Friday, December 28, 2012

Young Achiever shares news of recent success

This week, we get an update from Young Achiever Ashleigh Thornton.

Ashleigh, a senior business major at UNC Charlotte, created her own line of hair care products: NoireNaturals.

Seventeen Magazine recently selected Ashleigh as one of three winners in their “Make Your Own Money” young entrepreneur contest. As a result, Ashleigh was featured in the magazine’s November issue.

Recently, Ashleigh found out another bit of large news. She is one of 10 North Carolina high school and college student-teams selected as a finalist for N.C. State University's Emerging Issues Prize for Innovation. 

About 30 teams of high school and college students from across North Carolina submitted their innovative ideas. Students were chosen based on their community improvement ideas.

Finalists now have the challenge of producing videos explaining their ideas in more detail. The two winning teams will each receive a $5,000 grant to put their ideas into action. Chosen teams will be announced Feb. 11 at the Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

National Geographic announces photo contest

Grab your camera and start shooting!

National Geographic Student Expeditions has announced its second annual National Geographic Student Photo Contest.

High school students are invited to submit a photo that conveys what exploration, discovery or adventure means to them. They must accompany their photo with a 100-word written description of the moment captured and why it was significant.

The grand prize is a summer 2013 London Photography Workshop, including roundtrip airfare and program tuition, valued at about $7,250.

The second- and third-place winners will receive gift certificates to the National Geographic Store for $250 and $100.

The contest is open to U.S. residents currently in grades 9-12. Submissions will be accepted until Jan. 15, 2013. A winner will be selected and notified via email by Feb. 8, 2013.

To submit a photo, visit

Friday, December 21, 2012

First grade student honors grandmother

Idlewild Elementary School student Elizabeth Stabler-Tarver is taking a stand against Type 1 diabetes.

Stabler-Tarver is a first-grader whose grandmother passed away from the disease, so now she is helping raise money for JDRF Kids Walk to Cure Diabetes.

The kids' walk helps promote awareness and generate funds for children with Type 1 diabetes.

So far, Elizabeth has raised $540. She collected donations from around the world, including from Iraq, Afghanistan, New York, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Collectively, Idlewild Elementary raised more than $1,000 for diabetes research.

For more information about JDRF, visit

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Put STEM classes into action

Those searching for an outdoor spring activity can look no farther. The third annual N.C. Gravity Games Soapbox Races opened registration for its April 13 event.

The races will be held at 8:30 a.m. in downtown Lenoir, and are open to middle and high school students across the state.

Using science, technology, engineering and math skills, students will design, build, and race soapbox cars. Google and Appalachian State University are sponsoring the event.

College students and community members also can participate in the electrical-powered racer category.

Quick facts:
What: The Third Annual N.C. Gravity Games
Who: Middle school, high school and college students, business leaders, ASU representatives, N.C.-based Googlers and community members.
Where: Lenoir.
When: April 13, 2013 at 8:30 a.m.
Time: 8:30 a.m.
The registration deadline is March 15. Space is limited so those interested should register at

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rockin' out for a cause

Several local kids jammed out recently for a standing-room-only crowd to raise money for charity  No Stomach for Cancer.

The band, called Wacko, is made up of Owen Buettner, a sixth grader at Bradley Middle School; William Buettner, an eighth grader at Bradley Middle; Dane Chelcun, a seventh grader at Pine Lake Prep; Aidan Walsh, a third grader at Park View Elementary; and Collin Walsh, a sixth grader at East Mooresville Intermediate.

In October, the group played an hour set of rock and roll hits at the Charles Mack Citizens Center in downtown Mooresville, to raise money for the charity. They collected more than $600 for the stomach cancer cause.

Wacko has been playing regional shows for about two years. Michael Walsh said the band placed second at the Denver Fireworks Festival Battle of the Bands contest this summer. And on Nov. 3, the group hosted another benefit show for No Stomach for Cancer, at Pine Lake Prep.

Photo: William Buettner plays bass (left), Dane Chelcun on guitar, Owen Buettner on guitar, Aidan Walsh plays drums, and Collin Walsh sings. Photo courtesy of Michael Walsh.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Senior distributes epilepsy information

Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology student Morgana Shorter spent the month of November promoting epilepsy awareness.

Shorter, a senior and three-sport varsity athlete, enlisted the help of friends to educate students about epilepsy. Morgana wanted to learn more about the brain disorder after one of her family members was diagnosed with the disease last year.

So she provided her peers with basic information one needs if they see someone having a seizure. She distributed an epilepsy awareness packet to teachers and staff at Berry, and she also spent her lunch hours handing out flyers and talking to students.

Here are Morgana's tips:
* Place a person having a seizure on his or her side.
* Prevent her or him from hitting his or her head.
* Do not force anything between her or his teeth.
* Do not hold her or him down.
* After the seizure, speak calmly to the person, explaining what happened.

Photo: Morgana Shorter speaks to one of her peers about epilepsy. Photo courtesy of Deb McLean.

Friday, December 7, 2012

New student enrollment deadline is today for CMA

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' new student enrollment deadline is today. 

To participate in the first student-assignment lottery in the spring, students must enroll by Dec. 7. Parents are required to enroll children: 1.Who are entering pre-kindergarten in 2013-2014. 2. Children starting kindergarten in 2013-2014 and did not attend a CMS pre-kindergarten program. 3. Older students who will be new to CMS.

Students entering kindergarten must be 5 years old on or before Aug. 31, 2013. To enter pre-kindergarten, students must be 4 years old on or before Aug. 31, 2013.

In order to enroll in CMS, families must provide three documents to show proof of residency. These include: A copy of a lease or a record of the most recent mortgage statement; a utility bill dated within the past 30 days; and a valid driver’s license or vehicle tax bill.

Families who plan to send their child to home school do not have to register by Dec. 7, but are encouraged to enroll as soon as possible.

For more information on the new student enrollment deadline, click here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Observer's Holiday Card Contest deadline extended

Grab the glitter and glue and get ready for the Observer’s 11th annual Holiday Card Contest. We invite children ages 4-17 to enter original artwork reflecting the holidays. Seven winners will see their work published on the front page of the Observer.

Who’s eligible? There are four age categories: 4-7; 8-11; 12-14; 15-17.

When is it due? Online entry deadline: midnight, Dec. 7. Mailed entries must be postmarked or dropped off in the lobby of the Observer, 600 S. Tryon St., by Dec. 3.

How do I do it? Entries should be about 6 inches by 6 inches, using any medium. For online entries, click on the link below to upload and enter the necessary information. For mailed entries: On the back of each card, write: your name, age, mailing address with ZIP code, school, daytime phone number and parents’ names. Please type or print legibly. Include a photo of yourself suitable for publication.

Holiday Card Contest
The Charlotte Observer
P.O. Box 30308 Charlotte, NC 28230

The fine print: One entry per person. Only winners will be contacted by the Observer. Entries cannot be returned. Children of Observer employees are not eligible to enter.

How do I upload the card? It's simple. Click here to go to the submission page. Your entry won't automatically go online. It will be reviewed by an editor, and then will join the online slideshow.

Card pictured: 2010 entry by Davis Frazier, of Waxhaw.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Davidson Elementary takes first place in Mathapalooza

Analyzing math problems in a time crunch and working together doesn't unnerve a group of Davidson Elementary students.

The team of third grade mathletes took home first place in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools' Mathapalooza competition on Nov. 3.

In the competition, held at Irwin Academic Center, students worked together to solve math problems and build a structure using math.

Photo: Finley Heller (front, left), Tess Palmer, Ryan Harris, Brooke Van Epps, Laura Porter, Mrs. Tedone (center, left), Julian Rizo, Andrew Kryshtalowych (back, left), Drew Adams, and Ella Watt. Courtesy of Davidson Elementary School and Laura Adams.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Students' global trivia knowledge shines at WorldQuest

More than 200 students from 23 area high schools went head-to-head in global knowledge at the 14th Academic WorldQuest competition on Nov. 13.

The trivia competition, hosted by The World Affairs Council of Charlotte, challenges students to demonstrate their knowledge of world history, current events, world elections, international culture, and geography, among others.

Of the participants, Charlotte Country Day School claimed first place at the 2012 WorldQuest challenge. 

Providence Day School placed second, and East Mecklenburg High placed third.

Top 10 finishers:
1st Charlotte Country Day
2nd Providence Day
3rd East Mecklenburg High
4th Charlotte Catholic
5th Charlotte Christian
6th Cannon School
7th Myers Park High
8th Highland School of Technology
9th Charlotte Latin School
10th Ardrey Kell High

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cannon School hosts 'Funding a College Education'

As college application deadlines draw near for high school seniors, their parents are seeing dollar signs - thousands of them.

In an effort to help parents and students navigate costs of college, the College Counseling Department at Cannon School is hosting "Funding a College Education."

The free, public event will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 27 at the school's Foundation Hall (5801 Poplar Tent Rd., Concord).

The forum will address key strategies for covering rising costs of college. Chad Spencer, associate dean of admission and financial aid at Davidson College, will be in attendance to talk about the financial aid and scholarship process. He will also field questions from participants.

For more information, email Beth Levanti at

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Myers Park High hosts International Festival

For two days each year, Myers Park High students transform their campus into a cultural experience.

This year marked the 20th annual International Festival, which was held Nov. 13-14, and hosted by the school's International Baccalaureate (IB) Council.

Participants had the opportunity to share their individual cultures through music, dance, cuisine, and other exhibits, said Myers Park student, Sara Lee.

Photo: IB juniors Anna Claire Joyner (left) and Mary Charles Byers (right) organized this year's festival at Myers Park. Photo courtesy of Sara Lee.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hunger drive concludes, results are in

For the past six weeks, area high schools have competed against each other, scrambling to collect food, for the 2012 Charlotte Student Hunger Drive.

The hunger drive concluded on Wednesday and students collected 112,902 pounds of non-perishable food items for Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.

The donation, worth more than $225,000, is an estimated 29 percent increase over last year's drive, according to Natalie Jenkins, spokeswoman for the hunger drive.

The results: 

Large School Division Winner ($2,000 award) – Fort Mill High School with 13.94 pounds per student   Small School Division Winner ($2,000) – Cabarrus Kannapolis Early College High School with 32.1 pounds per student
Large School Runner Up Winner ($1,000 award) – Nation Ford High School with 7.62 pounds per student
Small School Runner Up Winner ($1,000 award) – Hickory Ridge High School with 9.82 pounds per student
Most Innovative Idea Winner ($250 each) – A tie between South Mecklenburg High School for their “Vote for your CANdidate” event and Providence High School for their promotional ‘Canz A Make Her Dance’ video.
Biggest Increase ($500) – Nation Ford High School with a 113 percent increase over their 2011 total Food Lion Student MVP Award ($250 scholarship) – Bryanna Norwood, East Mecklenburg High School  

Photo courtesy of Natalie Jenkins.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Charlotte Preparatory students gain insight from veterans

Charlotte Preparatory School spent time on Nov. 5 honoring veterans and their service to the United States.

As part of the celebration and tribute, students listened to stories from a guest speaker - Korean War veteran, Edward McCabe. McCabe, grandfather of third grade student, Ronan McCabe, told the students about how he and his fellow soldiers survived a battle at the Chosin Reservoir by eating Tootsie Rolls. 

Parents and grandparents of several students joined the celebration to be recognized for their military service.

The school also recognized military personnel serving in current conflicts. VFW Post 9488 Commander Lewis Hunt presented an American flag to Emily Thompson, the widow of U.S. Army Special Forces Capt. David "J.P." Thompson. Capt. Thompson, father of two Charlotte Prep lower school students, died in 2010 during his deployment to Afghanistan.

To wrap up the day, Charlotte Prep families donated seven boxes filled with food,  iTunes gift cards and wet wipes, among other items, to military personnel. Students also included personal letters and cards for the soldiers.

(Top) Korean War veteran Edward McCabe tells Charlotte Preparatory School students that he and fellow soldiers survived a fierce battle eating only Tootsie Rolls.
(Bottom) VFW Post 9488 Commander Lewis Hunt presents an American flag to Emily Thompson, the widow of U.S. Army Special Forces Capt. David "J.P." Thompson, during a Charlotte Preparatory School assembly honoring veterans. Photos courtesy of David Long.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Seventh grader outshines adult competitors

Age isn’t a factor for William Shuford, a seventh grader at Charlotte Preparatory School who placed higher than his adult competitors at the 39th Annual Lipkin-Pfefferkorn Open adult chess tournament.

At the Charlotte event, held Oct. 26-28, William, 13, placed first in two divisions and tied for second in another.

For his wins, William received a $250 prize. He ranks in the 73rd percentile among U.S. Chess Federation rated junior players and in the 59th percentile among all players rated in North Carolina.

For more information about the federation, visit

Photo: Courtesy of David Long.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Young Achiever needs your vote

Back in August of last year, Young Achievers received advice from Olivia Stinson, a then freshman at Winston-Salem State. Olivia, a former Mallard Creek High graduate, founded PEN Pals, a reading club and support group for youth with incarcerated parents.

Recently, Olivia has been named a L'Oreal Paris International 2012 Woman of Worth. The award recognizes 10 honorees from across the country for their dedication to philanthropy.

The 19-year-old was selected from a pool of more than 3,000 women nationwide, according to L'Oreal Paris.

Each of the 10 nominees chosen received $10,000 for her charity, and will also be recognized at an awards ceremony and dinner on Dec. 6 in New York City.

But the final winner will be decided by the public. From Nov.5-21, members of the public are asked to vote for their favorite candidate.

The winner of the vote will receive $25,000 to use for her charity.

To vote, visit

Photo: Courtesy of Olivia Stinson

Sunday, November 4, 2012

New Jersey students discover overnight solution to gas crisis

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, millions were left without power, searching for food, and struggling to find open gas stations.

A group of high school students in New Jersey came to the rescue of those struggling to find gas stations open and with resources. Members of IMSOCIO at Franklin High School created, overnight, a crowdsourced map that locates open gas stations in the New York and New Jersey area.

The map identifies stations by using green, red, or yellow pins. Each color represents an open, sold out, or charging gas station.

To date, the Huffington Post reports that the map identifies about 100 stations.

To view the interactive map, visit:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Senior prepares students for 2012 Election Day

With Election Day just around the corner, a Providence High senior is helping to prepare and inform his peers.

Arjun Gupta collaborated with GenerationNation, formerly known as Kids Voting Mecklenburg, to create a student voter guide. His guide includes information about the U.S. House, County Commission, the North Carolina General Assembly, and Register of Deeds, among other materials.

In the guide, Arjun explains he came up with the idea to create the document after he found little public information about candidates for Mecklenburg County offices.

Charlotte-area students who are ineligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election have the opportunity to participate through the Kids Voting mock election.

This is the 20th year GenerationNation has offered the non-partisan educational program in Charlotte, according to their website.

To access the Arjun's voter guide, visit:

To participate in Kids Voting, visit

Friday, November 2, 2012

Get up, get out, read a book

Forecasters are predicting a sunny weekend in Charlotte, with highs in the low 60s - pleasant weather in the Queen City for the third annual Rock & Read 5K Run & Festival.

Friends of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, a non-profit dedicated to supporting the library, will host the event Nov. 3 at the Scaleybark Branch Library, located at 101 Scaleybark Rd. in Charlotte.

For those not up for a 5K, there will also be a 1-mile run/walk, and a kids dash featuring Chubby from the Charlotte Checkers. At every mile marker, there will be music to encourage participants.

The event will also include live music, food and drinks. All proceeds from the Rock & Read 5K benefit the books and materials budget for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

To learn more or to register for the race, visit and click on Rock & Read 5K.

Event Schedule
5:45 a.m. - Volunteer Check-In

6:45 a.m. - 7:45 a.m. Registration/Chip & T-shirt Pickup 

8 a.m. - 5K Run/Walk

8:15 a.m. - 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk

9 a.m. - Kids’ Dash 

9:30 a.m. - 5K Awards Presentation

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

J.H. Gunn takes top honor in fire prevention contest

For the past 22 years, schools in the Charlotte area prepared and participated in Fire Prevention Week.

This year, 48 schools celebrated the national week, held Oct. 7-13, by participating in the 2012 Fire Prevention Week Bulletin Board Contest.

One Charlotte-Mecklenburg School was a standout. Third graders at J.H. Gunn Elementary won the 2012 bulletin board contest, sponsored by area businesses and the Charlotte Fire Department.

In the contest, students created an interactive display based on the theme “Know 2 Ways Out.” The concept refers to safe ways to exit a building during a fire.

Charlotte Fire Chief Jon Hannan presented the elementary school with a trophy and a check for $3,000 on Oct. 12. Firefighters also gave students tips on how to safely exit a burning building, and they competed with youth in a relay contest.

Other CMS finalists include Reedy Creek Elementary in second place, winning $2,000; and Cornelius Elementary in fourth place, winning $500.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Eighth grader earns college scholarship

For middle school student Cristopher Alvarado, paying for college isn't a burden - it's already taken care of.

The Collinswood Language Academy eighth-grader was selected as a Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholar. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation was established in 2000 through the will of businessman and philanthropist Jack Kent Cooke.

The foundation supports individuals of exceptional promise – those who work hard, stay focused and defy the stereotype that poverty precludes high achievement, according to its website.

Cristopher is one of 52 students selected from hundreds of applicants across the country. The Young Scholar program selects students in grades 8-12, with exceptional academic talent, leadership and character.

The scholars receive immediate support from an educational advisor and financial support for their individualized learning plan.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Buses travel thousands of miles for students

Every weekday morning, it's common to see flashing red lights reflecting off of a pencil yellow vehicle.

From elementary school to high school, students across the nation rely on buses as their primary mode of transportation each morning and afternoon.

This week, to focus on school bus driver and rider safety, it is National School Bus Safety Week.

Students at Selwyn Elementary and Elizabeth Lane Elementary will learn safety tips from Buster the Talking Bus and Gus the School Bus. The interactive event encourages safety through sight and sound, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS).

This year, the CMS student ridership count shows that there is a daily bus ridership of 90,300 this year – 3,000 students more than last year. Each day, CMS buses are traveling more than 105,000 miles to transport students.

Fun facts to know: 
* Nationally, school buses travel about4.3 billion miles per year. With a fatality rate of 0.02 per 100,000,000 passenger miles, school buses are the safest form of ground transportation in the United States.
* In 2012-13, CMS will offer services for 123,000 assigned students to and from school daily, on 953 school buses.
* CMS buses will stop at approximately 24,000 bus stops.
* CMS Transportation will travel approximately 105,663 miles each day within 546 square miles in Mecklenburg County.
* CMS has the largest public school transportation operation in the North Carolina.
* CMS Transportation is ranked the 16th largest student transportation operations in the nation.
* School buses must stop at all railroad crossings and they cannot turn right on red.
* The maximum speed limit for yellow school buses is 45 mph, or in accordance with the posted speed limit.
Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools spokeswoman.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Scholarship available for 'holiday heroes'

High school and college students home for the holidays will have the opportunity to win a “Holiday Heroes Scholarship” from the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas (CBCC).

To qualify for a “Holiday Heroes Scholarship,” students must: Choose a blood drive location in their community; select a date between Nov. 18-25 or between Dec. 22-Jan. 6, 2013; recruit friends, family and neighbors to donate blood; and collect a minimum of 25 units.

CBCC will award a $1,000 scholarship to the student who collects the most units. Martin Grable, president and CEO of the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas, said in a press release that students make up about 20 percent of the donor base and the organization relies on their efforts.

For questions or to register for the “Holiday Heroes Scholarship” program, contact Kim Jones at 704-972-4727 or at

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Racers take part in 1st Annual Pinewood Derby

Cars raced to the finish line at the 1st Annual Pinewood Derby, held at The Learning Experience in Huntersville on Oct. 6. 

The cars were built by youth with help from their parents, and were constructed from scratch with a block of pine, plastic wheels and metal axles.

Nearly 20 area children participated in the event. Denny Hamlin's #11 FedEx show car and Bubbles the Elephant, The Learning Experience's mascot, also made appearances at the show.

This year's winners include:
Abigail Mroz, 10, 1st prize, winning $500.
Nolan Patterson, 3, 2nd prize, winning $250.
Wilson Felder, 4, most creative car prize, winning $250.

Photo: Courtesy of Aimee Adler.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Morgan McManus' memoir, '10:23 Tuesday'

In today's issue of Young Achievers, we profile Morgan McManus, a senior at Charlotte Christian School.

Morgan won a National Scholastic Silver Writing Award in the spring and is now one of about 70 nationwide chosen to be published in a student anthology called Best Teen Writing of 2012, available on Amazon later this fall. Her winning piece is called “10:23 Tuesday.”

Read her full memoir here:

10:23 Tuesday

By: Morgan McManus

An incoherent scream pierces the silence—the epitome of suffering. The sound chills me to the bone; I exhale loudly, heavily, as my heart rips. A tremor rocks my body, and I arch my spine, bringing my head to my knees, face buried in my hands.

It cannot be.

No, no, no…

The world is a menagerie of sorrow. And we have become a part of it.

I’m only a few steps out of the locker room and Kayla’s already crying. At first I think she’s laughing; in a few seconds, I realize this is not so.

This was odd. For the last two days, the sight of this girl annoyed me. She didn’t know how to shut up; the sound of her voice was obnoxious, it was loud, and when it wasn’t obnoxious and loud, her giggling was (for this reason, I was glad to have persuaded Allie to bunk next to me; Heaven forbid I spend my week trying to sleep with Chatterbox – inevitably running her mouth – two inches away) . But this was different. With her face flushed, the lips that were usually pulled into an aggravatingly large smile had curled into a frown. Tears gushed over her cheeks. Suddenly, I didn’t care about how agitating she’d been. Even Kayla deserved to be comforted; somehow, there was compassion left in me yet.

How utterly hypocritical.

In a few steps, I’ve crossed the gym. In these moments, I assume nothing’s really wrong — so someone must’ve insulted her. Okay, that person’s a jerk, people say mean things, I’m sorry (but you might’ve deserved it). What could possibly be so serious?

No, it’s far worse than that.

“Ian Webb,” she manages between sobs. “Has been hit by a four-wheeler.”

I search my memory for his face. Ian Webb? Ian, Ian, Ianoh! The kid whose name I can never remember…

The image of a body flying after being struck by a vehicle appears in my mind. I quickly shove it away.

“What?” I stutter. It was almost eleven at night and storming violently outside. Who in their right mind would be out there? Impossible.

The Parey twins, who stand on either side of me, prove equally dumbfounded. “What do you mean?” Allie finally asks.

“There were a bunch of kids lying down out there,” Kayla gulps. “And Mr. Kevin didn’t see Ian… and, oh God, my sister saw it…” In a fit of crying, she crumples onto her blow-up

I can’t think. This is a mission trip. Things like this don’t happen on mission trips. They just don’t.

At a loss, my eyes wander about the gym. There are so many obliviously smiling faces; this sickens me. Darkness shrouds the complexions of the girls who know. They stand in tightly knit circles, telling their friends the same news I’ve just heard.

Suddenly, words come to my mouth. “I’m sure he’s fine,” I say in a voice that reassures even me. “You hear about these things happening. If his muscles were relaxed, maybe nothing serious happened.”

Kayla nods with a whimper. “It’s just, if anything happened to him, church wouldn’t be the same. Oh, God, Ian…”

I offer Kayla a hug, and after promising I’ll be right back, I slip into the main corridor. Almost instantly, my eyes are greeted by the sight of people praying in groups. They have seen, or they know someone who has. Staff move anxiously about the hallway; their blank faces offer me nothing, so I edge towards the front doors—something they prove too busy to notice.

Blue and red light colors the raindrops clinging to the windows. It reflects off the pavement, becoming a wildly uncoordinated collage, one that would fascinate me in other circumstances; as of now, my line of sight rests on the police officers. Even as thunder rocks the building, their faces are eerily still, so still that they could be ghosts. It wouldn’t surprise me. Tonight, the heavens are angry.

I sit on a bench, pretending to pray— I figure this way the staff won’t shoo me out, so as to not interrupt piety. This works no longer than two minutes, and then I’m back in the gym again.

Singing and praying fills the facility. The information has spread like the Plague; they know. All of them.

Tension hangs in the air. Eleven o’clock.

With a sigh, my eyes flit to Kayla; the Parey twins have distracted her enough to keep her from crying. Good. But I don’t want to go back— I’m not ready to. I want to be anywhere but here. The singing and pleading and sobbing have me feeling claustrophobic; the sounds prove themselves impossibly stifling, and the walls close in without moving.

Lord, have mercy…

To my left, a group of girls discuss the accident, whispering, almost, as if it were some big secret. I edge towards them.

“There was blood everywhere…”

Oh, God.

The emotion is oppressively heavy; I move back towards the double-doors, unable to take it, my nerves falling victim to the anxiety suffocating the room. I stick my head into the corridor, peeking both ways. The coast is clear; I hang a right past the vending machines and dart outside, curling against the glass of the door so not to disappear into the darkness. Lightening illuminates the sky, highlighting the back fence; I remember the graveyard on the other side of it and shudder, realizing the frailty of the situation. Like a small child, I pull my knees to my chin, eyes watching with dead awareness as the raindrops strike the sidewalk, thoughts far elsewhere while my mind reels. Distantly, I know by body’s shivering— from fear or cold I’m not sure. But I am acutely cognizant of one thing: powerlessness.

“Let him be okay,” I murmur. “Please God, let Ian be okay.”

I groan inwardly, fingers digging into the cloth of my sweatpants as the prayers spill from my lips. For once, I don’t know what to say to Him— my disjunctive thoughts have silenced me. I ramble, knowing by instinct that I need to pray, that I should be praying, but the proper words remain out of reach. I am lost. And God feels so very, very distant.

Lord, I feel so helpless… help me, help us all.

“Or, if it is Your will, don’t let it be too bad…”

And help Kayla to be okay. God, I can’t watch this… let me bear her burden. Or part of it. Or….


The door cracks open behind me.


I turn my head over my shoulder; it’s Emily. Please don’t make me go back there.

“You need to go back inside.”

For a moment, I want to shake my head, but I willingly submit, knowing tonight is not the night
to make trouble. Emily offers me a small smile–a contradiction to her emotionally drained
physique— and disappears after I’m through the doors.

I pause for a moment and sigh, eyes scanning the empty hallway. Thunder rumbles.

Lord, give me strength.

My hands push the gym doors open. “How Great is Our God” crosses the threshold and
ruminates in my ears.

How sickening, a beautiful song trying to chase out a greater darkness. It is a disgusting
paradox—the complete opposite of this disconsolate mood— as if those singing wanted
to believe that everything was okay, that nothing had happened. As if they had the gall to
manipulate the somber ambience of the room.

…like cramming broken puzzle pieces together, trying but failing to make them fit.

The sound fades to aggravating white-noise as I switch my focus back to Kayla. She doesn’t
have to say anything for me to recognize her increased angst. I sit directly across from her and
peer into her eyes; pools of terror stare back at me.


“I need to get out of here…” she breathes, fingers running through her fawn colored hair. “I
need to get out of here, I need to make sure Ian’s okay.”

I exhale, momentarily at a loss. “I know. I’m sure they’ll tell us something soon.”

She shakes her head and groans. “It’s just, the Webbs are close family friends, and I’ve known
Ian for a long time… and… I just need to know.” A lone tear trickles down her cheek—she’s
fighting it.

God, what do I do now?

An idea comes to my head. Considering the circumstances, I almost think it’s mundane. But it’s

“C’mon— are you hungry? I’ll get you something out of the machine.” She stares at me blankly
as I reach into my suitcase for my wallet. “You know, they say chocolate releases endorphins…
endorphins make you happy. I mean, really. And you don’t have to get chocolate! I’ll get you
anything you want.”

“But are we allowed to go out there?”

I sigh, and suddenly, she understands. Kayla jumps to her feet and follows me into the hallway,
willingly purchasing a Hershey bar with my dollar before settling into the crevice built into the
wall. Her eyes scrutinize the corridor, looking for a sign –for something, anything—, yet all is
still. Even the storm seems to have moved off.

Kayla gazes half-heartedly at the immense pools of water sitting on the tile floor. “I’m so glad I
didn’t kiss him…” she mumbles, softly popping a square of chocolate into her mouth.

I furrow my eyebrows. “What?”

“Yeah, he asked me to— we were coming back from a party. And I wanted to… I just didn’t. I
couldn’t ruin our friendship like that.”

I say nothing, unsure of where her musing’s headed.

She continues. “The last time I saw him –we were in the Dock— he checked to see that no one
was around, and then he gave me the biggest bear-hug.” Kayla smiles. “The funny thing is, I
wasn’t sarcastic to him all day, and I’m always sarcastic to him. I’m so happy I did that.”

As if God was letting her say goodbye…

The thought lingers in my mind. “I’m sure everything will be okay,” I reply, very careful to
substitute ‘Ian’ with ‘everything’—I have not told her about the blood. And I cannot lie to her
now. She is motionless for a moment before finally nodding, but it is a mystery as to whether she
believes me. I want to change the subject— to make her smile again.

“Do you want anything else?”

Kayla shakes her head, holding up what’s left of the Hershey bar. And then she says something
that shocks me.

“You’re a good friend, Morgan.”

If only you had known what I thought of you earlier.

My mouth falls into an O; I recover quickly and hug her. “You don’t deserve to be alone.”

Tears begin to roll down her cheeks; she tries to dismiss them, smearing them with the back of her hands before backing from my embrace, a short laugh being emitted from her mouth.

“It’s okay to cry,” I say, my tone hushed, soothing.

She sighs heavily. “But I have to be strong for my sister.” Her eyes desperately peer into mine. “What am I supposed to tell her?”

I cover my mouth with my palm, unsure of what to say. My lips draw into a line; I remain mute a moment longer before finally speaking. “Only God knows the answer to that.”

Sniffling, Kayla gets up suddenly and grabs a rag, joining Sam –who has just worked his way up the hallway- on the floor, taking her frustration out on the puddles. I mimic her. We work rhythmically, silently, all the while pounding our weary hands against the tile; in no time, the water is gone. The anxiety remains.

Twelve o’clock— midnight.

Kayla mumbles a quick greeting to Sam before turning back to me; her blue eyes have faded to empty shells of color.

Why haven’t they told us anything yet? It’s been –almost— two hellish hours; people deserve to know.

“I hate that they’re singing,” she groans quietly, referencing the choir that has formed in the gymnasium.

“So do I.”

They’re treating it like he’s dead already.

Shaking her head, Kayla takes a step towards the door, peering back at me before entering. “I… I need to go check on my sister. I’ll see you later.”

I nod, and she disappears; with my back turned, Sam has sauntered upstairs. I am left alone, exhausted, and angry, feeling as if my own emotion has weakened me. Who knows— it probably has. In these moments, I am nothing but hormones— upset, but respectably so.

With my feet lifeless beneath me, I shuffle back into the gym and head to my mattress. The Pareys sit next to me; Allie stares at the wall in the backdrop. Becca smiles, inquires about Kayla, and then falls unusually quiet before babbling to someone else.

Christi’s voice breaks over the intercom. Finally.

“Ladies,” She sounds weak. “I need you to all move to the back-half of the gym. Pick up your stuff, please make sure you’re dressed modestly—the guys are coming in.”

Her statement further frays my agitated nerves. Dress code— really? You’re worried about that? And then my stomach knots; the realization of what has –inevitably— happened seeps into the
corners of my being.

Oh…no, this can’t be good.

I look to Allie. “Something bad must’ve happened.”

Her lips gape for a moment.

“They wouldn’t put us together like this for any other reason.”

The fear begins to bubble in my stomach as the boys file in and take a seat. Our pastor appears from nowhere, and my gut hits the floor. No one has to tell me what’s happened. I know…

…And yet I hope to God I’m wrong anyways.

No one makes a sound; the tension is unbearable. Dr. Moss takes the microphone, lifts it to his lips, hands quivering. His eyes droop like raindrops.

“I’m sorry to tell you this…”

Don’t say it…

The word “died” hits us like a sledgehammer as it leaves his tongue.

An incoherent scream pierces the silence—the epitome of suffering. The sound chills me to the bone; I exhale loudly, heavily, as my heart rips. A tremor rocks my body, and I arch my spine, bringing my head to my knees, face buried in my hands.

It cannot be.

No, no, no…

The world is a menagerie of sorrow. And we have become a part of it.

Tears spill down my cheeks.

But you couldn’t even remember his name…

My heart aches. Shrieks. Not just for Ian –the stranger that I knew— but for everyone else. The ones suffering that don’t deserve this.

Time becomes irrelevant, and I wander blindly, vanishing into the bathroom, staring into a mirror and at my own eyes as if I was peering into the eyes of God.

As if I was asking Him the Question.

{Sixteen hours later}

The flag flies at half-mast as I cross the parking lot of the church. My heart weighs heavy in my chest, seemingly adding a hundred pounds to my body as I step across the asphalt, slowing me down. Having never been in this situation before, I don black out of respect. I know nothing else.

The sanctuary is full when I walk in, but the noise-level rests only at a whisper as the debriefing and remembrance ceremony begins (for this is not a funeral).

Nothing could be done, or so we are told.

And then, we begin to sing. It is the same as last night— but now the most beautiful sound in the world. The church swells with music.

The mission trip continues. In memory of Ian.

Published: With permission from the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Booty ride honors Queens University student

24 Hours of Booty event founder Spencer Lueders (right) and his wife Susan Lueders (left), recently awarded Queens University of Charlotte student Chris Vilela with the “Spencer and Susan Lueders 24 Hours of Booty Scholarship.”

The award is granted in honor of the Lueder family for their legacy in starting 24 Hours of Booty, a 24-hour-long charity cycling event to fight cancer and raise money for cancer research.

The scholarship is awarded to a student at Queens who has been impacted by cancer directly or in their immediate family.

24 Hours of Booty will donate $40,000 to the scholarship fund over four years as a continuation of the organization’s 10th Anniversary Celebration in 2011.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Celebrate International Day of the Girl 2012

People around the world are taking today to celebrate and support girls from all nations.

Today is the first International Day of the Girl, a celebration created by Power of the People Napal. The nonprofit organization aims to bring positive changes into the lives of women and children.

People across the globe are hosting events today to show support for all girls. Candle light vigils, lamp lighting events, and university campus parties will take place from the United States and Europe, to Libya and Korea.

To learn more, visit the event's Facebook page.

Statistics from Power of the People: 
• When the number of girls attending school increases by 10 percent, GDP increases by 3 percent.
• When a girl attends school for seven years, she’ll marry four years later and have two fewer children
• A girl is 50 percent more likely to immunize her children when she is educated.
• A girl’s wages increase up to 15 percent after receiving one year of primary education.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

One week to vote for your favorite high school

You’ve got one week to vote for your favorite high school performance from the 2012 Student Hunger Drive Talent Competition.

Students kicked off the six-week food drive by performing in a talent show competition at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina on Oct. 1. Their mission: To combat hunger in the area.

Students’ performances can now be found on Facebook and can be voted on until midnight on Friday, Oct. 12.

The four schools with the most votes (‘like’ to vote) on Carolinas Student Hunger Drive’s Facebook page will have the opportunity to participate in a Food Lion Fast Feet 90-second grocery shopping spree at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20.

All food collected during the spree will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina and the pounds collected will count toward each school’s goal for the food drive.

Schools performances include: Ardrey Kell High School; Butler High School; Cannon High School; Central Cabarrus High School; Cox Mill High School; East Mecklenburg High School; Fort Mill High School; Garinger High School; Hickory Ridge High School; Myers Park High School, Nation Ford High School; Northwest Cabarrus High School; Olympic High School; Providence High School; Mount Pleasant High School; and South Mecklenburg High School.

To vote:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Artwork brings home ribbons

Charlotte Christian senior artists raked in multiple awards at ArtFest Matthews, an annual fine arts and master craft show.

Senior Carson Kowar won both the $750 Grand Prize Scholarship and the $300 second place award, while  senior Kate Condon won the $150 photography award and a $75 honorable mention award.

 Both students received their awards at a ceremony held in downtown Matthews on Sept. 30.

Photo: Charlotte Christian seniors Kate Condon (left) and Carson Kowar with their winning artwork at the 27th Annual Matthews ArtFest, held Sept. 29-30. Photo courtesy of Eva Crawford.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

3rd Annual Student Hunger Drive kicks off

It's that time of year again - the 3rd Annual Student Hunger Drive is here.

This year's event kicked off Oct. 1 at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. The Student Hunger Drive, which is student-led, brings together more than 20 Charlotte area high schools for a six-week-long competition.

The goal: To be the school to collect the most pounds of food per student. Students kicked off the effort by creating a song, skit, rap or chant that encourages their peers and community to donate food.

The winner of the talent competition received a pallet of food courtesy of Snyders-Lance, Inc., that counts toward their overall pound total. The Student Hunger Drive also awards schools that collect the most pounds of food per student with cash prizes.

Monetary prizes are used for school supplies, projects, or other community initiatives. Food Lion has also supported the effort with an MVP Scholarship Award for one exceptional student leader.

Student Hunger Drive:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Teen Health Connection opens scholarship application

Looking for college scholarship opportunities?

Teen Health Connection is now accepting applications for The Johnston Ziegler Youth Leadership Award.

The award is a merit-based scholarship that recognizes a local teen who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, advocacy, or service to adolescents.

The award honors Teen Health Connection’s founding Medical Director and founding Executive Director, Dr. John G. Johnston and Barbara Ziegler.

Award recipients receive a $1,000 scholarship toward the college or university of their choice.

The deadline to apply is Dec. 1, 2012. The application can be found online at

Thursday, September 27, 2012

NC Symphony hosting auditions for Youth Sinfonietta

The North Carolina Symphony announced that auditions are now open for the NCS Youth Sinfonietta.

The exclusive chamber orchestra is made up of 14- to 21-year-olds from across the state and led by the North Carolina Symphony’s staff of conductors.

All auditions are held by video audition submission. After completing an online application form, students can record and submit videos of the required repertoire, from which their participation will be determined. 

Applicants must be between the ages of 14 and 21; North Carolina residents or students enrolled full-time in a North Carolina school or university; and available for all rehearsals and performances during the winter and spring. Auditions will be open and video submissions considered until 5 p.m. on Oct. 5.

Information and the online application can be found at

2012-13 Schedule:
Oct. 5: Deadline to submit application and video audition.
Nov. 3: In-person seating auditions (mandatory for all accepted musicians).

Winter Schedule: William Henry Curry, resident conductor
Cary Cultural Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary, N.C., 27512
Jan 6, 2013, 6-9 p.m., REHEARSAL
Jan 7, 2013, 6-8:30 p.m., REHEARSAL
Jan 9, 2013, 6-8:30 p.m., SECTIONALS
Jan 12, 2013, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., REHEARSAL
Jan 13, 2013, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., DRESS REHEARSAL
Jan 13, 2013, 2 p.m., CONCERT

Mendelssohn:”War March of the Priests” from Athalia
Ives: Symphony No. 4, Mvt. III, “Fugue”
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 5 in DM/m, Op. 107

Spring Schedule: Grant Llewellyn, music director
Triangle Location, TBD
May 12, 2013, 6-9 p.m., REHEARSAL
May 13, 2013, 6-9 p.m., REHEARSAL
May 15, 2013, 6-9 p.m., SECTIONALS
May 18, 2013, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., REHEARSAL
May 18, 2013, 1-3 p.m., REHEARSAL
May 19, 2013, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., DRESS REHEARSAL
May 19, 2013, 2 p.m., CONCERT

For more, visit or contact Jessica Nalbone, North Carolina Symphony Director of Education, at 919.789.5461 or email

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Community Blood Center of the Carolinas awards $10,000

Community Blood Center of the Carolinas is honoring 10 high schools in the region as winners of its regional “High School Grant” program.

Each winning school, announced Sept. 18, received a $1,000 grant for hosting top-performing blood drives with the blood center during the 2011-2012 school year.

Anson High School – Wadesboro
East Burke High School – Connelly Springs
East Rowan High School – Salisbury
Forestview High School – Gastonia
Garinger High School – Charlotte
Olympic High School (now The Renaissance School at Olympic H.S.) – Charlotte
South Mecklenburg High School – Charlotte
North Stanly High School – New London
Northwestern High School – Rock Hill, S.C.
West Lincoln High School – Lincolnton

Throughout the year, Community Blood Center of the Carolinas - the primary blood supplier to 21 regional hospitals, serving 16 North Carolina and three South Carolina counties - will offer $36,000 in scholarships and grants. 

Participating high schools are encouraged to sponsor a minimum of two drives during the 2012-2013 school year to qualify for winning a grant.

Learn more:
For information on the blood center's scholarship and grant opportunities, email Kim Jones, director of development and public relations, at To host a blood drive or donate blood in your area, visit or call 704-972-4700.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Students convert Ford Mustang into electric car

During the Democratic National Convention, thousands spent their time running between the Charlotte Convention Center and Time Warner Cable Arena.

But a few students from Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology and Greensboro’s McMichael High School spent their time last week converting a 1992 Ford Mustang into a street-legal, full-sized electric vehicle.

The project was a part of the national Electric Vehicle (EV) Challenge program, a collaboration with Discovery Place. The students converted the vehicle over a four-day period in Mayor Anthony Foxx’s Legacy Village, kicking off the conversion during CarolinaFest, a free Labor Day event in uptown.

Once they completed the transformation on Sept. 7, students then drove the Mustang to Discovery Place and plugged it into the electric vehicle charging station located in the museum’s parking deck.

With President Barack Obama's goal of one million plug-in electric vehicles on the road in the United States by 2015, commercial and consumer plug-in electric vehicles will become increasingly more available in the next few years, according to Discovery Place.

Any vehicle using electricity as either its primary fuel, or in collaboration with a conventional engine to help improve its efficiency, can be referred to as an electric drive vehicle.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

DNC proves to be busy week for area youth

During the week of the Democratic National Convention, Mayor Anthony Foxx selected participants for his Youth Press Corps

He announced more than 100 student participants to be a part of The Mayor's Youth Press Corps experience. Participants essentially became journalists for the week.

The opportunity allowed students to attend lectures, use social media to document the DNC, and write articles and blog posts about the convention.

The announcement of the elite group was made during the third installment of the Access to America dialogue series held by the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee.

The subject of the dialogue focused on access to quality education.

Meeting Chelsea Clinton:
Charlotte Preparatory School eighth graders  Kate Eiselt and Tory Wilkison were among a group of students that attended a panel discussion called "Conversations with the Next Generation" during the Democratic National Convention.

Presented by The Atlantic and the National Journal, the panel was moderated by Chelsea Clinton and NBC’s Chuck Todd.

The mission: To get young people excited about voting and being involved in politics.

The conversation, including more than 100 students, touched on issues from college loan debt to rising unemployment rates among 16- to 26-year olds.

Members of the onstage panel also included actress America Ferrera, actor Kal Penn, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and MTV’s Andrew Jenks.

TOP: South Mecklenburg High students Morgan Crenshaw (second from left), Carolina Gonzalez and Alton Peques interview Des Moines, Iowa, Mayor Frank Cownie in their roles as part of the Mayor's Youth Press Corps. Photo courtesy of South Mecklenburg High.

MIDDLE: Charlotte Christian School's Conor Arden (left), worked as a student intern for Fox News during the DNC. From second left, Kelsey Phalen, Jessa O'Connor, Alex Kellogg, Mallory Finch and James Finch were part of the Mayor's Youth Press Corps.

BOTTOM: Kate Eiselt (top, left) with Chelsea Clinton, and Tory Wilkinson (top, right) with Chelsea Clinton. Photos courtesy of David Long at Charlotte Preparatory School.

Youth in Charlotte: Were you involved in an event or panel at the DNC? What was it and what did you think of what you heard? Let us know at

Friday, September 14, 2012

Northwest School of the Arts is first high school in nation to perform 'The Color Purple''

Northwest School of the Arts will soon have a spot in the history books.

The high school is the first in the nation to receive the rights to perform "The Color Purple."

The school will present the show Sept. 14-16, at Dale F. Halton Theatre on the campus of Central Piedmont Community College.

On Friday the performances begin at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, performances will be held at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. And on Sunday, the show will start at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online.

Get a glimpse behind the scenes:

Video: Courtesy of GreyHawk Films. This film was made in March 2012.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Barron Prize winner competes in Glamour's 2012 Readers' Choice Awards

Each year, the Gloria Barron Prize selects 10 inspiring young people to honor, who have made a positive impact in the world.

Now, four past and present Barron Prize for Young Heroes honorees are among the sixteen finalists in Glamour’s 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards for inspiring young women.

Of those students: The Charlotte Observer's first featured Young Achiever, Manasvi Koul.

Manasvi, 19, from Waxhaw, attends the University of Pennsylvania. What makes her a Young Achiever? She created the LIVEbeyond Foundation to educate, motivate and recruit bone marrow donors. And she understands first-hand the impact of her work.

Manasvi was diagnosed with cancer of the lymphatic system at age 12. She created LIVEbeyond after her two-year battle with cancer.

In two years with LIVEbeyond, she has registered more than 500 people - all potential life savers.

And now, she's up for Glamour's honor. It will be left up to the public to vote on their favorites in Glamour's contest that honors young women.  The public can vote online for their favorites to move on to the next level of eight semi-finalists, and subsequently a final winner.

The first round of voting ends Sept. 12th at midnight. The winner will receive a write-up and photo in an upcoming issue of Glamour and a trip to the magazine’s star-studded Women of the Year Awards ceremony in New York City's Carnegie Hall on Nov. 12.

To vote:

Photo: Manasvi Koul is a student at the Wharton School of Economics (Univ. of Pennsylvania). Todd Sumlin -

Friday, September 7, 2012

Kohl's honors youth from across nation

Kohl's Department Stores announced the 10 national winners of the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program. Of those youth - Cole Rasenberger, 11, from Davidson.

The students, ranging in age from 6-18, are the recipients of $10,000 scholarships for post-secondary education. In addition to the scholarships, Kohl’s will donate $1,000 to a nonprofit organization of each winners' choice.

This year’s winners were selected from more than 35,000 nominees nationwide, based on their volunteer efforts. Cole was chosen because he made postcards to help save animal habitats in North Carolina coastal forests.

Cole and his classmates sent the cards to a major fast food chain. A year later, the chain changed its bags to 100 percent recyclable fibers. For more information about the Kohl's Cares scholarship, visit their website.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Garinger High challenges freshmen to give back

Garinger High is challenging the new freshmen class to give back to their community.

On Sept. 4-5, during the DNC, about 300 freshmen will participate in a two-day workshop aims to educate students about health and nutrition, unity, and the significance of entrepreneurship.

 The workshop will focus on knowledge, health and community. Students will discover the importance of taking care of one another and their urban neighborhood.

Each morning at 7:15 a.m., students will begin with Ujima, a Swahili word for "collective work and responsibility" as they prepare to take on active roles in the school year.

Following Ujima, students will participate in activities at eight stations across the campus: healthy food options, planting vegetables, business showcase, nutrition, cultural arts, fitness and "What's in your soil?" Students will rotate in groups through the stations for 25-minute increments.

Other students will learn how to set up a blog and on day two the groups will alternate. The Garinger garden, the Fit Lab and community outreach programs will play an integral part in the workshop.

Last year, Garinger revitalized its 10-year-old garden to address nutritional deficits and foster community ties. The Fit Lab is in its first year at the school.

The school said outreach will continue to grow, with plans to invite the surrounding community to partake in exercise at the Fit Lab and offer neighbors a chance to volunteer in the school’s garden in exchange for free produce.

Friday, August 31, 2012

UNC Charlotte business student receives scholarship

UNC Charlotte business student Gregory Grattan is one of five students in North Carolina to be honored this year by the state pest association.

Grattan, a sophomore at UNC Charlotte and graduate of East Mecklenburg High, received a $3,000 scholarship from the North Carolina Pest Management Association to continue his education.

The scholarships are designed for students enrolling or currently enrolled in post-high-school programs. Since its creation in 2004, the education foundation of the NCPMA has awarded scholarships worth more than $72,500 to students across North Carolina.

Grattan has worked for his family’s pest management business, Grattan Pest Solutions, for three years and plans to continue his work with the company in the future.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Students will need to adapt to new schedules during DNC

If you're like most people, including myself, you have no idea how you’re going to get around Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention.

What businesses will be closed, what’s the best way to get to work, which roads will be blocked at what time of day - it’s all subject to change. We’re just going to have to be flexible.

But for those looking for changes in the operation schedule for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools during the convention, here you go.

The convention, which will be held Sept. 4 -7, is expected to bring thousands to the city, so Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is making adjustments to ensure a productive second week of school.

Changes include:

Metro School will have an early dismissal at noon on Sept. 6.

Irwin Academic Center students will be dismissed at 12:45 p.m. on Sept. 6.

First Ward Elementary will have three days of early dismissal.

Students will dismiss at 12:45 p.m. Sept. 4 - 6. All schools will return to normal schedules on Sept. 7.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Buses, books, bells and backpacks are just around the corner

Have back-to-school questions for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools? Here's the information to address all of your concerns.

For questions about bell schedules, district contact numbers, before-and after-school care, and open house, parents can call 980-343-3628.

The hotline will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.on Aug. 24; 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Aug. 27- Sept. 7; and 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Sept. 10-14. The hotline will be closed on Labor Day, Sept. 3.

For questions about enrollment and school assignments, call the placement office at 980-343-5335.

Questions about bus stop assignments can be addressed by calling the transportation office at 980-343-6715.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

South Pointe High senior aspires to teach

Every summer for the past three years, Kristin Rivera has participated in the General Hugh Shelton Leadership Challenge at N.C. State.

The six-day summer challenge is based on honesty, integrity, compassion for your fellow man, respect for diversity, and social responsibility. It aims to help students gain leadership skills through team-building activities and service projects.

The Shelton Leadership Challenge was founded by General Hugh Shelton who served as the 14th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997-2001. 

Kristin, a senior at South Pointe High School, was selected this year to serve on staff as a Coach/Mentor/Trainer (CMT), the highest student leadership position.

Some of her responsibilities included attending training sessions, providing feedback to youth, facilitating teen reflections and attending daily staff meetings.

Kristin is a member of South Pointe High's student council, tennis team, National Honor Society, and the Bible Club, among others.

Kristin is involved with the N.C. Teacher Cadet program and hopes to become an elementary school teacher.

For more information about the challenge, visit

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tale of 'A City Girl' through poetry

Earlier in the week, readers got a sneak peak into a personal memoir from Gaston Day School's award-winning literary arts magazine, "Blutopia."

Today, here's a sample of poetry from the publication:

A City Girl
By, Jessica Mandell

City girls don't walk in the woods
Unless we find ourselves lost
Irrevocably and literally
And if we are, we are caught surprised
Momentarily leaving a luncheon
Strolling innocently in a new coat
A wrong turn, another
Ending up under leaves
Covering the sky.
We city girls
We metropolitan women
Crane our necks to see tree tops
That aren't anywhere near scraping the sky
But those trees seem inexplicably massive
Colossal, unreal, unbelievable.
And before we know it
We're standing in the middle
Of a circle of trees
A perfect circle
Like a swirling design on Baroque china.
In all our confusion
We give ourselves to the forest
If only for a moment.
But that moment is long enough
To notice just how perfect
Random is
Our cities are never random.
No human arranged these trees
They plopped themselves there
Without asking for permission
Or an audience or applause.
No architect planned
Nor could any plan
Such beauty.
With all our wit
We won't see the party
Just a mile or so away
Not far at all
From a quietly thriving masterpiece
But unnoticed just the same.
We city girls have level heads
But we got lost
In a nearby wood
Or maybe we were lost before.
I will never again feel as loved as I did
When I stood amongst giants
Whose life rushed in.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Find out what's inside 'Blutopia'

On Tuesday, Young Achievers introduced readers to the teen creators of "Blutopia," the literary arts magazine at Gaston Day School.

Here is a taste of what's inside the 2012 award-winning publication:

"How It Feels to Be Colored Jane"
By Jane Voss

Voluptuous, robust, plum fruits and pomegranates burst open and spill out over the pages. Charismatic letters stab one another and the blood red spurts through my mind, woven into his every word. A drama within seeps out onto the story, which can no longer restrain itself, and Vladimir Nabokov's thoughts are stained a deep, emphatic crimson.

How could anyone hate reading? Before I could even understand writing, I could see what I read and feel it deep within my soul. Unimaginable to me is the average person's black and white reading experience, for like Nabokov, I am a synesthete. Without even taking meaning into consideration, words come alive to me through their colors and personalities, auras if you will...

Friday, August 10, 2012

South Mecklenburg High sophomore wins poetry contest

Ninth grade students at South Mecklenburg High School were invited by Altrusa International, Inc., a community service organization, to write a poem about the feelings of a child whose parent(s) are deployed in the military. Of the 50 teens who entered the contest, rising sophomore Max Snyder was chosen as the winner. Max will be honored for his achievements on Sept. 13.

His poem:
As I Stay Home
By, Max Snyder

As I stay home
You'd think I feel alone
I don't
I won't

I will not cry
You ask why
Well because
It's what my Daddy does

He is gone
But I do not feel alone
I don't
I won't

He's very brave
He has lives to save
I am so proud
And love him LOUD

He'll be home soon
I'll greet him with a balloon
I will
I can

He's my hero
As I wait at the window
With a smile
Big as a mile

Daddy there's no hurry
I don't worry
I am OK
I will be OK.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Student sets aside ADHD to succeed

Shire, a global specialty biopharmaceutical company, recently awarded Meredith Morrow, a graduate of Ardrey Kell High, with the 2012 ADHD Scholarship.

Fifty individuals diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) going on to higher education were selected from 1,437 applicants across the United States.

Morrow was selected based on her community service and extracurricular activities, as well as a personal essay explaining how ADHD has impacted her life.

In her essay, she explained the challenges she faces and how she is managing her ADHD. The Scholarship includes $2,000 and a prepaid year of ADHD coaching services. The Edge Foundation provides the ADHD coaching services.

The ADHD coaching services are intended to assist the recipients with their pursuit of higher education. Services are weekly sessions with specially-trained ADHD coaches. The students set weekly goals and action plans and also have e-mail and phone support from their coaches.

For more information about the scholarship, visit

Friday, August 3, 2012

Statesville native walks halls of Congress

Jannidy Gonzalez of Statesville, a student at Western Carolina University, is working alongside 38 other university students from across the U.S. this summer during a Congressional Internship Program. 

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), the nation’s Hispanic youth leadership development and educational organization, is hosting Jannidy during the experience.

The CHCI interns have been assigned to congressional offices on Capitol Hill for eight weeks to learn about the nation’s legislative process and issues pending before the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Jannidy is currently placed with the Office of Representative Henry Cuellar.

“My major is business administration and law and working on Capitol Hill will allow me to apply what I learn to enhance my studies, further develop myself and improve the lives of those around me," Gonzalez said. "Being part of the nation’s largest minority, civic engagement is critical for the Latino population."

The 2012 class of CHCI Summer Interns represents 10 different Hispanic ethnic backgrounds, pursuing 20 different fields of study for their bachelor’s degrees. Interns are responsible for conducting legislative research, monitoring day-to-day hearings, managing constituent communications and assisting with general policy matters.

They participate in weekly CHCI leadership development sessions, engage in policy discussions and meet with corporate representatives, national elected officials and foreign dignitaries.

They are also responsible for completing a community service project to benefit the Washington, D.C. community.

For more information about the program, visit

Photo courtesy of Melisa Diaz.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

PAL program hits stage with former Pink Floyd singer

Fifteen Police Activities League (PAL) youth were selected to perform on stage with Roger Waters, former lead singer of Pink Floyd, during his recent sold out concert at Time Warner Cable Arena on July 10.

"The youth were able to experience the professionalism and dedication involved with putting on such a concert, as well as, the amount of practice involved," said Jeff Hood, executive director for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg PAL program.

Since 1968, PAL of Charlotte-Mecklenburg has been providing supervised athletic programs and educational endeavors for youth in the area, according to their website.

Participants at the concert included Maya Hood, Jachai Brown, Brittney Conner, Danielle Robinson, Ariel Outland, Ivy Briscoe, Miyonah Whitaker, Charles Rosser, Kalani Polite, Jahmia Jackson, Antonie Jetter, Nehemiah Nellons, Orande Smith, Aaliyah Buckhalter and Demario Pagan.

See their performance onstage with Waters at,

Photo courtesy of Jeff Hood.

Friday, July 27, 2012

National Poetry Slam comes to uptown Charlotte

Teams from across North America will travel to Charlotte for a five-day battle for a national title. 

The 2012 National Poetry Slam will kick off Aug. 7 at various Blumenthal Performing Arts' theaters. During the slam, 72 teams will compete in three days of preliminaries and 20 teams will advance to semi-finals on the night of Aug. 10.

The competition will culminate in a clash of the top four teams on the final stage Aug. 11, to determine the winner. 

This will be the event’s first time in Charlotte, but it is expected to draw in more than 5,000 attendees. Proceeds from the event will benefit organizations such as Poetry Slam, Inc., Blumenthal Performing Arts and SlamCharlotte. 

For more information, visit the National Poetry Slam online, or call 704-777-3368.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Teen Health Connection sets up at Vans Warped Tour

Teen Health Connection will take their advice to the streets as they set up at the 2012 Vans Warped Tour.

Among a line up of bands at Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre on July 30, Teen Health Connection will be providing health information to the 16,000 teens at the event, said Rett Liles, with the organization.

The teens will be handing out sunscreen, wrist-bands and decal stickers at the event. They will also be launching a health text messaging campaign. Each month the group will be sending health information to teens and adults via text messages.

"(We)are excited to reach many teens at the Warped Tour," Liles said. "Teens are always on their phones, so we feel like this will be a great way to get some positive health information to them."

The messages will include health and safety information that relates to a particular topic of the month. July is "Summer Safety Month," so teens will be sending messages about sunscreen and healthy hydration. August is "Back to School," so messages will be about getting enough sleep, immunizations and physicals.

For more information, check out Teen Health Connection online.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Teens back from Jimmy Awards in NYC

In May, Young Achievers profiled two young performers honored at the inaugural Blumey Awards at the Belk Theater in uptown Charlotte. 

The 2012 Blumenthal Performing Arts High School Musical Theater Awards ceremony honored high school entertainers in 13 categories, including Best Musical and Best Actor and Actress. 

Kyle Conroy, a senior at Jay M. Robinson High, was named best actor for his performance as Seymour in the school’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” Taylor Neal, a sophomore at Cuthbertson High, won best actress as Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.” 

Because of their win on a regional level, the two traveled to the National High School Musical Theater Awards, also known as the Jimmys, this month for a one-week, all-expenses-paid trip to New York. 

Today, we will hear from Taylor about how the trip to NYC and what the teens experienced. 

From Taylor: 
"From the moment all 60 of us arrived (in New York City), we were rehearsing and meeting so many talented performers. Each day, we woke up at around 7 a.m. to walk to Tisch (School of the Arts) and begin learning our medleys, opening and closing numbers, and lots of choreography. 

I was very nervous about the whole process, but I loved every second that I was there. "I learned so much, especially from my vocal coach, Michael McElroy. He was in RENT on Broadway and was also nominated for a Tony. He was so helpful and gave me so many future audition tips. 

"The best piece of advice he gave me was that when you are expressing yourself while singing, the vowels in the words are how you feel and the consonance are the actions. I thought that was absolutely brilliant. 

"The most memorable part for me was when we arrived at the Minskoff Theatre. The second I stepped on that stage, I felt so overwhelmed with emotions. It hit me that I was going to be performing with the most talented group of young actors I've ever met and I just felt completely blessed. Not many people get to perform on a Broadway stage, so I just feel like the luckiest actress in the world. 

"Saying goodbye to everyone I met there was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. Each person there was so supportive of the winners and we all became a big, happy family. 

"Luckily, I keep in contact with all of them on Facebook so we all stay connected. Lastly I'll talk about being filmed by PBS the whole week. At first, I was a little intimidated by the fact that they would film our every move while rehearsing and performing, but I didn't notice them after a while. They filmed the whole experience of the Jimmy Awards and everyone will be able to watch the three-part documentary on PBS called, 'Broadway or Bust.' 

"The first episode will air at prime time on Sept. 9, and I am so excited to see it. It was such an incredible and life-changing experience that I can't wait for others to watch. I really hope that 'Broadway or Bust' inspires young performers all around the country to keep performing, just like it did for me." 

Photo: (Center) Taylor Neal performing at the Jimmy Awards in New York City. Photo courtesy of Linda Neal.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Teens earn summer jobs

Youth Development Initiatives’s LIFT Employment and Academic enrichment Program (LEAP) is putting 29 teens to work this summer.

Teens in the program, ages 14-17, are placed in several businesses throughout Charlotte where they are employed as retail clerks, dry cleaning attendants, maintenance assistants and day camp workers.

The mission behind the program is provide the education and training necessary to get ahead in the workforce.

Teens in LEAP begin during the school year by participating in YDI’s LIFT Life skills Academy. The Academy is a semester-long afterschool program that aims to inspire disadvantaged and/or struggling students to stay in school, improve their grades, maintain attendance, establish good behavior and make wise decisions.

Participants in LIFT are referred by juvenile court counselors and school resource officers. LIFT is primarily funded by the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.

LIFT uses a Career and Technical Education-formatted curriculum, called the Life Management Guidance Course, to help students match career options to their personality and interests.  

During the program, students must also attend weekly math and literacy instruction on Fridays throughout the summer to keep their jobs.

(Top)16-year-old Ja’Shari Billups, of Turning Point Academy, works as an attendant at Sunrise Dry Cleaners off Albemarle Road, where he sorts and tags clothing items dropped off by customers.

(Bottom) 15-year-old LIFT participant Jeneha Townes, of Myers Park High, has a job at a consignment shop located on Pecan Avenue.

Photos courtesy of Darryl Bego, President of Youth Development Initiatives.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cuthbertson High student tests tech skills

Rachel Velasco, a student at Cuthbertson High, is being recognized nationally for her skills in Microsoft Office.

Rachel was recently named one of six top finalists in the United States competition on Microsoft Office.

In the competition, presented by Certiport, Inc., students tested their skills on Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint. From August 2011 to May 2012, more than 250,000 students in the U.S. competed to demonstrate their proficiency in the applications. 

Students with the highest exam scores and lowest exam-taking times were invited to represent their countries at upcoming World Championships.

At the World Championship, each student will compete for World Champion in his or her category (Microsoft Word 2007, Microsoft Word 2010, Microsoft Excel 2007, Microsoft Excel 2010, Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007).

Rachel will go on to compete at the Worldwide Competition on Microsoft Office July 29-Aug. 1 in Las Vegas.

Learn more about the competition at

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

National Merit Scholars announced

In the fall, several area graduates will be attending universities across the nation as National Merit Scholars.

These recipients join 8,100 high school graduates from across the country being recognized as a national winner. Each college-sponsored award provides between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study.

Charlotte area recipients include: Ryan Potocnik of Charlotte Christian School, attending Auburn University; John Cambern of Providence Day School, attending Vanderbilt University; Evan Gold of Providence Day School, attending Hampshire College; Hadley Wilson of Charlotte Latin, attending Vanderbilt University; Paulina Campbell of Woodlawn School, attending Grinnell College; Natalie Sanchez of Gaston Day School, attending Indiana University Bloomington; Andrew Goins of Weddington High, attending UNC Chapel Hill; Megan McGuire of Porter Ridge High, attending Vanderbilt University; and David Hawisher of Ardrey Kell High, attending UNC Chapel Hill.

In addition to college-sponsored awards, two other types of National Merit scholarships were offered. Those include 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships, for which all finalists competed, and more than 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit scholarship awards for finalists who met specific criteria designated by their grantor organizations.