Language Arts class get started on writing the poem that serves as their final quiz. (Staff photo by Gloria Lloyd)

Shabazz is a working poet who lives in Carrboro and has published three books of verse.  Shabazz typically teaches poetry during residencies at 30 to 50 schools throughout North Carolina and the United States each year, spanning third grade to college, with a focus on middle school students.

For more than a decade, Shabazz has taught poetry, a week at a time, to McDougle students. Beginning in fifth grade at the adjoining McDougle Elementary School, students spend a week studying poetry with Shabazz each year through the eighth grade.

The week of Oct. 11, Shabazz taught over 100 eighth-graders in Kimberly Battle’s Language Arts classes how to find their inner poet and express themselves through verse. Some of the students look forward to the week of poetry all year.

“To have someone here who is a working poet—it says that men are poets, African-Americans are poets, you can be a poet, you are a poet.  It engages every student,” McDougle Principal Debra Scott explained. “They see he is here and real and authentic, writing poetry you can understand.”

Exhibit hopes to inspire respect for animal habitats

Posted on April 17th, 2009 in A&E,School news by jock

The Carrboro Branch Library unveiled its second art exhibition in the “Global Perspectives” series on April 4 with more than 60 pieces of artwork that portray animals from all seven continents.

“Animals Without Borders” will be on display until June 9 at the Carrboro Branch Library at McDougle Middle School on Old Fayetteville Road. The show is presented and funded by the Friends of the Carrboro Branch Library and the Orange County Arts Commission.


Carrboro Branch Library Art Committee chairwoman Nerys Levy paints at Infinity Farm in Cedar Grove. Levy works primarily with mixed-media watercolor and is one of the artists featured in “Animals Without Borders.”

Photo by Frank Twitty, Courtesy of Nerys Levy

Featuring work from 23 local artists, the exhibit displays a wide variety of styles that use different artistic media, like oil and acrylic paintings, sketches, photography, mixed-media watercolors and textile collages. Through its display of different animals in their natural habitats, the exhibit strives to encourage respect for animals’ habitats and increase awareness that those habitats are shrinking, according to Carrboro Branch Art Committee chairwoman Nerys Levy, who is also an artist in the show.

“Animals have no borders,” Levy said. “We really wanted to give a sense of animals being pretty expansive and needing space.”

Originally from Wales, Levy said she understood this concept at an early age. When she was 3 years old, she saw a polar bear for the first time and was fascinated by it, she said. One of Levy’s paintings in the exhibition prominently displays a polar bear. It is titled “Polar Bear on Sea Ice, Arctic Region” and is a work of mixed-media watercolor.

In particular, polar bears illustrate that animals’ habitats are spread across political boundaries, Levy said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that there are about 22,000 to 25,000 wild polar bears across the globe, but these bears are not confined to any specific territory. As a species, polar bears live in eight different countries on two continents.

Graduation project’s fate undecided for CHCCS juniors

Posted on April 17th, 2009 in School news by jock

By Virginia McIlwain
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools high school juniors who had thought they had won a reprieve from the upcoming high school graduation project requirement might want to think twice before tossing away their project proposals.


Peggy Haythorn, Carrboro High School’s Graduation Project coordinator, serves as a resource and advocate for students as they work to fulfill new state graduation requirements. She believes the statewide project, which was supposed to take effect this year but has since been delayed, is a valuable opportunity for students to gain the real-world skills they need to be successful after high school.

Staff photo by Virginia McIlwain

Despite voting earlier this month to delay implementation of the North Carolina Graduation Project requirement by one year, the North Carolina State Board of Education agreed to let individual school districts decide whether to leave the plans in place for the class of 2010.

“Many schools and districts across North Carolina have had a graduation project in some form or fashion for a decade or more,” State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison said in a statement. “By giving the entire state more time to implement the North Carolina Graduation Project, we can ensure its success in every school and community.”

As of now, the school district requires next year’s senior class to successfully complete the project. At the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools school board’s next meeting on Thursday, April 23, the board could vote to maintain the statewide project as a local requirement for the class of 2010, or delay the project until it is required by the state in 2011.

The change caught local teachers and administrators by surprise, at a time when many were moving forward with plans to get students’ projects off the ground in order to meet swiftly approaching project proposal deadlines.

“I didn’t know of the delay until I heard about it on the news,” said Peggy Haythorn, Carrboro High School’s Graduation Project coordinator. “It came as quite a surprise.”

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