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By Bethany Stephens

The Board of Education met this past Monday where they welcomed their newly elected member, Cory Singletary.  Following a reception immediately held before the official meeting, Singletary was sworn in by Nikki Dennis. Roger Carroll was elected by the board to serve as their chair and Glenn McKoy was elected to serve as Vice-Chair for the following year and was sworn in accordingly.

Two Bladen County students were recognized for having been selected to attend the Governor’s School Summer Program for 2018. The Governor’s School of North Carolina is a 5 and a half week summer residential program for intellectually gifted students. The students that attend are able to learn and explore more in their respective disciplines. Jacob Hester and Trenton Lyons of West Bladen High School received this honor.

Brooke McMichael, a Bladen County teacher,  was named the 2018 Educator of Excellence for Exceptional Children at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Conference on Exceptional Children.

Gaye Davis, West Bladen High School teacher, was recognized for winning the Inaugural Donate Life North Carolina Hero Award. She was nominated for the statewide prize due to the work that she has done educating in Bladen County and surrounding areas regarding organ donations.  Bladen County previously had the lowest rate in the state for organ donations, but, in the past two years, the Bladen County registration rate has grown from 7% to 27.6%.

Nine West Bladen High School students earned ServSafe Certifications. ServSafe iss a program made available through the National Restaurant Association that helps restaurants and the food industry train employees how to safely handle food and related education. Bladen County’s CTE Department is number one in the state for students earning industry certifications such as ServSafe and others.

Attendance Awards for the month of December were presented to three schools. Plain View Primary won in the Elementary School Division; Clarkton School of Discovery won in the Middle School Division, and Bladen Early College High School won in the High School Division.

Gaye Davis also explained the value and positive things happening in a peer group program that is being implemented at West Bladen. The program is implemented each Thursday during third period and consists of twenty-four juniors and seniors who mentor freshmen in study skills, how to avoid risky behaviors, and other techniques to adjust to transitioning into high school. They hope to implement the program at other schools in the future.

There was discussion surrounding a consent agenda that included fundraiser requests, overnight field trip requests, a school improvement plan, and a county vehicle policy. New board member, Singletary, and Board Member Gary Rhoda felt that the policy should be changed concerning maintenance vehicles. They felt that the three maintenance employees should not be allowed to take the county’s vehicles home each night due to unnecessary cost – especially when the worker lived out of the county. The board went ahead and approved the whole consent agenda that will keep the policy as it already was. A budget amendment was passed, and the board proceeded to go into closed session to discuss personnel, student transfers, and legal issues.

Upon reconvening into open session, the board proceeded to approve personnel action items, and heard very brief comments from Dr. Robert Taylor, Superintendent, before adjourning for the evening.