Thursday, March 27, 2014

Join the school band, local mom says

Class registration is looming, and a local mom, Lisa Kunkleman, wants to tell kids that there's much to be gained from being in the school band and that's it's not as stereotypically nerdy as people used to think.

Kunkleman, a former high school guidance counselor, calls high school band a "home away from home" for students. Here's what she has to say:

Ready or not, high school class registration for next year is about to begin. Elective courses range from automotive services to yoga to oodles of other classes to consider-- including marching band. 

This isn’t yesteryear’s stereotype of geeky kids playing the school fight song. Band today is a melting pot of kids with a myriad of interests. It’s camaraderie, friendship and a place to fit in. 

Marching band, a combination of athleticism, dance moves, and musical ability, is a huge commitment but well worth it. Stamina, fitness, memorization, organization and, yes, socialization skills are honed.

The Providence High School kids highlighted below have participated in one or more of the following activities: Track and field, JROTC, Chorus, Firefighter Safety, Jazz Band, and Theater Orchestra Pit. They also play multiple instruments in multiple ensembles at Providence and maintain excellent GPAs.

Emily Lucero, senior and four year band student, said, “When I run track it’s all about competition, where in band it’s all about working together. We’re only as good as our weakest link. We try to build each other up and make each other feel good about ourselves.” Emily plans to major in biology at Appalachian State University and looks forward to playing clarinet as a Marching Mountaineer in the fall. “I’ll already have a connection with band people.”

Brothers, Joe and Sam Kunkleman, are juniors at Providence. They have been in marching band for three years, and plan to make it four. 

Joe said, “Imagine carrying a sleeping St. Bernard on your left shoulder, while doing math homework in your head, while dashing through a maze. That’s what it’s like to play tuba in a marching band.” 

He does it because of the friends. “Starting my freshman year with a group of people to sit with at lunch made my transition to high school a lot easier. The band room is like a second home.” 

Sam agreed and said, “Band camp and rehearsals require a lot of work but it’s worth it in the end to be part of a great production and entertain.” 

Eric Belongea, a junior and third year band student said, “Band provides you with a good group of friends that guide you in the right direction through high school. It’s just all around goodness.”

Marching band is certainly a class worth considering at registration time. 

What’s better than making friends, getting exercise, and having mental challenges?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cannon senior's "Evening with The Beatles" raises more than $11,000

I blogged about Rachel Dyl, a Cannon senior, last month-- she was preparing to host "An Evening with The Beatles" fundraiser, and her school says it was a success.

She raised more than $11,000 at the event in an effort to help MusicalMinds, a nonprofit after-school program at Blythe Elementary that teaches classical music. The group wants to expand to other schools.

More than 200 people attended the sold-out event. The night started with a performance from three Blythe Elementary violinists, Ulices Garcia, Madelyn Mundy and Nadia Glenn

Other performers included Cannon's a cappella groups, the school's jazz group, an electric string ensemble, a pianist, a violinist, and a guitarist/singer. Rachel ended the evening with a classical piano performance and a grand finale sing-along of "Hey Jude."

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mooresville Youth Council begins plans to revitalize parks

The Mooresville Youth Council is working to revitalize community parks after making an action plan at a February meeting.

Mooresville Youth Council members, YES! staff, youth council coordinator Ryan Jones and Randy Welch, Duke Energy district manager/Courtesy of Katherine Randall
At the meeting, high school students who are staff members of Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) trained them about how to work with policymakers, public speaking and community engagement. (YES! received a $25,000 grant from Duke Energy to train other youth around the state.)

The youth council of about 20 students wants to get more young people active in Mooresville's parks. They plan to take an inventory of what the parks currently offer and will collect ideas from peers about how to attract more young people to the parks. Then the council will present a proposal to Mayor Miles Atkins and the Mooresville Town Council about how to expand or improve the parks.

Mayor Atkins has their support. In a release, he said the council's voice is important and that he's excited about their new project.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Charlotte United Christian Academy students collect more than a ton of food

Charlotte United Christian Academy students collected nearly 2,600 pounds of food last month for the hungry.

The effort, called Warriors Have Heart, exceeded last year's food drive total by more than 1,000 pounds.

The food has been given to the food banks at two area churches, Garr Church and Resurrection Church.

Photo courtesy of Greg Carpenter

Friday, March 14, 2014

Schools celebrate Pi Day

It's 3/14, which means it's Pi Day, in celebration of the infinitely non-repeating number (commonly rounded to 3.14), and students are celebrating in proper fashion.

At Phillip O. Berry, students built a mural of Pi, measured the circumference of their heads using Pi, tested a challenge Google's doodle of Pi and pie-ing (is that a verb?!) school administrators, including Principal Curtis Carroll, in the face. (We're working on photos.)

Similarly at Randolph IB Middle, students could buy tickets for an event that runs through 3 p.m. to throw whipped cream pies at their principal and teachers. 

The event, though it celebrates Pi Day, is a fundraiser by the Global Ambassadors Club for the local organization One Library at a Time. The club is raising money to create libraries for schools in Roatan, Honduras. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Registration for Wake UP! Student Empowerment Summit ends Friday

The third annual Wake UP! Student Empowerment Summit is approaching -- March 22 -- and students have until Friday to register.

For the last six months, students from a dozen CMS middle and high schools have been meeting through the Wake UP! program to learn about the state of education in the Charlotte area and discuss ways to improve educational equality.

In December, I wrote about Jayla DeBoles and Jason King, two eighth-graders who took the helm with the Wake UP! initiative at Ranson Middle.

The Summit, hosted by Teach for America, will be at the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel.  Members of The Possibility Project will perform, and there will be time for students to share what they've learned and have community conversations. It's open to the public, but attendees must register, which can be done here.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Why cancer research means so much to Young Achiever Emily Ashkin

In Tuesday's Young Achievers, we hear from Sunny Potharaju and Emily Ashkin-- they're two area high school juniors who are going to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles this May.

Sunny's project involves analyzing the flexibility of proteins that are both normal and mutated. Emily focused on a possible lead in pancreatic cancer treatment.

Emily, a student at Providence Day School, emailed me last week to say she had a few more thoughts on doing cancer research, which I'll share here:

Photo by Jeff Willhelm

"To me, there is no better feeling in the world than doing research. It's incredible to be able to try to bring my ideas to life in the lab and hopefully apply them to the real world. Even the failures and mistakes in the lab are just another part of the incredible learning experience (and boy did I make a lot of mistakes). Taking these steps closer toward treating cancer can make all the difference in improving the human race. I am so excited to be a part of this for the rest of my life. It's not just a project or a career to me--doing research is a way of life."